Thursday, June 30, 2016

Boeing 737 MAX to debut at Farnborough 2016

Boeing's 737 MAX single aisle passenger jet, the first jetliner of Boeing’s second century will make its Farnborough International air show debut with flying displays from July 11-14.

Succeeding the 737 NG variant, the MAX is re-engined with the new CFM LEAP-1B engine and features airframe modifications that offers 8 percent lower fuel burn and 40 percent lower noise than its competitors.

The first prototype completed maiden flight on January 29, 2016. The flight test program now include four flight test prototypes.

Boeing expects to deliver the first 737 MAX 8 in the first half of 2017, ahead of schedule.

The 737 MAX will extend the Next-Generation 737 range advantage with the capability to fly more than 3,500 nautical miles (6,510 km), an increase of 340 - 570 nmi (629-1,055 km) over the Next-Generation 737.

The 737 MAX family has 3,072 orders from 62 customers worldwide.

Other Boeing commercial airplanes on display will include the 787-9 Dreamliner to be delivered to ANA, Japan’s largest airline, and a new CargoLogicAir 747-8 Freighter.

Monday, June 27, 2016

BrahMos integrated Sukhoi Su-30 MKI completes maiden flight

An Indian Air Force Sukhoi Su-30 MKI fighter successfully carried out maiden captive flight test of a air-launched variant of BrahMos supersonic cruise missile on Saturday.

The 45 minutes flight was flown by Wg. Cdr. Prashant Nair and Wg Cdr M S Raju and validated the integration and safe carriage of the heavy missile.

The maiden flight will be followed by series of test flights to evaluate the performance of the aircraft with the heavy missile, ahead of maiden air launch test by the year end.

The Su-30 MKI airframe was strengthened to carry the 2.5 tonne missile by Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd's Nashik Division and the required data was generated without the assistance of Sukhoi.

The missile was integrated in between the two air intakes under a strengthened fuselage hardpoint . CFD analysis was carried to ascertain the 8 meter long and .7 meter diameter missile protruding ahead of air intakes did not affect air flow into the engine air intakes.

The integration will enhance IAF's deep strike capability as the missile can engage heavily defended enemy targets from a standoff distance of 290 km, keeping the pilots safe.

The Mach 3 capable missile reaches its target within minutes and is virtually immune to present day air defense systems.

The BrahMos cruise missile was developed by Indo-Russian joint venture as an anti-ship missile based on the Russian P-800 Yakhont and entered service with Indian Navy ships in 2005. Later a land attack variant for Indian Army was developed and inducted. A submarine launched canisterised variant was also successfully tested from a submerged platform in 2013.

Unlike the surface launched version, the air-launched BrahMos is lighter by 500 kg due to a smaller rocket booster and have additional fins for airborne stability.

The missile can be released from heights ranging from 500 to 14,000 meters, after which it free falls for 100-150 meters, before igniting the booster for cruise phase at 14,000 meters and finally the terminal phase at 15 meters.

Around 40 of IAF' eventual fleet of 272 Su-30 MKIs will be modified to carry the BrahMos, making the IAF the only air force in the world to posses an air launched supersonic cruise missile.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Augmented Dutch Roll caused AW609 crash

A phenomenon called “Augmented Dutch Roll” during a high speed dive test caused the fatal crash of AW609 tiltrotor aircraft on October 2015, according to the interim investigation report released by Italian civil aviation safety investigation authority ANSV.

The second prototype with registration N609AG crashed to a field near the city of Tronzano Vercellese, Italy, killing the both experienced test pilots onboard.

Analysis of the combined CVR and FDR data, along with the telemetry data showed that the Pilot In Command (PIC) felt the onset of oscillations on the roll axis of the aircraft. He then tried to counteract that motion by maneuvering the aircraft on the roll axis, which is correct according to the normal flying technique.

However the flight control laws of the aircraft was designed to generate a coupling in the yaw axis to compensate for expected aerodynamic effect of flaperon control surface motion on yaw axis, thus forming a phenonmenon called “augmented dutch roll”.

Analysis of previous flight test data of the two flight test prototypes showed both aircraft have experienced these oscillations in roll and yaw axis, but to a lesser extend.

Also this was the first flight with the new rear fuselage configuration and tail fin modifications, to reach the maximum dive speed of 293 kt required for the certification. Earlier flight had only achieved 285 kt in dive.

During the accident flight two dives to the maximum speed of 293 kt were executed and the crash happened while executing the third one.

The investigation found that the aircraft behavior at high speed was not completely known to the manufacturer Leonardo Helicopters ( formerly AgustaWestland), also the project simulator SimRX used for developing the aircraft flight control laws, was unable to reproduce the flight profile happened in the accident flight.

ANSV recommends to review the control laws of the aircraft in the extreme flight conditions in the framework of the certification process led by US Federal Aviation Administration.

