Air&Cosmos International magazine - issue 4

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AIR&COSMOS N° 4 - 12th October 2018


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

l Pre-production H160 to fly soon l Interview:

Rodolphe Marchais, CEO of Sabena technics l French industry welcomes military MRO reforms l French AF completes Asian tour l Chinese launchers set record pace



Safran is the world’s leading manufacturer of helicopter engines. It offers the widest range and supports 2,500 operators in 155 countries with one constant aim: to stay focused on their missions and to keep their helicopters flying every day, everywhere. Proud of our 80-year legacy in the helicopter industry, this is what we stand for since 1938.

SafranHelicopterFocus80Ans_210x280_VA.indd 1 : @SafranHCEngines

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editorial Antony Angrand



Optimism returns to the rotorcraft sector 2017 was a year of slow recovery. Even though deliveries are not yet back to pre-crisis levels, there are signs of optimism.This impression is confirmed when we look at the statistics for the first quarter of 2018 from the General Aviation Manufacturers Association, which show a 7% increase in deliveries of helicopters equipped with turboshaft engines. Another positive indicator is the significant rise in Brent crude oil price over the past year. While here again, the levels are in no way comparable with those of 2012 or even 2014, at the end of September 2018 they appear to have more or less stabilised. This is good news for the helicopter manufacturers and for operators, which have been severely impacted by the oil crisis, and by accidents aecting the H225 and S-92 in the North Sea.This is why some operators, who believe that the recovery will not be suďŹƒcient to restore the market to its pre-crisis situation, are reorganising or turning to emerging markets. Such as wind farms, in particular, whose potential is estimated at around 1,000 machines over a 20-year period, according to Airbus Helicopters. In the meantime, Airbus Helicopters is focused on the maiden flight of the first pre-production model of its promising H160, which should take place before the end of this year.The flight test campaign should conclude at the end of 2019 with the European certification of the machine, followed by first deliveries between February and May 2020. Another new-generation machine in the same category, the Bell 525 Relentless, completed hot weather tests this summer. According to a market study by Airbus Helicopters, these models alone should capture between 51 and 74% of the market through 2036. Meanwhile, a new competitor,Turkish Aerospace Industries' T625, made its first flight on 6th September.While this machine is mainly intended for the Turkish Army, it could well carve a niche on the paramilitary and civilian markets.

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SPECIAL REPORT: Helitech 2018 - H160 targets end-year first flight .......................................................................................06 - Interview: Franck Saudo, CEO of Safran Helicopter Engines ......................08 - Third Kopter SH09 prototype set to fly............................................................................12 - Urban transport reinvented .....................................................................................................14 Interview: Rodolphe Marchais, CEO of Sabena technics .........................................16 French military maintenance reforms create new opportunities ...................20 A350-1000 pilot report............................................................................................................................23 Ethiopian Airline’s African vision ..................................................................................................26 French Air Force completes Asian tour ...................................................................................28 H145M aims high with HForce .......................................................................................................30 Mirage 2000N takes well-earned retirement ....................................................................32 Earth observation: The second revolution 35 Planet joins the big league 37 BlackSky constellation accelerates 39 China sets record-breaking launch pace ..............................................................................41 ........................................................................................Articles translated from French by Duncan Macrae



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

Cover photo: H160 / ©AirBus HEliCoPtErs SOCIÉTÉ DES ÉDITIONS AIR & COSMOS (SAS)

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.


CAPABILITY LIST APU AIRBUS A300 / A300-600 / A310 A320 Family / A380 BOEING 737 NG / 747-400 / 757 767 / 787 / DC10 / MD11 BAE SYSTEMS BAE 146 / Avro RJ EMBRAER ERJ / E-Jet FOKKER 50 SAAB 2000 BOMBARDIER Dash 8 all series LANDING GEAR AIRBUS A300-600R / A310-200 & 300 A320 Family / A330 / A340 BOEING 747-400 & 400ERF / 747-8 777 all types including 300ER & 200 LR / MD11

Revima is a leading independent MRO solutions provider, specialized in APU, Engine Parts and Landing Gear for civil and military aircraft through five dedicated services. With committed and passionate employees and over 60 years of history in the MRO field, Revima supports more than 200 major operators, leasing companies, repair stations and other customers worldwide.


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The first pre-production H160 was fitted with its tail boom in July.






he first pre-production model of the Airbus Helicopters H160, designated PS2, is currently on the final assembly line, where it will be joined in the coming weeks by a second aircraft, PS3. PS2 is currently scheduled to make its maiden flight on 14th December, but the company describes this as a self-imposed target.“Setting a date is a motivating factor for teams working to ensure that the first flight of this aircraft is a success. It gives us the opportunity to celebrate the work we have completed together through an emblematic event," comments Airbus Helicopters.The aircraft will then embark on a test campaign focusing on endurance and aerodynamic behaviour. The company says that ground tests have just begun to verify integration of all major equipment and components. The next step will be the transfer to the runway, culminating in the first flight at the end of the year. PS2 integrates all the latest modifications and takes into account the feedback from the three prototypes and the Dynamic Helicopter Zero (DHC0) and System Helicopter Zero (SHC0) test campaigns. PS2 will undergo a mini-flight test campaign to check that the modifications have had no adverse effect on the aircraft's flying qualities. The company plans to build a total of 10 pre-production aircraft, all of which will be assembled at a reduced production rate, allowing time to resolve any teething problems with the innovative production system that is being set up for the new medium-turbine twin.



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HELITECH 2018 The redefined industrial architecture is based on the distribution of production work between its different sites. The helicopter has been divided into three Major Component Assemblies (MCAs), each produced at a different facility. In this Airbus-type system, the goal is for each MCA to arrive at the final assembly line in Marignane fully tested and configured. The tail boom is bing built in Albacete, Spain; the centre fuselage, in Donauwörth, Germany; and the avionics bay and main dynamic assemblies, in Marignane, France.

when it comes to installing the dynamic assemblies and engines. Thanks to the reduced-rate assembly of the pre-production machines, the company aims to smooth out any teething problems and achieve a good level of industrial maturity of the pro-

order the H160M military variant to meet the French armed forces' requirement for a joint force light helicopter (Hélicoptère Interarmées Léger, HIL). In Donauwörth, where the centre fuselage MCA is produced, work is organised around

900 hours of flight testing. Certification is currently expected by the end of 2019, with initial deliveries now scheduled between February and May 2020. Airbus Helicopters comments: "Certification is a long-term

The assembly line features a series of five work stations. The supplier is Latécoère Services, since acquired by ADF and now renamed Latésys. As of July, PS2 had reached work station 3, the point at which the tail boom is attached to the fuselage, following installation of the air conditioning system and avionics bay. Station 3 also features a semi-automated robotic system used to install the main dynamic assemblies and the Safran Arrano engines. The entire system has been designed to achieve maximum efficiency while facilitating assembly tasks by eliminating the need to lift heavy loads and to work in contorted positions — the work platform can raise the entire fuselage if necessary.Another advantage of the platform is that it offers a second work level, which is much appreciated



H160 over New York during North American Demo Tour in May 2018.

duction process before the initial production ramp-up.The Marignane assembly line is being designed to produce 30-35 H160s per year at full capacity. The dedicated building has ample space for a second assembly line, if justified by market demand, and even a third, once the French government definitively confirms its decision to

Helitech International 2018 his year’s Helitech International, billed as the largest civil and para-public helicopter event in Europe, takes place in Amsterdam on 16th18th October. More than 3,000 attendees and up to 150 exhibitors are expected at this year's edition, which will be accompanied by a full programme of conferences, technical updates and technology showcase presentations. For the first time, the show will include a focus on UAV technology.


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four stations, based on five working days at each station. Assembly work at Station A involves spars, the centre f'rame, floors and lower shells. Station B is dedicated to installation of the main gear box deck, engine deck, engine frame, frames 3,4,6,7,8 and the upper deck side beam. READY FOR SHIPMENT.

Station C is dedicated to attachment of the upper fuselage splice, bottom and front fuselage and the upper shell. Station D focuses on installation of the side and upper shells, radome, door supports and boarding steps. Installation of electrical harnesses and fuel system components takes place in parallel. On leaving station D, following quality inspections, the MCA is ready for painting and shipment to Marignane. The three prototypes have now accumulated more than

process, working together with EASA. Many tests have been successfully completed recently — the hot weather campaign, bird-strike tests, fuel drop tests, etc., and we still have a few to finalise. For example, so-called GIR flight tests, which record the definitive loads on the dynamic assemblies, are due to begin shortly. Endurance tests on these same dynamic assemblies will also be taking place over the coming months.The entire organisation is fully motivated to finalise these tests and deliver all the documents to EASA to clear the way for certification before the end of 2019." The first version to enter service will be intended for passenger transportation — either for commercial passenger service or for the oil & gas sector — followed by the Emergency Medical Service (EMS) variant. ■ Antony Angrand


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How do you view the market today? Are the lean years finally behind us? We are currently in the midst of a gradual recovery in the helicopter market.The market is mixed.There are no clear trends on the civil side, while military sales are strong.The medium- to long-term outlook remains bright; driven by the needs of emerging countries with strong growth prospects. The market is sending encouraging signals, such as Babcock, which made a commitment earlier this year for the Airbus Helicopters H160. At the same time, sales of military helicopters powered by Safran are doing well, as shown by Qatar's order for 28 NH90s equipped with our RTM322.Across the At-


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For missions accomplished Whatever the missions, whatever the times, wherever the places, we’ll get you where you’re going.

Join us this Fall at Helitech and AMTC.

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SPECIAL REPORT lantic, the US Army has also decided to expand its fleet of UH72A Lakotas with 51 additional machines powered by Safran engines. On the offshore transport market, after three difficult years, the H225 is once again in operation, particularly in China, Brazil andVietnam.We are seeing an increase in flight hours for our Makila engine. Finally, new needs in emerging markets are driving growth, such as Brazil or Indonesia, where operators such as HeliSul and PT Whitesky are offering air taxi or intra-urban transport services using Bell 505s. How was 2018 for Safran Helicopter Engines? In a market that is stagnating, Safran has gained market share. This is reflected in the level of activity. For the full year 2018, we should produce nearly 900 engines compared to 732 in 2017.This increase is due to the arrival on the market of new helicopters powered by Safran, which has led to an increase in our market share in recent years, to 32% today. In terms of developments, things are progressing well: we have obtained EASA certification for two engines under development, the Arriel 2H and the Ardiden 3C, for the Chinese AC312E and AC352 helicopters, respectively. We are also in the final stretch for certification of the Arrano 1A for the Airbus Helicopters H160, and the Aneto-1K for the Leonardo AW189K. These two engines will be certified early next year. On the support side, our priority is to offer our customers the best of the best in terms of service quality. Humility, availability and quality are the 3 watchwords that guide our daily action. At the heart of our services strategy is proximity to our customers.We are now working to increase this proximity through digital services that aim to constantly facilitate the use of


our engines by our customers. Finally, 2018 has been a great year for innovation, with major advances in hybrid propulsion. You participated in the ground tests of the first hybrid propulsion system with a turbogenerator. What is your involvement in this project? Safran Helicopter Engines, and Safran in general, have achieved some important milestones this year in their hybrid propulsion roadmap.The first was the signing of an agreement with Bell for the development of the hybrid electric propulsion system for Bell's vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) concept for Air Taxi missions.

power level of 100kW. An application capable of carrying four passengers or about 500kg of freight will require more power. In the coming months, we will therefore be testing a hybrid electric propulsion system generating 500kW of power. For the moment, these are only ground tests. What is the purpose of these tests and what are they intended to demonstrate? These ground tests are essential to fully understand the technologies involved in a system of this type.This first test was carried out in a record time of 18 months. The next objective is to test this hybrid propulsion system in flight in 2020.

“ We expect to produce 900 engines in 2018, compared to 732 in 2017. ” We also conducted the first ground test of a hybrid-electric distributed propulsion system at our Pau test site.This demonstration was the result of cooperation between Safran Power Units, which provided the gas turbine (the e-APU auxiliary power unit), Safran Electrical and Power, which was in charge of all electrical components (generator, distribution core, power management, and electric motors) and Safran Helicopter Engines, which took responsibility for overall integration. This test is part of Safran's hybrid propulsion roadmap and proves our ability to offer hybrid propulsion solutions for future aircraft. What are the next steps? This technology demonstration made it possible to achieve a

Bell has produced its 100th 505. What feedback have you received on the Arrius 2R, and what is the current production status? Feedback on the performance of the Arrius 2R has been very good, and we have been supporting Bell as the helicopter has entered service over the past year or more. Production of this engine has been nominal, with assembly taking place at our Grand Prairie, Texas facility. The Bell 505 also carried out a demonstration tour in Europe in June, and during its visit, it landed at our site in Bordes in southwest France. It was a proud moment for all our teams who were able to see in concrete terms the fruit of their work.

The Arrano 1A and Aneto-1K are expected to receive EASA certification in the near future. How many hours of testing have these two engines accumulated and what is the status of production? The development of these two engines is proceeding in a nominal manner.The H160 demo tour in the United States at the beginning of the year confirmed the excellent performance of the engine. Customers have given us good feedback. The Arrano-1A has accumulated more than 7,300 hours of bench tests, including 1,600 hours in flight on the H160. EASA certification is scheduled for early 2019, and the first production units will be delivered in the first half of that year. The Aneto-1K has logged more than 4,500 hours of bench tests, including 500 hours in flight on the AW189K. Leonardo's feedback is very good and we expect to obtain EASA certification in the second quarter of 2019. These two engines are designed for intermediate class machines. How do you view this class of helicopter in the oil & gas sector in relation to "heavy" machines such as the H225? In other words, what future trends do you see in this market segment? The 6t H160 and 9t AW189K each meet specific market needs, whether in the oil & gas, medevac orVIP sector. So we do not believe that they compete with H225-type helicopters.The latter is gradually resuming service in the offshore transport sector, while the level of activity with the armed forces remains high. It is also a machine that is valued highly by military operators, as shown, for example, by the contract signed with Ukraine.


■ Interview by Antony Angrand

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The new generation H160 boasts a range of unparalleled safety features. Maximized pilot visibility, intuitive information display, unrivalled pilot assistance with HelionixŽ, and unmatched flight envelope protection. What’s more, it carries up to 12 passengers with a radius of action of 120 NM, while burning 15% less fuel. With so many impressive features, the H160 is a huge step forward not just for its category, but for the environment, too. Safety. We make it fly.

