Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Luxair Bombardier Q400 perform belly landing after aborted takeoff

A Luxair Bombardier Q400 turboprop airliner, came to rest on belly after a aborted takeoff from Sarrebrucken airport in Germany.

The Luxair LG 9562 flight aborted its takeoff today at around 10 am, local time after pilot detected a malfunction.

None of the 16 passengers and 4 crew personnel on board were injured in the incident.

The aircraft, which was bound for Luxembourg, has been severely damaged following the wheel up landing.

Pictures indicate the aircraft's engine nacelle mounted landing gear in retracted condition.

The reason how the landing gear got retracted during the roll is being investigated.

France test fires M51 submarine launched ballistic missile

French defence procurement agency (DGA) has successfully carried out test flight of its strategic M51 submarine launched ballistic missile (SLBM) from DGA's Ballistic Launching Base (BLB) in Biscarosse on Wednesday, September 30.

The flight test was part of development of a new version capable of carrying improved nuclear warhead.

The nuclear capable missile with dummy payload impacted the target located in the North Atlantic ocean. The missile was monitored throughout its flight phase by means of DGA testing facility including testing and building measures "Monge" (BEM).

With range over 10,000 km, the 50 tonne missile is built and maintained by Airbus Defense and Space, along with sub contractors Sagem, Thales and G2P.

The three stage missile is powered by a solid rocket motor equipped with a flex-bearing nozzle. The first and second stage structures are made of wound carbon-epoxy fibre.

The M51 now arms two of the four French Navy Triomphant-class nuclear submarines, with the other two to be retrofitted within 2020.

The nuclear submarine Le Terrible has been equipped with the M51 since late 2010.

Flexjet receive first Embraer Legacy 500 business jet

Dallas-based Flexjet LLC, a leading provider of fractional jet ownership services, received its first Embraer Legacy 500 business jet.

The mid size Legacy 500 has the best-in-class six-foot flat-floor cabin and is the first to feature digital flight controls in its category.

Since certification by Brazil’s ANAC (Agência Nacional de Aviação Civil) in August 2014, the Legacy 500 has been certified by another five aviation authorities in the U.S., Mexico, the European Union, the Middle East, and Australia.

Eight club seats may be berthed into four beds for complete rest in a cabin altitude of 6,000 feet. The in-flight entertainment system consists of a high-definition video system, surround sound, multiple audio and video input options, a cabin management system, and three options for voice communications and connectivity.

The Legacy 500 is the first midsize business jet with digital flight controls, based on Fly-By-Wire technology, featuring side sticks. The state-of-the-art Rockwell Collins Pro Line Fusion avionics suite on four 15-inch high-resolution LCD displays allows graphical flight planning, and has options such as paperless operations capability and autobrakes.

The Legacy 500 is capable of flying at 45,000 feet and is powered by two Honeywell HTF7500E engines, the greenest in their class. Taking off from airfields as short as 4,084 ft, the Legacy 500 has a range of 3,125 nautical miles (5,788 kilometers) with four passengers, including NBAA IFR fuel reserves, which enables it to fly nonstop from Toluca to Manaus, or New York to London.

Flexjet LLC first entered the fractional jet ownership market in 1995, and also operates the Phenom 300 light business jet.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

U.S. refuses key technology transfers for Korean KF-X fighter program

South Korean plan to develop a fifth generation fighter aircraft had hit a roadblock following U.S. refusal to share four critical technologies.

The indigenous KF-X fighter program was envisaged to develop a twin engined multi role stealth fighter that is more advanced than the F-16 fighter but less than the F-35.

The Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) says U.S. has refused to grant export license for key technologies including Active Scanned Electronic Array (AESA) radar, Infra-red Search and Tracking (IRST) system, Electro-Optical tracking system and next generation radio frequency jammers.

These core technologies are key to stealthiness of the aircraft other than physical parameters including shape and radar absorbing coatings.

These technologies were to be transferred as a part of offsets for Korean purchase of 40 Lockheed Martin F-35A stealth fighters, allowing indigenous production. Lockheed offered 21 technologies for the KF-X program as part of F-35 selection.

The refusal will further delay the KF-X introduction to 2025 against the planned 2021.

Following the development, South Korean government has launched a investigation into the KF-X program and DAPA's selection of F-35.

Lockheed Martin won the deal over the stealth feature of F-35, by beating Boeing F-15SE Silent Eagle and Eurofighter Typhoon bids, who offered much better technology transfers.

Korean Aersospace Industries (KAI) was selected to develop the KF-X with Indonesia having 20 percent share in the program. The South Korean requirement was estimated at 120 fighters and Indonesia having requirement for 80.

Lockheed Martin has helped the KAI to develop the T-50 Golden Eagle supersonic jet trainer aircraft.

UK extend Sentinel's ISR mission against ISIL

The UK will extend its intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) operations using its Sentinel long-range wide area battlefield surveillance aircraft in Iraq and Syria, Defense Secretary Philip Hammond announced.

The deployment of Royal Air Force Sentinel aircraft, the most advanced airborne surveillance system of its kind in the world, will be extended until 2016.

The aircraft uses Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) and Ground Moving Target Indicator (GMTI) to identify and track multiple targets over great distances.

Flying three missions a week, the aircraft will continue to provide critical information which allows British and coalition forces to hit ISIL targets on the ground.

The Sentinel R1, which entered service in December 2008, was also deployed operationally in Afghanistan since 2009 and provided vital intelligence during NATO operations in Libya in 2011, and French operations in Mali, in 2013.

UK operates 5 of the type, which are based on converted Bombardier Global Express business jet.

RAF Reaper UAV, RC-135W Airseeker and Sentinel aircraft have contributed 30 per cent of Coalition surveillance flights.

Strikes against ISIL targets are carried out by RAF Tornado fighters and Reaper UAVs equipped with precision munitions, Brimstone and Hellfire missiles and Paveway IV bombs, with more than 300 successful strikes carried out over 1300 missions.

Australian A330 MRTT refuels F-35 fighter

The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) has completed the first fuel transfer with the air refuelling boom from its Airbus A330 Multi Role Tanker Transport (A330 MRTT) to a US Air Force (USAF) F-35A Joint Strike Fighter.

During a four-hour sortie from Edwards AFB, California, the tanker, known in RAAF service as the KC-30A, conducted 59 contacts including five “wet contacts” during which 19,600 kg (43,200 lb) of fuel were passed. All the refuelling was performed used the A330 MRTT’s Airbus Airborne Refuelling Boom System (ARBS).

The KC-30A has two refuelling systems – the hose-and-drogue and the ARBS. The two different refuelling systems allow RAAF to support a wide range of coalition aircraft on Operation OKRA where a KC-30A is currently deployed to support combat operations against Daesh in Iraq and Syria.

The five KC-30As are based at RAAF Base Amberley (QLD) and Air Force will receive an additional two in 2018. A single KC-30A can carry a fuel load of more than 100 tonnes and remain 1800 kilometres from its home base with 50 tonnes of fuel available for offload, for four hours.

Australia has committed to 72 F-35As for RAAF Bases Williamtown and Tindal, with the first aircraft arriving in late 2018. The F-35A will replace the ageing F/A-18A/B Hornet with a 5th-generation networked fighter aircraft.

