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American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics

Industry News

It’s an Aerospace World. Looking for the latest headlines in the aerospace industry? This is the place to find it. And, on the outside chance we don’t have what you’re looking for, email Lawrence Garrett, AIAA web editor, and he’ll find somebody to help.

*For member access to the AIAA Daily Launch, please log in to MyAIAA, navigate to “Access Publications & Materials” and select “Daily Launch.” The AIAA Daily Launch, distributed to AIAA members each weekday morning, is a digest of the most important aerospace news selected from thousands of sources by the editors of Bulletin Media.


12 February 2019
NASA Spacecraft To Prepare For Mars 2020 Rover Landing

MAVEN-NASACNET News reports that “in preparation for the launch of its next Mars rover, NASA is undertaking some quick, interplanetary KonMari.” NASA wants to have the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN (MAVEN) spacecraft operate “as a communications relay for the Mars 2020 rover mission.” The spacecraft “has been orbiting Mars since September 2014, occasionally dipping into the Martian atmosphere to study how it has changed over time,” but NASA is “going to tidy up its orbit just a little.” (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (CNET News)


12 February 2019
Oklahoma Measure Seeks To Regulate UAVs Over Private Property

Drone_Over_Neighborhood_AP_PurchasedThe AP reports that Oklahoma lawmakers are considering legislation to ban UAVs over private property in rural areas. Oklahoma state Sen. Casey Murdock (R) said that the proposed bill “would govern drones flying at 400 feet (120 meters) or lower” and have an exemption for rural Oklahoma residents. Said Murdock, “For me right now, this is a private property rights issue and a privacy issue.” The bill would also need to allow for commercial energy and weather UAV usage. (Image Credit: Associated Press–©)
More Info (Associated Press)


11 February 2019
Delta’s First Airbus A220 Has New Technologies

AirbusA220_WikiAvionics International reported that Delta Air Lines’ Airbus A220 aircraft has a major avionics fly-by-wire software system upgrade that enables CATIII operations capabilities. In remarks to Avionics International, Airbus A220 Program Head of Engineering Rob Dewar said that the system “was designed to provide a dedicated heads up display guidance and aural cues to the flight crew to ease handling of the landing.” The A220 also has “a suite of new pilot tablet integration functionality [in] the aircraft’s avionics data bus” with the option of having the Esterline CMC aircraft information server, “an integrated information management system and network connectivity.”(Image Credit: Delta News Hub [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons)
More Info (Avionics International)


11 February 2019
National Defense Could Benefit Alabama’s Space Industry

small-satellites-NASAThe Houston Chronicle reported that government space programs in Huntsville, Alabama, such as Blue Origin and Aeroject Rocketdyne are expanding with new jobs and new facilities due to national defense and telecommunications funding in the billions of dollars. Projects would include “an array of initiatives such as communications satellites, possibly armed satellites, and even satellite clusters that may one day become home to the internet.” United Launch Alliance CEO Tory Bruno said, “The idea is the internet being based in space instead of here and based on fiber optics as it is today.”(Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (Houston Chronicle)


8 February 2019
Safran Opens Turbine Blade Research Center Near Paris

Dassault-RafaleFlightGlobal reports that Safran Aircraft Engines opened a new turbine blade research center “at its Gennevilliers site near Paris.” According to the manufacturer, the facility is capable of performing “all development work necessary for next-generation very-high-performance turbine blades” for military and commercial engines used in fixed- and rotary-wing aircraft. Around 30 engineers and experts will focus on “multi-disciplinary design, single-crystal casting, 3D-printed ceramic blade cores, thermal coatings, cooling circuits, digitised processes, self-adapting micro-drilling, and non-destructive testing based on artificial intelligence.” Safran cited a project to develop enhanced turbine blades to “improve aircraft dispatch reliability” for the company’s Snecma M88 engines, which are used on the Dassault Rafale. The center will also work on “blades for the engine that will power France and Germany’s planned joint Future Combat Air System (FCAS), which will be jointly developed by Safran and MTU Aero Engines.” (Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons)
More Info (FlightGlobal)


