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10 Feedback
11 Who’s Where
12-13 The World
14 Up Front
15 Commander’s Intent
16 Inside Business Aviation
17 Airline Intel
18 In Orbit
19 Washington Outlook
51 Classified
52 Contact Us
53 Aerospace Calendar
12 Realities of FAA regulations on use
of UAVs may cut into Amazon’s
plan for nearby home deliveries
12 Appointment of new Bombardier
sales chief linked to inefective
strategy, sluggish orders for CSeries
13 Aviation Week editor honored in three
categories at Australia and New
Zealand Aviation Media Awards
20 New large, classified unmanned air-
craft shows major advance in join-
ing stealth, aerodynamic efciency
22 Secret stealth UAS must be seen
in the context of previous ISR
programs, manned and unmanned
26 Aerospace manufacturers pressur-
ing governments to develop a pan-
European approach to MALE UAV
28 Panel of scientists: Draft NASA
strategic plan fails to tackle the
agency’s uncertain funding outlook
29 Blue Origin to begin unmanned
orbital flight tests of its biconic-
shape human capsule in 2018
42 Upper-stage restart failure reveals
details about how SpaceX’s path to
certification difers from rival’s
43 United Launch Alliance to expand its
industrial base beyond the number
of rocket orders from the Pentagon
44 Funding uncertainty seen as main
hurdle to development of NASA’s
Space Launch System rocket
46 Market for launching smallsats
is projected to exceed 150
spacecraft per year by 2020
46 Recent launches of converted balli-
stic missiles reafrm vehicles’ pre-
ence in market for lofting smallsats
48 Asteroid lasso provides asteroid
mission planners with momen-
tum for deep-space exploration
50 Startup company envisions com-
mercial high-altitude balloon ex-
perience for passengers, researchers
31 Suspicious of the outside world,
China will keep trying to assert its
rights with air defense zone
The call to lasso an asteroid provides NASA planners with capabilities to
find and deflect asteroids that may threaten Earth. Tethers Unlimited’s
‘Wrangler’ concept system would employ a net capture device and a tether
deployer/winch mechanism to catch and stabilize an asteroid.
This week, Aviation Week publishes two editions. On the covers
of both is a U.S. Air Force unmanned aircraft capable of penetrating
the most advanced air defenses (page 20). We collaborated with
artist Ronnie Olsthoorn ( to create this
conceptual illustration of the RQ-180 based on government and
industry information, public documents and basic design principles.
Both editions include reports on the wrangling over EU emissions
trading (page 39), China’s claim to new airspace (page 31) and the
Blue Origin commercial space efort (page 29). Our MRO Edition
includes a special section with additional coverage.
China is using air defense
identification zone as part of its
strategy to tighten control over
maritime approaches.
Human spaceflight firm
Blue Origin to use orbital launch
vehicle partially powered by a
clean-sheet cryogenic engine.
& S P A C E T E C H N O L O G Y
Digital Extras Tap this icon in articles
in the digital edition of AW&ST for exclusive
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Winner 2013
December 9, 2013 Volume 175 Number 42
Aerospace & Defense MBA Graduating Class of 2013
Jaquenette C. Belka
Wright Patterson AFB
Beavercreek, OH
Dana D. Burge
Tinker AFB
Oklahoma City, OK
Richard L. Burnett
Hill AFB
Farmington, UT
James R. Cody
The University
of Tennessee
Knoxville, TN
Thomas J. Delash
Fairchild Controls/EADS
Woodsboro, MD
Sharon M. Doré
Hill AFB
Clinton, UT
Amanda J. Gentry
Joint Strike Fighter
Fredericksburg, MD
Lynne Orama Hamilton
Randolph AFB
Cibolo, TX
Justin D. Hassen
Tinker AFB
Oklahoma City, OK
Javier J. Hernandez
Ontic BBA Aviation
Westlake Village, CA
Justin G. Hottle
Tinker AFB
Choctaw, OK
Ginger M. Keisling
Tinker AFB
Oklahoma City, OK
Scott A. Kensinger
Hill AFB
Clinton, UT
David G. Kosinski
The Boeing Company
Mill Creek, WA
Scott L. McKee
Redstone Arsenal
Huntsville, AL
Jasen A. Miller
The Boeing Company
Seattle, WA
Tiffany M. Morgan
Kirtland AFB
Albuquerque, NM
Brandon A. Price
Redstone Arsenal
Owens Cross Roads, AL
Shane C. Rice
Hill AFB
Mt. Green, UT
William H. Seeman
Joint Base Andrews
Fairfax Station, VA
Ben A. Stuart Jr.
Robins AFB
Warner Robins, GA
Joel C. Walker
The Pentagon
Alexandria, VA
Willie D. White
Robins AFB
Bonaire, GA
Eric R. Widdison
Hill AFB
Kaysville, UT
Gregory A. Wooley
Hill AFB
West Point, UT
We know the business... of Aerospace & Defense
40 Boeing says lessons learned from
787 and 747-8 production debacles
are bearing fruit with 787-9/777X
54 To cut component prices, OEMs
and systems providers must
learn to manage supplier costs
41 AgustaWestland networks the
AW189 with the Internet for flight
planning and HUMS support
38 Creation, maintenance of mission-
data files is core for Selex’s Elec-
tronic Warfare Operational Support
39 In latest chapter of intense ETS
disarray, European powers are
bickering on how to go forward
A round-up of what you’re reading on
Join the online conversation about the RQ-180, the secret stealth intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance
unmanned aircraft revealed in this issue (page 20). It’s free to register for our community on,
or talk to us on LinkedIn (, Facebook ( and Twitter (
Aviation Week has a long and rich history of bringing
exclusive news and insights to its readers. Take a look
at a selection of stories we have covered, including View-
points from some of the industry’s most iconic names,
on our website (
Watch video of Textron’s new Scorpion light-attack and
reconnaissance aircraft undergoing taxi tests on our
Ares blog (
In the latest in his NavWeek series, Michael Fabey takes
a look at the challenges facing Vice Adm. Michelle
Howard as she takes the helm of the Littoral Combat Ship
Council of Admirals. Read his blog on Ares (
Amazon chief Jef Bezos demonstrated at least one big, new
application of UAVs last week—generating publicity (p. 12).
Or is he serious in his announced plans to deploy an armada
of small, eight-rotor aircraft able to deliver small packages?
One tweet that went viral was a humorous response to Ama-
zon’s audacious plan. Read more and comment on our Things
With Wings blog (
On the Web
32 China, denied access even to lower
grades, is working to match Japan-
made world’s strongest carbon fiber
34 White paper outlines Scotland’s
independent armed forces as well
as membership in NATO and EU
35 Dearth of funds forces Spanish air
force to initiate tough choices for
helos, Typhoon and transports
36 Esoteric provisions of U.S. Senate
defense bill could matter most
to contractors’ bottom lines
37 Team of Swiss engineers prepar-
ing to take on big helicopter
OEMs with a radical design
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Reader Robert Owen puts forth that
the world has changed as an argument
for retiring the A-10 (AW&ST Nov. 25,
p. 8). Well the world may have changed,
but the aircraft is still relevant.
A-10s can be fitted with directional
infrared countermeasures to neutralize
improved surface-to-air missile threats.
He mentions the “new breed” of aircraft
that can handle the close-air-support
(CAS) mission as a matter of routine
while involved in other air tasks such
as maintaining air superiority. OK. But
show me an F-35 or similar aircraft
that can loiter and maneuver in harm’s
way, protect the pilot with titanium
armor, with shielded exhausts, able to
deliver ordnance from multiple pylons
and, if hit, land with wheels up—suf-
fering minimal damage —to be quickly
repaired to fight another day.
The aircraft’s 30-mm gun also works
against road convoys, ships, strafing
runs on airfields and armored person-
nel carriers. And the cost per flight
hour (about $18,000) is a bargain we
can ill-aford to discard.
Outfit the A-10 with new wings and
defensive systems so we never have to
look back after a conflict, wishing we
had kept them while historians note the
utter failure of gold-plated, short-legged
and vulnerable, unsuited types such as
a modified F-15, F-16 or F-35s to efec-
tively accomplish the CAS mission.
John Gourley
I see from reading “Quality Ques-
tions” (AW&ST Oct. 7. p. 30), about the
Lockheed Martin F-35, that little has
changed in the way major manufactur-
ers’ programs are being managed. The
focus on reducing scrap and rework
percentages misses many real underly-
ing problems.
In the rush to field aircraft and
meet testing and delivery schedules,
often problems are addressed by the
remove-and-replace mantra. Func-
tional anomalies are not dealt with
head-on since the removed hardware
is found to meet requirements when
retested to the same original ac-
ceptance standards and returned to
service. This allows quality assurance
(QA) and program management heads
to close rejections as “No Fault Found”
(NFF) and meet their objectives.
A three-year study of data on a
major program showed clearly there
is low correlation to in-house produc-
tion, scrap-and-rework rejections and
fielded aircraft-reliability problems.
Yes, in-house scrap and rework are
large cost drivers and need to be
addressed. However, as each step
forward is taken in the aircraft life
cycle, the cost of rework and reliability
increases exponentially.
During the system design-and-
development phase of a major pro-
gram, there is tremendous pressure on
internal budgets and schedules. This
results in myriad issues, including:

Hardware/software specifications
cut and pasted from previous designs
without adequate analysis and testing.

Design changes being deferred/col-
lected or being set as Class II when
they can and do afect form, fit or func-
tion, allowing the program to avoid
configuration change and hardware
rework cost.

Multiple rejections on the same
system/box/component with NFF dur-
ing the flight-test program with little
investigation as to underlying causes.
These are specific issues with avion-
ics using card racks. Poor documen-
tation of reasons for removals also
masks problems. To meet budgets,
mid-level QAs and operations and en-
gineering management will minimize
these issues and kick the can down
the road. A “Quality Transformation
Council” will indicate major action,
but, sadly, have the same results as
congressional committees do in ad-
dressing the true causes.
Jim Mull
Lockheed Martin Quality Assurance (ret.)
Reader Kevin A. Capps (AW&ST
Nov. 25, p. 8) brings up an excellent
point. The fact that the Air Force
refused funding to continue flying
the SR-71 is but one indicator for a
replacement being operational.
He mentions that having the SR-71
“out of the bag” prevents plausible de-
niability when it comes to overflights
of other countries’ airspace as one of
the reasons why any SR-71 replace-
ment has been kept in shrouds.
If so, what is the purpose of the
SR-72? Is it yet another smokescreen
being put in place to keep an opera-
tional aircraft away from prying eyes?
Jacob R. Katz
If Lockheed Martin can build the
SR-72, it will be a technological mar-
vel. However, with states dependent
on computers for all defense func-
tions, the U.S. would be better served
by spending the money on cyberwar-
fare, which can locate and disable or
destroy military installations at the
speed of light—quite a bit faster than
Mach 6.
Vincent Wroble
A recent letter (AW&ST Nov. 25,
p. 8) misstated the developer and sup-
plier of the primary navigation system
for the SR-71. It was Northrop’s Nor-
tronics Div., not Honeywell.
I was part of Northrop’s flight-test
engineering team at Edwards AFB
and Air Force Plant 42 in Palmdale,
Calif., for the entire life of the SR
program. The Nav was labeled “ANS”
for AstroNavigationSystem as it
employed a star-tracking telescope to
contain gyro drift and limit naviga-
tional errors to less than a mile. The
system also controlled the radar and
most of the cameras and supplied
steering data to the autopilot for the
entire mission route.
I do not believe we will ever see
anything as exciting as that Blackbird
Bill Morrison
Aviation Week & Space Technology welcomes
the opinions of its readers on issues raised in
the magazine. Address letters to the Executive
Editor, Aviation Week & Space Technology,
1200 G St., Suite 922, Washington, D.C. 20005.
Fax to (202) 383-2346 or send via e-mail to:
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print anonymous letters, but names will be
withheld. We reserve the right to edit letters.
nior vice president and director
of the Defense Sector at SRA
International Inc. Van Rensse-
lear was vice president-NASA
business for the Government
Communications Systems Div.
of the Harris Corp. and direc-
tor of space programs within
Raytheon’s Network Centric
Chris van Gend has become
Singapore-based manager of
engineering for Asia for Allianz
Global Corporate & Specialty.
He was head of the Asia-Pacific
hub for Catlin’s energy and con-
struction businesses.
Laura Fowler (see photo) has
been appointed managing direc-
tor of recruiting and diversity for
the Alaska Air Group. She was se-
nior manager of human resources
at Moss Adams and had been vice
president-human resources with
Blackrock Alternative Advisors.
USAF Brig. Gen. Catherine A.
Chilton is one of five of her rank
to be nominated for promotion to
major general. She is the mobi-
lization assistant to the military
deputy in the Ofce of the As-
sistant Secretary of the Air Force
for Acquisition at the Pentagon.
The others are: Paul S. Dwan,
mobilization assistant to the
surgeon general of the Air Force;
Stayce D. Harris, mobilization
assistant to the commander of
the 18th Air Force of Air Mobility
Command, Scott AFB, Ill.; Wil-
liam B. Waldrop, Jr., director
of plans, programs and require-
ments at Headquarters Air Force
Reserve Command, Robins AFB,
Ga.; and Tommy J. Williams,
mobilization assistant to the di-
rector of operations at Headquar-
ters Air Combat Command, Joint
Base Langley-Eustis, Va.
Steve Taylor, president of
Boeing Business Jets, has been elected
chairman of the Washington-based Gen-
eral Aviation Manufacturers Association
(GAMA) for 2014. He was vice chairman
of the board and chairman of the Flight
Operations Policy Committee and fol-
lows Brad Mottier, vice president/
Rafi Maor
John M. Gilligan
Catherine Gridley
F. L. Van Rensselaer, Jr.
R. Van Bruygom
Laura Fowler
Roddy Boggus
ason W. Aiken has been appointed
senior vice president/CFO of Falls
Church, Va.-based General Dynam-
ics, efective Jan. 1. He will succeed
L. Hugh Redd, 2nd, who plans to retire.
Aiken holds those positions at subsid-
iary Gulfstream Aerospace Corp.
Scott Webster has been named
chairman/CEO/managing director of
MBDA Inc., Arlington, Va. He succeeds
Jerry Agee, who is retiring. Webster
has been a member of the board of
directors and was a co-founder of the
Orbital Sciences Corp.
Rafi Maor (see photo) has become
chairman of the board of Israel Aerospace
Industries. He was chairman and previ-
ously president/CEO of ECI Telecom.
Vadim Ligay is one of three Russian
Helicopters executives who have been
promoted to deputy CEO. He has been
CEO of Kazan Helicopters. The oth-
ers are: Vyacheslav Kozlov, who has
been first deputy managing director for
economics and finance at the Ulan-Ude
Aviation Plant and will oversee Russian
Helicopters’ finance and economics
department; and Vladimir Kudashkin,
who was chief of staf at the parent Ros-
tec State Corp. and will be head of legal
afairs and corporate governance.
Catherine Gridley (see photo) has
been named vice president-business
development for Herndon, Va.-based
Technical Services sector of the
Northrop Grumman Corp. She was vice
president of DynCorp International’s
aviation business and had been presi-
dent of customer services at General
Electric Co. Aviation Systems.
Eric Stober has become CFO of the
Astrotech Corp., Austin, Texas. He was
vice president-corporate development.
Richard Van Bruygom (see photo)
has been appointed Dallas-based CEO
of the Americas division of Worldwide
Flight Services of Paris.
Conrad Vandersluis has been pro-
moted to sales development director
from commercial and contracts man-
ager for the London-based AJW Group.
John M. Gilligan (see photos) has
been named president/chief operating
ofcer and Franklin L. Van Rensse-
laer, Jr., senior vice president-civil and
military aerospace of the Schafer Corp.,
Arlington, Va. Gilligan was president
of his own information technology and
cyber consulting firm and had been se-
general manager for Business
and General Aviation and Inte-
grated Systems at GE Aviation.
Succeeding Taylor will be Joe
Brown, president of Hartzell
Propeller. He will continue as
chairman of the Policy & Legal
Issues Committee. Elected to
the Executive Committee and
committee chairmen were:
Environment Committee, Ed
Dolanski, president/CEO of
Aviall Inc.; Flight Operations
Policy Committee, John Ucze-
kaj, president/CEO of Aspen
Avionics; and Safety and Acci-
dent Investigation Committee,
Simon Caldecott, president/
CEO of Piper Aircraft. Re-
maining on the Executive
Committee and as committee
chairman are: Airworthiness
and Maintenance Policy Com-
mittee, Aaron Hilkemann,
president/CEO of Duncan Avi-
ation; Communications Com-
mittee, Larry Flynn, president
of the Gulfstream Aerospace
Corp.; Global Markets Com-
mittee, Simon Pryce, group
chief executive of BBA Avia-
tion; Security Issues Commit-
tee, Mark Van Tine, CEO of
Jeppesen; and Technical Policy
Committee, Phil Straub, vice
president and managing di-
rector of aviation for Garmin
Roddy Boggus (see photo),
a senior vice president and
aviation market leader at Par-
sons Brinckerhof, has been
named to the board of direc-
tors of the International As-
sociation of Airport Executives.
He has been a senior executive with
architectural and engineering firms ac-
tive in the aviation market and was co-
owner of Hodges-Boggus Architects,
an aviation architectural firm serving
airline operations, including American
and Continental. c
To submit information for the
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Into the Fray
Space Exploration Technologies
(SpaceX) launched its first Falcon 9 v1.1
mission to geosynchronous transfer
orbit Dec. 3, marking the Hawthorne,
Calif.-based startup’s entry into the com-
mercial launch market and positioning it
to unseat United Launch Alliance (ULA),
the Boeing-Lockheed Martin joint
venture that launches most NASA, U.S.
Air Force and intelligence community
missions. Liftof occurred at 5:41 p.m.
local time from SpaceX Launch Complex
40 at Cape Canaveral. The two-stage,
liquid-fueled Falcon 9 sent the Orbital
Sciences Corp. SES-8 satellite on its way
to a supersynchronous transfer orbit at
an inclination of 20.75 deg. for Luxem-
bourg-based SES, the world’s second-
largest commercial fleet operator by
revenue. A little more than 1 min. into
the flight, the Falcon 9 reached Max Q,
the point at which mechanical stress on
the vehicle peaks due to a combination
of the rocket’s velocity and resistance
created by Earth’s atmosphere. The
mission follows two launch attempts in
late November, including a Nov. 28 abort
that occurred when oxygen was detected
in the ground side igniter fluid on the
rocket’s first stage, resulting in a slower-
than-expected ramp-up in thrust. An
attempt on Nov. 25 was scrubbed owing
to pressure fluctuations on the Falcon 9’s
first stage liquid oxygen tank. Accurate
orbital insertion of SES-8 is critical to
SpaceX, which is counting on three suc-
cessful Falcon 9 v1.1 missions—including
two to be launched consecutively—that
are needed to obtain U.S. government
certification for launching sensitive
national security payloads.
China to the Moon
The Chang’e-3 spacecraft, which repre-
sents China’s first attempt at a robotic
lunar landing, is safely en route after a
Dec. 2 launch on a Long March 3B. The
rocket placed the spacecraft, with its
lander/rover combo, into an initial lunar
transfer orbit with an apogee of 380,000
km. (240,000 mi.), following liftof from
the Xichang Satellite Launch Center.
Controllers later adjusted the orbit to
set up a Dec. 14 soft landing in the Bay of
Rainbows (see page 18). That will be the
most difcult part of the mission, says
Wu Weiren, the program’s chief designer.
Supporting Role
NASA will seek an opportunity to
participate in the European Space
Agency’s (ESA) next two large astro-
physics missions, including the launches
of a new-generation X-ray telescope
and a gravitational wave observatory.
“Both a large X-ray observatory and a
large gravitational wave observatory
are prioritized recommendations of
the [2010 astrophysics] decadal survey,
and so we are pursuing an opportunity
to contribute and partner on ESA’s
observatories,” says Paul Hertz, head
of NASA’s Astrophysics Div. “We will
be setting up our discussions with ESA
about a potential role for NASA in these
missions.” In November, ESA announced
its selection of the €1-billion ($1.37-bil-
lion) large-class missions, which include
an advanced X-ray observatory slated
to launch in 2028 that will study how
ordinary matter assembles into galaxies
and how black holes grow and influence
their surroundings. A second mission,
in 2034, would search for ripples in the
fabric of space time created by celestial
objects with strong gravity, such as pairs
of merging black holes. Preparations for
development of the European campaigns
will start next year, including a call for
mission concepts that will be used in so-
liciting proposals for the X-ray telescope.
Kepler a Contender
NASA gave the green light Dec. 4 to
continued work on a plan to extend
its crippled Kepler Space Telescope
mission. Known as K2, the plan is
intended to help resume Kepler’s
search for other worlds using an orbital
maneuver to compensate for the loss
of two of the spacecraft’s four gyro-like
reaction wheels. “This is not a deci-
sion to continue operating the Kepler
spacecraft or to conduct a two-wheel
extended mission,” Paul Hertz, head of
NASA’s Astrophysics Div., said Dec. 4.
“It is merely an opportunity to write
another proposal and compete against
the Astrophysics Division’s other proj-
The World
Bombardier Names New Sales Chief
Bombardier Aerospace has appointed Raymond Jones as senior vice president for sales,
marketing and asset management for Bombardier Commercial Aircraft, effective immedi-
ately. He succeeds Chet Fuller, who will leave the company at the end of the year. Jones has
been vice president for worldwide strategic accounts for Bombardier Business Aircraft.
Several weeks into the CSeries fight test program, Bombardier still has not managed to
make major inroads into the market segment it is pursuing. The manufacturer lost several
major campaigns against the Airbus A320neo including at Vueling, EasyJet and AirAsia.
Industry sources say the company should have offered more discounts in the early phases of
the program and that Bombardier’s sales strategy has not been aggressive enough.
Amazon’s UAV Plans Deliver More Hype Than Content
By making its announcement on Cyber Monday, Dec. 2, the biggest online shopping day of
the year in the U.S., electronic-commerce giant Amazon was certain to get exhaustive and
enthusiastic news coverage of its plans to use unmanned aircraft to deliver packages di-
rectly to customers.
While Amazon
has conducted test
fghts using a small
quadcopter UAV to
deliver a package,
the realities of the
FAA’s regulatory
requirements make
it unlikely the deliv-
ery service, called
Amazon Prime Air, will become available in 2015 as the company suggests.
Domino’s Pizza conducted a similar door-to-door demonstration in the U.K. in June
and companies with delivery-service plans ranging from burritos to buyers in California to
medicines to clinics in Africa are waiting for both technology and regulations to be ready.
But the FAA’s airworthiness rules for small unmanned aircraft systems (SUAS)—expected to
be released for public comment early in 2014 after a lengthy gestation, and not expected to be
fnalized until 2015—will initially limit operations to vehicles weighing less than 55 lb., fying in
ects for the limited funding available
for astrophysics operating missions.”
In May, when the second wheel failed,
the spacecraft lost the ability to point
precisely in the direction of Earth-sized
planets orbiting Sun-like stars in the so-
called habitable zone, where the surface
temperature of a planet might be suit-
able for liquid water. But in November,
NASA’s Ames Research Center and
Kepler mission developer Ball Aero-
space unveiled a plan that could allow
the observatory to resume this primary
mission by steering it in an orbital path
that ensures even distribution of solar
pressure across the spacecraft and
using it to efect a capability similar to
that of a third reaction wheel. However,
the concept must be further validated
before the Kepler team submits a fund-
ing proposal to the division’s Senior
Review in April. As part of NASA’s
process for allocating the division’s
limited budget for operating missions in
its extended phase, the biannual review
will see the $600-million Kepler mission
compete for funding against a slate of
ongoing astrophysics observatories.
The division is facing a House-proposed
reduction of $74 million to its 2014
spending proposal, which includes $18.7
million for Kepler.
Phone Home
PhoneSat 2.4, one of the record 29
nanosatellites launched last month on
a Minotaur rocket from Wallops Island,
Va., as part of the U.S. Air Force ORS
3 mission, has radioed controllers at
Ames Research Center that its systems
are all “go.” The 1-kg (2.2-lb.) cubesat
incorporates the innards of a Stock
Nexus S smartphone with the Android
operating system in NASA’s second
demonstration that of-the-shelf cell-
phone technology can operate in orbit.
PhoneSat 2.4 features solar cells for
power and reaction wheels for attitude
control, both advances over the first
PhoneSat, which included a smart-
phone plugged into a cubesat, casing
and all, and used its camera to take
photos (AW&ST Dec. 2, p. 18).
Northrop in Bomber Race
Northrop Grumman will be a competi-
tor in the U.S. Air Force’s Long-Range
Strike-Bomber program, CEO Wes
Bush said during a Credit Suisse inves-
tor call on Dec. 5. Slightly more than a
month ago, after Boeing and Lockheed
Martin agreed to team on the project,
Northrop Grumman declined to say
whether it would bid (AW&ST Nov. 4,
p. 22). But now, Bush tells investors,
“we’re here to compete, and that’s
about all I’ll say.” Most details of the
program remain classified, but indus-
try sources tell AW&ST that Lockheed
Martin has been awarded a contract
for a flight demonstrator as part of
the Air Force’s risk-reduction eforts.
However, Northrop Grumman’s role in
the RQ-180 unmanned stealth recon-
naissance aircraft (see page 20), as
well as its B-2 upgrade activities, make
it a strong contender. .
Tranche 3 Typhoon Flight
BAE Systems flew the first Tranche 3
Eurofighter Typhoon on Dec. 2 at BAE
Systems’ facility at Warton, England.
The Tranche 3s are set to be the most
advanced versions of the Typhoon and
have the capability to provide more
electrical power in readiness for instal-
lation of the planned E-Scan radar as
well as ability to potentially fit confor-
mal fuel tanks on top of the rear fuse-
lage. All three of the manufacturers in
the Eurofighter consortium—Alenia
Aermacchi, BAE and EADS Cassidian
are building Tranche 3 aircraft.
China Airline Execs Arrested
China Southern Airlines employees
have again been implicated in corrup-
tion, with the airline confirming that
four executives are under investigation.
But industry ofcials say around 10
China Southern staf members have
been arrested, including two executives
of the airline’s marketing management
committee. So far, the accused have
not been found guilty by any court. If
they are, it will be the third time since
2006 that major corruption has been
unearthed at China Southern. In 2006,
executives were found to have siphoned
company funds given to an outside in-
stitution to manage, and in 2010 others
were discovered bribing ofcials of the
Civil Aviation Administration of China
to treat the carrier favorably in allocat-
ing routes. In the latest case, employees
are accused of defrauding the airline by
buying tickets at early-purchase prices
and then selling them at or near the full
price close to the departure date, say
the industry ofcials. The alleged crime
required the cooperation of employees
and could involve tens of millions of
yuan, says one ofcial with knowledge
of the case ($1 = 6.1 yuan).
Qantas Airways has announced a new
cost reduction goal of A$2 billion ($1.8
billion) over three years, including 1,000
job cuts in the next year. The move is
prompted by a new warning from the
carrier that it will report a pre-tax loss
of up to A$300 million for the six months
through Dec. 31. The airline says it is
launching a review of its capital spend-
ing and may consider selling assets.
Aviation Week Editor Honored
Aviation Week Senior Air Transport Editor Adrian Schofeld was honored at the 2013
Australia and New Zealand Aviation Media Awards, an event held by the National Avia-
tion Press Club in Sydney. Schofeld, who works from Auckland, New Zealand, won the
Rolls-Royce Trophy for Technical Story of the Year, for an article on automatic depen-
dent surveillance-broadcast (AW&ST Feb. 11, p. 46). He was also runner-up in the
News Story of the Year category and a fnalist for Journalist of the Year.
For more breaking news, go to AVIATION WEEK & SPACE TECHNOLOGY/DECEMBER 9, 2013 13
daylight only, staying below 400 ft. altitude
and within line of sight of the operator.
These restrictions would prevent Ama-
zon from achieving its goal of delivering
packages to customers within a 10-mi.
radius and 30 min. of ordering. Even that
short range would take the UAS out of
visual range of the ground operator and
require the vehicle to have a beyond-line-
of-sight data link and likely some form of
sensing system to help avoid collisions.
While the FAA intends to extend the
SUAS rule over time to allow, frst, line-
of-sight operations at night and, later,
fights beyond line of sight, it could take
several years to develop the required
technology and certifcation standards.
Signifcant improvements in battery
technology will also be required for small
package-carrying air vehicles to have
useful fight times between recharging.
Up Front
Those implementing this strategy
continue to rely heavily on private
enterprise to provide that advantage.
But lately the Defense Department has
expressed some angst about investment
by private enterprises, and industry
continues to fret about human capital
and its ability to attract, let alone retain,
skilled individuals. Frank Kendall, the
undersecretary of defense for acquisition
logistics and technology, expressed con-
cern last August that contractors would
not sustain independent R&D funding.
At a Center for Strategic and Inter-
national Studies event on Nov. 7, Kendall
said he was “particularly worried about
R&D accounts.” BAE Systems Inc. CEO
Linda Goodman voiced related concerns
at a Nov. 19 Atlantic Council event: “Do
we really believe we can maintain our
dominance in the air and sea given the
flight of talent to more exciting and pre-
dictable industries that don’t use words
like sequester and furlough?”
Two data sources underscore lower
defense research and investment but
do not tell the full picture. The first is
the annual defense budget, specifically
research, development, test and evalu-
ation (RDT&E). In constant fiscal 2014
dollars, so-called “next force” RDT&E
is down approximately 50% from a peak
in fiscal 2006 through the pre-sequester
plan in fiscal 2018. The long-term R&D
that typically goes to universities and
labs is down 25% in constant dollars
from peak levels in fiscal 2006.
The other source is data reported by
large U.S. defense prime contractors
for company-funded R&D. That data is
hile there is plenty to debate about where U.S. defense
budgets could settle in 2014-15, there is no debate about
the Pentagon’s desire to continue to compete with cutting-
edge technology. It expects defense advantages to be sustained
through investment in new weapons and support systems that
provide a generational lead over those fielded by adversaries.
The R&D Gamble
Pentagon wants to retain defense advantages
while expecting investments by industry
budget plans do not point to that. Pub-
licly traded companies are going to con-
tinue to have to keep shareholders con-
tent, and one tool for sustained or higher
earnings is operating margins. While
some businesses will aim to sustain R&D
while finding other sources of savings or
better pricing, others may make further
cuts to R&D and hope their companies
can remain competitive.
For the Defense Department, how-
ever, simply pressing for higher R&D
may not help to sustain a base of skilled
engineers and leading-edge technology.
Closer attention needs to be given to
where R&D dollars are actually being
spent and whether there are enough
ways for truly innovative technology to
come to the
attention of
those who
would benefit
from it, partic-
ularly if it chal-
lenges existing
programs of
record. On the more-is-better issue, in its
fiscal 2012, Microsoft reported R&D of
$9.8 billion or 13.3% of total sales. Apple
reported R&D for its fiscal 2013 of $4.5
billion, or 2.6%. Arguably, just spending
more on R&D does not automatically
lead to more competitive products.
The Defense Department will have
to find additional ways to nurture
R&D. Kendall talked earlier in the year
about funding prototype development,
but that idea seems to have waned.
Private enterprise cannot be expected
to develop products without some
hope that these will earn a return. En-
trenched interests are likely to protect
programs of record from disruptive
technologies. That’s not a new issue,
but the department needs to create
acquisition paths and programs where
new technologies are not blocked by
gatekeepers threatened by their fur-
ther development or by bureaucracies
that could smother R&D with compli-
ance and testing costs.
Prospects for more funding seem lim-
ited in fiscal 2014-16. Most public compa-
nies probably do not have the courage to
drop operating margin expectations as
they invest in products for introduction
in 2017 and beyond. Defense and indus-
try will have to work more creatively and
efectively with limited resources. c
inconsistent, as it includes a mix of bid
and proposal and R&D expenses. But
in 2000, Boeing’s defense and space
divisions, L-3 Communications, Lock-
heed Martin, Northrop Grumman and
Raytheon reported company-funded
R&D expense that was 3.9% of total
sales. In 2012, that figure was 2.4%.
From a resource perspective, there
are other missing pieces of data. The
Defense Department does not disclose
independent R&D spending under-
taken by contractors even though it
reimburses them.
Some publicly traded companies
report total customer and company-
funded R&D while others report only
company-funded research and devel-
opment. Even the company-funded
R&D expense disclosed in annual
Securities and Exchange Commission
filings is inconsistent. Some compa-
nies report independent R&D expense
while others report this figure includ-
ing “bid and proposal” expense.
Finally, R&D is reported in total by
companies and not always broken out
by business unit. For example, General
Dynamics reports total R&D, which
includes Gulfstream business jets.
It’s unlikely that aggregate defense-
related R&D spending will increase in
fiscal 2014-16. Certainly the Pentagon
By Byron Callan
Contributing columnist
Byron Callan is a director
at Capital Alpha Partners.

