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Latest news on the defence and aerospace sector.

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    The decades-old conventional flight data recorders found in every commercial airliner might soon be replaced, or at least supplemented by a feed of recorded data to a land-based server.

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    Brazilian aerospace group Embraer and Morocco’s Mohammed VI International Academy of Civil Aviation (AIAC is its abbreviation in French) on Monday signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) in Casablanca. The aim of the MoU is to develop aviation-related engineering in the North African country. Embraer will train Moroccan engineers in Brazil and will work with the AIAC to identify and establish programmes to produce world-class aeronautical and related engineering training programmes in north west Africa. “[T]his MoU with Embraer represents an important step in our strategy of working with globally renowned organisations, such as Embraer, willing to collaborate and to support us in our goal of preparing aeronautical engineers in Morocco, with world-class standards,” said AIAC MD Abdellah Menou. “We are pleased with the opportunity to share with AIAC our expertise in the preparation of highly skilled engineers to address the challenges of such a demanding industry like aerospace,” affirmed Embraer VP: Engineering and Technology Humberto Pereira. “As a leader in commercial aviation, and with 46 years of experience in designing and manufacturing aircraft that operate in more than sixty countries, we are always honoured to share our knowledge with organisations that aim to play an important role in such a competitive industry.”

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    Denel on Wednesday said it felt vindicated from allegations of being co-opted by the Gupta family after the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria dismissed an urgent business rescue application made by LMT Holdings against the state-owned defence conglomerate. The application for business rescue brought by LMT Holdings, a Denel subsidiary, was dismissed with costs by the same court on Tuesday due to the applicants’ failure to make out a case supporting their application.

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    Aircraft manufacturer Boeing and technology company Microsoft announced earlier this month an agreement to build a cloud-based platform for Boeing’s portfolio of commercial aviation analytics tools.

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    Inspired by, and drawing on some of the development work done with a South African company, European aerospace company Airbus Helicopters (formerly Eurocopter and part of the Airbus Group) has created a system that allows its extensive range of civilian helicopters to be militarised and armed. This system is designated H-Force.

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    European aerospace and defence company Airbus Defence and Space (Airbus DS) expects the global defence market to grow at an annual average rate of 2.4% between now and 2020. Currently, total global defence expenditure is estimated at about €400-billion. In terms of regions, defence spending in the US and Canada is expected to show no growth while, at the other extreme, in the Asia Pacific it is forecast to increase by 6% a year. Defence spending in the Middle East and Africa is predicted to go up by 3% each year and in Latin America by 2%. The company’s forecast splits Europe into two groups – France, Germany, Spain and the UK in one group and the rest of Europe in the other group. Defence spending for the four bigger countries is expected to increase by an average of 1% annually, while the prediction for the rest of Europe is 2%.

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    Remotely piloted aircraft systems (RPASs) have the potential to significantly change the way many industrial, engineering and mining operations are conducted, with the ability to reach difficult to access areas and remove people from hazardous situations.

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    Brazilian aerospace group Embraer and Morocco’s Mohammed VI International Aviation Academy (AIAC) signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) in Casablanca last week. The aim of the MoU is to develop aviation-related engineering in the North African country. Embraer will train Moroccan engineers in Brazil and will work with the AIAC to identify and establish programmes to produce world-class aeronautical and related engineering training programmes in north west Africa. “[T]his MoU with Embraer represents an important step in our strategy of working with globally renowned organisations, such as Embraer, willing to collaborate and to support us in our goal of preparing aeronautical engineers in Morocco, with world-class standards,” said AIAC MD Abdellah Menou.

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    Airbus Helicopters (formerly Eurocopter and part of the larger Airbus Group) is confident that it has a unique global presence. The company recently pointed out it that had 22 900 employees worldwide, with 29 customer centres, 26 training centres and 100 maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) centres. With a turnover of €6.8-billion last year, its machines were flown by 3 010 operators in 149 countries.

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    South African State-owned defence industrial group Denel on Tuesday unveiled significantly improved annual results. Revenues in the financial year 2015/2016 jumped by 41% to R8.228-billion. Net profit increased by R125-million in comparison to the previous financial year, to R395-million. Earnings before interest and taxes shot up by 59% to R637-million. Exports increased by 6% and are now responsible for 58% of the group’s total revenues. “We think we have improved the performance of Denel,” affirmed acting group CEO Zwelakhe Ntshepe. “In fact, as far as we know, Denel has never performed as [well as] with these figures.” He made a point of praising the group’s employees. “Denel is on a sustainable growth trajectory. The future of the company looks positive and I’m extremely proud of the performance of the company.”

