Saturday, October 31, 2015

Images: Metrojet flight 7K9268 wreckage

Image of the aircraft captured before the doomed flight, prior to departure.
Egyptian officials has confirmed that there is no survivors in the crashed Metrojet Flight 7K9268, whose wreckage was located in mountainous region in the Sinai peninsula.

On board were 217 passengers and 7 crew members, including 17 children and 138 women. The aircraft commander - Nemov Valery Yu - an experienced pilot, had a total flight time of more than 12000 hours, of which 3860 hours were on the Airbus A321.

The aircraft operated by Russian airline Kogalymavia under the brand name Metrojet, was flying from the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh to St Petersburg in Russia.

The aircraft took off at 5:49 a.m. Cairo time and disappeared from radar after 23 minutes into the flight. The aircraft steadily climbed to its cruise altitude without any unusual deviations in flight parameters.

While the aircraft was over Sinai peninsula, large variation in speed and altitude were recorded, at an altitude of 31,000 feet (9,400 meters), one minute prior to lose of radar contact at 6:13 am.

The aircraft had literally fallen from the sky with very high vertical decent rate. The live aircraft tracking website Flightradar 24 said the aircraft was descending at the rate of 6000 ft per minute, prior to lose of contact.

The Captain had requested immediate landing following a in flight emergency, probably due to technical problems.

The aircraft involved in the accident, registered under EI-ETJ was MSN (Manufacturer Serial Number) 663, was produced in 1997 and since 2012 operated by Metrojet.

The aircraft had accumulated some 56000 flight hours in nearly 21000 flights and was powered by two IAE-V2500 engines.

The A321-200 is the largest member of the Airbus twin-engine A320 Family seating up to 240 passengers. The first A321 entered service in January 1994. By the end of September 2015, some 6500 A320 Family aircraft were in service with over 300 operators. To date, the entire fleet has accumulated some 168 million flight hours in some 92.5 million flights.

European carriers Lufthansa and Air France has announced decision to avoid flying over the Sinai region, which is home to militant groups affiliated with Islamic State, until there is clarity about the cause of crash. 

Metrojet Airbus A321 crashed in Egypt

A Russian passenger jet operated by Kolavia/Metrojet has crashed shortly after taking off from Sharm el-Sheikh International airport in Egypt.

The Flight 7K9268, carrying more than 200 passengers have crashed in Egyptian Sinai peninsula.

Egyptian search and rescue teams has located the crash site in the mountainous Hassana area, south of Arish, Sinai, the civilian aviation ministry said on Saturday.

The aircraft has been completely destroyed and all the passengers is feared dead, according to Egyptian officials quoted by Reuters. The rescue operations has been difficult due to the treacherous terrain.

The Airbus A321-231 single aisle jet, with registration no EI-ETJ, was operating a charted flight from Sharm el-Sheikh to St. Petersburg in Russia.

Kolavia, which also operates as Metrojet, is an airline based in Kogalym, Tyumen, Russia. It operates mostly international charter services to leisure destinations. Operations started in May 1993.

The 18 year old aircraft build in 1997 and was powered by two IAE-V2533-A5 engines.

The flight tracking website Flightradar 24, says it lost signal of the aircraft 23 minutes after departure from the airport, and the aircraft was descending at the rate of 6000 ft per minute when the signal was lost.

There is also unconfirmed reports that the Captain has requested diversion to Cairo, after experiencing mechanical problem.

The plane was at an altitude of 31,000 feet when it vanished from radar screens, the Egyptian civil aviaition ministry said in a statement.

Friday, October 30, 2015

AgustaWestland AW609 prototype crashed in Italy

A flight test prototype of AgustaWestland AW609 tiltrotor aircraft has crashed in northern Italy killing its two pilots.

According to Italian Air Accident investigation agency, ANSV, the aircraft involved was the second prototype built in 2003.

The tiltrotor, which had taken off from AgustaWestalnd’s airfield at Vergiate production facility, caught fire shortly after take off and crashed in a field in the town of Santhià.

The crash will be a big blow for AW's program to develop a commercial tiltrotor helicopter that combines the speed of a turboprop and the take off and landing ability of a helicopter.

The AW609 with a maximum weight of 8.6 tonne is powered by two Pratt & Whitney PT6 turboprop engines, and carry nine passengers plus two crew members.

The two flight test aircraft had logged more than 1200 hours and the program was scheduled to achieve EASA certification in 2017.

The tiltrotor design have been proved to be too risky and complex by the Bell- Boeing V-22 Osprey military tiiltrotor operated by U.S Marine Corps, following multiple crashes.

CFM delivers first LEAP-1B engine for Boeing 737 MAX

CFM Photo
CFM International has delivered the first advanced LEAP-1B engines to Boeing to support factory roll out of the first 737 MAX airplane before year end and first flight in early 2016.

The new generation engine has been put through thousands of test hours and cycles on the ground and in the air on a 747 flying testbed.

CFM is executing the most extensive ground and flight test certification program in its history. There are currently a total of more than 30 LEAP engines (all three models) on test or in final assembly and the program has logged a total of nearly 6,150 certification ground and flight test hours and 12,400 cycles.

In addition to the LEAP-1B engine, the 737 MAX incorporates advanced technology winglets and other improvements to deliver 20 percent lower fuel consumption than the first Next-Generation 737s delivered. To date, Boeing has received orders for a total of 2,898 737 MAX aircraft from 59 customers worldwide.

Launch customer Southwest Airlines is scheduled to take delivery of the first 737 MAX in the third quarter of 2017.

Marian Lockhart photo

Boeing has also achieved power-on for the first MAX in final assembly. The New large flight deck displays were lit up, demonstrating that power is on.