The Multi Purpose Flight Recorder (combined CVR and FDR) was significantly damaged with considerable no of parameters not recorded including latitude, longitude, ground speed, drift angle etc. Hence reconstruction of the flight during the investigation was completed using the telemetry data and MPFR data.

The AW609 tiltrotor is the first commercial tiltrotor aircraft design and combines the speed of a turboprop aircraft with the mobility of a helicopter. The aircraft takes off and land like a helicopter with its two turboshaft engines in vertical position, which then rotate to horizontal position for cruise flight. With a Maximum Take Off Weight of 7600 kg, the AW609 can seat 9 passengers.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Airbus delivers first A400M with tactical capability

Airbus delivered the first A400M airlifter with the long delayed 'tactical capability' to French Air Force on June 8.

The aircraft- MSN 33, features tactical capabilities including air drop of supplies, self protection systems and ability to refuel other aircraft and get refueled inflight.

The self protection system include defensive aids system and cockpit armour for improved survivability and crew protection.

The aircraft can now perform low level tactical missions with its damage tolerant flight controls, armored cockpit and bullet-resistant windscreens.
Besides its advanced self-protection a kit of defensive aids enable it to carry out missions in demanding hostile environments.
The Defensive Aids Subsystems (DASS) consist of different subsystems to act on a variety of threats:
1. The missile warning system (MWS)
2. The radar warning receiver (RWR)
3. Laser warning receiver (LWR)
4. Direct energy infra red counter measures
5. Towed Radar Decoy

French Defense Ministry expects to have six A400Ms with the tactical capability by the end of 2016. Two more aircraft will be delivered by the year end and three existing aircraft will be retrofitted to this standard.

The four engined A400M, produced by Airbus Defence and Space, is designed to carry up to 37 tonnes of equipment and carry out all transportation-related missions.

The MSN33 is the French Air Force' ninth aircraft of the eventual 50 aircraft fleet.

The A400M program has been plagued persistent problems with the latest being an issue with the aircraft' Europrop International TP400-D6 turboprop engine’s Avio-produced propellor gearbox (PGB), for which an interim fix has been developed.

The PGB issue had limited the aircraft’s operations by requiring inspections every 20 flight hours.

Production delays and capability shortfalls has forced many customers to demand compensation and acquire other military transport aircraft.

A fatal crash of a production aircraft destined for Turkey in May 2015, considerably delayed deliveries and prompted grounding of fleet. The cause was later found to be an in factory accidential wiping of a vital engine data on the aircraft's three engines, that prevented the FADEC engine control units from operating.

Airbus has now delivered 26 A400Ms and has booked order for a total 174 aircraft.

Network enabled JSOW enters US Navy inventory

Raytheon has delivered the first network-enabled air-to-ground  Joint Standoff Weapon (JSOW C-1) to U.S. Navy, after achieving Initial Operational Capability (IOC) in early June.

The newest iteration of JSOW is integrated with a Link 16 network radio, enabling the weapon to engage moving targets at sea.

The radio allows the launch aircraft or another designated controller to provide real-time target updates to the weapon, reassign it to another target, or to abort the mission.

The weapon also uses a terminal IR seeker and GPS/INS for guidance.

The JSOW-C1 has completed operational testing against land and sea targets and will be launched from Navy's F/A-18E/F and F-35A/C aircraft.

With a length of 4.1 meters and wingspan of 2.69 meters, the 1065 pound precision strike weapon has a standoff range of approximately 70 nautical mile. It is armed with a broach multi-stage warhead.

First Israeli F-35A stealth fighter rolled out

Lockheed Martin rolled out the first Israeli Air Force F-35A Lightning II stealth fighter during a ceremony at the company's Fort Worth production facility in Texas on Wednesday.

The fifth generation fighter is the first of 33 F-35A Conventional Take Off and Landing (CTOL) aircraft, acquired through the U.S. government’s Foreign Military Sales (FMS) program.

The single engined, single seat fighter combines advanced low observable stealth technology with fighter speed and agility, fully fused sensor information, network-enabled operations and advanced sustainment support.

Israel’s F-35, called Adir – which means “Mighty One” in Hebrew – will be a significant addition to maintaining Israel’s qualitative military edge in the Middle East region, with its advanced capability to defeat emerging threats, including advanced missiles and heavily-defended airspace.

“Israel is proud to be the first country in the area to receive and operate it,” said Avigdor Liberman, Israel’s Minister of Defense. “The F-35 is the best aircraft in the world and the choice of all our military leadership at its highest level. It is clear and obvious to us and to the entire region that the new F-35, the Adir, will create real deterrence and enhance our capabilities for a long time.”

The first two Israeli F-35s are expected to arrive in the country in December. Eventually Israeli Air Force hopes to have a fleet of 75 F-35s including the short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL) variant  F-35C.

Israel’s contribution to the F-35 program includes Israel Aerospace Industries F-35A wing production; Elbit Systems Ltd. work on the Generation III helmet-mounted display system, which all F-35 pilots fleet-wide will wear; and Elbit Systems-Cyclone F-35 center fuselage composite components production.