Private enterprise can’t be expected
to develop new products without some
hope of a return in the future.

Commander’s Intent
By Bill Sweetman
Read Sweetman’s posts on
our weblog ARES, updated daily:
That view is not far beneath a de-
bate over close air support (CAS) that
has smoldered over decades like a case
of inter-service malaria. The latest
attack of fevers and night sweats has
been triggered by the revelation of Air
Force sequester-based budget plans
that include retirement of the A-10
Warthog, which nobody ever calls by
its ofcial name of Thunderbolt II.
The Air Force is in a fiscal trap that
is partly of its own making. Aging
combat fleets and an unmanned aerial
system (UAS) force that can’t survive
against any form of air defense are two
of its closing walls. The service cannot
find the will to escape from its com-
mitment to raise its F-35 Joint Strike
Fighter buy rate to 80 per year, but it
also sees a stark need for aircraft with
longer range.
The way to make big savings, the
service argues, is to chop entire fleets,
shut down their training and logis-
tics infrastructure, and stop paying
modernization bills. The KC-10 and B-1
bomber—alongside the A-10—are in
just the first wave, but older F-16s and
F-15C/Ds are next.
Unfortunately, the A-10 has been
the big, ugly symbol of the CAS debate
since its conception in the 1960s. The
USAF only built it in the first place,
it is argued, to deflect the Army’s
attempt to take over the mission with
nce again, the U.S. Chair Force wants to sacrifice the blood
of the heroic infantry in favor of Mitchellesque strategic-
bombing dreams and white-scarf fighter missions. It should be
disbanded and its functions assigned to fighting services made
up of Real Men.
Warthogs on the
chopping block
the fast and costly AH-56A Cheyenne
compound helicopter. Now, say the
boot-centric warfare believers, the
USAF wants to dump CAS completely.
That argument is of-target. In the
last 10 years, the USAF and its allies
have provided CAS using fighters,
helicopters and gunships. The soldier
on the ground wants firepower and
cares little where it comes from, so
guided artillery and fiber-optic guided
missiles have a role to play as well.
Within this family, the A-10 is difer-
ent but not unique. What it brings to
the party is better persistence than a
supersonic fighter, lower cost per hour
and—its advocates argue that this is
crucial—flight characteristics that are
better suited to operations beneath an
You may argue that I’m missing
something here. How do you know
when your conversation with a Hog
pilot is half over? “That’s enough about
me, let’s talk about my gun.” But the
A-10 gun, designed to decapitate T-62
tanks, is not ideal for CAS. The attack
profile calls for the pilot to turn into
a gun run at a considerable distance
from the target, at an angle where a
small diference in elevation means a
big diference in where the bullets hit,
and to finish firing before the aircraft
busts a height limit. Today’s CAS tech-
nology has many ways to deliver the
precision that in the 1970s demanded
a gun.
The A-10 may have a valid niche
role. Its existence alone preserves an
Air Force CAS culture, a force that
practices that difcult art most of the
time. But there is no scenario that calls
for 240 of them (the Air Force’s pre-
sequester planned fleet, through 2030)
and the Pentagon’s cumbersome eco-
nomics make small fleets expensive.
A better solution might be to think of
unconventional ways to sustain a small
force of A-10s at a reasonable cost.
Anyone who has been following the
development of CAS ought to know
these things, as they ought to know
that the theoretically CAS-minded
Marine Corps has mortgaged its future
in order to acquire supersonic stealth
fighters (with a two-burst gun pod op-
tion), the U.S. Army’s attack helicop-
ters have been generously funded, and
that the Joint Chiefs of Staf—chaired
by one aviator in the last 30 years—
signed of on the F-35 as the A-10
replacement. (But it’s the Air Force’s
fault somehow.)
What is really happening is that
some critics of the Air Force like the
A-10 not for what it can do, but for
what it can’t—operate ofensively
against air defenses—and because it
forces the Air Force, despite its own
selfish plans, to do its job and support
ground forces.
But there’s that irritating real world,
where the ground forces can’t get
to the fight without airlift; can’t stay
there without air supremacy; don’t
know where their adversaries are
without air force-provided intelligence,
surveillance and reconnaissance; and
can’t talk to their headquarters or
even know where they are without
spacecraft, which were not wafted into
orbit by green-cammo’ed leprechauns,
strange as that may seem.
One sure way to get nowhere is to
use the A-10 as a symbol of an ofen-
sive against independent airpower. In
World War 1, debate over military avia-
tion pitted Army ofcers who thought
that the airplane was a very large
horse against Navy leaders who saw it
as a small torpedo boat. Some people
don’t seem to have moved on. c



Inside Business Aviation
By William Garvey
Business & Commercial
Aviation Editor-in-Chief
William Garvey blogs at:
Fortunately, she has done
it before. In fact, this will be
her fifth airlift (in all, Cessna
has coordinated seven dating back to
1985), and the veteran Cessnan can be
very persuasive. In 1999, she corralled
a fleet of 260 Citations to carry 2,000
passengers to and from the games
in Raleigh-Durham, N.C. For the last
airlift, serving the 2010 games in
Lincoln, Neb., she got 161 Citations to
Overseeing the actual airlift de-
mands Olympic-level precision. This
year, on arrival and departure days a
Citation will land or take of from New
Jersey’s Trenton-Mercer Airport every
2 min. almost uninterrupted for a solid
10 hr., transporting 800 passengers
across the U.S.
The jets and crews are provided gra-
tis, and the baggage handlers are all
volunteers. Bob Gobrecht, president
of Special Olympics North America,
says the airlift “provides a crucial cost-
savings to our programs that cannot
be overstated.”
But the efort represents even more.
Says Gobrecht, “You’re taking the
most marginalized and invisible people
ince Olympic ski runs rarely occur in palm-treed towns, Rus-
sian President Vladimir Putin may soon be sweating the
snow report for Sochi.
But Rhonda Fullerton is
fretting over her sum-
mer Olympics conditions
now. As director of the
Citation Special Olym-
pics Airlift, she must find
big-hearted jet operators
to supply 175 Citations to
carry athletes, coaches or
sponsors to and from the
games in the Princeton,
N.J., area, June 14-21.
Olympic Performance
Aiming for a takeof or landing every 2 min.
in our society and saying to them: ‘You
are important. You deserve the best.’”
Contact Fullerton before March 1 to
volunteer: (888) 565-5438 or c
It’s that time of year when ads for
timepieces crowd newspapers, home
mailboxes and every other game
break on television. Since pilots are
big watch wonks, I ofer up two new
models that could jingle any aviator’s
Christmas bells.
Garmin’s wrist-wearable wonder
called the D2 (as in “Direct To”) (see
photo) has a
Wide Area
System receiver
and its 1.2-in.
face displays a
moving map as
well as GPS-da-
ta-driven flight
including an
altimeter with an adjustable barometer
setting. It can even activate Garmin’s
new video camera. This mini-G1000
marvel retails for $449.
Meanwhile, Breitling’s Emergency
(see photo) will soon be keeping its
owners out of harm’s way. The tita-
nium case of the precision watch and
chronograph contains a personal loca-
tor beacon that
can transmit
an alternating
emergency sig-
nal on 121.5 mhz
and 406 mhz
for up to 24 hr.
Obtaining oper-
ating approvals
from various
agencies has delayed actual shipping
until early 2014 at least. The timepiece
retails for $15,750. c
Serving up a most unlikely exception
in a town where “Nay!” prevails, the
U.S. Congress and the Obama admin-
istration have said “Yea!” to the Small
Airplane Revitalization Act of 2013,
benefitting manufacturers of general
aviation aircraft.
The legislation essentially endorses
the recommendations of an aviation
rulemaking committee to increase
safety and reduce government and
industry certification costs for light
general aviation airplanes. Other coun-
tries are expected to act similarly, since
the recommendations had international
input. Notably, the new law sets a defini-
tive timeline for the FAA to complete a
sweeping rewrite of Part 23 regulations
as a way to ensure it isn’t bogged down
in agency bureaucracy.
Pete Bunce, president and CEO of
the General Aviation Manufacturers
Association, says the new law “dem-
onstrates a bipartisan commitment to
safety, as well as a recognition that the
FAA’s overly bureaucratic, outdated
and prescriptive regulations must
change.” He calls it a “win for the
government as well as general aviation
airframers and suppliers, but more
importantly, for the general aviation
pilots and passengers who will be
able to benefit more rapidly from new
safety-enhancing technologies.” c

Some of the 830 athletes and coaches
airlifted to the 2010 Special Olympics in
Lincoln, Neb.
The probable cause of the July 6
Asiana accident at San Francisco
International Airport (see photo) has
not been determined. But, absent some
unexpected new revelations, enough is
known about the accident sequence to
draw several important conclusions.
The pilots either did not understand
some of the aircraft’s automation
modes, and/or were not paying close
enough attention to crucial variables,
like altitude and airspeed, on final
approach. Once they realized their di-
lemma, they were not sure how to react.
Before they could fly their way out of
trouble, they crashed into a seawall.
Even if no flaws in the 777 are un-
earthed, dismissing the event as “pilot
error” would miss the point: Asiana
214’s flight crew was not adequately
prepared for what it encountered. Most
important, a growing mountain of data
suggest that such unpreparedness is
closer to endemic than isolated to cer-
tain regions or second-tier operators.
A recently released report by a
FAA-tasked working group (WG) listed
18 recommendations on how to make
better—and safer—use of flight-path
management systems. The 267-page
report broke little new ground, but
added analytical depth to acknowl-
edged weaknesses.
One is that automation has made
aircraft so reliable and predictable
that pilots have trouble maintain-
ing so-called hand-flying skills that
are—or should be—central to every
airman’s capabilities.
The report’s data sources include
46 accidents and major incidents that
his week’s National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB)
hearing on Asiana Airlines Flight 214 is more than a deep
dive into why a Boeing 777 crash-landed at a major U.S. hub on
a near-perfect summer morning. It is the continuation of an es-
calating discussion on—as the NTSB puts it so well in its press
advisory on the hearing—“pilot awareness in highly automated
No Easy Answers
Honing in on degradation of piloting skills
occurred from 1994-2007, nearly 730
relevant Aviation Safety Reporting
System reports, and information from
9,000 Line Operations Safety Audit
(LOSA) reports compiled by trained
observers sitting in cockpits during
regular flights.
Among the notable takeaways
unearthed by the WG: More than 60%
of the 26 accident reports reviewed
identified a manual handling error as
a factor. (The report’s data-collection
phase ended before several relevant
flight-path management-related ac-
cidents, including the high-profile
Colgan Air 3407 and Air France 447
crashes, both in 2009, as well as the
Asiana crash.)
Also telling is a sample set of 2,200
recent LOSA reports that looked at
big-picture flight crew automation-
management ratings by category and
phase of flight (pre-departure, takeof/
climb and descent/approach/landing).
While the number of flight phases with
either outstanding or poor/marginal
ratings was small—meaning most
crews rated somewhere in between—
the total of lowest-rated performances
generally outnumbered the highest-
rated by about 40%.
As aircraft and airspace manage-
ment systems become more capable,
pilots do less hand-flying and more
system management. One result, in
the WG’s words: “Concern has been
expressed that pilot skill degradation
occurs because of the use of automat-
ed systems results in lack of practice
or over-confidence in those systems.”
This echoes a 1996 FAA Human
Factors report on pilot/flight-deck in-
terface. Despite actions taken based on
that report and a steady improvement
in key accident metrics, the issue is not
getting better, and industry does not
appear to be moving toward a consen-
sus on how to solve this.
The WG, formed in 2006, com-
prises representatives from operators,
manufacturers, labor groups, govern-
ment and academia. The group also
interviewed major industry stakehold-
ers—including airlines—to solicit direct
input. “Significant concerns” were
voiced about the degradation of manual
flying-skill development and retention.
What was not heard was agree-
ment on why a pilot’s hand-flying skills
decay, what to do about it, or even
consensus on what constitutes an ad-
equate set of manual piloting skills.
“Complexity in airspace operations
is increasing, and as the flexibility in-
creases . . . so does the complexity and
potential for unexpected events,” the
flight-path-management report notes.
“Pilots must be prepared for dealing
with the unexpected, and the equip-
ment design, training, procedures and
operations must enable them to do so.”
As the working group’s seven-year
efort underscores so well: It’s easier
said than done. c
By Sean Broderick
Senior Managing Editor MRO
Sean Broderick blogs at:
In Orbit
By Frank Morring, Jr.
Senior Editor Frank
Morring, Jr., blogs at:
Even if the mission does not work
out as planned—the Moon’s surface is
littered wreckage from failed robotic
landings—attempting it underscores
China’s ambitions in space, which have
drawn praise from other spacefaring
nations. Russian federal space agency
Roscosmos posted news of the “flaw-
less” launch on its English-language
Facebook page, and the European
Space Agency’s (ESA) website noted
that its ground-based space-tracking
network is helping the Chinese, who
normally rely on ocean-going tracking
vessels for global coverage.
“Whether for human or robotic mis-
sions, international cooperation like this
is necessary for the future exploration
of planets, moons and asteroids, ben-
efitting everyone,” says Thomas Reiter,
the ESA astronaut leading the agency’s
human-spaceflight organization.
In the U.S., however, reaction to the
Chinese success has been muted, to say
the least. Because powerful members of
Congress object to U.S. space coopera-
tion with China on human rights and
national security grounds, it is not
particularly wise for American space-
exploration interests to congratulate
the Chinese too heartily. Take Moon
Express, for example. The Silicon
Valley-based commercial lunar-lander
startup walked a careful line when it
used the Chinese launch to highlight its
own work so as not to anger the Capitol
Hill potentates who control the flow of
funding for U.S. spaceflight endeavors.
“There is absolutely no technical
hina is on its way to the first controlled lunar landing in al-
most four decades—a planned touchdown in the poetically
named Bay of Rainbows (Sinus Iridium) to unleash a robotic
rover called Yutu (see illustration), an equally poetic reference to
the jade rabbit the goddess Chang’e took with her when she flew
to the Moon. China’s Chang’e-3 mission made it out of low Earth
orbit Dec. 1 into a translunar trajectory that sets up Yutu for a
landing on Dec. 14.
NASA edges toward China—slightly
exchange involved, and Moon Express
itself has no direct interactions with
China at any technical level,” says CEO
Bob Richards. Moon Express pulled
that detail from Richards’ personal
blog and included it in a “clarification/
correction” to a press release about
the company’s work on lunar-based
telescopes for the International Lunar
Observatory Association. That U.S.-
based private group has an exchange-
of-imagery arrangement with the
Chinese Academy of Sciences’ National
Astronomical Observatories, which has
an ultraviolet telescope on Yutu.
“Moon Express has collaborative
agreements in place with NASA and
is well aware that NASA has been
expressly prohibited by Congress from
collaborating with China in space mis-
sions, even on a scientific level,” the
company says. “Moon Express fire-
walls prevent the inappropriate flow of
technical information, and there are no
instances where any protected infor-
mation arising out of its relationship
with NASA is exposed to third parties,
domestic or foreign.”
The California company isn’t the only
organization to clarify how its relation-
ship with China is characterized, but in
the case of NASA itself the trend was
in the other direction—if only slightly.
During the International Astronauti-
cal Congress (IAC) in Beijing this fall,
the newly renamed China Manned
Space Agency publicized meetings with
European, Russian and Canadian space
leaders (AW&ST Nov. 25, p. 50). In
response to coverage of those meetings
in AW&ST, the U.S. agency stressed
that Administrator Charles Bolden also
appeared publicly on a panel with other
heads of space agencies, including Ma
Xingrui, who at the time ran the China
National Space Agency, which oversees
some robotic space exploration.
NASA revealed that Bolden also met
Bai Chunli, president of the Chinese
Academy of Sciences, to discuss revival
of “currently suspended” collaboration
on space geodesy using GPS, very long
baseline interferometry, and satellite
laser-ranging to measure changes in
Earth’s shape, gravity and rotation.
NASA stopped an 18-year collaboration
with the Shanghai Astronomical Ob-
servatory in 2010 “in compliance with
statutory restrictions.”
Also on the Bolden-Bai agenda was
the possibility of using the two nations’
separate arrangements with the Inter-
national Center for Integrated Moun-
tain Development in the Himalayan
Region in Kathmandu, Nepal, to coordi-
nate the use of “Earth-observation data
products for glacier characterization.”
The previously undisclosed talks may
mark another shift in U.S.-China space
relations. Bolden has visited China as
an ofcial guest of the Manned Space
Agency, a military organization that
oversees China’s Shenzhou and Tian-
gong human-spaceflight programs in
low Earth orbit. But he has been blocked
from reciprocating by congressional
appropriations language drafted by Rep.
Frank Wolf (R-Va.), chairman of the
House subcommittee that funds NASA
and a staunch foe of China’s government.
Bolden notified Congress that he would
attend the IAC and hold the bilateral
discussions with Bai, “in accordance
with procedures established in [the ap-
propriations language], and members of
Congress, including Wolf . . . were made
aware,” NASA states. c
Washington Outlook
ith Congress nearing a deadline this week to forge a short-
term budget agreement, suggestions for what to protect and
what to cut are coming from all corners. Republicans are trying to
protect three high-priced NASA programs from the budget ax and
free up more than a half-billion dollars for
the projects at the same time. And Rep.
Mo Brooks (Ala.), a frequent critic of gov-
ernment spending, is leading the charge,
introducing legislation drawn from the
stalled NASA reauthorization bill. His bill
would exempt the International Space
Station, heavy-lift Space Launch System
(SLS) and Orion crew vehicle (see photo)
from termination. The bill, which the
House Science Committee expects to
consider this week, also would free $507
million in funds held to cover termination
liability costs under a contract interpreta-
tion by NASA’s Democratic management
based on the 19th-centu-
ry Anti-Deficiency Act
that prohibits federal
employees from spend-
ing more than Congress
has authorized. The bill
prohibits withholding
funds from the three
programs for termina-
tion liability, and de-
clares termination-liability provisions in
existing contracts for the programs “void
and unenforceable” unless Congress spe-
cifically authorizes the funds at a later
time. The future for this legislation is
dicey—even in the Republican-controlled
House—although it is sure to attract sup-
port in the Senate from Richard Shelby
(R-Ala.), the powerful ranking minority
member of the Senate Appropriations
subcommittee that funds NASA. Mar-
shall Space Flight Center, in Brooks’s
North Alabama congressional district,
manages SLS development, and has sig-
nificant roles in the ISS and Orion proj-
ects as well. If the measure passes, it
would free at least $192 million for SLS,
$226 million for Orion and $89 million for
the ISS, says Brooks’s ofce.
But the ideas in circulation are
not just about how to preserve pro-
grams, plenty of interest groups are
also flooding Capitol Hill with reports
about how to meet spending reduction
targets. That includes a proposal by the
conservative-leaning National Taxpay-
ers Union and the U.S. Public Interest
Research Group, backed by Ralph
Nader. Their report “Toward Common
Ground” is ofering proposals for how
the Pentagon can easily save $197.2 bil-
lion—namely by cutting the F-35 Joint
Strike Fighter and replacing it with
F-16 and F/A-18 aircraft, eliminating
boosters from the Evolved Expendable
Launch Vehicle and replacing the V-22
Osprey with MH-60 Seahawks and CH-
53 Sea Stallions. c
The FAA has decided NASA astro-
nauts can be allowed to engage in
operational flight functions up to
and including piloting a commercial
space vehicle for aborts, emergency
response, and monitoring and op-
erating environmental controls and
life-support systems during FAA-
licensed commercial space launches
and reentries. But astronauts beware:
Training to become employable by
commercial providers may force a
take-it-or-leave-it proposition to either
commit to remaining an astronaut,
or commit to pursuing a career as a
commercial space pilot. Under current
regulations, spaceflight participants
are not allowed to actually fly space-
craft because, when the term was
defined, spaceflight participants were
seen as untrained passengers. But
the FAA decided astronauts can take
control of private spacecraft during
launch and landing —when nominally a
computer would be flying the vehicle—
if emergencies arise. The designation
will matter someday. c
Days after word circulated about the
FAA’s plans to institute sleep-apnea
testing for obese pilots and controllers,
House lawmakers scrambled to slow the
proposal. Last week, the House Trans-
portation and Infrastructure Committee
approved a bill that would require the
FAA to conduct a formal rulemaking if
it mandates that pilots and controllers
undergo testing for obstructive sleep
apnea (OSA) and potentially seek treat-
ment. The rule is prompted by the idea
that individuals with a body mass index
of 40 or more are at greater risk of being
susceptible to OSA, and
would be more prone to
sleepiness. The sponsor,
Rep. Frank LoBiondo
(R-N.J.), who chairs the
aviation subcommittee,
called the impending
policy “neither reasonable
nor acceptable,” and adds
that it is stirring “a lot of
confusion, uncertainty and concern.” c
Christine Fox, the former director of
Cost Assessment and Program Evalu-
ation at the Defense Department, took
over as acting deputy secretary Dec.
5. Fox has gained renown in a number
of roles. These include her leadership
on the recent scrub of the Pentagon
budget called the Strategic Choices and
Management Review, as well as her role
as president of the Center for Naval
Analysis (CNA). But there is also an
element of “star power” in her back-
ground: Back in the 1980s, while work-
ing at CNA, she was the inspiration for
Kelly McGillis’s lead actress role in the
1986 movie Top Gun. c
To Cut or To Keep
Lawmakers, interest groups make
last-minute budget pitches
Edited by Jen DiMascio
Congressional Editor
A bill by Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.)
would exempt the International
Space Station, heavy-lift Space
Launch System and Orion crew
vehicle from termination.
large, classified unmanned aircraft developed by Northrop
Grumman is now flying—and it demonstrates a major ad-
vance in combining stealth and aerodynamic efciency.
Defense and intelligence ofcials say the secret unmanned aerial
system (UAS), designed for intelligence, surveillance and recon-
naissance (ISR) missions, is scheduled to enter production for the
U.S. Air Force and could be operational by 2015.
Funded through the Air Force’s
classified budget, the program to build
this new UAS, dubbed the RQ-180, was
awarded to Northrop Grumman after a
competition that included Boeing and
Lockheed Martin. The aircraft will con-
duct the penetrating ISR mission that
has been left unaddressed, and under
wide debate, since retirement of the
Lockheed SR-71 in 1998.
Neither the Air Force nor Northrop
Grumman would speak about the clas-
sified airplane. When queried about the
project, Air Force spokeswoman Jen-
nifer Cassidy said, “The Air Force does
not discuss this program.”
The RQ-180 carries radio-frequency
sensors such as active, electronically
scanned array (AESA) radar and pas-
sive electronic surveillance measures,
according to one defense official. It
could also be capable of electronic at-
tack missions.
This aircraft’s design is key for the
shift of Air Force ISR assets away from
“permissive” environments—such as
Iraq and Afghanistan, where Northrop
Grumman’s non-stealthy Global Hawk
and General Atomics’ Reaper operate—
and toward operations in “contested” or
“denied” airspace. The new UAS under-
pins the Air Force’s determination to re-
tire a version of the RQ-4B Global Hawk
Amy Butler and Bill Sweetman Washington
Return of
the Penetrator
Stealth takes over where speed left of
with new, classified unmanned aircraft
after 2014, despite congressional resis-
tance. The RQ-180 eclipses the smaller,
less stealthy and shorter-range RQ-170
Sentinel (see page 22).
If the previous patterns for secret
ISR aircraft operations are followed,
the new UAV will be jointly controlled
by the Air Force and the CIA, with the
program managed by the Air Force’s
Rapid Capabilities Office and flight
operations sustained by the Air Force.
This arrangement has been used for
the RQ-170, which is operated by the
Air Force’s 30th Reconnaissance
Sqdn., according to a fact sheet the Air
Force released after one of the aircraft
turned up in Iran.
Northrop Grumman’s financial re-
ports point to a possible award of a
secret UAS contract in 2008, when
the company disclosed a $2 billion in-
crease in the backlog in its Integrated
Systems division. This is the operating
unit responsible for building the B-2
bomber, Global Hawk and Fire Scout
UAS and X-47B unmanned combat air
system (UCAS) demonstrator. This
year, Northrop Grumman financial re-
ports acknowledged that an unnamed
aircraft program entered low-rate




This concept created for AW&ST of the
RQ-180 shows a cranked-kite design
and high-aspect ratio wings.


