Thursday, March 30, 2017

Space Highlights - March 30, 2017

March 30, 2017

A refurbished Falcon 9 rocket is expected  to launch the SES-10 communications satellite into a geosynchronous transfer orbit later this week.  This will mark the first time that a refurbished Falcon 9 has been reused to launch a satellite.

Europe's Arianespace has shelved indefinitely any further launch attempts, due to a workers' strike at their French Guiana launch facility.

The U.S. Air Force's GEO-3 satellite has returned images for the first time, after being launched in January aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V booster.  The GEO satellites are intended to act as missile launch warning sentinels, tracking the launch of ballistic missiles and rockets worldwide using infrared imaging.

Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin has won this year's Collier Trophy, which is awarded each year by the National Aeronautic Association, in recognition of the most outstanding aeronautical achievement of the previous year.

The European Space Agency has down-selected the preferred landing site for its ExoMars rover to one of two locations.  The ExoMars rover is expected to arrive at the red planet in 2021.

A new study suggests that the axial tilt of the dwarf planet Ceres will be heavily influenced over time by the gravitational effects of Jupiter - making it less likely that water ice might still exist at the surface in its shadowed, polar regions.

NASA has released a new composite image highlighting Pluto's atmosphere, back-lit by the sun, as captured by the New Horizons spacecraft in July 2015.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Wide Body Report - March 29, 2017

March 29, 2017

United Airlines has upgraded its Hong Kong-San Francisco route with an updated Boeing 777 layout featuring its new business class, called Polaris, and phasing out first class service.

Boeing has targeted March 31st for the first flight of its 787-10 model - the largest member of the 787 Dreamliner family.

Boeing has increased the list price for its 787 Dreamliner by 2.2 percent - the first such increase since July 2015.

A Cathay Pacific Airbus A350 has become the first A350-900 to arrive in Canada on a revenue flight, connecting Hong Kong to Vancouver.

Another Cathay Pacific Airbus A350-900 arrived in Brisbane for the first time this past week, inaugurating service with the type between Hong Kong and Brisbane, Australia.

Vietnam Airlines has introduced the Airbus A350-900 on its Hanoi to Tokyo route.

Airbus has completed high elevation testing aboard their A350-1000 prototype.  Prototype MSN71 conducted the tests as part of its first Latin America tour.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Single Aisle News - March 28, 2017

March 28, 2017

A Bombardier CS100 has completed a non-stop trans-Atlantic flight connecting London City Airport to New York City for the first time.  The FTV2 flight test aircraft was configured to simulate the weight and range of the 40-passenger, all-business class arrangement proposed for regular flights along this route.  The flight capped a series of steep approach tests being conducted to certify the airplane for the downtown London airport, where strict noise regulations have prevented other aircraft from offering service on this route.

A fourth Embraer E190-E2 prototype has joined the flight test program, as Embraer pushes closer to certification.

Despite winning praise from airlines for delivering on its promise of exceptional fuel performance, the A320 NEO continues to suffer from issues with its Pratt & Whitney PW1100G engines.

Indigo has set a 30,000 ft altitude limit on its A320 NEO fleet to reduce strain on its engines.

Malaysia's Malindo Air has been announced as the launch operator for the Boeing 737 MAX-8.

Bank of China's BOC Aviation has placed an order for 13 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft.

China expects to fly its C919 prototype for the first time in April, following successful taxi tests earlier this month

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Fighter Jet Times - March 23, 2017

March 23, 2017

A preliminary report is expected in the next few weeks on a proposed fix for the F-35C's nose gear issues, which have made catapult launches unsafe for lightly loaded aircraft.

Shay Assad, the Pentagon's Director of Defense Pricing has announced plans for a major review of the F-35 program costs, with an emphasis on finding new cost saving opportunities.

The Russian Air Force expects to begin receiving the first six production copies of the PAK-FA later this year.

The U.S. Air Force is beginning to evaluate proposals for retiring some of its oldest F-15C/D fighters in the mid-2020s.

Chinese air traffic controllers issued warnings to U.S. B-1B pilots flying over the East China Sea.  The U.S. deployed the B-1Bs to the area, following North Korean missile tests.  The U.S. has refused to recognize Chinese territorial claims throughout this region.

