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easyJet welcomes Joey as first member of the airline’s ‘furry flight club’

EasyJet

easyJet, Europe’s leading airline, welcomed its first member of its ‘furry flight club’ yesterday, with guide dog Joey reaching the milestone of 35 flights with easyJet alongside his owner Jan Gibson. Joey, Jan and husband Roger, mainly take flights between London Luton and Paphos, Cyprus. Joey, a Labrador, will be seven next month and has been with Jan for five years. He is her fifth guide dog.

Much like easyJet’s ‘flight club’ loyalty scheme for its most frequent flyers, furry flight club will focus on rewards which are most appreciated by the airline’s most loyal four-legged friends – doggie treats.

Easyjet carries hundreds of passengers with an assistance dog each year. In 2012 easyJet established a committee of European experts (ESAAG – the easyJet Special Assistance Advisory Group) to provide guidance and advice to the airline on the services it provides to passengers who require special assistance. The group is chaired by Lord David Blunkett and is made up of experts in disability issues and accessible travel. It meets regularly with easyJet managers to discuss the company’s proposals, best practice and emerging issues.

Jan Gibson, Joey’s owner, commented:

“All our flights have been with easyJet and we have always been made to feel welcome on board. As this is Joey’s 35th flight, some of the crew have travelled with us on more than one occasion so we feel like family. The crew and passengers often fuss Joey and take photos as it’s not often you get to see a dog on a plane. Joey even gave a Captain a lovely ‘kiss’ while a ‘selfie’ was being taken, and he has been in the cockpit when the aircraft was on the ground.

“Joey enjoys flying, and will usually sleep at my feet through most of the flight, although does go for a walk half way through. I give him a chew after take-off to help his ears equalise the pressure, similar to us having a sweet, and also when we are on final descent.

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Aerospace

Leonardo Unveils AW249 Next Generation Helicopter Makes International Debut

Leonardo Unveils AW249 Next Generation Helicopter Makes International Debut

The Italian Army has unveiled the new AW249 Fenice attack helicopter, declaring it a cornerstone of its transformation efforts, during its public debut at the prestigious Eurosatory defense show.

The AW249 is designed to meet the demanding needs of modern warfare, featuring a complete open architecture that allows for significant future growth and system adaptability. This flexibility ensures the helicopter can respond to evolving market requirements and remain at the forefront of military technology.

Features complete open architecture for future growth

Engineered for high performance, the AW249 boasts impressive speed, range, power margin, and payload capabilities. It excels in challenging Hot & High conditions and offers unparalleled manoeuvrability for nap-of-the-earth flight, allowing it to operate effectively in diverse and rugged terrains.

One of the helicopter’s key strengths is its ability to integrate fully and interoperate seamlessly within the modern multi-domain battlefield, encompassing air, land, sea, space, and cyber operations.

The AW249 features an advanced large area display human-machine interface, equipped with touch screen and gesture recognition devices within its tandem-seating cockpit. This sophisticated setup is complemented by a highly advanced Leonardo-developed Battle Management System.

The helicopter’s displays and modern pilot helmets provide the crew with rapid access to critical information on flight, navigation, and mission parameters, delivered through multiple sensors and advanced connectivity systems.

In terms of armament, the AW249 is equipped with a versatile weapon system. This includes guided and unguided 70mm rockets, air-to-air infrared guided missiles, and air-to-ground radio frequency or fibre optic guided missiles. Additionally, it is armed with a formidable 20mm three-barrel Gatling gun. With a maximum take-off weight of 8.3 tons, the AW249 is set to replace the Italian Army’s aging AW129 fleet.

Production contract expected soon; deliveries from 2027.

Since its maiden flight in the summer of 2022, four prototypes of the AW249 have been constructed. Currently, two prototypes are undergoing rigorous performance, system integration, and payload testing, while the remaining two are slated to begin testing shortly.

Leonardo anticipates finalizing the production contract soon, with deliveries to the Italian Army expected to commence in 2027.

Given its advanced capabilities and modern design, the AW249 will also be available on the export market, appealing to international customers seeking state-of-the-art military helicopter solutions.