India inks Chinook-Apache helicopter deals

Indian Ministry of Defense has signed the long pending deal with Boeing to acquire Apache attack helicopters and Chinook transport helicopters that will greatly enhance India’s capabilities across a range of military and humanitarian missions.

Under the $3 billion worth deal, India will receive 22 AH-64E Apache attack helicopters and 15 CH-47F Chinook heavy-lift helicopters. The deal also include training and support for the fleet.

Boeing will deliver the first helicopter within 3 years.

The AH-64E Apache, the most modern variant of the lethal multi-role attack helicopter, which is also flown by the U. S. Army, features enhanced performance, joint digital operability, improved survivability and cognitive decision aiding.

The tandem rotor CH-47F Chinook is an advanced multi-mission helicopter operated by the U.S. Army and 18 other defense forces. The Chinook has proven its ability to operate in the range of conditions that typify the Indian subcontinent, including delivering heavy payloads to high altitudes.

India is the 14th nation to select the Apache and the 19th nation to select the Chinook.

Boeing clinched the deal after beating Russian Mi-26T heavy lift helicopter and Mi-28 attack helicopter. 

Monday, September 28, 2015

Sagem sweetens Patroller UAV offer to Egypt

French Sagem is offering its Patroller™ unmanned aerial aircraft to meet Egyptian armed force aerial surveillance needs.

Sagem have signed an exclusive commercial and industrial collaboration agreement with Egyptian manufacturer AOI-Aircraft Factory, even though no orders has been placed.

According to the agreement, AOI-Aircraft Factory would carry out final assembly of Patroller drones in Egypt, and will also provide system support and commissioning.

AOI-Aircraft Factory will develop a dedicated training center in Egypt to train staff for the operation and maintenance of Sagem's drone systems.

The Patroller is a versatile long-endurance tactical drone system. It features an open, modular design to handle a broad spectrum of military and security missions, while carrying a multi-sensor payload of up to 250 kg, fuselage or pod-mounted.

The Patroller offers endurance of more than 20 hours, and an operating ceiling of 20,000 feet. Sagem has already conducted a flight demonstration on Patroller showing the simultaneous operation of different sensors: optronic (electro-optical) pod, radar, electronic warfare (EW) system, distress beacon detector and automatic identification system (AIS) receiver.

The Patroller's design draws on ten years of experience with Sagem's Sperwer drone system to support operations in Afghanistan.

Airbus begin assembly of first A350-1000

The first Airbus A350-1000 is taking shape with the assembly start of the first fuselage major components at Airbus plants in Hamburg and Saint-Nazaire.

Measuring nearly 74 meters from nose to tail, the A350-1000 is the longest-fuselage version of Airbus all-new family of A350 widebody jetliners.

The forward fuselage section has been delivered by Premium Aerotec to Airbus in Hamburg where it will be equipped before being flown to Saint-Nazaire on board the Beluga.

The nose fuselage section has been delivered by Stelia Aerospace to Airbus in Saint-Nazaire for assembly and equipping. The forward and nose fuselage sections will then be joined together in Saint-Nazaire to form the front fuselage which will then be flown by Beluga to the A350 XWB Final Assembly Line in Toulouse.

Assembly of the first A350-1000 wings got underway in August this year at Airbus in Broughton and final assembly of the aircraft will begin in Toulouse early 2016, followed by the first flight second half 2016. First deliveries are scheduled to start mid-2017.

The A350-1000 comfortably seats 366 passengers in a typical 3-class configuration and flies on routes up to 8,000 nautical miles.

Maximising commonality with the A350-900, the A350-1000 offers best-in-class cabin efficiency and comfort, with new cabin crew rest compartment improvements, new In Flight Entertainment (IFE), optimised lavatory shapes and new galley arrangements. It will be powered by Trent XWB-97 engines for maximised thrust.

Orders for the A350-1000 stand at 169 firm orders from 9 customers. Total orders for the A350 XWB programme stand at 782 orders from 40 customers.

How Perlan 2 glider will soar to 90000 feet without an engine

 Jamie Darcy|Airbus
After completing its maiden flight on Sept 23, the Airbus Perlan 2 pressurized glider designed to fly at the edge of space will attempt to fly to 90,000 ft next year, where the air density is less than 2% of what it is at sea level.

Only aircraft to beat the altitude is the Soviet designed MIG-25 Foxbat supersonic interceptor-reconnaissance fighter, which has reached over 120,000 ft.

But Perlan 2 will beat the altitude records set by the Lockheed Martin U-2 and SR-71 Blackbird reconnaissance aircraft, 72000 ft and 85000 ft respectively.

The Perlan 2 will explore the science of giant mountain waves that help create the ozone hole and change global climate models. This require the engineering of a spacecraft with glider wings that can fly in less than 3% of normal air density and at temperatures of minus 70 degrees C, conditions approximating the surface of Mars.

It carries a crew of two and scientific instruments needed to explore the stratospheric mountain waves.

The aircraft has a gross weight of 1,800 pounds and a wing span of 84 feet. Its true flight speed at 90,000 will be 350 knots (403 mph). The cabin will be pressurized to 8.5 psi (14,500 feet). The crew will breathe pure oxygen provided by a rebreather system.

The Perlan 2 is designed to fly the most efficiently at 50,000 feet but fly acceptably at sea level and at 90,000 feet.

But how can a glider soar to 90,000 feet without an engine.

Steve Fossett and Einar Enevoldson soared the Perlan 1 glider to 50,722 feet on August 30, 2006 using “stratospheric mountain waves.”

Mountain waves form when winds of at least 15 knots cross over a mountain range perpendicularly and the atmosphere is “stable” waves will form on the lee side of the mountains. A glider uses the upward moving part of this wave system to climb.

What sets the Perlan Mission apart from just gliding on mountain waves is that it require one critical additional element to enable us to soar into the stratosphere: The Polar Vortex.

The maximum altitude of mountain is usually at the boundary between the troposphere and the stratosphere. This is because the cold air of the mountain wave encounters warmer air at the boundary and cannot rise further.

Winds in the Polar Vortex can reach speeds of 260+ knots allowing the mountain waves to propagate upwards into the stratosphere. These are called “stratospheric mountain waves.”

Gliders fly in harmony with the atmosphere rather than using engines to overcome gravity and weather. The glider harnesses the natural flow and poser of a complex atmosphere and gains height by finding “lift” or air rising faster than the natural sink rate of the glider.

Like any glider, the Perlan 2 will be towed to a predetermined height by another tow plane.

Thereafter, the crew will use piloting techniques that are commonly used by wave soaring pilots. These techniques were shown to work at high altitude by Perlan 1. Using clouds and instruments, the pilot will fly the Perlan 2 to areas of rising air. When in the rising air, the pilot will maneuver the Perlan 2 to remain in the area of the strongest up draft. When there are no clouds to mark the area of lift positioning will be done with the aid of a GPS based moving map.

There are three main types of rising air, or lift, used by glider pilots to soar above the earth:

Wave Lift

Wave lift is similar to ridge lift in that it is created when wind meets a mountain. Wave lift, however, is created on the leeward side of the peak by winds passing over the mountain instead of up one side. Wave lift requires a good wind over the ridge and stable air. As long as the wind above the ridge blows constantly at a higher and higher velocity with increased altitude the wave will propagate upward. The Perlan 2 will use wave lift to reach 90,000 feet.