Three distinct variants of the F-35 will replace the F-16 Fighting Falcon and A/OA-10 Thunderbolt II for the U.S. Air Force, the F/A-18 Hornet for the U.S. Navy, the F/A-18 and AV-8B Harrier for the U.S. Marine Corps, and a variety of fighters for at least 11 other countries.

Following the U.S. Marine Corps' July 2015 combat-ready Initial Operational Capability (IOC) declaration, the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Navy intend to attain service IOC this year and in 2018, respectively.

More than 170 delivered F-35s have flown more than 60,000 flight hours, fleet-wide.

Boeing to move Apache fuselage production to India

Boeing will move its Apache Attack Helicopter fuselage production to India, as a part of India's order for 22 of these deadly armed attack helicopters.

Boeing and India's Tata Advanced Systems celebrated foundation laying of a new facility in Hyderabad for its joint venture named Tata Boeing Aerospace (TBAL) on Saturday.

The joint venture will co-produce Boeing AH-64 Apache helicopter fuselages and other aerostructures, as well as to pursue integrated systems in aerospace.

The Hyderabad production facility will eventually be the sole producer of AH-64 fuselages globally and will be operational in 2017.

TASL, another Tata subsidiary is already on contract to manufacture aerostructures for Boeing’s CH-47 Chinook and AH-6i helicopters.

The AH-64 Apache is the world’s most advanced multi-role combat helicopter and is used by the U.S. Army and a growing number of international defense forces. Boeing has delivered more than 2,100 Apaches to customers around the world since the aircraft entered production.

The U.S. Army Apache fleet has accumulated (as of Jan 2015) more than 3.9 million flight hours since the first AH-64A was delivered to the U.S. Army in 1984.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Viking to acquire Bombardier's amphibious aircraft program

Bombardier has reached a definitive agreement for sale of its Amphibious Aircraft program to British Columbia-based Viking Air Limited.

The agreement covers the Type Certificates for all variants of the aircraft, the Bombardier CL-415 waterbomber and its variants, as well as the earlier CL-215 and CL-215T versions.

The Bombardier 415 is the aviation industry's benchmark amphibious aircraft and the backbone of firefighting missions around the globe.

“This transaction supports our goal of rebuilding a clear path to profitable earnings growth and cash generation,” said Alain Bellemare, President and Chief Executive Officer, Bombardier Inc. “While the Amphibious Aircraft program is part of our long history, this divestiture positions Bombardier to better focus on our core, higher growth businesses; business jets, commercial aircraft and rail transportation.”

The completion of this transaction is subject to customary regulatory approval by Transport Canada and the Competition Bureau.

No amphibious aircraft have been produced since December 2015 after Bombardier paused the program.

The transaction will see Viking acquire the Type Certificates (manufacturing rights) for all variants of Bombardier's amphibious aircraft, and assume responsibility for product support, parts and service for the fleet of some 170 waterbombers in service with 21 operations in 11 countries around the world.

This follows Viking's successful model of acquiring, supporting and sustaining utility aircraft programs, including manufacturing the world-renowned Twin Otter Series 400 aircraft.

Viking will support the worldwide amphibious aircraft program from a newly acquired and specially repurposed 50,000 square foot facility in Calgary. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

The world-renowned Bombardier 415 waterbomber is a key part of Canada's rich aerospace heritage. The amphibious waterbomber was originally developed by Canadair in the 1960s, and has its origins in flying boats used in World War II.

The original version, the CL-215, had its maiden flight in 1967 and went into production in 1969. The aircraft was later advanced by Bombardier into the 415 which was introduced in 1994.

Recognized as the best aerial firefighting aircraft in the world, the Bombardier 415 - also known as the SuperScooper - needs only 12 seconds to scoop its 6,137-litre load while skimming at high speed over water.

The aircraft is a key strategic asset for government and community firefighting efforts in Canada and around the world. While primarily a firefighting aircraft, these have multi-mission capabilities, including for uses like maritime patrol, and search and rescue.

Viking's acquisition of the amphibious aircraft program from Bombardier builds on a long history between the two companies. Viking's collaborative relationship with Bombardier began with spare parts manufacturing for the Beaver and Otter aircraft, growing until Viking became a key supplier of structural sheet metal parts and assemblies for the Twin Otter as well.

Bombardier's Customer Service Centre for out-of-production de Havilland aircraft was transferred to Viking in 2005, allowing Viking to work directly with operators for supply of new parts and technical support, and in 2006 Viking acquired the Type Certificates (manufacturing rights) from Bombardier for the Twin Otter and all out-of-production de Havilland aircraft.

In 2007, Viking brought the Twin Otter Series 400 into production. Viking has booked sales of more than 150 new aircraft, and its 100th aircraft is scheduled for delivery in July 2016.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Airbus Helicopters tests HForce equipped H225M

Airbus Helicopters has recently completed a first round of firing tests with HForce, a generic weapon system in development for the company’s commercial helicopter range.

