Monday, October 31, 2016

Single Aisle News - October 31, 2016

October 31, 2016

Spirit Airlines CEO Bob Fornaro has revealed that the airline is evaluating a possible order for Bombardier's CS100 C-Series.  Spirit currently operates an all-Airbus fleet, and was the first North American customer to take delivery of the A320 NEO.

Republic Airways Holdings has deferred its order for 40 Bombardier CS300 aircraft, as it udergoes bankruptcy proceedings.  Republic was Bombardier's first North American C-Series customer.

Bombardier's prototype CS300 aircraft has arrived in Zhuhai, China where it will be on static display for the Zhuhai Air Show.  It is estimated that China will take delivery of 1150 aircraft in the 100 to 150 seat size class during the next 20 years, making it a potentially significant market if Bombardier can break into it.  The C-Series features an aluminum-lithium fuselage that is expected to be co-produced by a Chinese supplier.

Embraer has reached a $205.5 million corruption settlement with the governments of the United States and Brazil.

SAS Scandanavian Airlines has taken delivery of its first Airbus A320 NEO, powered by CFM International LEAP-1A engines.

Frontier Airlines became the first customer in the U.S. to receive an A320 NEO equipped with CFM International LEAP-1A engines.

CFM International partner Safran has announced that over 40 LEAP-1A engines have been delivered to date to Airbus for installation aboard the A320 NEO.  The LEAP-1A competes with Pratt & Whitney's PW1100G Geared TurboFan engine for A320 NEO customers.

Airbus has decreased the number of A320 NEOs that it has forecast to be built in 2016 due to engine delivery snags, from 20% of total A320 deliveries to less than 15%.  The manufacturer has also increased the number of A320 CEO deliveries to make up the difference.  Airbus executives report that third quarter profits were down due to delays in both A320 NEO and A350 deliveries, both caused by supplier delivery shortfalls.

Speaking at their 3rd quarter conference call, Boeing executives confirmed that the company is still evaluating either a stretched 737 MAX-10 variant, or a new middle of the market (MoM) aircraft.

Russian officials have announced that there has been no flutter issues detected during wind tunnel testing of the Irkut MC-21 design.  The MC-21 is expected to compete with the Boeing 737 MAX and Airbus A320 NEO, and features a composite wing, as well as a derivative of the Pratt & Whitney Geared TurboFan engine used on the A320 NEO.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Fighter Jet Times - October 27, 2016

October 27, 2016

Some analysts are proposing that the F-35 stealth fighter, with its advanced sensor suite and radar evading capabilities, will alter how future wars are fought.

A U.S. Air National Guard pilot described his training experience with the F-35 by saying that "If you get into a dogfight with the F-35, somebody made a mistake," emphasizing that its stealth attributes should allow the airplane to avoid a dogfight scenario.

The U.S. Marine Corps has announced plans to deploy the F-35B to Japan for the first time next year.

The U.S. Navy is advancing plans for an unmanned, low-observable air-refueling drone, labeled the MQ-25A Stingray.

Lockheed Martin has received two contract modifications to supply maintenance support for the F-22 Raptor.

Officials have pointed out that Lockheed Martin's plans to shut down its F-16 production line in Fort Worth, and potentially re-open F-16 assembly in India, would effectively preclude the delivery of new-build F-16s to Pakistan in the future.

Malaysia has identified the Eurofighter Typhoon and Dassault Rafale as the only contendors for its multirole combat aircraft (MRCA) program, aimed at replacing its fleet of MiG-29 fighters.  A down-select is expected by 2020.

RAF Eurofighter Typhoon fighters arrived in Japan this past week for military training exercises with Japan.

Lockheed Martin is developing proposals for a next-generation stealth fighter that would be co-developed and produced with Japan.  Lockheed has participated in a number of joint fighter development fighters over the years, including Taiwan's Ching-Kuo and South Korea's FA-50.

Turkish F-16s have reportedly targeted Kurdish positions near Aleppo, amid continued factional tension in the area.

An Israeli investigation has cleared the pilot of error in the recent fatal crash of an Israeli F-16I fighter.  Maj. Ohad Coehn Nov died while ejecting from his stricken aircraft on October 5th.  The cause of the airplane's reported mechanical problems has not yet been isolated.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Space Highlights - October 26, 2016

October 26, 2016

China's manned space lab successfully released a microsatellite that is being referred to in the media as a "selfie stick".

India's planned launch of a satellite on behalf of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation has been delayed indefinitely over disagreements between India and its largely Muslim neighbors over violence in Kashmir.