Global Hawk, Davis said, “We did not
do that without carefully looking at
how we cover that [mission] with the
U-2 and other classified platforms.” But
when asked during the open congres-
sional hearing to explain, he said, “You’d
probably need to go into detail within
another forum.”
In September, Lt. Gen. Robert Otto,
the Air Force deputy chief of staf for
ISR, said the service’s “first priority” in
intelligence, surveillance and reconnais-
sance is “to rebalance and optimize our
integrated ISR capabilities.
“The mix is not where it needs to be,”
he said. “We are over-invested in per-
missive ISR and we have to transform
the force to fight and win in contested
environments. We will seek a more
balanced fleet of both manned and
unmanned platforms that are able to
penetrate denied airspace and provide
unprecedented levels of persistence.”
The Air Force could not aford to buy
and maintain the target number of 65
MQ-9 Reaper and MQ-1 Predator com-
bat air patrols beyond 2014, Otto added,
possibly pointing to a shift in priorities
to the new Northrop system.
These public statements are a by-
product of an internal debate over the
number of the new secret UAS to be
acquired. While there is apparently
agreement on the need for a small
“silver-bullet” force for special military
and CIA missions, a larger fleet could
be an enabler for fighters and bombers
against a wide range of targets. A 2009
report by the influential think tank the
Center for Strategic and Budgetary As-
sessments recommends a force of five
10-aircraft squadrons of high-altitude,
stealthy, ISR unmanned penetrators.
But such a large fleet would be costly
and could compete for funding with the
Joint Strike Fighter, the Long-Range
Strike Bomber and other high-priority
In addition, if the U.S. procures more
than a few of the secret RQ-180 aircraft,
it will be harder to keep them under
wraps. Historically, the Air Force has
resisted establishing operational units
at Area 51, its most secure known op-
erating base, because maintaining
compartmentalization there between
multiple secret programs becomes dif-
ficult. For example, workers are usually
confined to their buildings when a clas-
sified program other than their own is
performing tests outside. The disrup-
tion to work grows if one program is
running at an operational tempo.
In April, Otto’s predecessor as depu-
ty chief of staf for ISR, Lt. Gen. Larry
James, acknowledged that the Air
Force had learned lessons about the
need to more widely disseminate infor-
mation on classified programs to en-
sure operational commanders are fully
aware of their capabilities. Responding
to a question from Aviation Week at a
Stimson Center event in Washington,
James said, “We have a whole host of
programs covering all the diferent en-
vironments, and we ensure that as we
develop new capabilities we are in con-
versations with people at the right lev-
els. We are much better today than we
were 10-15 years ago, [when] you’d have
this new super-secret thing and you’d
turn up at the combatant commander’s
door at the start of an operation. That’s
not a good place to be.”
The RQ-180 has its roots in Northrop
Grumman’s Joint Unmanned Combat
Air System (J-UCAS) project. The
main reason for J-UCAS’s cancella-
tion in late 2005 was the divergence
in requirements. The Navy wanted a
carrier-based aircraft, which led to the
X-47B program. The Air Force sought
a larger, longer-range “global strike
enabler” that would be much more ca-
pable than the RQ-170, which was then
Tap the icon in the digital
edition of AW&ST for a
detailed look at the development
of stealthy UAS, or go to
initial production, the Pentagon term
for low-volume deliveries that begin
as testing nears completion and be-
fore the program is approved for full
Beyond the financial disclosures, pub-
licly available overhead imagery shows
new shelters and hangars sized for an
aircraft with a 130-ft.-plus wing span at
Northrop’s Palmdale, Calif., plant and at
Area 51, the Air Force’s secure flight-test
center at Groom Lake, Nev. (see photos
below). The company also pushed for a
substantial expansion of its Palmdale
production facilities in 2010, perhaps
to support work on the RQ-180
(AW&ST Nov. 22, 2010, p. 28).
The new aircraft’s exis-
tence explains an incon-
sistency: Air Force of-
cials have frequently
called for a new,
ISR capa-
bility. Yet
been no public evidence
that the service has been planning to
develop such an aircraft.
At a House Armed Services Commit-
tee hearing in April, Lt. Gen. Charles
Davis, the Air Force’s top uniformed
acquisition official, said the service
has no requirement for more Global
Hawks beyond 2014 and wants to “use
that money for much higher priorities.”
Defending the planned cuts to the
In 2009-10, as the RQ-180 neared flight testing, shelters were built over
ramps and engine test pits at Palmdale, Calif. (left). Completed between
2006 and 2009 and shielded from view behind an earthen berm, this han-
gar at Area 51, Nev. (above), is most likely the home of the new aircraft.
A fiscal 2007 Navy budget document
disclosed that the J-UCAS program
had been split in December 2005 into
a Navy demonstration efort (which led
to the X-47B) and “an Air Force clas-
sified program.” At the same time,
Northrop openly discussed a range of
longer-winged X-47C configurations,
the largest being a 172-ft.-span design
with two engines derived from General
Electric’s CF34 and capable of carry-
ing a 10,000-lb. weapon load.
The RQ-180 is smaller than that con-
cept, and it is not clear whether it will
conduct strike missions. It is similar
in size and endurance to the Global
Hawk, which weighs 32,250 lb. and can
stay on station for 24 hr. 1,200 nm from
its base. The much smaller RQ-170 is
limited to 5-6 hr. of operation.
A key feature of the RQ-180’s design
is an improvement in all-aspect, broad-
band radar cross-section reduction
over Lockheed Martin’s F-117, F-22 and
F-35. This is optimized to provide pro-
tection from low- and high-frequency
threat emitters from all directions. The
design also merges stealth with superi-
or aerodynamic efciency for increased
altitude, range and time on station.
The aircraft uses a version of
Northrop’s stealthy “cranked-kite” de-
sign, as does the X-47B, with a highly
swept centerbody and long, slender
outer wings. Northrop Grumman en-
gineers publicly claimed (before the
launch of the classified program) that
the cranked-kite is scalable and adapt-
able, in contrast to the B-2’s shape, which
has an unbroken leading edge. The RQ-
180’s centerbody length and volume can
be greater relative to the vehicle’s size.
Computational fluid dynamics per-
mit new stealth aircraft to achieve
“sailplane-like” efciency, industry of-
ficials say. The management of complex
three-dimensional airflow is the key to
achieving laminar flow over much of the
wing and designing stealth-compatible
exhaust and inlet systems that are
lighter and more efficient than those
on the B-2.
Aerodynamics and stealth are often at
odds. The B-2’s “toothpick” leading edg-
es—sharp at the nose and wingtip and
blunter in between—are the result of a
hard-fought trade-of between the team
trying to optimize aerodynamic perfor-
mance and the group concerned with
making it hard to detect. Maintaining a
high degree of laminar flow on a swept
wing is an achievement in itself, because
spanwise air flow tends to induce turbu-
lence and is not made any easier by pos-
sible spillage from overwing inlets.
The pursuit of laminar flow and ef-
ficiency likely drove the development
of new structural and manufactur-
ing technologies. Scaled Composites,
which Northrop Grumman acquired in
2007, is a world leader in building large
composite airframes “outside-in” in fe-
male molds, resulting in a consistent
and fastener-free surface.
Engine integration always presents
challenges for stealthy designs. The
length and volume of the serpentine
inlet and exhaust systems (used to
shield metal engine components from
radar) are proportional to engine di-
ameter, because the duct curvature
radius must increase with its area to
avoid distortion. Also, higher-bypass
engines, which are larger in diameter,
tend to be less tolerant of flow distor-
tion than low-bypass types. This is one
reason why most subsonic stealth air-
craft, including the B-2, use adapted
fighter engines at a significant penalty
to fuel economy.
The RQ-180 could use a medium-
bypass-ratio engine, similar to the
modified CF34 engine eyed for early

The Mach 3 D-21 UAS is developed
by Lockheed, initially to be launched
at supersonic speed by modifed
A-12. After a fatal accident, it is
modifed with a rocket booster
for B-52 launch. Four operational
missions are attempted without
The Teledyne Ryan AQM-91A Compass Arrow,
designed for the CIA and U.S. Air Force to
overfy China’s nuclear sites, makes its frst
fight. Twenty-eight are built but no overfights
are attempted.
The Compass Arrow and
D-21 are canceled owing to
a ban on China overfights
and the emergence of better
reconnaissance satellites.
1972 1962 1968
Heritage of Stealthy UAS
Family Business
Secret stealth UAS must be viewed
in context of related programs
Amy Butler and Bill Sweetman Washington
n December 2011, Iran proudly dis-
played on state television a stealthy
U.S. unmanned aircraft it claimed it
had downed while conducting recon-
naissance overflights. The trophy was
a Lockheed Martin RQ-170 Sentinel, an
aircraft publicly acknowledged by the
U.S. Air Force two years earlier.
Even before, the existence of the
RQ-170 had been a poorly kept secret.
The unmanned aerial system (UAS)
was operating out of Afghanistan and
flying over Pakistan and Iran for an un-
determined period before it was photo-
graphed at Kandahar AB, Afghanistan,
in 2008. Later, in 2011, it was involved
in the raid in which Osama bin Laden
was killed (AW&ST Dec. 12, 2011, p. 19).
.S. A
X-47-based concepts. Its engine prob-
ably has more power than the Global
Hawk’s 7,600-lb.-thrust Rolls-Royce
AE3007H, to provide better altitude
performance and electrical power for
payload growth.
Operationally, the RQ-180’s range
could be extended by inflight refuel-
ing, though it is unclear whether the
UAS takes advantage of this technol-
ogy. Before 2008, Northrop Grum-
man repeatedly stated its belief that
the endurance of an X-47-based air-
craft could be pushed to 100 hr. with
refueling. Beyond that point, the need
to reengineer components to extend
the time they could be flown between
inspections was predicted to be bur-
densome. The limiting factor on Global
Hawk endurance beyond its onboard
fuel capacity is oil life.
The Navy pursued probe-and-
drogue refueling under the X-47B pro-
gram, but it used a manned surrogate
aircraft for flight tests. The Air Force
separately conducted tests in 2008 us-
ing its boom-equipped tankers and a
manned surrogate, but after 2008, no
progress with boom refueling of un-
manned aircraft was reported publicly.
Incorporating advances in stealth
and aerodynamics, the RQ-180 shows
that low-observable technologies can
still adapt to counter new threats
such as low-frequency radar. It is a
stepping-stone to the development
of the Air Force’s Long Range Strike
Bomber, while also complementing the
B-2 and other long-range strike assets.
By contrast to its predecessors, the
RQ-180 secures a foothold for stealth
in future war plans, in which extremely
expensive “do everything” platforms
are eclipsed by families of networked,
cooperative systems. c AVIATION WEEK & SPACE TECHNOLOGY/DECEMBER 9, 2013 23
The Air Force, CIA and National
Reconnaissance Offce start a competition
between Lockheed and Boeing, which
later teamed, to design a UAS code-named
Quartz, capable of loitering in Soviet
airspace for as long as 40 hr. It is
later partly acknowledged under the
name Advanced Airborne Reconnaissance
System (AARS).
The AARS is terminated in
December due to high costs
and collapse of the Soviet threat.
Some NRO offcials continue to
advocate for a less ambitious
version, known as Tier III.
The Tier III mission is split between
a long-range, non-stealthy Tier II
Plus, which becomes Global Hawk,
and the small stealthy Tier III
Minus, a subscale AARS. The latter
becomes the RQ-3 DarkStar under
a sole-source Defense Advanced
contract to Lockheed and Boeing.
The USAF Scientifc Advisory
Board’s New World Vistas
project makes frst public
use of the term “unmanned
combat air vehicle” (UCAV).
DarkStar makes its frst
fight in March but crashes
on its second fight in April.
1983 1992 1994 1996 1995
The Pentagon played down that
embarrassing loss of the UAS. One
reason may now be clear. Defense and
intelligence sources say the Senti-
nel was the result of a quick-reaction
project designed for specific missions,
and not with an eye toward an endur-
ing presence in the fleet. That position
was reserved for a new, secret UAS—
Northrop Grumman’s stealthy RQ-180
(see preceding article).
To fully understand this new UAS,
one must view it in the context of the
larger “family of systems” the Air
Force envisions to include long-range
strike and intelligence, surveillance
and reconnaissance (ISR) platforms.
A 2010 presentation by the Air Force’s
director of operational requirements
at the time, Maj. Gen. David Scott,
made that connection.
Emergence of the RQ-180 allowed
the Air Force to reduce requirements
for what was once called the Next-
Generation Bomber (NGB), a program
terminated in 2009 because of its high
cost. The follow-on Long-Range Strike
Bomber (LRS-B) is a less-expensive
option that will rely on interoperabil-
ity with the RQ-180 and other systems
in the family.
In 2008, when Northrop is believed
to have won the contract to develop
the stealthy penetrating UAS, the Air
Force was facing criticism from then-
Defense Secretary Robert Gates that
it was falling short in supporting ISR
requirements for the wars in Iraq and
Afghanistan. But behind the scenes,
defense planners and the intelligence
community were worried about a lack
of information on some well-defended
locations such as North Korea and
This was also in the wake of the Air
Force and Navy’s divorce over the efort
to jointly develop a single stealthy UAS
capable of ISR collection and striking
from land or sea. The Joint Unmanned
Combat Air Systems (J-UCAS) pro-
gram was terminated late in 2005.
The Navy, in search of carrier-based
ISR, proceeded with the X-47B UCAS
demonstration and now plans to buy a
. A
Research Projects Agency (Darpa)
where we’ve taken a really close look
on the classified side to make sure the
investments are closely aligned. We
are not missing opportunities there to
take cuts on the unclassified side. . . .
There were some shifts, [but] nothing
overly major at this point.”
Because of war requirements in Iraq
and Afghanistan, where coalition air
forces could operate with little threat
from the ground, the Air Force had
poured funding into ISR collectors
follow-on called the Unmanned Carrier-
Launched Airborne Surveillance and
Strike (Uclass) system. The Air Force
directed its funding and technology to
a classified program, likely the RQ-180.
Despite heavy pressure on defense
spending, the RQ-180 is moving for-
ward. Cuts to classified budgets are
“relatively proportional” to those for
white-world programs, says acting Air
Force Secretary Eric Fanning. “This is
the first time I’ve been in the Air Force
A 2005 Northrop Grumman pro-
posal for an unmanned ISR-strike
prototype was a step on the way to
the RQ-180.
without stealthy characteristics such
as the Beechcraft King Air-based
MC-12W Project Liberty and Blue
Devil 1 intel platforms.
“For a decade now we have built the
most incredible permissive ISR capaci-
ty and capability that anybody has ever
seen,” Air Combat Command’s chief,
Gen. Michael Hostage, said in Sep-
tember. “We are being forced to build
a capacity [with the Reaper] I know I
can’t sustain, and I know I don’t need
based on the national strategy,” which
calls for operating in heavily defended
airspace, as well. He says Pentagon
officials are sorting through what is
needed to handle the more challeng-
ing threats. “We are talking about the
entire ISR construct—how much in
permissive, how much in contested
and how much in denied” is needed.
Not since the Mach 3 SR-71 program
ended in 1998 has the Pentagon been
able to overfly targets in hostile air-
space to collect intelligence. The prolif-
eration of longer-range and integrated
air-defense systems, coupled with its
high operating cost, banished the Black-
bird to museums. And in 1999, the Pen-
tagon terminated the RQ-3 DarkStar
UAS, a potential successor under devel-
The Quadrennial Defense
Review terminates J-UCAS.
The Navy moves forward
with a simpler program
aimed at a carrier-based
demonstration and the
Air Force pursues a new
stealth UAS (AW&ST
July 24, 2006, p. 64).
First fight of the Lockheed Martin P-175
Polecat demonstrator is conducted in
secret. Unveiled in July 2006, the UAS
crashes later in the year.
The Pentagon establishes
USAF/Navy/Darpa Joint
Unmanned Combat Air
System (J-UCAS) program.
The X-45A makes its frst fight.
The Pentagon terminates DarkStar
due to budget cuts and concerns
about the design’s stability.
Darpa contracts with Boeing
Phantom Works for two stealthy
X-45A UCAV demonstrators.
Tap the references in red in the digital
edition of AW&ST to access our exclusive
coverage of UAS developments.
opment by Lockheed Martin and Boe-
ing as a stealthy adjunct to Northrop
Grumman’s RQ-4 Global Hawk, after it
encountered flight-stability problems.
These developments left unanswered
a Pentagon Joint Requirements Over-
sight Council mission-need statement
for an aircraft capable of operating in
defended airspace for long periods.
Though satellites are capable of
peering behind borders, they lack the
persistence and flexibility of aircraft.
Satellites are limited by slant ranges,
a problem that aircraft can mitigate by
altering their flight paths. Also, adver-
saries can predict when a spacecraft
will fly overhead and adjust their op-
erations accordingly.
High-speed platforms continue to be
evaluated, such as Lockheed Martin’s
hypersonic SR-72 concept (AW&ST
Nov. 4, p. 18), but planners leery of
acquisition foul-ups and higher-risk
technology opted for stealth in order
to field a system as soon as 2015.
The expectation that the RQ-180
will be fielded soon has helped to ce-
ment support for the Air Force’s abrupt
change of heart on the Northrop Grum-
man Global Hawk high-altitude, long-
endurance UAS—once the centerpiece
for the service’s ISR development plans.
The Block 30 Global Hawk was eyed as
a replacement for the manned U-2 for
stand-off ISR collection, in which air-
craft just loiter outside hostile airspace
peering into enemy territory to gather
images and signals. Though not able to
fly as high (50,000-60,000 ft. versus the
U-2’s 70,000 ft.-plus), the Global Hawk
could loiter for a day or longer and not
expose pilots to the health hazards of
prolonged missions at extreme altitudes,
a problem during long flights supporting
operations over Afghanistan.
Despite deeming Global Hawk criti-
cal to national security in 2011, the Air
Force less than a year later proposed
terminating the Block 30 version, cit-
ing the high operating cost it had once
defended. The Air Force also cited
lackluster performance of the Block
30’s electro-optical and radar-sensor
suite, despite earlier assertions that
these issues were manageable (AW&ST
June 13, 2011, p. 35).
Now the more advanced, stealthy
RQ-180, capable of penetrating an
adversary’s airspace, has superseded
the Global Hawk. The Air Force is now
standing behind the U-2, with some
cockpit and sensor upgrades, as its
workhorse stand-of intelligence col-
lector, with the RQ-180 poised to take
on the penetrating mission.
In a high-level roles-and-missions
trade, the Air Force assumed authority
for developing a stealthier, longer-range,
land-based UAS capable of penetrating
the most defended airspace, guarded
by advanced surface-to-air missiles
and jammers. Meanwhile, the Navy,
is mired in a debate over how stealthy
to make its Uclass air vehicle when a
high degree of stealth would push costs
higher. With the Air Force operating the
RQ-180, the Navy would have the option
to cut its costs on Uclass.
Perhaps indicative of the debate,
the Navy has been coy on the require-
ments and design specifications for
Uclass. The Office of the Secretary
of Defense and the Joint Staff are
pushing for Uclass to operate only in
“contested” airspace—the Pentagon’s
word for areas that are defended but
not with the most advanced weapons
systems. But Navy officials are hop-
ing for a more survivable—though
more expensive—design capable of
operating over the best-defended ar-
eas or “denied” airspace, in Pentagon
parlance. Furthermore, the Air Force
plans to retain its MQ-1 Predator and
MQ-9 Reaper UAS for operation in
uncontested or lightly contested air-
space. The so-called MQ-X, which was
to be a Reaper follow-on, disappeared
from Air Force long-range planning in
2012, another sign its UAS planning
was refocusing around the RQ-180.
If the RQ-180 can prove itself op-
erationally, the Air Force will have ad-
dressed its need for a high-altitude
penetrator. The next big challenge in
rebalancing the service’s ISR fleet will be
to define the future of the Predator and
Reaper and their potential successors. c
The X-47B makes its frst fight.
An RQ-170 goes down in Iran; Iranian military
leaders display the aircraft on television.
The frst catapult takeoff
and arrested landing of
the X-47B. See video at:
The RQ-180 is in testing.
2011 2013
The Air Force acknowledges
existence of RQ-170 Sentinel,
made by Lockheed Martin Skunk
Works, after it is photographed
operating in Afghanistan
(AW&ST Dec. 14, 2009, p. 27).
Northrop Grumman
reports a spike in
“restricted programs”
contracts, potentially
connected to the
RQ-180 (AW&ST
Aug. 29, 2011, p. 46).
The Navy selects Northrop Grumman’s
X-47B for its Unmanned Combat
Air System Demonstrator (UCAS-D)
program and orders two aircraft.
Boeing unveils self-funded
improvements in the X-45C,
dubbed the Phantom Ray
(AW&ST May 11, 2009, p. 37).
U.S. N
uropean aerospace manufactur-
ers are turning up the pressure
on governments to develop a
pan-European approach to the conti-
nent’s medium-altitude, long-endur-
ance (MALE) unmanned air vehicle
But their protests appear to be fall-
ing on deaf ears as another European
nation signs up to purchase the MQ-9
The Netherlands announced plans
Nov. 21 to introduce four General
Atomics MQ-9 Reapers into full op-
erational service by 2017.
The decision sees the Netherlands
joining Italy, the U.K. and, more re-
cently, France, as the latest member
of a rapidly growing Reaper-operating
community in Europe.
The Hague opted to purchase the
MQ-9 after sending out a request for
information for a MALE UAV to 19
manufacturers. Royal Netherlands
Air Force procurement officers re-
ceived just nine responses, only three
of which were complete, according to
a letter sent to the Dutch Parliament
by Defense Minister Jeanine Hennis-
The General Atomics Reaper was
the only model that ofers the “of-the-
shelf capability” the Netherlands was
demanding, she pointed out.
The U.K. and Italy already operate
Reapers; France will follow this year
after taking delivery of its first two
drones under a letter of agreement
signed in August.
The Reaper purchases in Europe
so far have been driven by the re-
quirements of individual countries,
or urgent operational requirements,
but Europe’s governments are work-
ing toward an organic capability. In
November, several European states,
including the Netherlands, agreed to
devise a set of common standards for
developing MALE UAVs and to estab-
lish a community of European drone
users that could support development
of remotely piloted vehicles that could
compete with U.S. and Israeli technol-
ogy in the 2020-25 timeframe.
During a two-day meeting with the
European Defense Agency (EDA) in
Brussels Nov. 18-19, defense ministers
agreed the community would welcome
any EU member state that either has,
or intends to acquire, MALE drones.
Speaking to French lawmakers Nov.
5, the French air force chief of staf,
Gen. Denis Mercier, said he is in favor
of a European MALE development in
the future, but does not see the possi-
bility of drone production before 2022.
“Between now and then we have to
fight the capacity gap and, even more
Tony Osborne London and Amy Svitak Paris
Members Only
Europe’s Reaper club grows with Dutch
purchase of General Atomics UAV
important, acquire the expertise that
will allow us to specify operational re-
quirements,” for UAVs, he said. He did,
however, laud a push by major Europe-
an defense contractors in France, Ger-
many and Italy that urges European
governments to fund development of
a pan-European drone.
“It is €1 billion [$1.35 billion] for
three nations, thus €333 million per na-
tion over 10 years, or €30-odd million
per year. If we are no longer capable of
making this kind of efort as part of a
research and development budget, we
might as well give up having this indus-
trial capacity,” Mercier said of the June
proposal by EADS, France’s Dassault
Aviation and Italy’s Finmeccanica to
quickly shore-up Europe’s MALE gap,
adding that “there is also the proposal
of a European Reaper community that
is very attractive and complementary
[to the MALE proposal].”
Meanwhile, agreements between the
U.K. and France under the 2010 Lan-
caster House Treaties have London
and Paris drawing up staff require-
ments for an unmanned combat air
vehicle, a project for which France
is budgeting €700 million for 2014-19,
French Defense Minister Jean-Yves
Le Drian said in November. The two
governments are also discussing com-
mon requirements for a MALE UAV,
though negotiations on development
have been shelved in the near-term.
Elsewhere in Europe, Germany has
expressed a need for an armed UAV,
and Spanish air force ofcials—despite
facing deep financial challenges—have
said that procurement of a MALE UAV
is one of their highest priorities (see
page 35).
In the Netherlands, military ofcials
are keen to explore the potential ben-
efits of closer cooperation with neigh-
boring Reaper operators. The Hague
already has stated it accepts that
there are few options for international
cooperation at the initial stage of the
program, but that it is already looking
beyond, with Hennis-Plasschaert say-
ing she is preparing to draw up letters
of intent with France and also with
Germany, which expressed a similar
interest in coordinated capability.
The Netherlands plans to use the
Reaper mainly for deployed operations
but also to support civil authorities in
The French air force’s first Reaper
crews are nearing completion of their
training at Holloman, AFB, N.M.
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Mohanad ŷl ChariI,
Sènior InIèriors
ŷbu Dhabi ŷircraII
Osana FaIIalèh,
CFO, 3orŷMCo
Salhèr Haddadin,
DirècIor - MaIèrial
Dr. 3assin Haji,
DirècIor I1,
GulI ŷir
1iynor KalinaI,
Managèr 1èchnical
ProcurènènI, Poyal
3ordanian ŷirlinès
and Chairnan, Iŷ1ŷ
MainIènancè CosI
1asl Forcè (MC1F)
ŷbdullah Osnan,
VP Fnginèèring
ManagènènI 0
Supplièr SupporI,
Frank Morring, Jr. Washington
Strategic Shortfall
Scientists worry about NASA’s planning
under the no-frills budget environment
ASA’s draft science plan looks
as if it “was written by a com-
mittee without the benefit of a
cohesive editing efort,” raising serious
concerns about the long-term health of
the U.S. space-science efort.
A panel of scientists from fields
NASA spends $5 billion a year to ad-
dress finds that the draft strategic plan
fails to tackle the agency’s uncertain
funding outlook in a meaningful way.
This means important exploration ca-
pabilities could fall by the wayside and
“a generation of scientists” may be lost
in some disciplines, they say.
“One of the most fundamental chal-
lenges [facing the Science Mission Di-
rectorate (SMD)] is the uncertain and
apparently decreasing level of available
funding for space science in real terms,
because this has dramatic and real im-
pacts to plans and execution,” a Nation-
al Research Council (NRC) panel, con-
vened to review the draft science plan,
concluded. “This fiscal reality makes it
more important than ever for SMD to
have a clearly articulated and consis-
tently applied method for prioritizing
why and how its scarce fiscal resources
will be apportioned.”
The panel’s report, requested by As-
disaster relief and counter-narcotics
operations. They want to discuss the
possibilities of cooperation in areas in-
cluding joint certification, education,
training, deployment, maintenance
and logistics, as well as the potential
of using the aircraft outside of segre-
gated airspace.
France, which has taken delivery of
its first pair of Reapers and plans to
promptly deploy the aircraft to Africa
to support operations there, is work-
ing closely with Italy as it develops the
capability. Last week, the Italian air
force had been expected to fly one of
its MQ-9s across the Mediteranean to
the French island of Corsica to sup-
port French ground troops taking
part in Exercise Serpentex, but poor
weather was reportedly hampering
flight operations as Aviation Week
went to press.
The first three French UAV crews
were in training at Holloman AFB,
N.M, and on arrival in Africa, the two
platforms and two ground stations will
help to quickly shore up intelligence,
surveillance and reconnaissance gaps
highlighted during the nation’s inter-
vention against Islamist rebels in Mali
earlier this year.
Although the French air force will
mainly use the aircraft on operations,
the air arm has ambitions to employ it
in French airspace, as the Italian air
force does with its own Reapers and
Predators. Once in Africa, French
Reapers will supplant the EADS Har-
fang, but the aircraft will not be armed;
the use of armed UAVs remains con-
troversial in Europe.
“The arming of a UAV is a very
sensitive subject in France, which is
why the aircraft will only be used for
surveillance,” said Gen. Mercier, in an
interview with Aviation Week at the
Dubai Airshow.
“I am convinced we will see weap-
onized UAVs in the future,” he added.
In the meantime, the future of the
U.K. Royal Air Force’s Reaper fleet
remains undecided. The aircraft were
purchased—outside of the defense
ministry’s core budget—to meet an
urgent operational requirement for
the Afghan theater. Because of this
arrangement, they are ofcially due
to exit service at the end of opera-
tions there. Nonetheless, the number
of RAF Reapers is about to double,
with the aircraft close to completing
testing before their deployment to
Afghanistan, expected by the end of
the year. c
sociate Administrator John Grunsfeld,
the Hubble-servicing astronaut who
runs SMD, underscores the problems
NASA faces in sustaining the space-
science program it built over 50-plus
years. It was prepared by the Space
Studies Board panel that was chaired
by the University of Michigan’s Dr.
James P. Bagian, who conducted bio-
medical research as an astronaut-
scientist on two shuttle missions.
The report urges greater atten-
tion to “balance” among science mis-
sions—by discipline and cost. It also
warns against “false expectations” that
substantial progress will be achieved
without significant resources
Two of the agency’s high-profile Mars
missions highlight the NRC panel’s
main points. There is a “general per-
ception that NASA has not been the
most reliable partner in international
activities,” the panel states in appar-
ent reference to NASA’s bailing out of
a long-standing cooperative efort with
the European Space Agency to cache
samples on the red planet’s surface for
eventual return to Earth.
That budget-driven decision was
followed by a drastic cut in NASA’s
overall planetary sciences budget on
Maven avoided “requirements creep”
to stay on schedule and budget.
MRO Edition
Essential Insights To Optimize the Aircraft Life Cycle
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an you pinpoint one or
two industry trends that
emerged in 2013? One could
argue that the debates about
OEMs’ increasing penetration
of the aftermarket became
more vociferous this year. But did they? While safety issues
will be mainly black or white, many MRO issues have shifted
to shades of gray.
Shades of Gray
Consider ST Aerospace, which
logged the most airframe mainte-
nance man-hours, 11.5 million, in
Aviation Week’s latest Top 10 MRO
Survey (AW&ST MRO Edition June
24, p. MRO4). While ST Aerospace
President Chang Cheow Teck re-
cently told me in Singapore that he
sees increasing OEM competitiveness
and consolidation in the aftermarket,
the independent MRO became the
inaugural service provider for UTC
Aerospace Systems’ nacelles on the
Boeing 787.
This follows an announcement that
the Singapore-based aftermarket com-
pany will provide nose-to-tail support
for the electrical and air management
system components on that aircraft.
This is a good example of how inde-
pendents are partnering with OEMs
to provide support for next-generation
aircraft and components.
But in parallel, Chang wants to in-
vest in designated-engineering-rep-
resentative approvals and in-circuit
testing to work further up the avion-
ics aftermarket value chain. It’s not an
either-or scenario.
However, he says ST Aerospace is
“cautious about growing capacity”
because during the next five years the
older aircraft fleet will drop of and the
newer-generation aircraft will require
less maintenance.
One exception is China, where the
MRO will open ST Aerospace Guang-
zhou Aero-Technologies & Engineer-
ing this month to support aircraft
components and spares.
But as the global fleet transitions,
and aircraft such as the Airbus
A320neo and A350, Boeing 737 MAX
and stretched 787s, and Bombardier
CSeries enter service, MROs will need
to retool and develop capabilities to
support these nascent fleets.
As Lim Serh Ghee, ST Aerospace’s
chief operating officer, asked the au-
dience during our MRO Asia Con-
ference, will maintenance checks
become more equalized so MROs
will provide lighter checks—almost
on-demand—at major airports where
customers fly but the MRO doesn’t
have a base facility? This is definitely
a shade of gray.
Given today’s fleet mix, pundits
predict the parting out of decade-
old aircraft and engines will most
likely continue during this transi-
tion period, assuming capital re-
mains relatively easy to acquire.
So young can still be old enough to
tear apart because the demand for
used, serviceable material remains
high (AW&ST MRO Edition Nov. 11,
p. MRO3). Again, there are many nu-
ances and gray areas in this piece of
the dynamic market.
Even as the lines between manufac-
turing and MRO blur, companies such
as ST Aero are investing in additive
manufacturing and 3-D printing for
castings, to decrease the time it takes
to develop molds for parts-manufac-
turer-approval interior parts.
The nuances are plenty. c
—Lee Ann Tegtmeier
Chief Editor MRO
While safety issues will
be mainly black or
white, many MRO issues
MRO4 New Methods Driving Engine
Tech Upgrades
Fuel savings and durability
demands are behind en-
hanced powerplant repairs
MRO8 Rolling On
The world’s best-selling jet
is a winner for aftermarket
MRO10 Risky Business
Managing risk in the MRO
supply chain
MRO12 Identifying Risks
MRO14 Seeking Consistency
MRO14 Out of the Haze
MRO16 Best of MRO Links 2013
The next issue of the MRO Edition
will be dated Dec. 30/Jan. 6.
Keep up with Tegtmeier on
MRO’s blog:
and on Twitter: @AvWeekMRO
echnology being developed today for engine repairs or new
production has a dual focus: lowering specific fuel consump-
tion and increasing durability. OEMs spend considerable
sums toward those ends.
“We are investing about $40 million,
yearly in new repair development for
engines that are currently in service,
and we see that same level of invest-
ment continuing for the foreseeable
future,” says Bill Moeller, director of
aftermarket sales for Pratt & Whitney.
“Over the past decade, we have spent
in excess of $300 million on repair
technology that will reduce fuel burn
and extend material life.”
William J. Alibrandi, aero gas tur-
bine analyst for Forecast International,
a defense and aerospace consulting
and production forecasting firm in
Newtown, Conn., explains, “For at
least the past six years, fuel has be-
come the largest single cost of operat-
ing an airline, so anything that can be
done to lower specific fuel consump-
tion definitely impacts the bottom line.
Any significant change in fuel cost sav-
ings is always engine-driven.”
Alibrandi cites the in-development
CFM Leap. The OEM’s approach is to
increase the engine’s thermal efciency
by increasing the compression ratios,
resulting in higher exhaust gas temper-
atures. “That requires new materials in
the form of ceramic matrix composites,
which are installed in the hot section
in the last stage of the high-pressure
compressor. They provide increased
heat resistance and save fuel,” he says.
“The engine OEMs are focusing on
new technologies that increase engine
Paul Seidenman and David J. Spanovich San Francisco
New Methods Driving
Engine Tech Upgrades
Fuel savings, durability demands are behind
enhanced powerplant repairs
temperatures to improve thermal ef-
ficiency, reduce overall engine weight,
reduce fuel burn, maximize time on
wing and improve maintenance costs,”
says Richard Brown, London-based
principal of international consulting
firm ICF SH&E. “To achieve these ob-
jectives, the OEMs and their suppliers
are investing in advanced materials and
techniques including additive manu-
facturing, organic matrix composites,
ceramic matrix compos-
ites, powdered metal and
At the same time, many
of the high-tech repairs
have focused on parts
where the greatest sav-
ings can be made. “[They]
tend to be on high-cost,
high-value new parts
such as HPT/LPT airfoils,
LLPs, combustors and
outer air seals,” Brown
says. “Consequently,
there are now very com-
plex repairs available for
engine blades and vanes
and LLPs.”
In fact, for the Pratt &
Whitney PW4000, a new
Stage 3 vane bolt hole
repair for the 94/100-in.
models was introduced
this year. According to
the OEM, it restores the
holes to OEM-acceptable
limits, increases service
life and extends time on-
wing. The repair uses a proprietary
process, which the company declined
to discuss.
In that regard, Brown adds that the
MROs have targeted engine models
with high-volume shop visits—and
parts—that ofer the greatest savings
potential. Those engines include the
General Electric CF6-80, PW4000,
CFM56 and International Aero En-
gines V2500 families. The largest
independent MROs have invested
heavily in high-tech designated engi-
neering representative (DER) repairs
that involve specialized coatings and
state-of-the-art brazing and welding.
At Munich-headquartered MTU,
many of the new technology insertions
High-pressure turbine
blade tip undergoes
adaptive milling at MTU
Maintenance Hanover.
are based on new welding, coating and
brazing methods, according to Bernd
Kriegl, MTU Aero Engine’s technical
program manager for civil MRO. During
2012, the company spent €160 million
(now $216 million) on research and de-
velopment, of which 10% was for engine
component repair processes. While no
estimates have been released, Kreigl
says the company’s R&D investment,
and the percentage devoted to engine
component repair, should be about the
same for 2013. A large number of the
company’s high-tech repairs are ofered
under the MTU Plus trademark.
“Some of the key developments
have focused on the blades and vanes
in the low- and high-pressure com-
pressor sections, including erosion-
protection coatings for the airfoils
in those parts of the engine,” Kriegl
says. “The objective is to maintain a
high performance level for the com-
pressors, and increase the life of the
blades under harsh, abrasive operat-
ing conditions such as desert environ-
ments of the Middle East.”
The coatings, Kriegl explains, have
led to fuel savings and lower emis-
sions, coupled with greater on-wing
time, since entering field trials in
2010. “Their performance throughout
the field trials was very favorable, and
we are now making them available for
customer engine repairs,” he says.
Two years ago, notes Kriegl, MTU
also introduced a new tip protection
coating for the high-pressure turbine
airfoils, which also increases fuel sav-
ings. “The tip protects the airfoils from
hot-gas corrosion and degradation by
enabling the blade to maintain the
proper amount of clearance. This is a
very unique process using induction-
brazing, which has resulted in im-
proved fuel burn, greater component
durability, lower emissions and less
frequent repairs.”
It also has cut scrap rates, Kriegl
adds. “Without the coatings, the scrap
rate of the airfoils was about 20%, but
with the coatings, it’s zero. When the
blades or airfoils are overhauled, it’s
simply a matter of recoating them.
They do not need to be scrapped.”
Going forward, he says, research and
development will concentrate heavily on
engine repair cost reduction by improv-
ing and increasing automation used in
the processes. “R&D will also be done
to reduce the impact of doing repairs on
component base material,” Kriegl notes.
“And with today’s component designs,
you also have to implement more ad-
vanced welding or brazing processes.
That’s presenting new challenges.”
For example, he points out that
more new-generation engines incor-
porate integrated blades and discs—
often referred to as “blisks,” or an
integrated blade and rotor (IBR).
The blades, Kriegl explains, do not
detach from the disk. “When dealing
with blisks or IBRs, there is a much
more complex process of repair. MTU
is developing proprietary processes
and welding technologies to do this
kind of work.”
The advanced repairs that Kriegl
describes have been designed in-
house, and are applicable to turbine
engines now in service. MTU Aero
Engines—under OEM licenses—spe-
cializes in a broad range of Pratt &
Whitney and GE products, as well as
the V2500, which is estimated to ac-
count for one-third of the 1,000 pro-
jected engine shop visits to the global
MTU network of four shops—Berlin
and Hanover in Germany, Vancouver,
and Zhuhai, China—for 2013. Some ad-
ditional growth is expected for 2014,
notes Kriegl, although no ofcial esti-
mates are available now.
“Advanced blades, with higher cor-
rosion resistance, can be applied to
older engines and can replace or sub-
stitute new brazing technologies for
older brazing processes,” he says. “In
fact, we have developed a special high-
temperature brazing process for hot-
section components.”
To prepare for the first GEnx shop
visits, GE Aviation is expending con-
siderable effort on repairs.
The GEnx-2B engine went
into service in 2011 on the
Boeing 747-8 and the -1B, en-
tered service on the Boeing
787 last year. Those engines,
he says, will start making
their initial shop visits in
2015, with turbine blade re-
coating and repair, as well as
static and rotating seals ser-
vicing. In tandem, GE, which
spends $45-50 million annu-
ally on developing unique re-
pairs—more than 1,300 this
year (compared with 600
four years ago)—is focusing
heavily on compressor blisk
repairs, says Bill Dwyer, chief
marketing ofcer for GE Avia-
tion’s service business.
“There is a lot of incentive
to develop advanced repairs
on compressor blisks, which
are located on the forward
end of the high-pressure com-
pressor,” Dwyer notes. “The
technology to repair an entire
blisk unit is based on a more
advanced welding process in-
troduced by GE over the past
year specifically for that purpose. This,
in fact, was developed in anticipation
of the first shop visits of the GEnx en-
gine family.” Blisks are located in the
GEnx compressor Stages 1, 2 and 5.
The incorporation of blisks has pro-
liferated in turbine engine design due
to the aerodynamic and weight-saving
benefits they provide, says Dwyer.
But GE also is applying its new, im-
proved welding technologies to older
engines, with the introduction during
the past 18 months of a 3C airfoil res-
toration process specifically for the
CFM56-5B and -7B.
“It was a more sophisticated repair
that was designed for application to
the complex airfoil shape of the high- AVIATION WEEK & SPACE TECHNOLOGY MRO EDITION DECEMBER 9, 2013 MRO5
A high-pressure turbine blade
laser tip weld restores material
at the tip. The welded material
is then reworked into a smooth
blade shape. Combined, the two
processes restore tip clearance.
pressure compressor blades, and
the complex design geometry of
the high-pressure compressors in
those engines. The benefit is that
more parts can be repaired and
fewer need to be scrapped,” Dw-
yer explains.
He further reports that GE
has introduced advanced wear-
resistant coatings for the high-
pressure compressor blades on
the CFM56-5B and -7B, providing
a longer on-wing time, and scrap-
rate reduction. “The technology
uses a proprietary material com-
position, which has very robust
wear resistance,” Dwyer says.
“While it is available to all opera-
tors of these engines, it is being spe-
cifically marketed to airlines operating
in very harsh environments, such as
the Middle East and China.” The com-
pany is studying the application of the
coatings to other engines.
The use of powdered-metal appli-
cations to hot-section rotating seals
and other rotating parts is another
recently introduced repair technology
at GE. As Dwyer explains, it gives the
component the capability to operate
at very high temperatures. “Pow-
dered-metal technology has excel-
lent resistance to ‘creep’, the term
which describes the deformation,
or loss of shape—and ultimately
failure—of the metal part at high
temperatures,” he says.
Another key area being targeted
to reduce maintenance costs in-
volves what Dwyer calls “lean burn
“Lean burn combustion results
when temperature is uniform
throughout the hot section—spe-
cifically in the combustor—rather
than having hot spots, which will
lead to peak stresses, cracks and
wear,” he explains. “Much of the
turbine maintenance is driven by
the peak temperature versus the
average temperature to which the
part is subjected. If your combus-
tor burns uniformly, it will last
longer on wing. The GEnx uses
this, as will the Leap, and it’s proving
to have a very big maintenance cost
GE Aviation had 4,000 shop visits
globally in 2013, and that is expected
to increase in the low single-digit
percentage range in the coming year,
says Dwyer. The worldwide GE main-
tenance network totals 92 facilities, of
which five are GE-owned and 19 are
joint ventures. The GE-owned facili-
ties handled about one-third of those
shop visits. Of the 92, half work on the
CFM family.
“At GE, our protocol is to develop re-
pair processes on one engine, and ap-
ply them to others, where possible. The
technology that is developed to repair a
new engine will find its way to current-
generation engines for upgrades during
the overhaul process,” he says.
ICF SH&E’s Brown agrees that as
the OEMs develop new engines and
manufacturing techniques, this pro-
tocol may benefit the repair programs
they can develop for existing engines,
and save on maintenance costs.
“Ultimately, the technology will
reduce the number of parts in the
engine, so there are potentially less
parts to repair. But, it does raise some
concern for non-OEM, independent
MROs,” Brown adds. “As the latest
technology is incorporated will these
parts be repairable, or will they be so
technologically complex and costly
that only the OEM could repair them,
or new parts have to be purchased
from the OEM?” c
Technician inspects a low-
pressure turbine case for a
PW4000 94/100-in. engine
at Pratt & Whitney’s repair
facility in Springdale, Ark.