China's government has registered its continued opposition to proposed U.S. arms sales to Taiwan.  This includes the possible sale of jet fighters or jet fighter technology - which the United States had refused to sell to Taiwan under the previous administration.

Chinese officials continue to suggest that strides are being made towards developing a domestically produced, Chinese jet engine for China's J-20 stealth fighter, although no firm timetables for production have been announced.

France's Rafale fighter is reportedly the leading candidate to replace Malaysia's aging MiG-29 fighter fleet.  The Eurofighter Typhoon, Sweden's Gripen, and Russia's Su-35 are also being offered as contendors.  Malaysia is looking to purchase up to 18 aircraft.

The Philippines expects to receive its final batch of South Korean produced FA-50 fighters in May.  The Philippenes has twelve aircraft on order, and is contemplating a further six.

India expects to receive some 123 domestically produced Tejas fighters by the mid-2020s.  The Tejas Mk1A is currently in production, powered by the GE F404 engine.

Russian news sources have suggested that Russia and India are close to an agreement for the next phase of joint fighter development - aimed at delivering a version of the PAK-FA stealth fighter to India.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Space Highlights - March 22, 2017

March 22, 2017

Small satellite launch start-up Rocket Lab has raised an additional $75 million in venture capital, as it relocates its headquarters in California.

The U.S. Air Force successfully launched a Delta IV rocket from Cape Canaveral, carrying the WGS-9 communications satellite.  The night-time satellite launch was also captured from orbit by the GOES-16 weather satellite.

Japan successfully launched the IGS (Information Gathering Satellite), radar surveillance satellite into orbit aboard an H-IIA rocket.  The IGS is intended to provide Japan with space-based intelligence on activities in North Korea and China.

SpaceX launched the EchoStar 23 communications satellite aboard a Falcon 9 rocket from the Kennedy Space Center.  Due to the high target orbit - requiring a longer rocket burn - no attempt was made to recover the first stage of the launch booster.

The aluminum wheels on NASA's Curiosity rover are starting to show the wear from their age, after five years on the surface of Mars.

A Finnish film maker has assembled some 50,000 images from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter to produce a video of the spacecraft's view in orbit around the red planet.

Europe's ExoMars spacecraft has begun lowering its orbit around Mars, as it positions itself to sample the Martian atmosphere for signs of methane.

The European Space Agency has revealed details for its CHEOPS (CHaracterising ExOPlanet Satellite) planet hunter, due to be launched in 2018.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Wide Body Report - March 21, 2017

March 21, 2017

Qatar Airways Cargo has taken delivery of its twelfth Boeing 777 freighter.

In response to ongoing financial pressure, much of it driven by unrest in the region and a loss of passenger traffic, Turkish Airlines has deferred deliveries for 17 Boeing aircraft.

After opening an assembly line for the 737 in China, Boeing has been rewarded with additional orders from China's state sponsored airlines, including orders for the 737 and 787.

Cathay Pacific expects to be the first airline to operate the Airbus A350 out of Australia's Perth Airport.

Lufhansa plans to open up flights between Bangkok and Frankfurt aboard the Airbus A380 superjumbo.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Single Aisle News - March 20, 2017

March 20, 2017

Swiss International Airlines has upgraded its remaining five C-Series orders to the larger CS300 model.

Embraer expects to achieve first flight of its E195-E2 prototype in June, several months earlier than expected.

A fourth Mitsubishi Regional Jet prototype, on its way to Washington state for flight test, aborted the second leg of its flight and returned to Hawaii.  No explanation has been provided.

Airbus officials emphasize that the engine issues experienced at IndiGo and GoAir will not affect their aircraft delivery schedule for 2017.

IndiGo is looking to convert some of its A320 NEO orders to the larger A321 NEO model.

Southwest Airlines has scheduled its first Boeing 737 MAX revenue flight for October of 2017.

Boeing has identified a Chinese leasing company as the previously unidentified customer for 30 Boing 737 MAX orders.

United Continental has expressed interest in Boeing's proposed 797, "middle of the market" single-aisle aircraft.  As proposed, the 797 would be a direct replacement for both the 757, and for larger models of the 737.