Tuesday, May 31, 2016

HAL HTT-40 trainer carries out maiden flight

After rolling out the first prototype in February, HAL successfully carried out maiden flight of the HTT-40 turboprop trainer aircraft, from its Bangalore facility in India.

The Hindustan Turboprop Trainer (HTT-40) is a tandem seat trainer aircraft being developed for the first stage training of rookie pilots.

The flight lasting 30 minutes, accessed the aircraft's basic flight capablities and did not carry out any maneuvers.

With advanced features like zero-zero ejection seats and multi-function displays, it can also be adapted as a light attack aircraft. Its role includes basic flying training, aerobatics, instrument flying, navigation, night flying, close formation etc.

The aircraft is powered by a single Honeywell TPE331-12B turboprop engine.

The flight test program will involve three flying prototypes and two static test aircraft, and will be concluded in 2018.

A total of 68 of these locally developed trainer will complement the 113 Swiss Pilatus made PC-7 Mk II contracted by Indian Air Force, of which 75 have been delivered.

HAL will also develop a light attack version of the HTT-40, armed with guns and unguided rockets, suitable for ground support and training requirements.

ILA 2016: Airbus unveils 3D printed aircraft model

Airbus unveiled a 3D printed flying aircraft model at this years ILA airshow in Berlin, Germany.

Dubbed the Thor, the model aircraft is four-metre-long and consists around 50 individual printed parts, produced in less than six weeks. 

Only the two engines and the controls use conventional technologies. The project demonstrates the possibilities of 3D printing for aviation. 

This technology enables parts to be created in the desired shape by building successive layers of powder. This not only saves material; complex shapes can also be produced which are more stable and also lighter than conventionally manufactured components. 

This process significantly reduces development and manufacturing times and saves on both costs and weight.

First series production Be-200 aircraft rolled out

The first series production Be-200ES amphibious aircraft was rolled out by Russian Beriev Aircraft Company, from its modernised Taganrog facility on Sunday.

Destined for Russian Ministry of Emergency Situations, the aircraft features significantly updated onboard equipment and avionics along with design changes according to customer requests and on the basis of operating experience.

The Be-200ES is a multirole amphibious aircraft designed for firefighting, emergency assistance in areas of extreme disasters, search and rescue on water, medical transportation, as well as environmental monitoring.

The updated Be-200ES has a reinforced airframe and advanced equipment that helps to improve the technical and operational characteristics of the aircraft.

It can scoop 12 tons of water at skimming speeds of 150-190 kmph in 15 seconds from sea and take off for a fire fighting mission.

Powered by two Ivchenko Progress D-436 engines, the Be-200ES can also carry 50 person in jump seats in search and rescue configuration and can patrol from 100-8000 m heights, at speeds ranging from 300-560 kmph.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Two Super Hornets collide mid-air

Two U.S. Navy F/A-18F Super Hornet fighter jets collided off the coast of North Carolina during a routine training sortie on Thursday.

The aircraft assigned to Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 211 were flying off the coast of Cape Hatteras at approximately 10:40 a.m. local time when both jets collided mid air.

All four pilots onboard successfully ejected from the stricken aircraft and were later rescued.

 VFA-211 is based at Naval Air Station Oceana. The twin-seat Boeing F/A-18F is an twin-engined carrier-capable multirole fighter aircraft and is the mainstay of  U.S. Navy.

Pictures: Belgium F-16s intercept Russian planes over Baltic

Belgium Air Force released images of Russian planes intercepted by its F-16 fighter jets during NATO's Baltic Air Patrol (BAP) missions over Baltic States.

The four fleet F-16s based at the Ämari airbase in Estonia has been complementing the four Spanish Eurofighter Typhoons deployed to Šiauliai, Lithuania for the BAP.

 Su-27 Flanker armed with four air to air missiles, Belgium F-16 in insight
NATO has been providing airspace protection for its Baltic allies Lativia, Estonia and Lithuania since 2004, who do not have their own fighter fleet.

 Tu-134 passenger plane
These photos were taken by Belgian pilots during escort or intercept missions of Russian aircraft over Baltic airspace.

An-72 transport plane being escorted by Belgian F-16
The aircraft intercepted include Sukhoi Su-27 Flanker fighter jet, An-72 transport plane, Tupolev Tu-134A passenger jet, Illyushin IL-76 transport plane and Antonov An-12 PPS jamming aircraft.

Russian An-12 PPS jamming aircraft

Spain and Belgium took over the four month BAP mission from Germany and Hungary in Jan 2016.

An-12 PPS jamming aircraft

IL-76 transport plane

Airbus Helicopters offers first glimpse of VIP version of H160 helicopter

Airbus Helicopters released an exclusive first glimpse of the H160 VIP version at this year’s EBACE meeting in Geneva, which was held from May 24-26.

Customers experienced some of its features like its exclusive cabin interior, electrical footstep and hinged doors thanks to a virtual reality immersion tool.

UAE based Falcon Aviation became the first customer for a VIP version, signing a letter of intent during a private ceremony at EBACE.