8 February 2019
Delta Celebrates First Flights Of P&W-Powered Airbus A220

AirbusA220_WikiCNBC reports that the first flights of Delta’s first Airbus A220 jet “took off Tuesday morning from New York’s LaGuardia Airport with one flight to Boston and another to Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport.” Equipped with new “Pratt and Whitney geared turbofan engines, the A220s have higher fuel efficiency compared with other models, a key selling point for carriers whose second-largest expense after labor is fuel.” Another key selling point for the aircraft is its range of “nearly 3,400 miles.” According to Teal Group Vice President Richard Aboulafia, “Compared to everything else in its size class it’s unprecedented.” Delta ordered 75 of the jets from Bombardier in April 2016, and last month, the carrier “increased its order for the planes and added some of the larger model, the A220-300, for a total of 90 A220 jets.”(Image Credit: Delta News Hub [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons)
More Info (CNBC)


6 February 2019
Orion’s Launch Abort System Test Delayed

NASAOrion2018The Houston Chronicle reports that the recent government shutdown “continues to claim victims at NASA,” which is delaying a planned “emergency system test for the Orion spacecraft being built to take humans back to the moon.” NASA officials “confirmed this week that the launch of the Orion test module, previously scheduled for April from Cape Canaveral, Fla., would be delayed.” NASA hopes to determine a revised launch date next week. According to Orion Program Manager Mark Kirasich, the new date “is going to be past where we were, but it’s not going to be more than the duration of the shutdown.” The three-minute launch will test the module’s “primary safety feature, known as the launch abort system.” However, Kirasich said that the shutdown is not currently expected to affect Orion’s planned test flights. Once the launch abort test is complete, the “simplified” test module will not be reused, and additional capsules “for the unmanned and crewed missions are under construction.” (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (Houston Chronicle)


6 February 2019
Boeing Announces “Significant Investment” In Aerion’s Supersonic Business Jets

Aerion_SBJ_model_smallReuters reports that The Boeing Company announced Tuesday that it has made a sizable investment in “supersonic business jet developer Aerion, as the world’s biggest planemaker looks to tap into rising demand for high-end aircraft that can reduce travel time.” Boeing plans to provide engineering, manufacturing, “and flight testing services for Aerion’s $120 million supersonic business jet, which is slated for its first flight in 2023.” The aircraft is expected to fly at speeds “of up to Mach 1.4, or about 1,000 miles (1,610 km) per hour, 70 percent faster than conventional business jets.” GE Aviation recently “said it completed initial designs for the new Affinity turbofan engine, which will be used in Aerion’s AS2 jet, while Honeywell Aerospace has said it would develop the cockpit for the AS2.”(Image: Aerion SBJ model, background clipped Credit: Wikimedia Commons)
More Info (Reuters)


5 February 2019
Gulfstream Delays G600 Certification, “Ramping Up” PW800 Nacelle Production

Gulfstream-G500-Savannah-GA-HDQTRS-AP-PurchasedFlightGlobal reports that Gulfstream has “pushed back certification and service entry of the G600, blaming the 35-day partial shutdown of the US government for the delay.” The long-range business jet had been scheduled for validation in early 2019, but during a fourth quarter earnings call on January 30, Phebe Novakovic, CEO of Gulfstream parent company General Dynamics, “said the exact timing is now ‘hard to predict,’ given the impact of the shutdown on the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).” Gulfstream has outstanding trials “related to flight into known icing, function and reliability.” Novakovic is confident of securing approval before the end of June. The company is also “ramping up production of the nacelle system” for the Pratt & Whitney Canada PW800 engine, which “powers the G600 and its smaller sibling, the G500, which entered service in October.” (Image: Gulfstream G500 at its Savannah, GA headquarters. Credit: Associated Press-©)
More Info (FlightGlobal)


5 February 2019
Space Startup Investment Rose 29% In 2018

Falcon-Heavy-Launch-6Feb2018Space News reports that investment in space startups is continuing “at an accelerating rate, according to two firms that track activity in the sector.” Seraphim Capital data shows that venture capital “poured $3.25 billion into space technology companies in 2018, an increase of 29 percent.” In an annual report, Space Angels, “which unlike Seraphim does not include drone startups in its count, tallied $2.97 billion in space startup equity investments last year.” Space Angels “said 2018’s total counts for a sixth of all the equity capital invested in space companies since 2009.” Both firms identified launch services “as the single largest area of investment activity, totalling between $1.3 billion and $1.6 billion, according to their estimates.” According to Seraphim, European companies saw their share of global investment grow from 13 percent in 2017 to 18 percent, “with satellite and component manufacturing as a bright spot.” China accounted for 5 percent of “global space investment over the past 10 years, according to Space Angels.” (Image Credit: NASA Kennedy)
More Info (Space News)