The LEAP-1B engine promises to be the most advanced, reliable, fuel-efficient powerplant for the new generation of single-aisle aircraft. The engine incorporates many industry firsts, including the 3-D woven carbon fiber composite fan blade and case; the one-of-a-kind debris rejection system; fourth-generation 3-D aerodynamics; the first commercial use of ceramic matrix composites (CMCs); the revolutionary combustor design featuring fuel nozzles grown using additive manufacturing; and light-weight Titanium Aluminide airfoils.

The lower weight and higher durability these components provide will result in a 15 percent improvement in fuel efficiency, with an equivalent reduction in CO2 emissions; a 50 percent margin to new emissions regulations; a dramatically lower noise signature; CFM’s industry-leading reliability and low overall operating costs.

CFM International, a 50/50 joint company between Snecma (Safran) and GE.

Airbus to setup H135 final assembly line in China

Airbus Helicopters will establish a final assembly line (FAL) for local assembly of Airbus Helicopters H135 helicopters in China.

A Letter of Intent (LOI) for, was signed today by Yao Yixian, the Sino-German Ecopark Deputy General Manager and Wolfgang Schoder, Airbus Helicopters Deutschland CEO in Hefei, Anhui Province.

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and the visiting German Chancellor Angela Merkel witnessed the signing ceremony.

This LOI also includes a commitment by the Chinese party for 100 H135s to be assembled in the future FAL in China over the next 10 years.

Along with the FAL, a sales office for locally-assembled H135s to be distributed domestically, as well as maintenance, repair, overhaul and training capabilities to support the Chinese H135 fleet will also be set up.

The H135 is one of the most popular light twin-engine helicopters in China currently, performing mainly helicopter emergency medical services (HEMS) and police missions. With the expected increase in civil and parapublic services demand for helicopters as China’s general aviation market continues to expand, the set up of the H135 FAL is a timely development.

China, with its rapidly expanding aviation market has been able to attract investments from global aerospace giants like Airbus and Boeing.

During the Angela Merkel's visit, China has also signed for 130 Airbus aircraft, including 30 A330 widebodys and 100 A320 family jets. in return Airbus will setup a completion center for the A320 family in China, which already have a final assembly line in China.

During Chinese Premier, Xi Jingping's Washington visit last month, the country has signed agreement to acquire 300 Boeing jets, along with a completion center for Boeing 737 in China.

Airbus to increase A320 production rate

Airbus has decided to further increase the production rate of its best selling A320 single aisle jet family following high demand and impressive backlog.

The company will increase the production rate of the A320 family to 60 aircraft a month in mid-2019. The decision follows thorough studies on production ramp-up readiness in the supply chain and in Airbus sites to allow the ramp-up.

To enable the ramp-up Airbus will extend its capacity in Hamburg with the creation of an additional production line. In parallel Airbus will integrate cabin furnishing activities for A320 aircraft produced in Toulouse into the Final Assembly Line in Toulouse, and thereby harmonising the production process across all A320 Family Final Assembly Lines worldwide.

The A320 Family have won over 12,200 orders since launch and more than 6,700 aircraft delivered to more than 300 operators worldwide.

With one aircraft in four sizes (A318, A319, A320 & A321), the A320 Family, seating from 100 to 240 passengers, seamlessly covers the entire single-aisle segment from low to high-density domestic to longer range routes.

The A320neo Family incorporates latest technologies including new generation engines and Sharklet wing tip devices, which together deliver more than 15 percent in fuel savings from day one and 20 percent by 2020 with further cabin innovations.

With over 4,300 orders received from more than 75 customers since its launch in 2010, the A320neo Family has captured almost 60 percent share of the market.

Airbus announced a 100 aircraft order from China for the A320 family yesterday, during the visit of German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Qatar Airways is the launch customer for the neo variant, with delivery slated for later this year.

Turkey to deliver 34 Cessna T-37 trainer jets to Pakistan

Turkey will transfer 34 Cessna T-37C Tweetybird trainer jets to Pakistan, according to a defense cooperation agreement signed by the two sides on October 28.

The turkey will also supply spare parts for the vintage aircraft, which was retired by Turkish Air Force in 2009.

The basic jet trainer aircraft with limited ground attack capability was first flown in 1954 and was produced until 1975. The aircraft remained the primary trainer of U.S. Air Force for more than 50 years.

The Turkish donated fleet will add to the A, B, C, variants of T-37 already operated by PAF. In 2008, US had approved delivery of 20 refurbished T-37s retired by USAF to Pakistan.

The twin engined aircarft powered by Continental Teledyne J69 turbojets have two weapon pylons under each wing, which can carry stores up to 227 kg.

Turkish Air Force opertionalised its first T-37C in 1963 and operated 50 of type. The aircraft is being replaced by the 40 KAI KT-1 turboprop trainers ordered in 2007.

Turkey is a key defense partner of Pakistan. The Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) has upgraded 41 PAF Lockheed Martin F-16 fighter jets under a contract awarded in June 2009.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Dynamic Airways 767 engine caught fire while taxing

A Dynamic airways Boeing 767 airliner was involved in a fire accident at the Fort Lauderdale international airport in Florida.

The left Pratt & Whitney JTD9 engine of the aircraft caught fire while it was taxing for take off. An aircraft behind it reported, fuel leaking from the engine.

Dynamic Airways says the aircraft had successfully passed required safety, mechanical and operation pre-flight inspections.

All passengers were evacuated immediately to safety from the Venezuela bound aircraft.

The Flight DYA405 was carrying 90 passengers as well as crew compliment of 11 people. Minor number of reportedly injured were treated and most of them were released shortly after.

