Air&Cosmos International magazine - issue 5

Page 1


INT005_001 OK.qxp_Couverture 20/12/2018 15:12 Page1

AIR&COSMOS N° 5 - 21st December 2018


BUSINESS US $19 - 1300 INR - 15 EUR - 120 CNY - 70 AED

l Zhuhai 2018: show of force l Airbus preparing for Qingdao ramp-up l The

booming cabin upgrade market l Jet Airways hits turbulence l French Air Force renews its tanker fleet l First FrancoChinese satellite in orbit

INT005_002.qxp_Couverture 20/12/2018 15:15 Page2

editorial Duncan Macrae



China means business There is no longer any doubt about the strategic importance of China for the air transport industry — the country is poised to overtake the U.S. as the world's largest aviation market within five years. Airbus and others are racing to establish an industrial foothold in this huge potential market. At the same time, Beijing is modernising its military capabilities and adopting an increasingly assertive posture, e.g. in the South China Sea.The recent Zhuhai Airshow showcased a broad range of products and technologies being developed in support of China's strategic ambitions. We look at these two facets of rising China — industrial partner, strategic competitor — in a Special Report in this issue. “China is one of the most powerful growth engines of global air transport,” Airbus COO Christian Scherer recently declared. Airbus forecasts a Chinese requirement for more than 7,400 passenger and freight aircraft worth more than $1 trillion over the next 20 years — 19% of total world demand. Hence the moves by Airbus to establish an industrial presence in China, through partnerships with local firms (p. 11). Over the past 10 years, the European airframer has established a full-grown ecosystem around its A320 assembly line in Tianjin, near Beijing.The creation of the adjacent A330 Completion and Delivery Centre has stimulated the arrival of additional suppliers from the cabin interiors sector. Soon the European group will have a second production foothold in China, when the H135 production facility operated by Airbus Helicopters and its JV partner Qingdao United General Aviation Co. comes on line in Qingdao. On the military side, products and projects highlighted at the recent Zhuhai Airshow, leave no doubts as to the unprecedented industrial and scientific effort currently under way across the Chinese defence industry and technology base and the increasing focus on export markets as Beijing — through its Belt and Road Initiative — seeks to extend its sphere of influence well beyond Asia (p. 6). We also look at China's ascension in the space sector with our regular worldwide launch roundup. China has powered past the U.S. and Russia with a total of 30 launches so far this year — 36% of the worldwide total (p. 38). But in this sector, too, China is opening up to international cooperation, witness the recent Franco-Chinese CFOSat mission (p. 42).

17th to 23rd JUNE 2019


an event by

INT005_004.qxp_Couverture 20/12/2018 15:16 Page4




SPECIAL REPORT: China - Zuhai 2018: show of force ........................................................................................................06 - Airbus preparing for Qingdao ramp-up ..........................................................................11 - Defining a regional aviation roadmap.............................................................................13 Interview: Bruno Even, CEO of Airbus Helicopters .........................................................17 Solving the cabin upgrade puzzle ...............................................................................................20 Singapore Airlines: in for the long haul ....................................................................................24 Turbulent times at Jet Airways .......................................................................................................26 French Air Force renews its tanker fleet ...............................................................................28 Interview: Commodore François Moreau................................................................................31 Networking the battlespace ..............................................................................................................34 PC-21 triggers French pilot training revolution ..............................................................36 Launch pad roundup: new record within reach ..............................................................38 First Franco-Chinese satellite in orbit ......................................................................................42 BepiColombo: next stop Mercury .................................................................................................44 ........................................................................................Articles translated from French by Duncan Macrae



N° 5

Art Director and design: Mourad Cherfi Production: Frédéric Bergerat Coordination : Duncan Macrae Editors: Yann Cochennec, Jean-Baptiste Heguy, Emmanuel Huberdeau, Pierre-François Mouriaux Copy editor: Duncan Macrae Advertising: Cyril Mikaïloff Business development: Henry de Freycinet Publishing director: Hubert de Caslou


S.A.S. au capital de 1.000.000 € Siret 632 008 702 000 37. Siège social : 157, boulevard Macdonald 75019 Paris (France) Principaux actionnaires : Discom S.A.S. et Hubert de Caslou


© AIR COSMOS ISSN 1240-3113 - Dépôt légal à la date de parution Numéro de commission paritaire : 0215 T 86120 Distribué par Presstalis - Impression : Imprimerie Léonce-Deprez Toute reproduction des textes et documents est interdite, ainsi que leur utilisation à des fins publicitaires. Les textes de publicité sont rédigés sous la responsabilité des annonceurs. Ils n’engagent pas « Air & Cosmos ». Pour garantir son indépendance, « Air & Cosmos » se réserve le droit de refuser (même en cours de programme) toute insertion publicitaire sans avoir à justifier sa décision. Copyright 2015.

Autopromo INT4.qxp 10/10/2018 17:27 Page1

Subscription: 77€/US$89 for 1 year,

5 digital issues

INT005_006_010.qxp_Mise en page 1 20/12/2018 15:19 Page6



The J-20 flew with PL-15 and PL-10 missiles.






N° 5


INT005_006_010.qxp_Mise en page 1 20/12/2018 15:19 Page7

CHINA acked by a cluster of 350 companies concentrated around the Pearl River Delta, north of Hong Kong and Macau, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) were the main attraction at this year's Zhuhai Airshow.This reflects the fact that the accessible market for China, which was already valued at €3bn last year, is expected to triple by 2020, and again by 2025 due to soaring demand for armed medium altitude long endurance (MALE) surveillance drones. Now established as the third largest exporter of military UAVs with more than 17 customer nations worldwide, Beijing is seeking to take advantage of the need to secure trade channels linked to the Belt and Road initiative, the fight against terrorism, but also unpopular wars in the West, to establish itself in markets that do not have access to American or Israeli platforms. This export policy, boosted by the arrival of the Chinese private sector five years ago, is not without ulterior motives. The export of these drones is a means not only to extend influence but also to promote dependence and stimulate sales in other sectors of the Chinese defence industry and technology base (DITB), such as land-based weapons, missiles, intelligence surveillance & reconnaissance (ISR) or maintenance.

an MTOW of 5 tonnes and 12 hours' autonomy. CASC made the headlines in the Western media with its stealthy UCAV prototype, the CH-7, with a 22m wingspan and a design heavily inspired by the U.S. X-47B.The project seems credible in view of the work financed in this field by the People's Liberation Army (PLA) over the past several years, in particular with the tail-less Lijian UCAV, which capitalises on Chinese advances in stealth fighters. Other futuristic projects, such as mockups of the supersonic FL-71 or subsonic FL-2 UAVs, demonstrate that the Chinese are also exploring technology for stealth bombers, including Mach 2 platforms capable of delivering tactical nuclear weapons at a range of 800 km, or slower vehicles to deliver several tons of weapons at ranges in excess of 7,000 km.



Among the UAVs that caught the attention of foreign visitors, Sun Hawk Aviation, making its first appearance at the event, showed the Little Whirlwind, a 130kg cargo drone designed for deep-penetration missions by Special Forces. Even more impressive was the 1:1 scale model of another cargo drone, the Tengden/Polytech TW-356, capable of carrying several tons. Tengden is already working on a more ambitious strategic version, the TW 765, with a payload capacity of almost 22 tonnes and a range of more


N° 5

XY-280 target drone.



CH-7 UCAV prototype. than 7,000km.AVIC presented the first Chinese armed vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) UAV for export, the AV500W, designed for combat missions lasting up to four hours with a 120kg weapon payload and a heavy machine gun.The CASC stand featured its first shipborne VTOL surveillance UAV, the CH-10. The BZK-005E MALE UAV, known to equip all PLA intelligence units, has reportedly now also been cleared for export.With a 40-hour range and a 370kg payload, an armed version of this drone has apparently been in testing since last year. CASIC highlighted its WJ-700 combat UAV. Unlike other Chinese armed MALE UAVs, it is able to carry “heavy” missiles such as the CM-102 (anti-radiation), C701 or C-705KD (air-to-surface). Designed for surveillance and attack in land or naval environments, the jet-


powered WJ-700 features 20hour endurance and a maximum take-off weight (MTOW) of 3.5 tonnes. UAVs exclusively reserved for the Chinese armed forces really stole the limelight. CSIC presented a mockup of the HK5000G, a catapult-launched MALE armed surveillance UAV for aircraft carrier-based operations. CETC exhibited its airborne early warning (AEW) demonstrator, the JY-300, based on an airframe similar to the CH-4. Produced by Institute 38, it features conformal EASA antennas on both sides of its fuselage (X-band) and on the wing leading edges (L-band). A true multi-frequency airborne radar platform, the JY-300 is designed to increase the density of the Chinese early warning network over a radius of more than 1,000km, with the capability to detect stealth platforms and cruise missiles. It features

The flying display of China's J-20 stealth fighter revealed further design modifications aimed at reducing the aircraft's radar signature.The latest refinements in shaping and radar-absorbent coatings demonstrate that U.S. stealth aircraft are the focus of permanent reverse engineering efforts by engineers from the Chengdu design office.The aircraft flew with the weapon bay open, revealing the new PL-15 missiles with AESA radar seeker, with characteristics similar to the American AIM-120D. On either side of the fuselage, the J-20 has two short-range PL-10 missiles for increased reactivity by avoiding the use of the weapons bay before engaging in a dog fight.The aim is also to give the J-20 the capability to destroy the enemy's ISR and command & control platforms using its IRST and infrared-guided missiles, without relying on its fire control radar or the electromagnetic seekers of its long-range missiles. The goal is to avoid detection by U.S. defensive systems.


INT005_006_010.qxp_Mise en page 1 20/12/2018 15:19 Page8

The J-20 showed modifications aimed at reducing radar signature. Innovations presented on the J-10B fighter bomber could represent a major enhancement for the J-20. The J-10B flew with a locally designed engine, the WS-10B3, featuring the thrust vectoring capability that the Chinese, unlike the Indians, were unable to obtain from the Russians.The WS-10B3 seems to share several features with the Su-35's AL-41F1S engine. A version of this engine designed for the J-20, which is currently powered by the Russian AL-31, could lead to further reductions in radar cross section by permanently removing the deflector vanes. The export version of the Z-10 ME combat helicopter gunship with graphene armour and thermal signature reduction features on the engines was also displayed. However, aircraft were not the only focus of interest at the show. AIRBORNE RADARS.

Innovations in airborne radars were another highlight. CETC and Nanjing Institute 14 presented a new version of the KLJ AESA radar, the KLJ-7A, for the Sino-Pakistani JF-17 Block III.AVIC presented a competing


model for the same aircraft, the LFK-601E. For the KLJ-7A3, the antenna is no longer mechanically steered and features one forward-facing and two lateral antennas . AVIC says that its 145kg air-cooled system has a range of 170km and would be able to engage fifteen targets simultaneously. But considering the power generated by the JF17's engine and the diameter of the antenna, these claims should be treated with the utmost caution. However, according to a U.S. source,AVIC has been working with NavCom Technology, which analysed the Israeli EL/M 2052 AESA radar under programme 863, which was intended to work around the embargo on Western technology. Institute 603 presented its Lband AESA radome for the KJ600 twin-engine AEW aircraft, similar to the U.S. Hawkeye, which would operate from Chinese aircraft carriers currently under construction.The radome is based on work performed on the KJ 2000 — a modified Il76 designed for airborne early warning and control.The nickname of its L-band radar,“Silk Road Eye", leaves no doubt about Beijing's ambitions to

control the airspace in its future areas of influence. CETC also presented a mockup of its future quantum combat radar, which was reportedly tested for the first time in 2015. Developed to challenge Western superiority in terms of stealth and electronic jamming, it was the subject of a closed-door conference on its performance, access to which was exclusively reserved for Chinese journalists. Nanjing Electronic Technology Research Institute (Institute No. 14) presented its 609 ground-based radar for the export market, a UHF/VHF-band radar designed to detect stealth platforms and ballistic missiles. The stealthy, highly manoeuvrable XY-280 target drone, designed to simulate the thermal and electromagnetic signature of the F-22 and F-35, is reported to have played a key role in developing this radar. CASIC showed its LW30 tactical air defence system, which consists of three vehicles, one of which carries a radar and a thermal imaging system, while another is equipped with a highpower laser weapon, designed to instantly neutralise drones,


guided bombs and mortar shells. The new FM-90/HQ-7B short-range missile defence system was also on display. Copied from the Thales Crotale, this new model, with a range of 15km and a new IR seeker, has been widely deployed with the PLA, as well as with Pakistani forces, with financial backing from Saudi Arabia. CRUISE MISSILES.

Also on display was China's first supersonic cruise missile for the export market, the HD-1, which is seen as a response to the Russian-Indian Brahmos. This ramjet-powered missile can reach a speed of Mach 3.5 and has a range of almost 290 km. Flying at an altitude no greater than 10 m in the terminal phase, this weapon is specifically targeted at aircraft carriers, especially since a future HD-1A version, currently close to the end of development, is apparently designed to be airlaunched. For now, 8×8 TEL vehicles would reportedly be able to fire a salvo of six missiles in less than seven minutes, then leave the firing zone within less than three minutes later to avoid counter-battery fire.

N° 5


UMSA19_NewDates_Visitor01_Air&Cosmos_210x280mm.pdf 1 6/9/2018 3:35:29 PM

INT005_006_010.qxp_Mise en page 1 20/12/2018 15:19 Page10


CASIC presented a complementary system, the CM-401, a missile with an AESA seeker and a terminal velocity of Mach 4 to Mach 6. Unlike the HD-1, it dives vertically onto the target, making maximum use of its kinetic energy. It follows an irregular flight path to penetrate enemy defence systems. It offers the same range as the HD-1 but is primarily designed to strike at much closer range (>15km). Combined with its manoeuvrability, this missile is therefore able to neutralise low-speed targets such as aircraft carriers or cargo ships. According to the manufacturer's documentation, it is available in an 8×8 vehicle-mounted version for coastal defence, like the YJ-62 or YJ-12, but also in a navalised container similar to the Russian Klub missile. It is likely to be installed on China's Type 055 guided missile destroyer.The missile diameter — about 85cm on the mockup — is similar to the Russian Iskander-M. Most importantly, the CM-401 seems to have much greater range potential. Dedicated to the export market, the CM-401, whose first prospects would be Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, must be compatible with range limits defined by the MTCR treaty. However, some experts mention a range of up to 600 nautical miles. With this capability, Beijing could well upset the balance of forces not only in the China Sea and against Japan, but also far beyond, due to the quantity of Type 055 destroyers currently in production.

The CM-401 cruise missile is aimed at the export market.


In short, the 2018 edition of the Zhuhai Show shows that, in the short term, the Chinese DITB will soon attain levels of performance close to that of Western weapons.Above all, however, going by the growing number of Chinese scientific publications concerning military technologies, China will soon have the capability to introduce innovative and disruptive technologies on all its equipment. In most cases, financing for these innovations will rely on export sales. Not only is China now in a position to upset the strategic and industrial balance in Southeast Asia, but it is also in a position to reshuffle the cards in other regions such as the Middle East, West Africa and Latin America, paving the way for deployment of the Belt and Road Initiative. By forging trade links, China's future partners will be able to benefit from the military superiority provided by Chinese weapon systems. A similar strategy has already been adopted by Beijing to prepare the deployment of wireless communication infrastructures and Internet monitoring solutions in numerous African countries.

