Thursday, January 18, 2018

First prototype of Russian IL-112V airlifter emerges

The first prototype of new Russian Ilyushin IL-112V light military transport aircraft has taken shape at the Voronezh Joint Stock Aircraft Manufacturing Company (VASO).

With a maximum payload of 5 tons, the tactical airlifter is designed for transportation of personnel, military equipment and cargoes, air droping missions and is intended to replace the Antonov AN-26 airlifter in Russian Air Force fleet.

The first prototype has been integrated with the two improved Klimov TV7-11ST turboprop engines, rated at 2,610 kW (3,500 hp) each. The engines will drive a six- bladed AV-112 constant-speed reversible pitch propellers.

For the first time in Russia, the aircraft is equipped with a monolithic, single piece wing. The aircraft is 25.15 m long, with a height of 8.89 m and a wing span of 27.6 m.

The fuselage has 3.29 m diameter and the aircraft has a Maximum take-off mass will amount to 21 tons.

The IL-112V is designed to cruise at a speed of 450-500 km/h with a maximum flight altitude of 7600 m. With a payload of 3.5 tons, the flying range is 2400 km.

Due to the larger fuselage, compared to An-26, the aircraft can accommodate on-board two UAZ-452 off-road vans, up to 50 troops or up to 25 paratroops.

The TV7-117ST turboprop engine is a modernized version of TV7-117SM and is designed re-engine the regional passenger carrier Il-114-300.

Flight testing of the engine onboard an Il-76LL flying test bed commenced in September 2017.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Saudi Tornado fighter crashes in Yemen

A Royal Saudi Air Force (RSAF) BAE Tornado fighter jet has crashed in the Yemen's capital Sana, during a ground attack mission on Sunday.

Saudi officials said the two pilots onboard ejected safely and where rescued later by Saudi led coalition ground forces in the Yemen.

While Saudi Arabia claimed the fighter-bomber crashed following technical glitches, the Houthi rebels, claimed they shot down the fighter using a surface to air missile (SAM).

RSAF operates around 80 Tornado fighter jets which have been upgraded with new avionics and weapons under a contract with BAE Systems to keep them operational until 2020.

The twin engine swing wing aircraft was developed by UK, Italy and West Germany in the 1970s and entered Saudi service in 1989.

In September 2017, RSAF lost an Eurofighter Typhoon fighter jet in Yemen during a combat mission.

Airbus rolls out first A321neo ACF with increased seating

Airbus has completed assembly of the first A321neo ACF (Airbus Cabin Flex) at its facilities in Hamburg, Germany.

The aircraft, powered by CFM LEAP-1A engines, will undergo ground tests prior to its scheduled first flight in the coming weeks. First delivery of an A321neo ACF to a customer is scheduled for mid-2018.

By applying modifications to the fuselage, the ACF enables more flexible cabin configurations for up to 240 passengers. Compared to the previous A321 variant, the most visible modifications are a new rear section and a modified passenger door configuration, where the door located forward of the wing is removed and new overwing emergency exits in the centre section are introduced.

The A321neo ACF is an option today and will become standard for all A321neos around 2020. 

The A321neo ACF is the base for a longer range variant known as the A321LR. The A321LR has an increased MTOW (Maximum Take Off Weight) of 97 tonnes and a third underfloor fuel tank allowing airlines to increase its range to 4,000 nautical miles for intercontinental flights.

The first delivery of an A321LR is targeted for the fourth quarter of 2018.

The A321 is the largest member of the A320 Family, seating up to 240 passengers, depending on cabin configuration. Incorporating the latest engines, aerodynamic advances and cabin innovations, the A321neo offers a reduction in fuel consumption of at least 15 percent per seat from day one and 20 percent by 2020.

Aurora Orion UAS get funding boost from USAF

The U.S. Air Force has awarded a new $48 million contract to Aurora Flight Sciences for the continued development of the Orion Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS).

Orion is a twin-engine high performance UAS that can stay aloft over 100 hours at a time with
payloads in excess of 1,000 pounds. Development of the Orion started in 2006 and its first flight was in August 2013.

The new contract funds the development of a certified version of Orion that will be suitable for
deployment anywhere in the world. The work will be performed in Columbus, Mississippi, and Manassas, Virginia.