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Aerospace

Pakistan’s Ambitious Plan to Acquire and Produce Chinese FC-31 Stealth Fighter

Pakistan’s Ambitious Plan to Acquire and Produce Chinese FC-31 Stealth Fighter

Pakistan is embarking on an ambitious endeavor to bolster its air defense capabilities with the acquisition and potential local production of the Chinese FC-31 stealth fighter jet.

Talks are reportedly underway between the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) and the Shenyang Aircraft Corporation, the developer of the FC-31, signaling a significant leap forward for Pakistan’s military aviation prowess.

The FC-31, a mid-sized, twin-engine fifth-generation fighter, promises advanced air combat capabilities, including stealth technology that surpasses anything currently in the PAF‘s fleet. With plans to retire the JF-17 production line by 2030, the FC-31 could emerge as the new flagship aircraft, offering unmatched performance and versatility.

Experts speculate that Pakistan’s interest in the FC-31 could also signal broader implications for the international market. As China develops both land and carrier versions of the FC-31, analysts foresee it becoming a cost-effective alternative to pricier options like the F-35, potentially challenging the dominance of the US aerospace industry and reshaping global strategic rivalries.

Adding complexity to the deal is China’s push for the WS-13 engine, previously rejected for the JF-17 but now under consideration for both the FC-31 and future JF-17 variants. Engine standardization could streamline logistical and maintenance processes for the PAF, further enhancing the appeal of the FC-31.

While negotiations continue, the success of the FC-31 acquisition and local production hinges on several factors, including the outcome of the WS-13 engine discussions. Pakistan’s pursuit of the FC-31 comes amidst its eagerness to replace its aging fleet, with previous attempts to upgrade its F-16s by the United States due to geopolitical pressures.

Amidst these developments, Pakistan previous interest in the Turkish-made Kaan fifth-generation fighter underscores its eagerness to replace its aging fleet. Despite previous attempts to secure upgrades for its F-16s from the United States, Pakistan’s quest for advanced aerial capabilities has led it to explore alternative avenues, with the FC-31 emerging as a promising contender in its pursuit of air superiority.

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Aerospace

Airbus presents new Wingman concept at ILA Berlin Airshow

Airbus presents new Wingman concept at ILA Berlin Airshow

At the prestigious ILA aerospace trade show in Berlin, Airbus Defence and Space made waves by introducing its pioneering Wingman concept, marking a significant leap forward in military aviation technology.

Teaming up with Helsing, Europe’s leading defense AI and software company, Airbus showcased a framework cooperation agreement aimed at revolutionizing the realm of artificial intelligence (AI) in defense.

Airbus Wingman

The Wingman concept represents a paradigm shift in aerial warfare, introducing unmanned platforms equipped with advanced AI capabilities to augment the capabilities of manned combat aircraft. Pilots in command aircraft such as the Eurofighter command these autonomous drones, positioning them to undertake high-risk mission tasks that would traditionally pose a significant threat to manned-only aircraft.

Central to the Wingman concept is Manned-Unmanned Teaming, wherein manned aircraft serve as “command fighters,” retaining ultimate control over mission decisions while delegating tactical tasks to unmanned systems. This synergistic collaboration promises to enhance mission flexibility, increase combat mass, and minimize risk exposure for pilots, thereby bolstering overall operational effectiveness.

The capabilities of the Wingman extend across a diverse spectrum of mission profiles, ranging from reconnaissance and target jamming to precision strikes against both ground and aerial targets. Equipped with advanced sensors, connectivity solutions, and a diverse array of armaments, the Wingman stands poised to redefine the operational landscape of modern air forces.

While the Wingman model showcased at ILA Berlin represents the pinnacle of current technological innovation, it also serves as a catalyst for future design iterations. As with any pioneering concept, refinement and evolution are inevitable, with each generation of the Wingman poised to push the boundaries of aerial warfare even further.

MQ-28 Ghost Bat

Boeing introduced the MQ-28 Ghost Bat, an unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV), which made its maiden flight in February 2021. Developed by Boeing Australia, the MQ-28 leverages artificial intelligence to serve as a force multiplier for manned fighter jets.

The Ghost Bat is engineered to operate in tandem with existing military aircraft, enhancing and extending the capabilities of airborne missions. This cost-effective UCAV is designed to work as an intelligent teammate, complementing and amplifying the effectiveness of manned operations in various mission profiles.

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