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Aerospace & Defence News, October 2017

Some 750 workers at BAE Systems Warton and Salmesbury sites in Lancashire are to lose their jobs as a result of reduced demand for Eurofighter Typhoon where it is manufactured. The job cuts are among nearly 2,000 announced by the listed defence company.

 

The Lancashire losses are among 1,400 to go from BAE’s military air and information business, which also include 400 in Brough on Humberside. The move is part of a “re-organisation and rationalisation” programme effective from January 1,2018.

 

“These changes will drive competitiveness, accelerate technology innovation and deliver continued improvements in efficiency and operational excellence,” it said.

Meanwhile, the UK’s biggest defence workers’ union. Unite, is calling for an urgent meeting with the management. Unite assistant general secretary Steve Turner said:

“The UK government can end the uncertainty surrounding the future of thousands of British BAE defence jobs at a stroke by committing to building the next generation fighter jets here in the UK.”

 

“Ministers should be under no illusion. Once these jobs are gone, they are gone for a generation and with them the skills and ability to control our own defence and manufacture the next generation of fighter jets and other defence equipment in the UK.”

 

“The ripple effects down the supply chain and through our manufacturing communities would be immense too, hitting the workforces in other cutting-edge companies that are involved in the manufacture of one of the best fighter jets in the world, as well as depriving communities of decent well-paid jobs.

 

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The race to develop the first electrically powered and autonomous commercial passenger aircraft is accelerating after Boeing yesterday announced plans to acquire cutting-edge aviation research partner Aurora Flight Sciences for an undisclosed sum.

 

The acquisition of the small Virginia based company, which has flown more than 30 unmanned aircraft since it was founded in 1989 and last year won an $89m Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency contract to develop an unmanned hybrid electric test aircraft, comes as Boeing steps up its focus on future aviation technologies.

 

The US aerospace and defence company earlier this year set up Horizon X, a venture capital arm designed to invest in disruptive innovation. One of its first investments was in Zunum Aero, a Washington-based start-up which aims to develop the world’s first commercial hybrid electric-powered passenger aircraft. Zunum revealed operating cost details of its planned 10-12 seater aircraft, which it aims to have flying commercially by 2022.

 

The company wants to convert drivers and rail passengers into air travellers by using lower security local airfields to cut the time it takes to travel short to medium distances. It estimates that the total market potential for replacement aircraft and conversion of ground travellers to air could reach as much as $3tn.

 

In April, it launched plans for a scalable aircraft of 10-12 seats, initially hybrid but convertible into fully electric when battery technology allows. It plans to fly a demonstrator aircraft by 2019.

 

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Engineers from BAE Systems together with students from Cranfield University, have revealed a new technology concept (adaptable UAV’s) allowing to better adapt to evolving future battlefield situations.

 

The new unmanned aircraft concept can alternate between two different flight modes in the same mission.

The Adaptable UAVs are a hybrid between fixed and rotary-wing aircraft, and would use adaptive flight control and advanced navigation and guidance software.

 

This technology would allow the aircraft to benefit from the greater speed and range afforded to fixed-wing aircraft, before alternating to rotary-wing mode to hover and achieve vertical take-off and landing.