Friday, April 29, 2016

CSeries bags big order from Delta

Bombardier Commercial Aircraft and Delta Air Lines, Inc. of Atlanta, Georgia (Delta Air Lines) announced that the parties have executed a firm agreement for the sale and purchase of 75 CS100 aircraft with options for an additional 50 CS100 aircraft.

Delta Air Lines may elect to convert a number of these aircraft into CS300 at a later date.

Based on the list price of the CS100 aircraft, the firm order is valued at approximately $5.6 billion US.

The order will be a big relief  for the Canadian manufacturer, as the program is over budget by billions of dollars and years behind schedule.

“As we reshape our fleet for the future, the innovative onboard experience of the C Series is a perfect complement for the top-notch service provided every day by Delta people,” said Ed Bastian, Delta’s incoming chief executive. “These new aircraft are a solid investment, allowing us to take advantage of superior operating economics, network flexibility and best-in-class fuel performance.”

“Welcoming Delta Air Lines to the C Series family of operators is a watershed moment for our game-changing aircraft. As an industry leader, Delta consistently ranks first with customers, business leaders and its peers – a benchmark for operational performance,” said Fred Cromer, President, Bombardier Commercial Aircraft. “This order is a resounding endorsement of the CS100 aircraft performance and its exceptionally low operating costs. In addition, its widest aisle, widest seats and largest bins in its class will be attractive features for Delta’s passengers.”

With this order, Delta becomes the C Series aircraft’s largest customer. Deliveries are scheduled to commence in spring 2018.

The 100 per cent all-new design of CSeries single aisle offers operators up to US $13 million extra value per aircraft.

Powered by two Pratt & Whitney PurePower® PW1500G engines, the CS100 is delivering a 15 to 20 per cent fuel burn advantage compared to other re-engined 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.

Monday, April 25, 2016

FAA issues new AD for 787s powered by GEnx-1B engines

U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has issued a new airworthiness directive (AD) for Boeing 787-8 and 787-9 passenger aircraft powered by General Electric (GE) GEnx-1B engines.

The AD requires revising the airplane flight manual (AFM) to provide the flight crew a revised fan ice removal procedure and a new associated mandatory flight crew briefing to reduce the likelihood of engine damage due to fan ice shedding.

Susceptibility to heavy fan blade rubs, could result in engine damage and a possible in-flight non-restartable power loss of one or both engines. For airplanes with certain engines, this AD also requires reworking the fan stator module assembly on GEnx-1B PIP2 engines or replacing at least one of the engine.

This AD was prompted by a recent engine fan blade rub event that caused an in-flight non-restartable power loss, occurred in icing conditions at an altitude of 20,000 feet.

The significant fan rub event involving a GEnx-1B Performance Improvement Program (PIP) 2 engine, was apparently caused by partial fan ice shedding and a resulting fan imbalance that in turn caused substantial damage to the engine and an in-flight non restartable power loss.

FAA is investigating the issue with Boeing and GE; however, which appears to be a result of susceptibility to heavy fan blade rubs common to the GEnx-1B PIP2 engine.

The other engine on the event airplane was an older design GEnx-1B PIP1 configuration that incurred expected wear and minor damage during the icing event and continued to operate normally.

The urgency of this issue stems from the safety concern over continued safe flight and landing for airplanes that are powered by two GEnx-1B PIP2 engines operating in a similar environment to the event airplane. In this case both GEnx-1B PIP2 engines may be similarly damaged and unable to be restarted in flight. The potential for common cause failure of both engines in flight is an urgent safety issue, FAA says.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Japanese X-2 stealth fighter complete maiden flight

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. (MHI) successfully completed the maiden flight of the first Japanese stealth fighter prototype designated X-2, on April 22.

The advanced technology demonstrator aircraft took off from Nagoya Airport and went through a series of trials to confirm basic maneuvers including climbing, descent and circling operations, and then landed at the Japan Air Self-Defense Force’s Gifu Air Base.

After completing the maiden flight, the pilot, from MHI, described the flight experience as "extremely stable."

