Air Capital Aviation Report: February 8, 2009

Carl Chance

By Carl Chance, Wings Over Kansas’ aviation & aerospace correspondent, former news consultant and producer for Wingspan Air & Space Channel.

Boeing Receives $45M Follow-on Contract to Upgrade B-1 Bomber Avionics.

The Boeing Company, despite recent delivery and contract setbacks, said it has received a $45 million contract from the U.S. Air Force to upgrade avionics software on the B-1 long-range heavy bomber. The award is Sustainment Block 15 of an upgrade program launched in 2003.

The annual sustainment software blocks respond to changes in strategy and tactics and enable maximum operational flexibility. Boeing engineers in Long Beach, Calif., and Oklahoma City produce the software for the United States’ fleet of 66 B-1s.

"This contact ensures that B-1 crews are equipped with the latest software improvements, allowing them to exploit the awesome potential of the bomber in its ever-expanding roles, in combination with precision-guided munitions," said Boeing B-1 Program Director Mike Harris.

Other B-1 upgrades completed over the past year include a Boeing team’s integration of a Lockheed Martin-built targeting pod on the aircraft. The pod was deployed in theater and is performing well, according to Air Force reports. In June of 2008, a B-1 equipped with a Sniper XR electro-optical/infrared targeting pod completed a series of flights from the Air Force Test Flight Center at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. The B-1 crews use the new capability to positively identify stationary and moving targets, improving the bomber’s ability to meet mission requirements.

The multimission B-1 warfighter has been carrying the largest strike payload in the Air Force inventory since its combat debut in 1999. Its low radar cross-section, variable-geometry wings, advanced avionics, and afterburning engines combine to provide long-range, maneuverability, high-speed and survivability.

B-1 aircraft delivered more tonnage of ordnance with fewer sorties than any other aircraft while supporting Operations Allied Force, Enduring Freedom, and Iraqi Freedom. It continues to perform with distinction in Afghanistan and Iraq today, providing real-time, precise, persistent, flexible support to troops on the ground.

Learjet 40 XR and Learjet 45 XR Aircraft Now Available with Wide Area Augmentation System.

Parent Company Bombardier Aerospace announced that it is now offering a Wide Area Augmentation System (WAAS) capable Flight Management System (FMS) on Learjet 40 XR and Learjet 45 XR aircraft. The new system is available as a Supplemental Type Certificate (STC) for in-service Learjet 40, Learjet 40 XR, Learjet 45 and Learjet 45 XR aircraft customers and will also be offered as an option on new aircraft.

Provided by Universal Avionics Systems Corporation (UASC), WAAS enhances navigation capabilities through the use of a network of ground reference stations collecting global positioning system (GPS) satellite data. This data is broadcast to user aircraft through two or more geostationary  satellite communication links. The aircraft uses the WAAS signal, in addition to the GPS service to fly area navigation and localize performance with vertical guidance (LPV) instrument approaches. LPV approaches offer pilots lower landing minimums, resulting in more flexibility for landing decisions.

Aircraft Data:

The Learjet 40 XR is a six-to-seven passenger aircraft featuring the widest and most spacious cabin on its class and a full aft lavatory. This premium light jet delivers impressive time-to-climb performance under all conditions, particularly in hot and operating environments, requiring only 23 minutes to reach 43,000 feet (13,106 m) under certain operating conditions.

The Learjet 45 XR is a eight-to-nine passenger aircraft and flies faster than any other aircraft in its category, while offering the best fuel efficiency and lowest direct operating costs. With a true double-club configuration, the spacious cabin offers seated passengers exceptional head and shoulder room. The aircraft can fly 1,824 nm (3,378km) with eight passengers with NBAA IFR (100nm) fuel reserves under certain operating conditions.

Cessna Delivers Citation X to MJets in Thailand.

Cessna Aircraft Company announced that it has delivered a Citation X to Bangkok-based MJets Limited, a leader in business aviation across Southeast Asia. The Citation X joins a Citation CJ3 already in the MJets fleet and it is the second Citation X operating in Thailand.

The MJets Citation X is the first to be specifically available for charter in the country. Passengers will be able to fly non-stop from Bangkok to Beijing, Tokyo, Delhi or Dubai. The Citation X is the world’s fastest civilian aircraft and saves passengers significant time compared to scheduled airlines and other business jets.

The Citation X is the world’s fastest civilian aircraft with a top cruising speed of 525 knots / 972 km/hr (mach 0.92). Maximum cruising altitude is 51,000 feet / 15,545 m. Range is more than 3,070 nautical miles / 5,686 km, ideal for super fast non-stop travel around Asia. More than 300 Citation Xs are in service worldwide, with the aircraft speed capability making it a favorite with business and government leaders who place a premium on time efficiency.

Note: We’ll publish continuing news and features of interest in the next "Air Capital Aviation Report," as they develop. Please keep logging on to for weekly aviation and aerospace updates on stories, features, history, news, education and more!