Monday, February 29, 2016

British Airways 777 involved in Las Vegas engine fire incident repaired

The damaged British Airways Boeing 777 aircraft involved in the engine fire incident at McCarran International Airport, Las Vegas on September 8, 2015 has been repaired.

The aircraft has arrived in Victorville for painting after completing structural repairs and re-engining in Las Vegas.

The BA 777-200 (G-VIIO) aborted takeoff after a left engine fire shortly before the V1 takeoff roll.

Initial examination of the uncontained engine failure incident revealed multiple breaches of the engine case in the area around the high pressure compressor, resulting in substantial damage to the left wing root section of the aircraft.

The left engine and pylon, left fuselage structure and inboard left wing airplane were substantially damaged by the fire.

Engine examination revealed that a portion of the stage 8-10 spool in the high-pressure compressor (HPC) section had failed, liberating fragments that breached the engine case and cowling.

All the 157 passengers, including 1 lap child, and 13 crew members on board were evacuated to safety with several minor injuries reported as a result of the evacuation.

The 16 year old aircraft was delivered to British Airways on January 26th, 1999.

Spain selects MQ-9 Reaper surveillance drone

Spain has selected the General Atomics Predator® B/MQ-9 Reaper® Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) RPA system to support the nation's airborne surveillance and reconnaissance requirements.

The Spanish Ministry of Defense has awarded GA the delivery of one Predator B RPA system for the Spanish Armed Forces to include four aircraft under a $ 240 million contract.

The RPA will be equipped with MTS-B Electro-optical/Infrared (EO/IR) sensors and GA-ASI's Block 20A Lynx® Multi-mode Radar, two Block 30 Ground Control Stations (GCS), and Satellite Communications (SATCOM) and Line-of-Sight (LOS) data link capabilities by means of a Spanish-U.S. Foreign Military Sales (FMS) agreement.

GA-ASI's multi-mission Predator B is a long-endurance, medium-high-altitude RPA that features an extensive payload capacity (850 lb/386 kg internally, 3,750 lb/1,700 kg externally), with a maximum altitude of 50,000 feet/15240 meters, and can stay aloft for up to 27 hours.

Spanish engineering company Sener, along with other Spanish firms will leverage their proven engineering and manufacturing experience to optimize sustainment and capability of the Predator B system in support of the Spanish Armed Forces.

Predator B is currently operational with the U.S. Air Force, Royal Air Force, French Air Force and the Italian Air Force.

The aircraft provides unmatched persistent situational awareness, safeguarding borders and maritime approaches, supporting military missions worldwide, and saving lives following natural disasters. Some 245 Predator B aircraft have amassed more than one million flight hours since first flight in 2001.

Italy operationlise first AW101 Caesar SAR helicopters

Italian Air Force operationalised first batch of their advanced search and rescue helicopter, the AgustaWestland AW101 helicopter designated the HH-101A “CAESAR”, during an official ceremony at Cervia Air Base.

A total of four HH-101A “CAESAR” helicopters, out of a total requirement of 15, have been delivered from the Finmeccanica Helicopter Division’s assembly line in Yeovil (UK) to date, and will be used to perform personnel recovery and special forces missions.

The HH-101As will also support search and rescue (SAR), medical evacuation (MEDEVAC) and slow mover intercept operations, countering small aircraft threats, to provide effective support to the Italian community.

With the HH-101A “CAESAR” the Italian Air Force is introducing into service the most advanced and capable aircraft available today for this demanding operational requirement, developed and tailored to meet specific customer needs in the framework of its helicopter fleet modernisation programme.

With the first HH-101A “CAESAR” now fully operational, the Italian Air Force is entering a new era, with a quantum leap forward in capabilities for both homeland operations and missions abroad in demanding conditions.

The HH-101A will be able to host a combination of up to five crew members plus twenty fully equipped troops or six crew members plus 8 troops for special operations ensuring maximum flexibility.

The helicopters will also feature three M134 7.62 mm pintle mounted Gatling-type machine guns installed on right and left sides and on the rear ramp, armoured cockpit seats, ballistic protection for machine gun operators as well as for critical systems and an Integrated Electronic Warfare System providing self-protection against radar, laser and infrared threats.

The HH-101A also feature an air-to-air refuelling kit for extended range operations.  

Over 220 AW101 helicopters have been ordered so far by customers worldwide to perform a large number of roles including Personnel Recovery, Special Forces Operations, SAR, Combat SAR, utility, troop transport, Anti-Surface Warfare, Anti-Submarine Warfare, Airborne Early Warning, mine sweeping and VVIP transport.

Solar Impulse 2 flies after battery repair

The Solar Impulse 2 solar powered aircraft successfully completed its first maintenance flight on Friday, 26th of February, after undergoing maintenance repairs on its damaged batteries brought about by overheating during the last flight in June 2015.

The plane took off from Kalaeloa airport, Hawaii at 4:32 PM UTC with our test pilot, Markus Scherdel, in the cockpit, and landed at 6:05 PM UTC.

During the hour and a half flight, the team based at the Mission Control Center performed maintenance checks to verify that the technology installed in the aircraft runs smoothly.

The stabilisation and cooling system were a part of these checks and both performed superbly. Si2 flew up to 8,000 feet over the Pacific Ocean and then returned to the Kalaeloa base.

Following the longest and most difficult leg of the round-the-world journey which lasted 5 days and 5 nights (117 hours and 52 minutes), onboard batteries overheated during the record breaking oceanic flight from Nagoya, Japan to Hawaii, USA.