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3, the third prototype of the Kopter SH09 (built by the Swiss firm formerly known as Marenco Swisshelicopter), in production configuration, is set to fly in the near future.Accoding to a Kopter: "We are currently doing all the necessary ground tests (overall system checks and ground resonance) to allow flights to start.This machine will be used to expand the flight envelope. This activity will validate the design enhancements introduced on PS4 and identify areas where further improvements are potentially needed to ensure compliance with certification requirements. Prototype P2 has been withdrawn from the flight test programme. It is expected to become the "tiedown helicopter" to carry out the endurance tests necessary to obtain certification. It will be a valuable tool in the future development of the SH09." The assembly plant has been set up near Mollis , about 60km from Zurich. By 2022,



this building should be producing 50 units per year of the single-engine helicopter designed by Swiss engineer Martin Stucki. "We are in the process of acquiring additional land in Mollis in order to be able to build the facilities that will allow us to support our production ramp-up.We are setting up the jigs and tooling to ensure the start of series production in the near future.We have also upgraded our supply chain and are currently drawing up framework contracts with each of the suppliers we have chosen to support us," says Kopter. KOPTER NORTH AMERICA.. In July this year, the Swiss helicopter manufacturer created a U.S. subsidiary, Kopter North America. It will be led by Christian Gras, who is alsoVice President of Customer Services at Kopter AG, and Larry Roberts, President of Sales, Marketing and Customer Support. North America is the primary target market for the Swiss helicopter ma-

Prototype P3 is currently in ground testing.

nufacturer.The SH09 has booked a total of 63 firm orders to date, in addition to approximately 130 commitments and letters of intent. "The United States is clearly a major market for our single-engine helicopter. We already have firm orders from American customers. It is essential that we are able to produce these machines close to the area of operations," says Andreas Löwenstein, CEO of Kopter Group. The next step is to establish an industrial presence in the United States. Discussions are ongoing with potential industrial partners and local authorities regarding different possible locations with a view to starting U.S. production operations in the medium term. Key features of the Kopter design include dual hydraulic and electrical systems.These systems are not intended to be certified since CS27 does not contain any regulatory requirement for this arrangement.The only element under consideration is the crashworthiness of the fuel tank and its connections. The aim is for Kopter to demonstrate that there will be no kerosene projections in the event of an accident, and that tank connections are sufficiently robust. In terms of pilot safety, the aircraft is designed around a specific beam, one end of which is located just above the pilot's head. In the same vein, cabin side doors have been reinforced.The airframe is of all-composite construction, and one of Kopter's strengths has been to work with leading experts in this domain. ■ Antony Angrand.


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CityAirbus urban taxi concept.




aõ Paulo 2042. Edson Almeida, a Brazilian businessman, closes his briefcase and adjusts his tie before entering the elevator that will take him to the top of the building located in the centre-south of the city. This vast district, which is almost a city in itself, has been selected by multiple multinationals and other companies and industries to establish their headquarters.

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Despite the construction of new metro lines to relieve perpetually congested roads, traffic remains a major headache in Saõ Paulo. It must be said that the city has seen its population double in the space of thirty years. That's why Edson much prefers to use urban air taxis to get from one appointment to another. Gone are the days when he found himself trapped in traffic jams. The urban air taxi allows Edson to travel without constraints, to arrive on time for

his appointments. At first a little reluctant to use an unmanned aircraft, he quickly became accustomed to it. Like many other businessmen, he engages in "tower hopping" — short flights from tower to tower for his next meeting. The system is relatively straightforward; it is based on a subscription with a reservation system that can even be used in real time. The fleet of urban air taxis is quite large and is not limited to taxi service in the true sense of the term. Fully automated aircraft also allow the transport of sick or injured people under medical assistance to one of the hospitals in the megalopolis, and the transport of cash, to name but a few applications. UTA, the acronym for Urban Transport Aircraft, has grown rapidly in the space of ten years. QUIET, CHEAP, CLEAN.

In large urban centres, UTAs have even taken over from helicopters, whether for VIP or corporate passenger transport, medical evacuation or parapublic missions. Quieter, less costly to maintain in flight and less polluting, they have won over a substantial following that did not previously have access to this type of transport. Finally, the absence of a pilot in the cockpit guarantees a service that is available at any time, without specific constraints. To reach this stage, it has taken a lot of energy and resources. First, the autonomy of these aircraft has greatly improved with


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the arrival of new-generation, high-efficiency batteries, which have considerably extended the range of urban transportation systems. The multitude of projects and prototypes born from the specifications published by Uber has been drastically whittled down. Only the most pertinent and safest designs have been retained, guaranteeing the safety of passengers in all circumstances. Urban air transport has had to prove that it is safe, not only for its users, but also for those who

find themselves below the flightpath of these aircraft. Born under a certification scheme originally conceived for the general aviation sector, the urban air taxi had to demonstrate that the risk of an accident was statistically comparable to that of aircraft designed for airline service. And this had to be achieved without a professional pilot on board, because, following a lengthy initial period in which the aircraft needed a pseudo-pilot to monitor highly automated controls, pro-

Hybrid propulsion he future is now. French engine and equipment manufacturer Safran took a major step forward in hybrid electric propulsion in mid-July, with the first ground test of a distributed propulsion system. The test took place at a Safran Helicopter Engines test facility near Pau-Pyrénées airport in France. In a hybrid distributed electric propulsion system, a turbogenerator (composed of a gas turbine and a generator) is connected to batteries. The unit powers several electric motors driving rotors generating the propulsive force. Power distribution is optimised by a new-generation power management system. The electric motors are driven by intelligent, fully integrated electronics. During this test, several operating modes were tested and validated with electric motors powered either by the batteries and the turbogenerator, or by the batteries alone. The electrical power generated by the system reached 100kW. This type of propulsion system should contribute to the emergence of future VTOL (vertical take-off and landing) and STOL (short take-off and landing) vehicles, with innovative capabilities and the ability to perform new types of missions. Safran's hybrid electric propulsion roadmap aims to bring these technologies to market by 2025.



Safran distributed propulsion system test rig.

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Neoptera’s eOpter concept.

gress in algorithms and artificial intelligence eventually made it possible to remove the captain's seat altogether. Nonetheless, in the event of a problem, provision has been made for a remote pilot to take control at any time. Until now, this has never been the case. System redundancy provides an initial response to an emergency. TASTE OF THE FUTURE.

The scenario described above could be a description of what the future holds for urban air transport. For some time now, there has been a proliferation of urban air taxi projects and concepts — vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) aircraft with electric motors.The driving force behind this trend is none other than Uber, which aims to establish a worldwide network, with flying demonstrators from 2020 and a commercial service starting in 2023.Airbus and Bell Helicopter both currently have projects under development.The European aircraft manufacturer is focusing on its Vahana and CityAirbus concepts, while the American firm is working on its Air Taxi. Besides these two aerospace giants, other companies have studied different concepts.The idea is to be able to take off and land without an airstrip, especially in urban areas. Electric power, when fully developed, will provide a cleaner and quieter engine than

that used by helicopters, whose powertrain uses fossil fuels. Electric motors will eventually provide a simpler and more efficient propulsion and lift system. However, the biggest challenge facing aircraft manufacturers will be certification, partly because much remains to be defined (although it should be noted that EASA and the FAA did a remarkable job with the general revision of CS-23 in 2017) and partly because the requirements will necessarily be stringent for safety reasons. "This type of aircraft will probably come partly under CS-23 certification requirements, but for safety reasons, we will have the same tools, the same development rules, the redundancies found on large aircraft.The structure, the system architecture, the environment, lightning protection...These are not airliners, but the safety levels will have to be much higher than those applicable in the light aviation sector. We will be at a crossroads, because we are going to build small aircraft with the safety levels of the big ones, with a development cycle and investments superior to those of general aviation. Meeting the cost targets will be a challenge. We hope the authorities will achieve their goal, because if safety levels are lowered it could kill the market," comments Renaud Othomène, one of the fathers of Neoptera's eOpter concept. ■ Antony Angrand


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“We are aiming for sales of


by 2021”

What is the situation of Sabena technics today? In 2018, Sabena technics will post sales of €450m, 10 times more than 20 years ago, and we expect to boost this figure to €600m by 2021 under our strategic plan. This corresponds only to organic growth and does not include external growth opportunities.We have considerable exerience in external growth because we have already carried out consolidation operations in the MRO sector. We have an operating margin of 5%, which is necessary to continue to grow and invest. Sabena technics currently has 2,300 employees, plus 200 apprentices, spread across 14 sites, half of which are located on French overseas territories, such as Nouméa and Papeete, or abroad (Singapore, Dubai, Brussels and Monastir). Given our range of activities and know-how, we are able to handle nearly 25 different civil and military aircraft types. One feature that sets us apart is the balance we achieve between civil and military business.There are not many MRO providers in the world that have this dual activity. Another particularity is Sabena Technics' capability to carry out many modifications on civil and military aircraft, thanks to the experience of a design bureau based in Bordeaux that produces 200,000 hours of intellectual output each year.We subcontract part of this to retain flexibility and reactivity. N. VERCELLINO



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INDUSTRY This reactivity and flexibility are in our genes.We owe this to the history of the TAT group, which has been involved in several different activities in a variety of contexts. Our absolute commitment: to deliver on time, with no failures, in an economic context that offers the customer a good price-quality ratio. We value loyalty to our partners. We are at the heart of the French aeronautics ecosystem with the presence of major prime contractors, such as Airbus and Dassault, who have their suppliers, partners and equipment manufacturers. Can you tell us more about the work of your design bureau? We carry out complex modification work on passenger cabins or systems. Modifying the interior of a civil aircraft is not like moving a sofa. Everything must be justified, certified and demonstrated in terms of air conditioning, pressurisation, electrical power and crashworthiness in order for our modifications to comply with regulatory requirements. Studies and certification represent half the cost of the modification. Working for Airbus under the supervision of its own design bureau, we have carried out beautiful projects with challenging and complex requirements. For example, on the Airbus A380, we modified the wing ribs, removed and re-installed all the doors following structural modifications, all in two weeks.We are continuing to perform this type of work in Dubai, where we are directly supporting Airbus on site.Another even more complex project: upgrading a second Airbus A350 test aircraft to airline standard. We will change most of the wiring and incorporate many modifications. Airbus is our largest civil customer, though it represents less than 10% of total sales. We are also working directly with Boeing on the integration ofVIP cabins on government aircraft incorporating complex systems provided by equipment suppliers.

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And in the military sector? The modification work in the military field is even more complex. Sabena technics teams, in partnership with Dassault Aviation, are currently modifying French Navy Falcon 50M airframes, for which we also perform maintenance. With Thales, we are launching a light surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft development project. Finally, Sabena technics is partnered with Rockwell Collins for the avionics upgrade of French Air Force C130H Hercules transport aircraft. We also provide the logistics for these aircraft, as well as some of the A and B maintenance checks. We have NATO, Sweden and the Netherlands as customers. But the French State represents 80% of our total military business.

either he does everything because he has the capability to do so, or he performs part of it while retaining responsibility for the whole project. Based on our experience and our proven knowhow, as illustrated by the availability rates for fleets where we perform maintenance from A to Z, Sabena technics is ready for this reform. Especially since the support for the Airbus A400M and MRTT will need to be organised. The MRTT is an A330 and our Bordeaux site, which will soon have 100,000m2 of hangars and workshops, is an A330 maintenance facility. Similarly, for the A400M, our future 10,000m2 hangar will be able to accommodate three aircraft simultaneously, and Airbus will certainly need subcontractors for certain operations.

“ One feature that sets us apart is the balance we achieve between civil and military business.” How do you feel about the military aircaft maintenance reform launched by the Minister of the Armed Forces? We are 100% behind this reform, launched by the Minister of the Armed Forces, Florence Parly, and which will be implemented by the director of the new DMAé, Monique Legrand-Larroche.The former Simmad was a central purchasing agency that collated needs and issued invitations to tender for each of them.As a result, fleets are maintained by several suppliers under separate contracts,and defect rates are cumulated. In our opinion, therefore, it is a good decision to appoint a prime contractor responsible for the fleet availability rate and above all with financial responsibility for achieving this rate.A prime contractor with freedom to organise himself as he sees fit:


It is up to us to demonstrate that we have a role to play, a full role without taking work from others, on a cooperative basis. As is the case with Airbus under a maintenance contract for Casa 235s. Your links with Airbus will be taking on a new dimension with the Skywise platform and the MRO alliance in which Sabena technics is a partner? The Airbus MRO alliance has six members worldwide; Sabena tecnics is the only European.The Skywise digital platform is a tool for data management and exploitation. It offers improvements for operators who rely in particular on maintenance data. The reality is that airlines remain very close to their line maintenance, their daily maintenance. When you have 300 passengers waiting in the boarding lounge,

it is essential to have a dialogue between the pilots, the mechanics and the operational staff. On the other hand, airlines will increasingly be outsourcing other operations: equipment maintenance, airframe checks, etc. It should be noted that the new entrants in the air transport sector, particularly low cost airlines, do not perform maintenance. There is clearly a place for Sabena technics in a global air transport market that is set to double in volume, based on an average growth rate of 4% to 5% per year. What other trends do you see on the global MRO market? We perform little line maintenance on medium-haul aircraft and we support some customers in joint ventures, such as Nouvelair on the A320 and ASL Airlines on the Boeing 737. This medium-haul aircraft market is very competitive.Therefore, our policy, when we take full responsibility for an airline's maintenance operations, is to propose to set up a 50:50 joint venture. The stability of the JV is thus equally benficial to the service provider and its client. Sabena technics is particularly specialised in wide-body aircraft. Our customers include Air France Industries, Lufthansa Technik and the IAG group. They bring their wide-body aircraft to our Bordeaux site for maintenance or modifications. We have all the necessary expertise on the A330, A350 and A380 and the Boeing 777. We hope to add the Boeing 787 by the end of this year.The new hangar currently under construction in Bordeaux will be able to accommodate the A350-1000 and the Boeing777X. Large aircraft may only represent 20% of the world fleet, but we estimate that they generate 50% of total sales in airframe MRO, as they require multiple modifications. The volume of maintenance checks is much more significant.And this global


