Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Single Aisle News - May 31, 2016

May 31, 2016

Boeing is reportedly studying the potential to use the larger CFM LEAP-1A engine on a stretched version of the 737 MAX, as an option to counter Airbus' dominance in this sector of the 737/A321 market.  The LEAP-1A engine is used on the Airbus A320 NEO family of aircraft, and features a larger, 78-in fan diameter compared to the smaller, 69-in fan diameter featured on the LEAP-1B installed on the 737 MAX.  The larger fan diameter gives the LEAP-1A an advantage in both thrust and fuel consumption.

Airbus executives are unconcerned over reports that Boeing may attempt to install the larger LEAP-1A engine from the A320 NEO on a stretched version of the 737 MAX, pointing out that the 737 would require a new wing with longer landing gear to install the larger fan diameter, and that such an installation would also reduce commonality between the different 737 MAX models.

Bombardier has rolled out the first C-Series aircraft in full customer livery, in preparation for delivery to SWISS in June.

Embraer's E190-E2 prototype completed its first flight this past week, kicking off the flight test program for the new aircraft.  The E190-E2 uses the Pratt & Whitney PW1900G Geared TurboFan engine.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Fighter Jet Times - May 26, 2016

May 26, 2016

Testing for the F-35's production-standard, Block 3F software is currently about a year behind schedule, with final testing expected to be completed sometime in 2018.  This delay will likely postpone the airplane's planned production ramp-up.

The first two Dutch F-35s touched down in the Netherlands for the first time this week.

A third Australian F-35 pilot has completed his qualification training to fly the F-35.

The U.S. DoD is investigating the "unsafe" intercept last week of a U.S. surveillance plane by two Chinese fighter jets over the South China Sea.  U.S. officials report that two Chinese J-11 (Su-27) fighters intercepted the EP-3 Aries aircraft in international air space, coming so close that the U.S. pilot had to take evasive action to avoid a collision.

A new report on the "Dynamics of International Military Modernization" suggests that a growing push to develop domestic defense industries is likely to cut into U.S. and European global weapons sales during the next decade - citing emerging industrial powers in South Korea and Brazil among the new competitors.

South Korea is close to down-selecting between the Eurojet EJ200 and GE's F414 engine to power the Korean Fighter Experimental (KFX) stealth fighter program currently in the early stages of development.

In the latest turn in a prolonged saga, France has reportedly refused to provide government-guaranteed loans to fund the proposed sale of 36 Rafale fighters to India, potentially putting the sale in jeopardy.

President Obama announced that the U.S. would be lifting its previous weapons embargo against Vietnam during a state visit this past week, leading to speculation that the communist government might soon be requesting F-16 fighters and P-3 Orion anti-submarine warfare aircraft, as it seeks to strengthen its defenses in the shadow of its Chinese neighbor.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Space Highlights - May 25, 2016

May 25, 2016

India's ISRO has conducted a successful, suborbital test of its unmanned spaceplane, demonstrating its autonomous control system and reentry characteristics.

SpaceX expects to make another launch and recovery attempt this week for its Falcon 9 rocket, when it attempts to launch the Thaicom8 communications satellite.

The EU has successfully launched satellites 13 and 14 in its Galileo system of geopositioning satellites.  The satellites were launched by a Russian Soyuz rocket, from a launch site in French Guiana.

Russia is delaying the launch of its next GLONASS navigation satellite by a week.

Studies in galactic radiation suggest that many fossils left by early life forms on Mars - if such life forms existed - might be erased by the radiation that bombards the surface, making it more difficult to detect signs of primitive life forms that later went extinct.

Recent geological maps of Mars have uncovered evidence for at lease two "mega-tsunamis" on the northern plains of Mars - locations where giant 400-foot tidal waves left deposits along the shore of an ancient Martian sea.  Scientists speculate that the events could have been triggered by an asteroid impact.

Cassini's final set of orbits, before it plunges into Saturn's atmosphere later this year, are providing fresh views of Saturn's polar regions.

Speeding away from Pluto, NASA has directed the New Horizons spacecraft to train its camera on a more distand Kuiper belt object, 1994 JR1.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Wide Body Report - May 24, 2016

May 24, 2016

China's Ruili Airlines has placed an order for six Boeing 787-9s.  First launched in 2014, Ruili currently operates a fleet of nine aircraft.

According to the aircraft valuation firm Collateral Verifications, the market value of a new airline is typically around half of its official list price.  The firm places the market value of a Boeing 787-9, for example, at $142.8 million, a discount of 46% from the airplane's list price of $264.6 million.  Airlines are typically provided with discounts by the manufacturers, depending on the size of the order that they are placing.

Boeing has officially opened its new composite wing facility for the 777X in Everett, WA.  The 1.2-million-square-foot facility is expected to produce the largest composite wings in the world.

Air China has received the first out of 15 Boeing 787s on order.  The Air China aircraft will be powered by Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 engines.