"Control of the aircraft went exactly as in our simulated training sessions," he said, "and after piloting the aircraft I’m 100% positive the X-2 is magnificent and will meet the Ministry of Defense’s requirements."

The X-2 is a prototype stealth aircraft - the first in Japan to feature technology impeding its detection by radar - engineered for extremely high maneuverability. The prototype integrates an airframe, engines, and other advanced systems and equipment all adaptable to future fighters.

As the coordinating company of the X-2 development project, MHI has been developing the aircraft’s airframe since 2009 with cooperation provided by 220 domestic companies and guidance from Japan’s Acquisition, Technology & Logistics Agency (ATLA).

The ATD-X demonstrator will lead to the development of the F-3 stealth fighter whose first prototype would fly by 2025.

Production of the F-3 is slated for 2027, which will replace the present JASDF fleet of F-2 fighter, a Japanese specific license build Lockheed Martin F-16, and eventually the larger Boeing F-15J fleet.

With a length of 14.2 meters and wingspan of 9.1 meters, the ATD-X is powered by two indigenous IHI XF5-1 low bypass turbofans engines.

The ATD-X features a 3D thrust vectoring capability using 3 paddles on each engine nozzle. The F-3 will feature an axis-symmetric thrust vectoring like the Su-30/35 fighters.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

CH-53K performs maiden sling load test

Lockheed Martin announced the CH-53K helicopter has achieved its first external lift flight by successfully carrying a 12,000 pound external load.

The first two CH-53K heavy lift helicopters achieved their first flights on October 27, 2015, and January 22, 2016, respectively.

To date these helicopters have achieved over 50 flight hours combined including one flight at speeds over 140 knots.   The third and fourth King Stallion aircraft will join the flight test program this summer.

As the King Stallion flight test program proceeds, both of the current flying aircraft will be exercised to expand the external load envelope. Initial external payloads weighing 12,000 pounds will be flown first in hover and then incrementally to speeds up to 120 knots.  The aircraft will then carry 20,000 and 27,000 pound external payloads.

The CH-53K King Stallion is equipped with single, dual and triple external cargo hook capability that will allow for the transfer of three independent external loads to three separate landing zones in support of distributed operations in one single sortie without having to return to a ship or other logistical hub.

The three external cargo hooks include a single center point hook with a 36,000 lb. capability and dual-point hooks each capable of carrying up to 25,200 lbs.

The system features an electrical load release capability from the cockpit and cabin, and a mechanical load release capability at each of the pendant locations.  An auto-jettison system is incorporated to protect the aircraft in the event of a load attachment point failure.

"It is exciting to have achieved our first external lift, another important step towards fielding the most powerful U.S. military helicopter," said Col. Hank Vanderborght, U.S. Marine Corps Program Manager for Heavy Lift Helicopters. "Our program continues on pace to deploy this incredible heavy lift capability to our warfighters."

Sikorsky Aircraft, a Lockheed Martin company, is developing the CH-53K King Stallion heavy lift helicopter for the U.S. Marine Corps. The King Stallion maintains similar physical dimensions and "footprint" as its predecessor, the three-engine CH-53E SUPER STALLION helicopter, but will more than triple the payload to 27,000 pounds over 110 nautical miles under "high hot" ambient conditions.

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; upgraded engines; a locking, United States Air Force pallet compatible cargo rail system; external cargo handling improvements; survivability enhancements; and improved reliability, maintainability and supportability.

The U.S. Department of Defense's Program of Record remains at 200 CH-53K aircraft. The Marine Corps intends to stand up eight active duty squadrons, one training squadron, and one reserve squadron to support operational requirements.

Lockheed begin LM-100J commercial freighter production

Lockheed Martin has begun production of the first commercial freighter variant  based on the C-130J Super Hercules military airlifter designated the LM-100J.

The LM-100J is an updated version of the L-100 (or L-382) cargo aircraft, the commercial variant of the C-130 Hercules airlifter, produced from 1964 through 1992.