The H160 development continues to progress as the two prototypes in flight testing have logged around 140 hours with the second prototype (PT2) having performed the 100th flight mid-May.

PT2 has been flying with Turbomeca’s Arrano engines since January 2016 and PT1, whose retrofit is being finalized, will be flying with the Arrano engines in the next couple of days.

The flight envelope is continuously being expanded and PT2 has reached a maximum altitude of 20,000 feet and has performed turns at 2.2G confirming expected behavior of the rotor and dampers.

The upcoming milestones in the flight test campaign are the climatic campaigns, continued performance testing of the Arrano engines and finalization of aeromechanical configuration of H160.

Lockheed receive funds for LRASM integration and test phase

Lockheed Martin has received a $321.8 million sole-source contract from the U.S. Navy for the continuation of the Long Range Anti-Ship Missile (LRASM) integration and test phase.

The long range, precision-guided anti-ship missile leverages the successful JASSM-ER heritage, and is designed to meet the needs of U.S. Navy and Air Force warfighters.

The integration and test contract funds continuation of LRASM flight testing and integration onto the U.S. Air Force B-1B and the U.S. Navy F/A-18E/F aircraft. LRASM early operational capability for the U.S. Air Force and Navy is expected in 2018 and 2019 respectively.

LRASM was selected as the Increment I solution for the Offensive Anti-surface Warfare (OASuW) program. After a competition in 2009, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency selected Lockheed Martin's LRASM to provide a demonstration of OASuW air-launched capability to defeat emerging sea-based threats at significant standoff ranges. The success of that demonstration prompted initiation of an accelerated acquisition program, which is now led by the U.S. Navy.

Armed with a proven 1,000-pound penetrator and blast-fragmentation warhead, LRASM employs a multi-mode sensor, weapon data link and an enhanced digital anti-jam Global Positioning System to detect and destroy specific targets within a group of ships.

Raytheon teams with Israel's UVision to adapt loitering munitions for US military

Raytheon and UVision signed a teaming agreement to work together on small short range loitering airborne munitions for US military requirements.

As part of the deal, Raytheon will adapt UVision's man-packed, canister-launched Hero-30 remotely-operated lethal loitering airborne munition system.

Raytheon will modify the Hero-30 for lethal target engagement as well as traditional airborne intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions. The adapted system will meet the U.S. Army's requirement for Lethal Miniature Aerial Missile Systems, also known as LMAMS.

The Hero-30 derivative could fulfill conventional small-unit and special-operations requirements. Previous user evaluations have determined Hero-30 to be extremely flexible and simple to operate for small-unit operations.

Hero 30 is capable of speeds of up to 100 knots and is ideal for anti-personnel missions. Weighing 3 kg, it can carry a 0.5 kg warhead, to a line of sight target at ranges of 5, 10 and 40 km. The electrically powered munition has an endurance of 30 minutes.

Airbus to launch A350 based corporate jet

Airbus will launch a corporate-jet version of its flagship A350 XWB airliner, which entered commercial service in 2015.

The widebody new generation A350 platform with Easyfit provisions for cabin-outfitting will deliver more capacity, capability and comfort.

Called the ACJ350 XWB, it features 270 m2 (2,910 ft2) of cabin space in the -900 version. The ultra-long range variant can fly 25 passengers up to 10,800 nm (20,000 km) or 22 hours, making it today’s most modern and capable corporate jet.

Airbus has also chosen to pre-equip the carbonfibre fuselage of the ACJ350 with hundreds of attachment points, greatly simplifying the work of cabin-outfitters. It has also worked extensively with several cabin outfitters to ensure smooth completions for customers.

In addition, the ACJ350 XWB deliveres, as standard, new features such as an onboard airport navigation system (OANS), like GPS in a car, and a runway overrun prevention system (ROPS), an aid for pilots that helps to prevent runway excursions, especially in challenging weather.

Exclusively powered by the Rolls Royce Trent XWB engines, the A350 offers 25 percent reduced fuel burn and competes with the rival Boeing 787 Dreamliner.

Korean Air Boeing 777 evacauted after engine fire

A Korean Air flight KE2708 was evacuated immediately after one of its engine caught fire while preparing to take off from Japan's Haneda Airport in Tokyo.

The Boeing 777's left Pratt & Whitney PW4090 engine caught fire while taxing on runway.

All the 319 passengers and crew members onboard destined to fly to Seoul, South Korea were evacuated to safety using four of its emergency slides. 

Monday, May 23, 2016

India successfully flight tests Mini Space Shuttle RLV-TD

India successfully flight tested it’s first winged spacecraft, the Reusable Launch Vehicle-Technology Demonstrator (RLV-TD).

Developed by Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), the RLV-TD resembles a mini Space Shuttle and is considered as a first step towards realising a Two Stage To Orbit (TSTO) fully reusable orbital spacecraft.

The vehicle operating in hypersonic flight regime, was launched on top of a HS9 solid rocket booster from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota.

The HS9 booster burned out after  91.1 second from lift off, lifting the RLV-TD to a height of about 56 km. At that height, RLV-TD separated from HS9 booster and further ascended to a height of about 65km.

