Monday, February 19, 2018

Crashed US Navy C-2A wreckage mapped

YOKOSUKA, Japan – A U.S. Navy-led mission aboard research vessel RV Petrel has mapped the wreckage of a C-2A Greyhound aircraft that crashed into the Philippine Sea en route to USS Ronald Reagan, Nov. 22, 2017.

Using the vessel’s side scan sonar and remote operated vehicle (ROV) to survey the aircraft from Feb. 2-5, the team determined the aircraft lies on the ocean floor in two main sections - cockpit and fuselage - and that the C-2A’s flight recorder or black box is still intact.

Planning continues for an upcoming salvage mission, during which every effort will be made to bring both sections to the surface despite very challenging environmental conditions.

At a depth of 18,500 feet (more than three nautical miles) this will be the deepest aircraft recovery to date and the team with have to contend with several variables including deep water rigging and weather that may affect retrieval.

The aircraft was initially discovered late last year (Dec. 29) by a U.S. Navy Supervisor of Salvage and Diving (SUPSALV) team using a towed pinger locator (TPL-25) system aboard a different contracted vessel. In January, the Navy contracted RV Petrel to support debris field mapping and inform aircraft recovery planning.

RV Petrel is a 250-foot research and exploration vessel owned by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, equipped with advanced underwater equipment and technology, making it capable of exploring to more than 3.5 miles. A team of SUPSALV personnel embarked Petrel late January and returned to the crash site.

Assigned to Fleet Logistics Support Squadron (VRC 30) forward deployed to Japan, the C-2A aircraft was carrying 11 crew and passengers when it crashed. Eight personnel were recovered immediately by U.S. Navy Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC 12).

For the next three days, Ronald Reagan led combined search and rescue for three Sailors with the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force (JMSDF), covering nearly 1,000 square nautical miles before ending the search.

The C-2A Greyhound is a cargo aircraft used to resupply US Navy aircraft carriers, capable of carrier operations. The aircraft will be replaced by the V-22 Osprey tiltrotor in future.

First Texan T6C trainers deliverd to UKMFTS

The first two Beechcraft Texan T6C advanced turboprop trainers has been delivered as a part of UK Military Flying Training System (UKMFTS) at RAF Valley.

The UKMFTS is a partnership between the UK Ministry of Defence and Ascent Flight Training Ltd which will replace the current military flying training system with a modern training system that is better-equipped to meet the needs of the next generation of front-line aircraft operated by the UK Armed Forces.

The two US built Textron Aviation Texan T6C trainers are part of a planned fleet of 10 that is set to deliver Basic Flying Training (BFT) at RAF Valley for RAF and Royal Navy pilots from 2019.

The Texan T6C fleet will be a lead-in aircraft to prepare pilots for their Advanced Jet Training on existing fleet of Hawk T2 aircraft which are already operating here.

The T-6C military trainer is an advanced version of the original T-6A with updated cockpit avionics. In order to replicate today’s high-tech frontline aircraft, the new cockpit features a Head-Up Display (HUD), Up-Front Control Panel (UFCP), three color Multi-Function Displays (MFD), Hands-On Throttle and Stick (HOTAS) as well as advanced synthetic air-to-air and air-to-ground weapons training capabilities.

The integrated glass cockpit and a state-of-the-art avionics suite expands its capabilities, enabling the advanced systems and information management skills training required in current and future military aircraft.

The T-6C variant maintains avionics similarity with the U.S. Navy’s T-6B while incorporating a hard-point wing to allow carriage of external fuel tanks.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Aseman ATR-72 crashes in Iran

An Iranian ATR-72 regional turboprop airliner has crashed in to the Dena mountain region, while flying in foggy weather conditions on Sunday.

Flown by Iranian carrier Aseman Airlines, the plane came down near the town of Semirom after taking off from Tehran's Mehrabad airport.

All the 66 onboard the flight EP3704 including 60 passengers and 6 crew members are believed to be dead.

The flight to the southwestern city of Yasuj disappeared from radar screens 50 minutes after taking off from Mehrabad airport.

Due to remote and adverse weather conditions in the region, the rescue team still haven't reached the crash site.

According to Flightradar24 logs, the flight took off at 04:33 UTC (08:03 local time). Last signal was received at 05:55 UTC when flight was at 16,975 feet and descending.

