Monthly Archives: June 2010

Middle East Aviation Industry Moving from Luxury to Low Cost

When the first flight of the newly established Air Arabia took off, in October 2003, from its home base in Sharjah, one of the seven Emirates making up the United Arab Emirates, not many predicted it would lead to the emergence of a novel and budding phenomenon in the Middle Eastern aviation industry. Up until the establishment of Air Arabia, which today flies to over 70 destinations and operates secondary hubs in Morocco and as of June 2010 in Egypt as well, Middle Eastern airlines, especially those from the Gulf region, had been almost synonymous with luxury and elegance.

But over the last few years, a new type of airline has taken off in the region, the low cost carrier. The success of Gulf-based legacy airlines was evident when the British market research firm Skytrax announced the world’s top 10 airlines in 2010, based on passenger reviews. Qatari national airline Qatar Airways made number three, followed by Etihad Airways from Abu Dhabi (UAE) at number six, and Emirates Airlines from neighboring Dubai at number eight. With the enormous popularity of Middle Eastern luxury airlines, how did Air Arabia become such a huge success story? “When Air Arabia started, it targeted the segment of the UAE expatriate population that never used air travel,” Oussama Salah, an aviation expert based in Abu Dhabi, told The Media Line. This segment was made up of, “the people that used the bus to go back to Syria, Lebanon, Jordan or Egypt.” “It did this by offering rates slightly higher than buses and much lower than the legacy airlines of the region,” he said. “The idea was for a few hundred extra dirhams we can get you there safely and save you two to three days of travel in the desolate Saudi desert with its many accidents,” Salah said. “As things progressed, the low cost carriers became more attractive to middle-class professionals who were able to travel several times to their countries a year instead of once a year because of lower fare,” he explained. “It also opened up intra-Gulf traffic, fueled by low fares, so that families could make day trips to Dubai, Sharjah, Bahrain, Doha by offering frequency [in flights],” Salah said.

While Air Arabia is a pioneer in the market, over the last year they have been facing fierce competition from Dubai-based low cost carrier flydubai, which has gone from nothing one year ago, to now operating 21 destinations with 13 aircraft and another 37 to be delivered. Nine of these routes were added recently in May 2010. Philip Butterworth-Hayes, an aviation expert and the editorial director of PMi-Media Ltd, told The Media Line that it is not a big surprise that low cost aviation has been so profitable in the Middle East given its success in other parts of the world.

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Northrop Grumman to build Army’s Hybrid Airship

Engdget has reported that Northrop Grumman has won a contract from the United States Army to build its LEMV surveillance ship. The Army is building the ship specifically to assist troops in Afghanistan, and they are expected to go into use sometime in 2011. Northrop Grumman has been commissioned to build three of the ships, which can carry up to 2,500 pounds and hover 20,000 feet above sea-level with a top speed of about 34 miles per hour. The Army will pay NG 517 million dollars for the project.

1985 Air India Report Blames Systemic Failure For Terrorist Attack That Killed Canadians

Former Canadian Supreme Court Justice John Major released on Thursday a report of over 3,000 pages on the result of his investigation of the bombing of Air India Flight 182 in 1985. The attack resulted in the death of 329 people, of which over 200 are Canadians. Majors blamed systemic failures for the terrorist attack. In particular, he identified lax perimeter security around tarmacs, failure to routinely screen air cargo, the large number of employees and contractors with access to restricted areas, a flawed no-fly list and problems of the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority in hiring and keeping experienced screening staff. The justice warned these security lapses still exists today, 25 years after the attack, considered the worst in Canada’s aviation history. Majors pointed out Canada did not fulfill its international treaty obligation to stop unauthorized explosively from being illegally brought aboard civilian aircraft.

Public Safety Minister Vic Toews acknowledged the gaps in Canada’s aviation security, but added it is an ongoing concern in all nations, both for air cargo and passenger services. Toews asked for more time to review the report’s recommendations. Majors found out that the bag which contained the bomb was tagged and check-in by an Air India staff for a visibly annoyed and domineering passenger, who did not even have a reservation.

Read the rest of the article at CitySpur.

CSC Wins $135 Million Contract to Support U.S. Navy Aircraft Carriers

CSC announced that the U.S. Navy has awarded the company a task order to provide services to support Program Executive Officer (PEO) Aircraft Carriers. The task order has a one-year base period and four one-year options, bringing the estimated total five-year value to $135 million. The task order falls under the SeaPort Enhanced indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract, originally awarded to CSC in April 2004. This contract was awarded to CSC during the company’s fiscal 2010 fourth quarter that ended April 2, 2010.