From that peak altitude of 65 km, RLV-TD began its descent followed by atmospheric re-entry at around Mach 5 (five times the speed of sound).

The vehicle’s Navigation, Guidance and Control system accurately steered the vehicle during this phase for safe descent. After successfully surviving a high temperatures of re-entry with the help of its Thermal Protection System (TPS), RLV-TD successfully glided down to the defined landing spot over Bay of Bengal, at a distance of about 450 km from Sriharikota.

Total flight time of the delta winged RLV-TD weighing 1700 kg, lasted for about 770 seconds.

In this flight, critical technologies such as autonomous navigation, guidance & control, reusable thermal protection system and re-entry mission management have been successfully validated.

Development of the full scale version, which will be six times bigger than the present one, will take more than 10 years.

Embraer E190-E2 completes first flight

The new generation Embraer E190-E2 single aisle passenger jet completed maiden flight from Embraer's facility in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

The flight marks the beginning of the 2000+ hour flight testing, which will lead to service entry in 2018. The aircraft took off at 1:06 p.m., local time from Embraer’s facility in São José dos Campos and flew for three hours and 20 minutes.

Embraer Captain Mozart Louzada commanded the aircraft along with First Officer Gerson de Oliveira Mendes, and Flight Test Engineers Alexandre Figueiredo and Carlos Silveira.

The flight evaluated aircraft handling and performance characteristics with the crew analyzing a significant number of flight parameters, including speed, altitude and landing gear retraction.

This was made possible by the high level of maturity that the E2 reached during program development through the extensive use of digital modeling simulations and ground and static tests that employed rigs and an iron bird.

Embraer's E-jet E2 family features aerodynamically advanced wings, fourth generation full fly-by-wire controls and a Pratt & Whitney's PurePower® Geared Turbofan™ (GTF) PW P1900G, delivering a combined 16 percent better fuel efficiency than current generation E-Jets.

The E190-E2 is the first member of Embraer's E-Jets E2 aircraft family that caters to the 70 to 130 seat market.

The aircraft that flew is the first of four prototypes that will be used in the E190-E2 certification program. Two additional aircraft will be assigned for the E195-E2 certification process that will lead to entry into service in 2019. Three more aircraft will be used to certify the E175-E2 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 or 106 seats in a single-class layout.  It has 400 nautical miles more range than the current-generation E190 and gives operators the ability to fly the aircraft up to 2,800 nautical miles.

The aircraft was rolled out in February 2016.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Airbus Helicopters win UK Military Flying Training contract

Airbus Helicopters has been selected by Ascent as the Aircraft Service Provider for the UK’s Military Flying Training System (UKMFTS).

The contract, worth £500 million over 17 years, will see Airbus Helicopters deliver aircraft and an integrated support solution over the course of 18 months, ready to start training in April 2018.

This will involve the manufacture of aircraft in addition to developing the support infrastructure and training initial crews and maintenance personnel.

As part of the contract, Airbus Helicopters will supply a fleet of H135 and H145 capable of delivering the 28,000 hours per year necessary to meet the training requirement.

Over the last 35 years, all UK military helicopter pilots have been trained on Airbus Helicopters, initially with the Gazelle and subsequently with the H125 ‘Squirrel’.

The new capability will prepare 121 pilots and 99 rear crew per year to successfully follow their predecessors.

Through the UKMFTS contract, the UK will be the first country to receive the newly updated H135 Helionix, Airbus Helicopters’ advanced avionics kit which increases performance and improves safety.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Last Falcon 50 MSA delivered to French Navy

French Navy has taken delivery of the last of its four Falcon 50 Surmar Maritime Surveillance aircraft, after completing retrofit by Dassault Aviation.

© Dassault Aviation - A. Pecchi

The four trijets previously flew government transportation missions and have undergone transformation work at Dassault Aviation’s Mérignac site to install a Thales Ocean Master 100 search radar, Forward Looking Infrared (FLIR) optronic system, new cockpit and observation windows.

The event was marked by a military ceremony today on the Lann-Bihoué military base, presided by the French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, and attended by Dassault Aviation Chairman & CEO Eric Trappier.

Including the first four aircraft delivered early in the 2000s, the French Navy now operates a fleet of eight Falcon 50 Surmar aircraft.

Dassault Aviation has supplied the French Navy’s maritime surveillance aircraft ever since the first Falcon 200 Gardians delivered in the early 1980s.

The new-generation Falcon Surmar has been launched with the Falcon 2000 MRA, which was recently ordered by the Japanese Coast Guard.

The aircraft can undertake missions including operations to combat piracy, trafficking and pollution; fisheries control; maritime search and rescue (SAR).

First flown in 1976, the Falcon 50 was designed as a long range corporate jet powered by three Garrett TFE731-3-1C turbofan engines. A re-engined and improved variant dubbed the Falcon 50EX flew in 1996. Production ended in 2008 with over 350 produced.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

USAF B-52 bomber crashed in Guam base

A U.S. Air Force B-52H Stratofortress strategic bomber crashed on the flightline at Andersen Air Force Base on Wednesday.