The innovative system, which includes a central core unit, Thales’ Scorpion monocular helmet mounted sight display (HMSD), an electro-optical system (EOS) from Wescam as well as gunner armament weapon grips and weapon pods, has been undergoing testing for the past five months.

From May 25th to June 3rd, a firing campaign involving an HForce-equipped H225M took place on a dedicated range in Belgium. This allowed Airbus Helicopters to demonstrate the performance of HForce with ballistic weapons, including 12,7 mm guns, 70 mm rockets as well as 20 mm cannons.

“This important milestone, achieved on time, demonstrates that HForce achieves excellent results above specifications, and that it provides a real added value in terms of target tracking and acquisition for day or night missions, thanks to the EOS and HMSD”, said Jean-Luc AndrĂ©, HForce Program Manager.

HForce, whose development was launched two years ago, is an incremental, affordable, plug n’ play weapon management system that can be fitted onto any military version of Airbus Helicopters commercial range (H125M, H145M, H225M).

HForce is designed to meet the requirements of defense agencies seeking light attack mission capabilities or a complement to their existing fleet of specialized attack helicopters.

Wreckage of EgyptAir Flight MS 804 located in Mediterranean sea

A month after crash, wreckage of the EgyptAir Flight MS 804 bound from Paris to Cairo has been located in the Mediterranean Sea, Egyptian investigators said.

The search vessel John Lethbridge – one of two ships contracted by the Egyptian Government for locating the wreckage , found several wreckage locations on the sea floor between Crete and the Egyptian coast.

Based on the wreckage locations, The search team and investigators onboard of the vessel will draw a map for the wreckage distribution spots.

Earlier on June 1, the second search vessel LaPlace had detected signals from MS 804's black box, which was to stop transmitting on June 24.

The black boxes are located some 3,000 meters (10,000 feet) below the sea level and will need signals to within a few meters to pinpoint its position.

The Airbus A320 carrying 66 passengers and crew members crashed into the sea on May 19, shortly after entering Egyptian airspace.

French aviation safety agency BEA had earlier revealed that the Flight MS 804 had transmitted automated messages indicating smoke in the cabin and a fault in the flight control unit, minutes before losing radar contact.

USAF deploys APKWS on F-16 and A-10 aircraft

U.S. Air Force has deployed BAE Systems’ Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System (APKWSTM) laser-guided rockets on its fixed-wing platforms for the first time.

The initial units were deployed onboard USAF's F-16 fighter and A-10 ground attack aircraft to fulfil an urgent operational need in the ongoing combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The APKWS already arms USAF's Apache attack helicopter and the deployment comes on the heels of the U.S. Marine Corps fielding the rockets on AV-8B Harrier fixed-wing aircraft.

The APKWS rocket, a mid-body guidance kit that transforms a standard unguided munition into a precision laser-guided rocket, has proven highly successful for the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps since 2012 and has also been used by U.S. Army Apache helicopters in combat.

 “The APKWS rocket’s innovative ‘plug and play’ design makes it possible to deploy these systems on a variety of platforms,” said David Harrold, director of precision guidance solutions at BAE Systems.

“The Navy and Air Force deserve immense credit for streamlining the acquisition process by leveraging an existing Navy program of record to meet the needs of all our military services. We are confident that the addition of this highly accurate, low-collateral-damage weapon system will be a game-changer for F-16 and A-10 users in the U.S. Air Force and around the world ".

Similar to the Army’s acquisition of APKWS last year, the Air Force is acquiring its initial supply of rockets out of the current Navy inventory and is working with BAE Systems and the Navy to secure additional units to meet ongoing demands.

Currently in its fourth year of full-rate production and qualified or demonstrated on more than a dozen rotary and fixed-wing platforms, the APKWS rocket is the only U.S. Department of Defense fully qualified, guided 2.75-inch rocket that uses semi-active laser guidance technology.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Turkey signs contract for local production of T70 helicopter

Turkey has signed agreements to begin license production of the Sikorsky S-70i Black Hawk helicopters under its Turkish Utility Helicopter Program (TUHP).

The agreements were signed between the Turkish Undersecretariat for Defence Industries (SSM), Turkish Aerospace Industries Inc. (TAI) as prime contractor, Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. as major subcontractor and three key Turkish aerospace contractors (Aselsan, TEI and Alp Aviation).

The Turkish built S-70i dubbed T70, will be operated by Turkish Land Forces, Turkish Air Force, General Command of Gendarme, Special Forces, Turkish National Police, and the General Directorate of Forestry.

Under the program, TUHP prime contractor Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) and TUHP subcontractors Sikorsky, Aselsan, TEI and Alp Aviation will manufacture and deliver 109 T70 helicopters over the next 10 years.

TAI will be responsible for manufacturing, final assembly operations, tests and integrated logistics support of all airframe structures and composite rotor blades.