The experience of the Captain and First officer were 15700 and 4140 hours respectively.

Dynamic Airways operates charter flight between Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood and Caracas with a Boeing 767-200ER aircraft.

The 29 year old aircraft with registration N251MY was built in 1986.

Quebec government to invest $1 billion in CSeries program

The provisional Quebec government will invest in Bombardier's troubled CSeries airliner program, which will enable the company to complete certification and begin delivery of the new generation single aisle jet.

Bombardier has entered into a memorandum of understanding which contemplates a $1.0 billion investment by the Ministère de l’Économie, de l’Innovation et des Exportations du Québec (through Investissement Québec) (the Government) for a 49.5% equity stake in a newly-created limited partnership (the Investment) to which would be transferred the assets, liabilities and obligations of the C Series aircraft program.

This newly created limited partnership will be owned 50.5% by Bombardier and, as a subsidiary of Bombardier, will carry on the operations related to the Corporation’s C Series aircraft program.

The proceeds of the Investment will be used entirely for cash flow purposes of the C Series program.

The definitive agreements are expected to be entered into on or before January 1, 2016, or such other date as the Corporation and the Government shall agree, and disbursement of the Investment and issuance of the warrants will occur over two equal installments, expected to take place on April 1, 2016 and June 30, 2016, respectively.

The investment will keep the CSeries program in the Province of Québec, for atleast another 20 years.

The bail out comes after a talk with Airbus for a controlling stake in the Cseries program in return for investment, collapsed.

More than 2800 flight-test hours have been accumulated on the CS100 aircraft, representing 97% of the flight test program, and overall, more than 90% of the CS100 certification program is complete. The certification configuration has now been frozen. The CS100 aircraft has completed all noise performance testing, confirming it is the quietest in-production commercial jet in its class.

The type certification for the CS100 aircraft is targeted for completion by the end of 2015. The CS100 and CS300 aircraft have over 95% parts commonality, as well as the same type rating.

The CS300 aircraft’s certification is over 60% complete and type certification is expected to follow approximately six months after that of the CS100 aircraft. The EIS of the CS100 aircraft is expected to occur in the first half of 2016 with Swiss International Air Lines (SWISS) as the first operator.

SWISS is currently working with Bombardier’s Customer Services training crews and readying its operations for the EIS of the CS100 aircraft.

Flight testing activities on five CS100 FTVs are ongoing with multiple milestone tests completed and all systems are performing well. Passengers flew on board the CS100 aircraft for the first time as part of the cabin testing program.

The first CS300 FTV has been performing planned tests, such as flutter, handling, cruise performance, cross-wind takeoff and landing, braking and anti-skid testing. All the aircraft are displaying a high level of reliability and the aircraft performance and test results are in line with expectations.

Assembly of the second CS300 FTV is ongoing at the C Series aircraft assembly facility in Mirabel, Québec. It is now powered-on and is expected to come off the production line later this year.

Flight and aircraft structural test performance results continue to exceed original targets for fuel burn, payload, range and airfield performance.

During the fourth quarter of 2015, the final phase of flight testing began when the first production CS100 aircraft commenced function and reliability testing. To complete these tests, the aircraft will operate on a schedule similar to that of a commercial airline. More production aircraft are moving down the assembly line, including units for launch operator SWISS.

CAS orders Airbus A330 and A320 aircrafts

China Aviation Supplies Holding Company (CAS) has signed a General Terms Agreement (GTA) with Airbus for the acquisition of 30 A330 Family aircraft and 100 A320 Family aircraft.

The 30 A330s are the firm up of the commitment signed in June 2015. The GTA was signed in Beijing by Li Hai, President and CEO of CAS, and Fabrice Brégier, President and CEO of Airbus, in the presence of Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and visiting German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

The first agreements on setting up an A330 C&DC in Tianjin, China were signed by Airbus and Chinese partners in March 2014 and witnessed by French President Francois Hollande and visiting Chinese President Xi Jinping.

This was followed in October 2014, when Airbus, the Tianjin Free Trade Zone (TJFTZ) and the Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC) signed a Letter of Intent (LoI) in Berlin, Germany, in the presence of the German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, A framework agreement was signed in July 2015 in Toulouse.

Chinese president Xi Jinping during his Washington visit last month, have signed agreement for about 300 Boeing commercial jets and a Boeing 737 completion center in China.

RAAF KC-30A refuels USMC Hornet with engine trouble over Iraq

In an Australian first, a RAAF KC-30A Multi-Role Tanker Transport has refuelled a United States Marine Corps (USMC) F/A-18C Hornet with engine trouble over Iraq.

The USMC Hornet was flying a combat mission against Daesh over Northern Iraq when it was forced to shut down one of its two engines due to a mechanical issue.

Short on fuel, the Hornet requested air-to-air refuelling support from the RAAF KC-30A.

A challenging feat at the best of times, air-to-air refuelling with an engine-out Hornet had only ever been conducted in flight-testing scenarios and never before from the RAAF aircraft over a war-zone.

The RAAF KC-30A aircraft's captain, Squadron Leader Jamie, said the situation demanded some brainstorming and clever flying.

"The hardest part was that the Hornet couldn't maintain the required altitude or speed that we normally refuel at due to the hostile environment over Iraq," Squadron Leader Jamie said.

"The first option was to accept refuelling at a reduced speed, lower than normally required, and refuelling at that speed had never been done by me or my crew.

"The other option was to do what we call tobogganing, where we refuel while descending to allow the Hornet to gather more speed. This option would have brought us below a safe altitude, so we went with the first option."

Squadron Leader Jamie said the USMC pilot demonstrated incredible skill and the RAAF KC-30A and USMC Hornet were able to conduct the complicated manoeuvre in order to enable the jet to refuel, fly out of Iraq and land safely.