The aircraft part of the 69th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron aircrew was performing a routine training mission, crashed shortly after taking off from the base at approximately 8:30 a.m. local time.

Emergency response personnel from Andersen AFB, Naval Base Guam, Joint Region Marianas and government of Guam promptly established a cordon and extinguished the blazing wreckage.

The aircraft was carrying inert munitions at the time and posed no danger to the local community. The B-52 was deployed to Andersen AFB from Minot AFB, North Dakota, as part of the Defense Department’s continuous bomber presence mission in the Pacific.

All seven aircrew members safely egressed the aircraft, with no injuries reported.

The subsonic B-52 is long range heavy bomber operated by USAF in strategic role since 1950s. Powered by eight turbofan engines, the B-52H is capable of carrying up to 70,000 pounds (32,000 kg) of weapons and has a typical combat range of more than 8,800 miles (14,080 km) without aerial refueling.

First production SF50 takes to skies

The first production Cirrus Vision SF50 jet completed its maiden flight in Duluth, Minnesota on 5 May.

Designated P1, the aircraft will be used to validate Vision SF50's training program.

The program is in the final stage of achieving FAA certification, which is expected later this year. Deliveries will begin shortly after achieving type certification, with four customer aircraft currently in production line.

Cirrus will be able to fly the aircraft in an experimental state until FAA certification is achieved.

The four flight test prototypes have so far clocked more than 1700 hours since maiden flight in 2014.

The SF50 has a Maximum Takeoff Weight of 6000 lbs (2727 kg) and has a 2000 lbs (907 kg) fuel capacity. The V-tailed all composite personal jet has an max cruise speed of 300 KTAS and can operate at a maximum altitude of 28,000 ft.

The seven seater is powered by a single Williams FJ33-4A-19 engine placed above the fuselage, producing 8.5 kN thrust.

Cirrus has won firms orders for more than 600 SF50's, majority of them being former or current operators of the SR-Series turboprops.

Egypt Air flight MS804 crashes to Mediterranean Sea

An Egypt Air Airbus A320 passenger aircraft heading from Paris to Cairo crashed into Mediterranean Sea, while carrying 56 passengers and 10 crew members.

The Flight MS804 was flying at 37,000ft when the contact was lost at around 02:30 am (Egypt local time) today over the Mediterranean sea, about 280 km from the Egyptian coast and 16 km after entering the Egyptian air space.

The flight was expected to arrive at Cairo Airport at 03:15 am local time.

The aircraft crashed after just exiting the Greek air space and attempts by Athens air traffic control to contact the aircraft went in vain.

The pilot had 6275 of flying hours including 2101 flying hours on Airbus 320 and the co-pilot had 2766 flying hours.

The A320 registered under SU-GCC was MSN (Manufacturer Serial Number) 2088 was delivered to Egypt Air from the production line in November 2003.

The aircraft had accumulated approximately 48,000 flight hours and was powered by IAE V-2500 engines.

Egyptian officials says terror more likely cause than a technical fault. In Oct 2015 a Airbus A320 aircraft operated by Russian Metrojet crashed in to the Egyptian Sinai peninsula after an onboard explosion following departure from Egypt's Sharm el-Sheikh International Airport.

Search operations are in full swing with Egyptian and Greek ships and aircraft scoring the sea. U.S. Navy has deployed one of its submarine hunting P-3 Orion aircraft for the search operation.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

UK signs Spear missile development contract

United Kingdom’s Ministry of Defence (MOD) has signed a contract worth over £400M with MBDA for the Weapon Development Phase of the SPEAR air to surface, precision strike missile.

Spear 3 is from the same family of weapons as Brimstone, currently being used by the Royal Air Force to combat Daesh in Syria and Iraq, but it packs a bigger punch and has a significantly increased range.

The SPEAR missile is being developed to meet the UK’s Selective Precision Effects At Range Capability 3 (SPEAR 3) requirement and will arm UK’s F-35 aircraft, with the option to equip the Eurofighter Typhoon aircraft.

The contract, with MBDA, will enable four years of critical design and development work which will tailor the weapon for use within the internal weapons bay of F-35B, the world’s most advanced combat aircraft.

It is being designed specifically for F-35B Lightning II operations launched from HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales, the Royal Navy’s two £3 billion aircraft carriers.

SPEAR will precisely engage long range, mobile, fleeting and re-locatable targets in all weathers, day or night, in the presence of countermeasures, obscurants and camouflage, whilst ensuring a safe stand-off range between the aircrew and threat air defences.

Weighing less than 100 kg, the missile has a length of 1.8 m and diameter of 180 mm. The all weather capable missile is powered by a turbojet engine giving a range of more than 60 miles. It was successfully test fired from an MOD Typhoon in March at a range in West Wales.

The contract will run through to completion during 2020 and will employ 350 highly skilled missile engineering jobs across MBDA’s sites in Stevenage, Bristol and Lostock.

The £411 million contract award follows an initial £150 million assessment phase and, if successful, it is expected that Spear 3 will enter service in the mid-2020s.