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Rolling On
The world’s best-selling jet is a
winner for aftermarket suppliers
Tap the icon in the digital edition of AW&ST for Boeing 737
MRO data from the Aviation Week Intelligence Network 2014
Commercial MRO Forecast, or go to
ftermarket providers looking for a solid program for
potential future sales could do a lot worse than the
Boeing 737. With nearly 5,700 in service, it is the world
fleet’s most common model. A backlog of 3,400 orders and
the monthly production rate increasing to 42 from 38 per
month next year and to 47 in 2017 means the fleet will not
be shrinking soon.
Yet while the 737 aftermarket will surely benefit from in-
creased flow of new tin, it remains to be seen whether the rise
in repairs and spares will be in lock-step with fleet growth.
Two factors could suppress 737 MRO spending during
the next decade or so. One is the evolution of surplus parts
availability, which—predictably—is greater for the 737 than
for smaller fleets as suppliers move to meet demand. When
Intertrade grew its surplus business into airframe parts in
1994, it did so on the back of a 737-300 part-out. Earlier this
year, the company expanded again, adding engine parts start-
ing with spares for CFM56-7s that power the 737NG family.
Canaccord Genuity pegs surplus parts—or used service-
able material (USM)—as a $3 billion per year market. More
significantly for new-parts suppliers, USM trade shaves about
1% of overall aftermarket parts growth, Canaccord calculates.
“We believe this is a structural shift in the commercial after-
market, and the rate at which aircraft are parted out will con-
tinue to accelerate,” says Ken Herbert, a Canaccord analyst.
Factor in the impending beginning of 737 MAX production
and Boeing’s overall ramp-up, and the USM trend takes on
added significance.
“We believe that airlines are already slowing 737 mainte-
nance spending as rates have increased, and the useful life of
the aircraft model continues to get shorter,” Herbert wrote
in an October research note released just after Boeing an-
nounced the 2017 production rate jump. “This announcement
will accelerate this process, especially if Boeing is able to
maintain the higher 737 rate for more than just a few years.”
Canaccord is not alone.
Fitch Ratings is hardly down on 737s; it expects the family to
“retain generally strong demand profiles” into the 2020s. How-
ever, the prospects of newer-generation narrowbodies has Fitch
keeping a close eye on current-generation retirement trends.
“Fitch has placed increased focus on evaluating scenari-
os where asset useful life is less than 25 years,” the ratings
agency wrote in an October aircraft finance overview. “The
technological obsolescence risk to narrowbodies, combined
with increased competition coming from new entrants . . .
could force earlier aircraft retirements than have been ob-
served historically.”
Market forces are already playing a role in the parking of
NGs before their notional time. The Aviation Week Intelligence
Network (AWIN) Fleets database shows 37 737NGs retired as
of Nov. 1, at an average age of about 12 years. All but three were
smaller -600s and -700s, which are proving valuable as spare-
part and engine suppliers for their bigger family members.
Air Salvage International (ASI) has parted out eight NGs in
the past two years. The earliest jobs, which came when fewer
aircraft had been parted out, yielded about 2,000 useful parts
per aircraft, says Commercial Director Bradley Gregory. But
as warehouses filled and some low-demand, low-wear parts
became readily available, that figure declined. The latest jobs
yielded about 750 parts that ASI expects to resell, he notes.
The 737’s near-ubiquity means it presents lucrative op-
portunities for aftermarket providers with engineering
prowess. Winglet specialist Aviation Partners Boeing is
arguably the best-known example, having equipped 5,000
Boeing aircraft (most of them 737s) with winglets. Ireland’s
Eirtech Aviation is another case. The MRO provider’s kit
for satisfying a global mandate for new 737NG cabin pres-
surization warning lights shaves 50% of the time and cost
of Boeing’s ofering, Eirtech executives estimate.
The overall 737 fleet also means the aircraft family has a
massive share of the scheduled MRO market. AWIN’s 2014
Commercial MRO Forecast estimates the 2014 market at $9.5
billion, increasing to $12.3 billion a year in five years and $15.5
billion in a decade. The MAX, which is not projected to fly pay-
ing customers for another four years, will make its presence
felt quickly, generating nearly $2.1 billion in annual aftermarket
spending in 10 years.
One wild card to watch is the level of spares commonal-
ity between the NGs and MAX. Boeing is just beginning the
deep dive into the MAX’s design phase, when details such as
specific part numbers will be hashed out. While some tech-
nology upgrades will render NG parts obsolete, Boeing says
it will strive to maximize commonality.
“We do expect a significant portion of Next-Generation
737 spares investment to carry over to the MAX,” a Boeing
spokeswoman notes.
Just how much it does will help shape a big chunk of the USM
market from 2017 on, and could alter NG useful life trends. c
The growth of surplus
components could
suppress 737NG
new-parts sales.
Modern aircraft engines are bigger, faster and hotter than ever before. So we engineer
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Risky Business
Managing risk in the MRO supply chain
here is more to parts manage-
ment than having the right part
at the right place at the right
time. The best MROs have contingency
plans for Murphy’s Law.
Most materials managers focus on
how many parts they will need, what
they will cost and where they will be
deployed when they create inventory.
For Ralf Noether, technical director
for European Air Transport in Leipzig,
Germany, there is another dimension
to parts availability for its older Boeing
757s and 767s and Airbus A300-600s.
Some rotable parts are no longer manu-
factured. “With older aircraft, there are
some rotables that aren’t available for
sale and are too expensive to rebuild,”
he says. That puts his fleet at risk of be-
ing grounded because the right part is
not available when it is needed.
European Air Transport has taken
several steps to manage that risk. It
has bought available spares on the
market, established a reliability con-
trol board that includes members of
the engineering and logistics teams
to measure the reliability of parts and
meets with suppliers every 4-6 months
to see if there are repair and scrap
units that may be torn down and mined
to keep other parts operable.
These steps are part of a supply-
chain risk-management program. That
is a diferent approach to parts manage-
ment from a conventional inventory
management plan, which is typically
focused on the four “R”s of inventory:
having the right part at the right time
at the right place and at the right price.
The four “rights” assume that noth-
ing goes wrong in an MRO provider’s
supply chain. As we all know from
Murphy’s Law, however, things hap-
pen that may be out of a supplier’s
control. For example, a supplier may
not be able to obtain the raw materials
it needs to produce an order or may
be unable to access credit to keep its
operations going while they fill your
order. It may not have the capacity
to fill your order and a competitor’s
order at the same time—and it may
favor your competitor over you. En-
vironmental events—such as Hurri-
cane Sandy, eruption of a volcano in
Iceland or tsunamis in Southeast Asia
and Japan—can bring a supply chain
to its knees.
The best fleet operators and MRO
organizations have a Plan B for Mur-
phy’s Law. FedEx Express, for instance,
keeps a few used aircraft at its disposal
so that it does not have to worry about
not being able to find a specific part
when it is needed. The cargo carrier
builds contingency plans for large-
scale events such as a hailstorm that
might damage aircraft at a hub loca-
tion, and it disperses parts at locations
around the world where it can reach
them quickly rather than storing them
in one location.
“Contingency planning is a given,”
says George Silverman, vice president
of material management for FedEx Ex-
press. “We’ve been moving shipments
around the world for 40 years, and
we’ve learned that it’s essential to plan
for worst-case scenarios.”
While organizations such as FedEx,
European Air Transport and AFI
KLM E&M (see page MRO12) have
risk-management initiatives in place,
that is not the case for the industry as
a whole. “These issues have been out
there for years, but most commercial
airlines and MROs are just beginning
to understand the systemic risks in
their supply chains,” says Chris Spaf-
ford, a partner in the consulting firm
Oliver Wyman. “They have looked at
inventory management from a cost
perspective. Very few people have done
it with a risk lens.”
“When you think about supply chain
risk management, you’re really talking
about a risk to your supply,” says Chris
Sawchuk, principal for global pro-
curement advisory with The Hackett
Group, a Miami-based research and
consulting firm.
While there are
a number of factors
that put a supply
chain at risk, de-
pending on the in-
dustry, they are all
threats to revenue.
In the MRO supply
chain, revenue is
put at risk when an
aircraft is grounded
because it inter-
rupts supplies.
Several trends
are driving the in-
terest in risk man-
agement. Fi rst,
OEMs today are playing a more domi-
nant role in the aftermarket, and so
airlines and repair organizations are
increasingly single-sourced on parts
and services. “To truly de-risk your sup-
ply chain, you have to have alternative
sources of supply,” Spaford says. “That
requires greater competition than we
have in the aftermarket today.”
Second, MRO organizations typically
have poor visibility into their demand
because some repairs are intermittent
and variable. Meanwhile, many criti-
cal parts and components have long
lead times and are expensive—main-
taining an inventory ties up resources
that could be put to work in other
ways; not having them can leave your
fleet grounded. “When your demand
is intermittent, it’s hard to plan,” says
Sawchuk. “You have to strike a balance
between how many of those large, ex-
pensive items you’re going to stock
against the risk of not having them.”
Third, many of today’s supply chains
Tap the icon in the digital edition
of AW&ST for a case study in the
importance of tracking metrics to
supply-chain risk management,
or go to
In the MRO supply chain, risk man-
agement focuses on ensuring that
parts flow when things go wrong.
Wheels Up to Wheels Down Maintenance
- Engine Controls
- Flight Controls
- Aircraft Electronics
- Cabin Systems and Modifications
are both long and lean, meaning parts
are manufactured or stocked thou-
sands of miles from where they may
be needed. “The thing that can be eas-
ily and afordably shipped on an ocean
freighter is exponentially more ex-
pensive as airfreight,” says Sawchuk.
“There are also import and export
regulatory-compliance factors that
can slow down the movement of parts
at critical times.”
As the industry looks more deeply
at risk management, there are a num-
ber of ways to address the issue. “You
can’t eliminate risk,” says Sawchuk.
“So you have to prioritize what it is
you want to protect and where to fo-
cus your energy.”
For many organizations, the starting
point for a risk-management initiative
is a cost-versus-risk trade-of assess-
ment. Risk cannot be eliminated, but
it can be mitigated. One common ap-
proach, says Sawchuk, is to determine
how much revenue is at risk as a result
of the part or action being assessed.
For example, if a part goes into
some but not all aircraft, a percent-
age of revenue is at risk if that part
is not available. “Over time, they may
determine that 20% of revenue is at
high risk, 30% is at medium risk and
50% is at low risk,” Sawchuk says.
“They will then look at strategies to
shift the 20% of revenue at high risk
to a medium risk.”
There are a variety of steps airlines
and MROs can take to mitigate those
risks, according to Spaford and Saw-
chuk. Some of these are:

Hedge positions on commodities.
Many airlines hedge their fuel costs to
protect themselves from unexpected
price spikes. Few, however, take a posi-
tion in commodities such as titanium
or other alloys that can have a huge im-
pact on the price of components, such
as turbine blades and brakes.
“When you consider that an airline
might buy $30 million worth of brakes
and $100 million worth of turbine
blades, hedging might be a wise thing
to do,” Spaford says. He also urges or-
ganizations to include escalation caps
on the prices of important commodi-
ties in their contracts. “Create an index
of the 18 most important commodities
to the parts you are purchasing and
put an escalation cap of 2.5 percent a
year in the contract,” Spaford says.

Selectively support the development
of alternative sources of supply. Spaf-
ford urges clients to pursue several
strategies to expand their sources of
supply. For instance, a maintenance
organization may establish partner-
ships with surplus or teardown pro-
viders, similar to the approach taken
by European Air Transport. He also
believes carriers and MROs should
selectively support manufacturers of
approved parts. “I’m not suggesting
turbine blades or engines,” he says.
“But there are parts where this is a
sound strategy.”
Finally, large carriers with lever-
age can form joint buying consortia as
new aircraft types are introduced and
require dual sources of supply when

Do not put all of your eggs in one
basket. Just as FedEx is deploying its
inventory around the globe, OEMs,
airlines and MROs should urge manu-
facturers with more than one plant to
manufacture in at least two locations.
“That way, you mitigate the risk of los-
ing supply when a plant goes down,”
says Sawchuk. Many organizations for-
get that parts production tends to be
clustered in one region, he adds, which
could put it at peril from natural disas-
ter. Auto manufacturers learned that
lesson following the 2011 earthquake
and tsunami in Japan.

Bring the risk in-house. If there is
only one source of supply, an OEM or
MRO may consider investing in or buy-
ing that supplier to insure their viabil-
ity. “I’ve seen organizations vertically
integrate a critical supplier into their
business to reduce their risk,” says
Sawchuk. “We have also seen instanc-
es where a company has invested in a
competitor to insure a second source
of supply.”
Companies taking such steps will
have more smoothly running opera-
tions and experience less down time.
The key is understanding the risk that
is most important to your organiza-
tion. “A lot of folks start in the middle
without understanding what their
supply chain is all about,” says Saw-
chuk. “That’s why I urge them to go
back to the beginning and understand
what is it they are trying to protect.
You want to build capabilities that
align with your business.” c
hen Northern European and North Atlantic air trafc came to halt in 2010
following the eruption of the Icelandic volcano, Eyjafallajokull, Air France In-
dustries KLM Engineering and Maintenance (AFI KLM E&M) continued to serve its
customers by shipping parts and components from its operations in Miami and Kuala
Lumpur. This is one example of the risk-management initiative supporting its supply
chain operations, say Benjamin Moreau and Harmen Lanser, members of the compo-
nent services team.
While there are number of things that can go wrong, AFI KLM E&M has identified
five key risks to its supply chain:

Blocked transportation channels.

Unplanned disruptions to information-technology systems.

World-wide shortages of materials and components.

Suppliers that are unable to deliver as promised.

