Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Space Highlights - August 31, 2016

August 31, 2016

The Intelsat 33e and a second Intelsat EpicNG communications satellite was launched this week aboard an Ariane 5 rocket.

India became the fourth nation to conduct an experimental, scramjet (supersonic combustion ramjet) flight test, launching a scramjet-powered test article to hypersonic speeds atop a rocket booster.  The air-breathing scramjet has been the subject of interest in the U.S. and elsewhere, for use in both high-speed, military applications, as well as for satellite launch purposes.

China has unveiled designs for its planned 2020 Mars lander and rover mission.  Weighing over 400-lb, the proposed rover would feature a six-wheeled configuration, but would have a less complicated suspension than the Curiosity or Opportunity rovers developed by NASA.

NASA has signed a contract to launch its Mars 2020 rover mission aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 booster.  This was the same booster type that launched the previous Curiosity rover in 2006.

Scientists have demonstrated that the salty brine responsible for the seasonal dark streaks that have been observed at certain locations on Mars, referred to as recurring slope lineae (RSL) likely contain very little liquid water combined with a very high salt content.  Estimates place the resulting water content of the soil as similar to some of the driest deserts on Earth.

After nearly two years of silence, NASA has reestablished contact with its STEREO-B solar probe.  The spacecraft was originally part of a two-spacecraft network that was intended to provide stereo imaging of the sun's surface.  The sister STEREO-A spacecraft has continued to operate without interruption.

NASA has released additional images of Saturn's moons, as captured by the Cassini spacecraft, as the Cassini mission winds down to its eventual end this coming month.

European researchers have confirmed earlier reports that they have confirmed an earth-sized planet in the habitable zone of Proxima Centauri - the star closest to our own sun.  Proxima Centauri lies some 4.25 light years away, and is the closest member of the Alpha Centauri trinary star system.  The planet is estimated to be some 1.3 times Earth's mass, and orbits its red-dwarf parent star within the "habitable zone" where liquid water might exist on its surface.

NASA's Juno mission has completed its second close flyby of the giant planet, coming closer to the cloud surface than any previous spacecraft.  Juno is currently in a highly elliptical orbit, that will be transitioned to a slightly less severe trajectory during the coming months.

Researchers have confirmed discovery of a galaxy made up almost entirely of dark matter.  Using the relative motion of stars orbiting the galaxy's central core, scientists were able to confirm that some 99.99-percent of the faint galaxy Dragonfly 44 is made up of dark matter, which is invisible to the electromagnetic spectrum.  Researchers hope that this, and similar galaxies will help them to determine if dark matter - which makes up the majority of the matter in the universe - interacts in any way with either other dark matter, or with ordinary matter, through means other than gravity.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Wide Body Report - August 30, 2016

August 30, 2016

Cathay Pacific is reportedly testing a more dense, 3-4-3 seating arrangement on its Boeing 777 aircraft, as the airline attempts to reverse its recent, negative earnings release.

Turbine blade corrosion has led Japan's All Nippon Airways (ANA) to ground six aircraft in its Boeing 787 fleet.  ANA currently operates the largest 787 fleet in the world, with some 50 aircraft, all powered by Rolls-Royce Trent engines.

Australia's Qantas Airways is looking to expand its Dreamliner fleet, with up to 45 aircraft options and purchase rights that could be converted into firm orders in the coming weeks.  The airline currently operates 11 Boeing 787s.

Airbus has rolled out its first A350-900 airliner intended for delivery to China Airlines.  The Taiwanese carrier has a total of 14 A350s on order, with the first four expected this year.

Rolls-Royce has firmed up contract details for Trent 700 engines, which will power 15 Airbus A330 aircraft on order from China Eastern Airlines.

Korean Air expects to begin flying the Airbus A380 from Sydney, Australia, beginning in October, replacing older A330s on that route.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Single Aisle News - August 29, 2016

August 29, 2016

After the first full month of operating the new Bombardier C-Series, Swiss International Air Lines spokeswoman Karin Muller praised the airplane's dispatch reliability rates, pointing out that, "The dispatch reliability of the first aircraft has already reached a high value, much higher than in comparison with the dispatch reliability of other new aircraft types during phase-in."  Muller compared the demonstrated C-Series dispatch reliability to other new aircraft such as the Airbus A320 NEO and Boeing 787 Dreamliner.