Thermals are columns of rising air created by the heating of the Earth's surface. As the air near the ground is heated by the sun, it expands and rises. Pilots keep an eye out for clouds that mark the rising air and terrain that absorbs the sun more rapidly than surrounding areas and “kick off” thermals. Gliders can soar these spiraling columns of air up the base of the clouds.

Ridge Lift

Ridge lift is created by winds blowing over mountains, hills or other ridges. As the air goes over the ridge, it is deflected upward and forms a band of lift along the windward side of the slope. Gliders flying ridge lift stay close to the ridge.

The Perlan 2 will use these waves to soar to the edge of space. Benefiting from the lessons learned on Perlan 1’s ascent, the pressurized cabin will allow its pilots to enjoy unencumbered flight, with full control over stick and rudder, and many small switches.

During the Perlan 1 mission, due to lack of pressurized cabin, the pressure suits that they wore for protection inflated too much in the cramped cockpit, hindering them to control the sailplane properly.

With an empty weight of 1,100 pounds, and a wing area of 262 square feet, the 84-foot span machine is amazingly light for the structural strength required for stratospheric flight.

With more wing area than a conventional sailplane, it would stay aloft, but never compete with such craft at lower altitudes. But in the thin air at 90,000 feet, with 98 percent of the earth’s atmosphere beneath it, it will be unrivalled.

In the event of an emergency, the crew can deploy a drogue parachute from the tail for rapid vertical descent. At low altitude, the crew can deploy a BRS ballistic recovery parachute that can safely lower the entire aircraft to the ground.

To do scientific research at the edge of space while keeping the crew safe the Perlan 2 has been equipped with:
  • Cabin pressure regulator and air bottle
  • dual-redundant re-breather system for life support
  • Tail drogue parachute and BRS parachute
  • High altitude radar transponder by Sandia Aerospace
  • Instrumentation and lighting to fly at night by Whelen Engineering
  • Data loggers to validate world record, LX-9000
  • Scientific instrumentation
  • Cameras to record meteorological conditions
  • Lithium-ion rechargeable batteries
  • Telemetry to communicate with mission control and scientists on the ground

PHASE 1 : SEPT 2012
Steve Fossett and Einar Enevoldson soared the Perlan I research glider to a new record altitude for gliders of 50,722 feet in the mountain waves at El Calafate, Argentina on 08.30.06. The Perlan I is now on permanent display at the Seattle Museum of Flight.

PHASE 2 : JULY 2016
The Airbus Perlan Mission 2 will design and construct a pressurized glider to soar to the edge of space at 90,000 feet. This phase of our research will set a new world altitude record for wing-borne flight exceeding the records claimed by the U-2 and the SR-71.

PHASE 3 : MAY 2019
This phase will set a goal of exploring the stratosphere up to 100,000 feet. Flight speeds will increase to the point where the glider will need new transonic wings. Flight operations will be extended to exploring the Polar Vortex in the northern hemisphere.

The Perlan team will next take the Perlan 2 to San Diego for more ground testing before heading to Nevada later in the year for higher altitude flights.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Tanker configured KC-46A complete maiden flight

Boeing and U.S. Air Force team successfully completed the first flight of  KC-46A Pegasus tanker configured aircraft on Sept. 25 from Paine Field in Everett, Washington.

The EMD-2 aircraft took off from Paine Field at 1:24 p.m. (PST) and landing four hours later at Boeing Field in Seattle.

Unlike the program’s first test aircraft, a 767-2C (EMD-1) which first flew in December 2014, the EMD-2 is equipped with the boom and wing aerial refueling pod.

During the flight, Boeing test pilots performed operational checks on engines, flight controls and environmental systems and took the tanker to a maximum altitude of 35,000 feet prior to landing.

“This first tanker flight is a key milestone for the program and we’ll now begin free air stability tests and flight controls of the boom and wing aerial refueling pods (WARPs) before conducting aerial refueling tests where the KC-46 will make contact with other military aircraft down the road,” said Col. Christopher Coombs, U.S. Air Force KC-46 System program manager.

The Boeing team now will conduct a post-flight inspection and calibrate instrumentation prior to the next series of flights, during which the tanker boom and WARPs systems will be deployed.

Before the end of the year, the KC-46 will begin conducting aerial refueling flights with a number of U.S. Air Force aircraft. Those flights, along with the mission systems demonstrations and a recently completed ground cargo handling test, will support the planned Milestone C decision in 2016.

As part of a contract awarded in 2011 to design and develop the U.S. Air Force’s next-generation tanker aircraft, Boeing is building four test aircraft – two are currently configured as 767-2Cs and two KC-46A tankers.

The KC-46s will fly as fully equipped tankers through the FAA and military certification process, while the 767-2Cs enter flight test prior to receiving their upgrade to the KC-46A configuration and the addition of their aerial refueling systems.

The EMD-1 has completed more than 150 flight test hours to date since maiden flight.

The KC-46A is a multirole tanker Boeing is building for the U.S. Air Force that can refuel all allied and coalition military aircraft compatible with international aerial refueling procedures and can carry passengers, cargo and patients. Overall, Boeing plans to build 179 KC-46 aircraft for the U.S. Air Force.

Featuring more refueling capacity and enhanced capabilities, improved efficiency and increased capabilities for cargo and aeromedical evacuation, the KC-46A will replace U.S. Air Force's aging fleet of KC-135 Stratotankers which has been the primary refueling aircraft for more than 50 years.

With a gross takeoff weight of up to 415,000 pounds, nearly all internal fuel onboard can be pumped through the boom, drogue and wing aerial refueling pods.

The new tanker utilizes an advanced KC-10 boom, a center mounted drogue and wing aerial refueling pods allowing it to refuel multiple types of receiver aircraft.

Two Pratt & Whitney 4062 high-bypass turbofans rated at 62,000 lbs each, mounted under 34-degree swept wings powers the next generation tanker.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

First Trent XWB-97 turbofan delivered for flight testing

Rolls Royce has delivered the first higher thrust Trent XWB-97 engine to Airbus, developed to power the stretched in-development Airbus A350-1000 airliner.

The engine will be flight tested on a Airbus A380 Flying Test Bed aircraft, ahead of clearing for integration on A350-1000. The engine has been fitted with the nacelle supplied by UTC Aerospace Systems.

The oversized engine was transported from Rolls Royce Derby facility to Toulouse, onboard a Antonov An-124-100 Ruslan transport aircraft.

The present Airbus A350-900 is powered by the Trent XWB-84 – the world’s most efficient large aero engine.

The Trent XWB -97, as its designation suggests, is a 97,000lb thrust engine and is the more powerful sister engine of the -84. The engine has undergoing rigorous test regime and first flight is targeted for later this year on the Airbus A380 FTB.

The Trent XWB-97 will be the highest thrust engine we have ever certified, the highest operating temperatures and the most advanced cooling systems we have ever designed in a civil engine

The front fan has the same number of blades and is the same diameter at 118 inches but it runs around six per cent faster. The engine core has been scaled up in size to cope with the consequential increased airflow into the compressor and, in this engine, the combustor and turbines run hotter than in the -84.