4 February 2019
Boeing’s Starliner Spacecraft Will Be Ready For First Test Flight In March

Boeing_CST-100SPACE reported that The Boeing Company is on track to “launch its new astronaut taxi to the International Space Station (ISS)” in a test flight in March 2019. In remarks to Space.com during a Boeing space travel presentation, Boeing spokesperson Maribeth Davis indicated that “if this test flight goes according to plan, Boeing will be ready to launch its first crew of astronauts to the space station in August.” (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (SPACE)


1 February 2019
Bell Begins Flight Tests Of eVTOL Autonomous Pod Transport

Bell-Urban-Air-Taxi-Concept-AP-PurchasedAviation Week reports that Bell has begun flight tests of the “largest version yet of its tail-sitting electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) Autonomous Pod Transport (APT).” The vehicle will form a “key element of a NASA program” aimed at “paving the way for routine flights of unmanned air systems” in the US national airspace. (Image: Bell Helicopter's autonomous air taxi concept is displayed at CES International, Tuesday, Jan. 9, 2018, in Las Vegas. | Associated Press–©) /Jae C. Hong)
More Info (Aviation Week)


1 February 2019
China Plans More Than 30 Launches In 2019

Long-March-3B-Rocket-Launch-WikiSPACE reports that China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC), the Chinese space program’s main contractor, plans more than “30 launches in 2019, with major missions including the crucial return-to-flight of the heavy-lift Long March 5 rocket in July.” CASC announced Tuesday “that it would aim to loft more than 50 spacecraft on 30-plus launches this year.” The Long March 5 mission will carry the Shinjan-20 communications satellite into orbit, and if successful, the rocket “would then be used to launch the Chang’e-5 lunar sample return toward the moon in late 2019.” A “nominal return-to-flight” would also “clear the way for the test launch of the Long March 5B, a variant of the Long March 5 designed specifically for lofting the 20-metric ton modules of the planned Chinese Space Station (CSS) into low Earth orbit.” CASC did not release a “full, detailed launch manifest,” but known missions include launches of 10 additional Beidou navigation satellites and the Gaofen-7 Earth observation satellite. (Image: The launch of Long March 3B Rocket, Xichang Satellite Center, China. Credit: AAxanderr, Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0 | Wikipedia)
More Info (SPACE)


31 January 2019
Space Company Executives Optimistic About 2019

SpaceX-Launches-Inmersat-Sat-2017-AP-PurchasedSpace News reports that despite recent layoffs and a partial government shutdown, many companies “remain optimistic about the overall prospects for the space industry in the coming year.” In a panel discussion Wednesday at the Space Foundation, executives “from companies ranging from a launch startup to an established satellite operator talked up the state of the industry and their belief that it is poised for much faster growth in the near future.” Vector Director of Government Affairs Courtney Stadd called the current environment “an extraordinary time,” citing Air Force Space Command Commander Gen. Jay Raymond’s recent comment that it is an “inflection point” for the industry. Stadd argued that “what we’re witnessing in 2019 is a convergence of technologies, low cost, market changes, and so forth.” Made In Space President and CEO Andrew Rush admitted that the company “felt a pinch” from the shutdown, but with the shutdown over, “we’re putting our toe back on the pedal, but...not slamming it all the way to the floor.” NanoRacks Vice President of Business Development and Strategy Allen Herbert does not see the recent rounds of layoffs as a signal, and argued “that the marker is still vibrant.” Inmarsat Senior Vice President Rebecca Cowen-Hirsch believes that “what we’re seeing in space is prioritization.” (Image: A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lifts off from Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, FL, May 15, 2017. The satellite added to Inmarsat's Global Xpress network linking airplanes, ships and other mobile terminals with broadband Internet and data services. Credit: Associated Press–©)
More Info (Space News)


31 January 2019
US Air Force May Add UAVs, Helicopters To Light-Attack Experiment

MQ-1-Predator-USAFAir Force Times reports that the US Air Force’s light-attack experiment is “set to get a lot bigger, with the service considering adding drones, helicopters and more sophisticated aircraft to the mix in the future.” According to Gen. David Goldfein, the Air Force is seeking to understand the answers to questions such as: “What is the right mix of fixed wing, rotary wing, manned and unmanned that can do the business of light attack?” The Air Force is also considering how to “expand” the experiment to include US partners as well. Goldfein’s comments “hint that a lack of interest by partner nations may have shaped the decision not to press ahead with a program of record late last year.” Goldfein “said the Air Force chose not to release that RFP for two reasons: ongoing budget uncertainty and the desire to expand the parameters of what the service is seeking.” Goldfein added that light attack is not a central need of the Air Force, and will only be funded if upcoming budgets allow. Interoperability appears to have “taken on new importance as the experiment potentially moves forward.” (Image Credit: U.S. Air Force photo/Lt Col Leslie Pratt| Wikipedia)
More Info (Air Force Times)