Saab unveils first Gripen E fighter

Swedish Saab rolled out the first next generation JAS-39 Gripen E fighter jet, featuring an vastly improved avionics system, from its’s facility in Linköping.

SAAB Image
Heavier and slightly bigger than the previous version, the latest Gripen variant sports a new engine, that improve performance, payload and range, and a highly integrated and sophisticated sensor suite that include a Selex Raven Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar, Infra Red Search and Track (IRST) sensor, Electronic Warfare (EW) suite and datalink technology.

The aircraft 39-8 is the first of three flight test aircraft for the Gripen E program that began in 2006. Debut flight of the aircraft is expected later this year, with the other two prototypes in various stages of assembly.

Delivery of the first production aircraft will begin in 2019, with 96 examples ordered by Swedish and Brazilian Air Forces.

The Gripen E is powered by the more powerful GE F414G engine rated at 98 kN, replacing the Volvo RM12 (a license built GE F404) powering the legacy Gripen C/D  fleet operated by Sweden, South Africa, Czech, Hungary and Thailand.

The GE F414 offers 20 percent more thrust enabling to supercruise ( going supersonic without engaging afterburner) and carry more payload.

SAAB Image

With a maximum operating altitude of 52000 ft, the Gripen E can achieve Mach 2 speed at high altitudes and >1400 kmph at sea level.

Retaining the delta winged design with canards, overall length of the fighter has been increased by 1 m to 15.2 m and the empty weight has increased to 8000 kg, bringing the maximum take off weight to 16500 kg.

The internal fuel capacity was increased by 40 percent to 3400 kg, by relocating the main landing gear, which also freed space for two fuselage weapon hardpoints.

Gripen E can carry weapons for all types of mission. The 10 hardpoints can be armed from guided glide bombs for precision engagement with low collateral damage, to long-range and agile air-to-air missiles and heavy anti-ship armaments.

The single-seat Gripen E is equipped with a 27 mm Mauser BK27 gun. This can be used in air-to-surface attacks against land and sea targets and is suitable for air policing missions.

SAAB Image
Air-to-air superiority is guaranteed with METEOR, AMRAAM, IRIS-T, AIM-9 air to air missiles.

It can also carry pods and sensors for reconnaissance and special missions which include Litening, Reccelite, DJRP and MRPS pods.

The new generation Selex Raven AESA radar, in contrast to older generation radars features an array of small antennas, called elements which allows to simultaneously and independently track different targets, and also track targets independently of search volumes.

The passive IRST electro-optical sensor system mounted on top of the nose, just in front of the canopy, can detect and tract heat emissions from other aircraft, helicopters and from objects on the ground and sea surface. Even though have limited range, unlike radars, the IRST sensors does not give off any radiations, and hence improve stealth of aircraft.

The Gripen E has an highly advanced EW system that can function as a passive or active sensor, warning for incoming missiles or radar looking at you. It can also be used for electronic attacks and jamming other radars. Coupled to the countermeasure such as chaff and flares the EW system can enhance the survivability.

Like its predecessors, the Gripen E retains the capability for short take off and landing performance including operating from roads. The aircraft requires a minimum of 500 m for take off and 600 m for landing.

The aircraft can also be quickly armed and refueled for the next mission, within in 10 minutes in air to air mode. The engine can be fully replaced within one hour.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Leonardo launches TH-119 for US Navy helicopter trainer program

Leonardo-Finmeccanica launched a new variant of AgustaWestland AW119 single engine helicopter designated the TH-119 during the Navy League Sea-Air Space Exhibition (Washington D.C., May 16-18), to meet US Navy's helicopter pilot training needs.

The Navy is expected to issue an request for proposal (RFP) for an Advanced Helicopter Training System (AHTS) to replace the ageing fleet of 117 Bell TH-57/206 helicopters.

Primarily designed for the U.S. Navy, the TH-119 keeps high safety standards, maintains redundancies on several key systems for maximum safety, while featuring a dual-display Genesys Aerospace cockpit that gives flexibility to instruct from either seat and the option for VFR or IFR (IMC) operations.

The TH-119 will be built at the company’s Philadelphia facility.

 Major features include:

  1.  A unique cabin configuration with an additional 180-degree adjustable trainer observation seat at the base of the instrument panel giving the occupant a full view of the cockpit;
  2. Full Night Vision Device (NVD) compatible cockpit and cabin with high-visibility cockpit doors and a low-profile instrument panel to ensure maximum visibility from the cockpit;
  3. Re-enforced skids with replaceable skid shoes which support the multiple repetitions of essential touchdown training maneuvers;
  4. Cargo hook and hoist options supporting advanced training events;
  5. And a five-fuel cell option that provides more than five hours of flight time with pressure refueling port allowing for less downtime to refuel as well as “hot” refueling while the engine is still running.

Rival Airbus Helicopters will offer LUH-72 Lakota, a derivative of the twin-engined H-145, already selected by the US Army to replace a similar fleet of 180 Bell 206 trainers.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Denmark receive first batch of MH-60R helicopters

Denmark received its first three MH-60R Seahawk helicopters on May 11, under the Multi-Mission Helicopter program.