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fleet of wide-body aircraft is also set to grow, but in a less competitive MRO environment. All the more so as European airlines, which used to send their aircraft to Asia for heavy maintenance operations, now do so less. First, because resources in Asia are already relatively saturated with their own local needs.Also, because the breakeven point of 7,000 hours of labour that justified transporting the aircraft 10 years ago ... has increased to 20,000 hours now. There are practically no maintenance operations requiring 20,000 man-hours of labour today.Therefore, for new programmes, European operators tend to remain in Europe provided they can find the necessary maintenance slots.This is a real opportunity for Sabena technics, especially since our costs have remained very stable thanks to consolidation and rationalisation.This enables us to offer an excellent price-quality ratio. Wide-body aircraft are also a focus for passenger cabin refurbishment? Absolutely.This gives the wide-body segment even greater value. Airlines refurbish passenger cabins on average every seven years.These are aircraft with very specific layouts according to each class and which have to keep pace with the new products of their competitors. Airlines invest considerable sums in the development of their passenger cabins. This is why the market value of the wide-body segment is so important. Once again, in Bordeaux and Nimes, we have the necessary facilities and know-how. There is a lot of talk about the factory of the future, what about the hangar of the future? Digitisation is in full swing. Sabena technics has a chief digital officer, and some major initiatives are currently under study.The idea is for each technician to be permanently plugged into information flowing from upstream to downstream and vice versa.The connected technician is a very powerful factor of quality and performance. But everything we do in this area must have value for the customer.This is the top priority.The client must also be able to see the benefits in terms of services and fluidity of relations.With digitisation, we can also consider doing more one-off operations. Many operators need an occasional intervention or repair, and digitisation can be a help. What about drone inspection and additive manufacturing? On our sites, an aircraft is generally surrounded by a wraparound platform.Workers have access to all points on the plane. So we don't need drones. However, we have started to use additive manufacturing. As part of the modification work, one of our core businesses, we produce mockups using additive ma-




“WE ESTIMATE THAT WIDEBODIES GENERATE 50% OF TOTAL AIRFRAME MRO SALES” nufacturing for cabin interiors or systems. We can simulate the finished result by manufacturing prototypes using the 3D printer. In addition to the digital mockup, it is very important to check that everything comes together as planned before starting work.This saves time and money. What about the human resources aspect in the maintenance sector? This is an important issue, all the more sol because we are in a growth phase, and we need to recruit 300 employees per year. Of this total, we estimate that 75 will come from apprenticeship programmes and 75 others from vocational training or retraining. The market will provide the other 150. To this end, we have set up a dedicated recruitment unit. We also use digital tools which are a valuable help. We are fortunate that the aeronautics sector continues to attract young people. Sabena technics also offers a variety of

positions with good career prospects and mobility opportunities. Finally, we have created our own temporary employment agency that mainly recruits staff for our internal needs. But the idea is that this agency should have a pool of maintenance technicians to which other operators could also have access. Temporary work is a form of employment that corresponds to the ambitions of certain people.They are not tied down by an employment contract and thus have flexibility in taking their different missions. But we are also very keen on apprenticeships. We have 120 apprentices, and there will be 200 in the autumn.We work with schools like Aérocampus in Bordeaux and we have other partners in the Occitania region and in Brittany. Apprenticeship is a great formula for young people.They enter the job market, polish their interpersonal skills and knowhow within a company or a team. It is a concrete way to learn a trade. ■ Interview by Yann Cochennec


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Civil/military synergies will have a key role to play.

t the beginning of 2019, the DMAé (Direction de la maintenance aéronautique, the newly created entity responsible for maintenance of French military aircraft) will reform its contractual relations with industry. The DMAé reports directly to the armed forces chief of staff, rather than the French AF, as was the case for the organisation it replaces, SIMMAD.

A 20

The multiplicity of contracts with different suppliers has been identified as one of the factors contributing to the low availability of French military aircraft. French armed forces minister Florence Parly cited the Tiger attack helicopter, maintenance of which was based on 30 different contracts at the end of 2017. The DMAé has thus been given the task of identifying a single prime contractor — or a small number of prime contrac-

tors, depending on the type of aircraft — with responsibility under “global” contracts that will be signed for five to ten years. David Macheto, Deputy Director of AerospaceValley's Aeronautics Division, summarises the new situation as follows: “Previously, companies in this sector were under direct contract with the State, which had a host of suppliers to manage. Today, the State is saying: I don't want

to deal with this anymore. I will make contracts by programme, with firm objectives in terms of performance, reactivity and availability. I will manage this with performance indicators in a more market-based approach than previously.” Manufacturers will also be in charge of spare parts stocks.“We will make firm commitments,” confirms Bruno Chevalier, Senior Executive Vice President, Military Customer Support at


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Dassault Aviation.Thus, for the Rafale, around 10 existing contracts could be combined into a single future contract. INCREASED ACCOUNTABILITY.

Industry was not surprised when the new contracts were announced because they had been involved in the consultations, particularly in preparing the Chabbert report, which served as the basis for the reforms. Most companies had pushed for increased accountability and long-term commitments. "You need complete responsibility to ensure aircraft availability," explains Sabena technics COO Philippe Rochet. Sabena technics is prime contractor for several French military aircraft fleets: Falcon 10 Guardians in the Pacific and Airbus A310 and A330 presidential transports. "On all our existing contracts, the contractual availability objectives have been met and exceeded," adds Rochet. Contractors had a dialogue with the Ministry of the Armed Forces, but also with each other. A letter of recommendation was even written by Gifas, the French aerospace industries association, and appended to the Chabbert report. Industry was all the more comfortable because companies were already working under global contracts:“Since 2008, with the Rafale Care contract, thanks to the State and our feedback from export customers, we have introduced services that have become a baseline,” explains Chevalier. For example, Dassault Aviation manages the end-to-end logistics of the Mirage 2000-9 aircraft in the United Arab Emirates. For export customers, Dassault also offers contracts by the hour in the case of the Rafale. By harmonising national and export contracts for Rafale support, it could be possible to achieve economies of scale and benefit from feedback on a larger fleet. A total of 96 Rafales have been ordered for export, while France has ordered 180 aircraft to date and plans to order a total of 225. The same is true for Air France Industries (AFI), which considers itself well organised to meet the expectations of the Ministry of the Armed Forces: “In some ways, Air France Industries is already aligned to achieve the goals of this reform,” explains Fabrice Bénéro,

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head of AFI's military activities. “On the one hand, the simplification of functional and organisational structures, since the defence procurement agency (DGA), like the DMAé, has a single industrial integrator for all aspects of fleet support. On the other hand, Air France Industries has to meet performance targets for the availability of fleets and equipment — another aspect underlined by the Minister of the Armed Forces.” Bénéro adds: “Our main military customer and user is the French AF. We have been responsible for support of the French AWACS fleet since the arrival of the first aircraft in 1990. So Air France Industries has accumulated 28 years of experience, both on the aircraft and the mission system. The contract was extended most recently in July 2017.” HARMONISATION.

“With this reform, the armed forces will harmonise the ways they work with industry. Ratier-Figeac provides support for all aircraft equipped with our propellers:Transall, C-130,A400M and Hawkeye E-2D.We will continue to do so, while introducing some changes to the way we operate.This will improve aircraft availability,” says Jean-François Chanut, CEO of Ratier-Figeac. He adds: “Basically, we are changing the way we work with the armed forces. Until now, our only obligation was to ensure available stock inventories. From now on, parts availability will have to be enhanced.” The private sector will not be the sole beneficiary of the reform. The state-owned maintenance provider SIAé (Service industriel aéronautique) will also have its part to play in the reform process. Monique Legrand-Larroche, who heads the DMAé, recently affirmed her commitment to the stateowned entity. In particular, the SIAé could work on the oldest or smallest fleets.This is the case, for example, with the ATL2. France is the sole operator of this maritime patrol aircraft. The ATL2 entered service in the late 1980s, but the platform is derived from the Atlantic, which was designed in the 1960s. Some parts are, therefore, no longer produced.The SIAé is heavily involved in upgrading these aircraft and could guarantee long-term fleet support.


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With the new contracts, one contractor will have overall responsibility, but he will not have to do everything alone. Groups of companies will be formed. Thus, prime contractors will be able to team up with SMEs within these groups. This is reassuring for small and mediumsized players, some of whom are concerned that they will lose out in the ongoing reform. “The reform should not result in the exclusion of SMEs from the market,” stresses Bertrand Lucereau, CEO of Secamic, which took over Drôme-based Aerotec Group in December 2017, a specialist in helicopter

maintenance chain. I know of one case where Fennecs were grounded for six months for these reasons. But, once the weak links have been identified, it is also necessary to rely on SMEs whose technological know-how is indisputable,” Lucereau declares. He continues:“The Ministry of the Armed Forces must also ensure that SMEs continue to grow and maintain their technological know-how, which has many military applications.Therefore, excluding SMEs from the reform process would be counterproductive. Because it is important not to give everything to the large groups, which will then turn to smaller partners with all the pressures on margins

chain.When there is restructuring, the cards are always reshuffled and there are new opportunities to be seized,” opines David Macheto.The DMAé and the large groups have also highlighted the leading role of SMEs in innovation. Tracking parts with RFID chips, 3D printing, aircraft inspection by drones, the use of augmented reality to assist technicians … are all possible areas of innovation that can contribute to improving aircraft availability. DIGITISATION.

Innovation can also be imported from the civil domain. Most players in the military aviation maintenance sector are also in-

French AF A310s and C-135s will be replaced by the A330MRTT, a derivative of the A330 airliner.

upgrades and maintenance.“Secamic is mainly present internationally, but the acquisition of Aerotec Group gives us a foothold on the French market. I fully understand that the Ministry of the Armed Forces wants to avoid relying on companies facing financial or technical difficulties. It is not possible to take risks in the military aviation


that we have already seen in the supply chain.” The large groups, on the other hand, see global contracts as an opportunity for SMEs and ETIs, as they will give them more visibility in the long term, allowing them to adapt and reduce their costs. “The reforms have two main aspects: increasing budgets and restructuring the supply

volved in support for civil programmes and believe that methods applied to non-military support could be put in place for defence programmes.“Civil and military support are complementary, because some products can be dual and some service concepts can be transposed,” explains Bruno Chevalier. At Dassault, the design bureaux for



civil and military support services have been combined since 2014. The idea is to enable the military sector to benefit from progress made in the civilian field. To support operators of Falcon bizjets, for example, Dassault Aviation has two Falcon 900 aircraft, capable of deploying support teams around the world in a matter of hours.This concept could be adapted for military support. Sabena technics also considers its experience in the civil field to be an asset. For example, the group has set up a branch in Dubai in partnership with Airbus to carry out modification work on Emirates' A380s, demonstrating its ability to project itself and create an appropriate organisation where its services are required. Synergies are all the more evident when the armed forces operate aircraft derived from civilian models, such as the maritime surveillance variant of the Falcon bizjet and the Caracal helicopter, as well as future programmes like the A330 MRTT in-flight refuelling aircraft (soon), the Falcon Epicure electronic warfare platform or the H160M joint light helicopter. Proximity to the customer is also a key to efficient support, according to several manufacturers. Dassault thus proposes to locate a liaison agent on each air base to facilitate dialogue and information sharing. The creation of the DMAé is also accompanied by a digital transformation. The definition of a common format for military-civil data exchange could make data-sharing more fluid and accelerate contractor reactivity. Proximity between the customer and the service provider enables more rapid decisionmaking in terms of technical choices and logistics flows.The challenge will be to provide the necessary services and parts as quickly as possible so as to minimise aircraft downtime.


■ Emmanuel Huberdeau

and Yann Cochennec

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any thought that the A3501000 would just be a stretched version of the 900.... but for Airbus, the A350-1000 occupies a very specific position in the long-haul, high-capacity transport segment and represents a major development effort compared to the A350-900. The aircraft obtained its joint European (EASA) and American (FAA) certification in November 2017 after 1,600 hours of testing (versus 2,500 hours for the A350-900 which provided invaluable inputs for the -1000). The use of composite materials for 54% of the primary structure of the A350-1000 reduces weight, particularly the Zero FuelWeight, and contributes directly to fuel savings. The use of composites stretches the intervals between maintenance checks and introduces innovative manufacturing processes with, for example, 20m structural panels whose length can be adjusted to avoid “missing windows” on the aircraft. The Trent XWB engine of the A350-1000 (97,000lb unit thrust at takeoff, compared to 84,000lb on the A350-900) is the latest variant of this highbypass ratio engine featuring op-


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timised performance, increased intervals between maintenance checks and specific consumption allowing fuel savings of 15%. A lot of work has focused on the aircraft systems. Simplification of the hydraulic system (two separate 5kpsi systems instead of three separate 3kpsi systems), the electrical system (550 kVA instead of 1.5 MVA) and the on-board management of hot air at high pressure contribute to reduced maintenance costs. Finally, the concept of aerodynamic morphing applied to the wings — in an attempt to imitate the behaviour of a bird's wing — makes it possible to optimise lift while minimising drag, with measurable gains over the entire flight envelope, but particularly at low speeds where the increased lift boosts aircraft performance on the runway... Thanks to these innovations, the aircraft came through the test campaign with better than expected performance in hot and high conditions, with an average gain of 5t, along with lower than expected weights and a reduced sound footprint. Finally, commonality between the A330-800/-900 and between the A350-900/-1000, offering 64m and 64.80m wingspans, respectively for airport handling


The first A350-1000s are currently being delivered to customers. (passenger boarding bridges for E class aircraft with wingspans up to 65m); similar maintenance requirements; and a common type rating to fly the A330, 330neo and A350, all add up to substantial reductions in training costs and, ultimately, mixed fleet operations. PRE-FLIGHT BRIEFING.

