Thursday, June 30, 2016

Fighter Jet Times - June 30, 2016

June 30, 2016

With Congress expected to receive a report at year-end on the cost for potentially re-starting the F-22 production line, comparisons between the F-22 and F-35 have inevitably cropped up - with air-to-air performance being the obvious advantage for the F-22 and cost being the obvious disadvantage.

Faced with delays in updates to the Martin-Baker ejection seat which equips the F-35 - updates needed to make the ejection system safe for lighter-weight pilots - the U.S. Air Force is reportedly examining alternative ejection seat suppliers.  The United Technologies ACES 5 ejection seat has been named as an alternative contendor.

The F-35 reportedly scored an 8:0 kill ratio during training engagements involving F-15E adversaries.  Details surrounding the engagements, however, have not been released.

Turkey's president has issued an apology to Russia for shooting down a Russian fighter that was deployed to Syria in November of 2015.  Despite the apology, however, Turkey has declined to reimburse Russia for the cost of the downed aircraft or for the death of its pilot.

Russian air operations continue in Syria, where a Russian air strike on a jihadist-held town in eastern Syria reportedly killed 47 this past week, 31 of them civilians.  Russian operations have been repeatedly criticized for their failure to use precision-guided munitions, relying instead on unguided bombs released from high altitude, and for targeting anti-government Syrian rebels rather than focusing exclusively on ISIS targets.

The Japanese government has issued a formal Request for Information on its future fighter options for replacing the Japanese-produced F-2 sometime in the post-2025 time frame.

The U.S. Air Force is launching the next phase in its next-generation fighter engine development effort, in the form of the Adaptive Engine Transition Program (AETP).  AETP will comprise two #1 billion contracts, one each for GE Aircraft and Pratt & Whitney to develop a variable cycle demonstrator engine.  The program is aimed at delivering improved fighter fuel performance and range in the mid-2020 time frame.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Space Highlights - June 29, 2016

June 29, 2016

A U.S. Navy's fifth Mobile User Objective System (MUOS)communications satellite was successfully launched aboard an Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral this past week.

Russia's AIST-2D satellite, which was launched last April, activated its scientific payload for the first time this week.  The satellite's earth observation payload was designed and built at Samara University's Institute of Space Instruments Engineering.

China successfully launched its first Long March 7 rocket this past week, carrying a prototype next-generation crew capsule.  The capsule was successfully recovered, parachuting into China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region.  The Long March 7 is a LOX/Kerosene booster that is expected to replace China's nitrogen tetroxide fueled Long March 2F.

Findings from NASA's Curiosity rover suggest that Mars once had far more oxygen in its atmosphere than it does today.  The rover recently confirmed the presence of manganese oxides in the ancient Martian soil - a compound which points to both the presence of water, and a more oxygen rich atmosphere than can be found on Mars today.

Researchers combing through data from the New Horizons spacecraft have identified a canyon on Pluto's moon, Charon that is nearly twice the length of Earth's Grand Canyon and roughly five times as deep.

A team at the Southwest Research Institute has discovered a small, dark moon orbiting the dwarf planet Makemake.  Makemake is one of the largest Kuiper belt objects currently known, with a diameter roughly two thirds that of Pluto.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Wide Body Report - June 28, 2016

June 28, 2016

Boeing has closed on a deal with Iran for the supply of 80 aircraft, including four 747-8 jumbo jets, forty 737 MAX single-aisle jets, six current-generation 737s, fifteen 777-300ERs, and fifteen 777-9X aircraft.  Deliveries would stretch through 2025.

Sri Lanka is negotiating a deal to re-sell three of the Airbus A350-900 aircraft that it currently has on order to Iran.  The previous Sri Lankan government signed a contract in 2013 for the purchase of eight A350-900s, which the current government has concluded exceeds the requirements of its small national airline.

Analysts at Wells Fargo Securities and J.P. Morgan are warning that the demand for new wide-body airlines has continued to soften, casting new challenges on proposed production ramp-ups for the Boeing 787 and Airbus A350.  The dry-up in demand is driven by a number of elements, including a temporary glut in used aircraft, and Middle East airlines which have cut back from earlier spending sprees for new jets.