US Navy Photo

The Seahawks will be operated by Royal Danish Air Force to conduct maritime surveillance, anti-surface warfare, force protection and utility transport operations in support of NATO's anti-piracy operations.

Denmark purchased nine Seahawks under a USD 686 million US Foreign Military Sales (FMS) agreement signed in December 2012, to replace RDAF's eight Lynx Mk.90B helos from 2017.

Deliveries under the deal will be completed by 2018.

The advanced helicopter is fitted with integrated anti sub warfare sensor processing system, integrated sonobouy launcher and Mk-46 and Mk-54 air launched torpedo.

Indian Navy retires Sea Harrier jump jet fleet

Indian Navy formally retired its British Aerospace Sea Harrier FRS51 naval strike/air defense fighter, becoming the last operator of the type.

The Sea Harrier fleet, which constituted the Indian Naval Air Squadron (INAS 300) ‘White Tigers’, flew for the last time during the farewell ceremony at INS Hansa naval base in Goa, on 11 May.

During its 33 year service, the Indian Navy operated a total of 30 aircraft including five twin seat trainer variants.The Sea Harrier operated from both INS Vikrant and INS Viraat aircraft carrriers, where use of the ski jump allowed the aircraft to take off from a short flight deck with a heavier load than otherwise possible, although it can also take off like a conventional loaded fighter without thrust vectoring from a normal airport runway.

Unusual in an era in which most naval and land-based air superiority fighters were large and supersonic, the principal role of the subsonic Sea Harrier was to provide air defense to naval fleet by operating from their aircraft carriers.

The Sea Harrier is equipped with four wing and one fuselage pylons for carrying weapons and external fuel tanks in addition to two removable 30 mm Aden Gunpods on the fuselage. The Sea Harriers were also equipped with the French MBDA Matra Magic II and  the Israeli Derby Air to Air Beyond Visual Range (BVR) Missiles which makes the Sea Harrier a potent air defense fighter for the fleet at sea.

The Sea Harrier was fitted with anti-ship Sea Eagle missile providing the best stand-off range anti ship capability to the fleet. In addition, the fighters were also capable of firing rockets and dropping bombs in shore bombardment role or in action against lightly armed ship.

The aircraft were operated by Indian Navy and Royal Navy. Its usage in the Falklands War (1982) was its most high profile and important success, where it was the only fixed-wing fighter available to protect the British Task Force over 8000 miles from homeland.

The farewell ceremony also marked the INAS 300 squadron being re-equipped with the more lethal MiG-29K swing role air dominance fighter giving the squadron enhanced combat power and offensive capability.

The air display during the farewell ceremony included supersonic pass by MiG-29s and formation flying by two each Sea Harriers and MiG 29Ks. The composite air display symbolized a smooth transition from the old to the new.

For the versatile White Tigers, this resurrection also marks a full cycle from commissioning ‘Tail Hooking Sea Hawks’ to the ‘Vectored Thrust’ Sea Harrier era; and now with the induction of the MiG-29k to this elite squadron, marks the return of the ‘Tail Hookers’.

The MiG-29K squadron operates from Navy's new INS Vikramaditya aircraft carrier.

Originally developed by British manufacturer Hawker Siddeley in the 1960s, the Harrier emerged as the only truly successful Vertical / Short Take Off and Landing (V/STOL) jet design of the many attempted during that era.

It first entered service with the Royal Navy in April 1980. The fighter was conceived to operate from improvised bases, taking off and landing vertically like a helicopter, using the four side mounted vectorable nozzles on the single Rolls Royce Pegasus turbofan engine that produced 21500 pounds of thrust propelling the fighter at approximately 635 Knots.

On board the INS Viraat aircraft carrier
The White Tigers or INAS 300 who stand for excellence, determination and aggressive spirit, heralded the era of carrier borne aviation into the Indian Navy. Almost six decades ago the squadron was commissioned at RNAS Brawdy with its distinctive ‘White Tiger’ logo and equipped with the Sea Hawk aircraft. After providing yeoman service for over two decades, the squadron was subsequently reincarnated with Sea Harriers in 1983.

The second generation of Sea Harrier jump jets were designed and developed by U.S. McDonnell Douglas, dubbed the AV-8B II in 1970s. The variant is currently operated by US Marine Corps, Spanish Navy and the Italian Navy.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Third AW609 prototype resume ground tests

AgustaWestland's AW609 civil TiltRotor aircraft program is back on track with the third prototype (AC3) completing its first ground run and resumption of tests using the first prototype (AC1) from company’s facilities in Cascina Costa, Italy.

The AC3 prototype began restrained ground run testing with all engines and systems operating with flight tests scheduled to begin in mid-2016 in Philadelphia, US.

The flight test fleet were ground following crash of the AC2 prototype in October 2015, killing two of its pilots and delaying the certification by one year, which is now expected in 2018​.

These tests prepare the prototype for FAA certification flight testing this summer at the company’s Philadelphia facility, where it will demonstrate that its capabilities satisfy a stringent set of airworthiness standards for the world’s first commercial powered lift aircraft.