Launch of the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite-R (GOES-R) weather satellite is being delayed due to damage at NASA's Florida launch facility caused by hurricane Matthew.

North Korea has pledged that there would be more satellite launch attempts in the near future, following a failed ballistic missile test.

European engineers believe that a premature separation from its heat shield - and resulting premature parachute deployment - may have doomed the ESA's Schiaparelli lander.  The crash site of the doomed spacecraft has been identified from orbit by NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, and is being studied for clues into the European lander's final moments.

NASA's Cassini spacecraft has captured evidence of seasonal changes in the cloud cover of Saturn's largest moon, Titan.

Despite technical glitches that have crippled the spacecraft at least twice now, NASA's Juno spacecraft has collected new radio-frequency data that appears to indicate that Jupiter's banded cloud structure extends much deeper into its atmosphere than had been previously thought.

Scientists reviewing thermal imaging data of the surface of Venus, collected in 2010 by the European Space Agency's Venus Express orbiter, have concluded that some of the lava flows surrounding at least one volcano, are relatively recent: formed within the past 2.5 million years.  In geological time, that would suggest that Venus is likely still volcanically active today.

Scientist are predicting that, if it does exist, the hypothesized Planet Nine will be identified within the next couple of years.  Evidence for the proposed, distant ninth planet is based around disturbances in the orbits of Kuiper Belt objects in the outer reaches of the solar system, with some scientists suggesting that the slight tilt in our solar system's orbital plane - relative to the rotation of the sun - could also be explained by the ninth planet.

Attempts to identify the individual particles that make up dark matter continue to come up empty, challenging existing assumptions about what makes up the mysterious substance known only from its gravitational effect on the galactic scale.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Wide Body Report - October 25, 2016

October 25, 2016

Analysts are speculating as to whether Boeing will announce a further cut to its production rate for the 777 airline at this week's upcoming investors' conference call.

Kuwait Airways' next Boeing 777-300ER was rolled out of the Boeing paint shop this past week, sporting a new livery.

United Airlines' first Boeing 777-300ER rolled out from the assembly floor, on its way to the paint hangar.

Aeromexico introduced its first Boeing 787-9 this past week.

British Airway has announced plans to launch 787 Dreamliner service connecting New Orleans to Europe.

Singapore Airlines is reportedly in line to become the launch customer for the Boeing 787-10, a stretched version of the popular airplane.

Despite delays in aircraft deliveries earlier this year, Airbus has reaffirmed its comitment to deliver a total of 50 A350 aircraft by year end.

Singapore Airlines received its 6th Airbus A350 this past week, in which Airbus delivered its 10,000th aircraft to date.

Malaysia Airlines plans to re-outfit its A380 fleet to serve as 700-seat transports aimed at servicing Muslim pilgrimages to Mecca.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Single Aisle News - October 24, 2016

October 24, 2016

Bombardier has announced plans to cut 7500 jobs globally, including 2000 jobs across Canada, as the manufacturer struggles to return to profitability while also ramping up production of the new C-Series aircraft.  Most of the job cuts will be made to its railroad division.

Embraer expects to fly its fourth E190-E2 prototype soon, as it accelerates its flight test schedule and pushes for certification.  A total of 241 flight hours have been accumulated between the existing three prototypes.

Mitsubishi Aircraft has begun flight test of its first MRJ prototype out of its new Washington state test facility.

Frontier Airlines has taken delivery of its first Airbus A320 NEO aircraft, out of a total of 80 on order.  All of the Frontier orders will be powered by CFM International LEAP-1A engines.

GE Capital Aviation has delivered its first Airbus A320 NEO to Brazil's Azul.  The aircraft delivered to Azul will be powered by LEAP-1A engines.

Alaska Airlines has pushed back the delivery date for its first Boeing 737 MAX aircraft from late 2017 to early 2018.  The airline is currently coordinating a proposed merger with Virgin America.

Chinese officials report that the first Comac C919 airline is expected to fly in the second-quarter of 2017 - a slip from the earlier targeted date of late 2016.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Lavi Armament - Stores and Weapons Stations

I recently received an email question inquiring into the weapons stations and stores arrangement of the Lavi.

The weapons compliment for the Lavi has been described in a number of key sources. The Lavi had a total of fifteen weapons stations, as illustrated in the figure below (adapted from Tsach and Peled, 16th ICAS, p. 836). This included six weapons stations on or under the wings (portrayed in red), seven weapons stations under the fuselage (portrayed in blue), and two weapons stations on each side of the engine inlet (portrayed in green).