Airbus expects to begin assembly of the first A330 NEO in October.  The re-engined A330 NEO model is aimed at the lower-size market for the Boeing 787, complementing the larger A350-900 which competes with larger 787 models.

Airbus is preparing a demonstration tour across China to market its A350-900.  The demonstrator aircraft is expected to fly to Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Haikou and Chengdu.  Two Chinese airlines have ordered a total of thirty A350-900s between them, to date.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Single Aisle News - June 27, 2016

June 27, 2016

The provincial government of Quebec has finalized the terms for its $1 billion stake in the Bombardier C-Series program, clearing the way for the first government funds to be released this month.

Air Canada is threatening to walk away from a promised order for 75 Bombardier C-Series aircraft if the company is not given more flexibility by the federal Canadian government regarding where it chooses to perform maintenance on its fleet.  The company is seeking to open additional overhaul facilities throughout Canada, in return for more flexibility regarding how work is divided and traded between the facilities.

The Ireland-based leasing company AWAS has placed an order for an additional 12 A320 CEO and 3 A321 CEO aircraft, cashing in on discounts still being offered on the pre-NEO family aircraft, while Airbus transitions from the CEO to NEO versions in production.

Southwest Airlines has postponed the delivery of 67 Boeing 737 MAX-8 aircraft, out of the 200 MAX aircraft that the airline currently has on order, from 2019 to 2023.  The airline still expects to see it first 737 MAX aircraft delivered in 2017, but will defer the delivery of the full 200 aircraft until sometime after 2020.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Fighter Jet Times - June 23, 2016

June 23, 2016

Col. David Chace, the systems management office chief for the F-35 at the USAF's Air Combat Command (ACC) has reiterated that the F-35A remains on-track for Initial Operational Capability to be declared, as scheduled, between August and December of this year.

The first F-35 destined for Israel was rolled out this week at a ceremony held at Lockheed Martin's Fort Worth facility, and attended by Israel's Defense Minister and Air Force chief of staff.  Israel has 33 F-35I aircraft on order, and Israel's Air Force chief has recommended the purchase of an additional 17 fighters.  The first two are expected to arrive in Israel in December.

Russia's United Aircraft Corporation reports that the eighth PAK-FA fighter prototype is expected to make its first flight this month, as the manufacturer prepares for serial production of Russia's new stealth fighter, beginning this fall.  The eighth prototype is reportedly the first to be fully equipped with the full suite of operational avionics systems.

Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) reports that it has begun wind tunnel tests for its proposed KF-X stealth fighter.

Delivery of India's proposed purchase of 36 Rafale fighters may be further delayed, as Egypt contemplates the purchase of an additional 12 Rafale fighters.  Egypt already has an order in place for 24 Rafale fighters.  A final Indian deal for the Rafale has evaded negotiators, as price and workshare discussions continue to drag out.

Turkish F-16 fighters struck reported PKK targets in northern Iraq and southeast Turkey this past week.  The PKK is a Kurdish terrorist organization responsible for multiple bombings of civilian sites throughout Turkey.  Historically, the PKK has been based in Syria, where it received support from the Syrian government, rather than in Iraq, which is also home to the local, Peshmerga Kurdish militia.

The U.S. has deployed four F/A-18G Growler electronic attack jets to the Philippines, as part of a training operation expected to take place in the shadow of Chinese claims to the adjascent South China Sea.  The Phillipines claims mineral rights over portions of the South China Sea, where China has been building man-made islands to assert Chinese territorial claims across the region.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Space Highlights - June 22, 2016

June 22, 2016

India's ISRO successfully placed 20 satellites into orbit in a single launch, setting a new record for its Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV).  Included was the earth observation satellite, Cartosat-2, together with 12 Planet Dove imaging satellites, and an assortment of research payloads.

Stratolaunch Systems has lifted the veil on the massive airplane that is slated to become the first stage for a future satellite launch system.  With a wingspan of 385 feet, it will be the largest airplane ever built.  The start-up satellite launch provider is being funded by Paul Allen, co-founder of Microsoft.