WS-10b3 engine with thrust vectoring capability.

Mockup of CETC’s quantum radar.

■ Yannick Genty-Boudry, in Zhuhai, China



N° 5


INT005_011_012.qxp_Mise en page 1 20/12/2018 15:20 Page11



At least 95 H135s will be assembled in Qingdao.

Airbus will soon hAve A second production centre in chinA. hAving estAblished A foothold At its tiAnjin site, dedicAted to the A320 fAmily, the europeAn mAnufActurer will stArt to Assemble h135 helicopters in QingdAo next yeAr.

n 2019, the first seven Airbus Helicopters H135s assembled in Qingdao will roll off the assembly line.Twelve others are scheduled for 2020. "The ramp-up will be gradual. The site has a production capacity of 18 helicopters per year," explains Vincent Dufour, Airbus Helicopters Commercial Director for Greater China & Mongolia.Altogether, no less than 95 aircraft will be assembled in Qingdao over the next few years — probably more, because the assembly line is also expected to act as a stimulus for further orders.



N° 5


The Chinese civil and parapublic helicopter market is still in its infancy, given the country's needs, particularly in the field of emergency medical services (EMS).The situation is evolving thanks to the progressive liberalisation of lower-altitude airspace for civilian use. Flight plan authorisation procedures, tightly controlled by the Chinese Armed Forces, are gradually beginning to be simplified in several regions. Airbus Helicopters is already well established in China with nearly 280 aircraft in operation and a 40% market share, but it harbours even

greater ambitions.The groundwork was laid through Chinese participation in programmes like the H120 Colibri and H175/AC352. The assembly of the H135 in China represents an additional step, accompanied by an order for 100 helicopters. The history of the Qingdao site began with a visit by German Chancellor Angela Merkel in the summer of 2014. On that occasion, several contracts were signed in various fields, along with a commitment to encourage German companies, in all sectors, to invest in ecoparks that China is seeking to develop.




INT005_011_012.qxp_Mise en page 1 20/12/2018 15:20 Page12



Following the Chancellor's visit, Airbus Helicopters Deutschland won an order for 123 helicopters. The quest got underway to find a local production site and there was no shortage of proposals from municipalities and provinces. The final decision was made in favour of Qingdao, a city located in the province of Shandong, which had links with Bavarian brewers in the past. A letter of intent was signed in October 2015 between the various parties involved in the project, which was transformed in June 2016 into a firm order for 100 H135s. The construction of the site could then begin. The site is managed and operated by a joint venture in which Airbus Helicopters Deutschland holds 51% of the capital. The remaining 49% is held by Qingdao United General Aviation Co., itself a joint venture between China Aviation Supplies Holding Co. (CAS) and Qing-

dao United General Aviation Development Co. (UGA).The assembly line will benefit from the various industrial processes and digital tools already validated on Airbus Helicopters' lines in Europe.The Chinese technicians have been undergoing on-site training with their German

counterparts since April. It is now up to the Chinese partners to find customers for the Chinese-built helicopters. UGA, which is the official distributor of Airbus helicopters in China, has sold eight H135s: two to Eastern General Aviation and six to Qingdao Huatong Finan-

cial Leasing. It's a start.And gradually the Qingdao site will generate its own ecosystem like the one in Tianjin, located 590km further north (see box). Plans include a helicopter pilot training school, and traditional helicopter system suppliers will also follow. . â– Yann Cochennec

The Airbus ecosystem in Tianjin ithin the space of 10 years, a full-fledged ecosystem has been created around the Airbus A320 assembly line in tianjin. operational since 2008, the site had produced and delivered 378 aircraft as of the end of August 2018, including 24 A320neo aircraft. As the third single-aisle assembly line after toulouse and hamburg, tianjin is participating in the A320neo family ramp-up, with production rates set to increase to five aircraft per month at the beginning of next year and six at the beginning of 2020. the creation of the A330 completion and delivery centre (including cabin installation, aircraft painting and production flight tests, as well as customer flight acceptance and aircraft delivery) in 2017 strengthened the Airbus ecosystem in tianjin, which now includes more than 50 suppliers, including the safran group through its engine, wheels and brakes activities. A total of five engine and nacelle specialists have set up shop around tianjin. the A330 completion and delivery centre has also accelerated the arrival of cabin interior suppliers. there are now no less than 45 of them, present either directly on site or via service providers.


Tianjin is participating in the A320neo ramp-up. 12


N° 5


INT005_013_016.qxp_Mise en page 1 20/12/2018 15:24 Page13





ROADMAP After focusing, logicAlly, on the development of Air links in its coAstAl regions, chinA now wAnts to AccelerAte the estAblishment of A regionAl Air trAnsport network in order to open up the country's most remote AreAs. it still needs to define the AppropriAte roAdmAp.


N° 5


Embraer holds a 72% share of the Chinese regional jet market.

he development of China's western regions — one of the many priorities of the 13th five-year plan running until 2020 — is higher on the agenda than ever.The movement has been underway for some time now, but the road is long. Nevertheless, it is now part of the overarching strategic framework of the Belt and Road Initiative. Thus, the Xinjiang region in northwest China, for example, has become all the more crucial as it constitutes a natural geographical gateway to Central Asia. The same is true for Yunnan, located in the southwest and extending towards Southeast Asia and the Indian Ocean. However, these two regions also need links to central and eastern China. Both regions pose geographical challenges for road and rail connections and are, therefore, ripe for development of air transport. The challenge now is to find the right aircraft, adapted to traffic flows that are currently non-existent compared to the very large passenger volumes generated by China's coastal regions. "The Chinese government's logical priority in recent years has been to connect the major cities and ensure the development of a transport network, not only air transport, serving the most densely populated regions. Hence the purchase of large numbers





INT005_013_016.qxp_Mise en page 1 20/12/2018 15:24 Page14

SPECIAL REPORT transport market is still underdeveloped, and overcapacity persists on a very large number of regional routes. "Many of these lines are operated by 100-seat aircraft, or even larger types, which fly half-empty due to a lack of sufficient traffic," explains Pabon. Operating losses are increasingly coming under scrutiny by the central government, but also local governments and airports, all of which provide subsidies to support these routes. And all of this must be viewed in the context of "the debt burden of local governments that have invested in many other sectors," notes another observer.

China's embryonic regional airline sector hina has only four regional airlines meeting western standards, including one that has yet to start operations. the newcomer is genghis khan Airlines, supported by the state fund inner mongolia Aviation tourism investment. the carrier, equipped with comac ArJ21 regional jets, is scheduled to start operations in 2019. the firm order for 25 ArJ21s along with 25 options includes the creation of a pilot and technician training school and an mro workshop. Joy Air has been operating since 2009 from Xi'an airport, the capital of shaanxi province, where the tianju investment group is headquartered. Jointly owned by Avic and china eastern Airlines, the airline operates chinese mA60 turboprop aircraft produced in Xi'an. colorful guizhou Airlines, meanwhile, operates nine embraer e190s following the conversion of two of its ten options. the carrier is based


of single-aisle aircraft with more than 120 seats," comments Bertrand Pabon, Head of Market Strategy at ATR.As a result, the market share of regional jet manufacturers has been reduced to a minimum, with an even smaller share for turboprop builders.



According to Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) figures, the total regional aircraft fleet represents 5% of the approximately 3,400 aircraft in China's total commercial aircraft fleet. This includes 126 aircraft of various types supplied by Embraer, 41 Bombardier CRJ 200/700/900s and seven Comac ARJ21s in service with Chengdu Airlines. The turboprop fleet numbers around 40 aircraft — for the most part, locally built MA60s operated by Joy Air. The latter is one of the few regional airlines currently operating in China (see box). The vast majority of regional aircraft


in the capital of the mountainous province of guizhou in southwest china. the oldest of china's regional airlines is china express. privately backed, like colorful guizhou Airlines, the carrier started in 2006 with bombardier crJ200s before moving on to the crJ900, and it now operates a fleet of 36 crJ900s, with two more on the way. china express, however, is gradually transitioning from regional to mediumhaul services. finally, one operator has disappeared from the landscape: henan Airlines. created in 2006 as a joint venture between shenzhen Airlines and the American mesa group under the name kunpeng Airlines, the airline was renamed henan Airlines after the withdrawal of mesa in 2009 and subsequently switched from the crJ200 to the embraer e190. An accident involving one of its aircraft in August 2010 led the airline to suspend operations.

form part of the fleets of major carriers such as China Southern or Hainan Airlines via its subsidiary Tianjin Airlines, which is now focusing more on larger aircraft and even long-haul service. "These operators have huge fleets and are not equipped to address regional markets," says Pabon. Tianjin Airlines is not the only operator to have switched from the Embraer E190/195 to larger-capacity modules, such as the A320 family. GX Airlines — a joint venture between Tianjin Airlines and the Guangxi Beibu Investment Group, which operates E190s leased to the former — has made a similar move. Even China Express, which was one of the first dedicated regional airlines in the country, using the Bombardier CRJ200, then the CRJ900, is also starting to switch to the A320.The same goes for Hebei Airlines, a subsidiary of Xiamen Air, which has opted for the Boeing 737.


“RULE 30”.

This shift was encouraged by regulations partially issued by the CAAC towards the end of 2016, with the aim of developing regional transport nationwide. In order to motivate existing players and/or attract newcomers, "Rule 96" stipulates that airlines must operate a fleet of at least 25 regional jets before switching to larger-capacity aircraft.Associated with this is "Rule 30", which limits the capacity of regional jets to a maximum of 100 seats. These rules have the collateral effect of seriously limiting Embraer's ambitions in China for its new E190/195-E2 and have, for the time being, mainly favoured established carriers such as China Express, whose 36 CRJ 900s have 86 seats, while the Embraer E-190s of Tianjin Airlines and Hebei Airlines have a maximum of 98 seats. A configuration that can be found at China Southern. Other consequences: the veritable regional


The aim, therefore, is to avoid repeating the choices of the past by establishing "regional hubs" in the western provinces of China, as provided for under the 13th five-year plan, and “working to achieve significant improvements of transportation in border and remote areas with poor connectivity".The emphasis now is on greater economic realism and, therefore, the lowest possible operating costs. A first indication of this trend may be the decision of Chinese leasing company CIB Leasing to convert part of its Bombardier CRJ900 order to the 90-seat version of the Q400 turboprop. Not that these Bombardier Q400s will necessarily be placed on the Chinese market, but this first batch could be followed by others with eventual entry into service on China's domestic network. And the relative dominance of the regional jet in China could give way to a more balanced distribution in favour of the turboprop. Especially since the latter is set to benefit from its inclusion in China's "general aviation" category, alongside helicopters and business jets. The Chinese government has clearly decided to develop this segment by launching the construction of several hundred dedicated "general aviation" platforms for a total investment estimated at more than

N° 5


FLY Airbus is a global leader in aeronautics, space and related services with a workforce of around 134,000. Airbus offers the most comprehensive range of passenger airliners from 100 to more than 600 seats. Airbus is also a global leader in providing tanker, combat, transport and mission aircraft, as well as Europe’s number one space enterprise and the world’s second largest space business. In helicopters, Airbus provides the most effi cient civil and military rotorcraft solutions worldwide. Together. We make it fly.

14031_AIR_Corporate_280x210_Air-Comos_1.0.indd 1

23/02/2018 10:29

INT005_013_016.qxp_Mise en page 1 20/12/2018 15:24 Page16


ATR aims to continue expanding its presence on the Chinese market.

$21bn.Thus, general aviation is seen as a tool for opening up remote regions, this time with tighter economical control. Under this plan, the three territories to benefit from improved access —Yunnan, Xinjiang and Inner Mongolia — will be equipped with 51, 47 and 35 general aviation platforms, respectively. It remains to be seen how many of these airports will fall into category A1, which allows commercial flights with aircraft seating 11-30 passengers, or category A2, which only accommodates aircraft with five to nine seats. 30-SEAT ATR.

In any case, the number of A1 airports in the Xinjiang region was considered interesting enough for the ShaanxiTianju Investment Group to identify it as "the ideal location to develop commuter service under General Aviation operations". "We are convinced that the specifically adapted ATR 42-600 will provide the best answer for this market segment, which so far does not have operators dedicated to this segment," said Yang Qiang, Chairman of Tianju Group, when signing the letter of intent for ten ATR 42-


600s with a 30-seat layout at the 2017 Paris Air Show. Based in Shaanxi — a province located between the eastern and western parts of China and bordering northern Inner Mongolia, a region also considered a priority in terms of air access — the group has gradually diversified into consumer products agents, airline and travel agency services, along with civil and general aviation, catering, investment and finance. Over the past decade, Tianju Group has established Shaanxi Tianju Aviation Travel Service Co. Ltd. and Shaanxi Tianju General Aviation Co., Ltd. It is currently applying to establish Tianju Airlines Co., Ltd. This experience has led the group to "support the Chinese government in its firm commitment to promote the general aviation market in order to increase quick and efficient access to smaller areas across the country." Reignwood Aviation, a major player in general and business aviation in China, has also opted for this version of the ATR 42-600 by providing operational support to the future Xuzhou Hantong Airlines, which has a commitment for three aircraft.

The latter was launched by the Xuzhou Municipal Government through its development fund, the Xuzhou Hantong Aviation Development Co.The role of the latter is to make the city "a civil aviation hub in the Huaihai economic zone" by "focusing mainly on regional cargo and short-haul flights". In this case, there is no question of improved access to a remote region as Xuzhou is located in Jiangsu, one of China's most densely populated coastal provinces. "Behind the terms 'regional' and 'general aviation', but also between regions, there is such a variety of situations in China that it is difficult for them to find a single roadmap that fits all these situations," comments Bertrand Pabon. One thing is certain: through general aviation, ATR can continue to expand its presence on the Chinese market, which is estimated to represent a requirement for 1,100 turboprops over the next 20 years thanks to the multiplication of airlines connecting not only isolated and/or outlying communities, but also small towns in the rest of the country. ATR believes that the General Aviation segment alone


represents a market for around 800 thirty-seat turboprops over the next 20 years, to service the 1,500 new routes that will be needed to link the 300 new airports to be built over the period. The operating economics of a 50-seat aircraft reduced to 30 seats may raise questions. However, the Franco-Italian manufacturer can point to the contract with American regional airline Silver Airways.The latter chose the ATR 42-600 after it was shown that "the ATR 42600, which has a capacity of 50 seats, offers the same operating costs as a Saab 340 that only seats 30 passengers," explained Christian Scherer, then-president of ATR. In the meantime, the ATR 600s must be certified by the Chinese civil aviation authorities. Bilateral discussions with the European Aviation Safety Agency are still in full swing. Once the certification process has been completed, Xuzhou Hantong Airlines and Tianju Airlines will be able to transform their letters of intent into firm orders. And perhaps encourage other airlines to make the same choice.. ■ Yann Cochennec

N° 5


INT005_017_019.qxp_Mise en page 1 20/12/2018 15:28 Page17



ARE OUR PRIORITY” You are CEO of Airbus Helicopters after spending three years at the head of Safran Helicopter Engines. What is it like to cross the fence from supplier to prime contractor? It is a big change, but there is a certain continuity.As an engine manufacturer, you still have good access, a good overall and wide-ranging vision of the market, the diversity of customers and missions.All these parameters are perceived from the engine manufacturer's viewpoint.What is new is to see this from the standpoint of the helicopter manufacturer, who interfaces directly with the market, and the modelrelated issues, which are different. This aspect is exciting because it is new for me, even if there is continuity in terms of my knowledge of the market and customers which I built up at Safran Helicopter Engines.I can bring this knowledge to Airbus Helicopters, and even a broad vision, since I have had the opportunity to work with all the helicopter manufacturers and in several emerging markets.At the same time, I am also discovering a new organisation, a new corporate culture with challenges that I am ready to address with the teams, who are all highly motivated.We have begun to address these challenges over the past six months.