After a morning of presentations covering the aircraft's main features, I met the Airbus test team and my captain for the flight, Peter Chandler, with whom I had already flown on the A350900, assisted by Olivier Falipou who would be the safety pilot. Two test engineers, Franck Hohmeister and Gérard Maisonneuve, were present to ensure that the pre-established programme proceeded as planned. Following the pre-flight briefing, we proceeded to the aircraft. A350-1000 MSN 59 was waiting for us at the flight test centre. Apart from the size of the aircraft, there are few elements that distinguish the -1000 from the 900. One of the most visible differences concerns the main landing gears, with six-wheel bogies replacing the four-wheel sets on the A350-900. The superb wing, characteristic of the A350 family, is the same as on the -900. It catches the eye by its natural lines, and one can easily imagine its critical role in the aircraft's aerodynamic per-

formance. Size was, therefore, the best indication that we were looking at an A350-1000. We boarded the aircraft, and the flight engineers gave us a tour of the onboard test equipment: MSN 59 has only a few passenger seats at the rear, the rest of the cabin being occupied by the test equipment and engineer stations used during the certification test campaign. We then entered the flight deck, and Peter invited me to occupy the left seat for our flight after a safety briefing in the event of an evacuation on the ground. We reviewed the layout of the cockpit, from the head-up display (HUD) to the front control panel, which is the main interface with the autopilot, via the six giant screens: two per pilot, plus two central screens, all twice the size of the previous standards. Of particular interest were the touchsensitive side screens, which are the largest touch screens in commercial aviation to date. We turned to the aircraft's electronic technical log and the electronic MEL (Master Equipment List) which is automatically displayed in the event of a failure of one or more elements... which saves time and prevents potential errors. We used the central "head down" screen to load our lateral and vertical flight plan for our flight out fromToulouse and back. Thanks to the improvements in-




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While holding at S3, Peter showed me the effect of an erroneous lastminute speed correction.The system reacts instantly, displaying "Take-off speed too low" accompanied by an audible alarm. Similarly, if the performances have been calculated from a given runway access point and we line up


from a different point, a message would say: "Runway too short". Lined up, cleared for take-off and with the "Before take-off checklist" completed, I released the brakes and we started to move. Lateral control on the ground with low wind was extremely simple. After lift-off,we quickly retracted the gear and raised the flaps and, once the "After take-off checklist" had been completed, Peter demonstrated the utility of moving the thrust setting from Auto Derate Climb to MAX CLB which, by increasing the thrust, makes it possible to clear obstacles with an optimal climb slope. I stabilised at FL150 at 300kias and continued to hand-fly to familiarise myself further with the

to improved situational awareness. An enhancement with respect to the A400M is the New Air and Inertial Automatic Data Switching (NAIADS) function. In the event of icing of the three multifunction probes resulting in the loss of primary flight data, this system automatically shows certain parameters (altitude and airspeed calculated via engine computer data) on the Primary Flight Display. Back Up Air Data can be selected via a switch located below the Integrated Standby Instrument System (ISIS). Peter suggested that I check the different flight envelope protection features of the flight domain

us out of the overspeed zone without disengaging the autopilot. We then tested the smart alpha floor protection starting at FL130 and Green Dot speed (best liftto-drag ratio speed), with the autopilot engaged in the altitude hold and heading mode. I manually displayed the reduced thrust, thereby disengaging the autothrust. The aircraft reduced speed in stages towards the alpha floor zone on the PFD speed scale. When speed dropped below theVLS (lowest selectable speed), the Speed! Speed! Speed! aural alert was triggered, followed by a triple click announcing a mode change and activation of the alpha floor protection with increased thrust and AP In Prot

and we began with the high speed protection, starting at FL150/300kias with the autopilot on (AP ON) and autothrust disengaged (A/THR Off). As I took us into a slow descent with thrust at the CLB (Climb) detent, the machine accelerated to Maximum Operating Speed (VMO) and when it slightly exceeded it, the autothrust automatically switched to the Idle thrust setting and the spoilers automatically deployed, which took

amber display on the PFD and ECAM.The speed increased rapidly outside the black and amber Alpha Prot strip. Then, above VLS + 1 second, the autothrust disengaged again and the aircraft returned to the status existing before the incursion into the low-speed domain. Finally, we reviewed the Alpha Prot protection, with angle of attack (AoA) displayed on a dedicated test screen.We started at Green Dot speed with AP and



troduced in the Flight Management and Guidance System (FMGS), both in the interface and in the page architecture, we were rapidly ready for pushback. I noticed that the pages concerning our lateral and vertical navigation have been substantially upgraded from the A320 family FMGS ... Franck Hohmeister and his team finished preparing the test equipment, then Gérard Maisonneuve joined us for the pushback. We started the right engine and then the left, five seconds later.The low noise levels on the ground with the engines running are always impressive. We performed our flight control system checks, verifying the control surface movements directly on our mid-level display.Then we validated the checklist items after engine start-up, which was proposed automatically. I started taxiing cautiously to get out of the Airbus zone and turn left onto taxiway W; the tiller turns were very efficient, although, unlike the competing Boeing 777, the last two wheels on the A350-1000 main landing gear bogies cannot be steered. During the taxi phase we carried out a safety briefing for our take-off from runway 32L under calm conditions and at a weight of 192 tonnes (162 tonnes of zero fuel mass with 30 tonnes of fuel in the wing tanks), centre of gravity close to 25%, flaps set at 3, nose-up trim of 4° at V1 (135kias),VR (142kias),V2 (145 kias), with FLEX thrust setting and a fictitious temperature of 40°C.We went over the actions to be taken and the roles of each person in the event of an engine failure before and up to V1 and thereafter ...

Our test pilot, Gregory Cellier. flight controls, which I found reactive for a machine of this size. The wide-field head-up display is full of information, with in particular the chevrons indicating Total Aircraft Energy, allowing power to be adjusted if necessary. The extensive information available on both the Primary Flight Display (PFD, with synthetic vision), and the Navigation Display (ND, automatically showing height above terrain with minimum safe levels, etc.) contribute


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CIVIL AVIATION A/THR engaged. I moved the thrust levers to Idle, disengaging the autothrust, and the aircraft decelerated in level flight below VLS initially. I blocked the Alpha Floor protection by inhibiting the autothrust using the instinctive disconnection buttons. Speed continued to drop while AoA increased until it stabilised at Alpha Max (marked by the top of the red strip on the speed scale, which corresponds to the maximum AoA of the aircraft in normal control law). Level flight could no longer be maintained, and we started a slow descent with an AoA of 13 degrees — the maximum value — and our speed stabilised at Alpha Max. I recovered by increasing thrust to accelerate well outside the low speed zones.The autopilot maintained level flight and our AoA was automatically restored to a very acceptable level. The aircraft quickly returned to a stable state with the same level of automation as before. These exercises helped me to understand that in normal law, high speed, low speed and maximum AoA protections are active and allow the pilot to quickly recover from potentially delicate situations, restoring a previous stable state while keeping the pilot at the heart of the loop. SIDESLIP..

We climbed back to FL150 and Peter suggested a demonstration of the flight controls’ reaction in the event of sideslip due to incorrect action on the rudder pedals. I reduced speed to lowest selectable speed (VLS) without autopilot and autothrust and we extended the flaps in configuration 3.With a stable heading and horizontal wings, Peter asked me to apply rudder. By gradually pressing down to the left and then right stop, we reached about 15 degrees of sideslip while the FBW flight controls maintained a constant heading... We did the same test in flap configuration 1 + F (approach configuration) and at a higher speed.This time we had up to 8

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degrees of sideslip while the heading remained constant. Before returning to Toulouse, I had a demonstration of the automatic emergency descent (AED) mode, which is another innovation on the A350-1000. In stable flight at 0.85 Mach, with the autopilot in ALT CRZ (cruise) mode and autothrust set to hold the selected speed, once cleared by ATC, I pressed the Emer Descent push button. I could see Emer Descent Armed displayed in red on the PFD and the HUD. The spoilers deployed fully, acting as speed brakes, the transponder instantly reset to 7700 while a triple click sound indicated a change of automatic modes. I could then read THR Idle-Emer Des-HDG on the Flight Mode Annunciator (FMA) at the top of the PFD, which instantly indicated the autothrust modes, as well as the vertical and lateral autopilot modes. The aircraft started the emergency descent at the selected speed and then accelerated to VMO-5kt, turning 40 degrees to the right then stabilising on a parallel track at 3nm. If no Minimum Off Route Altitude (MORA) within 10nm on either side of the route is greater than 10,000ft, the machine will stabilise at this altitude or higher depending on the established MORA.And in the absence of crew inputs, the aircraft, flying at a stable altitude on a parallel route, will decelerate to Green Dot speed. I displayed FL200 and observed automatic stabilisation and retraction of the speed brakes. An explosive depressurisation can be very disorienting, and this automatic emergency descent mode seems a particularly appropriate response and a positive contribution to flight safety! APPROACH AND LANDING.

We asked ATC for a return route and approach to Toulouse. The automatic terminal information service (ATIS) announced runway 32L in rainy conditions. At Peter's suggestion, I selected a


Satellite Landing System (SLS) approach. The RNAV (GNSS) final approach chart indicated Localizer Performance WithVertical Guidance (LPV) minima of 260ft and 1,300m visibility, barely 50ft and 100m more than the ILS precision approach minima. The advantage of this type of non-precision approach is obviously the reduction of minima equivalent to those of a precision approach on runways without Instrument Landing System (ILS) but with a differential GPS ground station working with the GNSS constellation and also guidance with linear accuracy as the aircraft approaches the runway, while an ILS will be increasingly sensitive with the decrease in beam width on approaching the runway. Then, if the aircraft is equipped accordingly, one has only to select the SLS approach, check that the GPS code on the chart matches the Flight Management System (FMS), and the approach is flown as for an ILS. I engaged the autopilot and autothrust and disconnected automatic systems once established at the final level. We followed a fictitious localiser with symbology similar to that of an ILS on the HUD and PFD and an SLS display on the FMA. A little anticipation was needed for the reduction, as the superb A350-1000 wing tends to make the aircraft glide, and for the deployment of drag devices. Peter explained the touch and go procedure to me while I enjoyed flying our A350-1000 by hand: the controls were precise and smooth. At the minimum, I announced "continue", then, around 60ft, I slowly started to raise the nose for a soft flare, but without eating up too much runway. BRAKE TO VACATE.

Once the nose wheel was on the ground, I advanced the thrust levers while Peter selected the 1 + F flap configuration and announced “available power”; I pushed the thrust levers to TOGA (Take Off Go Around) and, at our weight of 180 tonnes, we

jumped forward with excellent acceleration. At Vref, Peter told me to do the rotation. We climbed to around 3,000ft and Peter showed me how to activate the BrakeToVacate (BTV) function.The system allows automatic braking optimized according to the available "indicated" runway length and the selected exit point. I used the same flare technique, which definitely works on aircrart of this size and, once the nose wheel was on the runway, I activated the thrust reversers on the wet runway and let the BTV do the work.As predicted, the system reduced speed to 10 kias. The system disconnects with a voice announcement "Autobrake Off", unless the pilot decides to disconnect it by braking with the pedals. I switched to the tiller to turn off the runway at the selected exit. We were greeted by Christophe Cail, current chief test pilot at Airbus to gather first impressions. Our initial debriefing could be summed up first of all by my smile, which reflected the pleasure I had in flying the new Airbus flagship. Beyond the 7m difference in length, the difference in weight, the 19,000 litres extra fuel capacity, and the 40 additional seats compared with its "little brother", the -900, the A350-1000 introduces innovations that will be quickly integrated into the A350-900, particularly with regard to the cockpit. Its fuel burn performance would equate to a 20-tonne reduction in consumption on a NewYork-Tokyo flight, compared to the same flight operated by a Boeing 777-300ER, for example. This could generate fleet-wide savings of up to $70m over a period of fifteen years.... We note that some Asian airlines are reopening very longhaul routes using the A350, such as Singapore-NewYork (A350900 ULR), for example, and that scheduled and low-cost airlines are both looking at the 1000 as the ideal complement to the -900. ■ Gregory Cellier


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AFRICAN VISION The compAny, which receiveD iTs 100Th AircrAfT on 5Th June, is pushing AheAD wiTh A sTrATegy of pArTnerships To revive cArriers in The mAin AfricAn counTries, AnoTher chApTer in The Airline’s remArkAble growTh sTory over The pAsT few yeArs.



including 105 Aircraft, Ethiopian Airlines operates nine A350-900s. an Ethiopian Airlines succeed where Royal Air Maroc failed? Following the example set by the Moroccan carrier when it created Air Senegal International in 2001, but without success, the Addis Ababa airline has been engaged for several years in a strategy of partnerships forged with various African countries to launch or relaunch national airlines.


50 10.6


$246m net profit


million passengers



$3.2bn sales

The first project was the creation of Asky Airlines in Lomé,Togo, which was set up in 2008 under an agreement with Ethiopian, which took a 40% stake in the newTogolese carrier and leased the first aircraft that enabled it to start operations. Currently, the Togolese airline operates a fleet of eight aircraft (five Boeing 737-700 NGs, one Boeing 737-800 and two Bombardier Q400s), serving 25 destinations throughout Africa from the Lomé hub, which also operates as a secondary hub for Ethiopian Airlines through code share agreements. The second airline to be launched under the Ethiopian carrier's leadership was Malawian Airlines. It was created in July 2013, only a few months after the former national airline Air Malawi ceased operations.The company's capital is divided between the government of Malawi (51%) and Ethiopian Airlines (49%), which provides the aircraft and manages the carrier. Its first route was launched between Lilongwe, the capital of Malawi, and Blantyre, in the south of the country. It currently flies to seven destinations from the Malawian capital, with a Boeing 737-700 and a Bombardier Q400. On 19th August, all eyes turned to Zambia. An agreement has been signed between the government of the East African country and Ethiopian Airlines to relaunch Zambia Airways.The state-owned Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) will hold 55% of the capital of the new airline, which will begin with a start-up investment of $30m (nearly €26m). Ethiopian Airlines will own the remaining 45%. The airline is expected to start flights in January 2019 from its hub at Lusaka, the Zambian capital, first on regional routes and then on intercontinental routes "to Europe, the Middle East and Asia". The company expects a fleet of 12 mediumand long-haul aircraft by 2028, with traffic of 2 million passengers per year. But Ethiopian Airlines does not plan to stop there. It announced, almost simultaneously, partnerships for the creation of two other carriers – Guinea Airlines (49% stake and an initial fleet of three aircraft: two Bombardier Q400s and one Boeing 737-700) and Chadian Airlines in Chad (49% stake, launch scheduled for 1st October 2018). In addition, the carrier is in the process of relaunching the national airlines of Mozambique (Mozambique Airlines) and

in 2017/18 (+43%) 26


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Ethiopian Airlines carried over 10 million passengers in the last financial year. Equatorial Guinea, which it will own entirely.And the Ethiopian company is reportedly still in discussion with many other African countries such as Djibouti, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Nigeria and Ghana, among others. ViSion 2025.