The T700 turboshaft engine will be build by Turkish Engine Industries (TEI) under a license from General Electric (GE). Aselsan will develop and integrate basic avionics and will co-develop with Sikorsky an enhanced digital cockpit known as the Integrated Modular Avionics System (IMAS). Alp Aviation will carry out production and assembly of landing gears, gearbox and dynamic components.

Turkey's Defence Industry Executive Committee has reported a total program value of $3.5 billion, inclusive of the work to be performed by TAI, Sikorsky and other TUHP partners.

The twin engined S-70 first flew in 1974 and is currently being built by Sikorsky's Polish subsidiary PZL Mielec. Developed in mulitiple variants including Naval, the S-70 forms the backbone of U.S. military's utility helicopter fleet and numerous other export customers.

Image: An Australian Army S-70A helicopter

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Russia grounds Su-27 fleet after deadly crash

Russia grounded its entire fleet Su-27 fighter jets following a deadly crash on Thursday.

Viktor Bondarev, head of Russian Air Force ordered the grounding until reasons for the crash had been determined.

The Su-27 fighter jet part of the famous Russian aerobatic display team " Russian Knights" crashed near the village of Muranovo in the Moscow Region on Thursday morning.

Russian Defense Ministry said the pilot was unable to eject as he steered the aircraft away from populated area.

"According to preliminary data, a technical failure caused the crash of the Su-27 plane of the Russian Aerospace Force," the press office said in a statement.

The formidable Su-27 is a highly-manoeuvrable fighter designed for air-superiority and ground attack missions, forms the backbone of Russian fighter fleet operating around 300 of these twin engined multi role aircraft.

The Russian Knight team performs with four Su-27Ps and two twin seat Su-27UBs.

Safran engines to power South Korean helicopters

South Korea has selected French Safran Helicopter Engines (formerly Turbomeca) to supply engines for its Light Civil Helicopter (LCH) and Light Armed Helicopter (LAH) programs being developed by Korean Aerospace Industries (KAI).
The LCH will be powered with the existing Arriel 2C2 turboshaft engine and the LAH will feature a new engine designated Arriel 2L2.

Safran and Hanwha Techwin have signed an agreement for the joint-development and the manufacturing of the Arriel 2L2 in South-Korea.

Hanwha Techwin will perform license-production of the engine: it will manufacture major parts and will perform the final assembly and tests in its plant in Changwon before delivery to KAI.

Hanwha Techwin will also be responsible of the MRO of the Arriel 2L2 for the LAH.

Derived from the Arriel 2N, the Arriel 2L2 features a combination of new and proven technologies. Compared to the previous Arriel 2 generation, it has a new axial compressor, new high-pressure compressor diffuser, new high-pressure turbine material and new-generation dual-channel Fadec.

Certified in 2002, the Arriel 2C2 already powers Airbus Helicopters H155.

During the past 40 years, over 12,000 Arriel units have been produced, together logging more than 45 million flight hours. With power outputs ranging from 650 to 1024 shp, the Arriel family now powers over 40 different helicopter types.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Air National Guard F-16s collide mid-air

Two F-16 fighter jets assigned to the South Carolina Air National Guard’s 169th Fighter Wing crashed at approximately 9:15 p.m. tonight over a military operating area in Jefferson County, Georgia.

The pilots of each of the single-seat aircraft ejected safely after a mid-air collision while performing routine night-flying operations.

Local first responders are securing the area and providing emergency response services. There have been no reports of injuries on the ground.

An initial safety board has been activated and the U.S. Air Force will be conducting a detailed safety investigation.

On May 26, two U.S. Navy Super Hornet fighter jets were involved in a mid air collision during a routine training flight. Pilot of the two jets ejected to safety.

New Russian MC-21 single aisle passenger jet unveiled

Irkut Corporation rolled out the first prototype of Russia's new narrow-body passenger jet dubbed the MC-21-300 from its Irkutsk aircraft plant today.

The rollout ceremony was attended by Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich and Dmitry Rogozin, Industry and Trade Minister Denis Manturov and Irkut president Oleg Demchenko.

The first flight of the flight test prototype named after Soviet aircraft designer Alexander Sergeyevich Yakovlev will be carried out by year end or early 2017.

The MC-21-300 is the baseline model of the MC-21 aircraft family that can seat from 150 to 211 passengers and is the second new generation passenger jet developed in Russia after the Sukhoi SuperJet regional jet which can seat up to 100.

The MC-21 will replace the older Russian built Tu-154 and Tu-204 airliners and will also compete with the Western single aisle market leaders Airbus A320 and Boeing 737 jets.

The aircraft has two powerplant options and the prototype is powered by the Pratt & Whitney's PW1400G geared turbofan engines. A new generation Russian engine, PD-14 is being developed by the United Engine Corporation.

The engine is under flight testing and is expected to achieve Russian certification in 2018-19, followed by European EASA certification.