The aircraft was due to land in Yasuj at 09:50 local time.

The accident aircraft EP-ATS was 24 years old, first delivered in 1993. It restarted flying in October 2017, after remaining grounded for 7 years.

Powered by two turboprop engines, the Franco-Italian ATR-72 is a short haul regional aircraft with a max seating of 72 passengers.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Boeing 737 MAX 9 achieve FAA certification

Boeing announced today that the 737 MAX 9 has received an amended type certificate (ATC) from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), officially certifying the airplane for commercial service.

Boeing's new 737 MAX 9 has received FAA certification and is now being prepped for first delivery. Paul Weatherman photo.

This certification marks the culmination of a successful flight test program that began in March 2017 with two Boeing flight test airplanes. The FAA certification affirms that the airplane's handling, systems and overall performance all comply with required aviation regulations.

Boeing is now in the final stages of preparing the MAX 9 for its first delivery to launch customer Lion Air Group.

The 737 MAX 9 is designed for a capacity of up to 220 passengers and a maximum range of 3,550 nautical miles. With three additional seat rows compared to the 737 MAX 8, this airplane provides operators added capacity while maximizing profitability within their network.

The 737 MAX family is designed to offer customers exceptional performance, with lower per-seat costs and an extended range that is opening up new destinations in the single-aisle market. The 737 MAX incorporates the latest CFM International LEAP-1B engines, Advanced Technology winglets, Boeing Sky Interior, large flight deck displays and other features to deliver the highest efficiency, reliability and passenger comfort in the single-aisle market.

The 737 MAX is the fastest-selling airplane in Boeing history, accumulating more than 4,300 orders from 93 customers worldwide.

Indian Pipistrel Virus microlight marks first crash

Two Indian Air Force (IAF) pilots were killed when their Pipistrel Virus SW 80 Garud microlight aircraft crashed in the northeastern Indian state of Assam on 15 February.

The incident took place at about 1200 h (local time) after the aircraft took off from Air Force Station Jorhat for a routine training flight.

Wing commanders Jai Paul James and D Vats suffered fatal injuries in the crash.

The pilots had attempted an emergency landing but the crashed near the river island of Majuli in Assam, and the aircraft was completely charred.

The fatal crash comes, despite the aircraft being equipped with safety features likes Ballistic Parachute Rescue System and several other safety enhancing features, such as Energy Attenuation Seats and a KevlarTM reinforced cockpit cell.

HT Copyright
Pipistrel was awarded the contract by Indian MoD to supply 194 Virus SW 80 aircraft to the Indian Air Force (72 aircraft), Indian Navy (12 aircraft) and National Cadet Corps (110 aircraft) in October 2015.

The two-seat trainer is capable of take-off and landing from prepared as well as semi-prepared surfaces and is made from advanced carbon-fibre composite materials.

The aircraft is powered by an 80 HP aviation certified Rotax engine and can reach a maximum speed of more than 220 km/h, fly for more than 3 hours and climb to altitudes in excess of 6000 meters.

More than 100 Indian Virus SW 80 are believed to be delivered, since first delivery in August 2016. 

Nigeria induct indigenous Tsaigumi surveillance UAV

The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) inducted its first indigenous operational Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) nicknamed, Tsaigumi designed for Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) roles.

The light weight UAV capable of land and sea surveillance, was produced by NAF Aerospace Engineers in collaboration with UAVision of Portugal.

The UAV is capable of day and night operations and has an operational endurance in excess of 10 hours, a service ceiling of 15,000 feet and a mission radius of 100 km.

It has a maximum take-off weight of 95 kg and its payload is an electro-optic/infra-red camera system.

Powering the Tsiagumi is an internal combustion engine driving a 2 blade propeller in pusher configuration.

It could also be used for policing operations, disaster management, convoy protection, maritime patrol, pipeline and power line monitoring as well as mapping and border patrol duties. In addition, it could be deployed for the protection of wildlife, weather forecast and telecast.

Additionally, in the maritime domain, the Tsaigumi UAV could be used for search and rescue, coastal monitoring and patrol of Nigeria’s Exclusive Economic Zone.

Nigeria Air Force currently operates a fleet of armed CH-3 drones acquired from China. An unknown no of these are operational, and have been successfully employed to strike Boko Haram terrorist ground targets.

