Geoff Hoon is to take up a full-time job with a helicopter company, just over a year after the former defence secretary told undercover reporters he looked forward to translating his “knowledge and contacts” into money.
Mr Hoon is joining AgustaWestland in an international role, aiming to sell helicopters around the world, although not in the UK or Italy, the company’s home markets.
He was suspended from the Labour party last year after being recorded by a Channel 4 Dispatches investigation seeking £3,000 a day for lobbying work, weeks before he was due to step down from parliament.
“I’ve got two children at university so I’ve got to get a job,” he told the undercover reporters, after saying that his experience as a minister would “open doors”.
“One of the challenges that I’m really looking forward to is translating my knowledge and contacts about the international scene into something that frankly makes money,” he added.
Mr Hoon later “unreservedly apologised” for the comments, but he is now apparently making good on his prediction, becoming executive senior vice-president of AgustaWestland’s international business.
His new job has been cleared by the committee that vets business appointments of former ministers, and company insiders say Mr Hoon did not sign off any of its contracts at the Ministry of Defence.
After leaving the government in June 2009 and standing down as an MP in April 2010, Mr Hoon helped to set up an independent consultancy, TaylorHoon Strategy. One of his clients was AgustaWestland, a global design, development and manufacturer of helicopters, with its international headquarters in Farnborough.
During a political career stretching over 18 years, Mr Hoon was chief whip, transport secretary and leader of the Commons.
He was perhaps best known, however, as Tony Blair’s defence secretary, where over six years he oversaw preparations for wars in both Afghanistan and Iraq, developing a network of contacts in the defence world.
Mr Hoon joined forces with his former cabinet colleague Patricia Hewitt to mount an unsuccessful coup against Gordon Brown.
He said: “I am delighted to have been asked to join one of the world’s leading technology and manufacturing companies.
“AgustaWestland’s helicopters are acknowledged to be the most advanced of their kind. I am joining an established and successful team which is part of a great workforce around the world.”
Ash from an erupting Icelandic volcano is expected to reach Britain by tomorrow airlines have been warned.
The beautiful but disrupting plume of ash from Iceland's Grimsvoetn volcano which has been ejected 12 miles high into the atmosphere
The ash could force the authorities to shut airports and close UK airspace, in a move which could disrupt many thousands of passengers almost exactly a year since a different Icelandic volcano closed airspace across Europe.
The latest warning is based on five-day weather forecasts but experts said the wind patterns were changeable and could yet sweep the cloud away from the UK.
Aviation authorities yesterday said no disruption was expected to European or transatlantic airspace over the next 24 hours.
However, if the eruption continues at the same rate and winds do not change, ash could reach northern Scotland by tomorrow and spread to England, France and even Spain by Thursday or Friday, forecasters said.
Grimsvoetn, Iceland’s most active volcano at the heart of its biggest glacier, began erupting late on Saturday, sending a plume of smoke and ash 12miles high.
So much ash was blasted into the sky that it blocked out the sun and covered nearby villages and farms.
By yesterday, the ash had reached the capital Reykjavik, nearly 250m to the west, and all the country’s airspace was closing down.
AgustaWestland will take the wraps off its latest helicopter type on Monday, June 20 at 12:00 p.m. during the Paris Air Show.
AgustaWestland Appoints New CEO
Bruno Spagnolini has become the new CEO of AgustaWestland taking over from Giuseppe Orsi who has became CEO of parent company Finmeccanica. Spagnolini was previously AW's COO.
China Commercial Heli Expo
The first China International Helicopter Exposition, China's first professional expo on helicopters approved by the State Council, will be held in north China's port city of Tianjin from September 15 to 18 this year, organizing authorities said Wednesday in Beijing.
Li Peisheng, deputy secretary of Tianjin Municipal Government, said the helicopter exposition will focus on displaying the latest complete machines, engines, avionic systems and airborne equipments from home and abroad.
"Meanwhile, academic seminars, business negotiation meetings and aerobatics will be held as well," said Li.
The international helicopter expo will be jointly held by Tianjin Municipal Government, state-controlled Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC) and the Army Aviation Department under the General Staff Department of People's Liberation Army (PLA).
AVIC, together with prominent world aviation enterprises, such as France's Eurocopter and Safran, America's Goodrich, Honeywell, Sikorsky and German's ThyssenKrupp will take part in the exposition.
China International Helicopter Exposition is scheduled to be held every other year from 2011, as the complement of China International Aviation and Aerospace Exhibition held in south China's port city of Zhuhai.
It has already demonstrated its power to keep millions of devoted viewers glued to their sofas. But it appears the influence of Downton Abbey extends well beyond the nation’s front rooms – even to the senior ranks of the Royal Air Force.