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    The Denel Group, South Africa’s State-owned defence and aerospace business, is upbeat on the future of its Small African Regional Aircraft (Sara) project. “We have progressed well on the Small African Regional Aircraft concept, and have developed a full-scale mock-up as part of the R&D [research and development] process,” reported acting group CEO Zwelakhe Ntshepe at Denel’s 2015/2016 annual results media briefing on Tuesday. “This is a national flagship project Denel is honoured to be involved in.” Originally called the South African Regional Aircraft, the Sara concept was publicly launched at the African Aerospace and Defence exposition in 2014, although work on the idea started within the group in 2012. It would be a 24-seat, pressurised, high wing twin-turboprop aircraft, able to carry passengers, freight or a mixture of both and able to operate from quite rough airstrips.

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    Creamer Media’s Samantha Herbst talks to Engineering News journalist Keith Campbell about defence industrial group Denel’s annual results.

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    Denel acting CFO Odwa Mhlwana has confirmed that the creation of Denel Asia, a joint venture with South African private-sector company VR Laser, has been approved by the relevant governmental authorities. Furthermore, they have agreed that nothing wrong was done in setting up the company, which is to be based in Hong Kong. “Certainly, Denel Asia is a critical market [sic] for our growth,” he said in response to a journalist’s question at the group’s annual report media briefing on Tuesday. “The competition [in Asia] is extremely, extremely severe. Now, Asia has been a market we’ve been excluded in [sic] for a very long time. It is a very lucrative market.” It is Denel’s strategy to get into this market.

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    South Africa is to end its membership of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) troika on politics, defence and security, the Presidency has revealed. “South Africa will cease to be a Member of the Organ Troika on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation on 30 August 2016 when the Republic of Mozambique will resume this position as Outgoing Chair,” said a statement from the Presidency, which also announced that President Jacob Zuma was in Swaziland to attend a SADC meeting.

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    The National Treasury on Wednesday declined to be drawn into a public spat with Denel after the State-owned defence conglomerate publicly defied and accused it of political “grandstanding” for trying to stop a joint venture company linked to the controversial Gupta family, Denel Asia. This follows a strongly-worded statement by Denel in which it vowed to oppose the court action brought by National Treasury in a bid to stop the Denel Asia deal from going through.

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    South African State-owned defence industrial group Denel unveiled significantly improved annual results at a recent media briefing. Revenues in the financial year 2015/2016 jumped by 41% to R8.228-billion. Net profit increased by R125-million in comparison to the previous financial year, to R395-million. Earnings before interest and taxes shot up by 59% to R637-million. Exports increased by 6% and are now responsible for 58% of the group’s total revenues.

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    The Denel Group, South Africa’s State-owned defence and aerospace business, is upbeat on the future of its Small African Regional Aircraft (Sara) project. “We have progressed well on the Small African Regional Aircraft concept, and have developed a full scale mock-up as part of the R&D [research and development] process,” reported acting Group CEO Zwelakhe Ntshepe at Denel’s recent 2015/2016 annual results media briefing. “This is a national flagship project Denel is honoured to be involved in.”

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    An explosion destroyed a Falcon 9 rocket belonging to Elon Musk's SpaceX and its cargo during preparations for a routine test firing at Cape Canaveral in Florida on Thursday, two days before it had been due to blast off and place a satellite in orbit. SpaceX said there were no injuries and that an "anomaly" during the static fire test resulted in the loss of the rocket and a communications satellite owned by Israel-based Space Communication which was going to be used by Facebook to expand internet access in Africa.

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    Space science and technology is developing ever more rapidly. And this has consequences for South Africa and especially the South African National Space Agency (Sansa). “We’re living in exciting times, in terms of space,” highlighted the founder-CEO of Sansa, Dr Sandile Malinga. “There are many opportunities, the technology is advancing very rapidly, in all aspects – launch systems, satellites and satellite constellations, and space probes. So much is moving so fast that it requires us, as a country, to step back and ask: what are we doing? What should we be doing? Is our strategy still current? Is there a chance for us to rethink what we’re doing?”

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    Swedish aerospace and defence group Saab revealed on Friday that it and South African Defence group Denel had cooperated to integrate the former's Giraffe radar with the latter's Umkhonto surface-to-air missile. "It's producing a system that's going to be very hard to beat," affirmed Saab country unit Africa head Hans Rosén to Engineering News Online. This development is, in a sense, a spin-off of the acquisition of the Saab Gripen fighter by the South African Air Force. During that programme, he explained, the two businesses learned to trust each other.

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