MiG-35 complete flight testing

Flight testing of the new generation Russian MiG-35 multi-role fighter has been completed, United Aircraft Corp, said in a statement.

The medium weight fighter is ideal for high intensity armed conflict scenarios, with its ability to carry Russian and foreign weapons.

The flight testing involving Russian Air Force pilots, commenced in January 2017, and verified all on board systems including the targeting, navigation, communication, engines and radar.

The MiG-35 is an upgrade of 1980s era designed MiG-29 Fulcrum, with advanced avionics, radar and new weapon capability.

Initially designed as a interceptor, the MiG-35 have now evolved into a true multi-role aircraft, with simultaneous air to air and air to ground weapon capability.

The highly agile fighter can carry a 6400 kg payload on the 8 under wing and one under fuselage weapon stations.

The most important changes are the Phazotron Zhuk-AE active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar, the RD-33MK engines and the newly designed optical locator system, OLS-35.

The Zhuk-AE can detect 30 targets at a range of 130-160 km in air and 300 km in water, and can engage with 6 targets at a time.

Powering the MiG-35 is two Klimov RD-33MK smokeless low bypass turbofan engines, rated at 87 kN each. The engine is 7 percent more fuel efficient and also features improved reliability.

The first MiG-35 was delivered to Egyptian Air Force in April 2017, who have 46 on order.

Russian Deputy Defense Minister Yury Borisov during the MAKS 2017 said, the MiG-35 will be inducted to Russian Air Force from 2018 pending completion of the flight testing, even though no formal orders have been placed.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

B-21 and B-52 to be backbone of USAF

U.S. Air Force outlined plans for its strategic bomber fleet in its Fiscal Year 2019 President’s Budget Request on Feb. 12, 2018.

In line with the service’s bomber vector, the budget request detailed the Air Force plan to update the B-52 Stratofortress fleet and continue modifications to the B-1 Lancer and B-2 Spirit fleets while continuing to acquire B-21 Raiders.

“As part of our decisions presented in the FY19 President’s Budget, the Air Force will update the B-52 bomber fleet and fund development of replacement engines,” said Secretary of the Air Force Heather A. Wilson. “We will also continue necessary B-1 and B-2 modifications to keep them relevant until the B-21s come on line.”

Once sufficient B-21 aircraft are operational, the B-1s and B-2s will be incrementally retired. Delivery and retirement timelines are dependent on the B-21 production and delivery schedules.

“If the force structure we have proposed is supported by the Congress, bases that have bombers now will have bombers in the future,” Wilson said. “They will be B-52s and B-21s.”

The B-21, which the Air Force plans to start fielding in the mid-2020s, will eventually become the backbone of the U.S. strategic bomber fleet and serve as a visible, flexible deterrent to adversaries and assure U.S. partners and allies.

The decision to maintain the B-52 is based on numerous factors including maintenance and sustainment metrics, such as aircraft availability, mission capability, supply, maintenance hours per flying hour and total cost perspectives.

“With an adequate sustainment and modernization focus, including new engines, the B-52 has a projected service life through 2050, remaining a key part of the bomber enterprise well into the future,” said Gen. Robin Rand, Air Force Global Strike Command commander.

Northrop Grumman is developing the B-21 Raider stealth bomber, and is expected to enter service by mid-2020s

“At the end of Desert Storm in 1991 we had 290 total bombers,” Rand said. “Today that force has dropped to 157 bombers at five bomb wings and 15 total force bomb squadrons. That’s a 46 percent decrease in our bomber force while we have conducted continuous combat operations such as Allied Force, Enduring Freedom, Iraqi Freedom, Odyssey Dawn, Inherent Resolve and Freedom’s Sentinel, in addition to continuous bomber rotations in the (U.S. Central Command) and (U.S. Pacific Command) areas of responsibility.”

The Air Force budget request of $156.3 billion for fiscal year 2019 builds on the progress made in 2018 to restore the readiness of the force, increase lethality, and cost-effectively modernize.

The FY19 request supports the purchase of 48 F-35A Lightning II fighters, 15 KC-46 Pegasus tankers, and continued development of the B-21 Raider. 

The FY19 proposal initiates development of B-52 replacement engines and continues development of the Long Range Stand Off missiles and the replacement of the Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile. The budget also targets investments to modernize the integrated land, air, and space-based systems to ensure secure, survivable connectivity with the President and national command leadership.