General Electric reports that 336 GEnX-1B Performance Improvement Package-2 (PIP2) engines, which power 168 Boeing 787-8 and 787-9 Dreamliners, will have to undergo mandatory repairs to prevent hard rubs between their fan blades and the fan case in the event of ice shedding.  The repairs were mandated by an FAA Airworthiness Directive (AD) which gives the airlines until October 1st to comply, and requires the airlines to grind out the inner fan case liner to increase tip clearances.

Oman Air has signed an agreement for the lease of two Boeing 787-9 aircraft from Air Lease.

Arctic Aviation Assets, a subsidiary of Norwegian Air, has signed a letter of intent with CIT Aerospace for the lease of two Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners.

Crystal AirCruises has designated Fly Comlux to operate its single VIP Boeing 777-200LR aircraft.  Crystal Cruises specializes in luxury travel worldwide.

Malaysia Airlines has exercised its options to lease two additional Airbus A350-900s from Air Lease Corporation.

Cathay Pacific has confirmed that there will be no first class seating in its upcoming A350-1000 aircraft, choosing instead to extend its premium economy seating cabin.  The aircraft will feature a three-class seating arrangement, with business, premium economy, and economy seating.

Airbus has confirmed that an existing contract for the delivery of 22 A350s to Russia's Aeroflot remains officially in place, but that delivery has been deferred by the airline due to financial difficulties.

Footage has surfaced of a British Airways A380 that recently had to abort its first landing attempt just feet away from the runway.  The airplane landed successfully on its second go-around.  Although an aborted landing is not altogether unusual, it does take on broader dimensions when it occurs aboard the world's largest commercial airline.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Single Aisle News - May 23, 2016

May 23, 2016

Bombardier has removed Republic Airways' order for the C-Series from its official production schedule, citing ongoing bankruptcy filings by Republic Airways Holdings.  Republic Airways signed an agreement in February 2010 placing 40 CS300 aircraft on firm order, and another 40 on option.  The aircraft will still remain on Bombardier's official order book, pending the outcome of bankruptcy proceedings, but will no longer appear on the delivery schedule.

Talks with Canada's federal government in Ottawa over a potential financial aid package for Bombardier have reportedly stalled over government insistence that Bombardier reform its two-tier share structure, that currently guarantees that a majority of voting rights remain in the hands of the company's founding family.

More than 400 engineers and technicians from Mitsubishi Aircraft have arrived at Moses Lake, WA to prepare for flight test of the Mitsubishi Regional Jet.

Mitsubishi Aircraft is preparing for the first flight test of the second MRJ prototype, expected to occur by the end of this month.

Vietnamese low-cost carrier VietJet has placed an order for 100 Boeing 737 MAX 200 aircraft - a high-density version of the airplane.  The deal was signed during a visit by President Barack Obama to Hanoi.

Low cost carrier IndiGo reports that the longer start-up time required by the Pratt & Whitney PW1100G engines on the A320 NEO is making it difficult for the airline to meet its ground-time and airplane turn-around targets.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Fighter Jet Times - May 19, 2016

May 19, 2016

U.S. Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter has come out publicly opposed to restarting the F-22 production line, arguing that restarting the program would siphon money away from other needs.

An F-22 was recently photographed in the UK, sporting "bomb" markings that appear to represent weapons dropped in Syria or Iraq.  The F-22 has accounted for roughly 2% of the bombs dropped in the war against ISIS during the past two years.

The Senate Armed Service Committee has pased a resolution that would disband the F-35 JPO (Joint Program Office) in 2019, citing the high cost of maintaining the centralized F-35 management center.  If the measure is approved by the House and Senate, each branch of the armed service would become responsible for their own F-35 maintenance and upgrade programs.

Pilots and maintainers at Edwards Air Force Base, when quizzed about the F-35's features, praised its level of automation and how it reduced workload.

The first two Netherlands' F-35 fighters are expected to arrive in Holland next week.  The two aircraft had been conducting pilot familiarization flights at Edwards Air Force Base since their initial delivery from the Lockheed Martin assembly line.

The U.S. Department of Defense has released its latest annual report China's military, as mandated by Congress.  The report cites considerable progress made in advancing Chinese air power, and noted that the PLAAF (People's Liberation Army Air Force) “is rapidly closing the gap with western air forces across a broad spectrum of capabilities.”

The U.S. Congress has pledged to block funding for the supply of additional F-16s to Pakistan - a move that has led Pakistan to reportedly explore other weapons suppliers.  Pakistan's military chief is visiting Beijing, with speculation that China may ask for naval basing rights in Pakistan in return for broader access to Chinese weaponry.

President Obama is reportedly considering U.S. weapons sales to communist ruled Vietnam for the first time.  Vietnam currently is reliant on Russia for jet fighters and naval warships, but has grown increasingly uneasy with its Chinese neighbor to the north.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Space Highlights - May 18, 2016

May 18, 2016

China's first Long March 7 booster has been delivered to China's new satellite launch center at Wenchang for preparation for launch.  The Long March 7 is expected to supercede the Long March 2F medium booster, and will serve along side the Long March 5 heavy booster and Long March 6 lightweight booster.