Taking off and landing vertically, the AW609 is capable of flying within an envelope that includes cruise conditions up to 275 knots, at an altitude of 25,000 feet in a pressurized cabin, for missions with ranges up to 1000nm with available fuel options.

The AC3 will also undergo icing trials in the winter of 2016 to demonstrate its capabilities in known icing conditions. These high standard design features allow the AW609 to perform a host of missions not previously achievable with any other commercial aircraft.

The fourth prototype A/C4 is undergoing assembly in Philadelphia with plans to enter the test fleet in 2017.

Friday, May 6, 2016

ViDAR to enhance ScanEagle UAV's maritime ISR capability

The Insitu ScanEagle surveillance UAV will be equipped with the ViDAR  (Visual Detection and Ranging) payload to enhance its maritime surveillance capabilities.

Insitu ScanEagle UAV

ViDAR is a wide area autonomous detection system for electro-optic imagery in the maritime domain. In addition to cueing ScanEagle’s primary camera turret, the payload gives operators who typically must rely on larger, more expensive aircraft to detect objects in the ocean a smaller, more cost-effective solution.

The software that runs the ViDAR payload was developed in Australia by Sentient Vision Systems, and was built into a ScanEagle payload by Hood Technologies of Hood River, OR.

Sentient and Insitu has also signed an exclusive global distribution agreement for the ViDAR software for unmanned systems within the small UAS weight class.

ViDAR fits a modular slice on ScanEagle that comprises a large backplane digital video camera that continuously scans the ocean in a 180-degree arc in front of the air vehicle.

Sentient’s ViDAR software then autonomously detects any object on the surface of the ocean, providing the ground control station with an image and location coordinate of each object detected in real time. ]

The primary sensor can then be cross-cued to the object by simply clicking on the image. In demonstrations, ViDAR has autonomously detected a fishing vessel at 14 nm, a fast boat at more than 9 nm and even the spout of a whale at 1.5 nm from the aircraft.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Maiden flight for Russian Ka-62 helicopter

The first prototype of the Russian Helicopters Ka-62 helicopter successfully completed its maiden flight on April 28 from manufacturer's plant in Arsenyev.

The medium weight helicopter in the 6-7 ton class successfully completed flight testing in hover mode. The flight evaluated the rotorcraft's overall performance and tested its main power supply systems and avionics.

The helicopter was operated by test pilots from the Kamov Design Bureau, which is the main developer of the Ka-62. Unlike other Kamov designs which features coaxial rotors, the Ka-62 is built to a single-rotor design with a multi-blade anti-torque rotor ducted into the vertical tail fin.

It has a five-bladed main rotor, enclosed tail rotor, secondary hydraulics circuit, heavy-duty wheeled landing gear, strengthened fuselage and mounting attachments for major components, as well as shock-absorbent seats for passengers and crew.

The airframe and propeller blades are over 50% made of polymeric composite materials. The Ka-62 will complement the most produced and proven Mi-8/17 helicopters.

The Ka-62 is a civilian version of the Ka-60, that first flew in 1998. After troubles with the development of a Russian engine, the Ka-62 is powered by two Ardiden 3G turboshafts supplied by French engine maker Turbomeca.

The Ardiden 3G equipped with dual channel FADEC is rated a 1,680 h.p and has a TBO (Time Before Overhaul) of over 5,000 hours at entry-into-service.

The engine has demonstrated 20 percent class fuel consumption improvement over engines operating in the same power range, and will obtain type-certification in 2016.

With a Max speed of 308 kmph, the Ka-62's wide and spacious cabin can accommodate 12-15 passengers and is suitable for use in oil and gas sector, search and rescue operations and corporate travel.

The 6500 kg helicopter can carry 2000 kg in its cabin and has a operational ceiling of 5700 m.

LEAP-1B achieve joint FAA, EASA certification

CFM International's advanced LEAP-1B engine was today simultaneously awarded Type Certificates by both the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

The engine exclusively powers the Boeing 737 MAX passenger jet that is slated to enter commercial service in 2017.

CFM is unique in that it is the only engine manufacturer to gain dual original certification from both agencies, rather one lead agency issuing a type certification and the second agency validating that certification. This reflects CFM's 50/50 design and production structure between parent companies GE and Safran, which has been so successful for more than 40 years.

The LEAP-1B engine flew for the first time on the Boeing 737 MAX on January 29, 2016.  Since then, two more aircraft have been added to the test program in March and, to date, these three airplanes have logged a combined total of more than 100 test flights, including completing high altitude flight testing in La Paz, Bolivia, recently.

The LEAP-1B engine features some of the industry's most advanced technologies, including 3-D woven carbon fiber composite fan blades and fan case; a unique debris rejection system; 4th generation three dimensional aerodynamic designs; the Twin-Annular, Pre-Swirl (TAPS) combustor featuring additively manufactured fuel nozzles; ceramics matrix composite shrouds in the high-pressure turbine; and titanium aluminide (Ti-Al)  blades in the low-pressure turbine.

The engine will provide operators with double-digit improvements in fuel consumption and CO2 emissions compared to today's best CFM engine, along with dramatic reductions in engine noise and exhaust gaseous emissions. All this technology brings with it CFM's legendary reliability and low maintenance costs.