Solar Impulse is attempting a historic first of flying around the world only on solar energy. And while Solar Impulse has completed 8 legs, covering nearly half of the journey, the team expects to complete the mission in 2016.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Engine fire suspected for RMAF C-235 ditching

Engine failure has been suspected to be the cause of ditching by a Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) C-235 tactical transport plane on Friday morning, local time.

The crew successfully ditched the aircraft, 10 minutes after taking off from the Subang Airbase in Shah Alam, at a shoreline in Kuala Selangor.

The aircraft landed 100 m meter from the shore and all the eight crew members onboard survived the incident with minor injuries.

Images indicate the wreckage on fire but has not been confirmed to be whether a pre or post crash fire.

The crew members were rescued from the burning aircraft by local fisherman and were then transported to the Subang Airbase by a EC725 helicopter.

The aircraft was part of five aircraft formation on a flypast rehearsal sortie along with a C-130 Hercules airlifter and a Beechcraft B-200T, as a part of RMAF Squadron Colours award ceremony scheduled for Monday.

RMAF said the wreckage will be salvaged to aide the investigation to determine the cause of crash.

Malaysia operated eight of these Airbus Military/CASA CN-235 airlifters in maritime patrol, surveillance, and air transport roles before crash.

Powered by two General Electric GE CT7-9CE turboprop engines rated at 1,750 shp each, the CN-235 is able to cruise at altitudes up to 25,000ft, and speeds up to 245kt / 454 km/h, while retaining remarkable low level flight characteristics, as well as short take-off & landing (STOL) capabilities.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Photo report: Embraer E190-E2 roll out

The E190-E2 is the first E2 jet – Embraer´s second generation of the E-Jets family of commercial aircraft. The family also include the E175-E2 and E195-E2 and caters to the 70 to 130 seat segment.

Powered exclusively by Pratt & Whitney’s PW1900G new generation engines, which, combined with new aerodynamically advanced wings, full fly-by-wire flight controls, and improvements to other systems, will deliver 16 percent reduction in fuel burn and reduced maintenance costs, emissions, and external noise.

This aircraft is the first of four prototypes that will be used in the E190-E2 certification campaign. The aircraft´s maiden flight is scheduled for the second half of 2016, with entry into service scheduled for 2018.

The PW 1900G Geared Turbofan Engines reduces fuel burn by 11 percent, 3.5 percent by the new higher aspect ratio wings and 1.5 percent is achieved due to the reduced drag from the smaller emphennage.

Two additional planes will be added for the E195-E2 campaign, entry into service for which is expected in 2019, and three more will be used in the E175-E2 campaign, which is scheduled to enter service in 2020.

The E190-E2 has the same number of seats as the current generation E190 and can be configured with 97 seats in dual class service or with 106 seats in a single class layout.

With a investment of USD 1.7 billion, the E2 program was launched in 2013, and has since then reached 640 commitments, 267 of which are firm orders and 373 of which are options and purchase rights, from both airline customers and leasing companies.

 Additionally, the range of the E190-E2 has been significantly increased over the current generation E-Jet aircraft, by 400 nautical miles, with the capacity to cover distances of 2,800 nautical miles.

Photo Copyright Embraer SA

USAF reveals B-21 sixth generation bomber rendering

U.S. Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James revealed the first rendering of America's next generation stealth bomber designated the B-21, at the Air Force Association’s Air Warfare Symposium Feb. 26 in Orlando, Florida.

Earlier designated the Long Range Strike-Bomber (LRS-B), the B-21 is designed to replace the Air Force’s aging fleets of bombers – ranging in age from 50+ years for the B-52 to 17+ years for the B-2.

The designation B-21 recognizes the LRS-B as the first bomber of the 21st century.

The B-21 will be a long range, highly survivable bomber capable of penetrating and operating in tomorrow’s anti-access, area denial environment.

While there are no existing prototypes of the aircraft, the artist rendering is based on the initial design concept. The aircraft will be based on proven and mature technologies to save on time and cost, and shares some resemblance to the B-2, both being designed and built by the Northrop Grumman.

“The B-21 has been designed from the beginning based on a set of requirements that allows the use of existing and mature technology,” James said.

Like the B-2, the rendering reveals a flying wing design, meaning it has no fuselage or tail. The design allow blending of low-observable technologies with high aerodynamic efficiency and large payload.

The program recently entered into the Engineering and Manufacturing Development phase and the Air Force plans to field the initial capability of the aircraft in mid-2020s.

The LRS-B contract is composed of two parts. 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.

The Air Force plans to purchase 80-100 LRS-B aircraft at a $550 million average unit procurement cost in base year 2010 dollars. 

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Embraer rolls out first E190-E2 single aisle jet

Embraer today rolled out the first E190-E2 single aisle passenger jet prototype, during a ceremony held at their headquarters in São José dos Campos, São Paulo, Brazil.

The E190-E2 is the first member of Embraer's E-Jets E2 aircraft family that caters to the 70 to 130 seat market featuring new aerodynamically advanced wings, full fly-by-wire flight controls and a new engine, delivering a combined 16 percent better fuel efficiency than current generation E-Jets.

The program was launched in June 2013, with an investment of USD 1.7 billion. 

The aircraft will commence flight testing in second half of 2016, with entry into service expected in 2018. The other two aircraft of the second generation, the E195-E2 and E175-E2, are scheduled to enter service in 2019 and 2020, respectively.

The E2 family is equipped with a fourth generation full fly-by-wire system that improves flying qualities and boosts fuel efficiency, taking advantage of the FWB expertise developed by Embraer for the E-Jets, Legacy 500 business jet and the KC-390 military airlifter. 