The aircraft features an all-composite high aspect ratio wing, made of polymer composite materials, first for a Russian airliner. Overall, composites accounts 30 percent of the airframe.

The MC-21 is equipped with an advanced avionics system and ushers active sidestick controllers into the commercial aircraft cockpit.

The MC-21-300 is largest variant of the family and can seat up to seat up to 211 passengers with a range of 5,900 km. In the standard two-class layout, the -300 will seat 163 passengers (16 in business class and 147 in the economy one).

The MC-21-200 version will have fuselage shortened by 5.5 m and can carry up to 176 passengers to a distance of 6,000 km (135 in the two-class layout, including 12 in business class, and 153 in the standard single-class layout with the 32-inch pitch).

The MC-21-300 have a maximum takeoff weight of 79,250 kg, while the MC-21-200's MTOW is 72,390 kg.

Series production is expected to begin in 2017, with Irkut receiving orders for 175 aircraft.

To build the MC-21, the Irkutsk Aviation Plant have been modernized with an advanced automated machine assembly line equipped with positioning and laser measuring systems.

Delivery to launch customer Aeroflot is scheduled for fourth quarter of 2018 end who have 50 on order.

Lessors VEB-Leasing and Ilyushin Finance have 30 and 50 aircraft on order respectively. A preliminary agreement to supply 10 aircraft has been signed with Egyptian Cairo Aviation.

First Polish M-346 trainer rolled out

Leonardo (ex-Alenia Aermacchi) rolled out the first of eight M-346 advanced trainer jet for Polish Air Force its facility in Venegono-Superiore (near Varese), Italy.

The event was attended by the Polish Deputy Defense Minister, Bartosz Kownacki, the State Under Secretary to the Ministry of Defence, Gioacchino Alfano, and by the Managing Director of Leonardo-Finmeccanica Aircraft, Filippo Bagnato.

The first of 8 Aermacchi M-346 advanced trainers ordered by Poland in 2014 will now undergo a flight test programme to certify bespoke systems chosen by the Polish Air Force such as the brake parachute.

The aircraft will be delivered by the end of the year along with a second aircraft. Deliveries will be completed by November 2017.

The M-346s will enter into service with the 4th Training Wing Squadron at Poland’s Deblin base.

With the M-346, the base aims to become an international hub for the training of military pilots.

The contract also includes logistic support, a training program for pilots and engineers and a ground-based training system with dedicated classrooms and educational materials.

The M-346 has been ordered by the Air Forces of Italy (18), Singapore (12), Israel (30) and Poland (8) for a total of 68 orders.

An advanced variant of the M-346, dubbed the T-100 will be offered for US Air Force's Advanced Pilot Training (APT) competition to replace its legacy fleet of Northrop F-5 trainer jets.

Lockheed Martin wins new C-130J airlifter order

U.S. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center's Mobility Directorate signed a multiyear contract with Lockheed Martin to procure 78 C-130J Super Hercules with the option to buy up to 83 over the next five years.

The agreement is the second multi-year contract for the C-130J and it saves the Defense Department about $680 million and provides the Air Force, Navy and Coast Guard with important airlift capabilities.

Acquisition experts from the Mobility Directorate negotiated for three years to finalize the details of the contract which will provide new aircraft to replace legacy C-130H models and add to the J models currently in the Air Force fleet.

The J model is an improvement on previous models in that it brings enhanced avionics and propulsion systems to the fight, providing additional aircraft range, higher maximum speed and shorter takeoff distance.

The benefit of multiyear contracts versus year-to-year contracts is that they provide stability and cut costs. It allows Lockheed to sign long term supplier agreements and commitments, and invest in new equipment to produce the aircraft.

The contract also funds an affordability program in which Lockheed receives $35 million up front and agrees to $65 million in labor reductions over the life of the contract, which according to Fountain will allow the company to assemble the aircraft more efficiently.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Lockheed Martin's T-50A completes maiden flight

The T-50A advanced jet trainer developed jointly by Lockheed Martin and Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) successfully completed its first flight test on Thursday.

The trainer is being developed to compete in U.S. Air Force’s Advanced Pilot Training competition to replace its fleet of vintage F-5 trainer jets with a fifth generation trainer.

The maiden flight of the T-50A configured aircraft was carried out from Sachenon, South Korea, which lasted 50 minutes and was jointly piloted by KAI's chief test pilot Lee Dong-gyu and Lockheed Martin T-50A lead test pilot Mark Ward.

“The aircraft in its new configuration with the 5th Gen cockpit and other upgrades performed flawlessly,” said Mark Ward, Lockheed Martin T-50A lead test pilot, after his flight in Sacheon, South Korea.

“I have no doubt this aircraft will close the gap which currently exists between the trainer fleet and 5th Generation fighters.”

The T-50A is low risk and ready now. It builds on the proven heritage of the T-50 with more than 100 T-50s flying today—100,000 flight hours and counting—and more than 1,000 pilots trained.

Lockheed claims the T-50A is the only contestant that meets all APT requirements on schedule and at the lowest risk to the customer.