N° 5




Is the helicopter business different from the engine business? The helicopter manufacturer interacts directly with the market.All the ideas relating to product, market and marketing strategy are driven by the needs of the end customer. There is no interface with the helicopter manufacturer as there is with the engine builder.We interact directly and this is exciting.We really have the leverage to exercise direct influence through our innovation

choices, our marketing policies and our strategy.The ability to influence, to have a direct effect on the market.The engine is a key component, but its role is to be fitted to a helicopter that has been defined in relation to a market need.The second aspect is that the engine builder's business model is driven by support and service. This is a strength that I take into account in joining Airbus Helicopters. It is important to maintain a long-term focus on support and ser-


INT005_017_019.qxp_Mise en page 1 20/12/2018 15:28 Page18


You mention challenges to be addressed with the Airbus Helicopters teams. Which challenges are you thinking of? First, to maintain the resilience of the Airbus Helicopters business model.This is a key point. Despite difficult market conditions, we have continued to grow over the past three years in terms of market share, both in the civil and military sectors. The first pillar of Airbus Helicopters' resilience is this civilmilitary duality. Our helicopters are designed to address both markets.This is a real point of resilience that I often illustrate with the H225. The offshore market has suffered from overcapacity in recent years, resulting in a slump in the sale of heavy helicopters. Nevertheless, 2017 was one of our best years in terms of order intake for the Super Puma family, thanks in particular to the military sector, with contracts in Kuwait and Singapore for the H225M.The H145 is also a very good example. It is doing very well in both civil and military markets.This duality is a strongpoint and explains why we are doing well this year, thanks to military orders.The second pillar is the balance between the services and production.We have a strong focus on services because they account for nearly 45% of our overall business.This is a real factor of resilience, based on a fleet of more than 12,000 helicopters in service.It also represents real growth potential, with real challenges in terms of fleet availability.The third pillar is our international network, ensuring close proximity to our customers. We have more than 25 customer centres around the world and this proximity also gives us the ability, when market conditions are difficult, as in the U.S. at



vices in terms of customer orientation and satisfaction. It's what I call customer loyalty.A satisfied customer is a customer who flies and who, beyond support and services, will naturally come back to us for the new generation of helicopters.

the present time,to look for growth in other regions of the world, in Asia and Europe.The final pillar is our extensive product range. This will be reinforced with the arrival of the H160, whose EASA certification is scheduled for the end of 2019. At the end of the day, we have the broadest, most modern and competitive range. This puts us in a position to meet all market needs. In the civil sector, business is slow in the heavy helicopter segment, but we have a 70% market share in light helicopters, as illustrated by the orders for H125, H135 and H145 signed at Helitech.These different pillars give us volume and balance.Therefore, maintaining this resilience is at the heart of my strategy when I look at the choices we will have to make. What are the other challenges? Our customers are, and will continue to be, our priority. I want to continue to place the customer at the core of our strategy and ensure that the company evolves from a historical product-centred culture to a customer-focused culture. We embarked on this journey a few years ago, but it is never over. It is a question of performance in terms of quality and on-time delivery.We have certainly made progress in recent years, but we are never at the level where a world leader should be. It is a question of attitude, relationships, proximity with the customer, intimacy, listening.We really need to put the customer at the core

of our priorities and make our decisions according to customer expectations. On a related subject, is military MRO also a key issue? We are looking at this issue. It's a long-term undertaking.We are working closely with the armed forces because availability is a major concern.We are responding in several ways: a specific industrial organisation, reduced cycle times, focus on maintenance costs.And, more recently, through the reform of the French military MRO system and the creation of the DMAé. Retrofit projects have already begun, with the aim of reducing cycles, scaling down maintenance activities and changing our internal industrial organisation in order to have teams dedicated to these projects.We are fully invested in delivering the expected performance. We are starting to see results in certain fleets, but this effort is not complete.We are also closely involved in the reform of the French military aviation MRO system initiated by the Ministry of the Armed Forces, particularly concerning the development of new contractual structures that should give us an overall vision of helicopter fleet activity, and to make firm commitments in terms of availability. This is the case, for example, with the “vertical contract” for the Cougar fleet, which we are currently working on with our partners in government departments. In my opinion, this contract has


to be a real performance driver over the coming months. You have to be honest and humble at the same time. This availability issue is not something that we are discovering today. But major projects are now underway to address this issue and we must collectively live up to expectations. And innovation? Innovation is part of our DNA. This is a major focus in terms of both products and services.A source of value for our customers and in which we continue to invest heavily.There is, of course, the arrival of the H160, but we must continue to add value to the H135, H145 and H175, by working on maturity and reliability. The H160 is an extraordinary machine, not only in terms of design, but also for its comfort, performance and very low noise levels. I am convinced that it is the right model to meet the needs of different market segments: EMS,VIP, offshore, military... It is a machine that should place us in a strong position in the medium segment. So we are aiming for certification by the end of 2019 and first deliveries at the beginning of 2020. The third priority is to prepare the future in the medium and long term. We are in a sector where technology moves fast. I'm thinking of digital, I'm thinking of electrification, flight controls. These are all areas where we must strive to reach the highest technological level, but also to be able to integrate these tech-

N° 5


INT005_017_019.qxp_Mise en page 1 20/12/2018 15:28 Page19

INDUSTRY nological building blocks on our current range or to lay the groundwork over the next two years for upgrades when the market is ready for responses of this type. Finally, I am also thinking of the new architectures that are emerging from new markets such as urban mobility or rotary wing drones.We are positioning ourselves to offer solutions in these breakthrough sectors, these new architectures with a clear roadmap: the Racer high-speed demonstrator, developed under the Clean Sky 2 programme, the CityAirbus electric propulsion demonstrator, with a prototype due to make its first flight in the coming months, or the VSR700 UAV based on the Cabri helicopter to meet French Navy requirements under the LPM multiyear defence spending bill. On the latter project, we have a roadmap in cooperation with the DGA and Naval Group, and we are aiming for a first flight of a prototype next year. The H160 programme also includes innovations on the production side. What is the latest news on the new assembly system? We are aiming for a more efficient and competitive production system. With the H160, the aim is to reduce cycles and costs by half compared to those of the Dauphin. In an increasingly demanding and professional market, competitiveness is a key factor. Our teams have understood this well and are fully motivated.The H160 is the first programme where we are applying this industrial strategy. Compared to the historical model, where we had to duplicate our activities on different sites, we are seeking to specialise our different sites on different helicopter modules in order to be more efficient, while at the same time boosting skill levels at each site: tail beam activities in Albacete, rotor blades in Paris-Le Bourget, central fuselage and composites in Donauwörth, dynamic components and


N° 5

front fuselage in Marignane.The new production setup is being inaugurated with the H160, and assembly of the first series production units is underway. We will then study the benefits of applying this new system to our existing range, model by model, as opportunities arise. But, in the longer term, the overarching concern is the competitiveness of the company and the development of our critical skills. You recently delivered the first of the 100 H135s for the Chinese market. Is China also a priority for Airbus Helicopters? Airbus Helicopters' third development focus is indeed the highgrowth countries, the emerging

through programmes. We have a strong partnership on the H175 with Avicopter, which initially resulted in the certification of the H175. The creation of the assembly line in Qingdao aims to position the H135 as a Chinese helicopter to address that market. The idea is to take the best practices, the best processes that we have validated on our European assembly lines and apply them in Qingdao.The challenge is to maximise the competitiveness of our helicopters.The first H135 assembled as part of this partnership was delivered at the end of September, and we aim to deliver the first aircraft assembled in Qingdao during 2019. China is not the only country where Airbus

“ Innovation is part of our DNA ... a major focus in terms of both products and services ” markets and I am thinking in particular of China. If we look at the medium and long term, this country is one of the recognised growth markets for helicopters.There are still obstacles to the Chinese market fulfilling its role as a growth driver. I am thinking in particular of liberalisation of low-altitude airspace. But things are moving forward with experiments in some regions such as Sichuan. Other regions have decided to gradually open up the airways.Two years ago, the Chinese market was Airbus Helicopters' leading market in the light helicopter segment behind the U.S. market in terms of order volume. In this context, the opening of the H135 assembly line in Qingdao is important. For years, we have pursued an investment strategy in China because we consider that this country is one of the keys to our positioning in the longer term. Investments have also been made


Helicopters has set up an industrial partnership? One of Airbus Helicopters' strengths is its ability to forge industrial partnerships. China is one example of this.There is also the H145 in Japan, which has been very successful, or the LCH, LAH, KUH programmes in South Korea... In the United States, we have developed an industrial footprint as a base to position ourselves with the Lakota for the U.S. Army. Partnerships represent one element of our strategy to position ourselves in high-growth countries, but also, more generally, on the international market. One must also remember that the helicopter market is a dual market.We are well aware that the military segment is a market that requires proximity in terms of support and maintenance. It also requires an investment strategy from end customers, from local governments.

Any other major countries in the longer term? We look at this on a case-by-case basis.We analyse the local market, the minimum level of orders that could justify the investments. It is imperative that the market justifies the investment.We have already done this. So there is no reason why we should not do it again if it is a win-win situation. The global helicopter industry still appears fragmented. Do you see any possible consolidation moves in the longer term? It is a market that appears fragmented because it is very diverse in nature. It tends to be compared only with the civil aviation sector, which is not a representative comparison. The helicopter market covers not only civil aviation, but also regional aviation, business aviation, general aviation, cargo, etc. It is fragmented because it addresses all requirements, and if we compare the fixed wing aircraft market with a similar scope, we also see that there are many players: Cessna, Dassault, Embraer, Bombardier, Airbus, Boeing... The second element to consider is that this is a market that is shared between the civil and military sectors. Since there is a military dimension, there is a strategic dimension and a dimension that is also closely linked to industrial policies depending on the country. For a number of countries, having a helicopter capability is seen as an element of sovereignty.This is an element that must be kept in mind when talking about future prospects.This is not an obstacle, but it is a factor that must be taken into account when looking at consolidation of the helicopter market. One can imagine that this could happen one day. I don't have a crystal ball, but personally, I don't see any consolidation in the short term. ■ Interview by Yann Cochennec


INT005_020_023.qxp_Mise en page 1 20/12/2018 15:29 Page20




The choice of seat model and entertainment systems is strategic.

efurbishing the passenger cabin of a wide-body aircraft is a bit like renovating an old house,” says Emmanuel Morin,Vice President Engineering at Sabena technics. “We start with the walls, then we do the electricity, plumbing... and only then we do the painting and the interior.” The image is well chosen, though it does not reflect the complexity of a comprehensive cabin upgrade project,

R 20

which must comply with stringent safety requirements. “Any refurbishment project starts with an expression of the customer's requirements specifying the modifications to the existing cabin,” explains Sami Smaoui,VP Aircraft Modifications at AFI KLM E&M. “We translate these needs into what we call an LOPA — Lay Out of Passenger Accommodation. This serves as the reference document for the entire project,

the basis for defining the design of the new cabin, the different types of seats, IFE systems, connectivity. But also other equipment such as toilets, furnishings and galleys.” “The project is prepared well in advance of the contract signature and depends on the customer,” comments Emmanuel Morin.“Some have wellstructured technical departments and purchasing departments, in which case,


we receive fairly detailed specifications covering comprehensive or partial modifications, for example modernising the economy or business class. In other cases, these are changes from a three-class to two-class configuration or vice-versa, with all the consequences that this entails for seats, entertainment systems and overhead passenger service units (PSUs): lights, air conditioning vents, illuminated signs.”

N° 5



Only abOut ten players in the wOrld are capable Of fully refurbishing the passenger cabin Of a widebOdy aircraft, including twO french cOmpanies, afi Klm e&m and sabena technics. each upgrade prOject is a cOmplex puzzle Of prOject management and supply chain challenges that must be sOlved in strict cOmpliance with applicable safety standards.

INT005_020_023.qxp_Mise en page 1 20/12/2018 15:29 Page21

INDUSTRY “Work starts at an even earlier stage with medium-sized airlines, which do not necessarily have a large technical staff,” adds Morin. “So we will help them to define their requirements in greater detail.The choice of seat and entertainment system is strategic and, therefore, the responsibility of the customer. But we can offer advice to an airline that wants to combine a particular entertainment system with a particular seat.” There is a permanent dialogue with the customer for the duration of the project: choice of seats, seat dimensions, functions, type of IFE system … “Based on these exchanges, once we have agreed on the number of seats per class, furnishings, toilets, we can start designing the seats in cooperation with the seat suppliers, and the IFE. Each supplier presents his project so that

it is can be validated by the customer, but also certified to be integrated into the new cabin,” says Sami Smaoui. CERTIFICATION.

Certification is a key part of the project, as it involves safety standards established by civil aviation authorities or their agencies, such as EASA, in Europe.“Definition of the LOPA also takes into consideration the applicable regulatory constraints with respect to flammability, aisle width, passenger evacuation routes to be respected or minimum visibility for cabin crew. This last point means that the crew must be able to have a certain number of passengers within their direct field of view,” explains the Sabena technics VP. “You also have to take account of cabin evacuation rules under the most unfavourable conditions.

For example, in the event of a fire, one or more emergency doors may be blocked and passenger flows are transferred to the other available doors with capacities to be respected, thus limiting the number of seats per zone. Another structural constraint: the floor on which the passenger cabin is installed. This floor has load limits for each zone,” adds Sami Smaoui.“If, for example, we install a new wall covering on a partition that has never been used before, we are required to perform flammability tests to prove that results comply with regulatory requirements.” And this kind of detail is not without consequences, because it must be taken into account from the outset at the project planning stage. “Preparatory work with the customer allows us to firm up certain elements even before the contract is si-

gned: the number of technicians, the experts we will need, whether the modifications can be certified internally, since Sabena technics has EASA approval to carry out minor modifications, or whether we need to go through EASA in the event of major modifications,” Emmanuel Morin remarks. “A major modification could be introducing an opening in a primary structure, even if it is a small hole for wiring. Another example: moving a water pipe to change a galley. Moving the position of the pipe is not a major change, but the way the pipe is attached is. Kind of like in a house. It doesn't matter if you move a drain pipe. On the other hand, if you make a hole in a load-bearing wall, you may weaken the structure of your home,” says the Sabena technics VP.

The workload for a full wide-body cabin refurbishment can total thousands of hours.


N° 5



INT005_020_023.qxp_Mise en page 1 20/12/2018 15:29 Page22


A major project requires two or three teams working round the clock. SUPPLY CHAIN.