After successfully launching two satellites into orbit this past week, SpaceX's Falcon 9 booster narrowly missed an attempted recovery of its first stage booster and motor.

NASA has released a panorama from its Opportunity Mars rover, depicting the Marathon Valley where the rover has been exploring for the past year.  The rover was sent to the site to confirm evidence for clay rocks - produced in Mars' ancient, wet past - evidence for which had been identified from orbit.

Researchers pouring through data from the ESA's Venus Express orbiter have found evidence that the "electric wind" of Venus' atmosphere could have played a significant role in stripping the planet's early water from its surface and atmosphere, accelerating oxygen and hydrogen ions out into space.  The electric wind formed by charged particles on Venus is estimated to be more then five times the strength that it is on Earth.  The Venus Express orbited Venus from 2006 until December 2014.

A study from Brown University has suggested that despite its current, frozen appearance, Pluto may actually harbor a subsurface ocean of liquid water, making up the magma-like mantle of the planet.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Wide Body Report - June 21, 2016

June 21, 2016

Kestrel Aviation has rolled out its first VIP version of the 787 Dreamliner, reconfigured to provide luxury accommodations for the rich and shameless.  The airplane will be delivered shortly to China's HNA Aviation Group.

Air Canada has launched daily flights between Vancouver and Newark featuring the Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner.

Despite initial success, sales of the largest variant of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, the 787-10, have slowed to a trickle.  Analysts are nonetheless projecting that as older 777 models begin to retire, the 787-10 will find additional orders during coming years.

Iranian officials have suggested that they are closing in on a 100-airplane order for Boeing aircraft, similar to the 118-airplane deal recently reached with Airbus.  The shape of any such arrangement is unclear, however.  Many of the aircraft in the Airbus deal, for example, were refurbished, second-hand models offered at reduced prices.

Boeing is reportedly close to a deal with Russia's largest air-freight company, Volga-Dnepr for the supply of additional 747 cargo jets - potentially extending the life of the 747 production line.  As of May, there were only 22 unfilled orders for the 747 still on Boeing's order books.

GE Aviation has broken ground in Huntsville, Alabama for a new factory that will mass-produce silicon-carbide materials for use in ceramic matrix composite (CMC) components in jet engines.  The new factory is part of a twin-factory complex dedicated to CMC production, covering some 100 acres, that is expected to open in 2018.

Airbus continues to struggle to meet its objective for delivering over 50 A350 aircraft this year, as supplier delays at Zodiac Aerospace and other interior furnishers have hampered aircraft deliveries.  Zodiac has since expanded its own production and sub-tier supplier base to keep up with the demand from Airbus.  Only nine A350s were delivered in the first five months of this year, placing an enormous challenge on Airbus to recover the production schedule.

Airbus has shifted the first flight of its A350-1000 prototype by "a matter of weeks," and has similarly delayed customer deliveries to the second half of 2017.  The A350-1000 is expected to compete with the Boeing 777 for long-haul sales.

Leasing firm Doric has begun to offer lease arrangements for second-hand Airbus A380 superjumbos at a steep discount, attempting to spur interest in short-duration leases as additional aircraft come off from their current 10-year lease arrangements with Emirates and other airlines.

Rolls-Royce has distributed a letter to its employees, emphasizing that remaining under the EU banner would benefit the aircraft engine manufacturer, and that talk about exiting the EU was placing investment in new facilities at risk.  British voters re expected to vote on June 23rd, regarding whether the UK should exit the European Union.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Single Aisle News - June 20, 2016

June 20, 2016

Bombardier's CS100 single-aisle aircraft was awarded certification by both the FAA and Europe's EASA this past week, clearing the way for customer deliveries.  The first aircraft are expected to be delivered by the end of June, with revenue service to commence in July.

The government of Quebec has confirmed that they have nearly completed their official contract negotiations for the investment of $1 billion by the provincial government to help the C-Series transition into production.

Bombardier executives fired back at allegations of trade rule violations from Embraer this past week, pointing out that the investment by Canada's provincial government in Quebec was "fully consistent with WTO rules and the transaction can be described as being very consistent with the usual equity investment practices of private investors."