Unreliable, unpredictable customer returns of unserviceable parts and components.
Failing to deal with these can lead to a high variation in the removal profile of parts and
components, poor performance of some OEMs in providing piece-parts under reasonable
lead times, components aging faster than expected, and lead-time and quality issues
such as problems with customs clearance or defective and possibly dangerous parts.
According to Moreau and Lanser, each risk requires a specific management plan. For
instance, AFI KLM E&M has installed twin IT systems and fallback procedures if a sys-
tem goes down. It has also developed alternative transportation channels, spread ware-
houses over the globe and developed a collaborative network with alternative suppliers
for critical parts. When one source is failing, AFI KLM E&M has global inventory and
sourcing solutions that can provide available parts and a transportation solution. c
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While the issue sounds like mere dif-
ferences of opinion or interpretation,
it has stark business ramifications,
as many certificate holders know all
too well. In one case, a change at FAA
moved a repair station’s oversight from
one region to another. Even though the
repair station was not changing any-
thing, officials in the new region de-
cided to reexamine a key manual. The
new region’s inspectors found scores of
issues and ordered the manual—which
had been accepted as-is by the previous
region’s inspectors—reworked. The in-
cident cost the repair station hundreds
of thousands of dollars.
FAA has indicated that consolidat-
ing guidance could be problematic due
to resource challenges, presumably re-
ferring to sequestration-related cuts.
“While the FAA is pleased with the
ARC’s recommendations, implementa-
tion of these proposals will have to be
balanced with other important FAA
activities, including other existing
rulemaking initiatives, agency priori-
ties, current projects, and its overall
safety agenda,” the agency wrote in its
November 2012 report to Congress up-
dating its progress. “The scope of the
efort raises concern due to potential
costs and resource constraints.”
Log Jam
A recent report from the U.S. Trans-
portation Department’s Inspector
General sheds some light on the im-
pact of sequestration on FAA’s certifi-
cation eforts and related delays.
Top FAA executives have said a hir-
ing freeze put in place late last year has
forced the agency’ s Aviation Safety
(AVS) branch to allocate more of its
limited resources to immediate safety
issues. The loser has been certifica-
tion projects that are either resource-
intensive or simply new.
Speaking to lawmakers during the
Oct. 30 hearing, DOT Assistant In-
spector General for Aviation Audits Jef
Guzzetti said FAA’s certification back-
log for new operator certificates topped
1,000, including 415 for repair stations
and 358 for Part 135 carriers. Guzzetti
says regularly shifting priorities has led
to several major back-ups, including a
June 2013 requirement that “all certifi-
cations, new and in progress,” required
sign-of at the FAA headquarters level
to receive resources.
“According to FAA representatives
at both the regional and district ofce
levels, these cessations in certifications
were due in part to ongoing budget is-
sues and sequestration, coupled with
the need to maintain safety oversight of
existing operators,” Guzzetti explained.
The budgetary factors merely add
to systemic challenges, including FAA’s
long-standing first-come, first-served
sequencing plan. “As a result, many ap-
plicants may be significantly delayed if
more complex certifications are ahead
of them,” Guzzetti says.
FAA issued new proposed sequenc-
ing guidance earlier this year and ex-
pects to have the new process in place
sometime in 2014.
—Sean Broderick
An FAA rulemaking advisory commit-
tee’s recommendations on improving
the consistency of rules interpretations
is starting bear fruit in a much-needed
area: the guidance behind regulations.
Dorenda Baker, FAA’s director of
Aircraft Certification Services, says
the agency is tackling the committee’s
most pressing recommendations: con-
ducting a review of existing guidance
to eliminate duplicative, conflicting or
irrelevant guidance; and ensuring the
rest is available in an electronic data-
“This process will address a signifi-
cant concern on the part of industry in-
volving ad hoc usage of guidance docu-
ments issued to address a specific and
narrow set of circumstances,” Baker
told the House aviation subcommittee
at an Oct. 30 hearing.
The agency plans to have the review
done “by the end of the year.” Guidance
that still applies and isn’t available
digitally will be “integrated into one of
our existing electronic systems,” Baker
says, seemingly tabling—for now, at
least—revamping the online interface.
The guidance review is part of a
broader effort to develop consistent
regulatory interpretations. Long a
thorn in industry’s side, the issue
gained visibility when Congress, via
FAA Modernization and Reform Act
of 2012, required FAA to figure out why
regulations are not consistently inter-
preted, and come up with remedies.
FAA formed a rulemaking advisory
committee (ARC), which returned
six recommendations in a November
2012 report. The primary ones: link
all guidance, including advisory cir-
culars, handbooks, Ofce of the Chief
Counsel opinions and other legal inter-
pretations, to specific regulations; and
make the entire library available in a
“master” electronic database.
“When a regulation is unclear, its
application varies from one inspec-
tor to another and compliance differs
among certificate holders,” the com-
mittee explained in its final report.
“Over time, better analytical tools,
new technologies and best practices
change compliance techniques, cre-
ating further ambiguity.”
Safety & Regulatory News
Out of the Haze
A U.K. Aviation Accidents Investiga-
tion Branch (AAIB) call to have Boeing
777 interior lighting crashworthiness
improved has been rejected by the U.S.
FAA, but Boeing addressed the matter
well before an accident brought the is-
sue to light, AAIB’s latest annual safety
report reveals.
AAIB’s recommendation to its U.S.
counterpart stemmed from the probe of
the January 2008 crash of a British Air-
ways 777 at London Heathrow Airport.
Investigators learned that some passen-
gers reported a “fog” in the cabin soon
after the plane crash-landed short of its
intended runway, and determined that
the haze was mercury vapor released
when some of the plane’s indirect light-
ing system bulbs broke in the crash.
The 777’s indirect lighting uses tu-
bular florescent bulbs. AAIB says the
bulbs contain mercury vapor that “may
present a hazard when broken.” Broken
glass from the bulbs also presented a
possible hazard to passengers.
AAIB’s findings led it to recommend
that FAA order Boeing to modify the
777’s indirect lighting design. FAA de-
termined that the risk of broken bulbs
impeding an evacuation “would be ex-
tremely low,” AAIB says in its report.
FAA noted that despite no evidence
of an unsafe condition, Boeing upgrad-
ed the lighting systems a decade ago,
starting with line no. 454. The British
Airways 777 was line No. 342.
—Sean Broderick
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he following companies’ products and
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and engineering services to support airline and government fleets.
Link 600
2. Powerful, Precision Bolting
Company: Advanced Torque Products
Services: This veteran-owned company supplies high-precision
mechanical torque wrenches and multipliers that are lightweight, all
mechanical and digitally controlled.
Link 601
3. The Interior Specialists
Company: Airworthy Aerospace
Services: Airworthy specializes in the manufacture, repair and overhaul
of passenger and crew seats, thermal form plastics, sidewalls, carpets
and more.
Link 602
4. Engine Overhaul & Replacement
Company: Timken Aerospace
Services: Timken offers new replacement parts, helicopter drive-train
component overhauls, bearing repair and engine overhaul.
Link 603
5. V2500-A5 Thrust Reversers
Company: Worthington MRO Center
Services: This MRO in Tulsa, Okla., repairs and overhauls thrust
Enter Link # at for more information
reversers, nacelles and flight controls, as well as offering a spares pool
for lease, exchange and sale.
Link 604
6. A320 Landing Gear Harness Repair
Company: Harco
Services: For more than 60 years, Harco has been servicing both OEM
and aftermarket repair-overhaul and replacement offerings—including
replacement hardware for the entire aircraft.
Link 605
7. “We Buy Engine Parts”
Company: Quest Alloys & Metals
Services: Quest integrates the supply chain between MROs and metal
shops, facilitating the sourcing, identification and sorting of cast parts.
Link 606
8. FAA-Certified 145 Repair Station
Company: Kalitta Maintenance
Services: A complex of hangars, engine shops, test cell and back-shop
facilities allows Kalitta to perform heavy checks and major repairs. It also
offers component repair and on-site support.
Link 607
9. RB211-535 & Trent 800 Repairs
Company: Texas Aero Engine Services (Taesl)
Services: Taesl offers customer-oriented repair, overhaul and test solu-
tions for the RB211 and Trent 800 engines in a state-of-the-art facility.
Link 608
10. Airbus Hardware, Consumables & Spares
Company: A.J. Levin Co.
Services: A.J. Levin is a specialty distributor of Airbus European-
standard hardware and consumable material, including 25,000 lines in
stock and AOG, consignment and kitting.
Link 609
Enter Link # at for more information AVIATION WEEK & SPACE TECHNOLOGY MRO EDITION DECEMBER 9, 2013 MRO17
MRO Events Featured Companies, Products & Services
Events that will Change your MRO Business Forever!
The MRO event series is the largest series dedicated to the aviation maintenance industry, addressing key issues of
business and technology strategies in the maintenance repair and overhaul (MRO) market. Bringing in not only key
airline personnel but the “buyers” as well, these events focus on process improvements and information technology.
Be a part of the MRO community, network with your peers, explore our unmatched exhibition halls, and achieve results!
Locate reliable manufacturers, suppliers, and service providers at Aviation Week’s MRO Event Series!
for more information including complete exhibitor listings and MRO Links participants.
To advertise in MRO Links, contact Beth Eddy at 561-862-0005, or
February 5-6, 2014
Dubai, UAE
January 21-22, 2014
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
All new event focusing on
South America, Central America,
Mexico, and the Caribbean!
Link 813
PF Fishpole Hoists, Inc.
The industry standard
The PF Fishpole Hoist is an air carrier
standard for single attach point,
equipment handling hoists. Permitting
precise installation and removal of
aircraft components, typical applications
include installation and removal of
A.P.U’s., flap actuators and hundreds of
other applications.
Link 812
Ontic Extended Life Solutions
Ontic supports OEMs by
taking complete responsibility
for their non-core & legacy
products, under license or
acquisition, allowing the OEM
to focus on their current
and future programs. Ontic
supports Goodrich, Hamilton
Sundstrand, Honeywell, GE Aviation, Eaton,
Curtiss-Wright, Moog and many others.
Link 807
Ellsworth Adhesives
Specialty Chemicals
for the Aerospace Industry
Ellsworth Adhesives is a distributor
of Henkel EA934NA, ideal for the
Aerospace Industry; used in potting,
structural bonding/repair, high
temperature assembly and shim
applications. Ellsworth Adhesives is an
ISO 9001:2008 EN/AS9120:2002
distributor of specialty chemicals for the
Aerospace Industry.
Link 514
Millennium International
CRT/LCD Display,TCAS, Mode “S”
and NAV/COMM Sales & Service
An authorized FAA/EASA certified
repair station specializing new
generation and legacy avionics. EFIS
Systems, both CRT and LCD Primary
Flight / MFD displays, TCAS, Mode
S, including Bendix/King, Honeywell,
Collins, Thales, and many more.
April 8-10, 2014
Phoenix AZ
Enter Link # at for more information
Link 358
NetMRO Haas
Aviation Chemicals & Consumables
NetMRO-Haas Group
International is the world’s
leading aerospace
chemical distributor &
supply chain management
company. We proudly
support global airlines,
OEM’s, MRO’s, & de-
fense departments with adhesives, sealants, coatings,
lubricants, tape, composite materials, & chemicals.
Link 809
Med-Craft, Inc.
Specialized Repairs for Serious Components
Med-Craft, a leader in
Aerospace Component
repairs, now offers
DER repairs for Airbus
A319/320/321 and Boeing
737NG/767/777 vacuum
blowers and toilet systems.
We also provide repair
solutions for Hydraulic, Pneumatics, & Electronic
components with unsurpassed reliability in our
ultramodern facility.
Link 355
MDS Coating
Erosion and Corrosion Resistant Coatings
OEM certified BlackGold
sets a
new standard in erosion and corrosion
protection for gas turbine compres-
sor parts. Built on the success of the
award winning ER-7
coating which
has operated successfully for 20 years
and saved customers over $100M per
year in MRO, part replacement and
fuel costs.
Link 526
AeroWorx provides pneumatic,
hydraulic, electromechanical and
fuel-system repair and overhaul
services for over 50 aircraft types.
We provide parts and service for
commercial fleets, regional & charter
fleets, business, private and military
Link 297
Lewis & Saunders
Overhaul and Repair
L&S is a leader in the repair and
overhaul of rigid tubes, manifolds,
ducts, and flexible hose assemblies
used in the aerospace industry. We
hold FAA, EASA, and CAAC repair
station certifications. As a Part 145
Repair source, we have the total
after-market solution for flexible and
rigid assemblies.
Link 111
GA Telesis
Your Nacelle Program
Exchange & overhaul support
for complete thrust reverser
systems, including actuation.
Accessory capability includes
hydraulic, pneumatic, power
gen, electro-mech, and electronics. Limited airframe
capability includes cockpit windows. Certifications
include FAA, EASA, CAAC, ANAC and more.
Enter Link # at for more information AVIATION WEEK & SPACE TECHNOLOGY MRO EDITION DECEMBER 9, 2013 MRO19
Link 815
Senior Aerospace Metal Bellows
Welded Bellows Products Repairs and Spares
Senior Aerospace Metal
Bellows FAA/EASA certified
repair station offers a full
range of repairs primarily
focused on edge welded
metal bellows assemblies.
These include potable
water system compressors,
bellows seals and oil pressure
Link 733
T-Aerospace LLC
Aircraft Structural Repair Specialist
T-Aerospace is a women owned/
operated company comprised
of a professional staff. We
are driven by our mission of
positively impacting our industry.
The staff strives to be the best
at what we do; which is to keep
your aircraft safely in the air with
quality repairs you can depend on.
Link 316
BASF Aerospace Materials
Aerospace materials from BASF
include a broad portfolio of products
and technologies that can provide
unique solutions across a wide range
of applications — cabin interiors,
structural materials, seating
components, fuel and lubricant
solutions, coatings & specialty
pigments, as well as flame retardants
& fire protection.
Link 008
Able Aerospace Services
Dynamic Component Repair, PMA and Overhaul Solutions
For over 27 years, Able
Aerospace Services has been
an industry-leading provider of
safe and cost-saving, quality
dynamic component repair,
PMA and overhaul solutions
to aircraft operators. Able
is FAA/EASA-approved,
registered to ISO 9001-2000 and meets
Boeing’s AS-9100 quality standards.
Link 094
Eaton’s Aerospace Group
Eaton’s New PICB Panel:
Lighter, Smaller, Cooler
Eaton’s new plug-in circuit breaker
panel represents a breakthrough in
aircraft circuit protection. Designed
to replace bulky conventional
panels, Eaton’s customizable
design offers significant weight and
space savings, flexible configurations,
enhanced thermal efficiency and
higher reliability.
Link 121
A320 Landing Gear Harness Repair
Servicing both OEM & Aftermarket
with repair, overhaul & replace-
ment. Capabilities include repair or
replacement hardware for the entire
aircraft, from engine and airframe
to APU, landing gear, ECS and all
subsystems. Specializing in Harness
Assemblies & Temperature Sensors.
Enter Link # at for more information
Link 803
Bonus Aerospace, Inc.
Bonus Aerospace, your new PW4000 resource
Bonus Aerospace offers
full PW4000 MRO
services in addition to
existing JT8D capabilities.
Bonus Tech is still your
preferred option for
engines tear down. Check
our competitive pricing
and the tremendous
opportunities offered by the combination of a flexible
MRO and the tear down market Leader.
Link 805
DAE Industries
Ground Support Maintenance Equipment
DAE manufactures engine
transport stands, aircraft
maintenance docking
systems, access stands,
and Boeing tooling. DAE
engineering provides
concept and design services. DAE is a customer
sensitive company providing a quality product,
competitive pricing and renowned customer service.
Link 806
Innovators in American
made Mobility Systems
For over 90 years Darnell-Rose has
been the innovator in engineering and
manufacturing of high quality casters,
wheels, rubber bumpers, industrial
truck couplers, and conveyor systems.
Our products are used worldwide
by customers spanning the aviation,
automotive, and general material
handling industries.
Link 249
Aviation Inflatables, Inc.
Aviation Inflatables, Where Experience Meets Innovation
Aviation Inflatables is a
FAA/EASA Repair Station,
Parts Distributor, & PMA
Manufacturer that specializes
in emergency evacuation
equipment. Our competitive
advantage allows us to greatly
reduce cost & turnaround
times, as well as offer
customized exchange & maintenance programs.
Link 731
Ser-Mat International, LLC
Aircraft Carpet Fabrication
As master fabricators, Ser-Mat uses
state-of-the-art, automated cutting
machines & software that have been
specifically designed & developed for
cutting carpet – allowing us to identify
and nest parts in the most efficient way
possible, minimizing costly waste.
Link 327
Quality Engine Parts
Tradewinds Engine Services, LLC
Tradewinds Engine Services
sells commercial jet engine
parts and is engaged in
engine leasing and trading.
We have 25K+ parts primar-
ily consisting of CFM56-
5/7, CF6-80, V2500 and
PW4000 engine types. We
are ISO 9001:2008 compli-
ant, and maintain certification from the Aviation
Suppliers Association.
Enter Link # at for more information AVIATION WEEK & SPACE TECHNOLOGY MRO EDITION DECEMBER 9, 2013 MRO21
Link 802
Accutek Testing Laboratory
Accredited Material Testing
for Metal & Composites
Accutek is an ISO and Nadcap
accredited mechanical testing laboratory,
specializing in static, fatigue, and
fracture mechanics for aluminum and
other metals, as well as static/dynamic
tension, compression, and shear
testing for composite materials. High/
low temperature conditions are also
Link 817
Kelowna Flightcraft Ltd
Our facilities in Kelowna, BC, and
Hamilton, ON, are recognized
industry-wide for their quality, skills
and on-time delivery. Services include
Heavy Maintenance Checks; Structural
Inspection, Repair & Modifications;
Avionic Modifications; Engineering;
Painting; Parts Manufacturing; NDT;
Overhaul of Landing Gear & Engines.
Link 158
National Bronze & Metals
Specialty Copper Alloys For
The Aerospace Industry
National Bronze & Metals, Inc. is the
Leading USA Manufacturer & Master
Distributor specializing in Brass,
Bronze, and Copper Alloys. We have
brought together a range of Bronze
& Copper Alloys for the Aerospace
Industry. Our inventory includes AMS
4880, AMS 4640, AMS 4881, AMS
4590 and many more.
Link 096
Elite Aerospace
“We are Quality”
Elite Aerospace is recognized
around the world as a leader
in the repair and overhaul of
commercial & regional aircraft
equipment. We are dedicated
to providing comprehensive
support for customer
requirements, paying close
attention to workmanship,
turn-time, quality and overall customer satisfaction.
Link 547
Infinity Air, Inc. / Allflight Corp
Supplier and Repair Station
Of Choice
Allflight Washington (FAA # PK3R654Y)
and Allflight Florida (FAA # 8A9R791B)
are strategically located to service your
repair needs. With a core product line
focused on Flight surface control,
interior products, and windshields, we
carry over 1.68 million line items of
inventory for exchange, loan, sales and
lease requirements.
Link 415
Landing Gear Technologies, LLC
Landing Gear Overhaul/
Repair/ Exchange
Landing Gear Technologies,
LLC is an independent
landing gear overhaul and
repair organization with a
reputation for unmatched
service. In addition to this
LGT boasts an extensive landing gear asset base, making
it possible for us to support your fleet.
Enter Link # at for more information
Link 814
Rusada Software
Envision is a leading modular
software solution for MROs,
CAMOs and Operators around
the globe. Highly configurable
with proven integrations to
the likes of SAP, Envision is a
true multi-site, multi-company
business solution. With in-house
development, training and
installations, let us help.
Link 816
Sweeney a Hydratight Brand
Turbine Engine Electronic Turning Tools
Sweeney tools have
been an turbine industry
standard for 50 years to
turn engines accurately
during bore scope
inspections. They are
the specified choice of
many OEMs, airlines and MRO’s. The 189DTT
is dependable, accurate & economical. It comes
complete with all engine programs preloaded and
the strongest torque available in the market.
Link 810
MEKCO Group, Inc
Repairs, Sales, and Exchanges
Located in Miami, FL, MEKCO
Group provides experienced IFE
repairs and sales for the aviation
industry. Our commitment is focused
on extending the life of your IFE
equipment. Our new 7,000 sq. ft.
building is a modern, state of the
art facility. We are an authorized
distributor for Mimo Enterprises.
Link 425
Skytronics, Inc.
#1 Source for HSTA and THSA Repairs
FAA Repair Station with 50+ years experience
providing top-quality repair & overhaul services
for all Boeing Commercial HSTAs, Flap Ball
Screws, Transmissions, & other Chapter 27
flight controls. At MRO, we are introducing
repair & overhaul services for Airbus THSAs
on A318/A319/A320 & A321 aircraft.
Link 738
Umbra Cuscinetti, Division of Umbra Group
Ballscrews for all types of Airline linear applications
including OE and Aftermarket
Umbra Cuscinetti is an
OEM providor of linear
motion ballscrews and rotary
actuators. Umbra is the
leading OEM supplier to all
airfame manufactures for Flap
and Stabilizer ballscrews.
Umbra maintains repair
stations that are FAA, EASA and CAA approved in North
America and Central Europe.
Link 740
Western Aero
Western Aero Repair, A Single Source MRO Supplier
We go the extra mile at
Western Aero for our
customers by expanding the
life of their fleets. WAS offers
unequaled precision, superior
quality parts with on-time
and on-budget service. Our
expansion with a state-of-
the-art repair facility, Western
Aero Repair, makes us your single- source provider.
Enter Link # at for more information AVIATION WEEK & SPACE TECHNOLOGY MRO EDITION DECEMBER 9, 2013 MRO23
Link 804
Cincinnati Thermal Spray, Inc.
Thermal Spray Coatings
High technology coatings improve
the performance of products
throughout a variety of industries.
We provide solutions in the form
of thermal spray coating, dry film
lubricants, porcelain enamels, and
anti-corrosion paints, along with
turnkey service to machine and coat a final
Link 808
ICM Document Solutions
Best Document Solutions for Aviation
ICM offers complete
document management
solution – including scanning
and document and content
management software – to
meet and exceed compliance
requirements, to help you be more efficient, to control
costs, and to reduce your MRO operation’s cycle time.
Link 226
Trax USA Corp
TRAX is an industry leader in
aviation MRO ERP software.
TRAX Maintenance has been
implemented successfully at over
one hundred and twenty airlines
and MROs worldwide, with fleets
consisting of all types of aircraft.
For more information, go to
or email
Link 325
Sulzer Metco (US) Inc
Efficient Thermal Spray Coating
Sulzer Metco’s MRO solutions
improve efficiency, reduce emissions
and extend lifetimes. Our leading
materials include YSZ and MCrAlY
for TBC systems, abradables for
clearance control, and landing gear
hardface solutions. All are backed by
our advanced HVOF, APS and
PS-PVD application technologies.
Link 599
Aerospace Logistics Group
Aerospace and Aviation Logistics Specialists
The ALG is a global
alliance of specialists
in logistics services for the aerospace
industry - from avionic components to aircraft engines. Our
mission is to deliver an impeccable service with tailored
procedures to ensure the fast and safe arrival of your freight.
Link 157
Mxi Technologies
Maintenix Software
Maintenix® software is
an integrated, intelligent
maintenance solution that
manages the engineering, information management,
planning, materials, execution, and related business
analytics for aviation organizations. Maintenix is the
industry’s most advanced software solution.
Enter Link # at for more information
Link 730
Schenck Trebel Corporation
ESD Static Balancing Machine
MRO service centers have
access to cost-effective, multi-
functional machines to balance
small rotors. The New ESD
mobile workstation is a mobile
static balancing machine with
CAB 945 featuring touchscreen
GUI. Bring your machine to your
rotors instead of your rotors to the balancing machine.
Link 811
Mensor Air Data Test Set
The CPA8001 Air Data Test
Set automates the testing
and calibration of altitude and
airspeed instruments. The
intuitive touch screen interface,
a removable Ps/Qc or Ps.Pt
sensor module and a highly
stable internal control valve
regulator will provide simplicity in
your arsenal of calibration tools.
Link 720
J Chadwick Co
8400K Optical Micrometer Kit
Take the guesswork out of visual
inspection. J Chadwick Co provides
portable visual inspection solutions
for quickly and effectively assessing
the severity of surface damage. Our
products are made in the USA and
trusted by aircraft MRO facilities,
military bases, and laboratories
around the world.
Link 472
Daniels Manufacturing Corp
Crimp Tools, Wiring Kits, and Safe-T-Cable
DMC is the leading manufac-
turer of Mil-Qualified Crimp
Termination Tools, Wiring
System Maintenance Kits,
and Insertion/Removal
Tools. DMC also supplies
Backshell Assembly Tools,
Testers, and SAFE-T-CABLE,
the time saving substitute for Safety Wire.
Link 091
Dedienne Aerospace
Aircraft / Engine Maintenance Tooling & GSE
Dedienne Aerospace
is a world wide official
manufacturer for aircraft /
engine maintenance tool-
SUKHOI capabilities – with
a wide range of Ground
Support Equipment such as Engine Transportation Stands, Jacks,
Tow Bars, Boot-strapping kits etc. OEM / REPAIR STATION
Link 303
Advanced Torque Products LLC
Powerful, Precision Bolting
without External Power
High Precision, Mechanical Torque
Wrenches & Multipliers
A Veteran Owned Company
Phone: 860.828.1523 AVIATION WEEK & SPACE TECHNOLOGY/DECEMBER 9, 2013 29
Frank Morring, Jr. Washington and Guy Norris Los Angeles
True Blue
Blue Origin lifts the veil on its plans to fly
suborbital, orbital human missions
lue Origin, the commercial space
company bankrolled by Amazon.
com founder Jef Bezos, plans to
begin unmanned orbital flight tests of
its biconic-shape human capsule in
2018. Ultimately, the company will use
an orbital launch vehicle powered at
least in part by a clean-sheet cryogenic
engine it now has demonstrated can
support suborbital human spaceflight.
Initial flights of the seven-seat orbit-
al human vehicle—so far known only
as “Space Vehicle”—are scheduled to
go on the Atlas V, which has also been
the choice of other companies vying
for a NASA contract to transport
crews to the International Space Sta-
tion. By then, Blue Origin also plans
to have “astronaut passengers” flying
suborbital missions in its New Shepard
capsule as it builds toward a commer-
cial operation that will provide subor-
bital and orbital human spaceflight to
a variety of private and government
customers, including the Defense Ad-
vanced Research Projects Agency and
other military organizations.
Longer term, though, Blue Origin
expects to use a launcher of its own de-
sign for orbital human missions, with
at least the upper stage powered by a
variant of its BE-3 liquid-oxygen/liq-
uid-hydrogen rocket engine. The char-
acteristically secretive Kent, Wash.-
based startup unveiled new details
about the BE-3 Dec. 3 in a rare and
unusually informative question-and-
answer session with Rob Meyerson,
president and program manager.
The 110,000-lb.-thrust rocket engine
completed a mission-duty cycle test
at Blue Origin’s isolated West Texas
facility, simulating operations during
a manned suborbital flight of its New
Shepard composite capsule.
In the test, the engine ran for 145
sec. at full throttle, then shut down
for 4.5 min. to simulate the coasting
phase that will take New Shepard out
of the atmosphere. This was followed
by a restart and throttle-down to the
25,000-lb.-thrust level it will need to
bring the reusable booster back to
Earth for a tail-down landing while the
capsule parachutes home.
“We have been focused on the sub-
orbital mission as the starting point to
serve as practice for later development
of our orbital launch system. That way,
we intend to prove out underlying
technologies while building out a very
small and innovative company capable
of repeated successes,” Meyerson says.
Work building up to the full-cycle
BE-3 test in November was conduct-
ed over nine months and included 160
starts and 9,100 sec. of engine opera-
tion. “That equates to a test every two
days, and sometimes actually three or
four tests per day,” says Meyerson.
the grounds that the discipline would
benefit from the nuclear-powered Cu-
riosity rover for many years. This not
only hampers international cooperation
(AW&ST Nov. 25, p. 46), the start-and-
stop approach also upsets the careful
division of resources needed among dif-
ferent types of science, with potentially
harmful results, the panel found.
The NRC report cites loss of an en-
tire generation of scientists and tech-
nical ability in the afected disciplines,
along with erosion of national capabili-
ties and leadership. It spotlights aero-
capture as an at-risk capability.
That technique, which dips a vehicle
approaching from Earth into a planet’s
atmosphere to slow it enough to go into
orbit, could be useful at Mars in the fu-
ture. Yet the panel found NASA’s draft
science plan did not link the proposed
Mars 2020 mission—essentially a replay
of the Curiosity-rover exploration using
as much hardware from that program
as possible—to the decadal priorities
set by a survey of planetary scientists.
At the same time, the Mars Atmo-
sphere and Volatile Evolution (Maven)
mission (see illustration), launched
Nov. 18, may hold a key to solving some
of the problems the NRC found NASA
has not addressed. That mission was
organized and managed by Principal
Investigator (PI) Bruce Jakosky of
the University of Colorado. The NRC
panel faulted the draft science plan
for slighting the approach in mission
planning across NASA’s four space-
science disciplines—astronomy and
astrophysics, planetary science, helio-
physics and Earth Science.
“[S]mall-/medium-size PI-led mis-
sions [have the potential] to provide a
steady stream of new science results at
a time when the possibilities for imple-
menting new large missions is severely
limited,” the panel states.
So far Maven is on track to stay within
its $671 million budget cap, an achieve-
ment Jakosky attributes to his willing-
ness to avoid “requirements creep” by
adding instruments and engineering
capabilities beyond what is needed for
its focused mission to study the interac-
tion of the Martian atmosphere and the
Sun (AW&ST Aug. 26, p. 40).
A NASA spokesman says the agency
requested and respects NRC’s opin-
ions and “will review their findings and
recommendations over the next sev-
eral weeks and revise the plan where
appropriate” before releasing the final
version in February. c
Blue Origin put its new BE-3
engine through a suborbital sequence
at its Texas facility last month.