Another major aspect to be considered at an early stage is management of the supply chain. “While the design bureau is completing its work, along with all the necessary justifications, and preparing all the documents needed for certification, another team is defining the supply chain requirements: seat and IFE system specifications, requirements for parts to be purchased from the aircraft manufacturer,” continues Emmanuel Morin.“The goal is to ensure that, when the aircraft arrives in the hangar at the scheduled time, all the necessary kits and components are on hand, ready to be installed.” “We cannot afford to design everything and order everything at the same time. A worldwide supply chain is involved, with sub-assemblies coming from all around the globe. Extremely rigorous project management is required to fit together the pieces of the puzzle corresponding to the new cabin,” says Sami


Smaoui. “Especially since the supply chain is being stretched by demand for new seats, and the lead time between order and delivery can be at least one year,” adds Emmanuel Morin. Lead times are sometimes so long that Sabena technics has acquired EASA Part 21G approvals to modify certain furnishings in-house. “We had to find solutions to offer shorter lead times to our customers,” explains Emmanuel Morin. Because the slightest delay can be penalising for the airline. “There are always unforeseen events and we need to be able to react very quickly, hence the advantage of having an in-house design bureau and production capabilities.This rapid response is fundamental for the customer,” explains the Sabena technicsVP. The time the aircraft spends in the hangar has to be reduced to a minimum.“Once the work is finished, the plane takes off from our Bordeaux site, lands at the customer's airport, gets refuelled

and goes straight back into service,” says Emmanuel Morin. The duration of a refurbishment project can vary.“If it's just a matter of increasing density by adding a few rows of seats without changing the location of the galleys, it can take up to two weeks,” says Sami Smaoui. Emmanuel Morin adds:“If there are no major modifications to the PSUs and only a limited number of external parts to manufacture or purchase.” For a full cabin refurbishment, the workload on a wide-body aircraft can total thousands of hours.“We start by dismantling and removing parts and sorting out what will and will not be put back on the aircraft,” says Sami Smaoui.“We remove everything we don't need: wiring, electrical boxes, IFE systems, galleys,” adds Emmanuel Morin. PANELS AND PARTITIONS.

“Then we remove everything that we are going to work on and re-install. For example, wall panels and partitions. Because


we may just change the covering for a new design or change of logo. Then the modifications, including structural modifications, can begin. We bring the equipment onto the aircraft, install wiring and, if necessary, position or re-position the waste water evacuation lines.” Each project has its share of little surprises. “This is often the case, especially on planes that have been in service for a number of years. An example: I want to install a piece of equipment, but a modification of the structure has been performed and I can't connect the equipment as planned.Another example: a modification has been installed, but the modification is not shown in the aircraft documentation,” says the Sabena technics VP. Then, gradually, the cabin fills up again.“We turn on the water and electricity, and we replace the partitions and seats.Then the seats and IFE systems are connected.” Once everything is installed,

N° 5


INT005_020_023.qxp_Mise en page 1 20/12/2018 15:29 Page23


The booming refurbishment market he global commercial aircraft cabin upgrade market is growing at an average rate of 5% per year and should generate €7bn in 2023, according to some forecasts. Other observers see a market worth twice as much by next year, which would be equivalent to 80% of the total value of the aircraft interiors segment. the remaining 20% corresponds to the installation of new-build aircraft interiors. while medium-haul aircraft interiors are being upgraded with new features such as inflight entertainment (ife) systems and wi-fi connectivity, the widebody carrier generates a much higher volume of added value for the different players in the worldwide cabin upgrade market. first of all, because the major airlines invest hundreds of millions of euros in new cabin concepts — amounts that are beyond the reach of all but the world's top 20 carriers. secondly,


testing can begin — functional tests of toilets, galley equipment, IFE systems and seats. “Functionality tests are carried out seat by seat, especially for business seats which have much more complex electrical circuitry. Ditto for the entertainment systems. Then there are the safety checks. When the crew wants to communicate with the passengers, the image transmission must be cut, a message must appear and the passengers must be able to hear it,” says Emmanuel Morin. EASA APPROVAL.

The tests will be validated by an EASA-approved inspector, who reviews the entire cabin to ensure compliance with standards for seat spacing, emergency exits, and field of view for cabin crew. After inspection, EASA grants the Supplemental Type Certificate which clears the aircraft for commercial service. “The STC is valid for additional aircraft of the same type


N° 5

operated by the same airline,” says Emmanuel Morin. That is why work on the lead aircraft always takes longer than others in the series. “Major projects take an average of six to eight weeks for the prototype.Then, we optimise operations for the following aircraft to cut the duration to four or five weeks,” adds Sami Smaoui. A major project requires two or three teams working round the clock.“On a widebody aircraft, around 30 people might be involved simultaneously, including mechanics, supply chain staff and support functions,” he continues. “It all depends on the projet.We do not necessarily work round the clock. There are still night shifts, but they are limited.We retain the possibility of increasing them. If we have guaranteed one month and we are a little late, we go to three shifts,” adds Emmanuel Morin. Cabin refurbishment projects are often linked with maintenance


because increasingly fierce competition, has reduced the average lifespan of a passenger cabin on a wide-body aircraft. it used to be eight to ten years; now it is six to eight years, and with a new dimension: the introduction of new technologies for passenger comfort, i.e. mood lighting, connectivity, etc. this all adds up to several thousand hours of work on a single aircraft for a complete cabin upgrade. the widebody vs. narrow body market shares in the cabin refurbishment sector are similar to those encountered in the mrO business where wide-body aircraft represent only 20% of the world fleet but generate 50% of total activity. Only a handful of players are now able to offer a comprehensive range of refurbishment services on commercial fleets, from project management to certification, engineering and modification work and even component manufacturing.

checks.“Very often, the customer asks for maintenance to be performed in parallel. It is difficult in economic terms to justify immobilising an A330 just for a passenger cabin renovation,” says Emmanuel Morin. “So it is an important aspect of the project to optimise project planning with the airline to take account of periods when the aircraft is out of service, e.g. for major maintenance checks. Then we can schedule the cabin modification work during the maintenance operations,” says Sami Smaoui. “We can also combine refurbishment work with lighter maintenance checks to reduce aircraft downtime and optimise schedules.When you add a cabin modification to a heavy maintenance check during which you change the landing gear or engines, for example, the downtime might be longer and the project more complex, but overall, aircraft availability is optimised for the customer,” he adds.

Recycling is an integral part of the refurbishment project. “Seats that are removed can be reused for other aircraft, other airlines or to recover spare parts for the maintenance of seats that are still in service on our aircraft or those of other customers,”says Smaoui.IFE equipment can also be recycled. “For IFE systems, they can be sent back to the airlines that keep them as spares. But, in general, they disappear. We can also store furnishings for reuse on a future project.This avoids the airline having to purchase new equipment. There is also a non-negligible second-hand market, particularly for business class seats,” says Emmanuel Morin. Demand is very strong and poses a real production challenge for seat manufacturers.As a result, airlines do not hesitate to recover them and place them in storage, either at their own facilities or with the company that performed the refurbishment. ■ Yann Cochennec


INT005_024_025.qxp_Mise en page 1 20/12/2018 15:32 Page24




n 11th October, a Singapore Airlines Airbus A350900ULR (Ultra Long Range) took off from Changi Airport at 23:37 local time. Flight SQ22 landed the next morning at 5:29 (New York time) after a 17h 52min flight. The flight duration was slightly less than estimated since, with a maximum flight time of 18h 25min and a distance of 10,357 nautical miles (16,667km), the Singapore-New York service constitutes the longest direct flight ever operated by a commercial aircraft. This flight time can vary according to several parameters (favourable or unfavourable winds, aircraft weight, weather conditions, etc.).To take account of these parameters, pilots have the choice between three possible routes: the Nopac (North Pacific Route), by the east of Singapore, which can be used all year round; the route over the North Pole via Russia (which itself is divided into four other routes), but which is only open from May to August; and the Atlantic route (east of Newark), which can be used year-round. The range of the ULR variant — up to 9,700nm (18,000km) — is significantly


For Singapore Airlines, the ULR operation is not entirely new. The carrier operated the Singapore-Newark route, as well as Singapore-Los Angeles, from 2004 to 2013, using the A340-500. In 2008, a 100% Business Class configuration was introduced to reflect the predominantly businessoriented passengers using the service. However, the service fell victim to high fuel prices and the resulting impact on the economics of the four-engine A340500.The European manufacturer agreed to take back all five A340-500s when Singapore ordered additional Airbus A380s and A350s.The last Los Angeles-Singapore

flight took off on 20th October 2013 and the last Newark-Singapore service was performed one month later, on 23rd November 2013. The A350-900ULR, which entered commercial operation on 11th October, is the first of seven aircraft that Singapore Airlines is expected to receive from Airbus by the end of the year.The first route operated, Singapore-New York (Newark), started with an initial tri-weekly service, which became daily on 18th October, when the airline received its second A350900ULR. The very long-range aircraft entered service on the Singapore-Los Angeles route on 2nd November, and is being used to reinforce the existing service between Singapore and San Francisco. By the end of the year, Singapore Airlines will offer 27 non-stop weekly flights between Singapore and the United States. Including connecting flights, SIA will offer a total of 53 flights per week between the city-state and the United States. CABIN LAYOUT.

In terms of cabin configuration, the A350-900ULR offers a very different layout from the traditional version of



greater than the basic version of the A350900, thanks to an additional 24,000 litres of fuel capacity achieved through a modification of the existing fuel system, but without adding additional tanks. The direct flight is 4 to 6 hours shorter than the same route operated with a stopover in Frankfurt. For example, the duration of a Singapore-New York flight with a connection in Frankfurt between 23h 15min and 24h 20min, while the flight time on the A350ULR varies between 17h 50min and 18h 25min.

Singapore Airlines A350-900ULR. 24


N° 5


INT005_024_025.qxp_Mise en page 1 20/12/2018 15:32 Page25


flight at a fixed time for Premium Economy passengers. Business Class passengers are offered two catering services with recommended schedules, but they may also request different times, e.g. to maximise rest periods. The carrier also says it has introduced specific sleep strategies and cabin lighting settings to enhance cabin ambience for rest and relaxation.



Premium Economy class on Singapore Airlines’ A350-900ULR. the A350-900. The baseline A350-900 is equipped with 253 seats: 42 in Business Class, 24 in Premium Economy and 187 in Economy Class. The ULR version, on the other hand, offers a more spacious layout with only 161 seats (67 in Business Class and 94 in Premium Economy). As with the Airbus A340500 — which was fitted with an "all-business" cabin — this specific configuration makes it possible to meet the expectations of a particular type of customer on this route. Singapore Airlines aims to attract traffic from the strong industrial base and companies in the nor-

thern New Jersey region, particularly in the financial services, technology and pharmaceutical sectors. The choice to serve Newark Airport is also seen as a way to get closer to this type of customer, compared to John Fitzgerald Kennedy Airport, which is much further away from this industrial area. OPEN SKIES.

Moreover, as SIA points out, although an Open Skies agreement exists between the United States and Singapore, the Asian carrier was having difficulty achieving its full growth potential on the U.S. market. By eliminating stopovers, the ULR


The 10 longest commercial airline flights Singapore Airlines Qatar Airways Qantas United Airlines United Airlines Qantas United Airlines Etihad Airways Delta Saudia

Singapore-New York Doha-Auckland Perth-Londres Houston-Sydney Los Angeles-Singapore Sydney-Dallas San Francisco-Singapore Abu Dhabi-Los Angeles Atlanta-Johannesburg Djeddah-Los Angeles

18 h 25 17 h 40 17 h 20 17 h 20 17 h 15 17 h 15 16 h 35 16 h 30 16 h 30 16 h 10

*Flight times are approximate and can vary according to prevailing winds, aircraft types, weather conditions, etc.


N° 5


version should enable SIA to take full advantage of the growth opportunities offered by the Open Skies agreement. In-flight services have been tailored to the needs of longduration flight. The Premium Economy seat (like the Business Class seat) was designed by Zodiac Seats U.S. and has been specially adapted. The seat, which is already generous in width (19 inches, or 48.26cm), offers an increased pitch of 38 inches (96.5cm) and can be inclined 8 inches (20.3cm). Extra storage is available for the seats nearest the windows in rows 40 to 42. The In Flight Entertainment (IFE) offering is based on the Panasonic eX3 system with the latest features (such as the ability to save and resume content and customise preferences for subsequent flights). To celebrate the relaunch of the world's longest commercial flight, 200 additional hours of video and TV content have added to the 1,000 hours of core content.This additional content is added for all classes on Airbus A350900ULRs, but also on Airbus A380s and Boeing B787-10s. In-flight catering has also been specially adapted. Three meals are served during the

Crew working conditions have also been thought out for the specific needs of ultra long-haul operations.The A350-900ULR is operated by two flight crews, with two captains and two first officers. In addition, the A350900ULR crews have access to individual bunks with lighting and temperature control (the latter feature is only available for the ULR version of the A350).The bunks are more spacious than those on conventional A350s. Before operating flights to Newark, pilots must have 48 hours off-duty.And before their return to Singapore, they have three days off in New York. During the flight, both crews take turns resting, with a minimum of two rest periods for each team (varying from three to five hours). On a ULR flight, each pilot has a total rest period of at least 8 hours, compared to 6 hours for a conventional long-haul flight. There are 13 cabin crew on an A350900ULR flight.The minimum rest period during a flight for each hostess or steward is four hours. For the time being, Singapore Airlines wants to take advantage of the A350-900ULR to develop high-yield traffic to the U.S. But the carrier notes that the aircraft is already generating high expectations in neighbouring markets in Southeast Asia, as well as on the Indian subcontinent and even Australia. ■ Jean-Baptiste Heguy


INT005_026_027 OK.qxp_Mise en page 1 20/12/2018 15:37 Page26





imes are tough for India's Jet Airways, which is currently going through a very serious economic and financial crisis at a time when, paradoxically, the Indian air transport market is booming. The carrier, which delayed reporting its most recent financial results, finally announced a slide in pre-tax profit from $123.3m in the first quarter of 2017-2018 to only $7.4m for the same period in 2018-2019 (which began on 1st April). A reported net profit $8.2m in the first quarter of 2017-2018 turned into a loss of $188m one year later. Worse still, as of 31st March, the Indian carrier was carrying net debt of $1.2bn, 46% of which is reported to be shortterm debt, unlike all its main Indian and Asian rivals.This accumulated debt is partly related to the fact that, over



the past 11 years, Jet Airways has reported a loss on nine occasions and a further loss of $91.3m for the 2017-2018 fiscal year. The fear of a possible collapse of India's second largest carrier, which held a 13.7% share of the domestic market in May (well behind low cost carrier IndiGo, which holds 40.9%), according to the latest figures from the India's Directorate General of Civil Aviation (see graph), came from Jet Airways itself. Quoting a senior executive of the company, the Indian newspaper The Economic Times reported in early August that discussions between Jet Airways management and employees had revealed that the company could stop flying its aircraft within 60 days if it failed to reduce its costs and find a source of fresh cash in the very near future.