Bombardier has handed out pink slips in Montreal this past week, as part of an effort to cut its global work force by some 7,000 workers and return the company to profitability.

Textron Inc, which is the holding company for business jet manufacturer Cessna, has indicated that it would be willing to buy Bombardier's Learjet division "at the right price."  The announcement comes following signals that Bombardier might be looking to spin-off its Learjet division to help pay for the ramp-up of the C-Series into full scale production.

The third Embraer E190-E2 is expected to join the flight test fleet this coming month.  To date, the first two prototypes have amassed over 160 flight hours out of a planned 2,000 flight hour test program.

After two aborted ferry flight attempts - intended to transfer the aircraft to the United States as part of its certification flight test program - the first Mitsubishi Regional Jet was returned to the hanger due to an air conditioner fault.

Irkut has delivered an MC-21 fuselage to Russia's Central AeroHydrodynamic Institute (TsAGI) for static fatigue tests.

China has announced ambitious plans for its state-owned Aero-Engine Group of China to develop aircraft engines to power the next generation of Chinese military and commercial aircraft.  The new state-owned firm was recently created by combining separate military and commercial engine groups.

A Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 safely made an emergency landing following a failure involving its port-side CFM56 engine.  The aircraft had been enroute from New Orleans to Orlando.  The cause of the failure, which appears to involve the cowl of the engine, is unknown.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Fighter Jet Times - August 25, 2016

August 25, 2016

The F-35 program recently completed 25 weapons tests in a single month - compared to only three in November of 2014.  During this period, some 30 weapons were fired or released, including Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAMs), Small Diameter Bombs (SDBs), the AIM-120 air-to-air missile, and the AIM-9X air-to-air missile.

Despite the recent surge in F-35 weapons integration tests, the Pentagon's Director of Operational Testing, Michael Gilmore has warned that the F-35 was "on a path toward failing to deliver."

A study commissioned by Canada's new government reports that Canada could withdraw from the F-35 program by paying a little over $300 million in termination fees, and providing 90 days notice.  To date, Canada's recently elected Liberal party has deferred production orders for the F-35, but has not formally withdrawn from the program.  Liberal party politicians campaigned on a promise to withraw from the program.

U.S. F-22 Raptors were called in to escort Syrian Su-24 strike jets away from positions in eastern Syria where U.S. special forces were reportedly on the ground, providing assistance to local Syrian-Kurdish armed forces that have been fighting against ISIS.  The Syrian strike aircraft reportedly aborted additional air strikes in the area, and returned to base.

Following the U.S. Air Force declaration of Initial Operational Capability (IOC) for the F-35A stealth fighter, the U.S. Air Force has designated Japan for the first overseas deployment of operational F-35A aircraft.  The deployment is scheduled to take place in January 2017.

Japan has announced plans to upgrade its F-15J fighters to increase the number of air-to-air missiles that the fighter is capable of carrying from eight to sixteen.  The move is seen as being a response to increased Chinese air activity near disputed islands in the East China Sea.

South Korea dispatched four F-15K fighters this past week to escort Chinese bombers that had entered South Korea's air defense zone near Jeju Island.

The Indian government has sought a waiver from France for a contract clause that would have required the Indian government to make an advance payment of some 134 million euros for the purchase of 36 Rafale fighters.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Space Highlights - August 24, 2016

August 24, 2016

Two Geosynchronous Space Situational Awareness Program (GSSAP) satellites were launched into orbit this past week aboard a Delta 4 rocket, on behalf of the U.S. military.  The two satellites are intended to track the movement of other geosynchronous satellites in orbit, to asses threats from either damage or eavesdropping aimed at U.S. commercial and military satellites.

NASA's Curiosity Mars rover has captured another stunning 360 degree vista of the surface of the red planet, capturing images of eroded buttes and mesas on the horizon.