The wreckage of an EgyptAir Airbus A320 which crashed last month, in what many have assumed was a terrorist attack, has been located, together with the cockpit voice recorder.

Canada's WestJet has suggested that it would consider buying the proposed, larger version of the Boeing 737 MAX-7, which would feature additional seats. WestJet currently has 65 Boeing 737 models already on order.

Azerbaijan Airlines has signaled that it would firm up the details for its lease arrangement for the Irkut MC-21, once flight tests are underway.  The airline has a tentative lease agreement for 10 aircraft.

China has formally launched its new China Aviation Engine Group - which is intended to be the new umbrella organization for all of China's jet engine manufacturing companies.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Fighter Jet Times - June 16, 2016

June 16, 2016

Lockheed Martin officials have suggested that if Canada backs away from purchasing the F-35, that Lockheed would withdraw F-35 subcontracts from Canadian companies.

Outgoing U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff, Mark Welsh has maintained that he remains confident that the Air Force will declare Initial Operational Capability (IOC) for the F-35 later this year, as scheduled.  He also expressed his disappointment for delays in the KC-46 aerial tanker program.

Lockheed Martin's Fort Worth machinist union will take a vote this weekend to authorize the union to call for a strike - should contract negotiations fail.  The final contract offer from Lockheed is expected to be voted on this coming July 9th, with the current contract set to expire on July 10th.  A strike would cripple Lockheed's ability to ramp-up production of the F-35.  The last strike at Lockheed took place in 2012 and lasted 10 weeks.

For only the second time since World War II, a Chinese navy ship has entered Japanese territorial waters.  The Chinese spy ship had been shadowing the U.S. aircraft carrier John C. Stennis, which will be taking part in training exercises with Japanese armed forces, when it crossed briefly into Japanese territorial waters near Kuchinoerabu Island.  Territorial waters are defined under international treaty as waters within 12 nautical miles of shore.  The U.S., Japan and India are scheduled to conduct joint naval maneuvers in the East China Sea this week.

North Korean hackers have reportedly stolen over 40,000 documents from South Korean sources, including blueprints for portions of the F-15 Eagle, which is flown by the South Korean air force.

The Botswana Defense Force has authorized the purchase of between 8 ang 12 Swedish-built Gripen C/D fighters to replace its aging force of Vietnam War-era F-5s.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Space Highlights - June 15, 2016

June 15, 2016

The U.S. National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) launched a new surveillance satellite this past week aboard a Delta 4-Heavy booster.

Lockheed Martin has completed launch preparations for the MUOS 5 (Mobile User Objective System) communications satellite for the U.S. Navy.  The satellite is expected to be placed into orbit later this month.

The launch of the Bank Rakyat Indonesia (BRI) communications satellite was delayed by a week due to problems with a fluid connector in the Ariane 5 rocket scheduled to launch it into orbit.

NASA's Curiosity rover evaluated its 12th drill sample on Mars, as it prepares to ascend the slopes of Mount Sharp.

A recent study, building on results from the Curiosity rover, has concluded that rocks sampled by the rover in 2015 point to an origin in an explosive volcanic event billions of years ago.  Whereas most of the samples taken by the Mars rover have been focused on documenting evidence for surface water in Mars' early history, these rocks correspond to the mineral tridymite - which is associated with explosive volcanic events, such as seen at Mount St. Helens on Earth.  This was the first time that tridymite has been confirmed on the surface of Mars.

NASA is evaluating the possibility or including a scout helicopter as part of the future Mars 2020 rover mission.  As proposed, the solar powered helicopter would scout ahead of its rover, utilizing large diameter rotor blades to provide a few minutes of flight in the thin Martian atmosphere each day.

NASA's Dawn spacecraft has been awarded the Collier Trophy, as the first spacecraft to orbit two extraterrestial targets: the asteroids Vesta and Ceres.

Newly released enhanced color views highlight the jagged shoreline along Pluto's frozen nitrogen sea.