E2's three-axis closed loop system improves aircraft stability during turbulence and provides complete envelope protection in all phases of flight. 

The system is also designed to maximize fuel efficiency. The closed loop configuration allows the E2 empennages to be smaller thus reducing aircraft drag and weight, yeilding a 1.5 per cent reduction in fuel burn.

E2 is equipped with Honeywell’s Primus Epic® integrated flight deck, an advanced integrated avionics system that provides exceptional situational awareness enhanced by large landscape displays and reduced pilot workload.

The Honeywell Primus Epic 2 system features four 13x10 inch large landscape displays with advanced graphics capabilities. SmartView® synthetic vision system improves the flight crew’s situational awareness by providing a large, 3-D color synthetic image of the outside world to enhance safety and efficiency.

Honeywell’s Next Generation Flight Management System (NGFMS) provides enhanced flight planning, navigation and aircraft performance capabilities. Since Honeywell’s Primus Epic avionics are software based, Embraer will be able to easily and effectively integrate future communication, navigation and air traffic management functionalities.

The high-aspect ratio wings with swept tips, combined with redesigned pylons and other aerodynamic improvements provides a 3.5 percent better fuel efficiency than present generation E-Jets.

The two Pratt & Whitney's PurePower® Geared Turbofan™ (GTF) PW P1900G engines delivers the rest 11 percent fuel burn reduction.

With a length of 36.2 m and wingspan of 33.7 m, the E190 can seat 97 passengers in a dual class configuration with 9 seats having 38 inch pitch and 88 seats having 31 inch pitch.

The E190-E2 weighs a maximum of 56,200 kg and can carry a payload of 13,080 kg, reaching a maximum altitude of 41000 ft and a maximum speed of Mach 0.82.

Common type rating between current generation E-Jets and the E2s makes it easy to transition between aircraft and takes a maximum of three days of conversion training. 

To date, Embraer has received orders, options and letters of intent for more than 640 E-Jets E2 family aircraft.

Competitors include the Bombardier CS100 and CS300, Mitsubishi MRJ, Sukhoi SuperJet and the Chinese COMAC C919 single aisle jets.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Gulfstream begin testing G600 iron bird

 Gulfstream Aerospace Corp. today announced that the Gulfstream G600 iron bird recently completed its "first flight," demonstrating the company's continued commitment to research and development and the growing maturity of the G600 aircraft program.

copyright Gulfstream Aerospace
A spatially correct, dimensionally accurate structure that includes a flight deck, the iron bird allows engineers to test the flight control and mechanical systems, including landing gear, brakes and hydraulics in a ground-based lab.

During the 30-minute flight, the G600 iron bird simulated taxi, takeoff and landing as well as maneuvers and transitions at altitude and airspeed.

"This first flight sets in motion the testing and validation required for the G600's actual first flight," said Dan Nale, senior vice president, Programs, Engineering and Test, Gulfstream. "With the iron bird, we can confirm the characteristics of the system components, improve the integration maturity, make modifications and provide those benefits in a lab environment, all while on the ground and still in the design stage to the benefit of the flight-test aircraft. Having this resource enhances safety and streamlines the testing process."

The G600 is capable of traveling 6,200 nautical miles/11,482 kilometers at Mach 0.85 or 4,800 nm/8,890 km at Mach 0.90. Its maximum operating speed is Mach 0.925, the same speed as Gulfstream's G650 and G650ER.

The aircraft features the all-new Symmetry Flight Deck™, with active control sidesticks, integrated touchscreen controllers, a next-generation enhanced vision system and Honeywell Primus Epic avionics.

Similar to the G650 and G650ER, the G600 offers a full three-axis digital fly-by-wire system with benefits that include flight-envelope protection, stability augmentation, increased redundancy and reduced maintenance.

The first G600 flight-test aircraft and structural test article are in production. The aircraft is scheduled to enter service in 2019.

Airbus's Spanish facility delivers first A350-1000 horizontal tail plane

Airbus has reached another A350 XWB program milestone with start-up of A350-1000 horizontal tail plane deliveries from the company’s Getafe, Spain facility.

The initial A350-1000 horizontal tail plane will be integrated on Airbus’ no. 1 flight test aircraft, which currently is going through its final assembly process in Toulouse, France, as per planning.

Commenting on the delivery, Luis Guerra Pena – Product Development Team leader A350-1000 Rear Fuselage Empennage in Spain – said that Airbus’ Getafe facility “has written another page in Spanish aeronautical history.” He added this delivery is another sign of Airbus in Spain’s commitment to the program, with the team deserving to be proud of its excellent work.

The A350-1000 is the longest-fuselage member of Airbus’ A350 XWB family, and its horizontal tail plane is identical to the baseline A350-900 version – which entered commercial operations in January 2015.

Airbus production facilities in Spain are responsible for the manufacture of horizontal tail planes used on all Airbus aircraft. For the A350-900 and A350-1000, the tail plane has a 19-metre span and a surface area of 82 square metres.

Boeing officially launches 737 BCF freighter conversion program

Boeing today officially launched the Next-Generation 737-800 Boeing Converted Freighter (BCF) with orders and commitments for up to 55 conversions from seven customers.

Boeing Copyright

The freighter conversion program will transitions passenger airplanes into freighters, extending the economic life of the airplane. The 737-800 is the first Next-Generation 737 that Boeing has offered for conversion.

While large freighters carry high-density cargo on long-range routes, the 737-800BCF will primarily be used to carry express cargo on domestic routes.

"The Next-Generation 737 provides exceptional value to express freight carriers through its superior payload, range, reliability and efficiency," said Stan Deal, senior vice president, Commercial Aviation Services, Boeing Commercial Airplanes.