"The Hornet had also dropped bombs from one of its wings, making his aircraft already less stable, which when combined with the loss of an engine, makes refuelling in mid-air a real challenge.

"He did a great job in the end and it was a good feeling to help him out.

"If we hadn't been able to assist, he would certainly have had to make a less than ideal landing in Iraq."

The Australian Air Task Group comprises six F/A-18A Hornet aircraft, a KC-30A Multi-Role Tanker Transport and an E-7A Wedgetail airborne early warning and control aircraft.

As part of Operation OKRA they participate in close air support operations, air to air refuelling and airborne command and control in Iraq and Syria as part of the international coalition formed to disrupt and degrade the Daesh threat.

Source: Australian Defense Ministry

PLAAF introduces JL-9 for pilot training

AVIC Photo

The Chinese PLA Air Force has introduced the Guizhou JL-9 trainer aircraft for cadet training at its Aviation University. The first training flight was carried out on Oct 18.

The new generation trainer will replace the obsolete JJ-7 trainer, a Chinese license built MiG-21U twin seat trainer.

The JL-9 can undertake flight training for both the second-generation fighters such as the Chengdu J-7 (license built MiG-21) and Shenyang J-8 interceptor and the third-generation fighters such as the FC-1 Thunder (JF-17) and the Su-27.

The aircraft completed its maiden flight in 2003, and was first delivered to PLAAF in 2011. Armaments include a 23 mm canon and the five hard points can carry fuel tanks, bombs and missiles.

Also designated the FTC-2000 Mountain Eagle, the JL-9 is powered by a single Guizhou Liyang WP-13 after-burning turbojet, which is a copy of Russian Tumansky R-13 turbojet engine rated at 63 kN thrust with afterburner.

An attack variant designated FTC-2000G with seven hard points has been developed.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Russia test fires Yars ICBM

Russia has successfully test launched its RS-24 Yars intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), equipped with multiple reentry warhead (MIRV), from a silo launcher in the Plesetsk State Test Cosmodrome, today.

A joint combat crew of the Strategic Missile Forces and the Aerospace Force conducted the Yars ICBM launch, which has a range of 11,000 km range.

The warheads reached a predetermined area, around 6000 km away on the Kura testing range in the Kamchatka Peninsula.

The test missile selected from production lot, confirmed the reliability of the type produced by JSC “Votkinsky zavod”.

Capable of evading anti-missile system, the Yars was first test launched in 2007. Weighing 49 tonne, the 20 m long, 2 m diameter missile can carry at least 4 MIRVs and has inertial with Glonass guidance system.

The Kozelsk missile formation is equipped with missiles of this type.

Marine Corps CH-53K heavy lift helicopter complete maiden flight

Sikorsky successfully carried out first flight of the U.S. Marine Corps’ CH-53K King Stallion heavy lift helicopter prototype, from its West Palm Beach facility in Florida.

The Engineering Development Model-1 (EDM-1), flew for 30-minute flight at altitude of up to 30 feet to assess basic aircraft controllability and performed hover, sideward, rearward and forward flight control inputs.

The maiden flight marks the beginning of a 2,000-hour flight test program using four test aircraft, to fully expand the King Stallion’s flight envelope over the course of the three-year flight test program.

Sikorsky has tested the aircraft’s many components and subsystems, including integrated system level testing on the Ground Test Vehicle. The program have been delayed almost a year, following technical problems including a main rotor gear box issue.

Sikorsky delivered the EDM-1 into the test program at the company’s West Palm Beach, based Development Flight Center in late 2014.

The CH-53K will replace the USMC CH-53E SUPER STALLION™ fleet, and will transport Marines, heavy equipment and supplies during ship-to-shore movement in support of amphibious assault and subsequent operations ashore.

The CH-53K will expand the fleet's ability to move more material, more rapidly throughout the area of responsibility. Using proven and matured technologies, the King Stallion is designed to lift 14 tons at a mission radius of 110 nautical miles in Navy high/hot environments - three times the baseline CH-53E lift capability.

The CH-53K maintains similar physical dimensions to the CH-53E. It is powered by three GE38-1B (designated the T408 by the US government) engines rated at 7,332-rated shaft horsepower each, featuring fewer parts, less fuel consumption and more power.

When compared to the T64 turboshaft engine that powers the SUPER STALLION aircraft – the GE38 will provide more than 57 percent more power, 18 percent better specific fuel consumption and 63 percent fewer parts. The GE38 features a more rugged compressor design to increase durability and resistance to sand erosion and salt water corrosion — features ideal to withstand the USMC’s tough operating environment.

Features of the CH-53K helicopter include a modern glass cockpit; fly-by-wire flight controls; fourth-generation rotor blades with anhedral tips; a low-maintenance elastomeric rotor head; a locking, United States Air Force pallet compatible cargo rail system; external cargo handling improvements; survivability enhancements; and improved reliability, maintainability and supportability.

Other improvements include improved hydraulics, enhanced ballistic protection, crashworthy retracting landing gear, integral engine air particle protection system, automatic blade fold system and Rockwell Collins avionics management system.

The U.S. Department of Defense’s Program of Record remains at 200 CH-53K aircraft with a Initial Operational Capability in 2019.

Eventual production quantities would be determined year-by-year over the life of the program based on funding allocations set by Congress and the U.S. Department of Defense acquisition priorities.

The Marine Corps intends to stand up eight active duty squadrons, one training squadron, and one reserve squadron to support operational requirements.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Northrop awarded LRS-B contract

The much awaited $80 billion Long Range Strike-Bomber (LRS-B) contract has been awarded to Northrop Grumman by U.S. Air force, beating a Boeing-Lockheed Martin bid.