No Chinooks please, we're trying to be British
The £1 million-an-episode ITV drama prides itself on the authenticity of its historical setting, at the start of the First World War in 1914. So filming for the new series faced costly delays when it was interrupted by the thoroughly modern racket of a squadron of twin-engine Chinook helicopters on manoeuvres.
Until, that is, senior executives were able to persuade the RAF to redirect its aircraft – training for deployment in Afghanistan – away from the show’s set at Highclere Castle in Berkshire.
The Sunday night drama, starring Hugh Bonneville and charting the lives of the aristocratic Crawley family, became ITV’s surprise hit of last year and returns for a second series in the autumn.
It is understood the aircraft noise problem first arose while shooting last year’s series. So when it forced filming to a halt again earlier this month, the show’s historical adviser Alastair Bruce took matters into his own hands. Mr Bruce, a lieutenant-colonel in the Territorial Army, called a senior RAF contact to ask them to practise their formations elsewhere. And such is the sway of the Bafta-nominated series, the RAF agreed.
A source on the set said: ‘Alastair put in an informal call to politely ask the RAF to move elsewhere.
‘It did the trick and that one phone call saved the production tens of thousands of pounds in potentially lost filming time. ‘Word spread pretty quickly and Alastair was very much the hero of the hour. Everyone on set was extremely grateful.’
A Downton Abbey spokesman refused to comment but another show source added: ‘Alastair making this call to the RAF became the talk of the set. He was very modest and insisted that it was something that anyone could have done.’
The RAF have applied a self-enforced no-fly-zone over Highclere Castle at the request of Downton Abbey's producers
The helicopters were on manoeuvres from RAF Odiham in Hampshire – 25 miles from Highclere Castle, which doubles as the fictional Abbey – and just ten minutes’ flying time from the set.
The Ministry of Defence said last night: ‘Low-flying training is essential to develop and practise the tactics and techniques that are necessary for operations in Afghanistan. We do all we can to minimise disturbance.’
Since its debut, Downton Abbey – written by Oscar-winning scriptwriter Julian Fellowes – has been sold to more than 100 countries, including Australia and the US.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge arriving at the Santa Barbara Racquet and Polo Club for a charity polo match earlier today courtesy of a 109S (any American PPRuNers with knowledge of the operator please chip in)
Wills and Kate alight from the Grand
And on to the event
Some hours earlier back in Blighty the Duke of Essex Polo Trophy was taking place at Gaynes Park in Epping. Evidently one of the celebrity guests was Lydia Bright (whom I had never heard of until today) seen below with someone called James Argent:
This however is how she appeared when emerging from an AS355:
Question. From what I understand the Norwegian Police have at least one aircraft (above) available to them and the military doubtless have access to one (maybe even more than one).
This being the case, why the heck wasn't one of these aircraft used to deploy the SWAT team to Utoya Island last Friday instead of waiting 1hr:30mins to respond to multiple phone calls alerting them to the massacre underway?
Meanwhile more details have emerged about why the police operation to capture the gunman took so long. Local police said a boat they wanted to use to get to the island was too small and leaky to carry personnel and equipment, and they decided to wait for a special unit from Oslo. And asked why a helicopter was not used, police chief Sveinung Sponheim said this would have taken longer as the nearest police helicopter was at a base in the south.
. An Egyptian government Gazelle featured earlier in this thread on page 33.
Now an image has emerged of an Egyptian Gazelle participating in the 'rukus' from earlier in the year:
An Egyptian government Gazelle SA342L flies low over protestors in Cairo in February 2011
Aside from the obvious lack of options in the event that something untoward should happen to the aircraft (either mechanically induced or from the craft's proximity to the crowd) one wonders as to the effectiveness of such a manoeuvre in terms of crowd control?
The photographer claims the purpose of the government sponsored Gazelle was to 'intimidate' the crowd!
Interesting to see the KFC outlet among all the Arabic shop titles.
Sorry, simply unable to resist posting this sublime impression of a Sea King.
To those who knew him, Igor Sikorsky made no secret of his hope that the development of the helicopter would find its ultimate fulfillment in the role of life-saving vehicle and, beyond question, Sikorsky-designed helicopters have been performing this role with distinction for many-a-decade!
Royal Navy Westland Sea King HC4 ZF120 over Salisbury Plain on 31st July 2011 (Photo: Rick Ingham)
There I was, just the other day, thinking to myself .. I really would like to know a little more about the San Jose Police Department's helicopter unit - specifically about the work of their observers. Then this photo turned up! (Yeah, right.)
A 'Tactical Observer' from the San Jose Air Support Unit during a patrol in one of their EC120 Colibri aircraft