This "pan-African" approach by Ethiopian Airlines (creating a very tight network and partnerships with local African companies) is one of the pillars of the "Vision 2025" development plan that the Horn of Africa carrier launched in 2010. "Ethiopian Airlines has achieved at least 80% of Vision 2025," Esayas

Wolde-Mariam Hailu, Director of International Operations of the Ethiopian airline, declared on the Africa Travel News website last January. At the same time, as part of "Vision 2025", Ethiopian Airlines has organized itself into 7 strategic divisions: Ethiopian domestic and regional flights, Ethiopian international long-haul airline, cargo, MRO, Ethiopian Aviation Academy, catering and ground services.This means that the airline is almost totally self-sufficient. Eight years ago, the "Vision 2025" plan forecast that Ethiopian Airlines' sales would reach the $10bn mark by that date, with traffic of 10 million passengers.

However, this latter objective has already been achieved (seven years ahead of schedule!), since the airline carried 10.6 million passengers in its 2017-2018 financial year (ending 8th July) , an increase of 21% compared to 2016-2017. Ethiopian Airlines also posted a net profit of $245.6m, down 6.3%, on sales of $3.2bn, up 43% from 2016-2017. 108 AirCrAft.

On the fleet side, Ethiopian Airlines has taken delivery of its 100th aircraft, a Boeing 787900, thus marking a landmark since it is the first time that an African airline has reached a fleet of this size in the entire

Ethiopian Airlines' stakes in other African carriers Airline


Current fleet


Asky Airlines

14th January 2010

8 aircraft

40 %

Chadian Airlines

1st October 2018


49 %

Guinea Airlines


3 aircraft

49 %

Malawian Airlines

31st January 2014

2 aircraft

49 %

Mozambique Airlines



100 %

Zambia Airways

January 2019


45 %

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history of aviation on the continent. Ethiopian's current fleet totals 108 aircraft (including cargo): 50 long-haul aircraft (9 Airbus A350-900s, 19 Boeing 787-8s, 3 Boeing 787-9s, 4 Boeing 777300ERs, 6 Boeing 777-200LRs, 9 Boeing 767-300ERs), 27 medium-haul aircraft (16 Boeing 737-800s, 10 Boeing-700NGs, 1 Boeing 737 MAX), 23 aircraft for the the carrier’s domestic and regional network (23 Bombardier Q400s) and 8 cargo aircraft (6 Boeing 777-200LRFs, 2 Boeing 757-260Fs). The Ethiopian company also has 65 aircraft on order (15 Airbus A350-900s, 5 Boeing 787900s, 29 Boeing 737 MAX 8s, 10 Bombardier Q400s, 4 Boeing 777-200LRFs and 2 Boeing 737-800Fs). It should also be noted that Bole International Airport in Addis Ababa is in the process of being expanded with the opening of a new terminal scheduled for the end of 2018, which should enable the Ethiopian Airlines hub to triple its capacity and accommodate 22 million passengers annually.The Ethiopian authorities are also still in discussion to identify the location for a future new international airport that will have four runways (instead of one for Bole International Airport) and a capacity of 80 million passengers.A logical development to keep pace with the country’s present strong economic growth. According to 2017 figures, Ethiopia is the second largest country in Africa after Nigeria, with a total population of 107.2 million. Its GDP has grown by more than 6% every year since 2004, reaching 8.2% between 2006 and 2007. Barring an economic downturn or geopolitical problems, there is, therefore, no reason at present why Ethiopian Airlines should not achieve its goal and become one of the world's leading airlines in the future. ■ Jean-Baptiste Heguy


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n 6th September, the aircraft of the Pegasus mission (derived from the French acronym for Major Force Projection in Southeast Asia) landed at Istres Air Base where they were welcomed by the new French Air Force Chief of Staff, General Philippe Lavigne. It was the end of a three-week tour of Asia. The Pegasus mission was conceived followed an invitation from Australia. During an official meeting, the commander of the RAAF (Royal Australian Air Force) proposed to his French



counterpart, at the time General André Lanata, to participate with combat aircraft in Exercise Pitch Black in Australia.The idea was tempting. Pitch Black is an important exercise, bringing together many air forces from the Asia-Pacific region which the French AF has few opportunities to work with. But the distances involved are daunting. Transport aircraft based in New Caledonia regularly participate in the exercise, but France has not sent fighters to Australia since 2004. However, Canberra made a proposal that was difficult to refuse.The RAAF undertook to provide the French AF with one of its KC-30A (A330 MRTT) in-flight refuelling aircraft to accompany fighter aircraft flying from France and a C-130 transport aircraft equipped with sea rescue equipment for the safety of transits over the oceans. The French AF authorities then decided to take advantage of this trip to Australia to organise a tour of Southeast Asia on the return leg. An area that French aircraft are not used to flying over. The aim was to demonstrate to local countries that France is capable of rapidly deploying significant air assets in their zone, drawing in particular on its bases in the Indian Ocean and the Gulf.The Air Force could thus demonstrate its ability to intervene in the event of a crisis or natural disaster and to assert itself as a credible partner for local forces. Paris also wanted to show its commitment to free air traffic in disputed areas in the South China Sea. Finally, the deployment would allow local forces to assess the capabilities of equipment already in service with the French AF, including the A400M and Rafale. The mission was dubbed Pegasus, and concrete preparations began in December 2017. General Patrick Charaix was appointed to lead the mission.

French AF aircraft involved in the Pegasus mission returned to Istres on 6th September.



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In the end, Australian aircraft did not have to fly to France. The French AF deployed three Rafales to Al Dhafra Air Force Base 104 in the United Arab Emirates. From there, the French aircraft completed the transit to Australia with the RAAF KC30A, after a stopover in Singapore. Three Rafale Bs were deployed, with crews from SaintDizier and Mont-de-Marsan air bases. The two-seater aircraft made it possible to offer numerous demonstration flights to Pitch Black participants, as well as to the forces of the countries visited during the Pegasus mission.To transport the equipment needed to support the aircraft and personnel for the Pegasus mission, the Rafales were joined at the end of Pitch Black by an A400M and an A310.A C-135 was also involved at certain stages. To ensure the autonomy of this detachment, most French AF specialties were represented. In addition to pilots, ground crews, computer scientists, intelligence specialists, members of the health service and AF fusiliers took part in the mission.The latter, together with local forces, guarded the aircraft on the ground. Some of these specialties and detachments had seldom worked together. While Rafales fly regularly with C-135s, coordinated flights with the A400M or A310 are very rare. The detachment consisted of 110 to 140 people altogether. A 40t batch of equipment was prepared to ensure virtual autonomy during the deployment, which lasted from 19th August to 4th September. The size of the batch proved to be about right, according to Colonel Arnaud Brunetta, assistant to General Patrick Charaix. Only one major part had to be ordered from France during the entire deployment.Aircraft availability was high. The first significant failure affecting a Rafale occurred during the penultimate stopover of the mission, in India.After consulting

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with Dassault, it was determined that one of the engines of one of the Rafales had to be changed. The A400M made a one-day round trip to the United Arab Emirates to pick up an engine. The aircraft left in the morning for Al Dhafra and landed at 22:00 back in India, at the end of its round trip.The mechanics changed the engine overnight and, the next day, the Rafale was ready to take off in the early morning. The operation demonstrated not only the A400M's capabilities for this type of logistics mission but also the value of having a Rafale base in the Middle East. PITCH BLACK.

Before the official launch of the Pegasus mission on 19th August, the Air Force detachment participated in Exercise Pitch Black from 27th July to 17th August. In addition to the Rafale B, a Casa from theTontouta air base in New Caledonia was also deployed. A total of 140 aircraft, including 71 fighters, took part in the exercise.These include Royal Australian Air Force E/A-18G Growlers and F/A-18F Super Hornets, Indian Air Force Su30MKIs, Royal Thai Air Force Gripens, Republic of Singapore Air Force F-16Ds, Royal Malaysian Air Force F/A-18Ds, Indonesian Air Force F-16s and many American combat aircraft. It was a good opportunity for the French to train alongside modern aircraft and non-NATO nations.Australia offers extensive exercise and firing areas suitable for these large-scale exercises. After the Australian exercise, the Pegasus mission began with a visit to Indonesia. Jakarta wanted the A400M to fly a humanitarian mission to the island of Lombok, which had recently been hit by a major earthquake.The French AF Atlas was therefore made available to local authorities. However, the crew were surprised to find that the volume of equipment to be loaded was rather small, compared to the A400M's capabilities.The French AF therefore proposed to increase the


load. In the end, 25 tons of equipment, including two ambulances and personnel, were transported to the devastated island. In parallel, the Rafale's capabilities were also demonstrated with the organisation of two flights with Indonesian fighter pilots. Malaysia was the next stop in the Pegasus mission. Exchanges with local forces naturally revolved around the A400M, for which Malaysia is the first export customer.At the next Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace Exhibition (LIMA), an airworthiness agreement is expected to be signed between France and the local authorities. This will allow the French Atlas to be repaired on site by Malaysian mechanics with parts from local stocks. Malaysia has chosen to acquire a very large batch of spare parts for its A400Ms, which means that they have good availability rates.A French engineering officer is present on site on an exchange basis. Some exchanges also took place concerning RMAF plans to acquired a new fighter aircraft, but these plans seem to be at an early stage.The Rafale is being offered to Malaysia, and local officers were invited for demonstration flights on the Rafale. This stopover was also an opportunity for the French AF to organise a press conference and allow the general public to take a closer look at its equipment. After Malaysia, the French mission set course for a country that the Air Force had not visited since the end of the Indochina war — Vietnam.To reach Hanoi, planners had studied an overflight of the South China Sea, passing close to zones claimed by China. In the end, a less risky route was chosen, flying over Vietnamese territory. The welcome on the ground was very warm, says General Charaix, who was invited to give a lecture on the French AF at the Vietnamese Air Force Academy. The visit toVietnam was followed by a brief visit to Singapore as it was preparing for the festivities to celebrate 50 years

of the RSAF. Staff were briefed on the A400M's capabilities. Local airmen were also interested to hear about French knowhow in electronic warfare. INDIA.

The last official stop of the Pegasus mission was in India.The Rafale and A400M landed at Gwalior Air Base (home to Indian AF Su30s and Mirage 2000s) while the C-135 headed for Agra Base (where the Indian Il-76 tankers are based).This stopover promised to be of particular interest since India has ordered 36 Rafales. However, the programme was disrupted, probably because of local political tensions surrounding the Rafale contract.The opposition and some media outlets claim that there were alleged irregularities in the purchase process of the French fighter. The Indian Ministry of Defence, therefore, did everything possible to make this French visit as discreet as possible. Access to the Gwalior base was denied to the press (including Air & Cosmos), the Rafale's flight over the Taj Mahal was cancelled, as were Indian pilot flights in the rear seat (although Indian pilots had flown on the Rafale during Pitch Black). Official exchanges were described as warm, but no images were released. The Indian Ministry of Defence waited until the day after the French contingent left to issue a terse press release. The French aircraft made a final technical stopover in the United Arab Emirates before landing in Istres on 6th September. The new French AF Chief of Staff (CEMAA), General Philippe Lavigne, was on hand to welcome the crews. He said the mission could be summed up with three words:“reliability, credibility and reactivity.”The CEMAA believes that Pegasus has demonstrated to Asian countries and to the world that the French AF can project itself over long distances from home territory.And officials seem open to the idea of organising other missions of this type in the future. ■ Emmanuel Huberdeau


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t the end of July,Airbus Helicopters and its partners invited delegations from all over the world and the press to attend the presentation of the H145M helicopter and HForce weapons system in the heart of Hungary, on the Bakony firing range. This test centre has been used for several months for HForce system development tests. Airbus Helicopters appreciated the availability of the Bakony centre, which is relatively close to the company’s Donauwörth facility and located in a NATO country.The representatives of the European group also underlined the support received from the local Ministry of Defence. The HForce system is still in the qualification phase.After testing



on the H225M,Airbus Helicopters is now focusing on integrating the system onto the H145M, the platform that seems best suited to the system and the various weapons. However, the H125M and H225M will also be able to benefit from HForce in a second phase, based on the work done on the H145M. PROVEN PLATFORM.

The H145M thus becomes the first armed helicopter offered by the company since theTiger attack helicopter, and indeed the company confirms that it drew inspiration from the Tiger when developing HForce. All Airbus helicopters could be equipped with door- or nacelle-mounted weapons, but the feature that sets the HForce system apart is the central computer and sighting

systems that transform a utility aircraft into an attack helicopter. Equipped with the HForce system, the H145M – a proven platform (more than 1,445 H145 family aircraft sold worldwide) derived from the UH72 Lakota (more than 420 units produced for the US Army) – becomes a very credible light support helicopter. Powered by two Safran Helicopter Engines Arriel 2E engines, the H145M offers 21% more take-off power than the EC145. It features a maximum take-off weight of 3,700kg and a maximum speed of 240km/h. In addition to the two pilots, the aircraft can carry ten passengers. It is equipped with the Helionix avionics system comprising three displays and two computers. Inservice performance is solid, and

availability rates are very good, says the manufacturer.The aircraft can fly 400 hours without overhaul and no major maintenance checks are required. The aircraft has been equipped with several protection features. Some of the fuel tanks are selfsealing, and armoured plates have been fitted around the front seats and on the floor. Hensoldt provides infrared guided missile launch detection systems, and the aircraft can be equipped with flare dispensers. Four Hensoldt dispensers, each equipped with 30 Chemring countermeasures, have been tested to date. The aircraft can also be fitted with two door-mounted MAG58 machine guns. In this configuration, the aircraft can carry six people in addition to the two pilots and two gunners.


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emergency flotation systems and can automatically follow trajectories corresponding to search and rescue patterns at sea.



Guided rocket test in Sweden.

The H145M has already been selected by five countries (see table): Germany has ordered fifteen aircraft for its special forces; Thailand will receive five for its Navy; Serbia has ordered nine H145Ms for its Air Force (five machines) and police (three); and Hungary will operate twenty. Luxembourg is the most recent customer, with two aircraft ordered. Among these customers, Hungary and Serbia have also chosen to integrate the HForce system. Germany has requested the integration of a fast rope insertion/extraction system and two articulated arms capable of supporting PMG M134D miniguns. The version delivered to Thailand, adapted for naval use, is equipped with a search and weather radar, automatic winch,

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The demonstrations and presentations in Hungary highlighted the different options available under the HForce system. In its basic version, designated Option 1 by Airbus Helicopters, the system includes the central computer developed by Airbus Helicopters and Rockwell Collins, the Thales Scorpion helmet-mounted cueing system and unguided weapons. These include a Nexter 20mm cannon pod, FN Herstal HMP 400 or HMP 250 pod (12.7mm machine gun) orThales non-guided rockets (including induction rockets). In this configuration, the aircraft can perform armed reconnaissance missions. Alongside the computer, the helmet-mounted cueing system is one of the differentiating elements of the HForce system.The pilots' helmets are connected to inertial sensors that allow the system to detect head movements. Additional sensors on the cockpit ceiling regularly update the inertial sensors for greater accuracy.With this system, the pilot has direct access to information about the aircraft (speed, altitude, etc.) in front of one of his eyes, but can also see augmented reality displays, such as a synthetic reproduction of the terrain. The viewfinder also allows the crew to quickly exchange information. For example, a pilot can designate a target so that an indicator appears on the pilot's or other crew members' helmet, enabling them to immediately identify it. In addition to combat applications, this type of function can also be useful for search and rescue missions. In this case, two additional helmets may be worn by crew members in the rear seats.An undisclosed civilian customer has reportedly ordered the HForce system for use in missions of this type.