U.S. Air force Secretary Deborah Lee James announced the Engineering and Manufacturing Development (EMD) and early production contract award of U.S. Air force's next generation bomber that will maintain its superiority in the coming decades.

The EMD phase is a cost-reimbursable type contract with cost and performance incentives. The incentives minimize the contractor’s profit if they do not control cost and schedule appropriately. The independent estimate for the EMD phase is $21.4 billion in 2010 dollars.

The second part of the contract is composed of options for the first 5 production lots, comprising 21 aircraft out of the total fleet of 100. They are fixed price options with incentives for cost. Based on approved requirements, the Average Procurement Unit Cost (APUC) per aircraft is required to be equal to or less than $550 million per aircraft in 2010 dollars when procuring 100 LRS-B aircraft. The APUC from the independent estimate supporting today’s award is $511 million per aircraft, again in 2010 dollars.

The Air Force program office conducted design efforts with industry over the last three years to ensure requirements for the aircraft were stable and allowed for the use of mature systems and existing technology while still providing desired capability.

The stealthy LRS-B is designed to have an open architecture allowing integration of new technology and timely response to future threats across the full range of military operations. This open architecture also provides the opportunity to retain competition across the life cycle of the program.

However USAF officials has not released crucial details about the aircraft, including its size, weight, payload, engine choice and also the subcontractors.

Images: Interjet Superjet hit aerobridge

An Interjet Sukhoi Superjet 100 airliner hit an aerobridge at the Mexico City airport, on Oct 25, damaging its nose.

Interjet says the aircraft was being towed to the terminal from hanger while the incident happened.

The aircraft failed to stop and rolled forward, hitting the aerobridge

The Mexican carrier who was the first Western customer for the type, had launched an investigation into the incident.

The less than two year old aircraft might require costly repairs as it could have damaged its avionics system.

Aviastar building first aerial refueling tanker based on IL-76MD-90A

Aviastar is building the first prototype aerial refueling variant of the upgraded Ilyushin IL-76MD-90A airlifter.

The aircraft designated IL-76M-90A, is in final assembly at its Ulyanovsk plant, Russia. The aircraft will be the first tanker built in Russia, as earlier IL-78s were built at the Tashkent aircraft plant in Uzbekistan.

The prototype will be used to demonstrate its improved capabilities to clinch order from Russian Defense Ministry. Aviastar forecasts need for 30 of the type for Russian Air force.

The multi role aircraft could also re-configured for troop transport and fire fighting missions if required.

The tanker will have two additional fuel tanks in the cargo compartment, with three refueling ports, two on the wing and one in the rear fuselage.

IL-76MD-90A is a heavily upgraded version of the well-reputed Il-76MD airlifter which first flew in 1971, featuring modern wing, avionics, landing gear and aircraft systems.. It can carry an increased cargo of up to 60 tons to longer distances with better fuel economy.

It is powered by four new Aviadvigatel PS-90A-76 high bypass turbofan engines, providing an 12-14 percent lower fuel consumption than the D-30KP turbofan, and allows the aircraft to conform to the modern ICAO requirements.

IL-76 based refueling tankers designated IL-78, are operated by Russia, Ukraine, India, China and Pakistan.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Comair B737 landing gear collapses after landing

A Comair flight BA6234 operated by a Boeing 737-400 aircraft, experienced a landing gear failure shortly after touch down at the OR Tambo International Airport, Johannesburg, on Monday at 1:30 PM local time.

The left undercarriage of the aircraft with registration ZS-OAA failed, after crew noticed an unusual vibration following touch down.

ACSA emergency services were dispatched and responded to the scene immediately and assisted passengers and crew to safely disembark.

The aircraft departed at 10:35 from Port Elizabeth, with 6 Crew and 94 Passengers on board.

All passengers and crew safely disembarked with no reported injuries.

After the relevant authorities did their preliminary investigation, Comair received clearance to remove the aircraft and will be delivering all baggage to the passengers.

Comair Limited is a South African aviation and travel company, offering scheduled and non-scheduled airline services within South Africa, Sub- Saharan Africa and the Indian Ocean Islands, as its main business. The company operates under its low-fare airline brand,, as well as under the British Airways livery, as part of its British Airways Plc. license agreement.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Ten aircraft designed in India

1. LCA Tejas Multi-Role Fighter

The Light Combat Aircraft Tejas is a single engined delta winged multi role fighter developed by DRDO to replace the ageing Indian Air Force MiG-21 fleet. The fourth generation fighter is equipped with fly by wire controls, composite airframe, Elta multi mode radar and glass cockpit.

The 13 tonne gross weight aircraft which can carry a 3.5 tonne weapon payload is powered by a GE F404 after-burning turbofan engine.The fighter is being developed in Air force, Navy (aircraft carrier borne) and two seat trainer versions.

Delivery commenced in 2016 who have ordered 120 of the type including the MK1

2. NAL Saras Light Transport Aircraft

The Saras is a civilian multi purpose light transport aircraft developed by National Aerospace Ltd. Powered by two Pratt & Whitney PT6A turboprop engines in pusher configuration, Saras can transport 14 passengers or a payload of 1000 kg. The program suffered a fatal crash during flight testing, involving the second prototype in 2009, which killed the three experienced crew members on board. The crash was blamed at a wrong in-flight engine re-light test by the pilots. The third prototype adhering to the actual design weight of 6100 kg is yet to take off.