The company announced that it had launched various cost-cutting and revenueboosting initiatives, including restructuring the balance sheet by reducing debt, streamlining cash flow, optimising payroll, exploring financing options such as capital injections, monetising the company's participation in its loyalty programme, and several other measures to increase productivity and operational efficiency.The company said it would make the necessary announcements regarding specific measures once they had been finalised. It added that it continuously evaluates the commercial viability of its network. To identify new sources of cash, all options are open. According to the Indian business press, Jet Airways' founding president, Naresh Goyal, would be willing to sell all or part of his 51% stake in the airline. Etihad Airways,


N° 5


INT005_026_027 OK.qxp_Mise en page 1 20/12/2018 15:37 Page27


Indian carriers' domestic market share

ther 26% in the next twelve months.The Tata group is already a co-shareholder of the small Indian airline Vistara, alongside Singapore Airlines, and of AirAsia India, along with the Malaysian carrier AirAsia Group.



which still holds 24% of Jet Airways' capital and whose equity investment strategy has a far from stellar track record (Alitalia, Darwin Airlines, airberlin...), does not seem to have any desire to inject further funds to increase its stake. On the other hand, the Abu Dhabi-based company announced, as part of Jet Airways' restructuring plan, that it would contribute $35m to buy back its JetPrivilege loyalty programme, in which it already owns a 50.1% stake. Meanwhile, the Times of India reported that discussions had begun to bring the very powerful Tata industrial group on board. Tata Group could very soon acquire 26% of Jet Airways' share capital, followed by a fur-


N° 5

In terms of cost-cutting efforts, Jet Airways wants to rationalise its fleet of 124 aircraft and accelerate the deployment of nextgeneration models with increased reliability and greatly reduced fuel consumption, in a context of a sharp rise in oil prices. According to The Economic Times, Jet Airways has already grounded a dozen aircraft as part of a plan to overhaul its unprofitable domestic routes out of Chennai and Mumbai. In addition, the company will also need to rationalise the management of its maintenance activities, which seems to be less than optimal. The Economic Times reports that Jet Airways has 16 to 20 aircraft withdrawn from service for maintenance every day, which must represent a real operational headache, as well as costing a lot of money. At the same time, Jet Airways, which has ordered a total of 125 single-aisle 737 MAX 8 aircraft from Boeing, two of which are already in service, is reported to have obtained a temporary refund of part of the deposit paid to Boeing when the order was signed.The Indian carrier is also reportedly seeking discounts on lease payments to SMBC Aviation Capital and Gecas. On the payroll side, Jet Airways has also announced cutbacks. About 15 people, occupying management positions in engineering, security and sales, were asked to leave the company. Commercial agencies abroad are also expected to be rationalised. According to the trade website, the French commercial office, located at 124, boulevard Haussmann, in the centre of Paris, will










12.3% 12.8% 13.7%

Air India

Jet Airways soon be closed, though there will be no changes in services to and from France. Marketing activities for these routes is likely to shift to Amsterdam, Jet Airways' main European sales office.Additional staff cuts have not yet been announced but are thought to be more than likely. PARADOX. Alongside Jet Airways' own internal difficulties, there is a striking paradox concerning the Indian air transport market in general. The market has been growing at double-digit rates for several years and, according to International Air Transport Association (IATA) forecasts, India is expected to overtake Great Britain as the world's third-largest aviation market by 2025. By 2026, the country is expected to handle a total of 478 million air passengers. But, by seeking to capture as much market share as possible, whatever the costs, local airlines are suffering from the effects of a price war that has already claimed victims. Kingfisher Airlines, for example, went out of business on 25th October 2012, after only seven years of existence and after absorbing Air Deccan in 2008. Air India, in the meantime, is in the midst of a very complex

privatisation process, has $5bn of debt and is still losing a lot of money. Similarly, the dominant Indian low cost carriers, IndiGo and SpiceJet, reported substantial losses in 2017 and have seen significant cutbacks in bank lending facilities in recent months. If Jet Airways were to encounter further difficulties, or even disappear altogether, this would pose a real problem for Air France-KLM. The FrancoDutch airline group and Jet Airways have signed an extended cooperation agreement covering all the routes operated by Air France, KLM and Jet Airways between Europe and India.The entire combined network covers 44 Indian cities and 106 European destinations.With the addition of the Amsterdam-Bangalore and Paris-Chennai routes by Jet Airways, the three airlines still offer 64 weekly flights linking the Roissy-CDG, AmsterdamSchiphol hubs with four destinations in India: Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore and Chennai. In all, 33 weekly frequencies are operated to Bangalore, Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai by Air France and Jet Airways. KLM and Jet Airways operate 31 weekly flights from Amsterdam-Schiphol to Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore. ■ Jean-Baptiste Heguy


INT005_028_030.qxp_Mise en page 1 20/12/2018 15:41 Page28


Air & Cosmos wAs invited to GetAfe in spAin to see the first frenCh A330mrtt shortly before it wAs hAnded over to the frenCh Air forCe. the frenCh version of the in-fliGht refuellinG tAnker, bAptised phénix, inCorporAtes numerous feAtures developed in CollAborAtion by Airbus, the frenCh defenCe proCurement AGenCy (dGA) And the frenCh Af. AIRBUS

A330 Mrtt

french Af renews its

tAnker fleet here she is! On the ramp outside the Airbus assembly line in Getafe, near Madrid, the first A330 Multi Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) for the French Air Force is waiting in the sun between two other MRTTs, destined or Singapore and South Korea. On board, technicians are still ironing out some final details, but the aircraft is almost ready for delivery. . The French Defence Procurement Agency (DGA) and Airbus Defence & Space invited a small group of journalists, including Air & Cosmos, to take a closer look at the new aircraft a few days before delivery to the French AF.

t 28


“Phénix” is the name that France has decided to give to its new tankers, which are designated Voyager in the UK and KC-30A in Australia.The newcomer is eagerly awaited by the French AF, because it will replace its C-135FRs — the first of which was delivered over 50 years ago! — and KC-135s, as well as its A310 and A340 strategic transport aircraft. France has ordered 12 Phénix aircraft to date in the first phase of its tanker replacement programme.The 12 aircraft have an estimated value of €3bn. Additional MRTTs will be ordered in a second phase.The French multiyear military spending bill (LPM) for 2019-

2025 sets a target of 15 aircraft by 2030. The LPM also provides for an acceleration of deliveries to ensure that the French AF has 12 Phénix tankers by 2023 instead of 2025. This decision was confirmed by the Minister of the Armed Forces on 20th September after being rubber-stamped by the ministerial investment committee.Airbus and the DGA are currently negotiating the rampup in aircraft production rates. With the A330 MRTT, France has chosen a proven system, with 30 such aircraft having already been delivered to Australia, the UK, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Singapore. South Korea will also receive its first aircraft by the end of the year. Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Germany, Norway and Belgium will also operate the aircraft through a European fleet called MMF (Multinational MRTT Fleet). Altogether, 60 A330 MRTTs have been orderedand 34 have been delivered. Over the past ten years, the only country outside the U.S. that has not chosen the Airbus aircraft is Japan, which ordered the Boeing KC-46A Pegasus.


N° 5


INT005_028_030.qxp_Mise en page 1 20/12/2018 15:41 Page29



The MRTTs will also be able to refuel French E-3F AWACS aircraft.

The A330 MRTT is directly derived from the civil version of the A330-200. In fact, the future MRTTs are taken directly from the civil assembly lines and transferred to Getafe, near Madrid. There, they undergo a major transformation programme carried out in four stages, each lasting about forty days.The aircraft are completely dismantled and reassembled with the addition of the in-flight refuelling equipment. Airbus currently has a production capacity of five aircraft per year. Starting with the first Singaporean MRTT, which was handed over in September, all MRTTs are now being delivered in an “enhanced” version.These aircraft mainly benefit from the evolutions of the civil A330-200 (structural modifications, aerodynamic enhancements and upgraded avionics), along with improvements to the mission system.


N° 5

A330 Mrtt keY fiGUres


tonnes of fuel

45 up to

tonnes max. payload

300 passengers

paletts + 8 military 2 containers Can support deployment of


fighters over

6,700km AIR&COSMOS

On completion of the modifications, the A330MRTT can carry a total of 111 tonnes of fuel in the wings, in a centre tank between the wings and in a trim tank in the tail plane. There are no additional tanks compared to the civil version. This configuration provides for three holds for freight transport. The cockpit is modified to accommodate two places for boom operators who control refuelling operations via cameras. Mission, communication and self-protection systems, depending on the customer, are also added. The MRTT's specific equipment includes under-wing pods containing the hose and drogue systems to refuel aircraft equipped with a probe. For the fuselage-mounted refuelling equipment, the customer can opt for a rigid boom to refuel probe-equipped aircraft, which is the case for most customers, or a Fuselage Refuelling Unit (FRU) comprising a hose and drogue to refuel heavy aircraft. The UK'sVoyagers are equipped with this option. The central boom, which could be fitted with a drogue on the C-135, cannot be modified on the MRTT. Boom-equipped aircraft cannot refuel heavy probe-equipped aircraft such as the A400M, because the under-wing pods do not allow for sufficient separation between the two aircraft, resulting in greater turbulence.Thus, the boom-equipped Phénix cannot refuel the A400M (because it has a probe), but it can refuel the E3F AWACS, which features a boom receptacle. However, the A400M, with its strategic range, is not an aircraft that regularly needs to be refuelled in flight. Buddy-buddy refuelling between two A400Ms is possible. FRENCH REQUIREMENTS.

Each customer requests its own specific configurations and France is no exception. The DGA and the French AF may even have gone further than other customers. In France, refuelling aircraft

are integrated into the airborne component of the nuclear deterrent.They are therefore operated by the FAS (Strategic Air Forces), which means that their main mission is to participate in a nuclear strike.The Phénix, therefore, had to be modified for these very complex missions, which could involve FAS Rafale Bs but also other fighters and AWACS aircraft. In fact, with the Phénix, the Air Force will integrate not just a new aircraft, but a whole new combat system including the aircraft, its on-board systems, ground infrastructure, mission preparation system and an advanced mission simulator. The French version of the MRTT also features specific selfprotection systems, which the DGA was unwilling to discuss in detail, and a medical evacuation configuration. VIRTUAL PLATEAU.

To carry out these modifications the French AF, the DGA and Airbus set up a virtual plateau.Airbus and the DGA defined the way in which exchanges were organised in order to facilitate the two-year process of developing and qualifying the Phénix. According to the company and Agency, it was this integrated organisation that made it possible to produce the French version of the aircraft within the required time frame. The same method was applied to the development of a specific mission system designed in particular for the strategic mission. The basic system developed by Airbus has been modified in accordance with French requirements.The objective is to enable the crew to carry out complex missions and monitor the tactical situation. The French AF will also receive a mission preparation system as well as a mission simulator that will make it possible to recreate these complex scenarios on the ground. France was the first customer to request the delivery of a full mission simulator. It is scheduled to be


INT005_028_030.qxp_Mise en page 1 20/12/2018 15:41 Page30

The Phénix can carry up to 300 passengers in transport configuration. AIRBUS

delivered to Istres a few months after the first aircraft. The aeromedical evacuation (MedEvac) capability also required significant development work. Like the C-135 at the present time, the Phénix will be able to accommodate the Morpheus kit to evacuate seriously injured personnel.The French military health service was also involved in the development work.Three mockups were set up onboard the aircraft to obtain a configuration in line with expectations and ensure everything worked correctly. The MedEvac system will be tested in flight in the near future on board the second Phénix for the French AF.The capability is expected to be operational within one year.The Morpheus kit on Phénix will be designed to transport 10 patients to the intensive care unit while also maintaining the ability to carry less severely injured patients and passengers.



The first French Phénix was delivered in passenger transport configuration, with seating for 273 people.There is little to distinguish the Phénix from a civilian A330 on the inside. The seats provided by Zodiac do not feature In flight Entertainment (IFE) systems, but the seat pitch is more generous than on many airlines. In the cabin, there are some specific features requested by the DGA and the French AF.A pallet with an oxygen cylinder system in the event of depressurisation will be installed in a currently inoccupied area. France has also requested the integration of a crew rest area with six bunks for crew rest.The MRTT in standard configuration already features a rest area with two bunks located near the cockpit. Multiple test flights have been carried out to enable the DGA to verify the technical performance of the Phénix, in accordance with standard practice. More unusually, the French AF

was also able to test the aircraft before it was delivered. In July 2018, the aircraft was handed over to aviators in Istres to perform a typical mission from A to Z. The mission included inflight transfer of 14 tonnes of fuel and 10 contacts with fighter aircraft.This operational evaluation also made it possible to run a full-scale test of the mission system. SUPPORT.

The aircraft support system was also tested.Airbus will be heavily involved in initial aircraft support until 2020 at least.The company will provide documentation, spare parts and repair services. A service at Istres will provide local technical assistance.According to Airbus, the A330 MRTT fleet worldwide has demonstrated very high availability. The manufacturer reports mission completion rates of 97% since the A330 MRTT entered service. The aircraft has already accumulated more than 165,000 flight hours.


The Phénix opens a new chapter for the French AF. Not only will it replace the aging C-135 fleet, but it will also provide new capabilities.The mission system will probably change the role of French tankers in complex missions. It is well known that inflight refuelling aircraft are in high demand in operations. If the Phénix achieves the availability rates announced by the manufacturer, it will be able to respond to requirements more comprehensively than the C-135. It should also be remembered that the A400M has an in-flight refuelling capability for fixed wing aircraft and will thus be able to assist the Phénix in this role.With these two aircraft, the French AF's air-to-air refuelling capabilities will, therefore, increase significantly. The arrival of the MRTT also corresponds to an increase in transport capacity, which has already seen a step change with the arrival of the A400M. ■ Reporting from Madrid Emmanuel Huberdeau

N° 5


INT005_031_033.qxp_Mise en page 1 20/12/2018 15:44 Page31




PRIORITY” When will the upgraded ATL2 be operational with the French Navy? IQualification should be obtained in 2019. If the upgrades carried out by the manufacturer are completed on schedule and once the first five crews have completed training at the CEPA test centre, an initial operational capability could, therefore, be declared at the end of 2020. Final commissioning is scheduled for the end of 2021 (three upgraded aircraft). One of the positive aspects of the new multi-year defence spending bill (LPM) is the increases from 15 to 18 aircraft, which will make it possible to satisfy the multiple operational demands being made on the ATL2 is subjected.The operational pace continues to accelerate with the increase in subsurface activity. Have you finalised the main characteristics of the ATL2 replacement? No, they are still under study. They are likely to include some of the key features of the ATL2. In addition to a payload capacity compatible with the equipment and weapons that are essential for combat missions, the future maritime patrol aircraft will require low-altitude manoeuvrability, resistance to the saline environment and multi-role capabilities. In view of the increase in subsurface activity (both large and small navies are acquiring subsurface systems), particular attention will be paid to the overall



N° 5



INT005_031_033.qxp_Mise en page 1 20/12/2018 15:45 Page32


What is the service life of the Falcon 50 and Gardian? The Gardian, which the French Navy is the last in the world to operate, will likely be retired from service in the 2025 timeframe.The Falcon 50 will probably follow by 2030. By these dates, these fleets will have reached an average age of more than 40 and almost 50 years, respectively. Despite the loyal services currently provided by these aircraft on the maritime approaches to mainland France and overseas, their military capabilities have reached their limits, including inadequate connectivity and insufficient information-processing capabilities.As primary detectors of threats and crises at sea, our maritime surveillance aircraft must in future fully contribute to information superiority and the acceleration of decision-making processes through increased detection and very long-range communication capabilities. Has the French Navy defined its need for future maritime surveillance and intervention aircraft or systems to replace the Falcons? The replacement of the Falcons (Gardian-Falcon 200 and Falcon 50) is covered by the Avsimar programme, the architecture of which is currently being defined. To meet its operational contract, the Navy has set forth a requirement for 13 aircraft to carry out intervention missions in particular.These 13 aircraft correspond to the current fleet. But this only covers 70% of the operational contract for maritime surveillance and intervention.



performance of the system in this area. It will also have to meet the requirement for (secure) connectivity in today's fleets, operating within multinational air and naval forces, and be designed to accommodate future upgrades, like all tomorrow's aviation platforms.