NASA's asteroid sample return mission has been prepped for launch on September 8th.  The new OSIRIS-REx space probe is intended to capture a sample from an asteroid and return it to earth orbit for eventual collection by a future mission.  The spacecraft will also map the surface of the asteroid that it visits using a laser altimeter.

Planetary scientists are speculating that a recently discovered, Venus-like exoplanet could harbor an oxygen rich atmosphere, based upon models for how intense stellar radiation is expected to decompose water in the upper atmosphere of the planet.  The planet GJ 1132b orbits a red dwarf star some 39 light-years from Earth.  The proposed climate model, however, will have to await more powerful telescopes, such as the James Webb Space Telescope due to be launched in 2018, before it can be verified.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Wide Body Report - August 23, 2016

August 23, 2016

Japan's All Nippon Airways (ANA) received its 50th Boeing 787 Dreamliner this past week.  ANA was the launch customer for the 787.

Russia's Aeroflot is reportedly looking to sell its contract for the purchase of twenty two Boeing 787s.  The cash-strapped airline had previously announced that it was delaying delivery of the aircraft.

TAL Manufacturing Solutions, a division of India's Tata, has begun delivering floor beams to Boeing for the 787 Dreamliner.

Jetstar is making emergency repairs to 11 engines to resolve an oil pressure problem that forced a Jetstar 787 to make an emergency landing in Guam after the engine shut-down mid-flight.  The repairs affect half of the Australian airline's GEnx engines, and will eventually be extended to its entire engine fleet.

Boeing has signaled that it would be willing to convert Pakistan Internaional Airlines' (PIA's) existing orders for the 777-300ER to orders for the 787 Dreamliner, as the airliner struggles to return to profitability.

Market analysts have concluded that Boeing has become increasingly reliant on deliveries of the 737 and 787 as the market for the 747 and the current 777 model fades.  This makes it all the more essential that Boeing quickly transition the 787 from a money drain into a profitable venture as it attempts to make up for lost deliveries on its previous money-makers.

In an unusual gesture, Airbus is offering overtime to its workers as it labors to get its A350 delivery schedule back on track.  The unusual offer for overtime pay would allow the A350 assembly line to remain open through the month of August, when most of Europe traditionally has shut-down for a month-long vacation.

Ethiopian Airlines has taken delivery of its second Airbus A350-900.

With production rates for the Airbus A380 cut to one aircraft per month, it is becoming less and less likely that the super-jumbo will achieve more than half of its originally forecast market of 600-700 aircraft.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Single Aisle News - August 22, 2016

August 22, 2016

Swiss International Air Lines' spokesperson Karin Mueller has confided that, despite minor glitches to its introduction, SWISS remains satisfied with the performance of the Bombardier C-Series throughout its first 30 days of service.  To date, SWISS reports that the CS100 has a 99% dispatch reliability rate.

Difficulties at Boeing and Airbus in arranging export financing for their aircraft is reportedly being seized upon by Bombardier to seek additional C-Series sales.  Boeing has been at an impasse since the U.S. Congress suspended government loan guarantees for U.S. aerospace exports as a cost saving measure, while Airbus is currently undergoing a criminal probe for reported bribery on the part of high level Airbus officials.

India's GoAir plans to hire 500 additional personnel in the coming months, as it takes delivery of its first Airbus A320 NEO aircraft.

The FAA will be publishing a ruling regarding additional safety features that will be required for the proposed installation of lithium batteries aboard the Boeing 737 MAX.  The additional safety features are based on adverse experience, involving multiple in-flight fires, aboard the Boeing 787 Dreamliner back in 2013.  To protect against future occurrences, the Boeing installed a fire resistant housing around the Dreamliner batteries.

Russia's Irkut has sent initial paperwork to Russian aviation authorities to establish the type certification for the Irkut MC-21 single aisle airliner - which has yet to fly.