NASA's Kepler space telescope has confirmed the existence of a Jupiter-sized planet in orbit around two stars - a circumbinary planet sometimes also referred to as a "Tatooine" planet, after the fictional homeworld of Luke Skywalker in Star Wars.  The planet, labeled Kepler-1647b is 3700 light years from earth.

Wide Body Report - June 14, 2016

June 14, 2016

Air Lease Corp has taken delivery of its first Boeing 787 Dreamliner.  The airplane is being leased out to China's Hainan Airlines.

Boeing's order book for the 777X consists primarily of Persian Gulf carriers - which has proven problematic for Boeing in recent months while oil prices have dipped and new orders have been slow in coming.

Airbus has announced that delivery of the first A350-900 to Taiwan's China Airlines would be delayed due to supplier issues that have hampered production ramp-up of the new airplane.  The first airplane was expected to be delivered in July, but will now be delayed until the end of September, at best.

Thai Airways International has placed orders for 12 Airbus A350-900 aircraft, including eight that would be leased.

Airbus accumulated 77 new A320 and 6 new A350 orders in May, for a year-to-date total of 160 aircraft orders.

Airbus is continuing to examine options for installing additional seats on the A380 superjumbo airline.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Single Aisle News - June 13, 2016

June 13, 2016

Embraer's CEO made a surprise exit this past week, in a move that was billed by Embraer as "planned," but which came as news to investors.

The new, incoming CEO of Embraer, Paulo Cesar de Souza e Silva lost no time in branding Bombardier's sales strategy as "distorting" the market through the use of steep discounts, which have given their rival an unfair advantage in early sales.  The Embraer E190-E2 and E195-E2 aircraft feature a version of the same Pratt & Whitney Geared Turbofan which powers the Bombardier C-Series - although the E2 family of aircraft are still undergoing flight test.

Canada's national government has signaled that it is willing to "find a solution" that would approve federal bail-out funding to help Bombardier transition the C-Series into production, but that changes in the company's two-tier shares structure would nonetheless need to be made.

SWISS flew its first passenger flight with the Bombardier C-Series this past week, flying a CS100 from Ireland to Switzerland with some 100 passengers, including CEOs invited from a variety of commercial airlines.

Russia rolled-out its first prototype MC-21 single aisle aircraft this past week: an airplane intended to challenge the Boeing 737 and Airbus A320 duopoly, and featuring a version of the Pratt & Whitney Geared Turbofan that also powers the Airbus A320 NEO.

India's GoAir completed its first, regularly scheduled commercial flight with the Airbust A320 NEO this past week.

Pratt & Whitney has delivered its first improved PW1100G Geared Turbofan to Airbus, for installation in the A320 NEO.  The upgraded engines feature software updates that are expected to eliminate "nuisance faults" that had been reported on earlier versions of the engine.  A hardware upgrade to resolve the long start time of early engine versions is expected to be available this summer.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Fighter Jet Times - June 9, 2016

June 9, 2016

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has declared earlier this week that the F-35 "does not work and is far from working," leading Lockheed executives to respond that "this aircraft is ready to go."

Dodging an outright rejection of the F-35, Canada's Cabinet has voted instead to purchase F/A-18E/F fighters as an "interim" replacement for Canada's fleet of F/A-18C/D aircraft.  The arrangement would "delay" any decision on the F-35, avoiding an outright cancellation of Canada's commitment to the F-35 program that might lead to legal questions.

The U.S. Senate has rejected proposals by the Pentagon for a multi-year "block buy" of the F-35.

The U.S. has criticized a recent "unsafe" intercept by Chinese J-10 fighters of a U.S. RC-135 surveillance aircraft that occurred on June 7th over the East China Sea.  It was the second such incident to occur this year, the previous event occurring on May 17th when two Chinese J-11 (Su-27) fighters intercepted a U.S. Navy EP-3E over the South China Sea.

Two South Carolina Air National Guard pilots successfully eject from their F-16 fighters following a midair collision over eastern Georgia.

As South Korea begins to ramp-up its KF-X development program to build its own homegrown stealth fighter, it is becoming increasingly apparant that such an effort will need to rely heavily on foreign technologies to succeed - including the development of an AESA (active electronically scanned array) radar, as well as the engines.