30 January 2019
Avianca Plans To Use UAVs In Aircraft Maintenance Inspections

Donecle-drone-autonmous-inspection-wikiMRO Network reports that Colombian airline Avianca is planning to employ UAVs and cameras to perform some of its aircraft maintenance inspections. To date, the use of UAVs for such inspections “has not been approved for by any airframe OEM or regulatory authority for inspections.” As such, Avianca Vice President of Engineering and Maintenance Miguel Angel Montoya Estrada said, “So we are reviewing the state of [the] art and waiting for the approval of different authorities and aircraft manufacturers.” Estrada explained that the carrier is pursuing this strategy to reduce inspection time and improve quality by improving its precision in locating and evaluating damage. Avianca hopes that UAV inspection will also “reduce maintenance costs and facilitate the execution of inspection task cards.” Avianca is currently working with Airbus and Donecle and “testing their equipment.” The carrier “estimates that Donecle drones can reduce inspection time from eight hours to 30 minutes.” As Avianca seeks approvals, the carrier is also “completing the integration of the entire system as a line map, including the structural repair manual for mechanics, the 3D scanner and the drone.” (Image: Donecle drone performing an autonomous aircraft inspection. Credit: Josseli Bequet | Wikipedia)
More Info (MRO Network)


30 January 2019
SpaceX May Launch Falcon Heavy From KSC In Early March

Falcon-Heavy-AP The Orlando Sentinel reports that according to two new filings with the Federal Communications Commission, SpaceX “revealed it is targeting no earlier than March 7 for a second launch of its three booster, 27 engine Falcon Heavy rocket from Kennedy Space Center.” According to Monday’s filings, “SpaceX is targeting the six-month window between March 7 and Sept. 7.” (Image Credit: Associated Press–©)


28 January 2019
US Air Force Receives First Two Boeing KC-46 Tankers

BoeingKC-46Tanker_CreditBoeing CNBC reported that the US Air Force’s first two Boeing KC-46 tankers “touched down at McConnell Air Force base in Kansas on Friday after departing the company’s Everett, Washington, facility.” The delivery marks a “major milestone for the program, which is two years behind schedule and more than $3 billion over budget.” Boeing is expected to deliver around three tankers per month to the Air Force, which would total “approximately 36 aircraft by the end of the year.” Boeing plans to build a “total of 179 refueling aircraft to replace the Air Force’s aging tanker fleet.” The Air Force accepted the delivery “despite outstanding issues with the aircraft.” As a result, Boeing has “agreed to foot the bill for software and hardware upgrades for the camera system used in refueling operations, and the Air Force will finance the redesign of the tankers’ boom, which is used to deliver fuel to an aircraft.” The Air Force plans to withhold 20 percent of Boeing’s payment “until progress is made on aircraft deficiencies.” Speaking in an interview, Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson said that there are “always technical issues when you take a new weapons system like this, and actually there are fewer technical issues than there are on most major procurements that we do.” Wilson added that with Boeing’s corrective actions, the Air Force is “ready to take the next step, which is operational test and evaluation, and get these aircraft in the hands of our airmen.” (Image Credit: Boeing)
More Info (CNBC)


28 January 2019
ISRO Successfully Launches Military Satellite In First Mission Of 2019

ISRO-launch-Nov-2018-AP-Purchased SPACE reported that India launched its first rocket of 2019 on Thursday, “lifting two payloads into orbit: a military imaging satellite and a student-built orbital laboratory.” The ISRO Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) launched from India’s Satish Dhawan Space Centre. The launch was the “first time this rocket was used in conjunction with two strap-on boosters.” The rocket’s main payload deployed, followed by the fourth stage and the Kalamsat-V2 cubesat laboratory. The project will measure the “performance of student-designed communications, electronics and solar panels.” India plans to launch the next PSLV in February. (Image: Rocket lifts off from Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, India, Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2018. Credit: Associated Press–©)
More Info (SPACE)