“THE INTEGRATION OF THE CAMCOPTER ON THE BPC AMPHIBIOUS ASSAULT SHIP IS IN PROGRESS” Additional capacity is therefore required. An initial phase has been validated for the acquisition of seven Dassault Falcon 2000class jets and a second tranche will be decided shortly. Studies are underway to supplement these jets with manned or unmanned systems that have yet to be defined, in order to meet the operational contract.The French

Navy is involved in particular in the Male UE studies. We have indicated to what extent and with what equipment this Male platform could provide the supplementary capacity, but other solutions could also be explored (HF radars, balloons...). What will be the specific features of the HIL


helicopter in its naval version? Have you already selected the weapons for this platform? The HIL will be a “navalised” helicopter, designed for modern maritime combat — both in the conventional anti-surface role and in the fight against maritime trafficking, piracy and any other asymmetric confrontation. It must be able to operate in both permissive and non-permissive environments, which requires high-performance sensors (radar, ESM, optronics), up-to-date transmission and connectivity systems, and effective self-protection. It will be the French Navy's combat helicopter, deployed or deployable in all crisis or surveillance zones. It will be equipped with the ANL light anti-ship missile, as well as more conventional door-mounted weapons. It will combine high technology with robustness and resilience. It will be designed to accommodate future upgrades — an essential feature if it is to be a real platform for innovation. It should be able to readily integrate new equipment during its lifetime. The Navy will also pay close attention to controlling the financial and HR costs associated with maintenance and downtime.That is why the Navy, along with the CEPA 10S test centre, is already actively involved in industrial studies on the subject, and is seeking to rapidly integrate — by 2020 — the HIL's civil variant, the H160, into the interim fleet.This interim fleet, although it will comprise machines that are much less efficient in terms of operational equipment than the future HIL, is vital to enable the Navy to fulfil its operational contract, pending the arrival of the HIL, scheduled for 2028. What is the status of studies on the future aircraft carrier? The aircraft carrier capability, a crucial element in our defence system, is a key issue. Government

N° 5


INT005_031_033.qxp_Mise en page 1 20/12/2018 15:45 Page33


What is the involvement of the French Navy in the VSR700 programme at this stage? What progress has been made on integrating the Camcopter on the BPCs? The SDAM rotary wing UAV system, developed on the basis of the VSR700, is a priority for the French Navy.This will be a multi-sensor platform, supporting naval air operations from surface vessels alongside manned air assets.We would, therefore, like to be able to seize any opportunity to have an initial operational capability as soon as possible.The integration of the Camcopter (Schiebel S100) on the BPC amphibious assault ship is in progress.Work is ongoing and experiments conducted on successive increments are promising. We are aiming for initial operational capability (IOC) of this system on the BPC in 2019. The development of this limited interim capability (single sensor) is an essential step in preparing the French Navy for the arrival of the SDAM, and UAVs in general on all our vessels.The aim is to adapt our organisation, build a pool of skilled human resources, and prepare for future combined operations between UAVs, ships and the Navy's manned aircraft. Have you identified any other requirements in terms of UAVs, particularly fixed-wing platforms? The French Navy is a late-comer among users of unmanned platforms, especially UAVs, but we are resolute in our determination. Navy commandos already use many mini- and micro-drones in support of special operations. Studies are underway for the development of different types of fixedwing UAVs. I have already mentioned the MALE, which could complement the manned Avsimar fleet.At the top of the spectrum, the UCAV (Unmanned Combat AirVehicle) could be one of the components of the SCAF future combat air system operating from the new generation aircraft carrier alongside fighters. It would contribute to the initial entry capability in a non-permissive environment. Finally, much closer to home,


N° 5


the Minidrones for the Navy (SMD-M) system is eagerly awaited by small vessels that will not be equipped with SDAM. Though its capabilities will be more limited, it will nevertheless make it possible to see beyond the horizon, to obtain confirmation, to avoid detours, to guide a customer approach, to bring back evidence through images... Experiments have already taken place and will continue, and we are aiming for an initial shipborne capability with this type of UAV by 2020. What changes do you expect with the arrival of the MM-40 Block 3C? In the first place, compared to the MM40 Block 3, the MM40 Block 3C missile features a new coherent seeker.The latter offers increased resistance to the most modern electronic countermeasures. It also makes it possible to better discriminate the selected target, especially in coastal environments.

confirmed the need to be able to operate in a hostile military environment and the importance of perfecting interoperability, both between the different forces and with our allies. As for Barracuda, the integration of the MDCN has been planned since the beginning of the programme and the first firing should be carried out during the tests planned from mid-2020 onards. Are there plans to upgrade the Aster? What are the ambitions of the French Navy in terms of ballistic missile defence? Since the emergence of the anti-ship missile threat, the French Navy's ambition has been to ensure the appropriate level of defence to guarantee its freedom of action.The missile threat against surface vessels is rapidly evolving. Performance in terms of speed, manoeuvrability and discrimination is increasing and dissemination is widespread.The Aster family was launched to meet this threat, and since


agencies are already working on the future aircraft carrier.As with any programme, initial studies are essential to define the main parameters that will guide subsequent studies and the ship's design. Tomorrow's nava air arm, composed of Rafale, Scaf and ultimately combat drones, will be at the heart of the discussions.

The Dauphin will be replaced by the HIL.

Finally, the MM40 Block 3C offers significantly increased range and a reduced maintenance cycle.This missile, therefore, makes it possible to keep this key capability of the French Navy up to date, pending the arrival of the future anti-ship missile. What feedback have you had from the first operational employment of the MDCN? What is the status of integration work on the Barracuda nuclear attack submarines? In April, France used its new long-range strike capability from a naval platform, a multi-mission frigate, for the first time in operations.We are now one of a very limited number of navies with this type of capability. A significant amount of feedback has naturally been generated by this operation, which achieved all its objectives. In particular, it

its introduction on the Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier in the early 2000s, it has evolved to maintain this freedom of action. It will continue to evolve in the future.This family is currently composed of the Aster 15 and Aster 30.The Horizon frigates, the last two Fremm frigates, and eventually the Fremm DA and FTI will use, or will be capable of using, the Aster 30. Its successor, the Aster 30 B1NT, will have extensive capabilities against all the most advanced current and future anti-ship threats, but also against theatre ballistic missiles.To ensure the necessary protection of its forces against future threats, the French Navy has requested that these missiles be installed on air defence frigates.Their upcoming modernisation is of major importance to guarantee their full capability to counter tomorrow's threats. . â– Interview by Emmanuel Huberdeau


INT005_034_035.qxp_Mise en page 1 20/12/2018 15:48 Page34


NETWORKING THE BATTLESPACE Airbus Defence & spAce testeD A key component of its nfts (network for the sky) secure militAry communicAtion system in cAnADA lAst summer. Airbus sees nfts As the founDAtion for the connecteD Airborne bAttlespAce AnD the bAsis for europe's future combAt Air system (fcAs).

his summer, a strange procession could be seen making its way across the Canadian countryside.Two four-wheeldrive vehicles and two mini-drones tracked a stratospheric balloon for 200km through uninhabited areas of northern Canada.The objective was to demonstrate the validity of a key component of the Airbus Network for the Sky (NFTS) airborne communication system. The balloon, flying at altitudes up to 21km, was equipped with a Long Term Evolution (LTE) AirNode developed by Airbus — a system for connecting devices with no satellite communications capability to a broadband network. The system functions like a cell phone relay station, enabling high-speed communication using off-the-shelf terminals. The AirNode-equipped balloon created a communication cell with a radius of more than 30km. In order to demonstrate the data rates obtained, 4K video was exchanged between the different assets — simulating an intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance (ISR) mission with real-time transmission.The data was sent via a private network at speeds from 0.5 to 4 Mbps, which is comparable to 4G/5G mobile communication. For Airbus Defence & Space, and its Communication, Intelligence & Security branch (Airbus DS CIS) in particular, these tests represented an initial step. Additional tests are expected to take place in late 2018 or early 2019, this time on board the Airbus A310 MRTT test bed.The aircraft will be equipped with the Janus satellite dish — an agile triband antenna (military and commercial Ka bands, plus Ku band).The antenna is capable of switching in mid-flight from one satellite beam to another and can work with civilian satellites.The Janus antenna was originally developed for use on high-speed trains.


Stratospheric balloon



Ground vehicles

Communication cell

NFTS system components tested by Airbus last summer. AIRBUS



N° 5


INT005_034_035.qxp_Mise en page 1 20/12/2018 15:48 Page35

DEFENCE The test aims to demonstrate that the MRTT can be used as a relay between one or more telecommunications satellites and other aircraft using UHF or a data link. For example, a combat aircraft could communicate directly with a command centre several thousand kilometres away. The systems currently used on board fighter aircraft are low throughput and not very secure. Airbus is developing the NFTS system to lay the foundation for the connected airborne battlespace. Networking of platforms and sensors will be a key feature of the future combat air system (FCAS) that France and Germany plan to develop together. This system of systems will involve drones, combat aircraft, transport aircraft, airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) aircraft and ground stations.All these systems must be perfectly connected within an agile and secure network. For the first time, commu-

nications will play a key role in a weapon system programme. Airbus hopes that its NFTS system — part of Airbus’ Future Air Power project — can serve as a basis for the FCAS network. Other programmes will also be involved, such as the Maritime Airborne Warfare System (MAWS), a Franco-German project to develop a replacement for the P-3 and ATL2 maritime patrol aircraft by a system of systems including a new platform connected to drones but also to naval vessels. CONNECTIVITY LIMITS.

Jean-Philippe Scherer, head of future telecommunications programmes at Airbus DS CIS, explains that current fighter aircraft have limited connectivity. Only Medium Altitude, Long Endurance (MALE) drones feature satellite antennas allowing highspeed links. Secure, high-speed communications depend on

two components — embedded equipment and the overall communication network. For embedded equipment, antenna size remains a limiting factor for integration on smaller platforms.That is why Airbus is considering integrating the Janus antenna on the MRTT, an aircraft with plenty of available space. It is also necessary to have a platform with good endurance and sufficient power generating capacity. The installation of satellite antennas on helicopters is also complex, due to vibrations and interference generated by the rotor. One idea, therefore, would be to fit the satellite antenna onto a relay platform, which could then be connected to the other platforms. For Airbus, the Zephyr stratospheric vehicle could be a suitable platform for this relay role. Two modes of communication are being considered to connect the platforms.The AirNode was tested this summer

Airbus tests manned-unmanned teaming


element contributing to these successful flights, Airbus notes, was the advanced flight control and flight management system developed by Airbus for unmanned air vehicles – which combines fully automatic guidance, navigation and control with intelligent swarming capabilities. manned-unmanned teaming is expected to increase the mission efficiency of future airborne systems in several ways.


gainst the background of the nascent future combat Air system (fcAs) programme, Airbus conducted trials in september to demonstrate what it sees as an important force multiplier — the ability to control unmanned systems from a manned aircraft, or “manned-unmanned teaming” (mut). the trials included demonstrations with five Do-Dt25 target drones controlled by a mission group commander who was airborne in a business jet acting as a manned command and control (c2) aircraft. According to Airbus, the mut trial flights served multiple purposes, including validating such elements as connectivity, human-machine interface, and the concept of teaming intelligence through mission group management. A key

with good results. Point-topoint communication or AirLink is another possibility. AirLink establishes a direct, powerful link between two aircraft, e.g. using a laser. The Airbus SpaceDataHighway has demonstrated the use of a laser to connect satellites via a geostationary relay.The system is very efficient and secure, allows very high flow rates and is difficult to scramble or intercept. One drawback is the fact that the laser signal cannot pass through clouds. It would therefore have to be complemented by another system for operation in inclement weather.The technology is very promising, according to Scherer, though it is not yet available to connect two aircraft. Further advances are also expected with the development of active antennas. The integration of communication systems will have an impact, in particular, on the design of the future fighter aircraft under the FCAS programme. Dassault Aviation will have the lead role on this aircraft.The size and cost of combat aircraft are traditionally determined by their engines, weapons and sensors. Communication systems are likely to play an increasingly important role in the next generation of fighters.They are also likely to represent an increasing share of their total cost. Alongside these individual embedded systems, however, an overarching approach is needed to optimise data rates across the network and allocate them according to needs.This task could be performed by operators located in a control centre, supported by decision-making tools. This control centre would also be responsible for network protection. Network security will be a major issue, Scherer underlines. Multiple layers of protection are planned.The system is likely to rely extensively on Software Defined Networking (SDN) technology. This will allow for simpler, real-time reconfiguration and will facilitate both network upgrades and maintenance. ■ Emmanuel Huberdeau


N° 5



INT005_036_037 OK OK.qxp_Mise en page 1 20/12/2018 16:51 Page36





new sound has been echoing around French Air Force Base 709 in Cognac in recent weeks. It is coming from the PT68B turboprop engines of the French AF’s first Pilatus PC-21 training aircraft. Since the end of August, the aircraft have been arriving in at the Cognac base at a rate of two aircraft every fortnight. In total, 17 aircraft will be based in Cognac. They will be dedicated to training future fighter pilots and weapon systems operators of the French Air Force and French Navy. When we visited the base in early October, Cognac had received six PC-21s. Initially, pilots from the aircraft manufacturer and the French defence procurement agency (DGA) were responsible for ferrying the aircraft and conducting acceptance tests, respectively. In recent weeks, French AF pilots have also been able to take the controls of the newcomer.

A 36


Although the aircraft have received a French AF livery, they do not yet belong to the French State. Babcock will retain ownership of the aircraft until 2022, supplying them to the French AF under a leasing contract. In addition, under a €500m 10-year contract awarded to the British group, Babcock will also provide aircraft support with its own mechanics in a renovated hangar.The group has also constructed a new building to house the PC-21 simulators, which were also included in the contract. There are currently five simulators, though the French ministry of the armed forces has options to to order additional units. They include two full mission system (FMS) simulators that fully recreate a PC-21 cockpit and immerse the trainee in an almost 360° virtual world.There are also three Part Task Trainers (PTTs) on which avionics is simulated on the screen, but all the other cockpit equipment is physically reproduced.Trainees

will also be able to familiarise themselves with the PC-21 via software used on conventional PCs (Computer Based Training).All these simulators can be connected. Either to allow two trainees to fly on the same aircraft, or to virtually reproduce flights with several aircraft. Though Pilatus offers its own simulators, Babcock opted for Canada’s CAE, one of the world’s leading simulator suppliers. CAE had not previously offered a PC-21 simulator and has, therefore, developed a new system to meet French AF requirements.The company proposed a solution corresponding to the specifications within 15 months.These simulators will play a major role in the training programme.Trainees will perform 80 hours of simulator training, i.e. 40% of total training during their time at the Cognac base. EMBEDDED SIMULATION.