Lockheed Martin teams studied clean-sheet alternatives and determined they pose prohibitive risk to APT cost and schedule requirements. The T-50A delivers the performance and capabilities needed to prepare pilots to fly, fight and win with 5th Generation fighter aircraft.

Lockheed Martin is currently standing up its T-50A Final Assembly and Checkout site in Greenville, South Carolina.

The accompanying T-50A Ground-Based Training System features innovative technologies that deliver an immersive, synchronized ground-based training platform.

Boeing has partnered with Swedish Saab to develop a clean -sheet design for the APT competition. Italian Leonardo (ex-Alenia Aermacchi) has partnered with Raytheon to offer an advanced variant of its M-346 trainer. Northrop is also developing a clean sheet design.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Second MRJ prototype takes to air

Second flight test aircraft (FTA-2) of the Mitsubishi Regional Jet (MRJ), their next-generation regional jet has completed its maiden flight on Tuesday.

FTA-2 took off from Nagoya Airport and confirmed its basic characteristics and functionality in airspace off the Pacific coast. FTA-2 will carry out flight tests primarily to confirm MRJ’s performances in the future.

“As with the first flight conducted with MRJ’s FTA-1 in November of last year, we had a quiet, smooth first flight with FTA-2,” said Hiromichi Morimoto, President, Mitsubishi Aircraft Corporation. “After this, we will move ahead smoothly with development of the subsequent flight test aircraft, and make our utmost efforts towards type certificate acquisition and the first delivery.”

Mitsubishi Aircraft and MHI are scheduled to establish their main base for flight testing this summer at Grant County International Airport at Moses Lake in Washington State.

They are committed to accelerating the development of the MRJ toward the first delivery in mid-2018.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Prototype Piaggio HammerHead UAV crashes

In a major blow to the Italian aircraft manufacturer Piaggio Aerospace, the prototype P.1HH HammerHead UAV has crashed to sea while flight testing near Sicily on Tuesday.

Based on Piaggio's P180 Avanti II business jet, the medium altitude long endurance UAV was operating from Vincenzo Florio airport in Trapani, Sicily.

Six and eight examples of the surveillance UAV has been ordered by Italian and UAE Air Forces respectively.

Crash of the only flying prototype will delay delivery, which was scheduled for 2018.

The aircraft can be equipped with EO/IR (Electro-Optical Infra-Red) cameras, radar and advanced communications systems required for long range surveillance missions.

Piaggio claims the HammerHead to be first advanced European MALE UAV, superior than the American Predator and Israeli Heron UAVs as it has the redundancy of two engines, de-icing and faster at 400 knots speed.

The prototype first flew in December 2015 and the program had clocked more than 100 flight hours, which earlier had an technology demonstrator aircraft.

The P.1HH features automatic take-off and landing capabilities, making it able to fly up to 45,000 feet, with an outstanding endurance of 16 flight hours. 

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

ILA 2016: Airbus reveals X3 successor plans

Airbus helicopters revealed its X3 compound helicopter successor plans at the ILA 2016 airshow in Berlin.

Building upon the achievements of the company-funded and record-breaking X3 technology demonstrator, the Airbus Helicopters Clean Sky-demonstrator will help refine the “compound” aerodynamic configuration and bring it closer to an operational design, to meet the future requirement for increased speed, better cost-efficiency, as well dramatic reductions of emission and acoustic footprints.

Airbus Helicopters earlier this year passed an important milestone in the development of the high-speed, compound helicopter demonstrator currently being built as part of the Clean Sky 2 European research program.

A mockup of the breakthrough airframe design has just undergone windtunnel testing in an Airbus facility. The tests proved the viability of the chosen design in terms of efficiency, sustainability and performance, paving the way for a preliminary design review expected end of 2016.

Meanwhile, the overall project has passed its first official milestone involving all core partners by reaching the end of its pre-design phase.

Flight-testing of the prototype is expected to start in 2019.

Development of the Clean Sky 2-demonstrator relies on a wide European network of industrial partners who are bringing their technical skills and know-how to the project.

While Airbus Helicopters facilities in France, Germany, Spain and Poland are involved in areas such as structural and mechanical design, other countries like Romania, Italy and the United Kingdom also highly contribute their expertise through a large number of design and manufacturing work packages.

From its maiden take-off in September 2010 to its retirement in 2013, the X3 fully validated Airbus Helicopters’ hybrid concept, using a pair of turboshaft engines to power both a five-blade helicopter main rotor and two propellers installed on short-span fixed wings.

During more than 155 hours logged by the aircraft in 199 flights, milestones achieved included a level flight speed of 255 knots (472 km/hr) on June 7, 2013 – surpassing previous high speeds reached by a helicopter.

LEAP powered A320neo achieve EASA-FAA certification

The CFM International’s LEAP-1A engine powered Airbus A320neo, received on-schedule the Type Certification from the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on Tuesday.