24 January 2019
Boeing’s Self-Flying Taxi Prototype Completes First Test Flight

Voyager-2-NASA Reuters reports that The Boeing Company said Wednesday that its flying car prototype “hovered briefly in the air during an inaugural test flight, a small but significant step as the world’s largest planemaker bids to revolutionize urban transportation and parcel delivery service.” The 30-foot-long hybrid aircraft, “part helicopter, part drone, and part fixed-wing plane,” lifted a “few feet off the ground and made a soft landing after less than a minute of being airborne on Tuesday.” John Langford, president and CEO of Boeing subsidiary Aurora Flight Sciences, said in a statement announcing the test flight, “This is what revolution looks like, and it’s because of autonomy.” Future flights will test “forward, wing-borne flight.” Major hurdles to Boeing’s “low-stress” mobility push include “sorting out numerous critical safety and regulatory issues to meld traditional roadway traffic with fleets of flying cars.” The company plans to test a “package-hauling version” of the aircraft with the ability to carry up to 500 pounds later this year. (Image: Boeing autonomous passenger air vehicle. Credit: Boeing)
More Info (Reuters)


24 January 2019
Blue Origin To Open Alabama Rocket Engine Plant Friday

Voyager-2-NASA The AP reports that Blue Origin plans to celebrate the groundbreaking of a new rocket engine production facility Friday in Huntsville, Alabama. The plant will produce Blue Origin’s BE-4 engine, “which will power the next generation of rockets produced by United Launch Alliance in Decatur.” The engine will be powered “by liquid oxygen and liquefied natural gas,” and also will be used on the New Glenn rocket. (Image: Blue Origin BE-4 engine. Credit: N2e | Wikimedia Commons)
More Info (Associated Press)


23 January 2019
Bell-Boeing Joint Venture Wins $144 Million DLA V-22 Support Contract

Voyager-2-NASA GovCon Wire reports that a joint venture of The Boeing Company and Bell Helicopter won a potential $143.8 million Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) contract to “engineer and provide logistics support for the U.S. military’s V-22 Osprey tiltrotor planes.” The Bell Boeing Joint Program Office will “deploy field personnel and support equipment as well as perform maintenance planning, training and site activation for V-22 squadrons worldwide, Boeing said Friday.” (Image Credit: FOX 52 – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0 | Wikipedia)
More Info (GovCon Wire)


23 January 2019
Boeing 727 Makes Final Commercial Flight

Boeing-727-Aseman-Airlines-Wiki CNN reports that the “distinctive” Boeing 727 made its last passenger flight on a domestic Iranian route operated by Iran Aseman Airlines. (Image: Boeing 727; Iran Aseman Airlines. Credit: Konstantin von Wedelstaedt | Wikimedia Commons)
More Info (CNN)


22 January 2019
F-22 Receives First Metal 3D-Printed Component

F-22Raptor-Wiki UPI reported that a metallic 3D-printed component has been installed on an “operational F-22 Raptor for the first time, which the Air Force hopes will lower costs and reduce maintenance time.” The titanium cockpit part was “installed by the 574th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron at Hill Air Force Base in Utah on Wednesday,” and replaced a conventional aluminum component. According to 574th Squadron Director Robert Lewin, “One of the most difficult things to overcome in the F-22 community, because of the small fleet size, is the availability of additional parts to support the aircraft.” The Air Force “noted 3D printing allows for replacement parts on short notice without minimum order quantities.” The printed bracket was made from a titanium powder and is resistant to corrosion, replacing a “corrosion-prone aluminum component in the kick panel assembly of the cockpit.” The part can be “ordered and delivered to the depot in as soon as three days, the Air Force said.” At least five additional metal 3D-printed parts are “planned for validation on the F-22.”  (Image: F-22 Raptor. Credit: Rob Shenk from Great Falls, VA, USA | Wikipedia)
More Info (UPI)


22 January 2019
Blue Origin Reschedules New Shepard Test Flight

NewShepardLaunch_Apr2016_BlueOrigin Space News reported that Blue Origin rescheduled a test flight of the company’s “New Shepard suborbital vehicle for Jan. 22 as the company edges closer to flying people into space.” The company announced the new launch date for the NS-10 flight on Sunday. Blue Origin will launch the mission from a test site in West Texas. The flight will be the first for New Shepard “since a July 18 launch that tested the abort motor in the crew capsule.” The vehicle will carry “nine experiments provided by NASA’s Flight Opportunities program,” including “microgravity research payloads in fields like fluid dynamics and planetary science to technology demonstrations that will monitor conditions in the vehicle.” (Image: New Shepard launch, April 2015. Credit: Blue Origin | Wikipedia)
More Info (Space News)