Mitsubishi Aircraft Corp. plans to fly its first prototype Mitsubishi Regional Jet (MRJ) to the United States later this month, to begin flight testing in Washington state.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Book Review: Jane's How to Fly and Fight in the Mikoyan MiG-29

Jon Lake
Jane's How to Fly and Fight in the Mikoyan MiG-29 Fulcrum
New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1997
Category: Aviation History

Rating: 4-Stars

Jon Lake's slim volume covering the MiG-29 is nowhere near as complete Yefim Gordon's later, exhaustive tome on the subject, nor was it ever meant to be.  Written long before many key documents were available in the West, Jon Lake's profile of the Soviet Union's last lightweight, Frontal Aviation fighter represents a key snapshot from the mid-1990s, in the years shortly after the Cold War had ended.

What makes this particular book stand out, even decades later, is its collection of first-hand pilot interviews, conducted with aviators who had actually trained and flown in the aircraft.  This includes extensive accounts from a former Soviet (Russian) pilot, a U.S. exchange pilot who flew and assessed the aircraft in East Germany after the fall of the Berlin Wall, and a West German Luftwaffe pilot who was charged with integrating the type into the new, united German air force.  The candor of these pilots, and their differing perspectives on both the strengths and weaknesses of the aircraft is what makes this volume unique.

For the Soviet pilot who had never known anything other than East Bloc warplanes, the praise heaped on the aircraft is well deserved.  The MiG-29 had succeeded in delivering the point air defense fighter that was a key part in a much larger, Soviet air defense system.  For the U.S. pilot, coming from years in the cockpit of the F-16, the lack of human engineering and the very poor cockpit design were key limiters to the effectiveness of the MiG, although he also retained a healthy respect for the MiG's short-range, high-off-boresight heat seeking missiles.  And for the Luftwaffe pilot, the type's limited range and lack of multirole capabilities makes the airplane's integration into the West German fleet a constant struggle.

In other respects, the text of this book has been overtaken by other resources that have helped to flesh out the technical picture for this important aircraft type.  Taken together, however, the cross section of observations offered by the pilots themselves - faithfully rendered by author Jon Lake - makes this a unique and invaluable look at this important aircraft, more than compensating for minor shortcomings elsewhere.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Fighter Jet Times - August 18, 2016

August 18, 2016

The F-35C is currently undergoing sea trials aboard the USS George Washington.

The UK is stockpiling a new version of the ASRAAM (Advanced Short Range Air-to-Air Missile) that will be compatible with the F-35B fighter.

Russia's Ministry of Defense has released new footage depicting two prototype PAK-FA stealth fighter prototypes, as the Russian manufacturer struggles to justify the reported $50 million unit price tag for the new aircraft.

The U.S. Air Force is reportedly facing a projected shortage of some 700 pilots this year, with a similar shortage in trained mechanics.  Retaining skilled manpower has been a growing issue for the U.S. armed forces throughout the past decade.

Russian T-22M bombers and Su-34 strike jets have begun staging air strikes on anti-government rebels in Syria, using air bases in northern Iran.  The strikes are being carried out despite U.S. protests.  Russian officials have asserted that the air strikes are targeted against ISIS, while U.S. officials have maintained that the air strikes have been targeted against multiple anti-government factions - including rebel groups supported by the United States.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Space Highlights - August 17, 2016

August 17, 2016

SpaceX successfully launched Japan's JCSAT-16 communications satellite into orbit this past week, and recovered the first stage of its Falcon 9 booster aboard an ocean barge.

China launched an experimental satellite into orbit this past week, that is being hailed as the first "hack-proof" generation of satellites.  The satellite is intended to conduct experiments in quantum entanglement, a phenomena which some believe could result in unbreakable cyber codes.

Also this past week, China launched the Gaofen-3 radar imaging satellite into orbit aboard a Long March 4C booster.

NASA's Cassini spacecraft has confirmed that previously identifed canyons on the surface of Saturn's moon Titan were in fact carved by rivers of liquid methane.  The presence of liquid methane at the bottom of the steep-walled canyons was recently confirmed by the bright reflection of radar waves - which have been used to map the surface of Titan - signifying that the radar had detected a smooth, liquid surface.