The work forms part of an unfund-
ed extension of Blue Origin’s Com-
mercial Crew Development Round 2
(CCDev-2) contract with NASA, and
builds on tests of the BE-3 thrust
chamber conducted under an earlier
funded phase of CCDev-2 at the space
agency’s Stennis Space Center in Mis-
sissippi in 2012. Those tests “allowed
us to accelerate the program by about
one year,” he adds.
Since then, the company has worked
with NASA under an unfunded Space
Act agreement that allows it to draw
on the agency’s expertise and test fa-
cilities. The next major milestones in-
clude a review of the subscale propul-
sion tank assembly later this month,
and a full space vehicle subsystem
interim design review in March 2014.
Blue Origin is scheduled to present
its final CCDev-2 briefing to NASA in
May 2014.
The BE-3 was assembled at the
Kent facility, largely from parts manu-
factured there. The design is based on
the combustion “tap-of” engine cycle,
sometimes known as the “topping cy-
cle” or chamber-bleed cycle, in which
the combustion gases from around the
walls of the main chamber are bled-of,
partially cooled and used to power the
engine’s turbopumps.
Blue Origin says the cycle, which
produces a relatively high specific im-
pulse, is simpler than options such as
pre-burning staged-combustion, and
is well suited to human spaceflight be-
cause of its single combustion cham-
ber and “graceful” shutdown mode.
Despite the challenges of the cycle—
including potentially complex start-up
systems and high-temperature tur-
bine-drive gases—Meyerson explains,
“It is diferent because it only uses the
one combustor, so it has a tendency to
shut down rather than feed the com-
bustion process.” Although Rocketyne
developed the experimental J-2S tap-
of variant of the Saturn V upper-stage
J-2 engine in the 1960s, Meyerson says
the BE-3 is the first engine of its type
developed to fly.
The company also is focusing on
development of modifications to adapt
the baseline engine to the expendable
upper-stage BE-3U version. “We dem-
onstrated very high efciencies on the
core injector and that allows us to put
on diferent nozzles, including a short
design for deep throttling for landing,
and a large-expansion-ratio nozzle
design for the upper stage, which will
give the higher performance and ef-
ciency you need for that. But we are
also looking at other things we can do
in terms of expendables and lower-cost
manufacturing,” he adds.
Still to be determined is the power-
plant for the reusable first stage of the
orbital vehicle. Meyerson says it could
be a cluster of BE-3s, or something
entirely diferent. Performance drove
the decision to use hydrogen fuel in
the BE-3, he says, but the company’s
engineers have not ruled out a difer-
ent approach on the orbital first stage.
“We selected the BE-3 as our first
orbital launch vehicle engine because
it provides us with options to go with
an all-hydrogen architecture if we
choose to,” he says. “We have ideas.
Some things are in development for
other engines that we’re developing,
but we’re not ready to discuss those
today. Those would provide other op-
tions and other architectures.”
Overall, Blue Origin has received
$25.7 million from NASA for CCDev-1
and -2 work, of which only a small
portion went into the BE-3 engine,
according to Meyerson. The com-
pany also developed a peroxide/kero-
sene BE-2 engine for early flight tests
over Texas. A vehicle powered by that
engine reached 45,000 ft. and Mach
1.2 before it was destroyed by range
safety ofcers when signs of flight in-
stability were noted (AW&ST Sept. 12,
2011, p. 39).
So far, the company has tested the
Space Vehicle’s biconic shape at Lock-
heed Martin’s high-speed wind tunnel
facility in Dallas to validate computa-
tional fluid dynamics models of its per-
formance. Meyerson notes that while
there is nothing particularly unusual
about the manufacturing techniques
that go into the BE-3, computer mod-
eling also played an important role in
the engine’s development.
“One of the key things is the design
process we went through using com-
putational methods and our in-house
analytical techniques to come to a
turbopump design that worked, essen-
tially, out of the box,” he says. “I think
that is unique.”
Since its founding in 2000 with a
staff of 10, Meyerson says, Blue Ori-
gin has grown to about 300 engineers
and other specialists, and ultimately
may hire another 100. Its website lists
openings in guidance, navigation and
control, structural engineering, me-
chanical systems design, fluid systems
design, and avionics, among many oth-
er positions.
Meyerson declined to discuss pric-
ing or specific schedules during his
teleconference with reporters, but
made clear Blue Origin has ambitious
commercial plans and is in it for the
long haul. The company is awaiting
a Government Accountability Office
decision in a dispute with competitor
SpaceX over use of Launch Complex
39A at Kennedy Space Center and has
a number of irons in the fire with po-
tential government customers.
“Over the next several years you are
going to see us flying our New Shepard
suborbital system in a development
phase, and then starting to fly astro-
naut passengers over the next several
years,” says Meyerson.
“In parallel we’ll be developing our
orbital space vehicle, with first flights
targeted for the 2018 timeframe. That
will be developmental flights of our
orbital launch vehicle. [Now] we’re
developing this engine for our New
Shepard system and our orbital sys-
tem, but we think it has applicability to
both government and other commer-
cial launch systems as well,” Meyerson
concludes. c
Blue Origin plans
a fly-back vertical
landing first stage
for orbital missions.
Bradley Perrett Beijing
Building a Buffer
Suspicious of the outside world, China will keep
trying to assert its rights over nearby waters
ast Asia and the U.S. had bet-
ter get used to this sort of thing.
China’s heavy-handed declaration
of an unusually demanding air defense
identification zone (ADIZ) is only one in
a series of moves in which the country
will gradually try to exert control over
its maritime approaches. Worryingly, it
may also be an early example of China’s
Communist Party contriving to raise in-
ternational tension as a means of rally-
ing popular support at home.
Just about everything encourages
China to be more assertive in neighbor-
ing waters, from its mistrustful, some-
times hostile view of the outside world
to its domestic politics, rising strength
and growing nationalism—and, not
least, Japan’s refusal to face up to its
atrocious pre-1945 behavior.
Commercial air services are running
normally through the ADIZ, which cov-
ers much of the East China Sea, includ-
ing islands and a reef disputed by Chi-
na, Japan and South Korea. There is no
disruption even of flights by Japanese
airlines, which are refusing to supply
the Chinese authorities with the de-
manded flight plans for the zone, while
other countries’ commercial carriers
cooperate. U.S., Japanese and South
Korean military flights, however, have
ignored Beijing’s demands.
“From now it is a question of enforce-
ment,” says Rory Medcalf, a specialist
on Asian maritime security at the Lowy
Institute, a think tank in Sydney. Hav-
ing now asserted its rights, how—or
will—China compel other countries to
fully recognize them?
Airline compliance can be enforced
administratively simply by withdraw-
ing landing rights, although there is no
sign of that happening. If Beijing were
to not let Japanese airlines go to China,
Tokyo would surely respond likewise.
There then would be no direct air ser-
vices between the world’s second- and
third-largest economies.
Attempts at enforcing the rules on
military flights would surely be danger-
ous. Chinese vessels sometimes collide
with U.S. naval ships in China’s exclu-
sive economic zone (EEZ), trying to en-
force a claimed right to exclude foreign
military activity. But threatening behav-
ior in the air can have tragic results, as
shown in 2001 when a Chinese fighter
pilot died after apparently flying too
close to, and colliding with, a U.S. Navy
EP-3 Orion intelligence aircraft.
Most media attention given to Chi-
na’s Nov. 23 declaration of the ADIZ
has focused on ham-fisted Chinese di-
plomacy: ADIZs are common enough,
but China made its declaration without
consultation while in a tense confron-
tation with Japan over waters that the
zone covered. (The zone also covers a
reef disputed by China and South Ko-
rea, which now plans to extend its own
ADIZ.) But in one respect the Chinese
ADIZ is more proprietorial than is usual
for such a zone: It demands flight plans
for all aircraft entering it, regardless of
whether they are flying to China. That
is the destabilizing aspect of the move,
says Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of
the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staf.
It is also reminiscent of the attempt
at enlarging the meaning of the EEZ.
Both steps are part of a strategy that
Sydney University’s John Lee calls
China’s salami-slicing—with each move,
China seeks to take another slice of
authority over nearby waters. Other
examples are progressive attempts at
enforcing the economic rights of the
EEZ claim in the South China Sea.
The East China Sea ADIZ “is a stra-
tegically clever move because it has
forced other countries to accept Chi-
na’s authority and gives a pretext to
escalate” in a future crisis, says Med-
calf. Crews of foreign airliners passing
through the zone but not on their way
to China are, in efect, dofng their caps
at Beijing as they report flight plans and
maintain the required radio contact.
In the U.S. on Dec. 3, Rep. Randy
Forbes (R-Va.), chairman of the House
Armed Services seapower and pro-
jection forces subcommittee, wrote to
National Security Adviser Susan Rice
asking the administration to reassess
the FAA’s recommendation that U.S.
airlines follow China’s new rules. “By
advising U.S. airlines to comply with
China’s ADIZ, the administration is le-
gitimizing Beijing’s attempt to subvert
international airspace at the same time
it is also, rightfully, condemning such a
move,” Forbes wrote.
From the outside, China’s actions
look simply aggressive, especially when
its forces take such action as illuminat-
ing Japanese warships with fire-control
radars. But from China’s point of view,
controlling nearby waters creates a de-
fensive bufer, says Li Mingjiang, a spe-
cialist on Chinese foreign policy at Nan-
yang Technical University in Singapore.
The purported EEZ rights are key: If
China can get other countries to accept
its ownership of the many disputed is-
lets, rocks and shoals stretching from
near South Korea to near Indonesia,
and if it can enforce a rule that foreign
warships and warplanes may enter the
resulting enormous EEZ only with its
permission, then it will feel a lot safer.
The bufer is not yet built, so the salami-
slicing will continue until it is, or until
China is somehow persuaded to stop.
But why should China feel that it
needs such a colossal security bufer?
After all, other countries do not feel a
need to keep foreign forces at a distance
of hundreds of kilometers. The answer


J-11s have been among the Chinese
fighters scrambled to identify foreign
aircraft in the country’s new ADIZ.
Bradley Perrett Beijing
Tensile Strength
China, making strong carbon fiber, plans
more capacity and even higher-quality product
he world’s strongest carbon fiber
is Toray Industries’ T100G, says
the Japanese manufacturer. Now
China, denied access even to lower
grades from foreign suppliers, is work-
ing on matching it.
China makes a limited volume of
T800—a lower-grade but still very
strong fiber that it cannot buy from
Western countries and Japan—and
plans are afoot to build a plant with 20
times the current capacity. These ad-
vances could improve the performance
of Chinese military aircraft and, eventu-
ally, bring China into the global market
for aerospace materials, in which it has
so far had negligible presence.
The Chinese T800 grade will cost
only 1,600 yuan ($262) per kilogram,
compared with the 4,200 -yuan-per-
kilogram cost of the established and
much inferior local product, T300, the
plant operator told the China Aeronau-
tical Materials and Manufacturing
Equipment Summit, organized by Gal-
leon, in Beijing last week. It is unclear
whether it is referring to output from
its present facilities or the larger plant.
National aeronautics group Avic has
meanwhile described its development
work on composite aircraft structures
in preparation for the proposed Comac
C929 widebody airliner. Technical chal-
lenges forced the abandonment of plans
to build a composite center wingbox for
its C919 narrowbody, Comac said at the
of the strongest carbon fiber is also
used in civil aircraft. The Chinese in-
dustry is presumably looking to the
proposed C929 widebody aircraft that
Comac wants to build as a follow-on to
the C919. And beyond that, it likely has
ambitions to supply the global mar-
ket, as evidenced by Jiangsu Hangke’s
willingness to discuss the properties
of its materials at an open conference.
Jiangsu Hangke appears to be associ-
ated with the government’s Chinese
Academy of Sciences.
Comac has chosen only foreign car-
bon fiber for the C919. But the Chinese
industry has not missed out on large
sales in that program, because the air-
craft will use carbon fiber only in its tail
and secondary structures. Until this
year, the C919 was supposed to have
a composite center wingbox, but the
manufacturer switched to aluminum.
The reasons for the switch were
partly economic but mostly technical,
Comac says. “Mainly, it was related to
the level of difficulty of certain tech-
nologies and, in the end, the problems
were in two areas,” says a company
ofcial. “One was thermal conduction;
some places [in the structure] were
hot, and the composite material, which
we chose initially, could not cope with
that.” The other problem was dealing
with electricity in the structure, wheth-
er static or from lightning.
“We have not stopped researching
composite center wings,” says the of-
ficial, referring to the C929. “We will
continue this efort.”
Avic has made engineering samples
of 12-meter (40-ft.) wing panels, says
an ofcial of that group’s First Aircraft
Institute, a design bureau. One piece,
apparently an upper panel, was cured
at only 120C (248F) under “vacuum
pressure,” reducing costs, says an
official. Another piece, apparently a
is that China still has the “us-and-them”
mentality familiar in the West before
World War I. “China perceives itself and
is probably perceived by the West as an
outsider in the international system,”
says Li. The country has few real friends
except Pakistan and North Korea, the
latter also part of its strategic bufer. Or-
dinary Chinese speak quite easily of the
possibility of war, especially with Japan.
Many of them are also confused by
the willingness of the West to tolerate
preserve the independence of Taiwan
(effectively, the biggest disputed is-
land), and back Japan and Southeast
Asian countries against Chinese ter-
ritorial bullying.
Domestic politics may be playing a
part in the current dispute—or they
may next time. China’s foreign policy
is tough not just because authoritar-
ian rulers like it that way. The Chinese
people, pumped up on partly manufac-
tured nationalism, generally want their
what the British military historian Max
Hastings has called Japan’s “collective
rejection of historical fact,” the millions
of deaths it caused in 1937-45, mostly
in China. It would be as if Russia were
expected to live with a Germany unre-
pentant for its wartime atrocities and
remembering little about them.
Li points out that China sees its buf-
fer being resisted, and its security un-
dermined, every time the U.S. works to
bring down the North Korean regime,
The new carbon-fiber plant of Jiang-
su Hangke Composite Materials Tech-
nology has a capacity of 50 metric tons
of T800 carbon fiber a year, plus 100
tons of T700, the company says. A plant
with a capacity of 1,000 tons of T800 a
year is coming online, with capacity for
50 tons a year of M55J carbon fiber. The
country will also work on the T1000 and
M60J, which is another higher grade,
Jiangsu Hangke says, giving no dates.
The “T” numbers approximately
indicate the strength of the fibers,
which are impregnated with resin
and then baked to create carbon-fiber-
reinforced plastic—composite. Toray
describes its T1000G as “the world’s
highest-tensile-strength carbon fiber,”
with a rating of 6,370 megapascals
(9,239 psi). Jiangsu Hangke says its
T800 has a tensile strength of 5,709
megapascals, while Toray rates its
T800S fiber at 5,880 megapascals. The
advantages to China in using its T800
in military aircraft are obvious from
the relatively modest 3,530-megapas-
cal strength of Toray’s T300, which has
been made for about three decades.
The U.S. and its allies do not export
T800 carbon fiber to China, in order to
prevent its use in military aircraft there.
In May, a Chinese man pleaded guilty
in a U.S. court to trying to take Toray
T800 from the U.S. to China.
China is surely considering more
than military applications for its im-
proved carbon fibers, however. Some
lower panel, was formed with integral
stringers that were cured separately
before attachment.
The conference also saw photos of a
composite aileron made with vacuum-
assisted resin injection and a rudder
component made using resin-transfer
molding. Process improvements have
reduced the designing time for large
parts to 2-3 months, from 6-8.
Shanghai-based Comac says its larg-
est autoclave has dimensions of 21 X 5.5
meters (70 X 18 ft.) but in Beijing, Avic
has one of 30 X 7 meters. Mitsubishi
Heavy Industries makes Boeing 787
outer wings in 40-meter autoclaves.
Composite manufacturing is prob-
ably profitable to the Chinese state
firms, because civil aircraft are not
their only market, says an industry of-
ficial. Chinese military orders are con-
tracted at cost plus an agreed profit,
explaining why the suppliers can make
money. There is little manufacturing of
composites for Chinese civil aircraft:
Comac’s first one, the ARJ21 regional
jet, has only 1.5% composite content.
Jiangsu Hangke expects the C929 to
reach 25% composite content. Another
ofcial makes a similar prediction for
the widebody and adds that its wing
Chinese production of T800 grade carbon fiber is so far only modest.
will be composite. There does not seem
to be a plan to build a composite fuse-
lage for the C929, development of which
has not been launched.
China’s state companies are not yet
supplying aerospace aluminum to the
global market, although they make the
material for Chinese military aircraft
and civil aircraft whose certification is
not recognized by developed countries.
That, too, is about to change, however.
Airbus is working to qualify metal
from the government’s Southwest Alu-
minum. The material will be conven-
tional aerospace-grade aluminum, not
the more recent advanced aluminums
or aluminum-lithium, says Antoine
Gaugler, Airbus’s purchasing manager
for Asia. Aleris, a U.S. company, has
set up a plant to make conventional
aerospace aluminum in eastern China
at Zhenjiang (AW&ST May 27, p. 37).
China is also working on ceramic
matrix composite (CMC) but lacks
practical applications of such material,
which remains stable at temperatures
that defeat even the best metals used
in aircraft engines. Apart from work
on parts for turbine engines, Chinese
engineers have been applying CMC to
ramjets and telemetry systems, says
a leading researcher in the field. More
than 4,000 articles have been made for
360 types of parts.
“China began work on ceramic
matrix composites in the 1990s, sev-
eral decades after other countries,”
the Chinese researcher tells Avia-
tion Week. “We are still behind North
America and Europe, and in some ar-
eas we have been unable to catch up.
In [development of] materials, we have
been catching up faster.
“But we are far behind in applying
and using the technology,” she says.
“Without thorough testing and verifi-
cation, we cannot believe the charac-
teristics” determined in the laboratory.
“In some areas, we have surpassed
[foreign researchers], but in applica-
tions we are backward.” International
experience shows that the cooperation
of industry, universities and research
institutes is key to success, she adds.
A CMC manufacturing technology
national engineering center was ap-
proved this year as a base for promot-
ing the industry. Two projects, one
applicable to aero-engines and one for
brakes, have been given the go-ahead.
Among the work discussed at the con-
ference, a CMC afterburner inner cone
was tested for 24 hr. A problem in the
connection structure was found but
fixed. This efort appears to have been
judged a success, since the researcher
says it “laid a foundation” for engine
The Northwestern Polytechnical
University at Xian has tested engine
nozzle parts between ambient temper-
ature and 820C. In one test, the nozzle
of a Klimov RD-33 engine was tested
at pressures of 0.28 megapascals, a
speed of Mach 1.5, and 1,047C. This
test proved the that higher operational
temperature was possible, along with
a saving in cooling air. c
country to throw its weight around even
more. Any sign of weakness in foreign
afairs attracts widespread criticism.
For years it has been commonly said
that the party relies on fast economic
growth and nationalism to stay in pow-
er. That has raised concern about what
the rulers may do to heighten national-
ism when the economy slows—which
it is doing now. At the same time, the
party is under pressure from a populace
that, thanks to the Internet, finds it ever
easier to share grievances over every-
thing from pollution to corruption and,
coming soon, likely disruptive economic
reforms planned by the new adminis-
tration of President Xi Jinping.
“It is quite difcult for the Chinese
government even to appear to be
weak,” says Li. “And the new leader-
ship understands the usefulness of us-
ing external crises to unite the domes-
tic population to position themselves
politically to push for reforms and
their domestic program in China.”
This heightens the danger. First,
there is a clear temptation to create a
crisis, and that temptation will rise if
and when the party’s position weakens.
Second, if China takes a step too far in
setting up its bufer, it may be unable to
step back. c
With Michael Bruno and Michael Fabey in
Washington and Adrian Schofield in Wel-
lington, New Zealand.

Tony Osborne London
Saltire Desires
Could an independent Scotland realistically
muster its own defense capabilities?
ondon has held the responsibility
for the defense of the British Isles
since the Act of Union in 1707, but
if Scots opt for independence on Sept.
18, 2014, that will come to an end, and
Scotland will assume responsibility for
its own defense.
The Scottish National Party (SNP)
has published a white paper that out-
lines Scotland’s independent armed
forces as well as its membership in
NATO and the European Union. Some
critics describe the document as little
more than a wish list, though, includ-
ing many ambitions that likely could
not be achieved between the vote and
the planned independence date of
March 24, 2016.
Key to the SNP’s plan to provide an
independent Scottish defense force
is its opposition to the basing of the
U.K.’s Trident submarine-launched
ballistic missiles at Faslane, HMNB
Clyde. The SNP says the U.K.’s com-
mitment to the nuclear deterrent has
left other aspects of the country’s de-
fense weakened.
“Scotland is a maritime nation, and
yet the U.K. has no maritime patrol air-
craft and no major surface ships are
based in Scotland,” the white paper
states. “There is greater risk to safety
and security in Scotland’s airspace
and waters as a result.” Scotland was
home to the Nimrod maritime patrol
aircraft until they were eliminated by
the 2010 Strategic Defense and Secu-
rity Review. The future of the capabil-
ity is unclear.
Despite concerns that a Scottish
government would call for the Trident
missiles to be removed from Scotland
starting in 2016—which could force
the U.K. to unilaterally disarm, as
there is no alternative place to house
the submarines—the SNP says the re-
moval of the missiles should take place
within “the first term of the Scottish
Parliament following independence.”
That would give the U.K. until 2021 to
consider its options and prepare infra-
structure for the deterrent arsenal.
The SNP believes it could fund the
country’s defense and security for
£2.5 billion ($4 billion) a year, with
forces building up to 15,000 regular
and 5,000 reserve personnel over the
decade following independence.
The document states that an in-
dependent Scotland should inherit a
share of the U.K.’s defense assets to
help it to establish a defense force. A
2007 U.K. Defense Ministry report es-
timated the total value of those assets
and investments at £93 billion, ac-
cording to the white paper. Based on
population, the SNP says Scotland’s
share would be about £7.8 billion and
would include at least 12 Eurofighter
Typhoons for air defense and quick-
reaction alert, six C-130J Hercules to
form a tactical air transport squad-
ron as well as a helicopter squadron.
Increasing the fleet of Typhoons to 16
would “enable Scotland to contribute to
alliance operations overseas,” ofcials
state. Flight training would be conduct-
ed “through joint arrangements with al-
lies,” the document says, and a Scottish
air arm of 2,000 regular personnel and
300 reserves would be formed.
Scotland would aim to remain part
of NATO’s integrated air command-
and-control system, initially through
agreement with allies to maintain the
current arrangements until it estab-
lishes its own personnel and facility,
within five years of independence.
A Scottish government would also
focus its attention on rebuilding mari-
time capability, including the rapid
reestablishment of an airborne mari-
time patrol. “A detailed specification
of requirements will be developed as
a priority, and final numbers of aircraft
required will depend on this,” the white
paper states. “However, the numbers
maintained by comparable nations
suggests a potential fleet of four.”
Independent cyberwarfare and
counterterrorism capabilities would
have to be developed, as well.
Officials say they are comfortable
and confident in engaging with NATO,
despite the country’s stance toward nu-
clear weapons and its push to remove
U.K. weapons from its soil in a short
period of time. Scottish ofcials would
notify NATO of their intent to join the
alliance in 2014, pointing out that they
may well hold a strong hand because
the lack of an agreement would “leave a
gap in existing NATO security arrange-
ments in northwest Europe.”
However, joining the European
Union may be more complicated.
Spanish Prime Minster Mariano Ra-
joy said late last month that there is
no “automatic welcome” for “regions
declaring independence.” European
Commission ofcials say a member-
state region gaining independence
would be seen as a new state, outside
the EU, an issue that would have a ma-
jor impact on the SNP’s plans.
Scottish media reports suggest that
many Scots are dubious about seced-
ing from the U.K., and recent opin-
ion polls suggest that the campaign
against independence has the lead. c
Some U.K. Eurofighters could end
up sporting the Saltire if Scots say
“yes” to independence next year.

Tony Osborne Seville, Spain
Painful Contractions
Dearth of funds forces Spanish air force to
initiate some tough operational choices
hile green shoots of economic
recovery are beginning to
emerge in Spain, deep cuts
in public spending have had a dramatic
efect on the country’s armed forces.
For the air arm, which was poised
to undergo a major modernization, the
cuts could not have arrived at a worse
time. The service was preparing to in-
troduce new helicopters and transport
aircraft while continuing to integrate
the Eurofighter Typhoon.
Spanish air force budgets are one-
third lower than they were in 2008,
and are due to dip slightly more in
2014. Commanders say they are hope-
ful the situation will improve in 2016.
“We were faced with a choice of los-
ing readiness or losing a capability,”
said one senior Spanish air force of-
ficer, speaking on the sidelines of the
Military Airlift, Rapid Reaction and
Tanker Operations conference in Se-
ville, on Dec. 3. “We recognized that if
we chose to lose a capability, we would
probably never regain it. We have to
choose lower readiness, but we have
lowered the number of pilots at the
same time.”
Reducing the number of pilots has
an automatic corresponding efect on
the number of flight hours they are re-
quired to fly. One-third of the pilots are
being kept fully operational and com-
bat-ready by flying the full complement
of required hours. However, another
third are flying a reduced number of
hours—just enough to keep them cur-
rent, but not combat-efective.
Ofcers are quick to point out that in
the event the current-status-only pilots
are needed for a major operation, they
can be restored to a combat-readiness
level in a matter of weeks through in-
tensive flying. The remaining one-third
of the airmen are being assigned to
trainers such as the CASA 101 Avio-
jet, or are being put on exchange tours.
Each year, all pilots will be rotated
through this process, so capabilities
are not lost in the short-term.
Commanders admit this is not a
long-term solution because skills and
capabilities cannot be maintained in-
definitely using these methods, nor is
it good for morale.
The air arm is also facing a poten-
tially costly barrier in terms of mod-
ernization. If the country were not
saddled with such a poor economic
outlook, the air force would be pre-
paring for delivery of its first NH In-
dustries NH90 utility helicopters and
the first of 27 Airbus Military A400M
airlifters. But ofcials are now strug-
gling to aford the new capabilities;
the air force is seeking to cut its NH90
order to 22 from 45, and reduce the
number of A400Ms it plans to operate
to just 14. At the same time, the air
force wants to buy three new Airbus
A330 multi-role tanker transports
(MRTT) to replace two types—Boeing
KC-707 tankers, which are becoming
increasingly challenging to maintain
and support, and a pair of Airbus
A310s used to transport the Spanish
royal family.
Air force ofcials had hoped that the
A330s could be purchased by adjust-
ing the air arm’s order for the A400M,
but Airbus Military is sticking to the
contract. Purchase of the MRTT is
considered a top priority by air force
ofcials here, along with the purchase
of a medium-altitude long-endurance
(MALE) unmanned air vehicle (UAV),
but there is no funding for either pro-
gram. Commanders are hoping that
the MRTT purchase could be of the
back of a large MRTT order expected
from the European Defense Agency
The EDA hopes to have an agree-
ment signed at the end of 2014 allowing
for the possible procurement of tank-
ers in conjunction with Occar, the Eu-
ropean armament cooperation agency,
for initial operations in 2020 and a
full-operational capability in 2021. But
this would mean Spain likely would not
have the aircraft until sometime in the
2020s, and commanders do not believe
it would be economical to retain the
KC-707 for that long.
The air force has retired three air-
craft types from the inventory this
year, including the search-and-rescue
fleet of CASA C212 Aviocar and Fokker
F-27, as well as the Dassault Mirage F1
fighter, 16 of which are scheduled to
join the Argentine air force. Ofcers
are confident there will be no retire-
ments from the inventory during 2014.
Requirements are being drawn up
for a future combat air system which
will replace Boeing F/A-18A/B Hornets
with a new multi-mission aircraft envi-
sioned to carry roll-on/roll-of payloads
for missions such as maritime patrol
and electronic warfare. These projects,
however, are probably very far in the
future. c
The Dassault Mirage F1 fleet was one
of three types retired from Spanish air
force inventory in 2013.
Cents of the Senate
If it passes, the U.S. Senate’s defense bill could
matter most to contractors’ bottom lines
ith the U.S. Senate expected
this week to pick up its stalled
version of the defense autho-
rization bill for fiscal 2014, most head-
lines out of the Capitol will be about
debate over sexual assault in the mili-
tary, the Guantanamo Bay prison, the
Iranian nuclear deal, budget cuts or
the possibility that no annual law will
be enacted for the first time in 52 years.
But what could matter most for the
defense and space sector are a few es-
oteric provisions that could hit federal
contractors in their pocketbooks, liter-
ally. Senators may adopt language that
seriously pressures contractor salaries,
and no matter what is passed or when, a
new era of restraint has dawned.
Both the House-passed version of the
annual bill, which sets policy for the Pen-
tagon and other national security agen-
cies, and the Senate Armed Services
Committee (SASC) version already in-
clude language on reforming industry’s
personal compensation—namely, the
amount the government should reim-
burse or subsidize as part of allowable
expenses in future cost-based contracts.
In its summer markup of the bill, the
Democrat-led SASC set a reimburs-
able salary cap of $487,000 that would
adjust for inflation but expand exemp-
tions beyond scientists and engineers to
include medical professionals, cyberse-
curity experts and “other workers with
unique areas of expertise.” It also called
for congressional auditors at the Gov-
ernment Accountability Ofce (GAO) to
boost oversight of and recommendations
about the “reasonableness” of defense
industry pension plans, specifically the
value of benefits earned by participants.
The Republican-controlled House
bill, passed over the summer, makes
a more modest but similar change. It
stipulates $763,029 plus inflation with
exemptions for designated science,
technology, engineering and math-
ematics (STEM) as well as medical
and manufacturing fields. But it would
apply only to the five most highly com-
pensated employees of a contractor
doing Pentagon business of at least
$500 million in the prior fiscal year—a
reversion to the more limited applica-
bility that existed before the final 2013
defense law expanded application to all
Defense Department contractors.
Just last week, the covered level for
all defense and civil contractors in-
creased to $952,308, based on current
law that was altered in industry’s favor
during the post-9/11 national security
spending explosion. Yet because there
are still diferent applicability require-
ments among defense and civil agen-
cies, including NASA and non-Pentagon
military such as the Coast Guard, “the
cap may apply to different groups of
contractor employees, employed by the
same contractor, if that contractor has
contracts with both defense and civilian
agencies,” the White House states.
In June, the White House proposed
lowering the cap to the president’s sal-
ary of $400,000 and broadening the
cap’s application across companies,
with exceptions for STEM fields. In a
response to a GAO report, the Office
of Management and Budget said the
findings back up its call for reform
and stressed that the administration’s
proposal would save far more than the
$180 million cited by GAO’s findings, as
auditors there surveyed only 7% of the
Pentagon’s 2012 contract obligations.
In the Senate, Joe Manchin, 3rd (D-W.
Va.) is proposing an amendment to cap
covered costs at the vice president’s sala-
ry of $230,700, plus inflation. Separately,
Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) wants addi-
tional language to bar any individual or
contractor with a “seriously delinquent
tax debt” from continuing or taking a
position that is within the Pentagon or
funded by it, such as consultants.
Trade representatives remain deep-
ly opposed to lowering caps, arguing
that contractors need higher reim-
bursement levels to attract and retain
the “best and brightest” workers to an
industry that serves national interests.
Of course, companies—particularly
those with public shareholders—also
fear smaller profit margins if they
must cover more of the salaries they
pay. The law has never stipulated how
much contractors can pay, just how
much taxpayers reimburse.
The defense and space industry will
also be closely monitoring any autho-
rization bill mandates that affect de-
fense and space programs. More than
500 potential amendments have been
introduced in the Senate, most express-
ing a “sense of the Senate,” such as one
by John Thune (R-S.D.) that seeks to
ensure that upgrading legacy B-1B, B-2
and B-52 bombers remains a high prior-
ity. His state’s Ellsworth AFB is home to
two of three combat squadrons operat-
ing the B-1B.
Yet historic gridlock and acrimony in
Congress draw into doubt whether the
Senate can pass its own bill this year,
let alone amendments to it. Long-time
analyst Byron Callan of Capital Alpha
Partners says, “D.C. is looking even less
functional [now].” c
U.S. bombers such as the B-1B are
important to South Dakota and
its politicians, hence Sen. John
Thune’s amendment to keep
them a Pentagon budget priority.