18 January 2019
Collins Aerospace To Supply Flight Deck For NASA’s X-59A Supersonic Demonstrator

NASA-X-Plane Aviation Week reports that Collins Aerospace has been selected to supply the avionics for NASA’s “X-59A QueSST low-boom supersonic flight demonstrator, now under development by Lockheed Martin’s Skunk Works.” Collins will provide “flight-deck avionics and an enhanced vision system,” as well as assist Lockheed with “developmental engineering support to tailor its Pro Line Fusion avionics system to the requirements of the single-seat, Mach 1.4 X-59.” The companies plan to “jointly develop software applications for the flight-deck avionics.” Collins will also provide ARC-210 radios, a suite of “navigation and surveillance equipment,” and a “dual-camera multispectral infrared enhanced vision system, the EVS-3600.” (Image: artist’s concept of a possible QueSST x-plane design. Credit: Lockheed Martin via NASA)
More Info (Aviation Week)


18 January 2019
Blue Origin Shares Video Rendering Of Planned New Glenn Rocket Launches

NewShepardLaunch_Apr2016_BlueOrigin The Orlando Sentinel reports that Blue Origin has “shared a new video rendering of what launches would be like beginning in the company’s target date of 2021 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.” New Glenn launches will “take place at Launch Complex 36 for commercial, civil and national security customers, the company said.” The company is slated to “begin human launches this year, but has not set a date, and plans at least one more unmanned test before then.” (Image: Artist’s impression of a New Glenn launch. Credit: Kevin Gill | Wikipedia)
More Info (Orlando Sentinel)


17 January 2019
DIA: China Likely Developing Nuclear-Capable Long-Range Bomber, Space-Based Early Warning System

F-35A-LighteningII_USAF-Wiki.png Bloomberg News reports that the Defense Intelligence Agency “released a report Wednesday saying China is likely developing a long-range bomber capable of delivering nuclear weapons and a space-based early warning system it could use to more quickly respond to an attack.” (Image: One counter-strategy would involve the possible use of F-35 jets. Credit: US Air Force Master Sgt. Donald R. Allen | Wikipedia)
More Info (Bloomberg News)


17 January 2019
Iridium Satellite Network Enhances Aircraft Tracking Capability

Iridium-satellite-artistImpression-Iridium The Hill reports that the Iridium satellite network officially launched last week is “meant to make it impossible for commercial airplanes to go missing, according to a new CBS report.” The new Iridium Communications satellites “will have improved airplane-tracking abilities, which could reduce the number of flights that vanish per year.” Aireon CEO Don Thoma said in a CBS interview, “Seventy percent of the world’s airspace has no surveillance.” Iridium satellites contain an Aireon-manufactured system “built to surveil all airplanes on the globe.” (Image: Iridium satellite constellation. Credit: Iridium)
More Info (The Hill)


16 January 2019
Airbus Completes Second Vahana eVTOL Demonstrator

Vahana-AerospaceAmerica Aviation Week reports that Airbus’ A3 subsidiary has completed a second “Vahana electric vertical-takeoff-and-landing (eVTOL) technology demonstrator.” The Alpha 2 aircraft is “based at Pendleton, Oregon as a backup for the first Vahana, which is undergoing flight testing.” The first Vahana is undergoing transition testing, and “has not yet flown with the wings tilted fully down, says Eduardo Dominguez-Puerta, Airbus head of urban air mobility (UAM).” (Image Credit:  Aerospace America )
More Info (Aviation Week)


16 January 2019
Draft FAA Proposal Does Not Address Counter-UAV Technology

DJIPhantom_AP_Purchased Aviation Today reports that on Monday, the FAA released a “draft rulemaking proposal seeking feedback from the public on ways to limit the public safety and national security risks of operating small drones in the national airspace.” The advance notice is a step by the agency to “improve the integration of small unmanned aircraft systems...into the national airspace, permissions that were granted in August 2016 under an agency rule known as Part 107.” Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao “said the advanced notice will be published in the Federal Register as soon as possible.” The draft provides a series of “discussion points and questions related to safety and security risks around a number of subjects, including stand-off distances for UAS, limitations on altitude, speed and other performance characteristics, incorporation of unmanned traffic management (UTM) for small drones, payload restrictions, and critical system design requirements such as redundant power systems.” However, the notice does not address counter-UAV technologies. (Image: DJI Phantom 2. Credit: Associated Press–©)
More Info (Aviation Week)