"While the recovery of the global cargo market has been slow, we see demand for freighters, such as the 737-800BCF, that will carry express cargo on domestic routes," Deal said. "Over the next 20 years, Boeing forecasts customers will need more than 1,000 converted freighters the size of the 737, with China's domestic air freight carriers accounting for nearly one-third of the total market."

The 737-800BCF carries up to 52,800 pounds (23.9 metric tons) of cargo, flying routes of nearly 2,000 nautical miles (3,690 kilometers).

Twelve pallet positions – 11 standard pallets and one half-pallet – provide 5,000 cubic feet (141.5 cubic meters) of cargo space on the main deck. This will be supplemented by two lower-lobe compartments, combined providing more than 1,540 cubic feet (43.7 cubic meters) of space for revenue-generating cargo.

Existing passenger airplanes will be modified at select facilities located near conversion demand, including Boeing Shanghai. Modifications include installing a large main-deck cargo door, a cargo-handling system and accommodations for up to four non-flying crew members or passengers.

Boeing has won a total of 30 firm orders and 25 commitments for the 737-800BCF:
  • YTO Airlines, based in Hangzhou, China, has ordered 10 conversions with commitments for 10 additional conversions
  • China Postal Airlines, based in Beijing, has ordered 10 conversions
  • GE Capital Aviation (GECAS), which will provide the initial airplane for conversion, has ordered five conversions 
  • An unannounced customer has ordered five conversions with two commitments
In addition, Boeing has secured 13 commitments for conversions from, SF Airlines based in Shenzhen, China
Cargo Air, based in Sofia, Bulgaria and an unannounced customer.

The first 737-800BCF is expected to be delivered in the fourth quarter of 2017.

Updated: Tara Air Twin Otter crashes in Nepal

A Twin Otter 400 series turboprop commuter aircraft operated by Nepalese Tara Air, went missing today after taking off from Pokhara Airport at 7:30 pm local time.

It was flying from Pokhara to Jomsom carrying three crew members and 20 passengers including an infant. A Kuwaiti and a Chinese national is among the dead, others being Nepalese.

The factory new Canadian built Viking Air Twin Otter with Nepalese registration number 9N-AHH was inducted into the Tara Air's fleet last September.

Tara Air said, both the destination and origin airports had favorable climate and the departure was cleared by Pokhara Control Tower.

The crash site was located on a very treacherous terrain and the debris of the plane was scattered in an area of some 200 meters.

The plane was reported to be still burning when first responders arrived on the crash site and weather in the region was very cold.

The Twin Otter are 19 seater STOL (Short Take-off and Landing) utility aircraft. The aircraft's fixed tricycle undercarriage, STOL abilities and relatively high rate of climb have made it a successful passenger airliner in the mountains of Nepal over the last few decades.

Tara Air operated the largest frequency of scheduled and chartered flights by DHC-6/300 and DO-228 aircrafts in the Nepalese mountains.

The aircraft operated in the remote Short Take Off and Landing (STOL) airfields of the Nepal, such as Lukla, Phaplu, Jomsom, Dolpo, Rara and Simikot etc. where it plays a vital role in transporting foreign trekkers, local inhabitants and foodstuffs to and from these remote regions.

In 2005 Viking Air Ltd., Canada purchased the Type Certificate of the legendary DHC6-300 Twin Otter from De Havilland. It is the most versatile and successful STOL aircraft ever built and it was brought back into production in 2008 as the new Viking Series 400 Twin Otter.

The Series 400 Twin Otter picks up where the original de Havilland Series 300 Twin Otter left off, introducing upgraded Pratt & Whitney PT6A-34 engines, fully integrated Honeywell Primus Apex digital avionics suite, use of composite materials and approximately 800 other modifications incorporated to improve on the original Series 300 aircraft.

The Series 400 boasts cutting edge avionics technology with an integrated full glass cockpit that features the Enhanced Ground Proximity Warning System (EGPWS), Traffic Collision Avoidance System (TCAS) and a full colour Weather Radar.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Raytheon-Finmeccanica to offer M-346 for USAF T-X trainer jet program

Raytheon has teamed with Italian Finmeccanica to offer latter's M-346 advanced trainer jet derived trainer to meet U.S. Air Force's requirement for a next generation pilot training aircraft.

The T-100 Integrated Air Training System will offer an advanced variant of the Aermacchi M-346 trainer jet, with a leading-edge Ground Based Training System.

The T-100 GBTS is designed to mimic 5th generation fighters. It uses the same operational flight program software as the actual aircraft, enabling training with the same aircraft feel even before a student takes flight.

The pilots will be immersed in a realistic, complex training environment with cutting-edge avionics and pilot-vehicle interfaces, including the ability to simulate tactical scenarios, sensors, threats and weapons while in flight.

The T-100 is capable of conducting sustained high-g operations, aerial refueling, night vision imaging and data-link operations. It is currently flown by Italian Air Force, Republic of Singapore Air Force, Israeli Air Force and Polish Air Force and has achieved nearly 10,000 flight hours.

The trainer will be manufactured in the United States.

The T-100 GBTS 
CAE USA will design and develop the simulation-based training systems and.Honeywell Aerospace will provide the twin, F124 turbofan powerplant via the International Turbine Engine Company (ITEC) joint venture.

Both companies have heritage of manufacturing trainer aircraft. Raytheon was the original manufacturer of the T-1 Jayhawk and the T-6 Texan II, both of which are used by USAF to train pilots and combat systems operators. Finmeccanica and its legacy companies have produced numerous trainers, including the MB-326 and the MB-339.