A Chinese Long March 2D booster successfully placed the Yaogan-30 remote sensing satellite into orbit this past weekend.

The SpaceX Falcon 9 first-stage booster recovered aboard a sea-based barge last week suffered significant damage during the landing, and will not be a candidate for reuse.  Reentry temperatures for the high-speed launch and recovery charred the booster across most of its length.

India's ISRO will launch India's first, experimental, reusable space plane next week.  The unmanned vehicle will test out its control and thermal protection systems.

A group of researchers at the Blue Marble Space Institute of Science in Seattle, WA have posited evidence that the Earth's atmosphere 2.7 billion years ago - shortly before the "great oxygen event" that transformed Earth's atmosphere to resemble its current composition - may have been much more thin than previously assumed.  Relying on evidence from gas bubbles trapped in ancient volcanic rock, a group of researchers are now proposing that the Earth's atmosphere was only half as thick at this time than it is today - most likely due to biological activity that converted the atmospheric nitrogen into ammonium, allowing it to be dissolved into water and trapped in soil and rock.

After having completed two full Martian years on the red planet, NASA has concluded that the mysterious spike in methane that was observed by the Curiosity rover in late 2013 and early 2014 was not a normal, seasonal event.  The event has still not been fully explained, with theories ranging from volcanic out-gassing to microbial activity.

NASA has released a new mosaic captured by the Opportunity rover, depicting a Martian dust devil.

The Cassini spacecraft has taken one last, close look at Saturn's small moon, Epimetheus - before its mission ends in September.

Astronomers have confirmed that the dwarf planet 2007 OR10 is one of the largest dwarf planets yet discovered beyond the orbit of Neptune.  Scientists had originally thought the object to be much smaller.

NASA's Kepler space telescope has added a batch of another 1,284 confirmed exoplanets to its trove of discoveries, including 9 which are within the habitable zone of their parent stars.  Since its launch in 2009, Kepler has identified over 2,300 exoplanets, including 21 in the habitable zone of their star system.

Wide Body Report - May 17, 2016

May 17, 2016

Having overcome many of its early teething problems, Boeing's 787 Dreamliner appears to be running into a new problem: slowing sales.  Despite a backlog of over 1,100 aircraft, industry-wide, sales for wide body jets have fallen by 51 percent since 2013, making it more difficult for Boeing to recoup their $30 billion investment in developing the new airplane.

In parallel with slower wide-body sales, the leasing industry has also reported a temporary glut in 787s for lease on the market - with leasing rates falling below $900,000 per month.  Market analysts estimate that a new 787 needs to take in $1.15 million per month to recover its initial purchase price.

Air New Zealand has introduced the 787 Dreamliner on its routes to Honolulu, and Buenos Aires.

China Airlines, one of Taiwan's leading carriers, has taken delivery of the first "co-branded" Boeing 777 - which features logos for both the carrier and Boeing.

Emirates has introduced the 777 on its Malta service route.

Boeing has confirmed plans to reduce output for the 777 airliner from the current 8.3 per month, to 7 per month in 2017, while they prepare for the introduction of the revamped 777X.  Some industry analysts, however, are predicting that Boeing will need to cut production further - to 5 per month in 2018 and 4 per month in 2019 - as market demand continues to erode.

Qatar Airways has delayed the introduction of its planned service route to Aukland flying the Airbus A350 - in what would have been the longest non-stop commercial route in the world - due to delays in A350 deliveries.

Cathay Pacific is expected to take delivery of its first Airbus A350-900 at the end of May.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Single Aisle News - May 16, 2016

May 16, 2016

Embraer's CEO Paulo Cesar Silva has complained that Bombardier won its recent order from Delta Air Lines as the result of improper government subsidies.  Silva complained that Bombardier would have been unable to compete aggressively without the financial bail-out from the government of Quebec.  Bombardier officials responded that they are compliant with all international trade laws.

Bombardier has closed on a C-Series support deal with launch customer SWISS.  Under the terms of the agreement, Bombardier will provide maintenance, repair and overhaul services for the carrier's soon to be delivered fleet of C-Series aircraft.

Officials at Embraer are confident that the E-Jet will be receiving more orders from the Asia-Pacific region, citing India's Air Costa - which has 25 E190-E2 and 25 E195-E2 aircraft on order - as an example of ongoing fleet recapitalization in that part of the world.

The president for Japan Airlines subsidiary J-Air, Tetsuya Onuki says that the airline is comfortable with its current order for E190 and E170 aircraft, together with 32 Mitsubishi Regional Jets, and that there are no immediate plans to add the re-engined E190-E2 still under development to its fleet.

Mitsubishi Aircraft is looking for ways to accelerate its flight test program for its Mitsubishi Regional Jet.  The first flight test aircraft is expected to fly to the U.S. in the fourth quarter of this year - although that date could be accelerated.  The aircraft will enter flight test at Moses Lake, WA where much of the certification testing is to be done.