Michael Bruno Washington AVIATION WEEK & SPACE TECHNOLOGY/DECEMBER 9, 2013 37
Tony Osborne London
A team of Swiss engineers is
preparing to take on big helicopter
OEMs with a radical design
hen Marenco Swisshelicopter unveiled the mock-up
of its radical-looking, single-engined light helicop-
ter at Heli-Expo in 2011, critics were quick to pass
They questioned the business model and the ability to keep
costs low while building the aircraft in a country considered
to be the most expensive in Europe.
But now, almost three years later, the company is ready
to answer its detractors. On Nov. 28, the company unveiled
the first prototype Skye SH09 helicopter at the company’s
facility in Mollis, southeast of Zurich. Marenco will soon an-
nounce that its order book has swollen to
48 aircraft, a backlog large enough to push
production into its third year.
The company believes several of these
customers could top-up their orders once
they have seen how the aircraft performs.
Marenco and its investors say they have
spent just €50 million ($68 million) on the
aircraft’s development so far, a drop in the
ocean compared to development programs
by Eurocopter or AgustaWestland. The
company is highly confident it will quick-
ly find a niche, taking a lesson from the
Anglo-Italian manufacturer’s AW139 and AW169 products.
“AgustaWestland has learned that you do not need to
preserve old product lines,” says Mathias Senes, chief com-
mercial ofcer at Marenco Swisshelicopter and a former Eu-
rocopter sales executive. “Their AW169 will sell well because
it’s a new model in a market competing with an old design
but is also biting on the product in the level above as well.
This is how we see the Skye SH09, for us. The competition
was designed in the 1970s, and the industry is ready for a
Senes sees the aircraft competing against Eurocopter’s
AS350 Ecureuil, the Bell 407 and in the future, AgustaWest-
land’s new 2.5-metric-ton helicopter developed in partnership
with Russian Helicopters and potentially “biting” into the
light-twin market as well.
Despite having sufered from supply setbacks during late
2012 and 2013, the company is now focusing its attention on
the next major milestones. Marenco just finished work on a
whirl tower at a RUAG-owned facility at Ennetmoos, near the
Pilatus factory at Stans and will begin dynamic component
testing shortly. Once complete, the engineers plan to begin
ground testing the first prototype as early as January with
a first flight later in the month. Work has also begun on the
assembly of the second prototype. A third is planned to build
the hours for certification flying as well as testing of optional
“We know we face a challenge,” Senes said. “This will be
the first aircraft in this category that EASA has certified
that is not produced by one of the big OEMs.” The FAA told
Marenco it will be able to start the certification process for
the Skye SH09 in March.
Key tenets of the project have been to ensure the aircraft
delivers a multi-mission capability with good visibility for
the crew and strong performance even in hot-and-high con-
ditions. The company also has studied how to improve the
residual value of the aircraft, a consideration which Senes
believes has been overlooked by other manufacturers in
the light-single market. He points to new models of aircraft
acquisition through leasing companies such as Milestone,
Waypoint and LCI, where the residual value is a key factor in
the decision process. Design features reflecting this include a
cargo hook dampener that reduces the loads on the airframe
Each aircraft will be fitted with a usage monitoring system
(UMS), and the company is working on creating a support
network. It has already established Australia-based Heliflite
Pacific as its dealer for the Oceania region and is actively
looking for other partners. It also is studying power-by-the-
hour concepts for MRO, recognizing that services and sup-
port are now a critical part of the income for any helicopter
Development has been supported by many small and me-
dium-sized local companies, and Marenco says that once the
Honeywell HTS900 turbine is taken out, 80% of the aircraft
is Swiss.
“We have found the local suppliers to be more agile and
reactive to small or unique orders for our requirements,”
says Senes. “In Switzerland we can still compete on costs.
The salaries are higher than France, but we are taxed less
so it balances out. And as a small company, we have a more
flexible working environment.”
Marenco has an ambitious schedule to keep with the aim
of achieving certification for the Skye SH09 in 2015, building
10 that year, doubling output in 2016, and building between
80 and 100 helicopters a year by 2020. c
A Swiss
Good visibility from the
cockpit has been a key tenet in
design of the Skye SH09.
Angus Batey Lincoln, England
Selex curates mission-data files at
electronic warfare support center
or suppliers of defense equipment, selling a platform or
a subsystem is just the beginning. The importance of
what would be called “after-sales service” in the com-
mercial market has increased as the global economic climate
has worsened, but in certain sectors it has never really been
about just selling a product. This is particularly true of elec-
tronic warfare (EW) systems.
“Imagine you buy a kettle,” explains Wynne Davies, one of
three heads of strategic electronic warfare campaigns at Selex
ES’s facility here. “The kettle works—you plug it in, the light
comes on and the element heats up. But it’s only when you
put water in that it gets to be useful. It’s the same with EW
The “water” that EW systems require to function is mis-
sion data. For a receiver to be able to recognize and locate
an emitter, or for a jammer or countermeasures dispenser
to be able to efectively tackle a threat, the system needs to
have access to reliable information. This takes the form of a
mission-data file, and at Selex’s Electronic Warfare Opera-
tional Support (EWOS) center, the creation and maintenance
of mission-data files is core business.
“Imagine the mission-data file as a reference book against
which the environment as seen by the system is compared,”
says Davies. “We have a set of antenna to detect the electro-
magnetic environment; we digitize it just behind the detec-
tor head; put it into the signal-processing unit, where a bit of
magic occurs; and it comes out as a lookup table of emitter
track listings.”
This data-file curation is the primary mission of the EWOS
center. The building houses an electromagnetically shielded
test range in which hardware and software can be run against
simulated emitters to verify the capability to correctly iden-
tify and locate the sources and project efects against them.
The other prong of the EWOS concept is training, and the
center sees a constant throughput of students from client
militaries looking to build their EW capabilities. Many of the
EWOS staf have come from frontline EW jobs in the Royal
Air Force—so the company sees the experience and expertise
available on site as a key selling point.
“EWOS is not something you can buy [that] gets delivered
in a box and you can have it [operational] inside three months
or even three years,” says Davies, a former RAF EW ofcer.
“The U.K. has spent 40 years developing its EWOS capability
so that it is second-to-none. You have to educate and train the
workforce, and to help that you need to collect data, informa-
tion and intelligence. It’s a long-term commitment.”
The facility is close to both RAF Waddington, where the
majority of the U.K.’s Istar (intelligence, surveillance, tar-
get acquisition and reconnaissance) aircraft fleet is based,
and RAF Coningsby, the main operating base for the Ty-
phoon, which is equipped with the Praetorian defensive aid
system for which Selex is lead integrator. A new contract
cements this relationship, deepening links between Selex,
EWOS and the lead contractor for the Typhoon platform,
BAE Systems.
The center also supports the Royal Saudi Arabian Air
Force’s Typhoon EW programming and training, as well as
customers including Kuwait’s Apache crews—Selex produc-
es the Hidas (Helicopter Integrated Defensive Aid System)
flown on the platform. “They are aiming to have sovereign
control of their EW systems, indigenously based in those
nations,” Davies says. “But in the meantime, while they come
up the learning curve, we’re able to support them from here.”
With two new EW systems recently brought to market—
Sage, which detects radio-frequency emitters at distance,
and Seer, a radar-warning receiver—EWOS is becoming ever
more important to Selex’s EW business. Basic packages for
Sage and Seer will include an entry-level mission-data file,
but classification means that most of the operationally useful
data will have to be collected by the customer.
For training and testing purposes, the EWOS building has
multiple air-gapped networks, enabling diferent countries’
classified data to be kept entirely separate.
“If a nation wishes to give us classified data, we are able to
use it and build it into their mission-data files,” Davies says.
“Where we know specifics from the Internet and unclassified
sources, we can put that in the entry-level mission-data file.”
Both Sage and Seer are small, making them suitable for
integration into light aircraft or unmanned systems. The sys-
tems therefore seem likely to attract interest from nations
with limited experience in EW and for whom an element of
support and training is vital.
“Part of the package, when we’re looking to sell Seer and
Sage, is EW training,” says Simon Cooper, another strategic
EW campaigns head.
“What we’re not doing is pushing a lot of equipment out
into theater and then stepping back. In all cases, there will be
students, or trainers, or perhaps operators from the countries
we’re selling the equipment to, coming through this site, train-
ing for weeks or months.” c
Branching Out
Selex is the lead integrator for the Typhoon’s
Praetorian defensive aid system, and a new contract
deepens the connections between the company’s
electronic warfare operational support center and BAE,
the Typhoon prime contractor.
Cathy Buyck Brussels
Europe remains divided on how
to proceed with the ETS
hen the European Commission set out its first pro-
posals to bring aviation into the existing European
Union’s Emissions Trading System (EU ETS) for
stationary sectors in September 2005, airlines warned it
would be difcult and contentious, and advised against the
noble ambitions. Almost a decade later, airlines can safely
say: “We told you so.”
In the latest chapter of intense disarray, European powers
are internally bickering on how to go forward. Three of the
EU’s largest member states, France, Great Britain and Ger-
many, have objections to the EC’s proposed new legislation to
adopt a European regional-airspace-based ETS for aviation.
Some members of the European Parliament (EP),
conversely, believe the EC’s proposal does not go
far enough and should be strengthened.
The EP and the Council of the EU, which rep-
resents the member states, need to approve the
proposed legislation.
France, Germany and Great Britain (known
as the Big Three in this context) assert that the
geographic scope of the “stop the clock,” which
is in place for one year and limits the ETS obliga-
tions to flights between airports in the European
Economic Area (EAA), should be maintained until
2016. In a joint working paper, the three countries
say they have “a number of concerns with the air-
space approach which include the political acceptability and
practical implementation of an airspace-ETS.” They suggest
reviewing the scope following the next International Civil
Aviation Organization (ICAO) Assembly in 2016, taking into
account the progress of the global market-based mechanism
(MBM) for CO
emissions of international aviation.
Several other EU states, such as Finland, the Netherlands,
Spain and Italy are said to be supportive of the Big Three’s
The Big Three’s decision to rebuf the EC’s EAA airspace
proposal is not driven by pressure from Airbus or their flag
carriers, one source claims. The driving reason is concern that
the proposed EU ETS modification—which would be the third
in three years—would damage Europe’s credibility. They also
fear that introducing an ETS for European airspace, which
legally does not exist, would be counterproductive to eforts of
the international community to achieve an efcient and com-
prehensive global system that would be operational from 2020.
Under the European Commission’s legislative proposal,
which was published days after the ICAO general assembly
in October, emissions from flights to/from countries outside
the EEA are subject to the ETS, but solely for emissions
attributable to the portion of the flight that is within EEA
airspace. The regional European airspace system would last
until a global MBM becomes applicable to international avia-
tion emissions by 2020, as planned by ICAO.
Peter Liese, a member of the EP’s environmental commit-
tee (ENVI) who is steering the proposal through parliament,
supports the EC’s proposal and says he will not recommend
the EP “limit any compromise to a prolongation of the stop
the clock.” The inclusion of all flights taking of and landing
in Europe for the part that they operate in European airspace
“is indispensable. This is a matter of fairness against Euro-
pean airlines and their competitive situation,” Liese notes in
an explanatory statement to his proposals to be considered
by other members of the EP (MEPs).
The German MEP will propose an amendment to limit the
airspace approach until 2016 and to reintroduce the full ETS
(which regulated emissions of the entire length of flights to,
from or between EEA airports) from 2017. He deems this
“reasonable” because there is no guarantee a legally binding
pact for global aviation will be adopted in ICAO in 2016. If one
is reached, the EU should be ready to modify the legislation
Liese intends also to include an amendment lowering the
level of free emissions that airlines receive, to 60% from 85%
now. He argues this is justified because the airspace approach
reduces the emissions covered by the ETS to 40% compared
with the original scheme and, he says, this will “limit the
damage [of aviation] for the environment.”
Liese further warns he will not start discussions with the
council on the European airspace legislative proposal unless
all member states implement the “very limited” stop-the-
clock legislation. Chinese and Indian carriers are refusing to
comply and have not surrendered allowances for their 2012
flights inside Europe. It is the responsibility of the member
states to enact the legislation, but member states overseeing
the Indian and Chinese airlines are hesitant to take legal ac-
tion or to repeal the trafc rights of the recalcitrant airlines.
The vote in the ENVI committee is set for Jan. 30 and the
final full vote is scheduled for April. The goal is to get the new
EU ETS legislation, in whatever form, in the ofcial EU jour-
nal before the legislative term of the EP ends and the original
full scope ETS for international aviation reactivates. c
From Dream
to Drama
Europe is increasingly divided on its
own decision to include aviation in its ETS.
Germany is one of the dissenters.
Guy Norris Seattle and Dubai
Refining Design
Boeing: Lessons learned from 787 and 747-8
are bearing fruit with 787-9/777X
s expected, Boeing launched
the long-range 777X family in
grand style at the recent Dubai
Airshow. But behind the scenes, the
company says engineering work to
ready the new derivative for launch
has gone better than ever, proving
that the Airplane Development orga-
nization created in last year’s radical
shake-up, is working.
Formed as a result of the painful
delays and missteps encountered on
the initial phases of the 787 and 747-8
programs, Airplane Development is
designed to bridge the gap between
concept design and production, and is
dedicated to bringing aircraft through
development and certification. The
initiative, which was announced late in
2012 by Boeing Commercial Airplanes
President Ray Conner, was unveiled as
part of company-wide eforts to inject
more discipline into its processes as it
ramps up to historically high production
levels and simultaneously tackles five
new development programs. Led by the
787-9 and 737 MAX, these also include
the 777X, 787-10X and KC-46A tanker.
The company says the poster child
for the reorganization is the 787-9, the
initial stretch derivative of the 787-8
now undergoing initial flight testing.
“The entire development of the 787-9
was under this new structure and the
results are pretty clear,” says Airplane
Development’s vice president and
general manager, Scott Fancher. “We
loaded the aircraft into production on
schedule, two years from when we set
the date, and the aircraft weighs less.
That says something about the disci-
pline of the process. The engineering
was released [to production] on aver-
age a couple of weeks ahead of sched-
ule. The 787-9 got us back to the roots
of reliable development and, frankly,
the same playbook was deployed out
on the MAX.”
The 787-9 also paves the way for
many of the features of the new pro-
cess, acting as a bellwether for the
777X and 787-10 programs. “We’re
balancing how we redistribute devel-
opment activities,” says Fancher who
adds “. . . it is another example of going
back to how we did things in the past.
With the 787-8 the majority of the de-
tailed design was done by partners, but
when we went to the -9 we went back
to what we did historically. It is a rebal-
ancing rather than a drastic change.”
The two-step process of creating
the design centers and the allocation
of 777X and MAX engineering work is
another example cited by Fancher. In
late October, Boeing announced that
detailed design on the 777X will be
carried out by its engineering teams
at sites in Charleston, S.C., Huntsville,
Ala., Long Beach, Calif., Philadelphia
and St. Louis. Boeing’s design center in
Moscow is also scheduled to be involved
in the 777X work. Separately, Boeing is
also expected to give responsibility for
the 777X engine nacelles to its recently
established design engineering center
in Charleston. The site is also assuming
the same role for the 737 MAX nacelles.
Jim Peterson, director of engineer-
ing and propulsion for Boeing Com-
mercial Airplanes, provides more
detail about the decision to bring the
development of the new MAX nacelle
in-house to benefit from the 787 experi-
ence. “It is easier for us to get aligned
with engine makers, but with nacelle
makers it became more difficult to
understand what kind of technology
was useful to the airframe and what
we could gain of value,” he says. “Also,
when you take a technology jump of
the sort we made with the 787 and its
laminar flow nacelle, it makes sense to
spin it of and apply it to a new prod-
uct. We developed all the aerodynam-
ics and manufacturing techniques on
the 787 and proved it will work.”
The idea of involving engineering
resources from around the country
beyond the traditional realm of Boeing
Commercial Airplanes (BCA) makes
obvious sense to Fancher. “Roughly
half of the engineers at Boeing are in
BCA. The other half are in Defense and
Space and Research and Development.
It would be silly not to tap half of the
resources of the Boeing Company,” he
says. “We want to make sure we tap
the talents and resources we really
need. Half of the people solving the
787 side-of-body issue [a late struc-
tural test discovery which delayed first
flight by around six months] were not
from BCA.” c
Boeing calls the smooth devel-
opment of the 787-9—the third
version entered the test program on
Nov. 19—a testament to the recent
reorganization within the company.
Tony Osborne Cascina Costa, Italy
AgustaWestland networks the
AW189 with the Internet for flight
planning and HUMS support
gustaWestland is accessing the Internet and the cloud
to support the latest addition to its product line.
Internet-based tools for flight planning and manipu-
lation of health and usage monitoring systems (HUMS) data
will be launched when the new AW189 intermediate-heavy
helicopter begins operations early next year.
The company is awaiting final certification of the aircraft
before first deliveries to the Bristow
Group, an ofshore oil and gas operator,
can begin. As part of the type’s intro-
duction, AgustaWestland is launching
Internet-based services called SkyFlight
and Heliwise, which aim to streamline
the aircraft’s performance and enhance
functionality from remote locations.
SkyFlight is an online flight planning
system designed to allow operators to
configure the aircraft while on the
ground. Ground operations personnel
or the pilots will be able to load the
various flight parameters into the plan
including weight and navigation waypoints, taking note of the
weather and Notams, as well as comparing potential land-
ing sites with satellite images from Google Maps. The online
service then turns the combined flight profile produced into
a transferrable file, which can be uploaded either by Wi-Fi
or USB stick and translated by the aircraft’s avionics system
into the flight profile for the crew to follow.
Heliwise is an extension of software produced for use on
the AW139, but by moving the process onto the Internet
cloud, HUMS data does not have to be collected at the home
base after each flight. Currently, operators can perform data
downloads after each sortie or at the end of a day’s flying.
Now, with Heliwise, operators can—if necessary—carry out
their data downloads even at remote locations and confirm
whether the aircraft is fit for operations.
The AW189 is expected to generate around 20 Mb of data
during a three-hour mission, although AgustaWestland is
working to compress that data to make it easier to upload
to the system. Once uploaded, the data from the aircraft are
examined and then displayed in a graphical interface with
a trafc light system pointing to diferent components on a
diagram of the aircraft. Components displaying a green light
are healthy and functioning normally, while those displaying
amber or red require the attention of engineers. The HUMS
gathers results from around 40 sensors across the aircraft.
“Heliwise uses the same graphics as we use in all the techni-
cal publications, which will aid familiarity,” said Davide Mar-
tini, helicopters support systems manager at AgustaWestland.
The data collected by operators can be shared with Agus-
taWestland, which will be able to monitor the health of key
components throughout the life of the aircraft. As more data
are collected, the operators will be able to make use of web-
based Advanced Anomaly Detection (AAD) to provide ad-
vance warning of potential issues. Some 65 AW139s in use
around the world are already using GE’s AAD system, and by
sharing the data from the AW139 fleet, AgustaWestland has
been able to extend the time between overhaul (TBO) for the
main gearbox from 5,000 hr. to 6,000, while the intermediate
and tail rotor gearbox intervals have been extended from
5,000 to 7,500 hr. Work is continuing on developing wireless
transfer of HUMS data, to be downloaded while the rotors
are running. The AW189 also will be the first helicopter certi-
fied to use RFID tags on components, allowing engineers to
locate key parts on the aircraft faster.
Meanwhile, AgustaWestland believes it is setting a new
standard for the ability to run the AW189’s gearbox dry,
without oil, for 50 min., 20 min. longer than the current
standard mandated by many ofshore oil and gas companies
and regulators. Engineers say this has been possible due
to the design of the AW189’s gearbox, which has a cone-
shaped case and oil-injection system designed to retain oil
as long as possible and to contain leaks, so the gearbox is
unlikely to lose all of its lubrication at the same time. The
company has tested the transmission’s ability to operate
without any oil for one hour, including in some diferent and
strenuous flight regimes, and claims it could have operated
running dry for a longer period. Assembly and flight-testing
of the first batch of offshore-configured AW189 produc-
tion aircraft is well underway at AgustaWestland’s plant
in Vergiate, Italy. First deliveries are planned by year-end.
Meanwhile, a range of maintenance and flight-training de-
vices is already being made available to customers to speed
up operational readiness once the aircraft are delivered to
service. Bristow engineers have started their instruction
at AgustaWestland’s training facility at Sesto Calende, and
the first pilots are expected to begin simulator training in
the coming weeks. c
Looking to
the Cloud
The AW189 appears set to
become the first medium-heavy
helicopter to begin operations.
o call launch market upstart Space Explo-
ration Technologies (SpaceX) a change
agent would not be an overstatement.
The company is bursting onto the scene with the stated goal
of CEO Elon Musk to break the monopoly for U.S. national
security launches now held by the United Launch Alliance’s
(ULA) Atlas V and Delta IV rockets. Air Force ofcials say
they are already seeing ULA take measures to become more
efcient and reduce cost (see page 43). And SpaceX is infusing
the market with new manufacturing and design techniques.
But an oversight by SpaceX that resulted in an embar-
rassing upper-stage restart failure in September is revealing
details about how diferent the company’s closely held path to
U.S. Air Force certification could be from that of its rival. And
it is raising the question of just how much change could be
too much for the Air Force, a notoriously conservative launch
customer that is trying to embrace SpaceX’s new commer-
cial development and deployment model despite decades of
institutional bias against it.
The upper stage failed to restart during the Falcon 9 v1.1’s
Sept. 29 maiden launch due to igniter fluid lines that froze in
the cold vacuum of space. Though not critical to deliver a Ca-
nadian payload into its orbit—SpaceX declared the mission
a success—the restart was added to the mission as a risk-
reduction exercise. Perhaps the failure was a serendipitous
event, as the design flaw revealed a shortcoming that was
not found in pre-flight ground testing and, if allowed onto
the second launch, would likely have caused a mission failure.
On the ground “ambient air kept the lines warm,” during
testing, says Emily Shanklin, a spokeswoman for the com-
pany. “We’ve added insulation and made sure cold oxygen
can’t impinge on the lines” in future missions.
An upper-stage restart was properly executed during the
Dec. 3 second fight of the Falcon 9 v1.1. The new Merlin ID
vacuum engine burned twice in order to place the SES-8 pay-
load into its geosyncronous transfer orbit. A similar launch
to GEO for Thaicom is slated to follow soon. The restart will
be critical for delivering national security payloads to GEO,
as well. All of the 14 launches considered for competition in
the next five years call for at least two restarts of the upper
stage, says Air Force Program Executive Ofcer for Launch,
Scott Correll.
Shanklin insists that the Sept. 29 mission will be the first
of three—two of which must be consecutive successes—re-
quired for the company to gain certification. Air Force of-
ficials, however, say they are still assessing data from the
mission and have not committed to using it for certification.
“Before they can be certified completely, we have to be
comfortable that they can meet the requirements. This has
Amy Butler Washington
Seeking a
SpaceX mishap raises questions
about commercial model
to be done with the launch data results as well as our review
of the technical data,” says Lt. Gen. Ellen Pawlikowski, Space
and Missile Systems Center commander. “Getting into a GEO
transfer orbit is a capability for which they will need to be
certified. I just cannot say that because this was not done on
the first launch means it does not count, because that was not
necessarily what we had agreed they would demonstrate on
the first launch.” Pawlikowski did not cite the specific criteria
for success of each of the three missions required for certifica-
tion. In the agreement signed last year by SpaceX and the Air
Force, the company outlined the first Falcon 9 v1.1 missions
as those eligible for certification; USAF listed specific suc-
cess metrics. “We are very carefully looking at their processes
because with only three launches—or frankly, if you have 10
Last September,
an upper-stage
restart attempt
failed due to frozen
igniter lines during
the Falcon 9 v1.1’s
first launch.
launches—you cannot cover with absolute assurance every
scenario. So every opportunity we have—as far as these three
launches and the data they present—gives us the opportunity
to observe and evaluate. For example, with this one—how do
they handle anomalies?”
The restart failure is giving the service a front-row seat
to observe SpaceX’s anomaly-resolution process. But it also
raises the question of whether the design flaw could—and per-
haps should—have been identified on the ground. When space
systems are put through thermal vacuum testing, operators
expose them to an environment that as closely as possible mir-
rors the one found in space. Shanklin did not say whether the
company executed a thermal vacuum test for the upper-stage
system or whether that could have revealed the problem prior
to launch. She did not respond to the question by press time.
But the shortcoming reveals the kind of issue that could
arise as the Air Force and SpaceX set a precedent for the gov-
ernment to reap the benefits—but not take on the risk—of the
commercial development model. Michael Gass, CEO of ULA,
and typically an outspoken skeptic of SpaceX’s ambitions, was
uncharacteristically understanding about his rival’s mistake
on the igniter lines. The issue is “if you can do the thermovac
testing and operate cryogenics at the same time. [With] many
of these systems, you can’t do both simultaneously” in testing,
Gass says. “It should have been checked, [but] there are lots of
things you can’t test on the ground.”
There is no equivalent example for the Air Force in terms
of development processes that establish a precedent for the
right level of testing. The Atlas program did not conduct a
vacuum test of the RL-10 engine, but that system already had
decades of flight experience, says Col. Bob Hodgkiss, director
of launch systems for the Air Force. “We were able to evaluate
those decades of data and how the engine had been adapted
into the Atlas V application and convince ourselves that our
requirements were satisfied.”
By contrast, Boeing did conduct a thermal vacuum test of
the RL-10B engine as it was being developed. Data from that
test was used to support certification of the Delta IV’s use of
the RL-10B2, Hodgkiss says.
Amy Butler Washington
Risky Business
ULA has more skin in the EELV cost game as
company underwrites some production
n an unprecedented move, the Unit-
ed Launch Alliance (ULA) is plan-
ning to resource its industrial base
at a level beyond the number of rocket
orders placed by the Pentagon.
As the monopoly supplier and oper-
ator of the Atlas V and Delta IV boost-
ers to the Pentagon and intelligence
community, ULA has typically built
rockets based on the number of mis-
sions manifested. And the Pentagon
has ordered them one at a time—the
Atlas V wet dress rehearsals have
been eliminated on the East Coast,
contributing to reduced launch costs.
least efcient and most costly method
of purchasing hardware and services.
The Defense Department typically
spends about $2 billion annually on
the Evolved Expendable Launch Ve-
hicle (EELV) program.
Since its inception more than a de-
cade ago, the focus for the EELV pro-
Pawlikowski, however, notes that while precedent is pow-
erful on these matters owing to a long history of successful
launches, she is open to new ideas.
“It is fun, but it is also kind of frightening from an engi-
neer’s perspective,” Pawlikowski says. “It is a very diferent
approach. That is part of the challenge for my team. Just
because it is diferent does not mean it is wrong. In fact, there
are some things that SpaceX—because they have not been en-
cumbered with 40 years of production of rockets—has been
able to do more agilely.”
As an example, she points to the company’s use of additive
manufacturing. It was able to introduce this novel fabrica-
tion approach into the launch business unencumbered by
long-established standards at ULA and other rocket mak-
ers. “Since SpaceX started without having [four decades]
of infrastructure of all of those fixtures and . . . doing that
kind of welding, they [could more easily] adopt some additive
manufacturing where ULA and their subcontractors will take
a more measured approach because they have [a] tried-and-
true way of doing it,” Pawlikowski says.
But an open mind and an uncompromising standard of mis-
sion assurance will ultimately have to be blended to reduce
launch costs. “We are asking for greater detail and insight
than a commercial customer would ask from a vendor,” Paw-
likowski says of SpaceX’s certification process. “We are more
involved in the decision cycle. . . . If we are going to get the
savings that everybody talks about [it will be] based on being
able to use this commercial model.”
The Pentagon is not likely to change its policy on self-in-
suring payloads that are being launched, however; if a costly
national security payload is damaged in transit, the govern-
ment pays for a replacement at a premium. By contrast, com-
mercial launch customers have insurance underwriters that
indemnify a payload in the event it is lost to a booster mishap.
This fact is likely to compromise just how much of the com-
mercial model the Pentagon can adopt because it will always
have paramount interest in protecting the payload and ensur-
ing capability gets to orbit on time to support military needs
around the globe. c
Frank Morring, Jr. Washington
Heavy Lift
Funding uncertainty seen as main hurdle
to SLS rocket development
he big government rocket Con-
gress has insisted be built for
deep-space human exploration is
on track for a 2017 first flight. So far,
there are no serious technical issues
in sight and it is garnering growing
interest from other potential users,
according to the NASA managers re-
sponsible for developing the heavy-lift
vehicle known as the Space Launch
System (SLS).
The U.S. space agency and its inter-
national partners are basing plans for
sending humans beyond low Earth orbit
on the SLS under a schedule that will
be set more by the funding available for
development work than by developing
hardware. The first flight-version 70-
ton core stage is due at Stennis Space
Center in Mississippi for ground testing
in 2016, and NASA will pace subsequent
development of the advanced boosters
and upper stage needed to reach the
final 130-ton capability on how those
elements would be used.
A mission to capture a small near-
Earth asteroid and nudge it into the
distant retrograde orbit (DRO) around
the Moon would require a more power-
ful restartable upper stage for in-space
propulsion, while other missions could
be accomplished with the initial upper
stage and the advanced strap-on boost-
ers now under competitive study. The
SLS program is canvassing potential
government and commercial users to
expand the set of SLS missions beyond
the two on the books—an unmanned
trip to DRO in 2017 and another with
a crewed Orion capsule in 2021.
“As people see that it is more and
more real and progress is being made,
the notion that this is a paper rocket
is being quickly dispelled,” says Dan
Dumbacher, deputy associate admin-
istrator for exploration systems devel-
opment at NASA headquarters.
The SLS program already is bend-
ing metal at NASA’s Michoud Assem-
bly Facility in New Orleans, where
the big rocket and the Orion capsule’s
pressure vessel will be built using
the friction-stir welding process for
lighter weight, greater strength and
lower cost. Pathfinder propellant tank
sections are being built, and the tool-
ing required to stack and weld them
into full-length tanks is en route from
Sweden. Two to four pathfinders will
be built in order to perfect manufac-
turing processes before the first flight
article is built, says Dumbacher.
“The major cost comes in rework
to flight hardware, so the investment
you make up front that avoids the re-
work on flight hardware is money well
spent,” he says.
For added thrust of the launch pad,
the first two SLS vehicles will use five-
segment solid-fuel strap-on boosters
derived from the four-segment ver-
sions built for the space shuttle fleet.
NASA and its booster prime contrac-
tor, ATK, have changed the production
process in an efort to lower recurring
costs. However, after these altera-
tions, unacceptable voids appeared in
the first two propellant castings for a
ground-qualification, requiring rework
and delays. While reluctant to blame
the process changes for the problem
until a search for the root cause is com-
plete, Dumbacher says there is plenty
of time to find and fix the problem be-
fore the first flight late in 2017.
Another issue that must be resolved
before the first flight involves the head
pressure at the pump inlets on the four
surplus RS-25 Space Shuttle Main
Engines baselined to power early SLS
versions. Propellant temperature also
Structures System:
Aluminum primary structure
Composites are an opportunity
Sized to support payloads up to
35 metric tons during launch