With option 2, the capabilities of the HForce-equipped device are stepped up.Airbus Helicopters refers to this variant as a light attack helicopter.This configuration includes the integration of an L3 Wescam MX-15D optronics turret in addition to the equipment already present in Option 1. According to its supplier, this system is particularly stable – several targets can be tracked simultaneously with very high resolution. The MX-15D can be linked to the helmet-mounted cueing system so that it follows the pilots' head movements.The turret can also be coupled with the mapping system to automatically direct the cameras to a point designated by the crew on the electronic chart. L3 also provides a Vortex transceiver. The most complete configuration is Option 3, which includes the integration of guided weapons in addition to other weapons and sensors.Thales supplies its 75mm guided rocket (the 68mm rocket can also be integrated at the customer's request).The rocket is laser-guided via the MX-15D turret. The Thales' guided rocket is currently under development, but the company has already started marketing it. Option 3 can carry a mixed load of both guided and unguided rockets. The first FZ275 guided rocket firing from an H145M equipped with HForce took place in December 2017 at the Älvdalen test range in Sweden. According to

H145M orders Germany 15 Hungary 20* Luxembourg 2 Serbia 9* Thailand 5 *equipped with HForce

Airbus, rockets fired at a maximum distance of 4.5km hit their target with an accuracy of less than one metre. Missile guidance was provided by the MX-15D turret. Airbus Helicopters also provides for the integration of missiles corresponding to specific customer requests. AMBITIONS.

Equipped with the HForce system, the H145M becomes a versatile machine that can perform both transport and attack missions. Airbus describes it as almost the only one in this niche on the international market.The Bell UH1Y, for example, which can carry eight troops in addition to the crew and can be armed and equipped with an electro-optical system, is heavier (maximum take-off weight of 8,391kg) and has a shorter range. For countries with specialised attack helicopters (such as the Tiger and Apache), the H145M is seen as a complement, particularly for special operations. For countries whose budgets do not allow for the acquisition of a dedicated attack helicopter, the H145M HForce constitutes an alternative offering attack capabilities at a lower cost. Clearly, however, the platform does not offer the same performance as helicopters designed specifically for attack missions. Airbus invited many delegations to attend the H145M demonstrations in Hungary this summer. Military personnel from Kazakhstan,Australia,Austria, the United States and even representatives of the French defence procurement agency (DGA) made the trip. Countries that have already ordered the H145M were also invited to come and see what the HForce system has to offer. Airbus Helicopters has already delivered 20 of the 51 H145Ms ordered to date. Delivery of the first H145M equipped with the HForce system is scheduled for the second quarter of 2019. ■ Emmanuel Huberdeau


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he Mirage 2000N belongs to the second generation of aircraft designed to deliver French nuclear weapons. The first generation was that of the Mirage IV of the strategic air forces, and the Mirage IIIE and Jaguar A of the tactical air forces. The Mirage IVA was the first to assume the nuclear role, in 1964. Initially, it was planned that this aircraft would penetrate enemy defences at high altitude and high speed, helped by its electronic warfare system. The weapon at that time was the AN-22 gravity bomb. The concept of operations rapidly evolved, and the chances of survival were seen to be much greater at low altitude.The Mirage IV would thus penetrate enemy defences by flying low and by using terrain masking.The Mirage 2000N would be developed according to the same concept The Mirage IIIE assumed the tactical nuclear role, with the

T 32

AN-52 bomb, from 1972 onwards. The Jaguar followed in 1973. At that time, a distinction was made between tactical strikes, involving the AN-52 bomb (10 or 25 kilotonne yield) and strategic strikes with the AN-22 bomb (60 kilotonnes). While FAS (Strategic Air Forces) Mirage IVs had to be capable of striking major targets deep inside enemy territory, Fatac (Tactical Air Force) aircraft were designed to intervene against military targets in support of ground forces or to carry out warning strikes prior to strategic strikes. In 1979, France decided to upgrade the Mirage IVA to the IVP standard, capable of carrying the ASMP (air-sol moyenne portée, airto-ground medium-range) cruise missile.The Mirage IVP became operational with the ASMP in 1986. The quest for a successor for these different aircraft started in the late 1970s.At that time, Société des avions Marcel Dassault-Breguet Aviation was working on the development of a new single-engine

fighter based on the delta wing configuration of the Mirage III and IV.Advances in Fly By Wire flight controls made it possible to fully exploit the potential of the delta wing. In 1975, the Mirage 2000 programme was officially selected by the French government. In July 1978, the green light was given for the development of a version intended for nuclear deterrence, capable of carrying the ASMP missile. In 1979, a two-seater configuration was adopted, as it had been for the Mirage IV.The presence of a navigator was considered necessary because of the complexity of the missions and the need for dual control during nuclear weapon release. The Mirage 2000N was derived from the Mirage 2000B, a version designed for the training role.The 2000N featured a terrain following system and an electronic warfare system integrated into the airframe. The cockpit was also modified, and the rear position was adapted for the navigator/weapons system operator.


The first prototype of the Mirage 2000N, designated Mirage 2000N 01, made its inaugural flight in 1983, while tests of a model of the ASMP had taken place since 1980 on board Mirage 2000 B01. The Mirage 2000N 01 was used to open the flight envelope.A second prototype, the Mirage 2000N 02, was fully equipped. Like the Mirage IVP, the Mirage 2000N had to be able to penetrate air defences at very low altitude, in all weather, day or night.To do this, it was equipped with the Antilope V terrain following radar, two Uliss navigation systems and two AHV-12 radio altimeters. These ensured that very-low-altitude missions could be performed in excellent conditions.The pilot kept his hand on the throttle, but the aircraft flew automatically in this configuration — quite an impressive experience, according to feedback from pilots. System calibration necessitated extensive trials at the CEAM (Centre d'expertise aérien militaire) test centre, as the terrain following


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system had an unfortunate tendency to “balloon” up from the ground on detecting a structure with a strong radar echo.Thomson was able to gradually adjust the sensitivity of its radar and eliminate this problem. Low-altitude, high-speed penetration is still today one of the best ways to escape detection by air defence systems and enemy fighters.Air defence systems have little time to react, and enemy aircraft are forced to close in on the target to perform an interception in these conditions.The aircraft's electronic warfare suite included the Serval radar warning receiver, the Caméléon jammer and the Spiral and Eclair decoy and chaff/flare dispensers. The Mirage 2000N features the excellent flight qualities of the Mirage 2000 family.The flyby-wire flight controls and the agility of the M-53-P2 engine made it easy to fly. Speed could be reduced rapidly thanks to very effective airbrakes. Unlike the Mirage III, Mirage 2000 landings were very simple, even in cross-

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winds.As one former pilot confided, the crews had total confidence in their aircraft. The one weak point of the Mirage 2000N was the absence of an air-to-air radar. To detect other aircraft, crews can only rely on the electronic warfare system. During a mission, the presence of air defence fighters and an E3F Awacs command and control aircraft partly compensated for this. ASMP MISSILE.

For the nuclear deterrence mission, the Mirage 2000N's primary weapon was the ASMP missile from 1988 to 2009, then the enhanced ASMPA version.Although it was carried by the Mirage IVP, the ASMP was designed from the outset by Aerospatiale to be integrated on the Mirage 2000N. Based on the specified performance, engineers opted for a ramjet missile. In a ramjet, external air is “rammed” into the combustor using the forward speed of the missile; thrust is produced by passing the hot exhaust from


combustion of kerosene through a nozzle. Unlike other types of propulsion, the ramjet has no moving parts. It combines the advantages of long range and supersonic speed. The missile's range has never been officially published, but is thought to be several hundred kilometers and the maximum speed, greater than Mach 3.The ASMP can also follow multiple high-altitude or ground-hugging trajectories to avoid interception. In 2009, the ASMPA entered service on the Mirage 2000N, with increased range and penetration capabilities compared with its predecessor. For protection, the Mirage 2000N can carry two Magic 2 air-to-air missiles. Although they are not specialised in the air defence mission, Mirage 2000N crews train regularly in air combat and participate in complex exercises to remain up to date. On nuclear missions, the aircraft also carries two 2,000litre underwing drop tanks to increase autonomy.

Crews also regularly train to fire the ASMPA missile. Campaigns usually include low-level flight phases, in-flight refuelling and simulated missile firing using weapon mockups. Training involving other assets is used to practice nuclear missions, such as the “Poker” exercises, mobilising a wide range of French Air Force resources, including air defence systems. The Mirage 2000N can also carry a wide range of conventional air-to-ground weapons. Unlike the Mirage 2000C air defence variant, it is not equipped with guns and cannot carry a laser designator pod like the Mirage 2000D. From 1992, with the arrival of the Nk2 standard, the Mirage 2000N was able to carry the 250kg non-guided Mk82. The Mirage 2000N could also carry multiple rack-mounted BAP 100 and BAT 120 munitions, until their withdrawal from service in the early 2000s. From 2002, the Mirage 2000N was able to carry laser-guided


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DEFENCE GBU 12 bombs that could be employed in the presence of a laser designator on another aircraft or on the ground. This option opened the door for the Mirage 2000N to perform ground attack missions accompanied by a Mirage 2000D. In 2015, the addition of two extra hard points meant the Mirage 2000N could take off with four GBU-12s, offering real operational added value. The Mirage 2000N never underwent a major upgrade programme though it progressively evolved throughout its service life. The first aircraft were built to the Nk1 standard, designed to launch the ASMP missile. In 1992, the Nk2 standard offered a full conventional air-to-ground weapons capability. In 2009, the Nk3 standard introduced the ASMPA missile and included the integration of GPS to complement the inertial navigation units. In 2015, an encrypted radio (Secure) was added to allow the aircraft to be deployed in the Middle East.



The DGA signed a contract for 75 Mirage 2000Ns, with deliveries starting in 1987.The first unit to receive the aircraft was the 1/4 Dauphiné Fighter Squadron at Luxeuil Air Base, where the Mirage 2000N was placed on nuclear alert for the first time on July 1, 1988.The Mirage 2000N was then allocated the tactical strike role, while the Mirage IVP remained the

strategic strike platform until 1996, when Mirage 2000N squadrons were fully integrated into the strategic air forces. In 1989, it was the turn of the 2/4 La Fayette fighter squadron to be declared operational on Mirage 2000N. From September 1989 to June 1990, the 3/4 Limousin also flew the Mirage 2000N.The last squadron to operate the Mirage 2000N was the 2/3 Champagne, in 1991. For the latter, the Mirage 2000N constituted a transitional solution pending the arrival of the Mirage 2000D in 1998.With the arrival of the Rafale B in 2010, the FAS were reorganised, and the Dauphiné and Limousin squadrons were disbanded in 2010 and 2011, respectively. From then on, the La Fayette squadron was the sole unit fielding the Mirage 2000N until its retirement from service in the summer of 2018. GROUND ATTACK.

While nuclear deterrence was the Mirage 2000N's primary mission, its secondary role — ground attack (with the introduction of the Nk2 standard) — earned it a role in several out-of-area operations and major exercises. In the early 1990s, squadrons equipped with the Mirage 2000N began to participate in international exercises. In 1994,Mirage 2000Ns were deployed for the first time in an outof-area operation,in ex-Yugoslavia, as part of Operation Crécerelle. Deliberate Force followed in

1995. On 30th August 1995, for the first time, a Mirage 2000N released a bomb during an operational mission. On the afternoon of the same day, Mirage 2000N n° 346 was shot down by a Serbian air defence system.The ejected crew were captured and detained for 104 days. Thereafter, the Mirage 2000N was provisionally excluded from theatres of operation due to the lack of a guided bomb capability. However, squadrons continued to participate in international exercises. From 2002 onwards, the aircraft was cleared to carry the GBU-12 bomb,opening up new possibilities, and the Mirage 2000N gained a wealth of operational experience during its final years of service. In 2011, the aircraft participated in Operation Harmattan in Libya, dropping 144 GBUs in the course of 600 missions. This operation inaugurated a period of joint missions with the Mirage 2000D.The Mirage 2000N operated alongside the 2000D to benefit from the latter's designation capabilities.This duo was renewed from 2015 as part of Operation Chammal. Mirage 2000Ds and Ns based in Jordan operated against Islamic State forces. For the first time, the Mirage 2000N could use its full weapons capacity of four GBU12s. In 2015 and 2016, the Mirage 2000N accumulated 450 missions in Chammal, dropping 186 GBUs. Operation Barkhane in Africa brought an end to the operational career of the Mirage

2000N after two deployments, from April to September 2017 and from December 2017 to March 2018. FAREWELL TOUR.

In March 2018, the last Mirage 2000Ns on out-of-area deployment returned to Istres.There are still about twenty aircraft in service. The La Fayette conducted a tour of French Air Force bases to allow all AF personnel who have been involved with the Mirage 2000N to see it one last time. About 15 air bases were visited. On June 21, at the Istres base, a final tribute was paid to the aircraft at a ceremony attended by representatives of the entire French combat aviation community. On 14th July, for the last time, a Mirage 2000N took part in the Bastille Day flyover in Paris.During the summer of 2018,the last Mirage 2000N will be retired from service, though some components of these aircraft will continue to fly. This summer, the FAS is transitioning to an all-Rafale format. The La Fayette squadron will write a new chapter on the Rafale in Saint-Dizier.The French Air Force is writing a new chapter — the Mirage 2000N is the first member of the Mirage 2000 family to be withdrawn from service.The Mirage 2000C is due to follow in the early 2020s,then the Mirage 20005.The Mirage 2000D is undergoing an upgrade programme and is scheduled to remain in service until the 2030s. ■ Emmanuel Huberdeau

Mirage 2000N seen during Serpentex exercise in Corsica. 34


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SPACE Port of Auckland, New Zealand, at 30cm resolution.





n 1982, the creation of Spot Image (now Airbus Defence and Space Intelligence) — created to distribute images and products from the future Spot satellite (launched four years later) — marked the beginning of the commercial Earth observation era. The French opted for a commercial approach, while the Americans, who had deployed the first Landsat platforms in July 1972, offered data free of charge.