Scientists scanning for signs of "dark matter" in distant galaxies have begun to eliminate various candidates and theoretical models for the matter than makes up the majority of the mass in the universe.  Many of the theoretical models for dark matter still require that the unidentified particles that make up this material should nonetheless interact with each other or with ordinary matter under select circumstances.  All observations to date, however, have failed to detect any such interaction, other than the observed gravitational pull that the "missing matter" exerts on a galactic scale.

Scientists have reportedly discovered an Earth-sized planet orbiting within the habitable zone of Proxima Centauri, the star closest to our own sun.  An official announcement is expected later this month, although the European astronomers who reportedly discovered the planet are refusing to comment.  Proxima Centauri is a red dwarf star, approximately 4.25 light years from Earth.  Any planet in its habitable zone would be tidally locked due to its close proximity to its parent star.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Wide Body Report - August 16, 2016

August 16, 2016

Boeing expects to decide within the next two months whether further cuts will need to be made to its 777 production line.  Production was already scheduled to be cut from 100 aircraft annually to 84 aircraft annually in 2017.

Boeing officials have signalled that they have no intention of increasing production of the 787 Dreamliner at this time.  Some market analysts had previously suggested that Boeing might consider increasing the 787 production rate, to offset reduced demand and production for the 777 airliner.

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau has opened an investigation into an engine shut-down incident involving a Jetstar Airways Boeing 787-8.

Ethiopian Airlines has begun service with the A350-900 on its London Heathrow to Addis Ababa route.

Singapore Airlines has inaugurated service to Melbourne with the A350 for the first time.

Single Aisle News - August 15, 2016

August 15, 2016

Bombardier has announced that it will be cutting a further 95 jobs at its Belfast plant as part of a plan for reducing its global workforce by some 7,000 over the next two years.  Bombardier's Belfast plant produced the composite wings for the initial prototype and production C-Series aircraft.

Airbus' extended-range A320LR NEO variant is projected to complicated Boeing's plans for a proposed, "Middle of the Market" (MoM) 757-replacement, capturing important sales and momentum well ahead of any possible production date for the proposed Boeing aircraft.

Russia's Irkut is preparing to begin endurance testing of the horizontal stabilizer for its MC-21 single-aisle aircraft.  The prototype part has already completed ultrasonic inspection.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Fighter Jet Times - August 11, 2016

August 11, 2016

Congressional lawmakers have withheld $1 billion from the $5.3 billion that the Pentagon had requested for the F-35 program, until the Secretary of the Air Force is willing to certify that all necessary fixes for the aircraft will be in place within the next two years.  The Congressional decision has further delayed signing for the next contract between Lockheed Martin and the U.S. Department of Defense.

Singapore has put on hold any decisions regarding whether to procure the F-35 stealth fighter.  The island nation had previously inquired into the possible purchase of 12 F-35Bs.

During a four-day visit, Pakistan's Air Chief Marshall Sohail Aman recently offered to sell Kuwait the JF-17 fighter, which was developed by China and which is partially produced and assembled in Pakistan.

Satellite footage has confirmed that China has completed the construction of fortified hangars, suitable for fighter aircraft, on some of the man-made islands that were recently constructed atop coral reefs in the South China Sea.  Chinese officials, meanwhile, report that China has stepped up fighter and bomber patrols in the disputed South China Sea region, "safeguarding national sovereignty, security and maritime interests."

A new study published by the Center for a New American Security (CNAS) suggests that $100 billion or more could potentially be saved across the total life cycle cost for a new sixth-generation naval fighter, if an unmanned system was procured rather than a manned aircraft.  The projected cost savings comes primarily from a reduction in the required number of aircraft that would need to be procured and maintained.  Founded in 2007, CNAS is a Washington-based think tank that has been cited heavily by the Obama administration.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Space Highlights - August 10, 2016

August 10, 2016

SpaceVR has signed a launch agreement with SpaceX to place its first virtual reality satellite camera into orbit in the summer of 2017.  The camera's footage would be projected inside an Earth-based sphere, to provide customers with an immersive, streaming footage, orbital virtual-reality experience.

