News Round-Up No. 3

Nothing too heavy to read this week. I really really need some rest. Instead this week will be more stating facts less opinions.

Airbus A350-1000 completes its historic first flight

The test flight of this new aircraft on November the 24th paves the way for a new type of long haul aircraft, and this kick-starts the review process which will clear the aircraft for commercial use, and already nearly 200 of these planes have been ordered by airline companies across the world.

The plane measures almost 75 metres and has a range of nearly 8,000 nautical miles. It is designed for high efficiency alongside maximum reliability, while offering passengers maximum comfort. The longer fuselage also creates a larger capacity of 366 people, and also hosts larger premium areas for business and first class passengers. Contributing to the A350’s efficiency are its Rolls-Royce Trent XWB-97 turbofan jet powerplants, the most efficient engines to date. The plane is made up of mostly carbon fibre reinforced plastic (CFRP), and has the very latest aerodynamic technologies, including unique morphing wings which reduce drag and lower fuel burn.

Personally, I feel that Airbus are only playing catch up with Boeing, as Boeing are already planning a bigger 777, a 777-10x, which would be larger than an A350 and a 777, and would boast a larger carrying capacity of both cargo and people. At this point, Airbus need to come up with a new idea in order to challenge Boeing, as right now it appears that Boeing are the ones with all the cards, and pushing the boundaries of commercial aircraft, whereas Airbus appear to just keep trying to stay level.


Canada to buy interim Boeing Super Hornet Fleet

The Canadian Government has started negotiations with Boeing for 18 F/A-18 Super Hornets to serve as an ‘interim’ squadron until the Government formally choose a fighter to replace the CF-18s.

This has been a long while coming, since the Department of Defence decided to push back the order of 65 F-35As, due to the F-35 being months behind schedule. Canadian Defense Minister Harjit Sajjan says the fighter procurement file has been “completely mismanaged” over the past decade, and now the country has too few CF-18 Hornets to meets shared security commitments under Norad, NATO and their own national security concerns. Canada bought 138 CF-18s between 1982-1988 and the number stands at 77 today. That is not enough to sustain combat operations abroad while also providing homeland defence and backup for contingency operations. Canada’s chief of the defence staff, Gen. Jonathan Vance says “It’s not just deployed missions that count, it’s deterrence. It’s the ability to respond to another 9/11-like situation and the unforeseen. It’s about having something on the shelf.” The Super Hornet was supposedly chosen because it does not need further development and is highly interoperable with the U.S. military.

Responding to the news, Boeing Defence, Space & Security says it is “honoured” to meet the RCAF’s immediate multi-role fighter needs in support of sovereign and North American defence. Boeing remains committed to offering a technologically cutting-edge version of Super Hornet for the longer-term CF-X requirement, likely incorporating technology upgrades being considered by the U.S. Navy.

Lockheed says it is disappointed that Canada chose to buy Super Hornets over F-35s. But Lockheed likely takes comfort in the fact that Canada will remain a bill-paying member of the F-35 program going into the CF-X procurement. “The F-35 has proven in all competitions to be lower in cost than fourth-generation competitors,” a Lockheed spokesman says. “The F-35 is combat-ready and available today to meet Canada’s needs for the next 40 years.”

As I talked about in my blog post about the F-35 last week, I think that although Canada has very strong ties to the F-35 programme, they should instead look elsewhere for replacement fighter planes, as the F-35 is trying to do too many things at once, and so as a result, is only mediocre at everything. However the blame is also kind of on Canada, as they currently have a fleet of planes from the 80s, and while Canada’s military forces aren’t exactly the most active, they should still have recognised that the times were changing within fighter plane technology and upgraded their fleet sooner, possibly with F-22s while they were still being produced, as they are certainly higher performing than what it looks like the F-35 will be. In terms of what plane Canada will chose, it will most likely end up being the F-35, however they should still consider looking at Boeing and their developments in terms of the next Super Hornet, as it certainly looks technologically capable for Canada’s fighting force.



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