Other contenders for program include Northrop Grumman, Boeing-Saab team offering clean sheet designs and Lockheed Martin offering an advanced variant of the KAI T-50 trainer.

Decision regrading the requirement for around 500 trainer jets will be announced in the fourth quarter of 2017.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Second SpaceShipTwo spaceplane unveiled

Virgin Galactic owned by Virgin Group and Abu Dhabi’s Aabar Investments PJS, unveiled its newly completed SpaceShipTwo spaceplane, during a ceremony attended by Sir Richard Branson, Virgin Galactic’s Future Astronauts, and partners on Friday.

(c) 2016 Mark Greenberg/Virgin Galactic
 Professor Stephen Hawking named the new vehicle Virgin Spaceship (VSS) Unity via a recorded speech and said, “I would be very proud to fly on this spaceship.”

The new SpaceShipTwo is the first vehicle to be manufactured by The Spaceship Company, Virgin Galactic’s wholly owned manufacturing arm, and is the second vehicle of its design ever constructed.

The first prototype was lost in a fatal accident in Oct 2014, when co-pilot unlocked the feathering system prematurely, leading to uncommanded deployment of the system and in-flight break up of the vehicle.

VSS Unity was unveiled in FAITH (Final Assembly Integration Test Hangar), the Mojave- based home of manufacturing and testing for Virgin Galactic’s human space flight program.

VSS Unity featured a new silver and white livery and was guided into position by one of the company’s support Range Rovers, provided by its exclusive automotive partner Land Rover.

The new vehicle’s build process kicked off in 2012 with each component part undergoing rigorous testing before assembly.

With VSS Unity now fully manufactured and unveiled, The Spaceship Company will undertake integrated systems verification, followed by ground and flight tests in Mojave and ground and air exercises at its future home in Spaceport America, New Mexico.

The Spaceship Company has already started work on the next SpaceShipTwo.

Based on the smaller 2004 X-PRIZE winning SpaceShipOne designed by Burt Rutan, SpaceShipTwo is designed to take a crew of two pilots and up to six passengers to space.

The all composite spaceplane has a length of 60 feet and a wingspan of 42 ft. The 12 ft long and 90 inch diameter cabin has approximately the same size of a Dassault Falcon 900 business jet.

A controllable hybrid rocket powers the plane, after release from carrier aircraft during its ascent to
space. The re-entry and landing are without propulsion. It can go supersonic within eight seconds of rocket ignition with a maximum velocity of more than Mach 3.5.

Independent flight time can be up to 30 minutes, with total flight time ranging from 1.5 to 2 hours.

Virgin Galactic’s budding commercial spaceline fleet now consists of the spaceship VSS Unity and two dedicated carrier aircraft—the WhiteKnightTwo VMS Eve for human spaceflight and the 747-400 Cosmic Girl for the LauncherOne small satellite launch service.

 To date, 700 men and women from over 50 countries—greater than the total number of humans who have ever been to space—have reserved places to fly on Virgin Galactic’s reusable space launch system, consisting of carrier aircraft WhiteKnightTwo and spacecraft SpaceShipTwo.

SpaceShipTwo and WhiteKnightTwo are manufactured and tested in Mojave, California by its manufacturing wing, The Spaceship Company. Spaceflight operations will be based at Spaceport America in New Mexico, the world’s first purpose-built commercial spaceport.

Virgin Galactic is also developing LauncherOne, an affordable dedicated ride to orbit for small satellites. As an air-launched rocket, LauncherOne is designed to provide commercial and government-built satellites a flexible launch service that meets each customer’s specific mission requirements.

LauncherOne rockets are designed and manufactured in Long Beach, California, and launches will be conducted from various locations by its dedicated 747-400 carrier.

Hydrogen fuel cell doubles Skyblade UAV's endurance

The Skyblade 360 Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) designed by Singapore based ST Aerospace achieved a record 6 hour flight endurance, when powered by a hydrogen-on-demand enabled fuel cell battery system.

The fuel cell system developed by HES Energy Systems and DSO National Laboratories doubled the UAV's flight endurance compared to a Lithium battery that usually powers it, enabling to fly up to 300 km.

The Skyblade 360 UAV and its fuel cell system were displayed on ST Engineering’s booth at the 2016 Singapore Air Show.

The Skyblade 360 mini unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) system is designed for rapid mission deployment in support of military, civilian and scientific applications with fully autonomous flight operations.

The UAV having a length of 1.8 m (5.9 ft) and wing span of 3.0 m (9.8 ft), has a maximum take off weight of 9.0 kg (19.8 lb).

It has an operating altitude of 90-920 m (300-3000 ft) and a maximum speed of 35 kts.

The Skyblade 360 fuel cell system is extremely lightweight and compact in comparison to lithium batteries. Its 1L fuel cartridge holds a whopping 1000Wh of usable energy.

Unlike a typical hydrogen fuel cell, the system doesn’t store its fuel as pressurized hydrogen gas, but stores it as a solid chemical material - making it easy for end-users to handle in the field.

Since its founding in 2009 in Singapore, HES has been developing the world’s most advanced fuel cell systems. In the past years, HES was able to prove that its system was able to store 7% of its weight as hydrogen and a fuel utilization rate of close to 90%.

It took HES several years to achieve this performance. The company began its journey with various approaches and technologies including the use of costly Sodium Borohydride. The system designs based on Sodium Borohydride were complex, fragile, and came with many challenges for end-users.