Airbus is targeting first flight for A350-1000 in 2016, followed by entry into service in 2017. In a typical three-class configuration, featuring Airbus’ 18-inch-wide comfort Economy seats, the A350-1000 seats a total of 366 passengers along with a range of 7,900 nautical miles. The aircraft also can be configured for a higher-density layout to accommodate up to 440 passengers.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Boeing-China sign agreement for 300 airplanes, 737 completion center in China

Boeing welcomed China President Xi Jinping to its widebody commercial airplane factory and announced several agreements that will broaden and deepen mutually beneficial cooperation between Boeing and China.

The agreements include orders and commitments for 300 Boeing narrowbody and widebody aircraft and expanded collaboration between Boeing and China's commercial aviation industry.

President Xi, accompanied by Boeing executives, viewed final assembly lines for the 787 Dreamliner, 777 and 747-8, as well as aircraft components made by Chinese aviation suppliers. The president also spoke with Boeing employees and the 787 chief pilot about their work on airplanes built for Chinese carriers.

Boeing and China Aviation Supplies Holding Company (CASC) have signed a General Terms Agreement related to the purchase of 300 airplanes. The package has a value of approximately $38 billion at list prices.

Aircraft orders and commitments include:

  • (240) airplanes for Chinese airlines, including (190) 737s and 50 widebody aircraft
  • (60) 737s for leasing companies ICBC and CDB Leasing

737 Completion and Delivery Center in China

Boeing and Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China, Ltd., (COMAC) will partner to open a facility in China for the interiors completion, paint and delivery of Boeing 737 aircraft to Chinese customers. The joint venture facility will significantly expand Boeing's collaboration with China's aviation industry while also enabling future production rate increases at Boeing's 737 final assembly factory in Renton, Wash. This China-based facility will not reduce 737 Program employment in Washington State.

Boeing, COMAC and Chinese government officials are working toward a final business agreement and will announce the facility's location and timing of first deliveries at a later date. Boeing, now building a record 42 737s per month, will increase production to 47 airplanes per month in 2017 and 52 airplanes per month in 2018 to meet strong demand for the 737, the world's most fuel-efficient single-aisle airplane.

Boeing and Aviation Industry Corp. of China (AVIC)

Boeing and Aviation Industry Corp. of China (AVIC) will broaden their long-term collaboration to support Boeing's commercial airplane programs. In a framework agreement, the companies said they intend to further advance AVIC's manufacturing capabilities by adding major component and assembly work packages; strengthening leadership; and developing AVIC's broad aviation infrastructure and business practices, including supply chain management.

Further development of sustainable aviation biofuel

Under the framework of the MOU between Boeing and NDRC, Boeing and NDRC announced a new initiative to turn agricultural waste in China into sustainable aviation biofuel. Boeing will partner with NDRC to turn items from farms, such as corn cobs and wheat stalks, into sustainable jet fuel as a way to reduce aviation's carbon emissions.

When produced sustainably, aviation biofuel reduces carbon emissions by 50 to 80 percent on a lifecycle basis compared to conventional petroleum jet fuel, according to studies by the U.S. Department of Energy.

Boeing has partnered with Chinese stakeholders to support development of China's air transport system since President Richard Nixon arrived in Beijing on Air Force One, a Boeing 707, in 1972. Today, more than 50 percent of commercial jetliners operating in China are Boeing airplanes. Over the next 20 years, China will be Boeing's largest commercial airplane market with a projected need for 6,330 new airplanes, worth an estimated $950 billion.

Perlan 2 Glider soars into sky


The Perlan 2 glider, the world’s first engineless aircraft designed to reach the edge of space, achieved its successful first flight today in a historic moment about 5,000 feet above Roberts Field, the Redmond Municipal Airport in Oregon, Toulouse, France on 23 September.

This was the first test flight of the aircraft, which next year will attempt to set a new world altitude record for any airplane. The goal of this project is to open up a world of new discoveries related to high-altitude flight, climate change and space exploration.

Over the next nine months, the Perlan Project team will prepare for Airbus Perlan Mission II, which will take place in 2016 in Argentina. In this mission, the Perlan 2 glider will attempt to set a new world record for any airplane by soaring at an altitude of 90,000 feet – which is in the upper most part of Earth’s atmosphere.

In doing so, the Perlan Project will open up a world of new discoveries related to high-altitude flight, climate change and space exploration.

Jim Payne and Morgan Sandercock piloted the flight, which was the first of many for the Airbus Perlan Mission II team as it prepares to soar the aircraft to the edge of space in Argentina in 2016.

The Perlan 2 is a pressurized sailplane designed to ride air currents that, in certain mountainous regions near the north and south poles, can reach into the stratosphere. Next year’s flights are expected to reach 90,000 feet, exceeding even the altitudes achieved by the U-2 and the SR-71.

Despite having no engine, the glider’s true flight speed at that altitude will be more than 400 mph and the air density will be less than two percent of what it is at sea level. The crew will breathe pure oxygen provided by a rebreather system, similar to what astronauts use in space.

In addition to its two-person crew, the aircraft carries scientific instruments to provide new insight into climate change and our upper atmosphere. Because it lacks an engine, Perlan 2 can explore the edge of space without polluting the atmosphere it will study, opening up human knowledge on several fronts:
  • Weather Forecasting – Perlan 2 will be able to directly observe important atmospheric phenomena at the highest levels of the stratosphere that impacts weather around the globe.
  • Climate Change – Perlan 2 will collect and share data with atmospheric scientists worldwide to improve climate models to more accurately predict and find solutions for climate change.
  • The Ozone Layer – by collecting untainted air samples from the stratosphere, Perlan 2 can measure levels of ozone-damaging chemicals and assess the health of the ozone layer.
  • Future of Aviation – some high-altitude weather phenomena that Perlan 2 will encounter impact future measures needed to secure aircraft performance and safety, especially as commercial aviation strives to operate aircraft at higher altitudes.
  • Future of Space Travel – Perlan 2 will operate in atmospheric conditions roughly similar to those on Mars, providing insight into how wingborne aircraft could operate above the Martian surface.
The Perlan 2 glider was developed by The Perlan Project, a volunteer-run, non-profit endeavour headed by leaders in aerospace and engineering. It is supported by Airbus Group and a group of other sponsors that includes Weather Extreme Ltd., United Technologies and BRS Aerospace.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

USAF rips nuclear capability from B-52H bombers

U.S. Air Force Global Strike Command has begun the conversion of a portion of the B-52H Stratofortress bomber fleet from a nuclear to a conventional only capability aircraft under the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START).

The conversion of the first of 30 operational aircraft from across the command was completed at Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana, this summer with the Air Force Reserve Command 307th Bomb Wing's aircraft 61-1021. The conversion process preserves the full conventional capabilities of the B-52.

The Air Force will also convert 12 non-operational B-52H aircraft currently maintained in storage at the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group in Tucson, Arizona. The Air Force is scheduled to complete all conversions by early 2017.

Under New START, the U.S. and Russian Federation are required to have no more than 1,550 deployed warheads; 800 deployed and non-deployed intercontinental ballistic missile launchers, submarine-launched ballistic missile launchers and nuclear capable heavy bombers; and 700 deployed ICBMs, SLBMs and nuclear capable heavy bombers. AFGSC also began the transition of 50 Minuteman III launch facilities across the command to an operational non-deployed status in May 2015.