15 January 2019
US Army Plans Small UAV Demonstration

GA-MQ-1C-Gray-Eagle-Wiki Aviation Week reports that the US Army plans to demonstrate a “small unmanned aircraft system (UAS) that can be launched from its manned helicopters and unmanned aircraft and controlled from the cockpit.” The Air Launched Effects (ALE) program “aims to develop a family of small UAS that would team with other manned and unmanned platforms to penetrate denied airspace and attack integrated air defense systems.” ALE will also support “interchangeable payloads” for a variety of mission profiles. The short-term demonstration’s goal is to “launch a minimum of four UAS from a Boeing AH-64 Apache helicopter hovering below 150 ft. above ground level (AGL) and a minimum of four from a General Atomics MQ-1C Gray Eagle flying at about 10,000 ft. AGL.” According to the request for information, ALE will “use artificial intelligence, operate semi-autonomously and will implement the commander’s intent through collaboration with other team members. They will not have continuous or near-continuous data links to the host platform.” (Image:General Atomics MQ-1C Gray Eagle. Credit: US Army | Wikipedia)
More Info (Aviation Week)


15 January 2019
China Exchanged Data On Lunar Landing With NASA

Change4-NASAThe AP reports that China exchanged data with NASA regarding its “recent mission to land a Chinese spacecraft on the far side of the moon, the Chinese space agency said Monday, in what was reportedly the first such collaboration since an American law banned joint space projects with China that do not have prior congressional approval.” Chinese space agency Deputy Director Wu Yanhua “said NASA shared information about its lunar orbiter satellite in hopes of monitoring the landing of the Chang’e 4 spacecraft, which made China the first country to land on the far side of the moon earlier this month.” Wu “added that while NASA’s satellite did not catch the precise moment of landing, it took photographs of the area afterward.” (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (Associated Press)


14 January 2019
Using UAVs And Satellite Imagery, US Farming Is Increasingly High-Tech On Both Industrial, Small Farms

UAV_Monitors_Idaho_Farm1_APThe New York Times reports that farming is “increasingly a high-tech endeavor,” as large industrial farms increasingly adopt technology such as GPS-guided combines, soil sensors, UAVs, satellite imagery, and supercomputers to aid food production. While most such technology is used in large-scale production, there is also a growing use of affordable robots and other machines on small, specialty, and family-owned farms. These machines reduce tedious labor and may “help persuade a younger generation to stay put on family farms rather than sell out.” (Image Credit: Associated Press–©)
More Info (New York Times)


14 January 2019
SpaceX Reveals Starship Test Rocket

SpaceX-Starship SPACE reported that the assembly of the “test-flight version of SpaceX’s Mars-colonizing Starship vehicle is now complete, SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk announced Thursday night.” Musk posted a photo of the vehicle to Twitter, and “said earlier [last] week that SpaceX aims to start such trial runs, which will take place at the Texas site near Brownsville, in the next four to eight weeks.” (Image Credit: Elon Musk/SpaceX via Twitter)
More info (SPACE)


7 January 2019
US Army Plans “Advanced Teaming” Demo For FVL Platforms

aircraft-teaming-USArmy Aviation Week reported that the US Army plans to demonstrate “advanced teaming technology that would enable manned and unmanned aircraft to operate as part of a combined-arms team in contested environments.” The Army plans to apply the demonstration for its planned Future Vertical Lift (FVL) platforms, “the Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft (FARA), Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft (FLRAA) and companion Advanced Unmanned Aircraft System (AUAS).” According to a draft solicitation, the teaming demo requires the development of new mission-system technologies, including “a digital backbone, advanced survivability and protection systems, enhanced lethal and nonlethal effectors, secure communications and networking, and highly advanced autonomy technologies.” The planned Advanced Teaming Demonstration will “mature, integrate and demonstrate technologies for autonomy and teaming to meet requirements for FARA, FLRAA, and AUAS as well as enhancing the capabilities of the current fleet.” (Image: Manned-unmanned teaming demonstration. Credit: US Army)
More Info (Aviation Weeksubscription publication)


7 January 2019
Boom Raises $100 Million For Overture Supersonic Airliner

Boom-Overture Aviation Week reported that Denver-based startup Boom Supersonic closed a “$100 million Series B investment round to finance continued work on its Mach 2.2 commercial airliner” called the Overture. “The 55-seat aircraft is planned to enter service in the mid-2020s.” Boom “has said it expects development of the Overture to cost about $6 billion.” (Image: Boom Overture. Credit: Boom)
More Info (Aviation Weeksubscription publication)