Simulation will also be used in flight.This is one of the advantages of the PC-21.The aircraft is not equipped with radar or weapons, but these systems can be simulated on the cockpit displays.This will allow trainees to


N° 5


INT005_036_037 OK OK.qxp_Mise en page 1 20/12/2018 16:51 Page37

DEFENCE Pilatus PC-21 by the numbers

PC-21 (left) in formation with a Rafale (top) and an Alpha Jet.

familiarise themselves with the use of radar and tracking a target. Thanks to data links, a radar situation received by a ground system can be transmitted in real time to the PC-21s. They will also be able to simulate weapons employment and navigation using digital maps. Overall, the PC-21's avionics match that of a modern fighter aircraft with three displays and a head-up display (HUD). Even though the cockpit is not identical to that of the Rafale or Mirage 2000, it follows the same logic and will prepare students much better for their future weapon systems than the oldergeneration cockpits of the Epsilon and Alpha Jet. Pilots on modern combat aircraft spend an increasing amount of time managing their systems, while also conducting their missions in increasingly complex environments.


N° 5

armée de l’air

Length Wingspan Maximum take-off weight Maximum speed Climb rate (at sea level) Flying time at cruise speed Today, for example, coalitions can involve a large number of allied aircraft with often longduration missions, such as Operation Hamilton in April 2018. And tomorrow, threats are expected to increase with the spread of anti-access/area denial (A2/AD) systems around the world. In all these cases, reaction time is a key factor. The pilot and weapon system operator must be able to quickly make sense of the mass of information available and transmit it if necessary. The role of the fighter crew has changed significantly since the Epsilon and Alpha Jet entered service. It had, therefore, become necessary to modernise the training system for tomorrow’s fighter pilots. PERFORMANCE.

However, the advent of these new systems does not change the fundamental objective of instructing trainees in basic flying skills.Trainees will have to learn to manage these systems while keeping an eye on the external environment and absorbing significant load factors.The PC21 has been designed to handle acceleration forces from +8g to –4g. The French AF was also impressed by the performance of the Pilatus aircraft. It is not as fast as an Alpha Jet but can nonetheless reach 689km/h — enough to see the ground racing by in low-altitude flight. The first instructors from the combat aircraft community already seem to appreciate the aircraft's capabilities. In spite of its turboprop propulsion, the PC21 reportedly offers jet-like capabilities. The ejection seat, gsuit trousers, and on-board


11.22m 9.11m 3,100kg 689km/h 1,295m/min 2 h 20 oxygen generation system will also help to familiarise student pilots with the environment they will find on their future fighter. Babcock has committed to providing 11,000 flight hours per year.This target will have to be achieved with just seventeen PC-21s, compared to the 32 Epsilons and 24 Alpha Jets currently in use.According to the French AF, a PC-21 will be able to generate twice as many flying hours per year as an Alpha Jet — and at a lower overall cost, since the PC-21 will reportedly cost about one-fifth as much to fly as the Alpha Jet. RADICAL REFORM.

The arrival of the PC-21 and the accompanying simulators will enable the French AF to radically reform its fighter pilot training curriculum. Currently, fighter pilots are trained in four phases. In Salon-de-Provence, the basic training is carried out on the Cirrus SR-20, the trainees then move to Cognac to fly on the Grob-120.This is when they are separated into two streams — transport aircraft or fighters. The future transport aircraft pilots continue their training on the Xingu in Avord, while the future fighter pilots remain in Cognac on the TB30 Epsilon.They then carry out a third, specialisation phase at Tours on the Alpha Jet. Training is completed in Cazaux on the upgraded Alpha Jet at the Advanced Jet Training School, where student pilots undergo operational conversion to prepare them for their frontline aircraft. With the introduction of the PC-21, phases 2 and 3 in Cognac and Tours on Epsilon and Alpha Jet will be merged. The use of

the same aircraft will save time. Students will continue to complete their training on the Alpha Jet at Cazaux.The latter aircraft can be used to practise dummy bomb launches and to get used to the speed of a fighter aircraft. The Alpha Jet is cleared to remain in service until the 2030s, especially since it will be possible to cannibalise part of the fleet for spares. Once the Alpha Jet has been withdrawn from service, the French AF will need a new solution for the operational conversion phase. It will take a closer look at courses set up by other PC-21 users.Australia and Switzerland, for example, transition their pilots directly from the PC-21 to the F-18. Singapore, another PC-21 user, continues to train its pilots on the M346 before conversion to frontline aircraft. Clearly, this would be a more costly solution, requiring procurement of a new jet trainer to replace the Alpha Jet.The French AF will also carefully review its own experience with the PC-21 and its revised training syllabus before making a decision. The U.S. Air Force recently selected the Boeing/Saab T-X to replace the T-38 as its training jet. 40 PILOTS PER YEAR.

The first student pilots are scheduled to start training on the PC-21 in May 2019. To date, eight instructor-trainers are ready to prepare future instructors, and eight simulator instructors have undergone training.The French AF aims to have 25 instructors by 2019. Their mission will be to train 30 future Air Force pilots, ten Navy pilots and ten weapon system operators per year. The 1/13 Artois and 2/12 Picardie flight training squadrons will be responsible for performing this training mission at the General Jarry Flight School.The transition from the Epsilon and Alpha Jet to the PC-21 will be gradual. Tours air base will definitively terminate Alpha Jet operations in 2020. ■ Emmanuel Huberdeau


INT005_038_041 OK.qxp_Mise en page 1 20/12/2018 15:57 Page40




irmly established at the top of the space launch podium since July, with an average of three launches per month, China added four more successful missions to its impressive track record in October, placing 11 payloads (including twoYaogan early warning satellites and seven nanosatellites) in low orbit, and adding two new platforms to the BeiDou 3 navigation satellite constellation in medium Earth orbit. The most noteworthy mission was undoubtedly CFOSat (China-France Oceanography Satellite), the first satellite deve-



loped by China in cooperation with a foreign partner — in this case France. On this occasion, a French delegation was invited for the first time to the Jiuquan base in Inner Mongolia to witness the launch (see page 42). The inaugural launch attempt of the solid propellant microlauncher ZQ1 (ZhuQue1) two days earlier, also caught the limelight. It was the first time that a privately owned Chinese company, LandSpace (created in 2015), had been authorised to conduct an orbital mission. The launch was carried out from a mobile platform installed within the Jiuquan base, but ended in failure, following a problem with the third stage.

VA 245 was Ariane 5’s 101st mission.


N° 5


INT005_038_041 OK.qxp_Mise en page 1 20/12/2018 15:57 Page41


Though this was the first Chinese in-flight failure of the year, it does not involve the Long March family, which is approaching a cumulative total of 290 launches, all models combined. A new flight of the ZQ 1 has already been announced for 2019. By the end of October, China had four more successful orbital missions than its American rival. In the U.S., Space X and ULA each carried out one mission. For its 17th mission of the year, SpaceX placed Argentina's Saocom 1A Earth observation satellite into sun-synchronous orbit, reusing a first stage of the Falcon 9 for the 16th time (75 days after the launch of the 7th batch of Iridium Next satellites on 25th July). The first stage was again recovered, for the first time on land, in the 30th successful first stage recovery since December 2015, out of 36 attempts.

United Launch Alliance, meanwhile, completed its 8th mission of the year, sending the AEHF 4 telecommunications satellite for the US Air Force into geostationary transfer orbit using an Atlas 5. NEAR-CATASTROPHE.

On 11th October, for the first time in 35 years, a Russian manned space flight was aborted in the propulsion phase — 123 seconds into the flight, after separation of the launch escape system tower and first stage boosters, the automatic rescue system carrying the Soyuz MS 10 capsule was activated.The two-man crew, Russia's Alexei Ovchinin and the American Nick Hague, were preparing to fly to the International Space Station in express mode (six-hour flight). They made an emergency return to Earth in ballistic mode, expe-

Launch activity, 1st January to 31st October India : 4 (4.8%) Japan :


New Zeland/United-States : 1 (1.2%)


Europe : 6 (7.1%)


China : (35.7%)

Russia : 11 (13%) United-States :



84 successful launches out of 86 attempts* * Including Falcon 9 F47, Ariane 5 VA 241 and GSLV F08


Payload Weight

Mission Target orbit

Launch vehicle Flight number

Site Launch pad

7 Sept. 3:15

HY 1C (HaiYang 1C) 442kg

Oceanography LEO

Long March 2C N° 29 (284th Long March)

Taiyuan LC-9

10 Sept.-4:45 29th first stage recovery

Telstar 18V/Apstar-5C 7,060kg

Communications GEO

Falcon 9 Full Thrust (v1.2/Block 5) N° 41 (61st Falcon 9)

Cape Canaveral SLC-40

15 Sept. 13:02

Icesat 2 - 1,387kg 4 cubesats - 1-4kg

Laser altimetry - LEO Technology - LEO

Delta 7420 10C (Delta 2) N° 14 (381th Delta)

Vandenberg SLC-2W

16 Sept. 16:37

SSTL S1-4 - 447kg NovaSAR S - 430kg

Earth observation - LEO Earth observation - LEO

PSLV CA N° 12 (44th PSLV)

Sriharikota N° 1 (FLP)

19 Sept. 14:07

BD 3 M13 and M14 (BeiDou 37 and 38)-2 × 1,060kg

Navigation MEO

Long March 3B/YZ 1 N° 8 (285th Long March)

Xichang LC-3

22 Sept. - 17:52

HTV 7 (Kounotori 7) - 16,500kg

ISS resupply (LEO)



Deployed later 25 Sept. 22:38

3 cubesats - 1-2kg Azerspace 2/Intelsat 38 - 3,500kg Horizons 3e - 6,400kg

Technology LEO Communications, GSO Communications, GSO

N° 7 (53rd H2) Ariane 5 ECA N° 67 (100th Ariane 5)-VA 243

YLP-2 Guyana Space Centre - ELA-3


29 Sept. Centispace-1 S1 (Xiangrikui 1) Navigation Kuaizhou 1A (KZ 1A) Jiuquan 4:13 97kg SSO N° 2 SLS-E1 LEO (Low Earth Orbit); SSO (Sun-Synchronous Orbit); MEO (Medium Earth Orbit); GEO (Geostationary Earth Orbit); IGSO (Inclined Geosynchronous Orbit); HEO (High Earth Orbit); ; N/A not available.


N° 5



INT005_038_041 OK.qxp_Mise en page 1 20/12/2018 15:57 Page42


ATV 7 docks with the ISS on 27th September. riencing loads up to 6.7 g before finally landing safely about 400km northeast of Baikonur, 19 minutes after lift-off. The incident was attributed to the faulty installation of a separation sensor on one of the launcher's lateral boosters. The Soyuz (version 2.1b) was back in flight just two weeks later, deploying a new Lotos electronic intelligence satellite for Russian nuclear deterrence. October was also marked by the launch of the BepiColombo mission to the planet Mercury on an Ariane 5 (see page 44). The European-Japanese probe is scheduled to reach its target in December 2025. At the end of the month, Japan launched the second Greenhouse Gases Observing Satellite (GOSat), dedicated to the study of greenhouse gases, nearly ten years after the launch of the first platform in the series, which was the first


in the world to measure carbon dioxide and methane concentrations in the Earth's atmosphere from space (at more than 56,000 points). As of 31st October, there had been 84 successful orbital missions since the beginning of the year (including Falcon 9 F47,Ariane 5VA 241 and GSLV F08 flights), compared with 85 for the entire year in 2017, which was the best year since 2015.The 100-launch milestone should be achieved by the beginning of December, which has not happened since... 1990 (when there were 114 successful launches out of 121 attempts). EIGHT LAUNCHES IN SEPTEMBER.

In September, China performed three launches (compared to two in the U.S.), bringing the Chinese total since 1st January to 26 (compared to 24 in the United States).

Chinese officials attending the International Astronautical Congress in Bremen predicted that the year would end with... 47 launches (compared to probably 35 in the U.S.). The first Chinese launch in September involved the third satellite of the HaiYang (Ocean) family, inaugurated in May 2002 with HY 1A, and completed in April 2007 with HY 1B (whose lifetime was three years). Developed by DFH, a subsidiary of the Chinese Academy of Space Technology (Cast), these satellites monitor ocean pollution, identify resources or assist in coastal zone management by observing ocean colours and temperature. After CFOSat in October, two other oceanographic satellites focusing on wave and wind dynamics (HY 2B and HY 2D) are due to be launched over the next twelve months.


For the HY 1C mission, the Long March 2C payload fairing was equipped with the experimental Guiyan 1 system, designed for controlled recovery of the fairing using a parafoil parachute. The system was reportedly designed and assembled in just two months, using off-the-shelf components.Apparently the test was not totally conclusive, but validated the manoeuvrability of the parachute. Further tests are planned, possibly including recovery attempts similar to those of SpaceX with its Mister Steven boat, preparing the way for re-use of components. The second Chinese mission deployed a new pair of thirdgeneration BeiDou positioning satellites into medium Earth orbit, as the constellation moves towards full operation in 2020.This was the sixth batch deployed this year, but probably the first to carry SAR (Search And Rescue)

N° 5


INT005_038_041 OK.qxp_Mise en page 1 20/12/2018 15:57 Page43

SPACE payloads, similar to those of the European Galileo system. Also in September, ExPace, a private company operating as a subsidiary of China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation (Casic), made its second commercial launch using the Kuaizhou 1A solid-fuel microlauncher. It carried the small Centispace-1 S1 demonstrator (97kg) intended to validate a GNSS navigation upgrade developed by Beijing Future Navigation Technology.

only one failure and one partial failure. On its final mission, the former U.S. workhorse carried NASA's $1bn Ice, Cloud, and land Elevation Satellite (Icesat 2), designed to measure the height of glaciers, sea ice, forests and lakes — including the ice sheets of Greenland and Antarctica.. It was accompanied by four technological cubesats. SpaceX launched the Canadian telecommunications satellite Telstar 18V/Apstar-5C, a quasitwin brother of Telstar 19V, launched on 22nd July.The mission also saw another first stage recovery, the 18th on a barge at sea. But, as in August, the Californian operator only made one launch, and is not expected to perform two launches in a single month until November.