In December 2014, the Orion established the current UAS world endurance record with an 80-hour, 2-minute and 52-second flight.

A single Orion UAS can perform two days of persistent surveillance when operating from bases over 3,000 miles away from the target of interest.

Boeing acquired the Aurora in October 2017, giving the company the much needed financial and sales leverage.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Airbus complete first Beluga XL airframe

R Khanna Copyright

Airbus has completed assembly of the first Beluga XL outsized payload transport aircraft airframe with its mechanical and electrical systems fitted.

The first airframe was spotted fitted with the main cargo door, outside the Final Assembly Line at Toulouse-Blagnac in southwestern France.

The aircraft will now move to a second station for ground testing and installation of the two Rolls Royce Trent 700 engines.

The program launched in 2014, will meet Airbus evolving transport needs, particularly to support the future production ramp-ups of company's single-aisle and widebody jetliners, carrying complete sections of Airbus aircraft from different production sites around Europe to the final assembly lines in Toulouse, France and Hamburg, Germany.

Based on the airframe of the versatile A330 widebody jetliner, a total of five Beluga XL airlifters are to be built, with the first to enter operational service in mid-2019. They will gradually replace the existing fleet of Beluga ST aircraft, which were derived from the shorter-fuselage A300.

Both versions will operate in parallel for a while, but we'll begin phasing out the ST by the end of 2020. The XL can transport the same cargo with 30 percent lesser flight hours.

The Beluga XL has the forward part of an A330-200F freighter, with the aft part of an A330-300 variant and incorporates newly-developed elements including its lowered cockpit, cargo bay structure, and rear and tail section

A large “bubble” airframe section added to the fuselage’s lower portion takes the Beluga XL’s diameter from 5.6 metres for an A330 up to 8.8 metres. The cockpit has been lowered to make space for a main deck with direct cargo loading/unloading capabilities above it.

The cargo hold is 45 metres long and have a payload capability of 50 tonnes. These dimensions now enable to transport a pair of A350 XWB wings by air, currently not possible.

With a maximum take off weight of 227 tonne, the XL has  a range of 4000 km or 2200 nm.

Increasing the Beluga XL’s volume by 30 percent compared to the existing Beluga ST will make the new airlifter much more cost effective. Further enhancements are to reduce the time needed for unloading, refuelling and reloading the aircraft while making its stopovers at locations across the Airbus production network.

Starting in mid-2019, the Beluga XL will gradually replace the existing five-member Beluga ST fleet – which is used for carrying complete sections of Airbus aircraft from different production sites around Europe. The fleet had 5,000 total flight hours in 2012 and that number is projected to be 10,000 in 2017.

More pics:

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Indian Navy MiG-29K caught fire during take off

An Indian Navy MiG-29K naval fighter caught fire while taking off from the Dabolim Airport in Goa.

The aircraft was on a routine training flight and the pilot aborted the take off.

During deceleration, the aircraft veered off the end of runway and came to rest on its nose after its nose landing gear collapsed.

The pilot jettisoned the canopy and egressed the aircraft safely. The fire was expeditiously doused by the safety services. A Board of Inquiry has been ordered to investigate the cause of accident.

The incident marks the first involving the MiG-29K fighters acquired by Indian Navy for operating from the INS Vikramditya aircraft carrier.

Sukhoi Superjet receive Saberlet wintip devices

Sukhoi has introduced wingtip devices on the Superjet 100 passenger jet, that improve overall performance of the 100 seat aircraft.

Called Saberlet by the company, the first Superjet installed with Saberlet took to skies on December 21, 2017 from Zhukovsky.

The configuration of Saberlet was a result of a set of computational studies, engineering and experimental works conducted by Sukhoi and Central Aerohydrodynamic Institute named after Professor NE Zhukovsky (TsAGI).

The kit was manufactured by the Voronezh Joint-Stock Aircraft Building Society (VASO), and is available for retrofitting on operational Superjets.

The geometry of  the wintip, which is similar to that of the Boeing 787, was determined using innovative three-dimensional optimization methods based on numerical calculations of aerodynamics (CFD).
Sukhoi expects the Saberlet to simultaneously improving the takeoff and landing characteristics aswell as reducing fuel consumption by at least 3%, saving close to 0.1 million USD per aircraft per year.