The FY19 budget proposes the modernization of seven E-3 Airborne Warning Command and Control aircraft (AWACS) and keeps the current E-8C Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar Systems (JSTARS) operational through the mid-2020s as the service develops and transitions to an advanced battle management system. 

According to Wilson and Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein, restoring readiness to win any fight, any time remains a primary objective in FY19. It funds 1.5 million flying hours at a cost of $8.7 billion. T

Spirit rolls out 10,000 Boeing 737 fuselage

Spirit AeroSystems has rolled out the 10,000th Boeing 737 fuselage, from its Wichita, Kansas production line.

Spirit has been producing the 737 fuselage since 1966. Including fuselage, Spirit manufactures 70 percent of a Boeing 737.

The fuselage are shipped to Boeing's final assembly in Renton, Washington through train.

The company was formed in 2005, when Boeing sold its Wichita Division and Oklahoma operations.

Since then, the company began the transformation from a single-source supplier into an independent global supplier with multiple customers and platforms.

Besides supplying to all Boeing jetliners, Spirit also delivers aero structures of Airbus A350, Bombardier CSeries, Mitsubishi MRJ, Sikorsky CH-53K, Bell V-280 tilt rotor etc.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Turbine failure caused Flight 383 uncontained engine failure

The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of fire onboard a American Airlines Flight 383 in October 2016 was due to failure of a engine turbine.

The internal defect in the engine caused an uncontained engine failure resulting in a fire and the emergency evacuation of all aboard.

On October 28, 2016, the Flight 383, operated by a Boeing 767-323, N345AN, had started its takeoff ground roll at Chicago O’Hare International Airport, Chicago, Illinois, when an uncontained engine failure in the right engine and subsequent fire occurred.

The flight crew aborted the takeoff and stopped the airplane on the runway, and the flight attendants initiated an emergency evacuation.

The failed high-pressure turbine (HPT) stage 2 disk, severed the main engine fuel feed line and breached the right main wing fuel tank, releasing fuel that resulted in a fire on the right side of the airplane during the takeoff roll.

The failed HPT Stage 2
 The HPT stage 2 disk failed because of low-cycle fatigue cracks that initiated from an internal subsurface manufacturing anomaly that was most likely not detectable during production inspections and subsequent in-service inspections using the procedures in place.

The failed turbine disk was recovered in four pieces, one of which weighed 57 pounds and was found more than a half mile from the airplane.

Investigators further determined the defect had been propagating microscopic cracks in the disk for as many as 5,700 flight cycles – one takeoff and one landing – prior to the accident. Although the disk had been inspected in January 2011, the NTSB said the internal cracks were also most likely undetectable at that time because the current required inspection methods are unable to identify all subsurface defects.

Of the 2 flight crew members, 7 flight attendants, and 161 passengers on board, 1 passenger received a serious injury and 1 flight attendant and 19 passengers received minor injuries during the evacuation. The airplane was substantially damaged from the fire.

Contributing to the serious passenger injury was:

(1) the delay in shutting down the left engine and

(2) a flight attendant’s deviation from company procedures, which resulted in passengers evacuating from the left overwing exit while the left engine was still operating.

Contributing to the delay in shutting down the left engine was:

(1) the lack of a separate checklist procedure for Boeing 767 airplanes that specifically addressed engine fires on the ground and

(2) the lack of communication between the flight and cabin crews after the airplane came to a stop.

United Boeing 777 loses engine cowl over Pacific

A United Airlines Boeing 777 carried out an emergency landing at Honolulu after losing an engine cowl while flying over the Pacific.

The flight UA1175 was flying from San Francisco to Honolulu, Hawai carrying around 370 people.

The incident happened approximately 30 minutes before its scheduled landing at the Honolulu.

The forward engine cowling of the left Pratt & Whitney P4000 ripped off with a loud bang, exposing the main engine fan and casing.

Failure of fan blades has been suspected to be cause for the incident, which resulted in rotational imbalance and vibration, that threw off the cowl.

A statement from United Airlines said the flight landed safely at 12.38pm local time, two minutes earlier than the scheduled landing time, completing the five hour flight successfully.

The Boeing 777-200 with registration N773UA was 23 years old and was one of the first of the type to enter service, having manufactured in Oct 1994.