On the U.S. side, September was marked by the final flight of the United Launch Alliance Delta 2, the most widely used U.S. launcher to date: 155 launches since February 1989, including

On 16th September, India performed its first launch since the flight of a PSLV XL vehicle in April.The latter mission followed the loss of the GSat 6A communications satellite on 31st March, two days after launch on a GSLV launcher. For the September mission, a PSLV CA (Core Alone), i.e. without the six strap-on boosters, was used to launch two reconnaissance satellites, NovaSAR S and SSTL S1-4, for the British government. It was the first PSLV CA mission since December 2015. After several weather-related postponements, resulting in an eight-day delay, Japan was finally able to fly its seventh HTV supply ship to the International Space Station on 22nd September, 21

months after HTV 6.The launch was carried out using the H2B304, the most powerful Japanese launcher currently available (16.5 t into low Earth orbit). Docking occurred almost five days later, using the ISS robotic arm. HTV 7 carried six new lithium-ion batteries. Finally, on 25th September, Europe celebrated the 100th launch of an Ariane 5, which successfully completed a dual mission for U.S. telecommunications operator Intelsat. The suspense lasted until the very last second, as the failure of a ground radar led to a 30-minute hold, with one minute of the countdown remaining. Lift-off finally occurred at the very end of the launch window. . ■ Pierre-François Mouriaux

LAUNCHES WORLDWIDE, OCTOBER 2018 Date Time (UTC) 8th Oct. 2:21 16th re-use of first stage 30th recovery of first stage 9th Oct. 2:43 11th Oct. 8:40 15th Oct. 4:23 17th Oct. 4:15 20th Oct. 1:45 24th Oct. 22:57 25th Oct. 0:15 27th Oct. 8:00 29th Oct. 0:43 29th Oct. 4:08

Payload Weight Saocom 1A ~ 1,600kg

Mission Target orbit Observation SSO

Launch vehicle Flight number Falcon 9 Full Thrust (v1.2/Block 5) N° 42 (62th Falcon 9)

Site Launch pad Vandenberg SLC-4E


Yaogan 32 A and B Sigint/Early warning Long March 2C/YC-1S Jiuquan ? LEO N° 1 (286th Longue Marche) SLS-2 Soyouz MS 10/56S ISS Soyuz FG Baikonur 7,200kg LEO N° 55 (1,831th R7) LC-1/5 BD 3 M15, M16 (BeiDou 39, 40) Navigation Long March 3B/YZ 1 Xichang 2 × 1,060kg MEO N° 9 (287th Long March) LC-3 AEHF 4 (USA 288) Military communications Atlas 5 (551) Cape Canaveral 6,168kg GSO N° 9 (78th Atlas 5) SLC-41 BepiColombo Planetology Ariane 5 ECA Guyana Space Centre 4,074kg Orbit around Mercury N° 68 (101th Ariane 5)-VA 245 ELA-3 HY 1C (HaiYang 1C) Oceanography Long March 4B Taiyuan 442kg LEO N° 31 (288th Long March) LC-9 Lotos S1-3/804 (Cosmos 2528) Elint Soyuz 2.1b Plessetsk N/A LEO N° 9 (1,832th R7) LC-43/4 Weilai 1 (Futur 1) Technology, observation ZQ 1 (Zu Que 1) Jiuquan ~ 40kg LEO N° 1 Mobile pad CFOSat, ~ 650kg Oceanography; SSO Long March 2C/Y22 Jiuquan 7 nanosatellites, 2-8kg Technology, SSO N° 30 (289th Long March) SLS-2 AUTcube 2 (Gamacube), 1.6kg Technology, SSO H2A-202 Tanegashima Gosat 2 (Ibuki 2), 1,800kg Earth observation, SSO N° 26 (40th H2A) YLP-1 KhalifaSat (DubaiSat 3), 330kg Earth observation, SSO Ten-Koh, 22kg Technology Diwata 2, 56kg Earth observation, SSO Stars AO (Aoi), 1kg Amateur radio, SSO LEO (Low Earth Orbit); SSO (Sun-Synchronous Orbit); MEO (Medium Earth Orbit); GEO (Geostationary Earth Orbit); IGSO (Inclined Geosynchronous Orbit); HEO (High Earth Orbit); ; N/A not available.


N° 5



INT005_042_043.qxp_Mise en page 1 20/12/2018 16:01 Page42






The China-FranCe OCeanOgraphy saTelliTe (CFOsaT) was plaCed in sun-synChrOnOus OrbiT On 29Th OCTOber by a Chinese lOng MarCh launCher. a FrenCh delegaTiOn was inviTed TO aTTend The launCh OF This hisTOriC COOperaTive MissiOn.

The China-France Oceanography Satellite (CFOSat, above) was launched on 29th October on a Chinese Long March rocket (right). eveloped jointly by France's CNES space agency and the China National Space Administration (CNSA), the China-France Oceanography Satellite (CFOSat) project was initiated in Beijing in March 2007, 10 years after the first Franco-Chinese agreement on cooperation in the study and peaceful use of outer space was signed. The objective of the CFOSat mission is to improve our knowledge of the characteristics of the ocean surface and their impact

D 42

on atmosphere-ocean interactions, which play a major role in the climate system. To do this, the satellite (weighing about 650kg) carries two scatterometers — radar instruments capable of measuring wave height or wind strength from orbit. The first scatterometer, called SWIM (Surface Waves Investigation and Monitoring), is designed to monitor wave length, height and direction. It was designed by two French laboratories attached to the CNRS, the LATMOS atmospheres, environments and space observations laboratory in Paris and Guyancourt, and the LOPS physical and

spatial oceanography laboratory, with support from the French institute of marine research and exploration (IFREMER) and the French national weather service, Météo-France.The instrument was developed in Toulouse by Thales Alenia Space with oversight and funding from CNES. The second scatterometer, SCAT (wind Scatterometer), is designed to measure the intensity and direction of the winds. It was supplied by China. The simultaneous acquisition of wind and wave measurements by the two instruments constitutes a scientific first. The mission is scheduled to last for at


N° 5


INT005_042_043.qxp_Mise en page 1 20/12/2018 16:01 Page43


Jiuquan welcomes French delegation for CFOSat launch or the first time, a French delegation was present in Jiuquan for the launch of CFOsat on 29th October. The delegation was hosted by wu yanhua, viceadministrator of the Cnsa. Jean-yves le gall was accompanied by Jean-Marc lacave, president of Météo France, Marieanne Clair, director of Orbital systems at Cnes, Juliette lambin, head of the earth Observation programme, and pascale ultré-guérard, deputy director of international programmes and Quality. after


the launch, le gall also met with Zhang Kejian, administrator of the Chinese space agency since 24th May. “it is an historic launch,” says le gall. “This is the first time that China has cooperated with another space power on the launch of a satellite. This launch is part of the joint Franco-Chinese effort to study climate change. president emmanuel Macron wrote a letter to his counterpart Xi Jinping about this, which i read out on the launch pad.”

French and Chinese officials witnessed the CFOSat launch from Jiuquan.

least three years. The satellite was jointly developed by France and China, based on the Chinese Cast 2000 platform provided by DFH Satellite Corp. Mission control is performed by the Xi'an centre in northeastern China, but each instrument will be tasked and monitored from a reference centre, at theToulouse Space Centre for SWIM, and in Beijing for SCAT. After about one month of instrument checkout, scientific data collection will begin via two French ground stations, based in Canada and Sweden, and three stations in China. In France, after six to seven months of validation, the data will be available to the entire scientific community as part of the Space Climate Observatory, launched


N° 5


in December 2017. As well as generating new insights into ocean-atmosphere interactions, the data will allow scientists to achieve more accurate ocean forecasts and give earlier warning of severe weather events like storms and cyclones. CFOSat was placed in orbit on 29th October using a Chinese Long March 2C/Y22 launcher, 12 minutes after liftoff from the Jiuquan base in Inner Mongolia. The target orbit was 520km, at an inclination of 98°. Six technological nanosatellites from 2kg to 8kg were also deployed on the same mission, including CubeBel 1, developed by the State University of Computer Science and Radio Electronics in Minsk (Belarus).

CNES President Jean-Yves Le Gall describes CFOSat as a “unique” means to achieve a better understanding and more accurate predictions of climate phenomena between the ocean and the atmosphere, combining “French space technological innovation” with “Chinese technological knowhow”. It also gives “concrete form to the commitment of France and China to tackle climate change”, leading to “unprecedented cooperation”, reinforced by a new Memorandum of Understanding, signed on 9th January in Beijing by CNES and CNSA, in the presence of the French and Chinese heads of state, Emmanuel Macron and Xi Jinping. ” ■ Pierre-François Mouriaux


INT005_044_045.qxp_Mise en page 1 20/12/2018 16:03 Page44




MERCURY he BepiColombo mission marks the first joint project between the European Space Agency (ESA) and Jaxa, the Japanese Space Agency, as well as the first expedition to the planet Mercury for both agencies. On the ESA side, the decision dates back to 2000, as part of the Horizon 2000+ programme. But the project was redefined in 2007-2009, resulting in the decision to opt for a heavy probe (more than 4t) making operational use of electric propulsion for the first time. Mission development costs for ESA are estimated at €1.47bn. BepiColombo consists of a Mercury Transfer Module (MTM), which provides propulsion for the trip from Earth to Mercury; two separate orbiters — the European MPO (Mercury Planetary Orbiter) and the Japanese MMO (Mercury Magnetospheric Orbiter), renamed Mio (“waterway” in Japanese) following the successful launch; and a Mosif module (MMO Sunshield and Interface Structure), responsible for protecting Mio from the Sun and providing the interface between Mio and the MPO. The MTM module will be jettisoned before the probe reaches Mercury. The MPO module will then take care of orbital insertion, injection of Mio into its working orbit (590 x 11,640km) and disposal of the Mosif module, before positioning itself in its own orbit (480 x 1,500km). Airbus Defence & Space, in cooperation with Thales Alenia Space, was awarded the contract to build the transfer module, the European orbiter and the heat shield for the Japanese orbiter, as part of a consortium of 83 companies from 16 European coun-



tries. Thales Alenia Space, meanwhile, coordinated a group of 35 companies developing telecommunications, thermal control and electrical power distribution systems, managing the integration and testing of the MTM, MPO and the complete satellite up to the end of the launch campaign, and providing several key components: Deep Space Transponder in X and Ka bands for communications from deep space, radio frequency distribution system, on-board computer, mass memory, as well as the high-gain antenna (1.1m steerable parabolic antenna, derived from the antenna developed for the Cassini-Huygens mission, which explored Saturn between 1997 and 2017). On the Japanese side, the contracting authority was awarded to IT and telecommunications giant NEC. TECHNICAL CHALLENGES.

Major technical challenges included the development of materials and equipment capable of withstanding extreme solar radiation (thermal protection, radiators, antennas and pointing mechanisms), an efficient electrical propulsion system (contracted to the British company QinetiQ), and photovoltaic cells capable of generating energy under higher-than-normal temperature conditions (developed by the German manufacturer Azur Space). BepiColombo is 70% composed of new technologies and materials, such as ceramic/aluminium or titanium/ceramic alloys. Mercury interests the scientific community for its proximity to the Sun (58 million km on average, compared to 150 million km for Earth) and its potential contribution





to understanding the origin of the Solar System. Many secrets remain to be uncovered about the smallest telluric planet, which has so far been visited only by the U.S. probes Mariner 10 (between March 1974 and March 1975) and Messenger (between March 2011 and April 2015). The former mapped 45% of the planet's surface during three overflights and revealed the existence of a magnetic field (suggesting that Mercury's core has not completely cooled), an enlarged nucleus (representing 60% of its volume) and a tenuous atmosphere (exosphere). The latter completed the coverage to 99% and, before it crashed, revealed some intriguing, highly reflective structures at the bottom of certain craters.The origin of these “hollows” is not understood, but they could be linked to local volcanic activity. With eleven instruments permanently pointed towards the planet's surface (cameras, spectrometers, a radiometer, a laser altimeter and a magnetometer), the European MPO orbiter will map the entire surface of the planet and study its composition, internal processes and exosphere, as well as the waves and particles located in its immediate environment. The Japanese Mio orbiter carries five instruments (magnetometers, wave and particle spectrometers) and will focus on Mercury’s magnetic field and its magnetosphere. Under the project management of the French space agency, CNES, eight French laboratories linked to the CNRS are contributing to six of the 16 on-board scientific experiments: the Institut d’astrophysique spatiale (IAS), the Institut de physique du globe de Paris (IPGP), the Institut de recherche


N° 5


INT005_044_045.qxp_Mise en page 1 20/12/2018 16:03 Page45

SPACE en astrophysique et planétologie (IRAP), the Laboratoire d’astrophysique de Marseille (LAM), the Laboratoire atmosphères, milieux, observations spatiales (LATMOS), the Laboratoire d’études spatiales et d’instrumentation en astrophysique (LESIA), the Laboratoire de physique et chimie de l’environnement et de l’espace (LPC2E) et the Laboratoire de physique des plasmas (LPP). The LATMOS was responsible for the Phebus ultraviolet spectrometer, dedicated to the study of Mercury's exosphere. “With this more comprehensive set of instruments, we will make new discoveries, but also revisit the contributions of Messenger,” declares Dominique Delcourt, director of LPC2E. “The combination of observations from the two satellites will also allow measurements to be made in a stereoscopic manner, which was impossible at the time.”

dertaken by ESA since the Rosetta probe was launched to comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko in March 2004. The nominal mission, which will start in April 2026, is scheduled to last one year (four Mercury years). It will be possible to extend this for one additional year. Data will be processed by ESA centres in Germany (ESOC, Darmstadt) and Spain (Esac, Madrid) and by JAXA in Usuda (near Tokyo) for Mio.

The choice of the name BepiColombo is a tribute to the Italian mathematician and engineer Giuseppe "Bepi" Colombo (1920-1984). He explained the specific behaviour of Mercury (which revolves three times in exactly two revolutions around the Sun) by a new type of resonance mechanism and performed calculations suggesting that Mariner 10 be placed on an orbit including three Mercury flybys. ■ Pierre-François Mouriaux

Mio orbiter (Japan)



N° 5


Mosif sunshield

Mercury Planetary Orbiter (Europe)

Mercury Transfer Module

BepiColombo key figures


BepiColombo was launched on an Ariane 5 ECA (mission VA 245). The mission began on 20th October at 1:45 UTC from the Guyana Space Centre and lasted 26 minutes and 47 seconds. At an altitude of 10,450km, the probe was placed in a hyperbolic release orbit, with an absolute velocity of 10.99km/s (1.15km/s greater than for a geostationary transfer orbit). It was the first application of the Vulcain 2 engine flow increase (+2.25%), decided as part of the launcher performance improvement.The probe's two solar panels (each 14 m long) were then deployed and an initial radio contact with the Earth was established at 4:21 am. The distance between Earth and Mercury varies between 77 and 222 million km, but the probe has embarked on a journey of... 8.5 billion km, since celestial mechanics prevent a direct flight that would have been more economical in terms of propellant (Mercury completes one revolution around the Sun in less than 88 days and is subject to a strong force of attraction at such a close distance). The odyssey will, therefore, last more than seven years, culminating in orbital insertion around Mercury on 5th December 2025, after multiple planetary flybys — involving Earth (once, in April 2020),Venus (twice, in October 2020 and August 2021), and Mercury (six times, between October 2021 and January 2025) — and 18 revolutions around the Sun. Taking over from the chemical engines during the cruise, the four T6 ionic engines of the MTM module will be used 35 times to decelerate the probe, for a total of 700 days, sometimes operating in pairs and up to 167 days without interruption.The maximum speed of the probe will reach no less than 60km/s (7.5 times greater than the International Space Station).All in all, this is probably the most complex mission un-

Dimensions Total weight at lift-off Onboard nitrogen payload Onboard xenon payloadd Earth-Mercury travel time Distance travelled Maximum distance from Earth Number of instruments on Mio Number of instruments on MPO Nominal duration of mission in orbit around Mercury

6.3 x 3.9 x 3.6m 4 081kg 825kg 580kg 7 years 8,524 million km 240 million km 5 11 1 year


Turn static files into dynamic content formats.

Create a flipbook
Issuu converts static files into: digital portfolios, online yearbooks, online catalogs, digital photo albums and more. Sign up and create your flipbook.