Korean Air has delivered its first winglet for the Boeing 737 MAX.  Korean Air is contracted to supply some 2,400 winglets over the next few years, for the production version of the airplane.

Boeing has moved up its delivery date for the first 737 MAX to the first half of 2017.  The manufacturer has completed over 400 hours of flight test to date.

Southwest Airlines' pilots union has insisted that labor negotiations must be completed before the airline can take delivery of the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft now on order, claiming that delivery of a new aircraft type would violate the "status quo" provisions that are required to be maintained while negotiations are underway.

The fourth and final 737 MAX test aircraft has joined the flight test fleet.

India's Aequs has been contracted to supply engine mount components for the Airbus A320 NEO.

Engine manufacturer Pratt & Whitney has already backed its lessons learned updates from the Geared Turbofan featured in the Airbus A320 NEO, into the similar engine model which will power Russia's MC-21.  The PW1400G, which is the version of the engine slated for the MC-21, received FAA type certification on May 9th.

Lufthansa expects to see improvements incorporated into its PW1100G engines by June.  Slow start-up times for the engine continue to be the primary issue surrounding the entry into service for the Airbus A320 NEO.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Lavi - An Engineer's Perspective - Video and PDF

Video edition for Lavi: An Engineer's Perspective.

Original chart pack is available below:

Lavi - An Engineer's Perspective

The Lavi fighter program was the largest weapons development effort ever undertaken by the State of Israel - embodying a unique, Israeli perspective as to what elements were most essential in the design of a modern warplane.

The following summary provides a brief cross section of this development effort, with a focus on the technological, engineering side of the program - setting aside for the moment the historical chronology, as well as the political debates that also surrounded this aircraft. In developing this summary, I have drawn on my years of experience as an aerospace engineer, leveraging in particular the skills that I first learned as a teaching assistant for Aircraft Design more than two decades ago. It has been my experience that it is when you have to teach a subject to someone else, that you first truly master it, and it is on that experience that I have drawn heavily on here. Again, I point out that the opinions expressed here are my own, and do not necessarily represent those of my employers, either past or present.

As an aerospace engineer trained in the discipline of design, you come to see aircraft somewhat differently from the casual observer. The features that go into a design become recognizable as the products of conscious design trades, rather than the result of arbitrary selections or preferential aesthetics. In this manner, the Lavi bears a unique, and distinctively Israeli emphasis in its design and construction.

In order to appreciate many of the trades that went into the Lavi, however, it often helps to have a point of reference. To this end, there just so happens to be one particular aircraft that stands out as the natural point of comparison: the General Dynamics (later Lockheed Martin) F-16. The F-16, to which the Lavi was so often compared, provides a contemporary reference point that was, among other things, the most widely produced lightweight fighter of its day. It was also, however, designed with a slightly different focus to its development.

The F-16 was first developed during the 1970s as a lightweight air-to-air "day fighter", with a secondary air-to-ground capability. In this regard, the F-16 was following in the footsteps of such aircraft as the F-5E Tiger II, which set the standard during the Vietnam War era for what could be accomplished within a lightweight fighter configuration. Like the F-5E, the developers of the F-16A selected a thin, trapezoidal wing. While this fit in with the lightweight design concept behind the F-16, it also led to a wing configuration with limited volume available for fuel stowage - requiring the F-16 to carry the majority of the fuel that it needed to complete its mission inside its fuselage.

The Lavi, in contrast, had a very different emphasis. The Lavi was designed as an air-to-ground fighter-bomber first, with a secondary air-to-air mission. The antecedents for the Lavi design included such strike aircraft as the Kfir and the A-4 Skyhawk. Much like the A-4 Skyhawk before it, the Lavi selected a delta-wing configuration, with a thick wing root section. This configuration would prove crucial toward providing the fuel capacity necessary to complete the airplane's mission. Whereas the F-16 was able to reserve volume in its wing structure for only 19-percent of its total required fuel capacity, the Lavi was able to reserve space for roughly 54-percent of its internal fuel capacity within its wings - allowing crucial volume in its fuselage to be reserved for other needs.

The selection of a delta wing configuration for the Lavi had a variety of implications - above and beyond the available fuel volume. The spars that carry the span-wise load through the wing of an airplane are essentially tapered I-beams in their cross-section. As any freshman engineering student should know, the modulus of an I-beam will increase as the height of the I-beam cubed, and the bending stress of an I-beam will decrease as the height of the I-beam squared. The result was that due to its thicker wing root, the Lavi wing structure was inherently stronger, and could carry more weight than its counterparts.

It was this kind of structural trade that allowed the Lavi to achieve a maximum take-off weight that was 13-percent greater than a Block 30 F-16C, with an empty weight that was 10-percent less.  Or measured another way, which allowed the Lavi to achieve a hi-lo-hi combat radius that was 50-percent greater than a Block 40 F-16C, with an empty weight that was 20-percent less.