Israeli warplanes reportedly targeted a missile storage facility in Syria this past weekend.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Space Highlights - June 8, 2016

June 8, 2016

An unspecified "anomaly" forced Arianespace to postpone the launch of the next Ariane 5 booster, that had been expected to launch the Echostar XVIII and BRIsat communications satellites this week.

The Russian GEO-1K 2 satellite, designed to map the Earth's gravitational field, was placed into orbit this past week.

A U.S. military surveillance satellite is expected to be launched aboard a Delta 4 booster later this week.

The launch of three Russian "Gonets" communication satellites has been delayed until year-end.

A Russian Proton-M booster has been rolled into position for launch of an Intelsat communications satellite later this week.

Satellite companies continue to monitor the accumulation of debris in low earth orbit, which poses a potential hazard to satellites of all varieties.

NASA's Opportunity rover has discovered additional evidence for ancient water on Mars, in the form of sulfate rich salts in the soil - which suggest that water once pooled at the edge of the crater where the rover recently arrived.

The ESA regained contact with the Rosetta spacecraft after it briefly lost contact over the weekend.  It is believed that the spacecraft became disoriented, after its navigation system mistook dust particles for navigational stars as it adjusted its antenna orientation.  Rosetta is currently in orbit around Comet 67P.

A newly released back-lit photo of Pluto captures detailed images of Pluto's clouds for the first time.  The clouds are believed to be formed from methane, condensing in Pluto's nitrogen atmosphere.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Wide Body Report - June 7, 2016

June 7, 2016

Ethiopian Airlines is reportedly negotiating a deal for 10-15 Boeing 777-8 aircraft.

GE Capital Aviation Services has delivered the first of two new Boeing 787-9s to Air Canada as part of a purchase-and-leaseback deal.

United Airlines has launched a nonstop route between San Francisco and Singapore flying the Boeing 787 - the longest Dreamliner route currently in service.

Emirates is close to finalizing a deal for either the 787 Dreamliner or Airbus A350.  The airline intends to close on an agreement with one or the other aircraft manufacturer in time for July's Farnborough Air Show.

Airbus is evaluating whether developing an even larger A350 model - larger still than the 366-seat A350-1000 still under development - would be supported by market demand.

Analysts are already predicting the demise of the A380 production line in the not-so-distant future, as new orders continue to grow sparse.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Single Aisle News - June 6, 2016

June 6, 2016

Having closed a landmark deal with Delta Air Lines, Bombardier executives have hinted that future C-Series sales will see significantly less discount attached to them.

Both Bombardier and Embraer are reportedly in a bidding contest to supply aircraft to Ethiopian Airlines.

Airline Swiss, the launch customer for the Bombardier C-Series aircraft, has upgraded another 5 of the aircraft on order from the CS100 to the larger CS300 model.  That brings the airline up to 15 CS300 orders, 10 CS100 models, and a further 5 that remain undetermined.

Panama's Copa Airlines expects to receive its first Boeing 737 MAX in the second half of 2018.  The airline has 61 MAX aircraft on order.

The A320 NEO has received joint FAA/EASA certification with the CFM International LEAP-1A engine.  All aircraft delivered up until now have been equipped with the Pratt & Whitney PW1100G engine alternative.

Qatar Airways has announced that it is dropping the first jet on its order backlog for the A320 NEO, citing delivery delays due to unsatisfactory start-up times for the airplane's PW1100G engines.  The airline has not announced if it will re-order the airplane with the alternative CFM International LEAP-1A engine, or if it will order Boeing 737s instead - either of which would take longer than for the promised updates to the existing PW1100G engine to be implemented this summer, leading some analysts to suggest that the cancellation was a negotiating ploy.

India's GoAir has taken delivery of its first A320 NEO, equipped with Pratt & Whitney PW1100G Geared Turbofan engines, becoming the third operator of the type.

Pratt & Whitney has already incorporated the improvements identified from the PW1100G engine that powers the A320 NEO, into the PW1400G engine intended to power the Irkut MC-21.