3. Dhruv Advance Light Helicopter

The ALH Dhruv is a multi-role helicopter developed and manufactured by Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd, primarily flown by Indian Air force and Army. Designed in assistance with German MBB (now part of Airbus Helicopter), the 5.5 tonne helicopter first flew in 1992 and extensively uses carbon composites materials. More than 200 are in service with Indian armed forces and export customers including Nepal, Maldives, Mauritius and Ecuador. The latest Mk IV variant is powered by two license built Turbomeca Ardiden 1H/ HAL Shakti engines rated at 1067 kW each. A weaponised variant named Rudra has been developed and delivered to Indian Army in 2013.

4. Light Combat Helicopter

The LCH is a light attack helicopter developed by HAL, derived from the Dhruv platform. The tandem seat 5.5 tonne class attack helicopter armed with rockets, missiles, bombs and 20 mm cannon is optimized for operation in high altitude regions like the Siachen. Currently in flight testing stage, the twin engined helicopter is expected to achieve initial operational clearance (IOC) shortly. Indian Air force has requirement for 65 LCHs and 114 for Army.

5. HJT-36 Sitara trainer

The HJT-36 Sitara is a intermediate jet trainer developed by HAL to train pilots graduating from turboprop aircraft to faster jet powered aircraft. The subsonic tandem seat aircraft is designed to replace the ageing fleet of HJT-16 Kiran trainer aircraft. The aircraft had a long development run and is expected to enter service in 2016, if it clears the crucial spin test slated for later this year. It is powered by a single Saturn AL-55I turbofan engine and has a maximum weight of 4600 kg.

6. HJT-16 Kiran trainer

The HJT-16 Kiran is an intermediate jet trainer developed by HAL in the 1960s. Around 190 of the type were manufactured for Air force and Navy. The aircraft was used by the Indian Air force aerobatic team "Surya Kiran", which was later disbanded owing to shortage of trainer aircraft. The 4 tonne aircraft is powered by a single Rolls Royce Viper turbojet engine.

7. HJT-32 Deepak trainer

The HJT-32 Deepak is piston engined trainer aircraft developed by HAL in 1970s for the primary stage of pilot training. The ageing fleet following multiple fatal crashes, has been replaced by the Swiss made Pilatus PC-7 Mk II, since 2013.

8. DRDO Rustom I UAV

The Rustom 1 is a tactical unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) developed by DRDO, for aerial surveillance requirement of Indian armed forces. The design resemble the Rutan Long-EZ designed by renowned American aerospace engineer Burt Rutan. The multi mission medium long endurance (MALE) 720 kg UAV features a canard at the nose that improve performance. It is designed for battlefield surveillance and reconnaissance missions, controlled by a external pilot. It has been modified to carry two Helina ground attack missiles.

9. DRDO Rustom II UAV

The Rustom II is a advanced and more capable unmanned aerial vehicle developed by DRDO, weighing 1,800 kg. The high altitude long endurance surveillance (HALE) UAV can carry a payload of 350 kg and have a endurance of 24 hours. It is powered by two Russian Saturn 36 MT turboprop engines. Maiden flight has been delayed several times. Capable of automatic landing and take off, the Rustom II will be armed with ground attack missiles in future.

DRDO Panchi UAV-Aero India 2015

10. DRDO Panchi UAV

Panchi is a wheeled variant of the catapult launched DRDO Nishant unmanned aerial vehicle developed for aerial surveillance missions. It has better range than the Nishant due to reduced weight following removal of parachute and airbag cushion system used for recovery. Panchi is powered by a indigenous 55hp wankel engine, capable of carrying a 45 kg payload with a 160 km range. The type completed maiden flight in December 2014.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Japan selects KC-46 aerial tanker

Boeing KC-46A aerial refueling tanker prototype

Japan has selected the new generation Boeing KC-46A Pegasus aerial refueling aircraft to supplement its current KC-767 tanker fleet.

Japan intend to procure three tankers at cost of $520 million, for which funding has been laid in the fiscal 2016 budget. The selection marks the first export order for the type.

The KC-46A, which Boeing is developing for the U.S. Air Force is an improved version of the KC-767 tanker.

Airbus, which offered its A330 MRTT, had pulled out of the tender in September, claiming the program was skewed in favor of Boeing.

The Boeing aircraft was the ideal choice for Japan as it is based on the same 767 platform, enabling existing support and maintenance equipment to used thereby reducing operating cost, and it can also refuel Japan's future fleet of 12 Bell-Boeing MV-22 Osprey tiltrotor aircraft.

Currently two KC-46A prototypes are under flight testing. The fully tanker configured EMD-2 aircraft achieved maiden flight in September.

Boeing is contracted to deliver the first 18 aircraft with all necessary support equipment to USAF by August 2017.

USAF awarded the contract for 179 tankers to Boeing in 2011, to replace its ageing fleet of KC-135 Stratotankers.

In June, KC-46A lost a South Korean bid for four tankers, which was won by the Airbus A330 MRTT for $1.33 billion.

Spanish Super Puma helicopter crashed in Atlantic

A Spanish military helicopter has crashed in the Atlantic ocean, about 280 nautical miles from Gando and 40 nautical miles southwest of Dakhla on Thursday.

The Airbus Helicopter AS332 Super Puma was returning after a two week long training with the Senegalese armed forces in Dakar.

The helicopter, manned by a captain, a lieutenant and a sergeant of the Air Force, took off from the Mauritanian town of Nouadibou, refueled from Dakar, at 13:13 Zulu time and was due to arrive at Gando 16:45.

A Moroccan Puma search and rescue helicopter in the area located the crew members in a life raft adjacent to the floating helicopter, after Spanish Defense Minister Pedro Morenés, requested Moroccan support.