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Spot Image went it alone for about twenty years, before a handful of American companies emerged, stimulated by the 1992 U.S. Land Remote Sensing Policy Act, the 2003 National Security Presidential Directive (27), and the 2006 Licensing of Private Land Remote Sensing Space Systems (2006). Largely supported by U.S. DoD orders, Orbimage, Space Imaging and Worldview Imaging expanded rapidly with their small OrbView 1 (74kg), EarlyBird 1 (317kg) and


Ikonos 1 (817kg) satellites. Launched in April 1995, December 1997 and September 1999, respectively, they offered resolutions of 82cm for the first one and 3m for the other two (in panchromatic mode), compared to the 10m resolution of the three first-generation Spot satellites (1.8t at lift-off), in service since February 1986, January 1990 and September 1993. Spot 4, launched in March 1998, introduced a complementary part of the spectrum (medium infrared), while Spot 5 inaugurated high resolution (2.5m) in May 2002. Spot 6 and 7, in September 2012 and June 2014, offered improved performance (1.5m resolution), power consumption reduced by almost half, and weight reduced to 720kg each (compared to 3t for Spot 5).The Pleiades "constellation" of very high resolution (70cm) platforms was deployed in December 2011 (1A) and December 2012 (1B).


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Improved resolution and revisit capabilities have reshaped the market, particularly in terms of distribution systems, with magnetic tape and CD-ROMs being replaced by FTP servers and then streaming download platforms. Following a series of mergers and acquisitions (see box), DigitalGlobe has now become the market leader, ahead of Airbus Defence and Space Intelligence. DigitalGlobe posted sales of $810m in 2016-2017, before being acquired by the Canadian group Maxar Technologies ... for $2.4bn. It currently operates a fleet of five satellites: GeoEye 1 (46cm resolution) and WorldView 1 to 4 (46 to 31cm). Until five years ago, the market seemed to be fixed in place around this DigitalGlobe-Airbus duopoly, the former still benefiting from American military business, and the latter also benefiting (but to a lesser extent) from a few defence contracts, and capitalizing above all on the history of the Spot satellites and its export sales network.The established order had not been significantly altered by the emergence of new competitors in Israel (ImageSat International, which operates the government's very high-resolution Eros fleet), Germany (RapidEye, which manages five satellites for MDA) or Italy (e-Geos, which also distributes U.S. data, including DigitalGlobe). With a market that was clearly locked in place and ticking over nicely in the late 2000s, the time was ripe for the arrival of a swarm of New Space start-ups, who caught the eye of investors as the sought to position themselves with new approaches, technical innovations and significant cost reductions.Among them, Skybox Imaging was the first to offer video sequences of a few tens of seconds for site surveillance, thanks to its SkySat mini-constellation, initially planned to include 24 120kg satellites. Planet (formerly Cosmogia and later Planet


Labs) intends to exploit the potential of 3U cubesats with its Dove constellation – 5kg satellites equipped with medium-resolution cameras (3-5m). CONSOLIDATION.

In 2014, just as the large-scale deployment of Planet's operational satellites was getting under way, there was a dramatic development: Alphabet (Google's parent company) acquired Skybox Imaging for $500m. The operation gave a boost to investments, and constellation projects flourished ... until Skybox Imaging (now Terra Bella) was sold to Planet Labs (now Planet), less than three years later – and evidently without making any profit on the deal. Terra Bella nonetheless continues to supply images to Google for Google Maps and Google Earth. “It may have been a signal that marked the end of the good times

or the beginning of the end,” says one industry expert.“Though the number of satellites should continue to increase, the market should now start to consolidate.Within two years, the number of players should return to a reasonable level, through bankruptcies and takeovers. But the major historical players might hang on to their place in the Sun." As for the needs of satellite image users, they should also be clarified. Is 30cm resolution sufficient for commercial applications or do they need more, given that this would be close to the boundary with the defence market? Is the use of drones not more appropriate for proximity and military theatres of operations? And how can we increase revisits on any point on the Earth's land surface for applications that require daily, or even almost permanent, updates?

IMAGE PROVIDERS, WHO'S WHO Spot Image, a former subsidiary of Cnes, created in 1982 in Toulouse. Acquired by Astrium in 2008, it merged with Infoterra in 2010, becoming Astrium Geo-Information Services, then Airbus Defence and Space Intelligence. Orbimage (Orbital Imaging Corporation), founded in 1992 in Dulles, Virginia, by Orbital Sciences (now Northrop Grumman Innovation Systems). Renamed GeoEye in 2006, it was acquired in 2013 by DigitalGlobe. Worldview Imaging, founded in 1992 in Oakland, California. Absorbed by Ball Aerospace in 1995, it was renamed EarthWatch and then DigitalGlobe in 2001. Despite its acquisition by MDA in 2017, it has retained its name. RapidEye, founded in 1998 in Brandenburg an der Havel (Germany). It became BlackBridge in 2013 and was acquired by Planet Labs in 2015. Space Imaging, created in 1994 in Thornton, Colorado by Lockheed Martin and Raytheon. It was acquired by GeoEye in 2006, and joined DigitalGlobe in 2013. ImageSat International, created in 1997 in Tel Aviv (Israel) by Israel Aircraft Industries, continues its activities. e-Geos, a joint venture created in 2007 between the Italian Space Agency and Telespazio, is also continuing its activities. Skybox Imaging, created in 2009 in Mountain View (California). It was owned by Alphabet from 2014 to 2017 under the name Terra Bella, before being sold to Planet. Planet Labs, created in 2010 in Cupertino (California) under the name Cosmogia. It acquired BlackBridge in 2015, Terra Bella in 2017, and renamed itself Planet in 2016.


"The real questions," our expert continues, "are the following: Have those who today are offering myriads of small satellites to provide permanent data, with a fairly high resolution, found the right solution, and is it a matter of time for this new offer to take off? Are the services offered useful for agriculture, the environment, insurance or finance, and will they become commonplace if they become more accessible? And above all, what is the real potential of the market, which continues to grow slowly?” “So far, the high-resolution products being offered by Airbus and DigitalGlobe have been representative of the market reality. With Spot 4 and Spot 5, for example, services were developed for agriculture, generating a few million euros of income per year. But the core of the market is still the sale of images of countries at less than 1m resolution, for example in Mali when the French army was preparing a military operation.” “In my opinion, the real market today is polluted by the enthusiasm of investors, particularly in the United States, who are enabling a large number of start-ups to raise $3-5m relatively easily, and start building their satellites.Will they succeed in launching them? Will they succeed in generating a market around them? For the moment, and this is quite surprising, no public announcement of major contracts with banks or insurance companies has yet been made. The goose that lays the golden eggs has not yet been found... On the other hand, these new players are seeking to position themselves on state markets, and we regularly see them at the European Commission or in the ministries of defence. It is as if they have overestimated the value of the private market, at least for the time being.” ■ Pierre-François Mouriaux


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SPACE egularly presented as one of the stars of New Space, a Califor nia unicorn (startup valued at more than $1bn) or the Google of space imagery, Planet (ex-Cosmogia then Planet Labs) was founded in 2010 by three NASA scientists, including Will Marshall, who holds a Ph.D. in physics from Oxford University and is now CEO of the company. Operating out of a garage in Cupertino, near San Francisco, the start-up wanted to explore the capabilities of 3U cubesats for Earth observation, and developed the Dove satellite.The size of a shoe box (10 × 10 × 34cm), and with a lift-off weight of less than 6kg, Dove satellites offer a resolution of 3 to 5m.Their basic design and low production costs allow for mass production, and multiple launches are planned to boost revisit capability. Finally, regular "replenishment", via cluster launches on all types of launchers (and even from the International Space Station), compensates for failures and a limited lifespan (at an altitude of about 500km). Four prototypes were placed into orbit between April and November 2013 (on Soyuz 21a,Antares 110 and Dnepr launchers), and the mass deployment of operational satellites began in January 2014, with the launch of the first 28 units (on Antares 120). In less than five years, 298 Dove satellites have been successfully launched (in fourteen series), and 130 are currently in orbit – 10 times more than any of its competitors. Planet now has a production capacity of twenty units per week, from a workshop located on the ground floor of its headquarters in San Francisco. In addition to the Dove cubesats, there are the eighteen mini-satellites that belonged to Terra Bella, acquired last year from Alphabet (13 SkySats and five Ra-


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The SkySat constellation is now operated by Planet.

pidEyes, offering 80cm and 6.5m resolution, respectively. All this made it possible to increase by a factor of 10 the frequency of delivery of images in medium and high resolution. SEARCH ENGINE.

Last year, the start-up prodigy achieved its "Mission 1" objective: to capture, every day, images of the entire surface of the Earth (more than 300 million square


kilometres), thanks to its unique fleet.This represents 1.4 million images, 29 million pixels, or more than 6 terabytes of data per day.The next step for Planet is to make its imagery accessible and usable, with the vision of a "queryable" Earth. This is the purpose of Planet Analytics, the search engine that was launched last July. Using artificial intelligence, it will automatically index all objects on

the globe, record all physical changes on Earth, and allow users to search for buildings, road networks, aircraft, ships and deforestation areas in places of interest. "Governments and businesses are overwhelmed by the quantity and quality of images of the Earth available today, and existing solutions are not designed to deal with this mass of data," explains Shawna Wolverton, Product Manager at Planet.


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SPACE “With Planet Analytics, our customers have access to the usable data that really interests them, from the latest satellite imagery." After eight years of existence, the company now has 500 employees and seven offices around the world: four in the United States, one in Canada and two in Europe (Germany and the Netherlands), the latter two representing more than a quarter of the total number of employees. Berlin is Planet's European technology hub, hosting the control centre operating the PlanetScope and RapidEye constellations, in tandem with the San Francisco team, with more than 80 operators and technicians. It is headed by MassimilianoVitale, formerVice President of Operations of BlackBridge (a German space imaging company acquired in 2013), and nowVice President of Operations.



Planet Labs satellites being deployed from the ISS in 2014. The Amsterdam office is in charge of all commercial activity, and in particular manages the numerous contacts with the European Commission. In August 2017, under a development and sales partnership with Planet, the German analysis and testing group, IABG, became the first European company to provide exclusive daily images

Google to the rescue hough the marriage between Alphabet and Terra Bella was short-lived, Google is still a key player in the Earth observation sector. The Mountain View company is probably one of the best partners for image providers today, for the massive online storage of megadata collected by satellites and their automatic analysis (smart data). Its powerful machine learning algorithms are constantly improving, thanks to the millions of daily users of the Android smartphone system. In particular, they make it possible to instinctively detect the presence of forests, or to differentiate snow from clouds, by collecting pixels without cloud cover among the different views of the same area, taken at different times, to recompose a clean (post-processed) image. This know-how has been acquired with the development of Google Maps and Google Earth, which use cloud solutions and artificial intelligence to store, process and organise millions of images from orbit, using new and innovative tools. These operations are impossible to perform manually. Thus, since the end of 2016, Airbus Defence and Space has been using the Google Cloud Platform solution to host its OneAtlas basemap streaming service, covering the Earth’s entire landmass. Fully updated every twelve months, this storage solution requires a capacity of several hundred terabytes a year. The use of machine learning has enabled Airbus to reduce the error rate from 11% to 3%.



from Planet to the German Ministry of Defence for surveillance applications. DUAL AGREEMENT.

This development on the Old Continent should accelerate further following the signature this summer of a commercial agreement with Airbus, and the integration of Planet into the European Earth observation consortium VHR2018. The first partnership, formalised on June 25, allows the two companies to access each other's global remote sensing data at multiple temporal and spatial resolutions, and is intended to foster the joint development of new analytic solutions for a range of commercial markets. Under the second agreement, announced on July 13, the U.S. firm became a contributor to the consortium responsible for producing high-resolution coverage throughout Europe (between 2 and 4m resolution). Commissioned by the European Space Agency as part of the European Commission's Copernicus programme, the consortium is led by Airbus Defence and Space and involves 39 European and neighbouring countries, covering an area of 6 million square kilometres. In the coming year, Planet will deliver 1.7 million square kilometres of high-resolution images, in cooperation with Airbus and Deimos Imaging (the Spanish subsidiary of Canadian operator Urthecast), as well as

IGN and Space4environment, a Luxembourg-based company responsible for quality control. The images provided by the Dove constellation should be particularly useful for monitoring northern Europe, where cloud cover is more frequent. Asked about Planet's European strategy, MassimilianoVitale replies: "Today, Planet sells data in the fields of forestry, disaster management, humanitarian aid and security, directly and via a vast network of partners in Europe, to commercial and public customers. In North America, we are the leading supplier of satellite data for agriculture, and we are seeing strong growth in this market in Europe. We are serious about expanding in Europe, and we have been looking for a credible partner, with a long track record of success, to complement our geospatial offerings. The partnership we have just concluded with Airbus is, therefore, a great opportunity. It will allow access to each other's data and cooperation in the development of new solutions.We look forward to maximizing our global presence in key sectors, while leveraging each other's expertise to bring more complete and advanced products to market." PRAGMATIC PARTNERSHIP.

We asked François Lombard, Head of Intelligence Business at Airbus Defence and Space, if the alliance with Planet could be seen as a marriage of convenience: “Airbus and Planet are truly complementary in terms of capacity, skills and market access,” he confirms.“A completely logical marriage, therefore, but above all a promising one for our customers. I am very enthusiastic about this partnership, which should enable us to better respond to current market demands and create new solutions together.Today is a first step in what I hope will be a fruitful cooperation to sign other contracts worldwide.”