China conducted a surprise launch of its first Tiantong-1 communications satellite this week, aboard a Long March 3B booster.  The launch was not announced prior to lift-off - an event which some locals reported as an "earthquake" after the launch shook windows in nearby towns.

Micro-satellite provider Vector Space Systems has won an agreement from Finland's Iceye for the launch of 21 synthetic aperture radar satellites.

NASA's Curiosity rover recently celebrated its fourth year on the surface of Mars.

NASA's Cassini spacecraft has made its deepest plunge to date through the icy water plumes that erupt from the surface of Saturn's moon, Enceladus.

Scientists have been using subtle variations in the orbital trajectory of the Dawn spacecraft to create a gravity map of the surface of the asteroid Ceres, providing insight into the internal structure of the dwarf planet.  The data suggests that Ceres has a complex internal structure with multiple layers where rock and ice have separated during its early history.

Researchers have tracked winds on the exoplanet Kepler 438b that have reached speeds up to 20 times faster than the highest wind speeds recorded on Earth.  The exoplanet was located by the Kepler space telescope, and resides some 470 light years away from Earth.  The planet is only slightly larger than Jupiter, but orbits a flaring red dwarf star at a distance closer than the planet Mercury is to our own Sun.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Wide Body Report - August 9, 2016

August 9, 2016

Passengers and crew were successfully evacuated from a Boeing 777-300 operated by Emirates, that crashed during an emergency landing in Dubai.  The aircraft burst into flames after landing and was destroyed in the subsequent fire.  The cause of the crash is still unclear.

Qantas is reportedly evaluating a direct London to Perth route for its first 787 Dreamliner, due to be delivered later this year.

A Boeing 787 en route from Tokyo to the Gold Coast, Australia was forced to make an emergency landing in Guam this past week due to an engine warning light.  The aircraft, powered by GEnx engines and operated by Jetstar has already had two engines replaced in less than a year.

Delta Air Lines plans to cut its 747 fleet down from nine to seven aircraft later this year, as it prepares for the type's eventual retirement.  Delta has been phasing out 747 operations in favor of 777s on most of its long haul routes.

Virgin Australia is negotiating with both Airbus and Boeing to replace its older A330s with either A350-900 or Boeing 777 aircraft.

LATAM Airlines Brazil has become the first airline to operate the Airbus A350-900 in the Americas, beginning with its route between Orlando and Sao Paulo.

Qantas Airways has concluded that the dozen A380s that it already operates are sufficient to meet current and projected route needs, and has delayed indefinitely its remaining order for an additional eight A380s.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Single Aisle News - August 8, 2016

August 8, 2016

Bombardier reported a $490 million second quarter net loss, also reporting that Ilyushin Finance Co. had reduced a previous order for 32 CS300 aircraft to 20 aircraft.  The majority of the quarterly loss, however, was attributed to a one-time, non-cash "onerous contract provision" related to three particular C-Series orders - with an adjusted quarterly loss of $83 million.

Iran is reportedly negotiating terms for the purchase of 20 Mitsubishi Regional Jet aircraft.

India's budget carrier IndiGo may have to delay taking delivery of additional A320 NEO aircraft currently on order, due to engine issues with the aircraft's Pratt & Whitney powerplant.

Embraer has awarded contracts to New York-based CPI Aerostructures for the supply of engine pylon components for the E2 series of regional jets, currently under flight test.

CFM International partner, Safran reports that they expect to deliver around 100 Leap engines this year, before ramping up to around 500 engine deliveries in 2017.  The Leap-1A is one of two engine alternatives offered on the Airbus A320 NEO, while the Leap-1B is the exclusive engine on the Boeing 737 MAX, which is still in flight test.

Japan's Mitsubishi Heavy Industries has announced that it is reorganizing its defense aero-engine business, combining it with its existing commercial jet engine business - which has engaged in a number of collaborative programs with both Rolls-Royce and Pratt & Whitney.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Fighter Jet Times - August 4, 2016

August 4, 2016

The U.S. Air Force has declared Initial Operational Capability (IOC) for its F-35A stealth fighter, with the 34th Fighter Squadron at Hill Air Force Base, Utah announced as the first operational squadron.