The crashed Super Puma was part of the Spanish Air Force’s 802 Squadron based at Gran Canaria airport,

A similar crash happened on September 19, 2014 when another Super Puma helicopter also belonging to 802 Squadron crashed into the sea with the loss of four crew members.

Maiden flight of MRJ delayed following faulty rudder pedal


The maiden flight of the first  MRJ (Mitsubishi Regional Jet) prototype has been delayed following faulty rudder pedal, Mitsubishi says.

The repair is expected to take two weeks and the first flight is resheduled to take place after 9 November.

Earlier the maiden flight was scheduled to take place between October 26 (Monday) and 30 (Friday).

Pre-flight review board by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism are scheduled for early next week for gaining flight approval. Following approval, high-speed taxiing tests and evaluations will be performed in preparation for the first flight.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Lockheed Martin delivers first Danish MH-60R helicopter

Danish MH-60R helicopter

U.S. Navy has accepted the first Sikorsky MH-60R Seahawk anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare helicopter slated for Denmark from Lockheed Martin in a ceremony at the Lockheed Martin facility in Owego, New York.

Lockheed Martin equips the Sikorsky manufactured helicopter with advanced mission systems and sensors.

The MH-60R is operational and deployed as the primary U.S. Navy anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare system for both open-ocean and littoral zones. In 2012, Denmark announced it will acquire a total of nine MH-60R aircraft by 2018 to conduct missions such as surveillance, search and rescue, anti-piracy and anti-surface warfare.

Prior to being delivered to the Royal Danish Air Force, these aircraft will enter a series of testing to validate Danish configuration modifications. The first aircraft will be delivered to Denmark in the second quarter of 2016, and the full fleet will be delivered by 2018.

Denmark is the second international partner in the MH-60R program, following the Royal Australian Navy. To date, Lockheed Martin has delivered a total of 14 of 24 Australian aircraft ahead of schedule. The remaining 10 aircraft will be delivered in 2016.

The cockpit features four large, flat-panel, multi-function, night-vision-compatible, color displays, digital communications suite, fully integrated Global Positioning System and Inertial Navigation System and rugged integrated mission computer

USAF deploys A-10 ground attack jets to Turkey

In a move to regain the lost ground in the fight against ISIL in Syria, U.S. Air Force had deployed the much needed A-10 Thunderbolt II attack aircraft to Incirlik Air Base in Turkey on Oct 15.

The 12 A-10 Thunderbolt IIs deployed in support of Operation Inherent Resolve are from the Moody AFB, Georgia. The fleet will replace the six F-16 fighter deployed to the base in August.

The close air support aircraft which is designed solely to engage tanks, armored vehicles and other ground targets, is equipped with a nose mounted 30 mm cannon which can defeat wide range of targets effectively.

It can carry a wide variety of conventional munitions including general purpose bombs cluster munitions, JDAM, maverick ground attack missile and rockets.

The aircraft can loiter near battle areas for extended periods of time and operate in low ceiling and visibility conditions. It features bubble canopy that provide pilots with all round vision.

The deployment will also breath in fresh air into the 285 A-10 fleet, which USAF proposes to retire over the next four years. USAF says, phasing out the single role platform can save an estimated $ 4.2 billion.

The move comes after Russia tasted success with its campaign against ISIL in Syria, lead by an all attack fleet of Su-34, Su-24 and Su-25 jets, with the four Su-30SM multirole fighter providing the air defense cover.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Cory Bush/Released)

Finland launches HX fighter program

f/a-18 fighter

Finnish Defense Ministry has approved a fighter procurement program to replace its current fleet of Boeing F/A-18 Hornet fighter jets.

The HX fighter project was launched after a report by working group suggested a multi role fighter to replace the Finnish Air Force F/A-18 fighter fleet which will be phased out from 2025.

Tender for the progam will be floated in early 2019 and contract are expected to be signed in 2021.

The capabilities of Finnish Hornet fleet will degrade in the 2020s and the most significant degradation falls on its interdiction capability. Extending its structural life and implementing a new, sizeable mid-life upgrade which would delay replacement by five years would require 1.2 billion Euro.

The life-span of the Hornet fleet is limited by three main factors: weakening of relative capabilities, fatigue of structures and the availability of the aircraft’s systems, spare parts and software. To extend the life-span of the Hornet fleet would not be cost-effective.

Possible contenders for the program include the Boeing F/A-18 E/F Super Hornet, Eurofighter Typhoon, Dassault Rafale, Saab Gripen and the Lockheed Martin F-35.

The F-35 will be in a better position to win the contract, as it has got the stealth capability which will be requisite for that period and would probably be the only fighter in production.

Intial Operational Capability of the fleet is expected in 2026 and Final Operation Clearance in 2030.

Finland's neighbors including Russia, Sweden and Norway by the time will will field improved aircraft, that will surpass the present Hornet's capability.

Norway is replacing its F-16AM/BM fighters with F-35A aircraft during 2019–2025 and Sweden will introduce 70 Saab JAS-39E Gripen aircraft during 2023–2027.

Russia, Finland's major threat in the region, will add fifth generation T-50 stealth fighter, improved MIG-31BM interceptors, MIG-35 and hundreds of other fighters to its fleet in 2020s.

Finland operates 62 F/A-18 C/D versions which where acquired in the 1990s.

Sukhoi begin fatique testing of long range Superjet 100 variant

Sukhoi has started the fatigue strength testing of longer range variant of its Superjet 100 airliner at the Central Aerohydrodynamic Institute (TsAGI) in Moscow, to achieve European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) certification.

The tests will confirm the designed service life of the aircraft: 70 000 flight hours and 54 000 cycles.

