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April 22, 2013

News Briefs April 22, 2013

Yemen officials: U.S. drone kills two militants

Yemeni army officials say a U.S. drone strike has killed two suspected al Qaeda militants east of the capital, sparking a retaliatory attack on a military checkpoint.

It’s the third suspected U.S. drone strike in less than a week in Yemen.

The officials in Marib province say at least three other militants were wounded in the April 21 strike on a house in Wadi Adeeda that was used to hide weapons. Officials spoke on condition of anonymity in line with regulations.

Yemen’s Defense Ministry confirmed a drone strike but didn’t specify who was behind it. The U.S. doesn’t usually comment on such attacks.

A few hours later, officials say al Qaeda fighters attacked a military checkpoint in the same area, killing two soldiers. A militant was killed in the shoot-out. AP

Court denies Beechcraft challenge of lost contract

Kansas airplane maker Beechcraft has lost a legal battle to halt work on a high-stakes Air Force contract awarded to rival Sierra Nevada Corp.

The U.S. Court of Federal Claims April 19 denied Beechcraft’s request for a temporary injunction.

The contract for 20 planes for use in Afghanistan is worth more than $427 million. It could be worth as much as $1 billion, depending on future orders.

Wichita, Kansas,-based Beechcraft said that while it reluctantly accepted the court’s opinion it will continue to contest the award through the Government Accountability Office.

Sierra Nevada, in a partnership with Brazil’s Embraer, plans to build the planes in Jacksonville, Fla. The companies said in a joint statement that the decision ensures work will continue uninterrupted for delivery of the planes on schedule in mid-2014. AP

Rockwell Collins CEO Jones to retire in July

Aviation and military electronics maker Rockwell Collins said Friday that Clay Jones plans to retire as CEO on July 31.

The 64-year-old Jones will be succeeded by President Kelly Ortberg.

Jones, who has worked at Rockwell Collins since 1979, will stay on with the company as non-executive chairman. He became CEO in June 2001 and chairman in 2002.

Ortberg, 52, has served as president of Rockwell Collins Inc. since September. He previously served as executive vice president and chief operating officer of the government systems business and as executive vice president and COO of the commercial systems business.

Rockwell Collins also reported flat fiscal second-quarter net income on Friday, as a hefty tax benefit offset a drop in sales. AP

South Africa court blocks Zimbabwe helicopter gift

A South Africa-based civic rights group says a court in that country has again blocked a ìdonationî of surplus military helicopters to Zimbabwe’s military.

The AfriForum group said April 19 the gift of old Alouette helicopters was not cleared by South Africa’s official arms control committee that vets weapons exports to recipient countries embargoed for their human rights record.

It said the South African High Court April 18 upheld a January court ruling stopping the helicopters leaving the country for now and ordered the South African defense ministry liable to pay the costs of its latest proceedings.

Willie Spies, the group’s legal representative, said the next hearing will be asked to scrap the delivery altogether.

ìThe helicopters aren’t going anywhere. In practical terms it is a victory for us,î he said. AP

Air Force delays impact statement on F-35s

The Vermont National Guard says the United States Air Force has delayed the release of a final environmental impact statement on plans on where to base its next-generation fighter jet, the F-35, until the fall.

The Air Force says it needs to hold additional public comment period after the document was updated to include 2010 census data for the locations being considered. It’s the second time the release of the document has been delayed.

The written public comment period is expected to start this summer.

The Vermont National Guard was notified April 18. The delay will push back a decision on where the F-35s will be based.

The Air Force has said it expects to start basing the F-35s at the first location in 2015. AP

Boeing slows 747 production on weak demand

Boeing says it will slow down production of its superjumbo 747-8 because of weak demand.

Boeing builds two of the planes every month. It’s slowing that rate to one and three-quarters per month.

Boeing had warned that a slowdown was possible if demand didn’t improve. Boeing has orders for 64 of the planes still to be built, including freighter and passenger versions.

Boeing first delivered the revamped 747-8 in 2011. The freighter version received the most orders. But the size of the passenger version is midway between the larger Airbus A380, which has been on the market longer, and the smaller Boeing 777, which is popular with airlines. That has left little room for the 747-8.
Boeing says the slower pace of production won’t have a significant financial impact. AP

B/E Aerospace first quarter net income rises 31 percent

B/E Aerospace Inc., which makes products for aircraft cabins, said Monday that its net income rose 31 percent in the first quarter on improved demand for new planes.

The Wellington, Fla., company’s profit grew to $89.9 million, or 87 cents per share, from $68.8 million, or 67 cents per share. Revenue rose 13 percent, to $842.2 million from $747.3 million.

Analysts were expecting net income of 73 cents per share and $803.1 million in revenue, according to FactSet.

The company’s commercial aircraft revenue rose 12 percent, to $420 million. Business jet revenue rose 11 percent, to $95.5 million. Revenue in an airplane parts division rose 14 percent, to $326.7 million.

“Our revenue growth continues to be driven primarily by the robust new aircraft delivery cycle,” said CEO Amin Khoury. He said demand for new planes drove 61 percent of revenue in the first quarter, while the market for replacement parts remained weak.

The company is still expecting net income of $3.45 per share and $3.35 billion in revenue in 2013. Analysts are forecasting $3.46 per share and $3.39 billion in revenue on average. AP

TransDigm plans Aerosonic acquisition for $39 million

Aircraft part maker TransDigm Group plans to buy Aerosonic in a deal valued at about $39 million.

Cleveland’s TransDigm will pay $7.75 per share in cash for each share of Aerosonic. That represents a premium of nearly 60 percent to Aerosonic’s closing price April 19 of $4.85.

Shares of Aerosonic climbed 59 percent, or $2.88, to $7.73 Monday before markets opened and after the companies announced the deal.

Aerosonic Corp., based in Clearwater, Fla., makes air data sensing, test and display components for use in business jets, helicopters and military markets. Its major customers include Boeing Co. and the U.S. government, according to TransDigm.

Aerosonic’s board unanimously approved the deal, and TransDigm Group Inc. plans to fund it with cash on hand. It will start the offer to buy Aerosonic shares on or before May 9. AP




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