The Department of Defense announced its force structure in April 2014 to comply with New START requirements.

The eight engined B-52 platfrom forms a major portion of U.S. long range strategic bomber fleet along with B-2 stealth bomber and B-1 swing wing supersonic bomber.

The B-52 platform is over 50 years old and will be replaced by the Long Range Strike Bomber (LRS-B) in future.

With a 220 tonne maximum take off weight, the B-52H can carry a maximum payload of 31.5 tonne along with a maximum range of 8800 miles.

USAF have 58 of the type in active service and 18 in reserve.

First Saudi Hawk Mk 165 trainer complete maiden flight

BAE Systems has carried out the first flight of new generation Hawk Mk 165 Advanced Jet Trainer jet for Saudi Arabia.

The debut flight was piloted by BAE test pilot Andy Blyth from its Warton final assembly line in Lancashire.

The Hawk Mk 165 is the Saudi specific export variant of Hawk Advanced Trainer Jet. Saudi has 22 on order and maiden delivery will commence in 2016.

Critical avionics components for Hawk T-165 are being produced locally in Saudi Arabia by Advanced Electronics Company (AEC) in co-operation with the Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) General Electric (GE).

The production of the components, which are integral to the six Multi-Functional Displays found in each Hawk cockpit, also represents the first time Saudi components have been fitted to an aircraft in production in the UK.

The twin seat trainer is powered by a single Rolls Royce Adour Mk 951 turbofan engine equipped with FADEC.

Spirit completes first V-280 tiltrotor fuselage

Spirit AeroSystems has completed the first fuselage of the Bell Helicopter V-280 tiltrotor aircraft for the U.S. Army's Joint Multi-Role Technology Demonstrator (JMR-TD) program.

The unit was designed and assembled in Spirit's rapid prototyping facility in Wichita, Kansas, in just 22 months. The composite fuselage is being prepped to ship to Bell's Amarillo, Texas, facility for final assembly.

The U.S. Army-led JMR-TD program is the science and technology precursor to the Department of Defense's Future Vertical Lift program, with the goal to replace 2,000 to 4,000 medium-class utility and attack helicopters.

A next generation tiltrotor, the Bell V-280 Valor advanced technology tiltrotor provides unmatched speed, range and payload for expeditionary maneuver to win in a complex world.

The V-280 is scheduled to make its first flight in the second half of 2017.

The Valor will be the third tiltrotor aircraft developed in the world, after Bell-Boeing V-22 Osprey and AgustaWestland AW609.

Massive Russian fighter deployment to Syria

Su-24 in swept wing configuration
The latest satellite imagery acquired by Airbus and Defense and Space satellites has revealed massive deployment of additional Russian attack aircraft to Syrian Naval air base in Latakia.

New Russian Air Force deployment consist of 12 Su-24 Fencer fighter bombers and 12 Su-25 Frogfoot ground attack aircraft.The Su-25 had arrived on the base by 20 Sept and Su-24 by 21 Sept.

The fleet is in addition to the first fighter deployment of four Su-30 Flanker multi role fighters to the base, which where revealed on 15 Sept.

The Su-25 is a twin engined single-seat armoured subsonic attack aircraft designed for close support of ground forces over the battlefield in daytime and at night, the targets being within visible range.

The Su-24 is designed for bombardment with bombs and missiles in favourable and adverse weather conditions, in daytime and at night, including at low altitudes with pinpoint destruction of ground targets. The twin engined aircraft has variable sweep wing.

Australia to fund RF-Seeker development of JSM

Norway and Australia has signed an agreement where Australia will finance the development of a new capability for the seeker in the Joint Strike Missile (JSM), developed by Norwegian company Kongsberg Defence Systems (KDA).

If Australia later decides to procure the JSM, then Norway and Australia will share the cost of integrating the JSM on the F-35.

The Joint Strike Missile is a long-range precision guided missile that can be carried internally in the F-35. By using a combination of advanced materials, an ability to fly low, while following the terrain and an advanced passive seeker, the missile will prove both extremely difficult to detect and stop even for advanced countermeasures and defence systems.

The current seeker that is being developed for the JSM is based on a technology known as "imaging infra red" that enables the missile to detect and identify targets based on its heat signature.

Under the terms of the newly signed agreement, BAE Australia will be tasked by the Australian Government to integrate a RF-seeking capability on the missile, which will enable to to also locate targets on the basis of their electronic signature. This will further strengthen the ability of the missile to locate and identify targets on a modern battlefield.

The JSM is being developed by Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace (KDA) on behalf of the Norwegian Armed Forces, and will be integrated on the F-35 in its first phase of follow-on development during 2022-2024.

KDA has sourced components and technology for the missile from a broad network of subcontractors both in Norway and internationally to develop the new missile, and it is estimated that the JSM through its lifetime could support value generation for Norwegian industry equalling around 2.4 to 3 billion dollar.

Norway's first F-35 stealth fighter rolled out

The first F-35A Lightning II stealth fighter for the Norway was rolled out from the Lockheed Martin F-35 production facility in Fort Worth, Texas on Monday.

Norwegian Minister of Defence Ms. Ine Eriksen Søreide, participated in the formal roll-out of AM-1.

AM-1 and Norway’s second jet, known as AM-2, are scheduled to be delivered to the Royal Norwegian Air Force later this year, and will be based at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona, where they will be used for Norwegian and partner country pilot training.

Norway is planning to acquire up to 52 F-35As in the years leading up to 2025, to replace its current F-16 fleet acquired in early 1980s.

The aircraft delivered in 2015 and 2016 will be used to train Norwegian and partner pilots at Luke AFB. The first aircraft to arrive in Norway will be delivered in 2017, and will then begin preparations for Norway's initial operating capability with the F-35 in 2019.

The Norwegian acquisition of the F-35 is progressing on schedule, with ten aircraft in various stages of production.

Norway's Kongsberg is also in the final phase of development for the JSM missile for F-35. Norway has signed a deal with Australia to finance development of a new seeker for JSM on Sept 15.

Work on the F-35 program has provided Norwegian industry with more than $450 million in contracts to date, along with opportunities for additional work over the life of the program.

EASA certify Evektor SportStar with constant speed propeller

The Evektor SportStar RTC has become the first EASA CS-LSA certified aircraft with an approved Constant Speed Propeller. The major change approval of KW-31 Constant Speed Propeller installation was issued by EASA on September 9th.

Installation of the KW-31 offers enhancement of the SportStar RTC´s performance parameters, an increase of horizontal speeds and better fuel economy compared to the standard ground adjustable Klassic propeller.

The 3-blade, wooden-composite, electrically controlled, constant speed propeller KW-31 manufactured by the company Woodcomp gained EASA Type Certification (EASA.P.177) on February 18, 2014.

Orders for the SportStar RTC from air clubs and PPL flight training organizations continue to increase. The company shall deliver the first 4 aircraft with the installed constant speed propeller KW-31 in September. 2 SportStar RTCs will be delivered to the popular flight training organization Sky Flight Academy from Krems in Austria, 1 aircraft will be delivered to an air club in Poland and the KW-31 will also be installed in a SportStar RTC operated in air clubs in France.