■ Pierre-François Mouriaux

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Pathfinder 1 image of Kandahar region, Afghanistan ounded in 2010 in Seattle,Washington by U.S. entrepreneur Jason Andrews, Spaceflight Industries specialises in organising shared launches of small satellites, using discounted berths on most commercial launchers: Electron (Rocket Lab), Falcon 9 (SpaceX), LauncherOne (Virgin Orbit), PSLV (Antrix), Soyuz (Glavcosmos),Vega (Arianespace)... Alongside this service, pending the development of its own constellation, its BlackStar subsidiary (created in 2013) is providing geospatial intelligence, merging data from various com-


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mercial satellites: Deimos 2 (Spain), the DMC 3 trio (China), KazEOSat 1 (Kazakhstan), most of the Kompsat series (South Korea), the Pleiades and Spot 6/7 (Airbus Defence and Space Intelligence),TerraSar X (DLR)... In August 2017, it signed a $16.4m contract with the US Air Force Research Laboratory to deliver a cloud-based platform called Geoint to provide on-demand analytics, collection and information services from global data sources, including satellite imagery, PICTURES FOR ONLY $90.

With its future BlackSky constellation, Spaceflight Industries aims to provide on-demand


high-resolution imagery (between 0.9 and 1.1m), as well as video (at a frequency of one frame per second), with delivery times of less than 90 minutes. In addition to frequent revisits (on the order of one hour), it plans to offer data at extremely low cost: less than 90 dollars per image, something never seen before on the market! To do this, 60 mini-satellites (55kg) are to be deployed in 500km sun-synchronous orbits, covering 95% of the Earth's population.They are based on the Scout platform, developed by Spaceflight Industries with a design service life of three years. Each satellite is stabilized in three axes, and equipped with an ori-

ginal water-based electro-thermal propulsion system (called Comet and provided by U.S. start-up Deep Space Industries). Images are taken with the SpaceView 24 imaging system (24cm aperture), developed by the American telecom equipment supplier Harris (formerly Exelis). On 26th September 2016, a 44kg prototype, Pathfinder 1, was placed into orbit at an altitude of 680km using an Indian PSLV G launcher. The cost of the satellite's construction and launch reportedly did not exceed $10m. In view of the success of the mission, it was decided not to launch the second demonstrator, and to proceed directly to the production of operational satellites.


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SPACE Thanks to a $53.3m fundraising campaign, completed in September 2017, financing was secured for an initial batch of four satellites. Their launch is imminent: Global 1 and 3 should fly on PSLV XL in September and October; Global 2, on Falcon 9 in November; and Global 4, on Electron next year. Twenty more units are due to follow by 2020, following the additional $150m raised by Spaceflight Industries in March, notably in Europe from the Space Alliance (Thales Alenia Space and Telespazio), and in Japan from Mitsui & Co, one of the most diversified companies in the world in terms of trade, investment and services. AGREEMENTS WITH THE SPACE ALLIANCE.


The Space Alliance's investment in the Seattle start-up (a few tens of millions of euros) is the first "pillar" of a three-part agreement, first announced at the previous edition of the World Satellite Business Week in September 2017 and then confirmed at the Washington Satellite Congress in March 2018. The second pillar is a cooperation and marketing agreement between BlackSky and Telespazio, which should enable each to enrich its catalogue of applications

An advertisement visible from orbit he famous Area 51 in the Nevada Desert is a place that is very regularly viewed by virtual visitors on Google Earth. This gave KFC advertisers the idea of provoking a close encounter of the second kind (evidence of an encounter with a UFO): a logo of more than 8,000m2, which would appear near the village of Rachel (37°38'49.45"N, 115°45'4.98"W). The logo was set up in November 2006 and lasted six days. An image was taken from an altitude of 680km by a DigitalGlobe Ikonos satellite (at the time GeoEye). The American restaurant chain thus became the first brand in the world to be visible from space, and the "face from space" appeared on Google's digital world map (


and services relating to Earth observation.This will allow Telespazio to market BlackSky products and services in Europe to major government customers. Finally, the third pillar concerns the creation of LeoStella LLC, an industrial joint venture owned 50/50 by Spaceflight Industries and Thales Alenia Space. Located in the United States (but not necessarily using only American suppliers), it will specialise in the large-scale production of small, high-performance, low-

Artist’s impression of BlackSky constellation.


cost satellites for low-earth orbit constellations, based on the Scout platform developed by Spaceflight Industries. It will benefit from the industrial expertise developed by Thales Alenia Space for telecom constellations: 24 Globalstar 2s launched between October 2010 and February 2013, 16 O3bs between June 2013 and March 2018 (out of 20 planned and pending seven O3b mPower units), and 65 Iridium Next satellites since January 2017 (81

planned). LeoStella will naturally be charged with building the next twenty units of the BlackSky constellation. “This agreement with two European space industry leaders validates BlackSky's business model and accelerates its development plan. It provides part of the financing for our constellation, minimises production risks, and reduces time to market in key market segments,” Jason Andrews said with a broad smile in March. "Being associated with the BlackSky project, whose concept is very innovative, was a real opportunity to seize," says Michel Fiat, special advisor to the CEO of Thales Alenia Space, in charge of industrial partnerships. “It is a win-win partnership that is part of our transformation strategy in the era of New Space, with the emergence of constellations of small observation satellites offering rapid revisits, which is of increasing interest to administrations, markets (business to business) and the military.This positions us as a leading industrial player, both in the United States and Europe. It is an important building block in a new approach to the market.”

■ Pierre-François Mouriaux


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f one counts the Electron launcher from start-up Rocket Lab as a New Zealand project, China and the United States finished June shoulder-toshoulder, with 18 orbital launches each.With four successful flights in July, however, China regained the lead, equalled its own full-year record after just seven months, and above all chalked up the highest number of successful launches in the same year. The 22 launch attempts carried out in 2016 had resulted in twenty successes, one partial failure and one in-flight failure.The previous record was set in 2012 and 2015, with nineteen launch attempts, all successful. On 9th July, an LM 2C/SMA (an upgraded version of the ageing LM 2C medium launcher in service since September 1982) was used for the third time since September 2008. Launched from the Jiuquan base, it placed Pakistan's first two Earth observation satellites, PRSS 1 and PakTes 1A, into sunsynchronous low Earth orbit. The first platform has a resolution of 1m in panchromatic


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mode and 4m in multispectral mode. It is the 17th satellite provided by the Chinese Academy of Space Technologies (Cast) for a foreign customer. China had also built Paksat 1R, Pakistan's first telecommunications satellite, which it launched in August 2011. The second satellite was a technology demonstrator developed by Pakistan's Space and the Upper Atmosphere Research Commission (Suparco), the agency responsible for the Pakistani space programme since 1961. The second Chinese mission took place 17 hours after the previous one, this time from the Xichang base into geostationary transfer orbit.An LM 3A orbited the Igso 7 satellite to improve the coverage of the BeiDou 2 navigation satellite constellation, which has been operating over the AsiaPacific region since December 2012 and now has 15 active satellites (12 in GEO and three in MEO). In November 2014, China had already launched two satellites in one 24-hour period (23 hours and 25 minutes exactly), both from Xichang (but from two different launch pads), placingYaogan 24 (reconnaissance) and Kuaizhou


placed in orbit (including 10 since November 2017): two in GEO and 13 in MEO, three of which are experimental platforms. Six other Beidou 3 launches are scheduled by the end of the year (four pairs in MEO and two singles in GEO).

2 (observation) into sun-synchronous orbits, using an LM 2D and a Kuaizhou 1, respectively. The third mission, carried out on 29th July with an LM 3B/YZ 1, also departed from Xichang heading for a medium orbit. It carried BeiDou 3 M5 and M6, two new aditions to the third generation BeiDou constellation, which is due to enter service in 2020, with a total of 35 satellites. Deployment began in March 2015, and 15 satellites have already been

The final Chinese mission in July took place two days later, from the Taiyuan base using an LM 4B launcher. An additional Gaofen satellite (China's first high-resolution civil Earth observation programme), GF 11, was placed in low sun-synchronous orbit. It was the twelfth Gaofen satellite in the series since April 2013, and the sixth this year. The Middle Kingdom, therefore, was already half way to its fullyear target (35 to 40 missions) by July. It will be noted that Chinese missions in 2018 have focused more on low-earth orbit (14 LEO/SSO missions, compared to four MEOs, three GTOs and one to the L2 Lagrange point in the Earth-Moon system). Most of the payloads were designed for Earth observation: 13 remote sensing and reconnaissance missions, five navigation missions, two telecommunications missions (including an Earth-Moon relay), one meteorological mission and one technology mission. In 2016, one-third of China’s launches targeted geostationary transfer orbit.

Launches by country, 1st January to 31st July 2018 Europe : 3 (4,8%) India :



New Zealand

New-Zeland/U.S. : 1 (1,6%)

Japan : 4 (6,3%)


China : (34,9%)

Russia : 10 (15,9%)


U.S. : (31,7%)

63 successful launches, including Falcon 9 F47, Ariane 5 VA 241 and GSLV F08.


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SPACE Including these 22 missions (out of 63 worldwide), the Long March launcher, all versions combined, has performed 282 flights since April 1970, including 267 successes - a success rate of 94.7%. The two American launches in July were performed by the SpaceX Falcon 9, in its Block 5 version.This new variant was introduced on 11th May, on the occasion of flight F54, definitively replacing Block 4, whose last three commercial flights took place between 22nd May and 29th June, without stage one recovery. The impressive series of first stage returns, inaugurated in December 2015, resumed with the launches from Florida on 22nd July and California three days later. Following flight F59, SpaceX had recovered 27 first stages (out of 33 attempts), including 16 on barges (out of 22 attempts). The first July mission carried the Canadian telecommunications satellite Telstar 19V, which had a record lift-off weight of 7,076kg. Since the Falcon 9 can only carry 5.5t to geostationary transfer orbit if the first stage is to be recovered, this was a so-called sub-GTO orbit, half as high (243 × 17,863km), requiring the satellite to consume more than one tonne of propellants in order to reach

its operational apogee at the end of August, at an altitude of 35,670km over Brazil. The second launch marked the seventh and penultimate lowEarth orbit deployment of satellites for the Iridium Next constellation, which began in January 2017. The launch and deployment, once again, were completed like clockwork, bringing the number of satellites in orbit to 65, with the final batch of 10 to be launched in November. With 20 successful orbital missions in seven months (including 14 by SpaceX), the United States is certainly lagging behind China, but remains the champion for GTO missions, with a total of nine (including five by SpaceX). RUSSIA.

Decidedly absent from the commercial market, Russia completed its fourth mission to the International Space Station this year, following a Progress cargo vessel (13th February) and two crewed missions (21st March and 6th June). Launched on the night of 9th-10th July, Progress MS 09 completed the fastest rendezvous with the ISS since it began operations, docking automatically to the Russian Pirs module just under 3 hours and 40 minutes after being

launched from Baikonur, Kazakhstan. The new flight profile (in only two orbits) saves 2 hours and 20 minutes in transfer time, which had already been significantly reduced since August 2012, from 51 hours (34 orbits) to six hours (four orbits). The two previous fast rendezvous attempts, on 12th October 2017 (with Progress MS 07) and on 11th February (with MS 08), had been disrupted by countdown aborts a few seconds before liftoff. In both cases, Russian technicians replaced a control unit inside the Soyuz launcher, resulting in a two-day postponement, and the rendezvous with the ISS was carried out after 34 orbits. The next step is obviously to adopt this new flight profile for Soyuz manned vessels, but several other Progress flights will still be necessary beforehand.Thus, the next two crews to be launched by the end of the year to the ISS (aboard Soyuz MS 10 and 11, on 11th October and 20th December, respectively) will still use the fourorbit mode. It is interesting to note that the two-orbit mode is still not as fast as two historical dockings carried out more than 50 years ago. On 12th September 1966, the American Gemini 11 capsule, manned

by astronauts Pete Conrad and Dick Gordon, reached the Agena GATV-5006 target stage in 94 minutes.The following year, on 30th October 1967, the first automatic rendezvous between two spacecraft — performed by the Soviet Union with the Cosmos 186 and 188 — was completed 68 minutes after the second spacecraft took off. ARIANE 5.

July also saw the third flight of Ariane 5 this year, carrying four more satellites for the Galileo constellation into medium orbit on behalf of the European Union. A total of 26 operational Galileo satellites have been deployed since October 2011, using seven Soyuz rockets and three Ariane 5s launched from the Guyana Space Centre. This 99th flight of the Arianespace heavy launcher (since it entered service in June 1996) was the eighth and final mission for the ES version (introduced in March 2008, with the first mission of an ATV cargo vessel to the ISS). It also marked the last mission using an EPS upper stage (equipped with the Aestus reignitable engine) and a medium payload fairing (13.8m diameter). ■ Pierre-François Mouriaux

LAUNCHES WORLDWIDE, 1ST-31ST JULY 2018 Date Time (UTC) 9th July 3:56

Payload Weight PakTes 1A 300kg PRSS 1 (Pakistan Remote Sensing Satellite 1) 1,200kg 9th July BD IGSO 7 (BeiDou 32) 20:58 4,200kg ? 9th July Progress MS 09/70P 21:51 7,430kg 22nd July-5:50 Telstar 19V 26th recovery of 1st stage 7,076kg 25th July Galileo 23-26 11:25 4 x 715kg 25th July-11:39 Iridium Next 160 27th recovery of 1st stage 10 x 860kg 29th July BD 3 M5 (BeiDou 33, 34) 1:48 2 x 1,014kg 31st July Gaofen 11 (GF 11) 3:00 2,700kg ?

Mission Target orbit Earth observation SSO Earth observation SSO Navigation GEO ISS resupply (LEO) Docked on 10th July at 1:31 Communications GEO Navigation MEO Communications LEO Navigation MEO Earth observation LEO

Launch vehicle Flight number Long March 2C/SMA N° 3 (279th Longue Marche)

Site Launch pad Jiuquan SLS-2

Long March 3A N° 27 (280th Longue Marche) Soyuz 2.1a N° 15 (1 830e R7) Falcon 9 Full Thrust (v1.2/Block 5) N° 38 (58th Falcon 9) Ariane 5 ES N° 8 (VA 244/L596) Falcon 9 Full Thrust (v1.2/Block 5) N° 39 (59th Falcon 9) Long March 3B/YZ 1 N° 6 (281e Longue Marche) Long March 4B N° 30 (282e Longue Marche)


Xichang LC-2 Baïkonur LC-31/6 Cape Canaveral SLC-40 Guyana Space Centre ELA-3 Vandenberg SLC-4E Xichang LC-3 Taiyuan LC-9

LEO (Low Earth Orbit); SSO (Sun-Synchronous Orbit); MEO (Medium Earth Orbit); GEO (Geostationary Earth Orbit); IGSO (Inclined Geosynchronous Orbit); HEO (High Earth Orbit). 42


N° 4

12 TH OCTOBER 2018

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