In 2013 HES pushed forward with a new material and a highly simplified system. The patented hydrogen on demand technology now targets operational costs of just $10 per flight hour - making it a real option for UAV manufacturers.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Northrop complete Critical Design Review of UH-60V Black Hawk program

Northrop Grumman in partnership with the U.S. Army, Prototype Integration Facility, and prime contractor Redstone Defense Systems, has successfully conducted the Critical Design Review of the UH-60V BLACK HAWK program.

Under a contract awarded in the third quarter of 2014, Northrop Grumman is supplying a mission equipment package for a digital cockpit upgrade of the U.S. Army's UH-60L BLACK HAWK helicopters.

The scalable, fully integrated and open architecture-based cockpit design will replace older analog gauges with digital electronic instrument displays in the upgraded aircraft, which is designated UH-60V.

This critical milestone demonstrates UH-60V design maturity and validates that the system is ready for transition to the fabrication and integration phase. Key elements of the system that were assessed include the open, scalable design using model-based engineering and a fully partitioned software architecture; the technical data package with government purpose rights; navigation system performance; and portability of software applications.

The UH-60V digital cockpit solution is aligned with the Future Airborne Capability Environment (FACE™) standard and supports integration of off-the-shelf hardware and software, enabling rapid insertion of capabilities while reducing cost and risk for system integration and upgrades.

Additionally, the UH-60V's advanced cockpit solution meets the standards for safety-critical software development and is designed to comply with the Federal Aviation Administration and European Aviation Safety Agency's Global Air Traffic Management requirements, enabling the system to traverse military and civilian airspace worldwide.

The UH-60V BLACK HAWK program will modernize the Army's fleet of UH-60L helicopters through cost-effective cockpit upgrades. The new system is similar to the UH-60M pilot-vehicle interface, providing common training and operational employment.

The first flight of the UH-60V aircraft is anticipated in January 2017.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Saab offers Bombardier platforms for Swordfish maritime surveillance system

Saab has introduced two new Bombardier aircraft platforms for its Swordfish airborne maritime surveillance mission system for maritime patrol aircraft (MPA).

Earlier available only on the legacy Saab 2000 turboprop platform, Saab has rolled in the Bombardier’s Q400 turboprop and Global 6000 jet for the mission system at the Singapore Air Show.

Capable of long-duration patrol or search-and-rescue missions, Swordfish can also handle the most complex anti-submarine and anti-surface unit warfare tasks, all on the same mission. Swordfish also provides an effective overland ISR capability and can be easily introduced into a customer’s existing operations and support infrastructure.

Saab’s Swordfish mission system combines proven, operational COTS sensors from several suppliers, with Saab’s own specialist electronic warfare and C4I mission management systems. The advanced and tightly integrated sensor package is displayed on interchangeable work stations with an intelligent degree of automation and system support, meaning more can be achieved with fewer operators.

Both platforms will commonly have Observer positions, Four operator work stations, sonobuoy stowage, Crew rest/mission planning area, Rotary and fixed sonobuoy launch capability, Electronic Warfare and Self Protection System, State-of-the-art AESA 360° multi-mode radar, Unrivalled Multi-Statics Acoustic system, HD quality EO/IR sensor with integrated laser payload, Tight data fusion with highly integrated C4 Mission System, Secure communications suite and Tactical & Common Data Link options.

The Bombardier Q400 will feature a glass cockpit with integrated mission display, Auxiliary fuel tanks and In-flight operable airdrop door.

The Q400 will have a range greater than 3000 NM, with a Long-range cruise speed of 274 knots and Service ceiling of 25,000 ft.

The Global 6000 business jet based Swordfish MPA will feature Bombardier Vision Flightdeck cockpit and will have four under wing weapon hardpoints.

It will have a maximum flight range of 4400 NM, with a Long-range cruise speed of 360 knots and Service ceiling of 37,000 ft.

UK MoD orders Airbus Zephyr 8 pseudo satellite craft

Airbus Defence and Space has won an order from the UK Ministry of Defence (MOD) for the manufacture and operation of two solar-powered Zephyr 8 high-altitude pseudo-satellite (HAPS) craft.

Flying at some 65,000ft, the ultra-lightweight Zephyr 8 is uniquely capable of providing persistent surveillance over land or sea, and hosting communications links, over the same area for months at a time without landing. The precise purposes for which the UK MoD will use its Zephyrs have not been disclosed.

Zephyr flies slowly and above weather systems, loitering over a selected area under the close guidance of a ground controller to perform its mission. The earlier Zephyr 7 HAPS holds the world record for 14 days continuous flight set in 2010 – with the aircraft charging its batteries from sunlight during the day and maintaining its high altitude at night.

The latest generation Zephyr 8 has a wingspan of 25 metres, is 30% lighter and can carry 50% more batteries than its predecessor - the 22.5 metre wingspan Zephyr 7. This enables the Zephyr 8 to carry heavier payloads for its surveillance and communications roles. The Zephyr 8 HAPS is designed to fly continuously for over a month before landing, being refurbished, and flying again.

As well as for military purposes, Zephyrs can be used for humanitarian missions, precision farming, environmental and security monitoring, and to provide internet coverage to regions of poor or zero connectivity.

The first Zephyr 8 is under construction at Airbus Defence and Space’s Farnborough, UK facility and is due to fly in mid-2017.

Antonov An-132D enters final assembly

Antonov has commenced final assembly of the upgraded variant of the An-32 tactical airlifter, dubbed the An-132D.

The fuselage assembly was completed last week and currently the aircraft is in final assembly during which the fuselage will be mated with its wings, tail, pylons and engine nacelles.

The demonstrator aircraft will confirm the new western avionics and engine of the aircraft, which is being developed with participation from King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST) and Taqnia Aeronautics Co. of Saudi Arabia.