The modern design, advanced glass cockpit, ballistic recovery system, low operating costs and an excellent training platform make the SportStar RTC the most innovative solution for air clubs and pilot training organizations on the global market today.

The SportStar RTC is manufactured by Evektor-Aerotechnik, a Czech Republic-based EASA certified aircraft manufacturer. The company´s 45-year design and production experience is supported by a global network of Authorized Sales Representatives. With its fleet of 1,400+ delivered aircraft across 50 countries, Evektor-Aerotechnik is a highly regarded aircraft manufacturer for pilot training, air clubs and leisure flying.

Evektor is also currently penetrating the market of business aviation with its EV-55 Outback - the new twin engine turboprop for the transportation of 9 to 14 passengers or cargo. The aircraft is currently under EASA´s certification process.

MBDA to market BAE Systems APKWS rocket in Europe

BAE Systems has announced an agreement with MBDA to support marketing efforts for the Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System (APKWS) laser-guided rocket in Europe.

The APKWS system is a mid-body guidance section fitted between the motor and the warhead, transforming a standard unguided 70 mm (2.75 in) munition into a precision laser-guided rocket to provide warfighters with a low-cost surgical strike capability.

This highly innovative approach requires no modifications to the rocket, launch platform, or fire control/launcher system and allows militaries to leverage existing infrastructure and munitions investment.

French Navy inducts improved NH90 naval helicopter

Airbus Helicopters, the French Defense procurement agency (DGA – Direction générale de l’armement) and the French Navy today marked the handover of the 15th NH90 NFH multimission naval helicopter, the first to be delivered in the final radar configuration (FRC), during a ceremony held in the facilities in Marignane, France.

The DGA ordered 27 NH90 NFH from NHIndustries in two different configurations for the French Navy. To date 15 aircraft have been delivered and the French Navy declared an operational capability in the anti-submarine operational role on 5 December 2014, completed on 3 March 2015 by the operational capability of the MU90 torpedo.

The naval version of the NH90 is designed to perform a wide range of missions from anti-submarine, to anti-surface warfare, search and rescue, maritime surveillance and control and special operations including counter terrorism and anti-piracy. The NH90 in its final radar configuration includes also an advanced sonar providing the Navy with improved submarine detection and classification capabilities, as well as a new system for the Digital Map Generator (DMG) facilitating mission preparation and execution.

The NH90’s 4-axis autopilot and the fly-by-wire controls contribute to safety and maximum flight performance in severe operating conditions. The NH90 is the first serial helicopter in the world to be equipped with fly-by-wire technologies, significantly reducing pilot workload and allowing for this state-of-the-art helicopter to be piloted with ease.

To date, 249 NH90 have been delivered to 13 countries and have logged over 95 000 flight hours, confirming its success on the export market.

The twin-engine, medium-size NH90 helicopter program is managed by the consortium NHIndustries, a company owned by Airbus Helicopters (62.5%), AgustaWestland (32%), and Fokker (5.5%).

Monday, September 21, 2015

Thailand sign contract for KAI T-50 trainer jets

Thailand has signed a contract with Korean Aerospace Industries to acquire four KAI T-50 golden Eagle trainer jets under a $110 million deal.

 KAI will deliver the aircraft within 30 months. The T-50 which also has light attack capability will replace Thai Air Force's aging fleet of Czech built L-39 trainer jets.

The trainer which was developed jointly by Lockheed Martin and KAI, has been a export success. It has clinched orders for 24 and 16 jets respectively from Indonesia and Iraq. Philippines has ordered 12 of the fighter variant designated FA-50.

The T-50 will also compete for the U.S. Air Force's advanced trainer jet program code named T-X.

With a maximum take off weight of 12.3 tonne, the T-50 is powered by a single GE F404 turbofan engine. The major aircraft features include triple redundant electrical systems, onboard oxygen generating system (OBOGS), active sidestick controls, Hands on Throttle and Stick (HOTAS), zero-zero ejection seats and multi function displays.

Mitsubishi expands 787 composite wing box production

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. (MHI) has completed facility expansion at the Aircraft Shop of the Yamatomachi Plant of its Shimonoseki Shipyard & Machinery Works in Yamaguchi Prefecture, Japan, in preparation for production increase of composite wing boxes for the Boeing 787 Dreamliner.

MHI expanded the facility in response to Boeing's plan to increase the 787's production rate from the current 10 airplanes per month to 14 by the end of the decade.

The expansion at the Shimonoseki facility will enable to increase production capacity of stringers, reinforcement structures integrated into the wing boxes, which have been produced at the Aircraft Shop since 2006.

For increased stringer production, production machinery will go into operation sequentially: including an autoclave for curing and shape-forming the layered composite prepregs under high temperature and high pressure, and cutting machines for machining of components.

The stringers manufactured at the Aircraft Shop are transported to the Oye Plant of MHI's Nagoya Aerospace Systems Works in Aichi Prefecture, where they are integrated into the wing boxes for shipment to Boeing.

Preparations are also under way to increase production capacity at the Oye Plant.

MHI has undertaken production of composite wing boxes for the 787 Dreamliner since the program was launched. Delivery of the first unit took place in May 2007.

MHI continues to play an important role in the 787 program through expanded production and supply of high-quality composite wing boxes, looking to tie its success to further expansion of its commercial aircraft business in the future.

Czech Gripen clocks 20,000 flight hours

The 14 Saab JAS-39 Gripen fighters operated by Czech Air Force has clocked 20,000 flight hours, since entry into service in 2005.

Saab honored the Czech pilots from Čáslav Air Base, for reaching the milestone, during a ceremony at the 2015 NATO Days and Czech Air Force Days at Ostrava.

Czech operates these ex-Swedish Air Force Gripen fleet under lease from Sweden, which has been extended until 2029.

Four of the Czech Gripens were operationally deployed for air patrols over Iceland in August.

Saab has a significant presence in Central Europe, with the Czech Republic and Hungary each operating a 14-strong fleet of NATO-interoperable Gripen aircraft.

Elsewhere, Gripen fighters are flying with the air forces of Sweden, South Africa and Thailand.

Brazil has also ordered 36 Gripen NG aircraft. Alongside its Gripen activities in the Czech Republic.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Russian Su-27 fighters deployed to Syria

Amid concerns raised by United States and Israel, Russia has deployed fighter jets to Syria.

Satellite images revealed a deployment of four Sukhoi Su-27 fighters to Russian forward operating base setup in Latakia, Syria.

The fighters could also be the advanced Su-30SM variants, as they also sport a sky blue camouflage.

The image (above) were captured by Airbus Defense and Space built, Pleiades very high resolution satellite, operated by French CNES.

Russia says the deployment to Latakia, a strong hold of Syrian president Bashar Al Asad, is to fight Islamic State terrorists.

Earlier, Russia has deployed Mi-24 attack helicopters and Mi-17 transport helicopters and army tanks to the base, which has also been bolstered with SA-22 Pantsir anti aircraft systems.

Panstir S1 is a short range surface air missile and anti-aircraft artillery weapon system, which can provide point air defense cover against UAVs, cruise missiles and helicopters.

Israel was quick to schedule a meet with Russian president Vladimir Putin to avoid any confrontation with the Russian anti aircraft systems deployed, during a possible Israeli air strike.