Added to the inherent structural advantage of the Lavi's thicker wing root section, was the incorporation of composite materials. The Lavi airframe was intended to be 22-percent composite materials by weight - compared to the roughly 2-percent of the airframe weight found on the F-16A. The incorporation of composites allowed such structures as the Lavi wing, vertical tail, canard, air brakes, and ventral strakes to be lighter. They also, however, reduced drag, and allowed for the incorporation of aeroelastic tailoring to further improve on performance.

The Lavi was intended, for example, to carry many of its weapons loads semi-conformally on under-fuselage hard points. When combined with aeroelastic tailoring to reduce stores-induced wing flutter, it was expected that aerodynamic drag could be reduced on the Lavi by up to 50-percent. This degree of refinement had simply not been available at the time that the F-16 was developed a decade before.

The selection of the Lavi wing arrangement, however, was only one of many design trades that went into the development of the airplane. Another example was provided by the Lavi's inlet arrangement. The developers of the Lavi evaluated multiple candidate inlet configurations, from the axisymmetric arrangement seen on the Kfir, to side-mounted inlets, to the ventral inlet that was eventually selected. Evaluated on the basis of inlet distortion at high angles of attack, both the side-mounted, "shielded pitot" style inlet, and the ventral inlet offered superior performance with lower inlet distortion. Eventually, however, the ventral inlet was down-selected for the Lavi by virtue of its lower structural weight.

Similarly, multiple configurations for the Lavi vertical tail were initially assessed. Among the more unusual was the tail-boom configuration, which offered superior directional stability at very high angles of attack. Once again, however, the Lavi developers down-selected to a more conventional, single vertical tail, due to its lighter weight.

Among the most central design choices made by the Lavi developers, was the selection of its canard-delta configuration. Canard fighter designs fall into two general categories: close-coupled, and long-coupled. Close-coupled canard designs place the canard in close proximity to, and slightly above the wing, to maximize the canard-wing interaction and increase the airplane's lift-to-drag ratio. This design approach includes such aircraft as the Kfir, Gripen, and Rafale - in addition to the Lavi. Long-coupled fighter designs, in contrast, attempt to leverage the high angle-of-attack control authority that the canard offers, while reducing the size and wetted area of the canard to its bare minimum. These designs, as represented by the Rockwell-MBB X-31A, or by the Eurofighter Typhoon, will tend to maximize the distance between the canard and the wing, and will position the canard at the same elevation, or perhaps slightly lower, than the wing.

Relative to its wing size, the Lavi had the largest canard of any fighter or fighter prototype yet developed. It was also positioned closer to its wing than most of its counterparts, resulting in a greater improvement in aerodynamic efficiency. This, in turn, further enhanced the Lavi's combat radius.

The other leading design decision that had to be made early in its development, was the airplane's engine selection - which was integral with the overall airplane sizing process. The Lavi fighter was originally sized around the F404 engine, at the time of the program launch in February 1980. As the requirements of the program expanded, however, it soon outgrew its original engine selection, and the design was relaunched in May of 1981 with the larger PW1120 engine. The PW1120 afforded a 28-percent increase in available engine thrust, which translated into a larger airframe, with up to a 19-percent increase in combat radius.

Despite its focus on the air-to-ground role, however, the Lavi still needed to be able to perform a secondary air-to-air function. A first order assessment for how the Lavi would have performed in this role can be obtained by comparing the thrust-to-weight ratio, and wing loading of the Lavi to similar values for its counterparts. In general, aircraft with higher thrust-to-weigh ratios will tend to offer superior acceleration, and aircraft with lower wing loadings will tend to offer superior, instantaneous turn rates. This comparison is valid for trends only, however, since it lacks any correction for differences in the aerodynamic performance of each design.

Compared in this fashion, it can be seen that the Lavi and the F-16A were developed with very different strategies in the air-to-air arena. Building on historical experience with such lightweight fighter designs as the F-5E, the F-16A sought to maximize its advantage in thrust-to-weight ratio over its peers of the day.  The Lavi, in contrast, still had to perform its primary mission as an air-to-ground platform. It could not therefore expect to meet or exceed the thrust-to-weight capability of aircraft such as the F-16, seeking instead to leverage its advantage in wing loading to attain a higher turn rate.

It can also be seen from this comparison that, as additional strike roles were added to the F-16, weight was also added in order to increase payload capability. Advances in engine technology allowed the F-16 to maintain its high thrust-to-weight ratio with each successive Block release, but its wing loading continued to climb - impacting turning performance.

A more complete story of relative aircraft performance can be achieved using an energy-maneuverability, or "E-M" diagram. The E-M diagram will portray isocontours of specific excess power, plotted against speed or Mach number on the horizontal axis, and either altitude or turn rate on the vertical axis. Regions where the specific excess power is positive, will denote zones where the airplane is able to accelerate or gain altitude. Regions where the specific excess power is negative, will denote zones where the airplane will lose either speed or altitude. The isocontour where specific excess power is zero, will identify the maximum sustained turn rate for the airplane at that particular speed, altitude, and weight combination. The E-M diagram also allows us to compare competing fighter designs, to evaluate regions of the flight envelope where each is at a relative advantage.