Wing production has begun in Marietta, which is home to the C-130J Super Hercules final assembly line. Other structural parts are in production at the Meridian and Clarksburg facilities.

Lockheed Martin officials submitted a Program Notification Letter to the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on Jan. 21, 2014, for a type design update for the Lockheed Martin Model L-382J airplane.

The LM-100J is expected to make its first flight in 2017, then enter into an FAA certification phase. 

The LM-100J will perform as a commercial multi-purpose air freighter capable of rapid and efficient cargo transport, delivering bulk and oversize cargo, particularly to austere locations worldwide. Like its military counterpart, the LM-100J will be able to support multiple missions, ranging from fire fighting to medevac to VIP transport.

The technological improvements of  LM-100J over the existing L-100s resulting from the years of C-130J operational experience, including more than 1.3 million flight hours by operators in 16 nations, will allow it to carry one-third more payload, with twenty percent or more greater range, and at ten percent faster speeds.

A total of 115 L-100s, were produced at the then Lockheed-Georgia Company facility in Marietta, Georgia. More than fifty-five of those airlifters are still in service worldwide used for civil airlift missions in places where jet aircraft operations are impractical.

The main exterior difference between its military counterpart is the lack of lower windows under the windscreen, which allow the C-130J pilots to look ahead and down to see drop zones. 

The LM-100J will powered by the same Rolls-Royce AE2100D3 engines as the C-130J, driving the Dowty R391 propellers with six scimitar-shaped composite blades. These engines, rated at approximately 4,637 shaft horsepower each feature a full-authority digital engine controller (FADEC). 

The LM-100J will also have the same automatic engine thrust control system as the C-130J. This system automatically adjusts for asymmetric thrust conditions—in other words, if one engine loses power, the other engines automatically compensate to keep the aircraft flying safely.

In the cargo compartment, the LM-100J has an unobstructed, flat floor with tiedowns and provisions for roller racks for palletized cargo.

Defensive systems present in every C-130Js, such as chaff and flare dispensers, secure communications and electronic warfare equipment, racks, and wiring are all eliminated. 

Structurally, the LM-100J will have reinforced bird strike plates around the windscreen and a commercial standard, bird-resistant windscreen.

It will be capable of flying at 310 knots speed, carrying a 35,000 pound payload, with a max normal gross takeoff weight of 164,000 pounds; reaching a cruising altitude of 28,000 feet.

The C-130J was a comprehensive update of the Lockheed C-130 Hercules airlifter, with new engines, flight deck, and other systems that entered service in 1999.

Ireland-based ASL Aviation Group had signed a letter of intent for up to ten LM-100Js at the at the Farnborough International Air Show in England, on 16 July 2014.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Boeing to upgrade US Army Apache helicopters

Boeing has been awarded a contract to upgrade and remanufacture 117 US Army AH-64D Apache attack helicopters to the new, more capable AH-64E model.

The agreement, which also includes the acquisition of Longbow Crew Trainers, logistical support and spares, carries a total contract value of about $1.5 billion.

The U.S. Army has stated it plans to acquire 690 AH-64E Apaches, 290 of which are now under contract with this latest award.

The AH-64E Apache features extended range sensors and weapons, off-board sensors and increased aircraft performance.

The agreement modifies an existing contact among Boeing and the Army for the full-rate production of lots 5 and 6 Apache helicopters.

The Army will return 117 AH-64D Apaches to Boeing’s Mesa, Ariz. production center to be remanufactured into the AH-64E configuration. The Army followed a similar model when the AH-64A Apaches were remanufactured into AH-64Ds.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Falcon 8X enters final stage of certification

Dassault Aviation’s new flagship ultra long range business jet, the Falcon 8X is entering the final stages of its flight test and certification program as work proceeds to prepare for maiden customer delivery later this summer.
© Dassault Aviation - V. Almansa
 The flight test program involving three prototypes have nearly completed all certification test requirements, and to date have accumulated over 650 flight hours in 325 flights.