During the fatigue strength testing, all the primary elements of the aircraft structure will be checked under multiple loading conditions corresponding to all flight stages, including turbulence”, — said Sukhoi Civil Aircraft Company Chief Designer Mr Vladimir Lavrov.

“The test results will confirm both the stated aircraft service life and the programme of maintenance checks developed for this aircraft type and implemented during Customers’ fleet operations”.

At the moment the confirmed designed service life of the aircraft is 9 000 flight hours and 6 000 cycles.

Last year this SSJ100, certified model RRJ-95LR-100, with production number 95075, was delivered disassembled by the AN-124 “Ruslan” freighter to the Ramenskoye airfield, in the town of Zhukovsky, near Moscow.

Fuselage, wings and tail were put together and special purpose load complex, measuring sensors and structure health monitoring systems were adjusted to the assembled SSJ100 airframe.

In 2013, the Aviation Register of the Interstate Aviation Committee (IAC AR) certified the long range Sukhoi Superjet 100 and confirmed its compliance with IAC AR regulations. That allowed Russian airlines to operate this version of the SSJ100.

The LR version has a longer range of up to 4578 km or 2470 nm compared to the basic SSJ variant, Maximum Take Off Weight of 49 450 kg, strengthened wings for increased weight and is powered by PowerJet SaM146 engine with five percent increased takeoff thrust.

The TsAGI was instrumental right from the begining of the Superjet program in 2001.

Boeing-Norwegian finalize 787-9 order

Boeing and Norwegian have finalized an order for 19 787-9 Dreamliners valued at more than $5 billion at current list prices.

The order also includes options for 10 more 787-9s, as the carrier looks to significantly grow its existing long-haul fleet into the next decade. It is the largest single order for 787-9s from a European airline.

Norwegian currently operates eight 787-8s and has previously ordered 11 787-9s through lease agreements. With today's order, the carrier, headquartered in Oslo, will expand its total 787 fleet to nearly 40 airplanes in the coming years.

The 787-9 complements and extends the 787 family. With the fuselage stretched by 6 meters (20 feet) over the 787-8, the 787-9 can fly up to 20 percent more passengers and 23 percent more cargo farther yet with the same exceptional environmental performance – 20 percent less fuel use and 20 percent fewer emissions than the airplanes they replace.

The 787-9 leverages the visionary design of the 787-8, offering passenger-pleasing features such as the industry's largest windows, large overhead bins with room for everyone's bag, modern LED lighting, air that is cleaner, more humid and at a higher pressure for greater comfort and technology that senses and counters turbulence for a smoother ride.

Norwegian serves more than 130 destinations across Europe, North Africa, the Middle East, the USA and Southeast Asia, with a fleet that includes 90 Next-Generation 737-800s and eight 787-8s.

In 2014 the airline carried nearly 24 million passengers and has won numerous awards for its onboard service, including a SkyTrax award for 'Best low-cost long-haul airline.' With today's order for 19 787-9s, Norwegian has more than 150 unfilled orders from Boeing, including 100 737 MAXs.

Saab unveil new AESA radar at ADEX 2015

saab aesa radar at adex 2015 seoul

Saab unveiled a new AESA (active electronically scanned array) radar for fighter jets, at the ADEX 2015 show in Seoul, South Korea.

The yet to be named radar has a scalable design, suitable for new and emerging fighter designs, and will also be available as mid-life update for other aircraft.

Saab says the new AESA radar will be offered for the Korean KF-X fighter program, which has been hit by U.S. technology denial.

The radar will incorporate technologies developed by Saab for the PS-05/A pulse doppler radar, fitted on the Saab Gripen C/D fighters.

The latest Mk4 variant of the PS-O5/A was revealed in April 2014, sporting improved detection range and performance.

The fifth generation AESA radars improves detection range and stealth of a aircraft. These radars spread their signals across a band of frequencies, making them difficult to detect over background noise.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Transaero to cease operation from Oct 26

transaero boeing 747

The second largest Russian Airlines, Transaero will cease its flight operations from October 26, after the federal aviation regulator, Rosaviatsia revoked its airline certificate.

Rosaviatsia's audit has found the Moscow based airline is in the verge of bankruptcy and does not have the financial capability to repay debt and fund its operations, violating the FAR-11 certification requirement.

The airline is experiencing an acute shortage of funds needed for simulator training of crews, timely repair and maintenance of  its aircraft fleet, which could endanger the life of passengers.

The 155,218 passengers who have booked flights with Transaero, from October 26 to 4 April 2016, will be transported by other Airlines. Of these, 87,757 people will be transported by Aeroflot flights, its group companies, as well as other air carriers and the remaining will be refunded.

Transaero was granted a RUR 9 billion loan by Russian Government, on the condition that the airline will develop an improved business model including optimization of the route network.

The bankruptcy is a big blow for Boeing and Airbus, as it will cut four orders each, from their already order starved Airbus A380 and Boeing 747-8I programs.

Transaero Airlines launched services in November 1991, and served more than 200 routes all over the world, with the largest fleet of widebody aircraft in Russia, CIS and Eastern Europe. It is the only operator of Boeing 747 aircraft in the region.

The airline’s fleet consisted 102 aircraft, including 14 Boeing 777 aircraft, 20 Boeing 747 aircraft, 18 Boeing 767 aircraft, 45 Boeing 737 aircraft, 2 Airbus A321, 3 Tupolev Тu-214 and a Tu-204C cargo aircraft.

Transaero began operating its first Airbus aircraft (A321) in August 2015. In 2011 Transaero signed a contact with Airbus for eight A320neo and in 2012 became the first Russian customer for the A380, and was slated to enter service by 2015 end.

Boeing had no other order with the Airline, other than for the 747-8. An order for four 787 Dreamliners was canceled in 2014.