In the instance of both the Lavi and the F-16A, there is published data available from the open literature allowing us to develop an unofficial, approximate E-M diagram from which to make just such a comparison. As anticipated, the Lavi would be expected to achieve an advantage at elevated turn rates. The F-16A, in contrast, would be expected to achieve an advantage at lower turn rates - where it could out-accelerate the Lavi.

In summation therefore, it should be apparent that the design of the Lavi was biased from its inception towards the air-to-ground role - a factor that drove its design towards lighter-weight options that maximized the airplane's range and structural efficiency. This emphasis was very different from its contemporaries, most of which were biased towards short-range, air-to-air objectives. The influence of this emphasis can be clearly seen in the design of the Lavi, where it is stamped large onto its design configuration

Again, this has been but a brief overview of the technical side of the story surrounding the Lavi.  Additional information about this program and its history can be found in the recently published book, Lavi: The United States, Israel, and a Controversial Fighter Jet.


Golan, John. Lavi: The United States, Israel, and a Controversial Fighter Jet (Sterling, VA: Potomac, 2016).
Shmul, Menachem, Eli Erenthal, and Moshe Attar. “Lavi Flight Control System.” International Journal of Control. No. 1, 1994: 159-182.
Tsach, S., and A. Peled. “Evolution of the Lavi Fighter Aircraft,” in Proceedings of the 16th International Council of the Aeronautical Sciences (ICAS) (Jerusalem: Aug. 28 - Sept. 2, 1988): 827-841.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Fighter Jet Times - May 12, 2016

May 12, 2016

The Danish government has recommended the purchase of 27 Lockheed-Martin F-35 fighters, a proposal which now needs to be approved by the Danish parliament. The government had been debating whether to go forward with the purchase of the new jet, or to buy less expensive, prior generation aircraft to replace the nation's aging fleet of F-16s.

During a recent visit to an F-35 test squadron at Edwards Air Force Base, media representatives reported observing the many error messages and false warning signals that are still standard fare for the F-35's complex computer systems.  One false alarm, for example, was only silenced when the airplane's power unit was shut down, and switched back on - twice.

The first F-35s to be built for Japan are expected to be delivered by year-end, with the first four expected to roll off the assembly line in November.

India is expected to finalize its terms for purchase of the Russian-developed PAK-FA, or FGFA (fifth generation fighter aircraft) as it is sometimes referred to in India, within the next few months.

India and France continue to negotiate the fine print surrounding the sale of 36 Rafale fighter jets to India.

China dispatched two fighter jets and three naval vessels to monitor the passage of the guided missile destroyer USS William Lawrence through the South China Sea, through waters that are claimed by China, Vietnam and other neighboring countries.  The U.S. naval vessel came within 22 km of Fiery Cross Reef, where the Chinese have dredged sand from the ocean floor to build up an artificial island, and on which they have built a 3,000 meter runway and military port facilities.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Space Highlights - May 11, 2016

May 11, 2016

SpaceX successfully landed a first stage booster from its Falcon 9 rocket at sea for the second time.  The booster had placed the Japanese JCSAT-14 into orbit.  The next step for SpaceX will be demonstrating that it can refurbish and reuse the boosters that it recovers - without replacing the entire rocket motor after each launch.

The JCSAT-14, the 15th communications satellite operated by Japan's SKYPerfect, successfully completed its post-launch maneuvers and unfolded its solar panels after launch.

India's ISRO reports that the United States continues to put an indefinite hold on export license requests for the launch of U.S. commercial satellites.  U.S. law currently prohibits such launches without a case-by-case review and export approval, to protect the U.S. launch industry from Indian competition.

Russia has lost contact with one of three satellites recently launched from its new $1 billion Vostochny Cosmodrome.  The nanosatellite SamSat-218 failed to establish contact following the new space port's first launch.  The new cosmodrome is expected to reduce Russian dependence on the Soviet-era Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

New observations from NASA's Cassini spacecraft, tracking eruptions on Saturn's icy moon Enceladus, suggest that the moon's eruptions can actually intensify when it is farther in its orbit from Saturn.  The observations continue to cast new questions on our understanding of how Enceladus' eruptions are fed.

NASA's Mars rover Opportunity has begun observations from the western rim of Endeavour - a 22 km (13.7 mile) wide crater - which is expected to be rich in ancient clay deposits.

Despite continued wear and damage to its wheels, NASA officials remain confident that the Curiosity rover will successfully reach its next targeted region for exploration, on the slopes of Mount Sharpe.  Researchers intend to probe the sediment layers on the slopes of the mountain, to investigate changes in Mars' climate across billions of years.