After undergoing thermal, acoustic and cabin amenity testing at the Little Rock Completion Center, s/n 03, the first 8X equipped with a fully fitted interior, returned to the Istres Flight Test Center near Marseille earlier this month to prepare for cold soak trials.

Intended to demonstrate aircraft system functionality under extreme weather conditions, the soak trial campaign was conducted at Rankin Inlet, Nunavut, on the northwestern shore of Canada’s Hudson Bay, from March 9-11.

All systems, including avionics, electrical, hydraulic and digital flight control systems, performed flawlessly during the tests despite temperatures that dipped as low as -27° F (-33° C). All cabin systems were successfully tested on ground after APU startup and cabin warm up. Full capability under extreme cold conditions was also demonstrated in flight at the end of the campaign.

The third prototype, which is fitted out with a complete commercial interior, is scheduled to carry out a one-month round the world tour to demonstrate its operational performance and reliability in a variety of conditions.

During the tour, the 8X will make landings on airfields which are hard to access owing to their high altitude (Aspen, La Paz) or runway length (Telluride/Colorado), conduct hot/cold weather tests, a series of about ten short flights on the same day, one after the other, and so on.

© Dassault Aviation - V. Almansa
A total of about 65 flights is scheduled, representing 140 flying hours and a distance of 55,000 Nm.

The 8X is powered by three Pratt & Whitney Canada PW307D turbofan engines, rated at 29.9 kN each. The triple engined configuration shorten transoceanic routes, allow takeoffs from shorter runways, impart redundancy and also contribute to the 8X’s slow and stable approach speed — a mere 106 knots (197 kph).

With 6,450 nm (11,945 km) range and outstanding short-field performance, the 8X links important city pairs nonstop and accesses 500 more airports in the U.S. alone than its competitors.

The 8X has a 13 m long cabin offering a head room of 1.88 m and a comfortable cabin pressurization of 3,900 ft while cruising at 40,000 feet.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Kuwait sign contract for 28 Eurofighter combat jets

Kuwait has signed contract to acquire 28 Eurofighter Typhoon multi-role combat jets.

The contract signature for 22 single-seat and six twin-seat follows the announcement of an agreement between the State of Kuwait and the Italian Government for the procurement of the aircraft on 11th September 2015.

The contract confirms the State of Kuwait as the eighth customer in the program and as the third customer in the Gulf Region next to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Sultanate of Oman.

The aircraft will be of Tranche 3 standard and will be equipped with the E-Scan radar.

Since entry into service of the first Eurofighter Typhoon at the end of 2003, more than 470 aircraft have been delivered to six nations: Germany, the United Kingdom, Italy, Spain, Austria and Saudi Arabia.

The Kuwait order follows an order by Oman in December 2012 for twelve aircraft. Eurofighter Typhoon is currently in service at 22 operational units and up to now, the whole fleet has completed more than 330,000 flying hours worldwide.

Tecnam rolls out first P2012 Traveller

Italy based airframer Tecnam rolled out the first P2012 Traveller commuter aircraft from its Experimental Assembly Line (XAL) in Capua (Italy).

The eleven seater is powered by a next generation piston engine twin, designed to comply with both FAR part 23 and EASA CS-23.

The Tecnam Flight Crew powered up the P2012’s engines for a successful and smooth taxi onto the Capua ramp.

The Traveller is powered by two Lycoming engines (350 HP, turbocharged, six-cylinder, direct-drive, horizontally opposed, air-cooled, avgas or mogas feeded ) mounted on the wings.

The aircraft features easy cabin access via wide doors and superior cabin comfort for all passengers, spacious luggage compartment and has a fixed landing gear that Tecnam claims to reduce maintenance by 70 percent.

The cabin has large panoramic windows, and four doors, including a sliding passenger door and a cargo door.

Cruise flight speed is about 175 Kts at a flight altitude of 10.000 ft and has a range greater than 600 nm.

The joint Tecnam and Cape Air P2012 Traveller development team, including Lycoming for the engines and Garmin for the avionic systems, is a significant international cooperation aiming to deliver both innovation and a step change in air transportation.