It was the fourth 777 manufactured and was used by Boeing for ETOPS certification.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Saratov grounds AN-148 fleet following crash

Saratov Airlines has suspended flight operations with its fleet of Antonov An-148 regional airliners, following the fatal crash involving one of the type in its fleet on Sunday.

The temporary grounding will affect the remaining five An-148 in Saratov's fleet.

The flight 6W703 crashed approximately six minutes after taking off from Moscow’s Domodedovo Airport, and was bound for Orsk, about 1500 km southeast of Moscow.

Eyewitness account reveals that the aircraft was on fire prior to impacting the ground, causing mid-air dis-integration, which has been proved by the wide dispersion of the wreckage.

According to Flightradar24, the aircraft had a very high rate of descent of 3300 ft during the final moments.

Meanwhile the two black boxes, the Cockpit Voice Recorder and the Flight Data Recorder has been recovered from the wreckage site, but have sustained serious damage according to the Russian Interstate Aviation Committee (MAC).

6W703 was operated by a Saratov Airlines Antonov An-148-100B, registered RA-61704. The aircraft was originally delivered in 2010 to Rossiya Airlines and began operation with Saratov in February of 2017.

The 8 year old aircraft was configured with 83 seats and carried 71 including 65 passengers and 6 crew members. None on board survived the crash.

All the six An-148 operated by Saratov were first delivered and operated by Rossiya from 2010 to 2015. Citing its operational inefficiency, the carrier returned the aircraft to leaser Ilyushin Finance after completing their 5 year lease period.

Being the initial batch, the aircraft had a no of teething troubles during the service with Rossiya.

Saratov says the RA-61704 had complected its C-check maintenance in January 2018, which included careful inspection of wings, engines, and airframe.

The aircraft also underwent routine checks prior to the accident flight, and it was the fourth flight of the aircraft on that day.

Both the captain and the first office were experienced pilots, having logged 2147 and 812 hours respectively on the type.

The An-148 was the first modern regional jet to enter serial production in Russia, assembled by Voronezh in close cooperation with Ukrainian Antonov.

The aircraft was designed to operate from rough runways and featured a high-wing monoplane design with T-tail. The high mounted engine enabled low ground clearance, and was hence equipped with integral stairs.

Powering the An-148 are two Ivchenko Progress-designed D-436-148 turbofans, with full-authority digital engine control (FADEC) and de-rated to each generate 14,080 lb thrust (63kN).

The aircraft had a Maximum take-off weight (MTOW) of 92,480lb (42 t), a service ceiling of 40,000 ft and a maximum speed is 470 kt.

Meanwhile Russia stopped assembly of the An-148, last month following lack of orders and hostility with Ukraine.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Emirates firms up orders for 20 A380s worth US$ 16 billion

Emirates and Airbus firmed up an earlier Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) and signed a contract for the 20 additional A380s with a further 16 options to be confirmed at a later date.

The total agreement for 36 aircraft is valued at US$16 billion based on latest list prices. Deliveries are to start as early as 2020.

The new order will extend Airbus A380 production until 2027, and if additional 16 options are also exercised, will extend production by a further 2 years until 2029.

Emirates is the largest operator of the A380, with 101 aircraft currently in fleet, of the total 142 aircraft already ordered. With options, the total aircraft ordered by Emirates will be 178.

Some of the aircraft ordered will serve as replacements to existing A380s.

The A380 is an essential part of the solution to sustainable air traffic growth, alleviating congestion at busy airports by transporting more passengers with fewer flights. The aircraft is the best way to capture growing world air traffic, which doubles every 15 years.

The flagship airliner can accommodate 575 passengers in 4 classes and offers a range of 8,200 nautical miles (15,200 kilometres).

The double-decker has become the passenger’s favourite resulting in higher load factors wherever it flies. The A380 is the world’s roomiest aircraft, offering the widest seats, wide aisles and more floor space.

The A380 has the unique capability to generate revenue, stimulate traffic and attract passengers, who can now specifically select the A380 when booking a flight via the innovative web site and the new IOS app.

To date more than 200 million passengers have already enjoyed the unique comfort of flying on board an A380. Every two minutes an A380 either takes off or lands at some of the 240 airports around the world, ready to welcome this magnificent aircraft. To date, 222 A380s have been delivered to 13 Airlines.