Three more CH-47F helicopters delivered ahead of schedule in FMS deal

One of the three new Boeing CH-47F Chinook helicopters arrives at RAAF Base Townsville on June 13 aboard a US Air Force C-17 Globemaster cargo aircraft. (Defence)

The Capability Acquisition and Sustainment Group (CASG) has delivered three additional Boeing CH-47F Chinook helicopters two and a half months ahead of schedule in a major boost to the Australian Army’s medium-lift helicopter capability.

Acquired under the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) program, the new Chinooks are straight off the Boeing production line and are fitted with the latest US Army technology, including updated avionics and next-generation self-protection systems, according to a statement from CASG. The addition of three CH-47Fs to the existing fleet of seven significantly expands battlefield capability.

Executive Officer Cargo Helicopter Management Unit Major Michael Hansen said that the success of the project represents a significant amount of negotiation, contract work and governmental liaison.

“Achieving delivery of three new aircraft inside four months demonstrates highly effective and coordinated project acquisition between the US Army, Vice Chief of the Defence Force Group, the Capability Acquisition and Sustainment Group, and Army Aviation,” he said.

“By employing the Foreign Military Sales strategy, the ADF also leverages the benefits of being part of a much larger fleet, which is growing to almost 500 CH-47Fs flying with the US Army. Not only does the ADF see the benefits of scale in the initial purchase price, but the ongoing cost of consumable and repairable items is greatly reduced.”

The Integrated Investment Program lists the ‘Additional CH-47F Chinook Helicopters (three helicopters)’ project as having an approximate investment value of between $300 million and $400 million.

One of the three new Boeing CH-47F Chinook helicopters arrives at RAAF Base Townsville on June 13 aboard a US Air Force C-17 Globemaster cargo aircraft. (Defence)

Australian Aviation

Cowra offers 21 lots as part of new aviation development at airport

An artist's impression of Cowra Airport's new aviation development. (Cowra Shire Council)

Cowra is hoping to attract new aviation businesses to the Central West NSW with 21 freehold lots available at its local airport.

The local council has opened a tender process for 21 commercially zoned lots in a new aviation development at Cowra Airport, which features a 1,630m bitumen spray-sealed runway, upgraded landing rights and aircraft parking including a hard stand for heavy aircraft.

There were also credit-card fuel facilities for Avgas and Jet A1, as well as virtual operational rating (VOR) and non-directional beacon (NDB), Cowra Shire Council said in a statement.

Cowra Mayor Bill West said the airport had huge potential to generate economic benefits for the town such as bringing new jobs to the area.

“This is your open invitation to one of the most beautiful parts of NSW with unlimited opportunity in unrestricted airspace; all land will be fully-serviced with water, power, sewer, and NBN fibre-to- the-premises with no landing fees (under seven tonnes maximum take-off weight),” Cr West said.

“This development is designed to help create new aviation-related and employment-creating industries in our town.

“Air industries and operators are technology-savvy, high-value, clients who bring a range of complementary economic benefits to areas where they are encouraged to operate.”

Currently, Cowra Airport has pilot training, air charter, commercial and rural fire-fighting services, as well as recreational flights. Businesses already at the airport include light sport and general aviation aircraft manufacturer Brumby Aircraft Australia, which has Aviation Industry Corporation of China as a partner.

The tender closes July 29. More details can be found on the Cowra Airport website.


Australian Aviation

AW609 interim accident report released


Italy’s National Agency for Flight Safety (ANSV) has released an interim report into the October 30 2015 fatal crash of Leonardo Helicopters’ AW609 which has identified the tiltrotor prototype was carrying out a diving manoeuvre as part of flight testing required for certification when the accident occurred.

Released on June 23, the interim report showed the tiltrotor, N604AG, the second AW609 prototype, experienced oscillations about the roll axis that were not accurately predicted by the manufacturer during its third dive for the test flight reaching an airspeed of 293kt.

The report said the pilot in command at the time, US national Herb Moran, corrected for the oscillations using normal flying techniques, however the 609’s flight control laws are currently designed to induce yaw inputs to compensate for expected aerodynamic effects from its flatirons.

ANSV investigators said this yaw input combined with roll inputs created a phenomenon similar to “an augmented Dutch roll”.

The report featured a map showing a widely spread wreckage trail suggesting the oscillations led to the tiltrotor breaking up in-flight near the town of Tronzano Vercellese, Italy.

The AW609’s project simulator, used for building and developing the tiltrotor’s flight control laws, was not able to reproduce the phenomenon that occurred during the accident flight. The only way for investigators to obtain a reliable representation was to input unrealistic geometric and aerodynamic parameters into the simulator.

The ANSV has so far made two recommendations to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) calling for a review of the AW609’s aerodynamic behaviour at high speeds, making use of wind tunnel tests if necessary. Additionally, a review of the tiltrotor’s control laws in the management of extreme flight conditions to ensure the effectiveness of pilot inputs while avoiding the possibility of unexpected and uncommanded coupling effects.

Leonardo was still aiming to achieve certification for the AW609, the world’s first civil tiltrotor, before the end of 2017.


Australian Aviation

Melbourne and Sydney post passenger increases in May

Australia’s two busiest airports have reported healthy growth in international passengers in May.

Melbourne Tullamarine said overseas travellers rose 8.3 per cent in May 2016, compared with the prior corresponding period.

There were large increases among visitors from Taiwan (up 75.1 per cent) and Singapore (up 57.7 per cent), while the number of Chinese arrivals rose 9.3 per cent in the month.

The airport is due to add to its Chinese network from July 1, when Xiamen Airlines begins service to Tullamarine from its Xiamen base in south-east China.

Meanwhile, Sydney Airport posted a 7.8 per cent rise in international travellers in May, with the US (up 16.8 per cent) and China (up 13.1 per cent) among the better-performing countries.

The pace of growth among domestic passengers was more sedate at Melbourne and Sydney in May, with both airports recording a 3.9 per cent increase in the month.


Australian Aviation

Virgin Australia hires aviation consultant to run domestic and international operations


Virgin Australia has appointed a US-based aviation consultant to run its airline business under a new management structure.

The airline has confirmed media reports that John Thomas will join Virgin as group executive of Virgin Australia Airlines, with responsibility for its domestic and international operations.

Based in Boston, Thomas is currently a managing director and partner of consulting firm LEK and head of Asia Pacific. The veteran executive also heads LEK’s aviation and travel, according to the consulting firm’s website, and was a commercial instrument rated pilot.

He was expected to start with Virgin in September.

“John has worked with many leading airlines on their business strategies for more than 25 years and has played a key role in personalising the customer experience and building new ancillary revenue streams in the US aviation market. John is also a keen recreational pilot,” Virgin chief executive John Borghetti said in a memo to staff, according to a report from The Australian Financial Review.

Currently, Virgin’s chief commercial officer Judith Crompton is responsible for alliances, network, revenue management and sales for the airline’s domestic and international network; chief operating officer Gary Hammes looks after the day to day running of Virgin mainline covering areas such as engineering, ground, flight and network operations, among other tasks; while chief customer officer Mark Hassell oversees product and service development, marketing, brand management, customer relations, lounges, cabin crew and customer service.

The Australian Financial Review reported the three executives would report to Thomas under the new management structure.

The appointment comes as Virgin moves to reduce costs and improve its financial performancethrough the withdrawal of aircraft and staff cuts.

Virgin is tapping existing shareholders for $852 million in a capital raising due to be conducted in July. The airline group has also raised $159 million after China’s HNA Group joined the share register as a new shareholder with an initial 13 per cent stake and board seat.


Australian Aviation