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Friday, March 7, 2014

Regional Scan: Middle East & Africa

Gulf Air Promotes Middle East Hub at Bahrain Airshow

Gulf Air Airbus A330-300. Courtesy of Airbus.
Bahrain national carrier Gulf Air signed a number of fleet maintenance and improvement agreements, totaling $150 million, at the Bahrain International Airshow.

On the first day of the show, the airline signed a $100 million five-year service extension agreement with Rolls-Royce for its fleet of Trent 700-powered Airbus A330s. Gulf Air also unveiled its new A330, which is scheduled to be retrofitted later this year with enhancements the carrier did not disclose.

Maher Salman Al Musallam, acting CEO of Gulf Air, said the agreements were aimed at encouraging “growth in Bahrain’s tourism sector and promote it as an aviation industry hub.” Gulf Air also signed a three-year Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) agreement with JorAMCo.

UAE Researchers Look to Desert Plans for Biofuel

Researchers at the United Arab Emirates-based Sustainable Bioenergy Research Consortium (SBRC) are making breakthroughs in sustainable aviation biofuel development, discovering that desert plants fed by seawater can produce biofuel more efficiently than other well-known feedstocks.

The consortium, funded by Boeing, Etihad Airways and Honeywell UOP, is looking to develop and commercialize sustainable aviation biofuel that emits 50-80 percent less carbon through its lifecycle than fossil fuel.

“Plants called halophytes show even more promise than we expected as a source of renewable fuel for jets and other vehicles,” said Dr. Alejandro Rios, director of the SBRC.

Over the next year, SBRC scientists plan to create a test ecosystem by planting two crops of halophytes in Abu Dhabi and then allowing waste seawater from a fish and shrimp farm to nourish the plants before converting them into aviation biofuel.

Boeing’s announcement of the SBRC’s latest developments comes after an Etihad Airways demonstration flight with a 777-300ER powered in part with biofuel refined in UAE.

Lion Air Airbus A320. Courtesy of Airbus.

CFM56-5B ‘Obvious Choice’ to Power Lion Group A320s

Lion Air Airbus A320. Courtesy of Airbus.
The Lion Group’s Airbus A320ceo fleet will be powered by CFM International’s CFM56-5B engine, with the group’s founder, Rusdi Krana, calling the selection an “obvious choice.”

Under the new contract, the CFM56-5B engines will power a fleet of 60 A320ceo aircraft ordered by the Lion Group in March 2013.

“Although we are introducing a whole new engine type, it is coming from the same company that has been with us from the very beginning,” said Kirana.

Lion Group’s new engines will be the CFM56-5B Performance Improvement Package (PIP) configuration, which features a 0.5 percent improvement in fuel burn, core hardware changes and a new high-pressure turbine blade. Jean-Paul Ebanga, CEO of CFM, said his company is closely watching “the explosive growth in commercial aviation in Asia.”

Northrop Grumman Wins Dubai Airport Analytics Contract

Dubai Air Navigation Services (DANS) has selected Northrop Grumman to provide the analytics module of its Airport Realtime Collaboration (ARC) suite for Dubai Airports. The ARC tool will provide the airports with real-time data about airport and airfield operations.

“Dubai International handled more than 57.6 million passengers in 2012, and is growing at more than 15 percent year on year. We need the very latest systems in place to help us manage that growth and remain efficient,” said Mark Green, head of strategy and ATM Development at Serco DANS.

Elbit to Provide IAF Hercules Avionics Upgrades

Elbit Systems has been awarded a $15 million contract from Israel’s Ministry of Defense to provide avionics upgrades for the Israeli Air Force’s (IAF) fleet of C-130 military transport aircraft.

Under the two-year contract, Elbit will provide the IAF with the capabilities to allow the aircraft to meet international Communications Navigation and Surveillance/Air Traffic Management (CNS/ATM) standards and the ability to operate within commercial airspace.

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