More than 15 flights of Russian Antonov An-124 heavy lift cargo planes have been recorded to Syria, carrying weapons and humanitarian aid.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

UK maritime patrol aircraft competition attracts global defense giants

UK MoD Copyright
UK is preparing to fill its vital airborne anti submarine warfare capability gap that resulted following retirement of the Nimrod MR2 submarine hunter aircraft in 2010, and cancelling the follow on Nimrod MR4 program.

Inability to check renewed Russian submarine threats past UK, in international waters has forced UK to rethink its decision which was then part of defense cuts.

Earlier this year, UK commanders were forced to call U.S., Canadian and French maritime patrol aircraft to track a suspected Russian submarine near Royal Navy's Faslane base.

Global defense giants are clamoring to compete for the multi-billion dollar program, which is expected to be announced in the British government's Strategic Defense and Security Review 2015.

Companies used the DSEI defense exhibition held in London to urge UK Ministry of Defense hold an fair and open competition for any requirement that may emerge from SDSR 2015, rather than a sole source contract.

Boeing is in the forefront, pitching its proven P-8 Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft based on the commercial Boeing 737 airliner platform. UK is reportedly inclined to the platform which is operational with U.S and Indian Navies. It will be the most capable aircraft on offer, in terms of range, sensors and armament.

British naval aircrew has already flown on the U.S. Navy P-8As, to maintain skills which could have been lost due to lack of platform.

European Airbus is offering maritime patrol aircraft based on the C-295 turboprop airlifter. Airbus says the platform could be acquired with one third cost of Boeing P-8, along with UK sourced radar systems probably the Selex Seapray AESA radar. The multi role C-295 could also be configured for Search and Rescue (SAR), special force operations, counter terrorism missions and paratroop deployment.

Lockheed Martin is offering an Anti Submarine Warfare upgrade program to the 24 Royal Air Force C-130J Hercules airlifter fleet slated for retirement by 2022, as the replacement Airbus A400M fleet gradually takes over.

U.S. based L-3 will offer a modified version of Bombardier's Q400 turboprop airliner, whose maiden flight is expected in 2016.

Japan is offering the Kawasaki P-1 maritime patrol aircraft operational with Japanese Air Self Defense Forces, which marked its international debut during the RIAT 2015 airshow.

Italian Alenia Aermachi will offer its C-27J Spartan based patrol aircraft, which was showcased at the DSEI exhibition.

Swedish Saab is pitching its Saab 2000 turboprop based Swordfish maritime patrol aircraft.

The Nimrod MR4 maritime patrol and attack aircraft was a upgraded MR2 aircraft, featuring new Rolls Royce BR700 turbofan that almost doubled its range, new glass cockpit, improved sensor systems and reduced crew requirements.

The program which achieved its maiden flight in 2004, was cancelled due to delays and cost over runs. The roles intended for MR4 is being met by Royal Navy's Type 23 Frigate and Merlin helicopters.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Boeing takes over Tirumph's 747 workshare

Boeing said it will take over the Boeing 747 fuselage panel work from its supplier Triumph Aerostructures.

The fuselage panels will be built at Boeing's Macon, Georgia facility beginning in 2018, providing assembled fuselage panels to Boeing's 747 final assembly line in Everett, Washington

Boeing says it has worked with Triumph Aerostructures for many months to ensure a smooth transition for the 747 supply chain.

Boeing will invest approximately $80 million in employee training, tooling and building modifications over the next three years to transition Macon into a commercial aircraft structure manufacturing unit, as current defense work at the facility is scheduled to be complete in mid-2016.

Defense work currently performed at the Macon site includes replacement center wing sections for the A-10 Thunderbolt II, as well as sub-assemblies for the CH-47 Chinook helicopter. Fuselage panels for the C-17 Globemaster transport airplane were also produced at the site until earlier this year.

Facility staffing will be temporarily reduced during the transition. The site will ramp up to full production on 747 fuselage panels by mid-2018, at which point it will employ up to 200 people.

Macon will become the twelfth manufacturing site for the Boeing Commercial Airplanes Fabrication organization, which has operations in three countries.

The fuselage panel assembly transfer to the Macon site is the first of several new work packages for the 747 currently supplied by Triumph Aerostructures that Boeing will announce in the coming months.

Other 747 structures work now done by Triumph Aerostructures, including the empennage, floor beams and flight surfaces, is currently being competitively bid to selected suppliers. Boeing expects to have sourcing decisions for all the work completed this year.

Triumph has produced Boeing 747 fuselage panels since the aircraft program began in 1966, delivering more than 1,400 fuselage ship sets, including those for Air Force One. This fuselage section is 172 feet long. Each shipset has 21 major side and door panels delivered to Boeing in six custom, oversized railcars.

At Macon, Boeing will equip the site with new tooling and equipment, which will occupy the entirety of the 220,000 square foot facility. A new advanced manufacturing production system will reduce the time to produce fuselage panels while also increasing quality and enhancing employee safety.

Boeing manufactures the latest variant of the iconic 747 jumbo jet designated 747-8 in passenger and freighter variant.

The successful advent of  more efficient twin engined jetliners like Boeing 777, 787, Airbus A330, A350 has resulted in sales drought for the four engined Boeing 747 and its European rival Airbus A380.

Boeing currently has 25 firm orders for the type, enough to sustain production for 2 years.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Images: TAM Airlines Airbus A350 rolled out

The first A350 XWB for TAM Airlines rolled out of the Airbus paint shop in Toulouse, revealing the aircraft in its signature red, white and blue livery. The aircraft will continue through the next stages of production, including the installation of engines, completion of cabin furnishing and cockpit fitting, before starting ground and flight tests. The aircraft is scheduled for delivery to TAM Airlines in December.

TAM will become the first airline from the Americas to fly the A350 XWB and the fourth operator in the world, after Qatar, Vietnam and Finnair. LATAM Airlines Group, made up of LAN Airlines and TAM Airlines, has ordered 27 A350-900. The carrier will start operating the A350 XWB in January 2016 between Sao Paulo and Manaus, followed by international operations between Sao Paulo and Miami, and Sao Paulo and Madrid.

The A350 XWB is the latest addition to the market-leading Airbus widebody product line. The A350-900 seating up to 325 passengers in a three class layout can fly on routes of up to 7,600 nautical miles. It features the latest aerodynamic design, carbon fibre fuselage and wings, plus new fuel-efficient Rolls-Royce Trent XWB engines. Together, these latest technologies bring unrivalled level of operational efficiency, with a 25 per cent reduction in fuel burn and emissions, and significantly lower maintenance costs.

For passengers, the A350 XWB brings new levels of in-flight comfort, with more personal space in all classes. In business class, airlines can install the most luxurious full-flat seats, while the extra wide fuselage allows comfortable 18-inch 9 abreast seat layouts in economy class. The aircraft also features wider panoramic windows, larger overhead stowage compartments and a new draught-free air conditioning system, as well as the latest in-flight entertainment and connectivity systems. At the end of August 2015, the A350 XWB had won 782 firm orders worldwide from 40 customers.

UK sign support contracts for UAS systems

UK Ministry of Defense is bringing two Unmanned Air Systems (UAS) used to protect troops in Afghanistan into its core equipment program.