4 January 2019
Bell-Boeing Joint Venture Wins $23.3 Million NAVAIR V-22 Osprey Flight Test Sustainment Contract

V-22_Osprey_Wiki Defense Industry Daily reports that the Bell-Boeing joint venture has won a $23.3 million contract from Naval Air Systems Command to “provide flight test sustainment support to V-22 Osprey test, tiltrotor military aircraft.” Bell-Boeing will offer support and “provide analysis of light test for five MV-22 aircraft.” (Image: A V-22 Osprey flies a test mission. Credit: James Haseltine, U.S. Air Force | Wikipedia)
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4 January 2019
University Of North Dakota Announces “Major Industry Milestone” For Commercial UAV Use

DJIPhantom_AP_Purchased Defense Industry Daily reports that the Bell-Boeing joint venture has won a $23.3 million contract from Naval Air Systems Command to “provide flight test sustainment support to V-22 Osprey test, tiltrotor military aircraft.” Bell-Boeing will offer support and “provide analysis of light test for five MV-22 aircraft.” (Image: A V-22 Osprey flies a test mission. Credit: James Haseltine, U.S. Air Force | Wikipedia)
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3 January 2019
Rolls-Royce Plans To Break Electric Aircraft Speed Record In 2020

SiemensExtra330LE Aviation Week reports that Rolls-Royce revealed more details about a “light aircraft currently under development that it hopes will break the electric flight speed record in 2020.” The Accelerating the Electrification of Flight (Accel) project “builds on the company’s partnership with high-power motor developer YASA, start-up Electroflight and the UK’s Aviation Technology Institute announced at last year’s Farnborough Airshow.” Accel plans to “speed past the previous record of 210 mph (337.5km/h) set by Siemen’s electric-powered Extra 330LE aerobatic aircraft, set in March 2017, and achieve speeds of 300+mph.” Details released by Rolls-Royce “reveal the single-seat Accel monoplane with a wingspan of 24 ft (7.32m), will use a densely-packed 6,000 cell battery system capable of delivering 750kW of power.” The batteries power “three lightweight YASA 750R motors which Rolls-Royce says will deliver the equivalent of 500hp to the propeller.” (Image: Siemens’ Extra 330LE battery-powered plane. Credit: Siemens)
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3 January 2019
New Horizons Transmits Images Of Ultima Thule

Ultima-Thule-New-Horizons-NASAThe AP reports that NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft – currently 4 billion miles from Earth – “yielded its first close-up pictures Wednesday of the most distant celestial object ever explored, depicting what looks like a reddish snowman.” The icy space object Ultima Thule “was found to consist of two fused-together spheres, one of them three times bigger than the other, extending about 21 miles (33 kilometers) in length.” NASA Ames Research Center scientist Jeff Moore “said the two spheres formed when icy, pebble-size pieces coalesced in space billions of years ago.” Lead Jet Propulsion Laboratory scientist Alan Stern “noted that the team has received less than 1 percent of all the data stored aboard New Horizons.” NASA expects to receive the remaining data over two years. Clues about the “surface composition of Ultima Thule should start rolling in by Thursday.” Scientists suspect that the object’s “icy exterior is probably a mix of water, methane and nitrogen, among other things.” (Image Credit: NASA)
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2 January 2019
Boeing Preparing 777X For Flight Testing

Boeing-777-Folded-Wingtip-Credit-BoeingThe Seattle Times reported that assembly of The Boeing Company’s “first 777X flight test plane is all but complete.” Engineers and mechanics expect to “roll out this majestic jet for its public debut as early as February.” According to Boeing Vice President of 777 Operations Jason Clark, “In the next few weeks, we’ll be bringing the airplane to life.” The aircraft is powered by GE’s new GE-9X engines, the second of which will be installed in early 2019. The 777X will replace the 777-300ER, “an all-metal airplane that has long been Boeing’s star widebody airplane.” The 777-9X is the first planned variant, and is the larger of the two. While “similar in weight to the -300ER, it’s more fuel efficient and flies 250 miles further, giving it an 8,750-mile range.” The increased performance “comes from the enormous new fuel-efficient GE engines and the new super-aerodynamic wings.” (Image Credit: Boeing)
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2 January 2019
Delta IV Heavy Launch Of NRO Satellite Pushed Back A Week

Delta-IV-Heavy-at-Launchpad-NASAThe AP reported that the “repeatedly delayed launch of a National Reconnaissance Office [NRO] satellite from California has been pushed back another week.” United Launch Alliance (ULA) “said Friday the launch of the NROL-71 satellite from Vandenberg Air Force Base will now occur no earlier than Jan. 6.” (Image Credit: NASA)
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