Reaction Control System:
8 X 25-lb. lateral thrusters for attitude control
4 X 900-lb. axial thrusters for propellant
settling, course correction and disposal

gram has first been on mission assur-
ance, or not losing a payload owing to a
booster problem. The program began
in the wake of several launch disasters
in the 1990s that resulted in billions of
dollars wasted on hardware.
Bloated costs of the EELV program,
coupled with heavy pressure on the de-
fense budget as the war in Afghanistan
winds down, are forcing the service
to demand lower pricing on launches
without compromising mission assur-
Negotiations are nearly final for the
Air Force’s first ever “block buy” of 36
cores from ULA. As part of the terms,
ULA is providing pricing for up to 50
cores. The final 14 of that order, howev-
er, are set aside for possible competition
if a new entrant to the market—most
likely Space Exploration Technologies
(SpaceX)—is certified to vie for defense
and intelligence missions. If SpaceX is
unable to compete when one of those
missions is manifested, it would auto-
matically be sourced by ULA.
ULA, however, has directed its mas-
sive supplier base to size operations
assuming all 50 cores will be pur-
chased, says Michael Gass, the com-
pany’s CEO. This unusually aggres-
sive strategy reflects a move by the
company to attack cost in the face of
not only budget pressure but in order
to maintain a foothold in the rapidly
changing launch market. Company of-
ficials did not outline specific pricing,
citing concerns over competition.
SpaceX could be certified to compete
with ULA as early as 2015 in prepara-
tion for the fiscal 2016 budget delivery
to Congress, says Scott Correll, the Air
Force’s program executive ofcer for
launch. SpaceX is the first company
to apply for certification to go head-
is a problem. It turns out that the SLS
configuration delivers higher pressures
and colder temperatures than was the
case on the shuttle, so engineers must
find ways to accommodate the engine
start sequence to the new conditions.
The engines also will use the new
controller developed for the J-2X up-
per-stage engine, which turns out to
be the only part of the J-2X that will
fly in the early SLS variants. While it
was the pacing item for the terminated
Ares I crew launch vehicle, the J-2X
delivers more power than is needed for
any of the SLS variants except the 130-
ton variant planned for human mis-
sions to Mars (AW&ST Oct. 7, p. 28).
In a Nov. 18 interview, Dumbacher
said work on the SLS core stage was
five months ahead of schedule. Prelimi-
nary design review was completed in
July, and 70% of the detailed design
drawings—as measured by the mass
of the hardware they represent—were
complete. Although “the hard part is
coming,” when the tankage sections
are stacked and welded together, he
says, “we’re on track for core stage
critical design review late spring into
summer next year.”
Work is just beginning on the upper
stages planned for future missions be-
yond the first. That mission—Explora-
tion Mission I (EM I), with an instru-
mented Orion on top—probably will
use an interim cryo propulsion stage
(ICPS), which is basically the cryo-
genic second stage from the Delta IV.
However, because the second Explora-
tion Mission (EM II in 2021) will carry
a heavier Orion to accommodate the
crew, the SLS program at Marshall
Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala.,
is considering stretching the liquid hy-
drogen tank by 18 in. for more perfor-
mance, according to Chris Crumbly,
manager of the advanced development
ofce in the SLS program.
“Because we’re doing two test
flights, we may go ahead and config-
ure the first ICPS to be similar to the
second,” he says. “That is still under
Also under study is a 120,000-lb.-
thrust “dual-use upper stage” (DUUS)
that Dumbacher says will have enough
capability to give the program a choice
of developing it or the advanced
booster first. Although unfunded and
fairly notional in concept (see illustra-
tion), it would use four RL-10 engines
or perhaps two of Japan’s proposed
60,000-lb.-thrust MB-60s.
Dennis Tito has asked NASA to ac-
celerate development of the DUUS
because his Inspiration Mars manned
planetary flyby mission needs it
(AW&ST Nov. 25, p. 13). But its median
40-ton capability to trans-lunar injec-
tion could also help with other mis-
sions beyond the DRO trajectory that
EM I and II would follow.
“It really has to do with the capabil-
ity we’re required to put in, the desti-
nation,” says Crumbly of the decision
to develop the boosters or the upper
stage first. “The asteroid-redirect mis-
sion would be better served if we had
more in-space transportation capabil-
ity, which would lean you toward an
upper stage first.”
Ultimately, says Dumbacher, the
what-next choice will be “a budget-
driven trade.” The core stage, too, is
at the mercy of the funding available,
and in the current budget environment
the SLS program is “basically work-
ing on a daily basis” (AW&ST Nov. 25,
p. 46). The program’s current funding
stems from a continuing resolution
based on its enacted funding for fiscal
2013—$1.4 billion, including launch
infrastructure—that expires Jan. 15.
If that level falls under a new continu-
ing resolution, or additional funding
sequestration to trim the budget, the
development schedule will change.
“If the appropriations beyond Janu-
ary are at the same levels we are at,
then we’ll proceed to making progress
toward December 2017 if we can, rec-
ognizing we’ll just have to play through
and sort all this out,” Dumbacher says.
“I don’t think I have ever seen a pro-
gram where any of us have had to man-
age in this environment, where I get
funding on a quarterly basis. Even in
fiscal ’13 we didn’t have an approved
operating plan until August.” c AVIATION WEEK & SPACE TECHNOLOGY/DECEMBER 9, 2013 45
  Stage Characteristics:
diameter: 8.4 meters
LOX diameter: 5.0 meters
Length: 19 meters
7-day stage life
Avionics System:
Multiday, in-space avionics
Power System:
Solar array*
with secondary batteries
*array stowed

Main Propulsion
2-4 engines
100,000-120,000-lb. total thrust class
462-465 sec I sp

DUUS Overview (Notional)
Source: NASA
to-head with ULA, and is undergoing a
rigorous process to validate the capa-
bilities of its Falcon 9 v1.1 booster (see
page 42).
In contrast to its upstart rival, ULA
has a record of 64 EELV launches that
have placed payloads within 3 sigma of
their intended insertion points, Correll
says. And since taking ofce in 2010,
Correll says, his team has managed to
eliminate or avoid $2.9 billion of cost,
thanks to a series of efciencies and
cost-reduction measures already im-
plemented before the block buy is set.
For example, as Atlas V—the most
frequently used EELV—has racked up
its launch record, the Air Force has
relaxed costly requirements owing to
an increased confidence in its effec-
tiveness. Wet dress rehearsals for At-
las V have been eliminated on the East
Coast, reducing by roughly a week the
processing time needed for most satel-
lites, says Lt. Gen. Ellen Pawlikowski,
commander of the Air Force Space and
Missile Systems Center.
While pushing for reduced pricing,
ULA’s operational tempo dramatically
increased. Production has increased
from eight per year to 12, in lockstep.
And, as an example of the surged op-
erations tempo, the company recently
executed four missions in 60 days—all
successful insertions—a first for the
program, Correll says.
Correll, who is retiring on Dec. 16,
intends to wrap up negotiations for the
block buy before then.
If SpaceX is certified and manages
to win some of the 14 launches up for
competition, ULA will be forced to find
a commercial buyer for the launch-
ers—a rarity given global competition
in the market—or assume the financial
risk of building them ahead of need. c
Guy Norris Los Angeles
GO for Launch
Bolstered by NASA CubeSat deal, start-up
aims to change paradigm on cost to orbit
or years, space industry pundits
have been forecasting a coming
boom in the small-satellite market.
The key question now is not so much the
size of the business opportunity, but how
best to unlock its full potential.
The market for the launch of small
satellites—including microsats, nano-
sats and CubeSats—is projected to ex-
ceed 150 spacecraft per year by 2020.
But, while there is broad agreement
that launch costs will not come down
sufficiently to support such a viable
small-sat market until fully or partially
reusable systems have been developed,
there is no consensus on how to devel-
op such systems.
Many agree one answer is develop-
ing smaller, purpose-designed flexible
launchers, rather than relying on the
current means of sharing a ride to
orbit with larger payloads. However,
among the many higher-profile proj-
ects aimed at this goal—ranging from
Virgin Galactic’s LauncherOne to the
U.S. Defense Advanced Research Proj-
ect Agency’s (Darpa) Experimental
Spaceplane (XS-1)—one company has
already quietly secured its place as a
low-cost pioneer by winning a NASA
CubeSat launch contract.
Generation Orbit (GO) Launch Ser-
vices won a $2.1 million contract in
September to launch a group of three
3U (3 X 10 X 10-cm) (1.2 X 4 X 4-in.)
CubeSats to a 230-nm (425-km) orbit
under NASA’s Enabling eXploration
Amy Svitak Beijing and Darmstadt, Germany
Size Matters
Light-class launchers are vying for
ever-smaller satellite payloads
ecent launches of two convert-
ed Soviet-era ballistic missiles
have reaffirmed the vehicles’
presence in the market for lofting small
satellites, a sector once reserved for
research and technology demonstra-
tions that is seeing increased demand
for commercial applications, including
optical and radar imagery and commu-
A Russian-Ukrainian Dnepr sent 24
small-satellite payloads to orbit from
Russia’s Yasny launch site Nov. 21. Oper-
ated by ISC Kosmotras and the Russian
defense ministry, the mission was the
second since the August return to flight
of the repurposed SS-18 missile that
lofted South Korea’s Kompsat-5 Earth-
observation satellite following resolu-
tion of a financial dispute between the
Russian and Ukrainian governments.
On Nov. 22, Dnepr’s chief rival, the
German-Russian Rockot, launched
the European Space Agency’s (ESA)
Swarm mission, a trio of identical re-
search satellites, to an orbit of roughly
500 km (300 mi.) altitude to study the
Earth’s magnetic field.
Two botched Russian government
launches on the Rockot vehicle—in
February 2011 and January 2013, both
of which involved the rocket’s Russian
Briz-KM upper stage—contributed to
repeated delays of the Swarm mission.
But for Eurockot Launch Services, the
Astrium-Khrunichev joint venture that
markets commercial Rockot missions,
the Swarm launch shows the company
is able to satisfy its most important
customer. It also positions Eurockot
to bid against Italy’s new Vega vehicle
to orbit Europe’s Sentinel Earth-obser-
vation satellites.
Despite their respective hiatuses,
both Dnepr and Rockot have raised
prices in recent years. Rockot charg-
es about €30 million ($41 million) per
launch, depending on the mission.
That is an increase of more than 10%
since ESA signed an April 2010 agree-
ment for the Swarm satellites valued
at €27 million, including development,
construction and testing of a unique
three-satellite dispenser led by Briz-
KM prime contractor Khrunichev.
“We have seen a small increase in
prices due to financial developments in
Russia, but there are no drastic chang-
es,” says Eurockot CEO York Viertel.
With three missions in backlog and
enough existing SS-19 hardware to
continue launching through at least
2018, Eurockot Chief Technical Ofcer
Markus Poetsch says customers with
smaller satellites in the 100-150-kg (220-
330-lb.) class also have the option to fly
their spacecraft as secondary payloads
on a Rockot for €5-6 million each.
For Vega, which orbited its debut
mission in February 2012, European
launch services provider Arianespace
is targeting a cost of less than $30 mil-
lion per launch, and it has won two com-
mercial customers although the rock-
et’s five-flight qualification program is
The specially adapted Gulfstream
III will release the GOLauncher
2 vehicle during a 30-deg. zoom
climb from a starting altitude of
35,000 ft. and speed of Mach 0.8.


and Technology (NEXT) program. The
craft will be launched on the company’s
GOLauncher 2 vehicle, a two-stage de-
livery system carried to launch altitude
beneath a specially adapted Gulfstream
III business jet.
Emerging initially from studies
linked to earlier Darpa reusable launch-
ers such as Rascal (Responsive Access,
Small Cargo, Afordable Launch), an
early-2000s program aimed at plac-
ing 300-lb. payloads into orbit for less
than $750,000, GO began to focus more
recently on commercial market oppor-
tunities, says co-founder and CEO John
Olds. Its target is delivery of payloads
in the 100-lb. range also being looked at
under Darpa’s Airborne Launch Assist
Space Access (Alasa) program. The
earliest questions were about the air
launch platform.
“The Scaled Composites White-
Knight is a good configuration, but
there’s only one of those. So we ran
various fighter-jet options, and at one
time there was, with Japan, interest in
using maybe a Sukhoi Su-27, [McDon-
nell] F-4 or [Boeing] F-15,” says Olds.
“But these are expensive, even if you
could get one commercially. So we
picked up a jet that’s widely available,
the Gulfstream III.” GO subsequently
agreed a deal with flight-test specialist
Calspan, which operates a Gulfstream
III modified with a centerline hard point
suitable for launching rocket payloads.
GO’s initial launch suite consists of
two vehicles: the GOLauncher 1, a liq-
uid-rocket-powered suborbital design;
and its larger stablemate, the 100-lb.-
payload-class, two-stage, liquid- and
solid-powered orbital GOLauncher 2.
Development is taking place with sev-
eral partners in addition to Calspan,
including SpaceWorks Enterprises,
propulsion specialists Ventions, Tyvak
Nano-Satellite Systems and Mv2space.
GO also works closely with the Air
Force Research Laboratory and the
Georgia Tech Manufacturing Institute.
Initial operations will be based out of
Cecil Field Spaceport in Jacksonville,
Fla., the first spaceport commercially
licensed by the FAA.
Although details of the first-stage
solid motor for the GOLauncher 2 have
yet to be finalized, Ventions is “working
on ground demonstrations and making
good progress” on the low-cost liquid
rocket, Olds says. Flight tests marking
the start of the buildup to a suborbital
risk-reduction flight could begin as ear-
ly as the end of 2014. “The first thing
you’ll see is a flight-test article, a mass
simulator, which we will fly around un-
der the Gulfstream III to get experience
of handling, the zoom maneuver that
will be used for launch, as well as entry
and access into the range,” Olds says.
Pending completion of these captive-
carry tests, GO aims for the first live-
fire test by 2015. “Then, by the end of
2016, we hope to put a solid motor on
it and make it available for NEXT, [set
for late that year]. We are also getting
commercial enquiries, and we hope
to fly 12 or more times per year,” says
Olds. “Relatively speaking, we believe
we’re going to have the lowest-coat
flight in the commercial market at well
under $4 million a flight,” he adds.
As business grows, GO also hopes
to expand operations to other loca-
tions around the U.S. “We’ve been
approached by other launch sites in
Texas, Alaska, Colorado, California
and Hawaii,” he says. c
not complete. In May, Vietnam
launched the VNREDSat 1a
Earth-observation satellite as
a secondary payload to ESA’s
Proba-V environmental satel-
lite on Vega’s second mission.
Next year, Vega plans to launch
the DZZ-HR optical-imaging
spacecraft for Kazakhstan.
Arianespace says the ad-
dressable market for Vega
in 2014-18 is 8-10 missions a
year with a payload-carrying
capacity of 100-1,500 kg, to be
launched to low Earth orbit
(LEO) and sun-synchronous
orbit (SSO), either in a dedicat-
ed-mission or multiple-payload
Meanwhile, the Japan Aero-
space Exploration Agency’s
(JAXA) new Epsilon light-
launcher debuted in September.
The rocket is designed to launch
payloads up to 1,200 kg to LEO
and 450 kg to SSO. JAXA is ad-
vancing incremental improve-
ments to the new solid-fueled
launcher with commercial cus-
tomers in mind.
“We are taking a two-step
development plan to launch
a low-cost, high-performance
Epsilon,” says Yasuhiro Mori-
ta, Epsilon program manager
at JAXA. “We are aiming at
the commercial market after
the establishment of the next-
generation Epsilon, and I hope
to be very competitive.”
Morita says the prototype
Epsilon rocket, the E-X, is able
to loft 1,200 kg to LEO for about
¥3.8 billion ($38 million), though
the inaugural mission from Ja-
pan’s Uchinoura Space Center
cost closer to $53 million, a fig-
ure he says includes the rocket’s
intensive test regime.
By 2017, however, JAXA plans
to launch an interim variant of
Epsilon, the E-1 Dash, which
will incorporate enhancements,
including lighter avionics, to de-
liver payloads of 1,800 kg to LEO
or 750 kg to SSO for less than
$30 million per launch. c
ESA’s three-satellite Swarm
mission was one of the most
complex for Rockot in terms
of payload separation.
Mark Carreau Houston
How To Catch
an Asteroid
Industry and experts brainstorm ideas
for corralling a near-Earth object
utside experts are responding to
NASA’s call to lasso an asteroid,
providing the agency’s Asteroid
Retrieval Mission (ARM) planners with
new momentum for the two-phase
strategy to resume U.S. human deep-
space exploration while demonstrating
capabilities to find and deflect asteroids
that pose an impact threat to Earth.
NASA’s 2014 budget plans include
$105 million to ramp up a notional
scheme for the 2018 launch of a robot-
ic spacecraft that would corral a yet-
to-be-selected asteroid in the 5-10-me-
ter (16.5-33-ft.), 500-metric-ton range.
Once captured, the asteroid would
be maneuvered into a distant, stable,
retrograde orbit around the Moon.
Astronauts launched on the first pi-
loted test flight of the Orion/Space
Launch System crew exploration ve-
hicle/heavy-lift rocket combination
would rendezvous with the
asteroid over a three-week
mission, perhaps as early as
NASA recently concluded
an Asteroid Initiative Idea
Synthesis workshop at the
agency’s Lunar Planetary
Institute focused on 96 sub-
missions from small busi-
nesses, traditional aerospace
companies, NASA’s interna-
tional partners and other
government agencies in
response to a June request
for proposals. The agency is
seeking ideas for develop-
ing an asteroid-deflection
capability as well as a road
map for future human deep-
space exploration that would
stretch to Mars by the mid-2030s. The
workshop drew 138 participants for 79
presentations across a half-dozen key
ARM fronts: asteroid observation,
capture mechanisms, redirection and
deflection, astronaut crew systems,
strategic partnering, and greater pub-
lic engagement.
The proposed initiative, which has
no set cost or strong congressional
backing yet, would start with the
launch of a robotic spacecraft devel-
oped to capture a target asteroid, then
move it into a retrograde orbit around
the Moon. Two astronauts aboard the
Orion crew exploration vehicle would
rendezvous and dock with the capture
One challenge for the mission will
be avoiding the “ride ’em cowboy” mo-
ments that could break up a fragile tar-
get or damage the capture spacecraft.
“Basically, the spin state of the target
dominates the capture process,” says
Brian Wilcox of NASA’s Jet Propulsion
Laboratory and lead for that phase of
the agency’s ARM reference mission.
“If the target was not spinning, most
people would agree the process is not
that challenging a task. It’s the spin
and the tumbling that are really the
key issues.”
The composition of a relatively small
asteroid that is solid and fine-grained
like a dirt clod, or a rubble pile collec-
tion of larger fragments, ranks close
behind as a mission concern. Like the
spin rate, composition may be difcult
to characterize until NASA’s robotic
capture craft pulls alongside. Any-
thing less than a solid body,
turning or tumbling at 1 rpm
or more, becomes a major
challenge, Wilcox says.
NASA’s reference mission
would rendezvous and then
extend an inflatable struc-
ture around the asteroid.
Wedge-shaped internal air
bags would fill to control
and stop any spin and tum-
ble before the spacecraft
treks back to the Moon.
The workshop featured
plenty of advice on—and a
range of alternatives to—
the bag-and-cinch strategy
that is the agency’s current
baseline. They range from
planting and extending long
tethers from the surface of
an uncontrolled asteroid to embrac-
ing the space rock with long inflatable
booms or big robotic fingers. More
than one-third of the proposals se-
lected for discussion dealt with ARM’s
robotic-capture phase.
Two outlined proposals would equip
the capture craft with devices to plant
Tethers Unlimited’s “Wrangler”
concept (Weightless Rendezvous
and Net Grapple to Limit Excess
Rotation) system would employ
two technologies, a deployable net
capture device and a tether de-
ployer/winch mechanism, to catch
and stabilize the asteroid.


a reeled tether up to 5 km (3 mi.) long
on the asteroid’s surface. Once on the
surface, the tether could be extended
to slowly damp out the rotations.
One presentation, by Harold Gerrish
of NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Cen-
ter, shares a heritage with space shut-
tle tethered-satellite missions flown
in 1992 and 1996. Tethers Unlimited,
of Bothell, Wash., proposed the use of
free-flying CubeSats to deploy nets
and tethers for capture and control
after the primary spacecraft rendez-
vous with the asteroid target.
Northrop Grumman ofered another
strategy in which a capture craft is
equipped with sensors, guidance and
propulsion to characterize and match
the motion of the target before deploy-
ing two clamshell-like AstroMesh cap-
ture panels. After enclosing the aster-
oid, internal webbing would secure it
for the lunar leg of the mission.
Canada’s MDA Corp. drew on the
company’s experience with the space
shuttle’s robot arm to propose a
3-5-fingered capture mechanism. The
robotic fingers could be enhanced with
inflatables to clamp and secure the
ARM mission target, whether it is a
solid object or a collection of asteroid
fragments, says company representa-
tive Paul Fulford.
In addition to asteroid taming, com-
panies are building new business rela-
tionships to compete for the mission.
Planetary Resources Inc., the startup
asteroid mining company, and NASA
have formed the first public/private
partnership under the space agency’s
Asteroid Grand Challenge (AGC) ini-
tiative to accelerate the search for
near-Earth objects (NEO) that pose
a collision threat by using govern-
ment sky surveys and crowd-sourced
algorithms. The known asteroids in
the Solar System number 620,000,
which is estimated to be less than 1%
of the total.
Under a non-reimbursable Space
Act Agreement, Planetary Resources
will attempt to increase the total by
guiding crowd-sourcing challenges
and extending the online availabil-
ity of NASA-funded sky survey data.
NASA will develop and manage the
competitions as well as assess the
value of the most promising algorithm
The initial competition, based on the
Asteroid Zoo platform from Planetary
Resources and Zooniverse, is planned
for early 2014.
Technologies drawn from the two
ventures would set the stage for a hu-
man Mars mission in the mid-2030s
while expanding asteroid awareness
using “citizen science” and developing
deflection capabilities.
“This partnership uses NASA re-
sources in innovative ways,” says Lindley
Johnson, NASA’s NEO program execu-
After its 2009 founding, Planetary
Resources carried out a successful
Kickstarter campaign, raising more
than $1.5 million from 18,000 con-
tributors to finance Arkyd, a space
telescope project. The private ob-
servatory will search for near-Earth
asteroids rich in water, precious met-
als and other potential resources that
could fuel a space economy. The com-
pany’s investors include Google’s CEO,
Larry Page, and executive chairman,
Eric Schmidt
All data developed and used by the
AGC will be open-source and publicly
“While improving the algorithms
to detect NEOs helps gain more data,
additional surveys, telescopes and
capability put to the search will also
assist in completing the task of com-
piling a comprehensive open-source
catalog,” says Chris Lewicki, president
and chief engineer of Bellevue, Wash.,
based Planetary Resources.
Plans for an industry day in March
2014 that would follow the White
House release of the 2015 federal bud-
get proposal, seem far out for many of
the workshop participants, who had
already waited more than six weeks
longer than expected for the workshop
due to the government shutdown. “We
do need to think about having engage-
ment before March,” says Michele
Gates, chair of the workshop and a
senior technical advisor to NASA’s
Human Exploration and Operations
Directorate. “We will definitely take
the feedback and consider what we
can do sooner.” c AVIATION WEEK & SPACE TECHNOLOGY/DECEMBER 9, 2013 49
NASA’s concept would send a Solar Electric
Propulsion Asteroid Retrieval Vehicle to
find the designated asteroid and bag it in an
inflatable capture device.
To demonstrate the ability to catch
an asteroid, Tethers Unlimited
would deploy and stabilize the up-
per stage of the launch rocket.


Mark Carreau Houston
High Flying
Company plans to ofer luxury
balloon ride to near-space
tartup World View Enterprises
Inc. envisions a commercial
high-altitude balloon experience
for luxury-minded passengers and sci-
entific researchers that will strive to
deliver many of the prolonged experi-
ences of spaceflight without the con-
finement, cost, risks or health limita-
tions associated with rocket launches.
The Tucson, Ariz.-based company
is looking toward late 2016 to inaugu-
rate commercial flights, potentially
from Spaceport America in New
Mexico. Virgin Galactic expects to
begin launching its suborbital passen-
ger missions there aboard the White-
KnightTwo and SpaceShipTwo as
early as next year.
World View’s helium balloon would
float to 30 km (98,425 ft./18.6 mi.) over
a span of 90 min. to 2 hr. on a typical
flight, hoisting a comfortably appoint-
ed eight-passenger gondola suspended
below, which will be outfitted with a
bar, food service and electronic con-
nectivity. The gondola, pressurized to
one atmosphere throughout the flight,
would loiter for 2 to 6 hr. at peak alti-
tude to aford views of the Earth, the
arc of the horizon and the blackness of
space for the adventure-minded pas-
senger or access to the stratosphere
for scientists investigating high-alti-
tude medical issues or meteoritics,
among other fields of inquiry.
A typical flight would descend with-
in 20-40 min. with the aid of a large,
navigable para wing, afording a few
seconds of weightlessness for passen-
gers, according to a mission profile still
in development.
The ticket price is $75,000.
“We want to give people that ex-
perience of seeing the Earth from
space for hours at a time and being
able to contemplate the curvature of
the Earth and all that comes with that
experience,” says Jane Poynter, World
View CEO. “By all accounts, it is just
magical. We believe it can be a really
“Think of this as super first class,
a high-end luxury experience,” adds
Taber MacCallum, the chief technol-
ogy ofcer. “Luxury branding space-
flight is really what we are doing.”
World View was awaiting confir-
mation from the FAA’s Ofce of Com-
mercial Space Transportation that
its balloon operations will fall under
the agency’s Chapter 509 jurisdiction
on grounds the crew compartment,
life-support systems and other hard-
ware will be developed and operated
as though they were in space, explain
Poynter and MacCallum, who outlined
World View’s business strategy.
Tucson-based Paragon Space Devel-
opment Corp., the developers of space-
flight life-support and thermal-control
systems, is serving as World View’s
flight systems prime contractor and
technical partner. Poynter and Mac-
Callum were among
Paragon’s founders in
1993 before spinning
of the balloon venture.
While World View
has looked at Space-
port America as a
base of operations,
that decision is not
yet final.
“There are a whole
host of pl aces we
are looking at right
now. The way this
will probably work is
we will end up with
several launch sites,”
Poynter says. “Our
entire operation has
been designed to be
incredibly flexible. We
will not need to have
huge external facili-
ties on the ground. We
can pick up everything
and move to where we
need to be.”
Fifty flights would be the maximum
during the first year of operations, she
says. Then the plans include expand-
ing beyond the U.S. Component testing
is already under way. Subscale test-
ing will continue through the second
quarter of 2014, much of it in parallel
with systems engineering evaluations
to validate the flight profile. The pri-
mary focus will be on the transitions
from under balloon to under para-wing
flight regimes, Tabor says.
Assembly of the first full-scale sys-
tems should be under way in mid-2014,
followed by full-scale component test-
ing and construction of the first com-
mercial flight balloon in 2015. c
World View Enterprises is
looking to begin commercial
flights by the end of 2016.
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or the last 15 years, airframers and major sub-
system providers have been on the wrong end
of what seems like a zero-sum game with their
suppliers. Prices have gone up, and suppliers’ negotiat-
ing power—along with profits—has risen as well. The
trend has been more pronounced in some areas of the
supply chain, but on the whole, the upstream players
have captured a declining portion of industry profits.
This is not destiny. OEMs and systems providers
have the power to recapture some of the value they
have conceded. To do this, however, they need to
become good at estimating what the sourced parts
should cost. Should-cost estimation capability has
atrophied in many OEMs as procurement stafs have
focused more on transactional activities. They are un-
able to identify inefcient suppliers that pass along
high cost structure and opportunistic ones looking to
exploit the absence of economic transparency.
This is exacerbated by market factors. Some sup-
ply markets are genuinely constrained, often the con-
sequence of deft moves by market leaders. In other
cases, OEMs have made tactical decisions to cede
intellectual property to select suppliers or resorted
to single sources in an efort to reduce supply chain
complexity or benefit from some scale.
The issue centers on custom parts, which account
for a large share of direct material spending and where
pricing is not transparent. To address this, OEMs and
systems providers should start by segmenting their
supply bases by relative economic performance and
by supplier power ratio. The former provides a com-
parison of the economic profit captured by suppliers
in a given market with that of their customers. Sup-
plier power ratio can highlight the concentration of
suppliers to customers in a given market.
When viewed along these two dimensions, OEMs
and system providers can use three generic strate-
gies depending on the products being sourced and
the associated supply market structure:
Threaten to defect: In markets where suppli-
Some of the tactics
to recapture value are
straightforward but have to
be approached in a highly
systematic way.

Know Supplier
Costs, Or Else
ers capture excess profits while having low supplier
power, threatening to switch is the most promising
tactic. The threat should be triggered by a supplier’s
unwillingness to lower prices to a reasonable level.
Only credible threats are relevant. OEMs and system
providers believe switching is costly for customized
parts. The costs can be high in some cases, but can be
overcome in most. However, this approach is possible
only if the buyer has excellent capabilities to assess
switching costs and economic alternatives.
Collaborate with suppliers: When components
come from a supplier whose profit and power are
lower than the systems provider’s, joint cost reduc-
tion is optimal. Joint cost reduction is based on the
reality that there are policies, activities and practices
on both the customer and supplier sides that intro-
duce inefciencies into the supply chain, driving up
product cost. However, to pursue this, the OEM or
system provider needs to know the “ideal cost” of the
part and the contribution of the supplier’s expense
structure to the product cost.
Pursue longer-term strategies: The most challeng-
ing situation for OEMs involves suppliers of large and
highly complex subsystems. These markets tend to be
highly concentrated, with suppliers having substantial
intellectual property along with product and process
expertise. OEMs have limited options in the short-term
to alter the balance of power. In the longer-term, they
can pursue several approaches, for example: structure
incentives with suppliers; shift designs to eliminate the
need for the assembly; integrate the function of the as-
sembly into a larger subsystem that they design and
manufacture, or signal their intent to invest in new sup-
pliers or to pursue vertical integration.
The imbalance in value capture between aerospace
OEMs and their suppliers did not develop overnight,
and the situation will not be reversed overnight. Some
tactics to be used to re-capture value are reasonably
straightforward but have to be approached in a high-
ly systematic way. This is a journey rather than the
flicking of a switch—with capabilities to be built or
strengthened in the areas of supplier and spend seg-
mentation, should-cost estimation and switching-cost
analysis. With the right discipline, this is a journey that
can lead to higher profitability and an improved com-
petitive position. Suppliers that understand this and
act accordingly will be advantaged relative to peers. c
Ram and Fisher are a principal and a vice president, re-
spectively, with Booz & Co. in Washington. Martin and
Anderson are a partner and a principal, respectively,
with the consultancy in Los Angeles.
Aviation Week’s
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