Contracts worth approximately £23 million ($36 million) have been placed for the Black Hornet and Desert Hawk 3 systems, which were used on operations to provide surveillance and intelligence for troops on the ground.

The Black Hornet, which is palm-sized, provided real-time video and snapshot images while Desert Hawk 3, which is battery-powered, gathers intelligence, and provides reconnaissance and surveillance.

MOD recently awarded a contract extension to Marlborough Communications Limited to support Black Hornet through to its Out of Service Date in 2017, while Lockheed Martin Mission Systems and Training has also been awarded a contract to support the Desert Hawk 3 programme. Both achieved Full Operating Capability (FOC) last month.

The Black Hornet has a 1.6 km range and 25 min endurance. It is equipped with 3 cameras and is capable of night missions using thermal camera.

Desert Hawk 3 provides tactical intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance support to the military forces of the United Kingdom

Desert Hawk 3 has flown more than 30,000 hours, mostly under austere conditions, to support critical mission needs such as enhanced situational awareness, security and counter-IED operations, threat detection, route reconnaissance and battle damage assessment.

UK MOD Image
The Desert Hawk 3 is designed for portability, ruggedness, rapid employment and reliability. The hand-launched system weighs only 8 lbs. (3.6 kg) and can fly for up to 90 minutes with a 2-lb. (0.91 kg) payload. Recently the U.K. Desert Hawk 3 was upgraded to a digital data link.

Lockheed Martin recently upgraded Desert Hawk 3 to the Desert Hawk 3.1 configuration by providing simplified launch, deep stall landing, all-environment capability, longer endurance, updated sensor payloads and operation using Lockheed Martin's mobile ground control system. Desert Hawk 3.1 is a modification kit to a Desert Hawk 3 configuration.

Maiden flight for Finnair Airbus A350

The first A350 XWB for Finnair has completed its first flight from Toulouse.

The aircraft will now enter the final production phase including further ground checks and flight tests. The aircraft is scheduled for delivery in the coming weeks.

Finnair will become the first airline in Europe to operate the A350 XWB and the third operator in the world. Finnair has acquired a total of 19 A350 XWBs and will operate its fleet on premium long haul routes, beginning with services between Helsinki and Shanghai.

BAE conducts Striker II HMDS night trials

BAE Systems has begun night trials on the Striker® II helmet-mounted display (HMD), to evaluate its digital night vision capability.

Striker II provides combat pilot with exceptional night vision and target tracking technology within a fully integrated visor-projected HMD system.

Successful trials will lead the way to a fully integrated digital night vision helmet replacing the need for traditional analogue night vision goggles.

BAE begun evaluating the digital night vision capability through a series of night flight trials from its Military Air & Information business in Warton, Lancashire.

“Striker II has a high-definition, lightweight night vision camera which translates information and displays it on the helmet’s visor. This removes the need for heavy night vision goggles which increase g-force pressures on the head and neck, limiting the pilot’s manoeuvrability in the cockpit,” said Peter Kosogorin, test pilot at our Warton site. “The helmet provides a clear and accurate visual display and a seamless transition from day to night, eliminating the need to manually configure and adjust night vision goggles.”

The company will continue to evaluate the helmet’s integration with Typhoon aircraft in another series of flight trials later this year.

“The second set of trials is the next step in the flight test program to prove Striker II offers true ‘plug and play’ compatibility with the Typhoon and builds upon the initial trials to further evaluate the digital night vision capability,” said Chris Colston, our Business Development Director.

Striker II also includes a cutting-edge tracking system that ensures the pilot’s exact head position and the aircraft computer system are continuously in sync, reducing problems common to other HMD’s.

The tracking system in Striker II eliminates any delay in determining where the pilot is looking and can therefore perfectly position symbology onto the visor. The results are high-precision target tracking and engagement as well as superior situational awareness and mission effectiveness.

Its display systems offer fast-jet pilots a real-world view of terrain, allowing them to see and avoid all obstacles in their flight path, even when visibility outside the aircraft is limited.

With decades of combat-proven experience, the new platform-agnostic Striker II helmet-mounted display (HMD) builds upon BAE Systems’ current Striker HMD, which has been successfully deployed in theatre on Eurofighter typhoon and Gripen fleets. 

Lockheed U-2 successor dubbed 'TR-X' revealed

Lockheed Martin's elite 'Skunk Works' is currently studying a stealthy successor to its revolutionary U-2 Dragon Lady surveillance aircraft.

Even though its too early to decide the aircraft performance and specifications, Lockheed released an artistic concept of the tactical surveillance aircraft dubbed "TR-X" at Air Force Associations's conference on Monday.

Lockheed reveals the TR-X would be a optionally manned design, incorporating best features of U-2, such as high-altitude flight, Intelligence Surveillance Reconnaissance (ISR), alternative payloads, rapid deployment capability, and an open missions systems architecture.

Like the U-2, the low-observable single engined aircraft will be optimized for 70,000+ ft altitude- the sweet spot for an ISR platform, powered by the same GE F118 turbofan engine.

The TR-X will feature increased power supply to feed new sensors, electronic warfare suites, and advanced communication systems that will enable to connect with fourth and fifth generation fighter jets.

Current U.S. high altitude long endurance surveillance needs are met by a fleet of 17 manned U-2 and 21 unmanned Northrop Grumman RQ-4 Global Hawk aircraft.

Even though the U-2 fleet is slated for retirement in 2019, as USAF says it cannot afford two high-altitude ISR platforms, it has not committed to the TR-X proposal.


Designed by Skunk Works founder Clarence"Kelly" Johnson in 1955, the first U-2 design borrowed its sleek looks from the traditional sail plane.

With a cruise speed of 475 miles per hour, the tapered wing spanning 103 ft, allows U-2 to carry 5000 lb equipment to unprecedented high altitudes which is exactly still classified.

Airbus develops counter-UAV systems

Airbus Defence and Space has developed a Counter-UAV System which detects illicit intrusions of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) over critical areas at long ranges and offers electronic countermeasures minimizing the risk of collateral damage .

The system will meet the security gaps arised following advent of universally available small drones to critical installations such as military barracks, airports or nuclear plants.

The system offers very high effectiveness by combining sensor data from different sources with latest data fusion, signal analysis and jamming technologies. It uses operational radars, infrared cameras and direction finders from Airbus Defence and Space’s portfolio to identify the drone and assess its threat potential at ranges between 5 and 10 Kilometers.

Based on an extensive threat library and realtime analysis of control signals a jammer then interrupts the link between drone and pilot and/or its navigation.

Furthermore, the direction finder tracks the position of the pilot who subsequently can be arrested. Due to the Smart Responsive Jamming Technology developed by Airbus Defence and Space, the jamming signals are blocking only the relevant frequencies used to operate the drone while other frequencies in the vicinity remain operational.

Since the jamming technology contains versatile receiving and transmitting capabilities, more sophisticated measures like remote control classification and GPS spoofing can be utilized as well. This allows effective and specific jamming and also a controlled takeover of the UAV.

The Counter-UAV System has been tested extensively at Airbus Defence and Space’s own premises and during customer presentations in Germany and France. Depending on the required configuration, an operational system would be available from mid-2016.