This certification paves the way for the delivery of the first A320neo equipped with this second engine type in mid-2016. This award follows by six months the initial Certificate of Airworthiness received from the EASA and FAA for the A320neo, powered by the Pratt & Whitney engine option.

The first A320neo was delivered on 20th January 2016.

The two LEAP-powered aircraft assigned to the flight test campaign have now successfully accumulated over 1,000 flight hours in more than 350 flights – including 150 flight hours completed with the same aircraft in an airline-like environment to ensure operational maturity at entry into service.

Certification of the remaining aircraft/engine variants with LEAP engines will follow in the coming months. When all flight testing has been completed, the NEO development fleet (with both engine options) will have achieved a combined total of 3,000 flight hours.

The A320neo Family aircraft offers the lowest operating costs of any single-aisle aircraft delivering 15% fuel burn per seat reduction at entry into service in 2016, and a 20% reduction by 2020.

The A320neo Family offers airlines an engine choice between the Pratt & Whitney Pure Power PW1100G-JM and the CFM LEAP-1A engines. With one aircraft in three sizes (A319neo, A320neo, A321neo), the A320neo Family, seating from 100 to 240 passengers, allows operators to match the right aircraft size to demand and seamlessly covers the entire single-aisle segment on low to high-density domestic to longer range routes up to 4,000nm. T

Since its launch on 1st December 2010, the A320neo Family has received a tremendous market endorsement with more than 4,500 orders from over 82 customers, representing some 60 percent share of the market.

GE F414 to power South Korean KF-X fighter

South Korea has selected GE Aviation to supply GE F414 turbofan engine to power its homegrown next generation fighter dubbed the KF-X.

 On May 26, South Korea’s Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) announced GE Aviation as the preferred bidder to supply engine.

In a statement, DAPA said GE Aviation scored highest in all four main criteria for the contract: technology, costs, localization and management. The F414-GE-400-powered KF-X will deliver significantly greater mission capability, extended combat radius and longer lifespan compared to current aircraft.

The multi-role KF-X aircraft will be designed and built by Korea Aerospace Industries Ltd (KAI), which partners with Lockheed Martin Corp. to develop the $7.4 billion project.

The KF-X will be a single seat, twin engined fighter featuring a domestically produced AESA radar, better electronic warfare system, IRST, supercruise and basic stealth capabilities

The KF-X aircraft will replace Korea’s F-4D/E Phantom II and F-5E/F Tiger II fleet. The development program is scheduled to be completed in 2026, which includes the production of six prototype fighters by 2021.

During the production phase, 120 KF-X aircraft are slated for production serving the South Korean and Indonesian armed forces, helping extend planned F414 engine production through 2032.

The F414 engine continues to be enthusiastically received throughout the global defense community. In addition to the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, variants of the F414 engine have been selected to power the Mk2 version of the Tejas Light Combat Aircraft in India and the Saab Gripen E aircraft.

In 1991, GE began studies to develop an engine for an upgraded F/A-18—which was then powered by GE’s F404 engine—with increased range and operational capability. In 1998, the F414 entered service, delivering 25% more thrust by combining the engine core (compressor, combustor, high-pressure turbine) of GE’s F412 with an enhanced low pressure system . The F414 engine is rated at 22,000 pounds (98 kN) thrust and is in the 9:1 thrust-to-weight ratio class.

GE is pursuing development of the F414 Enhanced Engine variant, which incorporates an increased flow, all-blisk fan, new 6-stage high-pressure compressor and improved turbine capability. With the support of the United States Navy, multiple rig and ground engine tests have been completed. Benefits of the Enhanced Engine include: 20% thrust growth, reduced fuel burn and increased bleed and horsepower extraction to support additional aircraft requirements.

In 2006, Saab selected a modified F414 to add range and other advanced capabilities to their new Gripen E. The Gripen E will power 60 aircraft for Sweden and 36 aircraft for Brazil. The production Gripen E is powered by the F414-39E derivative of the F414.

GE delivered its first F414 engines for the Saab Gripen E fighter, which rolled out on May 18, 2016. The Saab Gripen E will make its first flight before the end of 2016, according to Saab. Initial operational capability is planned for 2021.

In October 2010, the F414-INS6 derivative of the F414 was selected to power India’s LCA Mk2 aircraft. First engine to test occurred in 2014. India expects to purchase up to 99 installed engines.

In December 2014, GE successfully tested the world’s first non-static set of light-weight, ceramic matrix composite (CMC) parts by running rotating low-pressure turbine blades for 500 endurance cycles in a F414 turbofan demonstrator engine designed to further validate the heat-resistant material for high-stress operation in GE’s next-generation Adaptive Engine Technology Demonstrator (AETD) program, currently in development with the United States Air Force Research Lab (AFRL).

In June 2015, GE Aviation delivered its 1,500th F414 engine and surpassed more than 3 million flight hours powering the United States Navy’s F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and EA-18G Growler aircraft.