London Gatwick Airport, the second largest airport in the UK, plans to award German state-owned air navigation service provider DFS a 10-year contract to provide air traffic and approach services around the airport. The new airport tower services contract begins in October 2015.
Gatwick's management said the selection followed an extensive tender process in which a number of companies were invited to submit proposals for the tower services that UK NATS currently provides. "Submissions were assessed across a range of criteria that included safety, innovation, airport management, technical capability, cost, resilience and the ability to accommodate the requirements of a growing airport." The airport judged the DFS proposal superior to all others. Gatwick announced the selection on July 18 but said the award is subject to a contract it expects will be signed at the end of the month.
The contract will cover air traffic and approach services below 4,000 feet around the airport, including maintenance of the associated infrastructure. The Tower Company (TTC), a DFS subsidiary, will establish a new company under British law to perform the services. The Gatwick tower staff will transfer to TTC "in close dialogue with the employees and their representatives and in keeping with our employee relations traditions," DFS said. NATS will continue providing air navigation services above 4,000 feet, from its base in Swanwick.
"DFS is a company of great standing, operating an extensive network of air traffic control services in Germany," said Stewart Wingate, Gatwick Airport CEO. "We are very impressed with the company's technical capabilities, track record and safety standards within its existing operations along with the experience, efficiency and innovation it will bring to Gatwick." Wingate added: "We appreciate the contribution to our business made by NATS over many years and look forward to continuing to work with them in the transition period and across more general air traffic control services."
Currently, TTC provides air traffic services at 10 regional airports in Germany, including Karlsruhe, Frankfurt-Hahn and Dortmund airports.
"With this contract, DFS is making its contribution to advancing the consolidation process in the European air navigation services landscape," said Klaus-Dieter Scheurle, DFS chief executive. "We are pleased that the DFS Group has been awarded the contract for Gatwick Airport and are looking forward to providing safe and efficient air traffic control services with the Gatwick tower staff."
Dassault Aviation announced today that it has joined the Pratt & Whitney Canada PW307D engines, wings and fuselage of the first Falcon 8X, paving the way for initial power-on and the start of ground tests. First electrical power-on is expected at the end of this month, in line with the production and test schedule. Dassault expects to fly the 8X trijet early next year, with certification slated for mid-2016 and initial deliveries anticipated by the end of 2016.
The first 8X fuselage was built at Dassault Aviation's facility in Biarritz, France, and arrived at the company's main assembly plant in Mérignac in May. Last month the 8X wing arrived from Martignas and was mated to the fuselage and empennage. The 8X's airfoil features Dassault's proprietary "piano junction" design, "which gives Falcons advantages in aerodynamic efficiency, robustness and ease of maintenance and reparability," according to the company.
Dassult's Falcon 5X is also expected to be ready for ground tests in the coming months. The fuselage for the first aircraft arrived in Mérignac last month and will be mated to the empennage by month's end. The 5X twinjet is scheduled to fly in the first half of next year and enter service in 2017.
The EASA issued a long-awaited notice of proposed amendment (NPA) on Thursday that would allow commercially operated single-engine turbine aircraft to fly at night and in IMC throughout Europe. EASA regulators said that some member states, as well as third-country operators, already allow some of their operators to conduct commercial single-engine IFR (SEIFR) flights under an exemption to EU-OPS rules, creating an "uneven playing field."
The NPA seeks to remedy this imbalance by allowing commercial SEIFR turbine operations in Europe through "cost-efficient rules that mitigate the risks linked to an engine failure to a level comparable with similar operations with twin-engine airplanes." The EASA said the move would also harmonize its regulations with those of ICAO and other major foreign aviation authorities, such as the U.S. FAA and Transport Canada, as well as reduce aviation emissions and expand air services.
Under the proposal, only single-engine turbine aircraft meeting specified powerplant reliability, equipment, operating and maintenance requirements would be able to conduct commercial air transport operations at night and/or in IMC, except under special VFR. Specifically, the EASA said that aircraft would be approved only if they can "demonstrate a rate of turbine engine in-flight shutdown, or loss of power for all causes such that a forced landing is inevitable, of less than 10 per million flight hours." Only the Cessna Caravan, Daher-Socata TBM 700/850 and Pilatus PC-12 currently meet this requirement, the EASA said.
Airbus Helicopters will lead the design of a compound rotorcraft demonstrator dubbed "LifeRCraft" (low-impact, fast and efficient rotorcraft) as part of Europe's recently launched Clean Sky 2 Joint Technology Initiative. The LifeRCraft architecture combines a main rotor for vertical takeoff and landing, fixed wings for energy-efficient lift and open propellers for speed. The company will use experience gained on its X3 compound demonstrator between 2010 and 2013.
Preliminary studies, architecture and specification activity will start this year, with development and testing of components and subsystems envisioned in the 2016 to 2018 time frame, with flight evaluations scheduled to start in early 2019. "This will position the European industry for the potential development of a commercial aircraft based on this concept, with reduced risk before a go/no-go decision is made," said Airbus Helicopters vice president for research and innovation Tomasz Krysinski.
Meanwhile, Airbus Helicopters appears to be downscaling some technology ambitions for its X4 medium twin, which will be unveiled next year at Heli-Expo. According to Airbus Helicopters CEO Guillaume Faury, the X4 will now share its avionics and autopilot with the EC175. Previously, the X4 was to feature a radical new man-machine interface, including touchscreens and innovative controls. Further, Airbus is now working on only one version of the X4, instead of the two that were to appear in 2017 and then 2020.