Under the terms of the agreement, CSC will provide program, lifecycle, business and financial management, as well as operations support for PEO Aircraft Carriers, which is responsible for managing the design, development, construction, modernization and lifecycle management of aircraft carriers for the Navy.

“This award demonstrates the U.S. Navy’s confidence in CSC to provide integrated, effective support to critical acquisition programs, and positions CSC as the sole prime contractor providing services to PEO Aircraft Carriers,” said Austin Yerks, president of CSC’s North American Public Sector Defense Group. “We look forward to providing best-value, responsive services to the Navy and Department of Defense as they meet the challenges of delivering the nation’s next generation of aircraft carriers.”

American Aerospace Successfully Demonstrates UAS Technology for Wildland Fire Missions

American Aerospace has completed a successful demonstration of its unmanned aircraft system (UAS) technology for the monitoring of forest fires and other disaster events, according to David Yoel, CEO of AAAI. The event was held at The Virginia Army National Guard’s Maneuver Training Center at Fort Pickett, Virginia on June 1 – 2, 2010, and was attended by officials of the USDA Forest Service.

Commenting on the event’s success, Mr. Yoel stated, “We are extremely pleased with the outcome of this demonstration, which clearly showed that UAS technology has the potential to improve the firefighting community’s ability to save lives, property, and resources.”

Mr. Yoel added, “American Aerospace has spent several years developing its Reconnaissance System 16 to optimize it for the wildland fire mission. The RS-16 is a completely self-contained mobile system that includes the aircraft, ground support equipment, payloads, and a mobile command center. We created the RS-16 UAS to perform this mission, and our outstanding team of operations professionals developed the procedures and processes to deliver the required results.”

Three Objectives

According to Mr. Yoel, the three primary objectives for this class of UAS are:

  • Observation: Deliver day and night burn imagery of fire perimeters, active fire fronts, and hot spots, without putting pilots in harm’s way
  • Communication: Improve communications among firefighting personnel where line-of-sight communications are difficult to attain
  • Measurement: Provide real-time fire weather measurements to better predict a fire’s movement

Smiths Detection Wins $11.4 Million TSA Order for Advanced Explosives Trace Detectors

Smiths Detection announced an $11.4 million order from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) for its explosives trace detection technology, the IONSCAN 500DT. Intended for use at security checkpoints, the desktop detectors identify trace amounts of explosives collected on a single swab, in seconds.

Mark Laustra, Vice President of Homeland Security for Smiths Detection, said: “We are delighted to continue our partnership with TSA by providing reliable explosives detection solutions. The sensitivity of the IONSCAN 500DT provides a high level of detection and enables TSA to continue its multilayered security approach.”

The IONSCAN 500DT uses ion mobility spectrometry technology in a dual tube design to provide the high sensitivity and accuracy needed to detect trace explosives. Because of its small size and speed of detection, the system is ideal for checkpoint security screening in airports, ports and borders, air cargo screening facilities, public and private buildings, courthouses and correctional facilities.

This current purchase follows a previous $6 million order by the TSA in October 2008. Smiths Detection has more than 6,000 desktop trace detection systems deployed in addition to its industry-leading X-ray inspection systems and other detectors installed in around 80 percent of the world’s airports.

Alion Awarded $3M Contract to Bolster Army Radar and Combat Identification Programs

The U.S. Army is currently developing and fielding ground-based and airborne radar and combat identification (ID) systems to give warfighters the best target tracking, aircraft surveillance, perimeter protection and superior technologies to identify friendly forces from foes. Alion Science and Technology, an employee-owned technology solutions company, will bolster these efforts by providing spectrum management and electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) analysis, under a $3 million contract, to allow the Army to test and train their radar system.

Under the three-year contract, Alion will support the Radar and Combat Identification Division of the Army Research Development Engineering Command, Communications-Electronic Research, Development and Engineering Center (CERDEC), Intelligence and Information Warfare Directorate, and its customers by performing EMC analyses on multiple systems as deemed necessary to gain spectrum certification for radar and combat ID systems.

“Alion’s support will allow CERDEC to test and train with new radar systems in the United States in a timely manner,” said Sue Archer, Alion Senior Vice President and Manager of the Operational Solutions Group. “The new radar systems, which can be deployed overseas in theatres of operation, are an upgrade from the current system and will ultimately improve protection for our military forces and quite possibly save lives.”