The expected improvement in takeoff and landing characteristics will be appreciated by airlines operating SSJ100 on the regional network of aerodromes, as well as in hot climates and high mountains.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Syrian Air Force L-39 shot down by rebels

A Syrian Air Force L-39ZA attack aircraft was shot down by rebels using a MANPAD air to surface missile system in the northern Hama province on Tuesday.

The aircraft on a ground attack mission was shot down using a Strela man portable air defense system and it fell near Al-Hamdaniyah village.

The pilot onboard, who survived the crash was later killed by militants.

The Czech built Vodochody L-39 is a single engine fighter originally was designed as a trainer aircraft. In Syrian Air Force fleet, the aircraft has been modified for ground attack role due to its slow speed and agility.

The video grab showing the Strela MANPAD launch

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Chinese AG600 amphibian complete maiden flight

 The AVIC AG600 amphibious aircraft has completed maiden flight from the Zhuhai airport in Guangzhou, China on Sunday.

The AG600 is the first amphibious aircraft developed in China and currently the largest of the type in the world.

The aircraft can takeoff/land from sea or land and is designed for fire fighting and marine rescue missions. It is equipped with floats on either wings for stability while operating in sea.

The one hour long first flight was carried out without any clitches, and confirmed the airworthiness of the aircraft with basic maneuvers.

The AG600 features a single hull, cantilever monoplane layout equipped with retractable, tricycle-type landing gear and is powered by four domestically manufactured WJ-6 turboprop engines.

With a maximum take off weight of 53.5 tons, the aircraft is 37 meters long, 12.1 meters high, and has a wingspan of 38.8 meters.

Typical operating characteristics include a cruising speed of 500 km per hour, flight endurance of 12 hours or 4,500 km range.

In its fire fighting role, the AG600 can scoop 12 tons of water from sea within 20 seconds and drop over fire zones from a minimum altitude of 50 m, and during sea rescue missions, it can transport 50 persons and operate during waves of 2 m high.

In addition to water searches at low altitude, the AG600 can carry out rescue operation under complicated weather conditions, such as in 2-meter-high waves, and save more than 50 people during each emergency water rescue.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

France inducts first C-130J airlifters

The first of four Lockheed Martin C-130J turboprop aircraft ordered by France has been delivered to French Air Force on Friday, 22 December.

The first aircraft, a C-130J-30, arrived at the OrlĂ©ans – Bricy Air Base, which is home to the French Air Force tactical air fleet.

The four aircraft Foreign Military Sale contract signed with United States in early 2016, include two C-130J tactical airlifters and two KC-130J tanker aircraft.

A second C-130J-30 will be delivered in 2018, while the KC-130J intended to refuel helicopters will be delivered in 2019.

The C-130J-30 will complement the mid-segment of Air Force tactical transport fleet currently comprised of the C-160 Transal and older C-130H Hercules transports.

These aircraft are in fact particularly stressed and tested by the various external operations whose environmental conditions put the equipment under severe strain.

The acquisition contract awarded by the DGA also includes the support system, the training of the personnel and the maintenance in initial operational condition for a duration of 2 years.

French Air Force's newly acquired Airbus A400M’s inability to provide air-to-air refuelling support to French H225M Caracal medium lift helicopters prompted Air Force to order the two Lockheed Martin KC-130J tankers.

Since then Airbus has been testing an extended length hose and drogue design, which enable a safe distance from the H225M main rotor tip and A400M's T-tail while aerial refueling.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

First SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket revealed

 SpaceX has unveiled the first fully assembled Falcon Heavy rocket, ahead of maiden test launch later next month.

Destined to become the most powerful operational rocket in the world, the Falcon Heavy will have the ability to lift into orbit over 54 metric tons (119,000 lb)-a mass equivalent to a 737 jetliner loaded with passengers, crew, luggage and fuel.

In Comparison it can lift more than twice the payload of the next closest operational vehicle, the ULA Delta IV Heavy, at one-third the cost.