USAF pilots report that training engagements with the F-35 have been complicated by the fighter's stealth characteristics, which make it difficult for simulated enemy radars to track the aircraft during training encounters.

India and France have signed an inter-governmental agreement, to help pave the way towards a final deal for the supply of Rafale fighters to India.

European contractors are marketing the Eurofighter Typhoon as an alternative for Bahrain, which is looking to replace its remaining F-5 fighters.

Israeli air force pilots are expected to take part in Red Flag exercises later this month, alongside pilots from Pakistan and the United Arab Emirates.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Space Highlights - August 3, 2016

August 3, 2016

India's student-designed IIT-B satellite is expected to be launched by ISRO in September.

NASA's Juno spacecraft has now passed the highest-point in its orbit and is heading back towards Jupiter for another close encounter with the gas giant.  Juno is intended to probe Jupiter's atmosphere with a suite of instruments unavailable to previous spacecraft.

Competing teams from Israel and the United States are currently the front-runners to win the Google Lunar X-Prize to be the first to land a privately developed and funded spacecraft on the moon.  The teams at MoonExpress and SpaceIL are focusing on microspacecraft that would weigh only a few pounds each.  To succeed, the winning team must soft-land their spacecraft on the moon, move at least 500 meters in any direction on the lunar surface, and transmit high-definition video back to Earth.  The teams have until the end of December 2017 to complete the mission in order to claim the $20 million prize.

Chinese researchers have announced that data from their Chang'e 3 lunar probe has confirmed the absence of water on the lunar surface.  Previously, scientists had speculated that some lunar craters, which are protected from sunlight, might harbor ice deposits.

Wide Body Report - August 2, 2016

August 2, 2016

China's Xiamen Airlines has placed an order for six Boeing 787-9s.  Xiamen Airlines flies an all-Boeing fleet.

Jet Airways plans to deploy the Boeing 777-300ER on its Mumbai-Amsterdam route, beginning in October.

An Emirates Boeing 777 en route to the Maldives made an emergency landing in Mumbai this past week, due to an unspecified "technical fault."

Boeing officials have acknowledged that production of the 747 may be nearing its end.

Airbus has rolled out its first prototype for the Airbus A350-1000, featuring a stretched fuselage and a larger wing as compared to the Airbus A350-900 currently in productions.  The A350-1000 is targeting to compete against the Boeing 777, while the A350-900 is targeted at the market for the Boeing 787.

Although European authorities at EASA have accepted Airbus' proposal to switch from nickel cadmium to lithium ion batteries as a weight saving measure for the A350 family of aircraft, the United States' FAA has not yet approved the change, demanding additional safety measures and/or testing.  Lithium ion batteries were responsible for multiple fires aboard the 787 Dreamliner, mandating the installation of a heavy, fire-proof box to house the batteries.

Emirates plans to deploy the Airbus A380 super-jumbo airliner on its Johannesburg route, beginning in February.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Single Aisle News - August 1, 2016

August 1, 2016

Latvia's airBaltic is preparing to become the launch customer for the CS300 version of the Bombardier C-Series.

London City Airport is going forward with expansion plans, geared towards supporting new jet aircraft such as the Bombardier C-Series, which are expected to expand the number of routes that the small downtown airport can support.  The airport has strict noise requirements, and a relatively short runway, which have limited expansion options in the past.

Malaysia Airlines has placed an order for 25 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft, with options for a further 25.

Boeing has been showing off the handling capabilities of its 737 MAX prototypes, as it attempts to generate additional interest in the new aircraft.

Engine manufacturer Pratt & Whitney expects to deliver its first upgraded PW1100G Geared Turbofan engine to Lufthansa this week, resolving many of the engine start-up time issues that had plagued the introduction of the A320 NEO among early operators.

A composite static wing box for the Irkut MC-21 has been delivered for static testing.