Alion will provide technical details to the Army Spectrum Management Office on all developments in the radar and combat ID programs. The contract runs until March 1, 2013.

CERDEC is headquartered at Fort Monmouth, NJ, and is responsible for developing and integrating command, control, communications, computer, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance technologies that enable warfighters to sense the battle space, deny and disrupt enemy efforts, and remain connected and interoperable to achieve information superiority and mission success.

Successful Falcon 9 Launch Significant Milestone in Expanding Role of Private, Commercial Sector in Human Space Flight

Next Step in Space, a growing coalition of businesses and organizations dedicated to scientific advancement and increasing our understanding of the Earth and our solar system through the expansion of human space flight, heralded SpaceX’s successful test flight of Falcon 9 as an important milestone and proof point toward NASA’s vision for an expanded private sector role in commercial crew transportation to low-earth orbit (LEO).

The 180-foot Falcon 9 rocket carried the man-rated Dragon capsule 160 miles above the earth on Friday, June 4 completing its maiden voyage successfully and clearing the way for future trips to the international space station later this year and in 2011.

“The successful launch of the Falcon 9 was a perfect way of inaugurating NASA’s new vision and direction for space,” said former FAA Associate Administrator for Commercial Space Transportation Patti Grace Smith. “As we work together to build a new space economy based on a commitment to exploration and innovation in space, we will create jobs that will help fuel our leadership position in science and engineering. Space is not only a destination, but a platform for launching new and innovative applications and services – applications in advanced communications, environmental monitoring, biotechnology research, renewable energy and national defense. The new space economy promises to be a catalyst for job creation and economic development that will help solidify U.S. leadership in the world. Last week’s successful Falcon 9 launch is just the beginning.”

Said General Lance W. Lord, retired four-star U.S. Air Force general and former commander of Air Force Space Command, “The innovative spirit of Space-X escaped the gravitational pull of the earth last week as the Falcon 9 lifted off. More importantly though, the Falcon 9 proved it is indeed possible to escape the forces of inertia that exist in the space launch business.”

In April of this year, NASA outlined an ambitious effort to foster the development of path-breaking technologies; increase the number, scope, and pace of manned and unmanned space missions; make human spaceflight safer and more efficient; and help create thousands of jobs.

Frank DiBello, President of Space Florida, remarked, “SpaceX is an innovator and a prime example of the type of company that will make the next-generation U.S. Space Program globally competitive and sustainable. We are proud that the SpaceX launch was a success and recognize that the Space Economy is diverse. We are committed to expanding our role with companies like SpaceX to create jobs and economic prosperity both in Florida and beyond.”

Globecomm Receives a $7.9 Million Increased Scope Under a Multi-Year Contract

Globecomm, a provider of satellite-based communications infrastructure solutions and services, announced that the Company’s wholly-owned subsidiary, Globecomm Services Maryland, has received a $7.9 million increase in the total value of a four-year contract from a major U.S. Government prime contractor. This contract is part of the four-year contract originally signed on January 2, 2008.

Globecomm will provide satellite earth stations and services that leverage the Company’s global service network by providing voice, video, and data services in the Company’s rapidly growing managed network service businesses.

As a valued added offering, Globecomm will offer the customer life cycle services supported by a global network of qualified technicians enabling a highly professional, technical and responsive support handling activities such as implementation, preventive, and corrective maintenance, and a full range of 24 x 7 technical support services. These services include engineering support, equipment, complete with installation and maintenance to multiple locations in the Middle East, Africa, Asia, and certain Pacific and Caribbean Islands.

FAA to Provide All Employees with Identity Theft Protection

Identity Force announced that it has been awarded a contract with the Federal Aviation Administration to provide all employees with identity theft protection services. The contract is part of the agency’s continued response to a breach in February 2009 that exposed the personal information of more than 45,000 employees and retirees.

The new Identity Force contract replaces previous identity protection services offered last year to employees and offers significant new features for a period of 12 months.

  • First, employees may sign up for full identity monitoring that will track their credit reports and other identity documents that could be altered.
  • Second, identity restoration services will be offered under the contract to any employee who has his or her identity information stolen or otherwise adversely affected. A certified professional provided by Identity Force will work on the employee’s behalf with creditors, insurance companies, banks, courts, law enforcement agencies and other parties to restore an employee’s identity.
  • In addition to the new services, FAA employees will receive training and awareness information later this year on how to better protect the personally identifiable information of agency staffers, contractors and customers.