Weighing 1420 tonne on lift off, the two-stage FH is based on SpaceX's proven Falcon 9 rocket, literally a Falcon 9 equipped with two Falcon 9 first stages as boosters.

The first stage is composed of three Falcon 9 nine-engine cores whose 27 Merlin engines together generate more than 5 million pounds of thrust at liftoff, equal to approximately eighteen 747 aircraft. Only the Saturn V moon rocket, last flown in 1973, delivered more payload to orbit.

The second stage is powered by a single Merlin 1D engine modified for vacuum operation, with a thrust of 934 kN (210,000 lbf).

At liftoff, the boosters and the center core all operate at full thrust. Shortly after liftoff, the center core engines are throttled down. After the side cores separate, the center core engines throttle back up.

Falcon Heavy was designed from the outset to carry humans into space and restores the possibility of flying missions with crew to the Moon or Mars.

Boeing unveils unmanned tanker drone for US Navy

Boeing has unveiled for the first time an unmanned aircraft system (UAS) designed for air refueling U.S. Navy jets operating from aircraft carriers.

The UAS will compete for US Navy's MQ-25 Stingray competition, that seeks an unmanned refueling aircraft to extend combat range of deployed Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornet, Boeing EA-18G Growler, and Lockheed Martin F-35C fighters.

The only photo released by Boeing MQ-25, indicate a stealthy wing-body-tail design with strengthened landing gears intended for carrier operations.

Developed by Phantom Works, the advanced prototyping arm of Boeing, like the Skunks Works of Lockheed Martin, the MQ-25 will also have to seamlessly integrate with a carrier’s catapult and launch and recovery systems.

Boeing reveals the UAS is completing engine runs before heading to the flight ramp for deck handling demonstrations early next year.

US Navy requires the MQ-25 to be able to carry nearly 15,000 pounds of fuel to a distance of 500 miles from a carrier, enough to extend the range of combat aircraft 300 or 400 miles beyond their typical range.

US Navy issued the final request for proposals (RFP) in October to Boeing, Lockheed Martin and General Atomics, who have to respond by January 3 2018.

Northrop Grumman who have earlier successfully demonstrated unmanned aerial refueling technology using its X-47B carrier borne aircraft, had backed out of the program shortly after RFP release.

While Lockheed Martin is yet to reveal its MQ-25 design, General Atomics's offering is based on the Avenger unmanned aircraft, equipped with wing mounted aerial refueling pod.

Bell V-280 tiltrotor complete maiden hover

Bell Helicopters has completed first flight of the V-280 Valor tiltrotor aircraft,which is a contender for U.S. Army's Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk replacement.

With its tiltrotor capability, the V-280 combines the cruising speed of a turboprop aircraft and the Vertical Take Off and Landing (VTOL) ability of a helicopter.

Details about the first flight were not released by Bell Helicopters, but video and picture released indicate it was rather a very low altitude hover, and did not involve forward flight by rotating the rotors.

Unlike the larger Bell-Boeing V-22 Osprey tiltrotor, one of the unique feature of the Valor is only the drive shaft and rotors rotate 90 degree, and the engines remain static.

This key drive shaft system continues to be blurred by Bell, in videos and images in order to conceal the new technology. The first flight video released and earlier ground testing images exposing the gear system has been blurred.

The prototype is initially powered by two General Electric T64 turboshaft engiens, but will get a new advanced engine for service entry.

The V-280 can achieve a cruise speed of 280 KTAS, twice that of present helicopters, and a 500-800 nm combat range. Payload capacity is 12,000 lbs while maximum sling load is 10,500 lb.

The Bell V-280 Valor program is part of the Joint Multi Role Technology Demonstrator (JMR-TD) initiative, which is the science and technology precursor to the Department of Defense's Future Vertical Lift program.

The V-280 program brings together the engineering resources and industrial capabilities of Bell Helicopter, Lockheed Martin, GE, Moog, IAI, TRU Simulation & Training, Astronics, Eaton, GKN Aerospace, Lord, Meggitt and Spirit AeroSystems—collectively referred to as Team Valor.

Sikorsky has partnered with Boeing to develop the SB-1 Defiant coaxial rotor helicopter to compete for the JMR-TD, whose first flight is expected in 2018.