Embraer officials are hopeful that the prototype E190-E2 regional jet, which recently completed its first flight test, would be available to appear at next month's Farnborough Air Show.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Fighter Jet Times - June 3, 2016

June 3, 2016

The US Air Force has decided that it will not be sending the F-35A to the Farnboroush Air Show this summer, backing out of plans to send two aircraft.  The US Marine Corps will still be sending two F-35B aircraft to the show, however, as part of the first tour of the F-35 at European air show, and the US Air Force will be sending the F-35A to appear at the Royal International Air Tattoo (RIAT) in June.

Recent tests carried out by the Netherlands suggest that the F-35 isn't as loud as some of its detractors had been warning it might be, and is only slightly louder than the F-16s that the Dutch already fly.  The study was based on the "loudness" of the two airplanes, as perceived by Dutch residents near an air base where the two aircraft were both flown at regular intervals.

Despite being late to deliver on its full potential, the F-35s helmet - with its ability to project nighttime infrared imaging on the pilot's visor as well as all-around vision that "see's through" the airplane - remains an impressive technology marvel,

Critics of the program have pointed out that the F-35 isn't mentioned by name even once in the US Air Force's recently released "Air Superiority 2030 Battle Plan"

The US Air Force's outgoing Chief of Staff has suggested that restarting the F-22 production line, although an expensive proposition, is not an altogether unreasonable alternative.

Chinese military officials have denied unofficial reports suggesting that the J-20 fighter jet had already entered operational service, indicating that the new stealth fighter was only now joining in training exercises, and would reach operational units "soon".

Pentagon reviewers have concluded that the close-encounter between a Chinese J-11 fighter and a U.S. surveillance aircraft last week violated the agreed upon interception practices that had been mutually approved by the two nations.

GE's F414 engine won a down-select this week to supply engines for South Korea's KF-X stealth fighter, now under development, winning out in a competition with the Eurojet EJ200.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Space Highlights - June 2, 2016

June 2, 2016

China successfully launched three satellites into orbit this past week, including Ziyuan III (a high-resolution commercial mapping satellite), as well as two NewSat satellites from Uruguay.

SpaceX launched the Thaicom 8 communications satellite aboard a Falcon 9 rocket this week, and successfully landed the first stage aboard a floating barge.

Russia launched a GLONASS-M navigation satellite aboard a Soyuz 2-1B booster this past week.

Leveraging observations from the Rosetta spacecraft of comet 67P, researchers have confirmed that the chemical building blocks for life can be found in comets.  This finding reinforces one theory that many of the ingrediants for early life on Earth may have been brought to the surface of the planet by comet impacts in the early solar system.

NASA is continuing to monitor the wear on the wheels of the Curiosity rover, as the spacecraft completes its traverse to its next exploration site.

Researchers have determined that the bright patches first observed on the surface of the dwarf planet Ceres by the Dawn spacecraft, have a regular pattern of brightening during the day before dimming each night.  The bright features are believed to be the result of sub-surface salt deposits that have been exposed by recent impacts, but the brightening cycle remains unexplained.

NASA has released some of the closest, most detailed images yet from the New Horizons spacecraft, featuring resolution of Pluto's surface down to 260 feet across.

A researcher at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greebelt, MD has put forward a proposal that the gravity waves recently detected by the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) may provide evidence that the "dark matter" that makes up the majority of the known universe may in fact be captured in primordial black holes.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Wide Body Report - June 1, 2016

June 1, 2016

A Korean Air Boeing 777 experienced an engine fire in Tokyo this past week, resulting in an emergency evacuation of the aircraft.  A total of 19 people were injured or reported feeling unwell following the evacuation.

Emirates has announced plans to introduce the Boeing 777 on its Cyprus flights, replacing the Airbus A340-300 that currently covers this route.

Cathay Pacific has taken delivery of its first Airbus A350 aircraft.

Airbus has launched an initiative to address A350 delivery delays and supplier issues.  Cabin suppliers have topped the list for delays in aircraft deliveries.

Rolls-Royce aims to sell one Trent XWB engine, which equips the Airbus A350, at a pace of one per day by 2017.