17 Jun 15. Piaggio targets increased defence production.
Italian aircraft manufacturer Piaggio Aerospace is on track in the certification of its P.1HH HammerHead unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), as the company continues to shift its focus into the defence aviation market, company CEO Carlo Logli told IHS Jane’s on 16 June.
Following certification of the first platform – expected by the end of the year – deliveries to the Italian Air Force will begin, with two prototype aircraft currently undergoing testing and evaluation in Sicily.
According to Logli, the HammerHead has a maximum speed of 402 kt and can carry a payload of 500 kg, with a maximum ceiling of 42,000 ft.
The company is looking at pursuing export markets for the UAV in Europe, the Middle East, and Southeast Asia. Logli said operator feedback from the Italian Air Force, the platform’s initial user and reference customer, would make it easier to secure further sales.
Unlike other UAVs with similar functions, the HammerHead operates on two engines, cutting the risk of platform loss through engine failure.
The company is in the process of consolidating its manufacturing and commercial operations at a new 50,000 m 2 facility in the Ligurian town of Villanova d’Albenga. As a result, all the manufacturing activity will take place in one facility, with the ramp-up of production being completed by 2017. Across defence and civil manufacturing lines, the company will be looking to increase output from nine to 17 aircraft per year, with independent production lines being established for civil and military aircraft. Logli is targeting a manufacturing output split at 60% civil and 40% military, while maintaining its presence in general aviation with its business aircraft. The company is also involved in the engine component manufacture market, producing blades and seals, as well as conducting engine maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO), winning contract work on the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter. The business, which generates about EUR60m (USD68m) in revenues per year, is projected to grow to EUR70-80m per year. Piaggio Aerospace is also developing a multirole patrol aircraft variant of its P.180 Avanti II aircraft for the United Arab Emirates with delivery expected at the Dubai Air Show later this year. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
18 Jun 15. Airbus threatens to quit European drone project. Tom Enders, Airbus chief executive, has threatened to pull out of Europe’s plan to develop a surveillance drone should EU governments persist in placing burdensome political requirements on multinational military projects. The head of Europe’s flagship aerospace and defence group fired a warning shot to EU governments preparing to launch a two-year study of their requirements for a drone called a medium-altitude, long-endurance aircraft. European industry has long campaigned for the project, which is seen as vital to preserve know-how in unmanned aircraft — an area where the US and Israel have established market-leading positions. Mr Enders said he was “sick and tired” of industry taking the blame for problems with European projects that had been highly politicised. “Those projects when they run, they get into trouble time and again,” he said in an interview with the Financial Times at the Paris air show. He highlighted the agreement last month by France, Germany and Italy to fund a €60m study of what a European surveillance drone might look like.
“Pooling our requirements should be done intelligently and not in a highly politicised, nationally fragmented way,” said Mr Enders, who stressed he supported multinational European co-operation.
However, he said there should be one lead nation and one lead company on individual military projects, with suppliers chosen on merit.
“This is something I will look for to be employed on this [surveillance drone] project,” he added. “I would not be shy to opt out of projects if I get the impression that this would be?.?.?.?a re