Air Capital Aviation Report, March 2, 2008

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

Boeing Loses $40B Air Force Tanker Contract to Northrop Grumman, Eads:

Air Force officials announced that Northrop Grumman Corporation and European Aeronautic Defence & Space Co. (EADS) were selected to build the new tanker, designated the KC-45. The new tanker will replace the Air Force’s aging fleet of KC-135 Stratotankers. The new Boeing tanker would have been the KC-767. Boeing believed that they had offered the Air Force the best value and lowest risk tanker for its mission.

"The KC-45A is the tanker of the future," said Gen. Arthur J. Lichte, AMC commander. "It will enable us to carry more fuel and cargo, and allow us the flexibility to refuel any type of receiver on every mission. It will come equipped with systems to take this capability closer to the fight while protecting our airmen as they operate in hostile skies."

Boeing Awarded Air Force Contract for Advanced Laser Development and Testing:

The Boeing Company has been awarded a $49 million U.S. Air Force contract to advance the state of the art in laser technology.

Under the Laser Application Support and In-House Research and Development (LASIR) contract, awarded Feb. 1, Boeing will support research, design, development and testing at Air Force Research Laboratory sites at Kirkland Air Force Base in Albuquerque, N.M. Specific efforts will include:

  • Working to advance gas, hybrid electric-gas and chemical laser systems, as well as technologies related to high-power fiber lasers, fiber laser pumps, non-linear optics, solid-state lasers and diode-pump lasers.
  • Coordinating, preparing and executing tests of laser effects.
  • Rapid prototyping of directed energy technology, including semiconductor lasers, thin-disk lasers, ultra-short lasers, laser-based infrared countermeasures, and mid-wave and long-wave infrared lasers.
  • Supporting the Laser Center of Excellence, a joint Department of Defense /academic program that partners the Air Force of Scientific Research, Air Force Research Lab, Air Force Institute of Mining and Technology. The Center’s efforts include gas, hybrid electric-gas and chemical laser systems.

"This Air Force program represents an important opportunity for Boeing in continuing to help develop the next generation of laser weapon technologies," said Scott Fancher, vice president and general manager of Boeing Missile Defense Systems. "The various laser technologies being developed represent potential solutions to equip the warfighter with ultra-precision engagement capability."

Boeing Integrated Defense Systems Wichita and Air Force One:

There is strong potential that the Air Force One fleet could be replaced at Boeing’s Wichita facility.

The Wichita Eagle/’s Molly McMillin reported that Boeing Wichita is planning to lobby for a contract to replace the Air Force’s presidential air transport fleet, which would actually be a larger piece of business for Boeing Wichita than the contract for aerial refuelers, and would be a long-term stable program for Wichita.

The Boeing 747-200B aircraft is a highly specialized aircraft in the presidential air transport fleet of two aircraft. When the president is on board the aircraft designation VC-25A, the radio call signal is "Air Force One."

Boeing Airplane Co., Wichita had delivered "Air Force One" to the Air Force in 1990 following the work performance of extensive modifications. Today, Boeing Integrated Defense Systems Wichita is continuing its support of the aircraft.

Cessna Captures Orders for 74 Aircraft at Asia-Pacific Region Shows:

Cessna Aircraft Company completed a successful visit to the Asian Business Aviation Conference & Exhibition Forum 2008 on Feb. 14 in Hong Kong and the Singapore Airshow Feb. 19-24 by wrapping up orders for 74 aircraft, with an estimated value of more than $219 million.

Cessna announced several agreements that were finalized in time for the Singapore Airshow: private aviation services provider BJETS placed an order for 20 Citation CJ2+ business jets worth approximately $150 million; India-based Chimes Aviation ordered 11 Skyhawk 172Rs and nine Skyhawk turbo-diesel models; and Susi Air of Indonesia ordered six Grand Caravan 208Bs.

On top of these orders, Cessna officials returned to Wichita with purchase agreements for an additional 17 single-engine pistons, nine Caravan turboprop aircraft and two Citation business jets. The orders span the company’s product line, from the Citation X to the new Skyhawk turbo-diesel model. The newly-ordered aircraft are destined for Australia, China, India, Indonesia, the Philippines, South Korea and other locations throughout the Asia-Pacific region.

Hawker Beechcraft Corp. Earns Type Certification for Hawker 750:

Hawker Beechcraft Corporation (HBC), the world’s leading business, special-mission and trainer aircraft manufacturer, achieved certification by the Federal Aviation Association on the newest aircraft in the Hawker family, the new light-midsize Hawker 750, on February 8, 2008. The Hawker 750 utilizes the fuselage and wings of the world’s best-selling, midsize Hawker 800-series, providing the largest cabin in the light-midsize aircraft segment.

"The Hawker 750 has opened a new customer segment for Hawker Beechcraft Corporation and has been so successful that the next available units are in 2010," said Brad Hatt, president, Commercial Aircraft. "This aircraft has the perfect combination of reliability and operating efficiency, while incorporating a large luxurious cabin with internal and external baggage areas. The Hawker 750 is the best choice in the light-midsized marketplace."

Offering the best range and payload capability in its class, the Hawker 750 has a 2,116 nautical mile (3,919 km) NBAA IFR range, capable of achieving multiple-city visits in one day. With a cabin generous for flying eight passengers, the Hawker 750 is strategically positioned with the largest cabin in the light-midsize  aircraft segment. The cabin measures 5’9" (1.75 m) in height and 6’0" (1.83 m) in width, far superior in both comfort and size to its two nearest competitors. It has the same cabin as the Hawker 800-series, with a heated external baggage compartment that provides 32 cubic feet (0.91 cu m) of additional baggage capacity.

The Hawker 750 includes the highly successful Honeywell TFE731-5BR engine, producing 4,660 pounds of engine thrust. Combined with state-of-the art Collins Pro Line 21™ avionics package with IFIS and enhanced map overlays, the Hawker 750’s operating capabilities satisfy the segment’s unmet need for a high-performance light midsize jet.

Spirit AeroSystems Selected for Major Structures Work on New Cessna Jet:

Spirit AeroSystems has signed an agreement in principle with Cessna Aircraft Company to produce the fuselage and empennage for its new Citation Columbus business jet. Spirit has decades of experience in designing and building some of the world’s most popular commercial aircraft.

"We are excited about joining the Cessna team and helping bring this new business jet to market. This project allows us to take the innovative design/build processes we’ve honed on commercial aircraft and apply them to an entirely new market, bringing value to our customer and ultimately, to the consumer," said Richard "Buck" Buchanan, Vice President/General Manager of Spirit’s Fuselage Business Unit.

Spirit has been participating on the Joint Development phase of the program and has had a team co-located with Cessna for several months. Detailed negotiations between Spirit and Cessna are expected to culminate in a contract signing in the next several weeks.

"Cessna is committed to maintaining the highest quality and best value with all of our products and that’s certainly the case with this new large cabin offering. Wichita is known as the Air Capital of the World and it is wonderful that we have such expertise and experience based literally in our backyard," said Jack Pelton, Cessna CEO.

The Citation Columbus is expected to be the only aircraft in its class capable of 4,000 nautical miles (7,408 kilometers) non-stop at Mach .80. The initial price estimate for the Citation Columbus is $27 million in 2008 U.S. dollars. Cessna plans to achieve Federal Aviation Administration certification by the end of 2013, with deliveries beginning in 2014.

I’ll have more news and items of interest as they develop to be published in my next "Air Capital Aviation Report." Please keep logging on to for weekly aviation and aerospace updated stories, features, history, education and more.