FAA approves A350 for extended ETOPS

The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has approved the Airbus A350-900 new generation passenger jet for ETOPS (Extended-range Twin engine aircraft Operations) ‘beyond 180 minutes’ diversion time.

This approval means that when the first FAA-affiliated operators start to take delivery of their A350s in 2017 they will be able to serve new direct non-limiting routings, compared with a standard 180 minute ETOPS diversion time. It also means that now the A350 XWB is approved by both EASA and the FAA for beyond 180 minutes ETOPS.

This FAA approval, which includes ‘ETOPS 180min’ in the basic specification, also includes provisions for up to ‘ETOPS 300min’ – corresponding to a maximum diversion distance of 2,000 nautical miles (nm) at one-engine-inoperative speed under standard atmospheric conditions.

Later this year, once the type accumulates additional in-service experience, it will be granted a further provision for ‘ETOPS 370min’ from the FAA, which will extend the maximum diversion distance up to 2,500 nm.

The ETOPS 300min option will, in particular, facilitate more efficient transoceanic routes across the North and Mid-Pacific – such as from South-East Asia to US, and Australasia to the US. Meanwhile, operators flying on existing routes (currently flown with up to 180 minute diversion time) will be able to traverse straighter more fuel efficient flight paths with lower CO2 emissions, while also allowing access to more en-route diversion airports if needed.

The granting by the FAA of this ETOPS capability prior to the A350’s delivery to US-based operators is a testimony to the FAA’s confidence in the aircraft maturity and in US operators who will soon operate the A350 XWB (including: American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines) – as well as the type’s demonstrated performance with the five current operators since its entry into service in 2015.

Around 70 percent of A350 flight hours will be ETOPS. At the end of March 2016, the A350 XWB had won 777 orders from 41 customers worldwide.

The first A350 was delivered to Qatar Airways in December 2014, and started commercial flying in Jan 2015. 

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Leonardo launches new Osprey AESA radar

Italian Defense giant Finmeccanica, now rebranded Leonardo, has launched a new light weight electronically scanned (E-scan) radar dubbed the Osprey, designed for aerial surveillance missions.

Based around a flat-panel antenna design, Osprey is the world’s first lightweight airborne surveillance radar to be built with no moving parts.

Osprey’s flat panel design opens up the potential for installation on a long list of aircraft previously deemed unable to carry such a class of radar, including unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV).

In its configuration for NAWSARH, Osprey comprises three flat panels, one on the front of the helicopter and two at the rear, facing out at angles to create the 360 degree field of regard.

Space requirements are minimal and the helicopter’s belly is left clear, maximizing ground clearance for challenging rescue landings on rough terrain.

Osprey also marks a second world-first in providing a persistent 360 degree field of view in a lightweight package suitable for small platforms. Osprey represents the latest in ‘E-scan’ technology, meaning that it uses electronic-only means to direct the radar beam – moving it from target to target in fractions of a second. Because of the speed of these changes in direction, the Osprey radar effectively provides simultaneous coverage in multiple directions.

Norway will be the launch customer for the radar, equipping the country’s 16 Leonardo-Finmeccanica Helicopters AW101s for the NAWSARH program (Norway All Weather Search And Rescue Helicopter).

Designed and manufactured in the UK at Leonardo-Finmeccanica’s Edinburgh site, Osprey was developed via inward investment from the company in radar technology and expertise.

Osprey will be sold alongside the company’s successful Seaspray family of E-Scan radars, which are in active service with the Royal Navy and with a number of export customers including the United States Coast Guard.

In addition to surveillance radars, Leonardo-Finmeccanica is Europe’s leader in fire control radar, providing the AESA (Active Electronically Scanned Array) radar for Saab’s Gripen NG fighter.

The company also leads the pan-European EuroRADAR consortium to provide the current Captor-M radar for the Eurofighter Typhoon and is leading the same consortium in the development of the Typhoon’s new Captor-E AESA radar.

The Milan based manufacturer also produces high-performance mechanically scanned radars, the Grifo (combat radar family) and Gabbiano (surveillance radar family). These are both in production and have been sold widely internationally, over 400 Grifo radars and over 50 Gabbiano radars have been sold to date.  

Boeing 737 MAX complete high altitude flight testing

The Boeing 737 MAX 8 marked a key achievement this week after completing high altitude flight testing in La Paz, Bolivia.

The airport’s 13,300-foot (4,050-meter) altitude tested the MAX’s capability to take off and land at high altitudes, which can affect overall airplane performance.

“The engines and other systems performed well, as expected, under extreme conditions. That’s exactly what we wanted to see,” said Keith Leverkuhn, vice president and general manager of the 737 MAX program, Boeing Commercial Airplanes.

The testing also marked the first international trip for the 737 MAX flight-test fleet.

Flight testing for the 737 MAX is on schedule with three test airplanes having completed more than 100 flights combined.

The fourth and final test airplane will make its first flight in the coming weeks. The program remains on track for first delivery in the third quarter of 2017.