Michael Watkins, a veteran of the Curiosity rover team, has been named as the next director of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.  JPL is responsible for managing all of NASA's robotic, space exploration missions.

NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has found new evidence that volcanic eruptions in Mars' southern hemisphere may have occurred beneath an ancient polar ice cap.  The observed mineral deposits and land forms suggest that the eruptions likely occurred underneath heavy glaciers - although it is unclear as to how long ago these events occurred.  Liquid water is known to have formed seas, rivers and lakes in Mars' northern hemisphere billions of years ago, but the terrain in Mars' southern hemisphere is at a higher elevation.

Data from NASA's New Horizons spacecraft suggests that the surface of Pluto's irregularly shaped moon, Hydra appears to be dominated by nearly pure water ice.  This is in contrast to the darker material which coats the surfaces of Pluto and its largest moon, Charon.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Wide Body Report - May 10, 2016

May 10, 2016

Qatar Airways has taken delivery of its 50th Boeing 777.

Analysts at Goldman Sachs are predicting that Boeing will need to further cut production of its 777 airliner, as demand dries up while the market awaits the arrival of the revamped 777X.

Air New Zealand has inaugurated service between Aukland and Honolulu, flying the Boeing 787 Dreamliner.

Qatar Airways has announced that its planned, daily service between Qatar and Adelaide, Australia will have to be temporarily delayed due to slower than anticipated deliveries for the Airbus A350-900 airline.  Flights have already begun on the route, but service is expected to remain at every-other-day until deliveries can catch up.  Airbus has cited delays at its cabin providers as being responsible for the delivery gap.

Emirates has signaled that, even if Airbus chooses not to develop an A380 NEO (which the airline has been pressing for), they would still expect to order additional A380 super-jumbo airlines at some point in the future.

A British Airways A380 safely landed at London's Heathrow airport with one flat, "square" tire.  The airplane is intended to be able to safely land with one or more of its 22 tires flat.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Single Aisle News

May 9, 2016

Discount carrier JetBlue has reportedly entered talks with Canada's Bombardier for a possible order for C-Series aircraft.

International lease company Avolon has delivered its first A320 NEO aircraft to a customer.  The aircraft will be flown by IndiGo, which already operates the NEO model - which it also directly owns.  Avolon has a standing order for a further 99 A320 NEO family aircraft.

Boeing is examining options for improving the competitiveness of both the largest and smallest member of its 737 MAX family.  The 180-seat 737 MAX-9 is currently being out-sold by the A321 NEO by a five-to-one margin.  The 126-seat 737 MAX-7, meanwhile, has sold only 60 copies, and is under threat from a rejuvenated Bombardier C-Series campaign.

The CEO for leasor AerCap Holdings has expressed an interest in a larger Boeing 737 MAX-9, should such a version become available, but says his company is not looking to add any smaller aircraft to its fleet, such as the 737 MAX-7 or Bombardier C-Series.

A prototype Boeing 737 MAX has traveled internationally for the first time, traveling to La Paz, Bolivia for take-off and landing tests at high elevation.

Russia's Irkut Corp., which is currently developing the MC-21 single aisle airline as a rival to the Airbus A320 NEO and Boeing 737 MAX, posted a net loss of $31.1 million for 2015.  The company's current sources of revenue center around deliveries of Su-30 fighters and Yak-130 military trainers.

CFM International's LEAP-1B, the version of the new engine that powers Boeing's 737 MAX, received joint type certification from the FAA and EASA.  The LEAP-1B is the exclusive engine on the 737 MAX.  The larger LEAP-1A, which is offered as an alternative on the Airbus A320 NEO, was certified last November, although it has not yet made it into customer deliveries.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Fighter Jet Times - May 5, 2016

May 5, 2016

Following a Congressional mandate requiring the Pentagon to obtain estimates for potentially restarting the F-22 production line, there has been considerable media speculation as to whether such a restart might take place.

The U.S. Air Force deployed two F-22s to Lithuania for the first time this past week.  Lithuania joined NATO in 2004, and is among the easternmost members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

Israel has begun testing modified versions of locally produced munitions, including the Spice precision-guided bomb, that can be accommodated by the internal weapons bay of an F-35.

India's Law Ministry has objected to the recent deal to buy 36 Rafale fighters for the Indian Air Force, citing loopholes in the contract's liability clause, and arbitration terms.  Despite clear interest from India's Air Force, closing a deal for the French-built airplane has dragged out for over a year, while similar contracts with Egypt and Qatar have been quickly closed.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Space Highlights - May 4, 2016

May 4, 2016

SpaceX is preparing for the launch of a Japanese communication satellite on Thursday, May 5th.  The launch will be aboard a Falcon 9 booster, from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

SpaceX has been awarded a contract for the launch of a U.S. Air Force GPS III global positioning satellite, the first such USAF launch made to SpaceX, since the company was authorized to compete for military satellite launches one year ago.