The An-132 is intended for short and medium-haul routes with roles ranging from troop transport to cargo and can be outfitted with a variety of cabin configurations.

The aircraft will have a maximum cruising speed of 500 kilometers per hour and a maximum cruising altitude of 9,000 meters with a maximum payload of 9.2 tonnes.

The aircraft roll out is planned by end of the year and serial production will be carried out from a Saudi assembly line.

After series of the test flights, the An-132 will be presented to potential customers in Saudi Arabia.

The light transport plane will be powered by two Pratt & Whitney PW150A engines and will feature Honeywell avionics system.

Antonov projects a potential market for the aircraft of 200 units between 2018 and 2025.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Okay Airways commits to 20 Boeing 737s

Boeing and Chinese's Okay Airways today announced a commitment for 12 737s, including eight MAX 8s, three 737 MAX 9s and one Next-Generation 737-900ER (Extended Range) airplane.

The agreement, valued at $1.3 billion at current list prices, is subject to the approval of the Chinese government and will be posted to Boeing's Orders & Deliveries website once all contingencies are cleared.

This commitment will mark the first 737 MAX 9 order by a Chinese airline and bolsters Okay Airways' 737 MAX portfolio to 17 airplanes. Included as part of the agreement, Okay Airways have rights to exercise options for eight additional 737 MAX 8 airplanes.

Okay Airways, the first privately owned airline in China, is headquartered in Beijing with its main hub at Tianjin Binhai International Airport (TSN). The airline's fleet includes 14 737-800s, three 737-900ERs and one Boeing 737-300 Freighter, which serves more than 100 domestic and international routes.  

Bombardier CS100 on track for Q2 maiden delivery

Bombardier announced today that the C Series aircraft program is making excellent progress as the CS100 aircraft readies for delivery and entry-into-service (EIS) with launch operator Swiss International Air Lines (“SWISS”) in Q2 2016.

The first aircraft for SWISS has achieved powering on’ – meaning electricity and systems ran for the first time on the aircraft, and maiden flight will be carried out in the coming months.

The SWISS team had completed its initial phase of training on-site for pilots, ground and maintenance crews, according to Fred Cromer, President, Bombardier Commercial Aircraft.

Additionally, the stretched CS300 aircraft has completed over 70 per cent of its certification activities to date and is on target for full certification approximately in mid-year 2016, followed by its planned EIS in the second half of 2016 with Air Baltic of Latvia.

“Additionally, components arrived this month and the first CS300 aircraft for launch customer airBaltic is now in production. It’s great to know we’re pacing well to meet our program and customer targets for the year,” said Mr. Cromer.

Bombardier is currently preparing the second CS300 flight test vehicle equipped with a full interior for its first flight.

In December 2015, Bombardier announced that the CS100 aircraft had received its Type Certificate from Transport Canada. Bombardier’s CS300 aircraft, the larger model, is on track to obtain its Type Certificate approximately in mid-year 2016, followed by EIS in the second half of 2016 as planned.

The 100 per cent clean sheet design of CSeries family which consist the CS100 and CS300 caters to the 100-150 seat market and offers operators up to US $13 million extra value per aircraft.

The C Series aircraft's maximum range has also been confirmed to be up to 3,300 NM (6,112 km), some 350 NM (648 km) more than originally targeted.

Bombardier has booked orders and commitments for 603 C Series aircraft, which include firm orders for 243.

Bombardier launches 90 seat Q400 turboprop airliner

Bombardier launched a 90 seat variant of its Q400 aircraft, making it the world’s only commercial turboprop capable of carrying 90 passengers.

The capacity increase was achieved by internal cabin adjustments and minor structural modification to the aircraft.

Bombardier had earlier delivered a 86 seat variant of the Q400 to Thailand's Nok Air with 29 inch seat pitch, by converting the aircraft's right side baggage door into an emergency exit door, eliminating the front baggage compartment and galley modification.

 An extra row of seats was added to the 86 seat variant, by changing the configuration of the front right-hand door and moving back the aft pressure bulkhead.

Bombardier claims by offering 12 to 14 more seats, the Q400 can offer 20 per cent cash operating cost advantage per seat and over $8 million US additional value per aircraft compared to competing turboprops like the ATR-72.

The high density variant also features a 2,000 lb-increase in payload and an escalation of the A-Check and C-Check maintenance intervals from 600/6,000 to 800/8,000 flight hours.

The type can enter service as early as 2018.

The Q400 aircraft family includes over 60 owners and operators in almost 40 countries. The worldwide fleet, which has logged more than 6.7 million flight hours, has transported more than 413 million passengers.

Bombardier has recorded firm orders for a total of 547 Q400 aircraft.

Philipine Airlines selects Airbus A350 for long haul renewal

Philippine Airlines (PAL) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Airbus for the order of six A350-900s, with another six purchase options.

The news was announced today at the Singapore Airshow by Jaime J. Bautista, President & COO of Philippine Airlines and Fabrice Brégier, President & CEO of Airbus.

Philippine Airlines will configure its A350-900s with a premium three class layout and will operate the aircraft on non-stop flights from Manila to the US west coast and New York, as well as on services to new destinations in Europe.

The aircraft will enable the carrier to operate non-stop service on the 8,000 nautical mile New York – Manila route all year round with a full passenger load.

To date, Airbus has recorded 777 firm orders for the A350 XWB from 41 customers worldwide, already making it one of the most successful widebody aircraft ever.

Air Canada sign LOI for 75 Cseries aircraft

Bombardier Commercial Aircraft and Air Canada announced today that the parties have signed a Letter of Intent (LOI) for the sale and purchase of 45 CS300 aircraft with options for an additional 30 CS300 aircraft, which also includes conversion rights to CS100 aircraft.