India has launched the seventh and final satellite of its own GPS satellite constellation, joining the United States, China, Europe and Russia - each of which maintains an independent GPS system.

Researchers probing data from the Cassini spacecraft have concluded that at least one of the hydrocarbon seas observed on Saturn's moon Titan is composed almost exclusively of liquid methane, with a seabed covered in organic-rich sludge, and surrounded by wetlands.  This finding contradicts earlier speculation that the seas might be composed of liquid ethane.

The ESA and Russian space agencies have announced that the next phase of the planned, joint ExoMars mission - which would have placed a European rover on the red planet - will be delayed from 2018 to 2020 due to developmental delays.

China also plans to place a rover on Mars in 2020, as well as placing a lunar lander on the far side of the moon in 2018.

NASA's Curiosity rover is currently traversing the most rugged terrain that it has seen thus far during its 44 months on Mars, as it crosses the weathered sandstone rocks of the Naukluft Plateau.  The rover is heading towards geological layers that are further uphill on Mount Sharp.

NASA has released a black-and-white composite map for the surface of Pluto, combining images from the New Horizons spacecraft to provide the sharpest possible image.

An international team of scientists has announced the discover of three planets in the habitable zone of a red dwarf star - just 40 light years from Earth.  The planets were discovered using a 6-meter telescope in Chile, and were detected while traversing (crossing in front of) their parent star.

Researchers have concluded that despite its distance from the sun, and relatively cool temperatures, that earth-based telescopes should nonetheless be capable of detecting the recently hypothesized "Planet Nine" - if they knew where in the sky to search for it.  Their assessment was based on the anticipated size of the planet, and its likely atmosphere - which should be similar to those of Neptune or Uranus.

Scientists have confirmed the discover of the first "rogue planets" to be positively identified: planets that do not orbit a parent star.  It is still unclear as to whether these recently identified objects originally formed as part of a planetary system, however, or if they formed independently - the way that individual stars are formed.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Wide Body Report - May 3, 2016

May 3, 2016

China Eastern Airlines has placed an order worth $10 billion in new aircraft from Airbus and Boeing, including 20 Airbus A350 aircraft and 15 Boeing 787 Dreamliners.

Vietnam Airlines has begun regular service between Beijing and Hanoi flying the Boeing 787 Dreamliner.

Angola Airlines has taken delivery of its seventh Boeing 777-300ER aircraft, with an eighth aircraft expected by year end.

Air France has taken delivery of its 70th Boeing 777.  Air France was also the launch customer for both the 777-300ER in 2004 and the 777 Freighter in 2009.

The FAA has approved extended ETOPS operation for the Airbus A350-900, allowing the twin-engine aircraft to operate on routes that can be up to five-hours away from the nearest airport, or 2,000 miles (3,700 km).

Monday, May 2, 2016

Single Aisle News - May 2, 2016

May 2, 2016

Confirming recent media speculation, Delta Air Lines has placed a firm order for 75 Bombardier CS100 aircraft, with options for up to 50 more.  Delta is the number two U.S. airline in terms of passenger traffic.

Officials at Delta Air Lines report that concerns over future emissions standards helped to drive their decision in favor of the Bombardier C-Series.

Air Canada reports that they expect to firm up the terms for their provisional order for 45 C-Series aircraft - with another 30 on option - in coming weeks.

IAG Chief Executive Willie Walsh has suggested that while the C-Series was "not part of our plans at this stage," there was "plenty of scope in our future plans to look at the C-Series as a potential aircraft."  IAG is the holding company for British Airways.  Walsh also suggested that the airline's confidence in the C-Series was bolstered by the recent order from Delta.

In response to engine delivery delays at Pratt & Whitney, IndiGo - the largest customer for the Airbus A320 NEO - has suggested that it might consider the rival CFM International LEAP-1A engine under its future NEO orders.

Airbus is reportedly grappling with hydraulic system issues with its new A320 NEO - a problem first reported by Qatar Airways Chief Executive Akbar Al Baker.  The new airline's hydraulic system is reportedly louder than in previous aircraft, contributing to cabin noise, and has also suffered from software and temperature issues.  Al Baker has suggested that Qatar Airways might consider switching its order to the Boeing 737 MAX if the issues were not resolved in a timely manner.

Mitsubishi Aircraft is preparing its second Mitsubishi Regional Jet (MRJ) prototype for flight test in May.

Mitsubishi Aircraft is currently debating how to best transport its prototype MRJs to Seattle for flight test.  The Japanese manufacturer had been planning to perform flight tests for the new airplane with the assistance of former Boeing engineers and technicians, but Japan's shaky relations with Russia are making the most direct flight route - over Russian territory and across the Bering Strait - problematic.  The alternative would be to fly the airplane on a westerly route, more than twice the distance, across India, Africa and the Atlantic.

Russia's prototype Irkut MC-21 aircraft has passed its cockpit impact tests for hail and bird strike.

Irkut is in talks with Air Tanzania over the possible sale of Irkut MC-21 airlines to the African nation.