Air Canada will become the first North American mainline, international network carrier for the C Series family of aircraft.

Based on the list price of the CS300 aircraft, a firm order for 45 would be valued at approximately $3.8 billion US.

Bombardier has booked orders and commitments for 678 C Series aircraft, which include firm orders for 243.

Viking launches seaplane variant of Twin Otter 400 series

Canadian aircraft manufacturer Viking Air Limited unveiled a seaplane variant of its famous Twin Otter Series 400 turboprop commuter, dubbed the Twin Otter 400S Seaplane, at the Singapore Airshow.

The Viking 400S is specifically designed as an economical seaplane for commercial operation on short to medium flight segments in the 15 to 19-passenger category, and will be offered at a list price under $6.0 Million (USD).

Adapted for quick turn-around between cycles, the 400S can achieve a break even load factor of around 8 passengers under typical operating conditions.

To enhance the quick-turn capability of the Viking 400S, an avionics-dedicated battery allows cockpit screens to remain live during short loading intervals while the modified double swing-out aft passenger doors and internal access to the rear baggage compartment further increases loading efficiency.

The Viking 400S Seaplane features the Honeywell “Super-Lite” integrated digital avionics suite adapted for VFR operations, and comes equipped with 17-passenger seating configuration, new generation composite floats, and Pratt & Whitney PT6A-27 engines incorporating platinum coated CT blades.

Avionics upgrade for IFR operation, 19-passenger seating, or combination 15-passenger/cargo configuration are all available options for the 400S.

With the Viking 400S, particular attention has been paid to the unique challenge corrosion causes for water-based operations. Corrosion resistant packages for the airframe, power plant, and fuel system have all been incorporated as standard equipment in the 400S, along with additional draining, sealing and prevalent use of corrosion-resistant materials throughout the aircraft.

The additional corrosion protection and selected modifications will allow the Viking 400S Seaplane to operate in the harshest marine environments with greatly reduced maintenance costs and down time.

Viking expects customer deliveries for the 400S to commence in first quarter 2017.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Aerolease orders 10 Mitsubishi MRJ regional jets

Mitsubishi Aircraft Corporation and Aerolease Aviation, LLC, an aircraft leasing company based in the United States, announced today that they have signed a Letter of Intent (LOI) for an order of ten firm MRJ90 aircraft with an option to an additional ten MRJ90 aircraft.

Based on this LOI, both companies will move forward to conclude a definitive agreement in the near future.

Aerolease is the launch lessor in MRJ program to select the MRJ. Deliveries to Aerolease are scheduled to commence in 2018.

Thus far, 407 MRJ aircraft are on order and 20 will be added to its order book when Mitsubishi Aircraft signs a definitive agreement with Aerolease Aviation. The total of 427 MRJ aircraft include 233 firm orders with 170 options and 24 purchase rights.

Founded in 1986, Aerolease Aviation, LLC is a privately owned aircraft leasing company headquartered in Miami, Florida in the United States. Aerolease has been an active market maker in the conversion and leasing of used aircraft. Current portfolio consists of over 40 owned or managed Boeing B757 aircraft leased globally.

Mitsubishi Regional Jet is a family of 70~90-seat next-generation aircraft featuring the Pratt & Whitney’s revolutionary PurePower® engine and state-of-the-art aerodynamics to drastically reduce fuel consumption, noise, and emissions, while offering top-class operational benefits, an outstanding cabin designed for heightened passenger flying comfort with large overhead bins.

The MRJ carried out the first flight on November 11, 2015.

IAI unveil new family of loitering munitions

Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) today unveiled two new Loitering Munitions (LM) at the Singapore Airshow, extending its famous HAROP and HARPY LM family.

The first member is an upgraded version of the Harpy LM, designated Harpy NG (New Generation), designed to counter the newer types of air defense radar threats that have evolved since the introduction into service of its former version.

The type incorporates two major improvements, an extension of the covered frequency band to much lower frequencies to deal with all types of air defense radars and airframe of the Harop LM for its Anti-Radiation (AR) Seeker.

This repackaging enables better flying characteristics - including longer loiter time, extended range, higher altitude as well as commonality in maintenance and training.

The second member is the Green Dragon, a tactical, low-cost LM designed to provide small ground units and special operations units with significant situational awareness and firepower in a compact envelope.

Green Dragon Loitering Munition
Green Dragon is a silent, all electric LM with up to two hours of loitering time, during which its operator can collect visual intelligence of surrounding areas up to a range of 40 km.

This LM can locate, acquire and dive on operator designated targets with a warhead of nearly 3 kg and extremely high accuracy (better than 1 m CEP).

The Green Dragon is launched from a sealed canister: as many as 12-16 units can be carried on a small vehicle and launched upon request. The operator has a small tablet-sized control panel and a tactical low-power datalink to the LM.

The Green Dragon operator also has a built-in "abort and go around" capability to prevent unnecessary collateral damage or mistaken targeting. The unique combination of silent operation, long mission endurance, long-range communication and pinpoint accuracy, coupled with secured "in canister" logistics, make the Green Dragon an ideal cost-effective weapon for infantry, Special Ops and other similar users.

IAI is the world's pioneer in developing and fielding various types of LMs. The Harpy (an autonomous anti-radiation LM for SEAD/DEAD missions) and the HAROP, an Electro-Optical/Infra-Red (EO/IR)-guided, man-in-the-loop LM, designed to locate, track and destroy high quality static and mobile targets have been sold extensively worldwide.