Lavi hardpoints for fuel, weapons and sensor integration

How these hard points might be employed in practice is portrayed in the next two diagrams (obtained from Shmul, et al, Int. J. Control, p. 160). The first illustration portrays the Lavi in the "cluster bomb" configuration, with a large number of individual stores loaded. In this configuration includes fuel tanks loaded on the innermost wing hardpoints, cluster-bombs loaded on the outer under-wing hardpoints, and six cluster bombs loaded under the fuselage. A pair of heat-seeking air-to-air missiles would also have been loaded on the missile rails. Noteworthy is the fact that the under-fuselage hard points were staggered, rather situated directly in-line, to accommodate the landing gear and landing gear bay doors.
Lavi in the "cluster bomb" loading configuration.

The subsequent illustration portrays the Lavi in the "HOBO" configuration, which would have aimed at maximizing range. This configuration includes drop tanks installed at the innermost wing hardpoints, iron-bombs loaded on the outer under-wing hardpoints, as well as heat-seeking air-to-air missiles installed on the wing tip missile rails, and navigation and targeting pods installed on the weapons stations located on each side of the engine inlet.
Lavi in the "HOBO" weapons configuration.

A Lavi prototype in flight test with a centerline telemetry pod (IAF photo)
In flight test, the centerline fuselage hardpoint was sometimes utilized to integrate a telemetry package. This was done on the Lavi Technology Demonstrator (the number three prototype), allowing the rear cockpit seat position (which was used to house telemetry in the previous prototypes) to be freed up.

Examples of stores installed on the outer wing weapons station can be seen in wind tunnel footage - as part of a series of tests to assess wing flutter with a variety of stores configurations.

Lavi wing tunnel model from weapons integration test

Thanks again to William Zhou for asking this question.

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. 

Friday, October 21, 2016

The Lavi and the F-16XL: A Contrast in Parallel Development Programs

I recently received an email question asking about whether the existence of the F-16XL, as an alternative to the Lavi, played a role in any of the Lavi decisions process.

As outlined in Chapter 4 of the book, the Israeli air force originally expressed a preference for a locally produced version of the F-16 as the most cost effect means towards meeting Israel's future fighter needs. As proposed by the Israeli government in March 1977, the original plan called for Israel to purchase its first 50 F-16 fighters directly from the United States, with local assembly for a follow-on batch of 200 aircraft. Local assembly would have allowed the Israelis to modify the F-16 to meet their own needs, which centered around producing a more versatile air-to-ground platform - as opposed to the original F-16A, which had been envisioned as an air-to-air day fighter with a secondary air-to-ground role.

At the time that the Israeli proposal was made in 1977, the F-16XL was not yet on the drawing boards at General Dynamics. However, it is entirely plausible that had an Israeli assembly line been authorized for the F-16 (as similar assembly lines would later be approved for Turkey and South Korea), that the Israelis may have eventually produced a production version of the F-16XL - particularly after the US Air Force declined to produce the type for domestic service (in favor of the more expensive F-15E). Again, it's one of those "what if" scenarios we will never have a complete answer for.

The Israeli government proposed license production of the F-16 in Israel on two occasions - in March 1977 and again in February 1980. On both occasions, their proposals were rejected by the Carter Administration for its own political reasons. The Israelis subsequently went on to authorize development of the Lavi.

The F-16XL illustrates its impressive bombload
The F-16XL in turn, grew out of a series of General Dynamic concept studies generated during the late 1970s, originally aimed at a supersonic cruise demonstrator aircraft, not a fighter-bomber. It didn't received formal US Air Force funding as a fighter development effort until 1980 - the same year that the Lavi program was launched. So the two aircraft were truly contemporaries. Their results paralleled each other, with little opportunity for the learning from one to directly influence the other. Nonetheless, both development teams benefited from some of the same prior industry experience. They all read the same engineering journals, and were aware of the same first principals. As pointed out in Appendix 4, for example, both the Lavi and the F-16XL benefited from semi-conformal weapons carriage to reduce stores drag.  Relative to conventional pylon-mounted stores, both aircraft demonstrated better than a 40% reduction in stores drag.

The two were nonetheless different aircraft with different design opportunities, and limitations. The F-16XL was intended to control its cost by exercising an existing F-16 fuselage, with the addition of a plug for added fuel volume, plus its unique cranked-arrow wing. The Lavi, in contrast, was a clean sheet design. The Lavi developers had more latitude to optimize their configuration, but had to strictly control the airplane's size if they wanted to control production costs on what was expected to be a relatively small production run of some 300 airframes. The F-16XL resulted in a bigger airplane, with a larger range and payload. The Lavi resulted in a very compact package with an astounding range for its small size. Again, the two design teams operated from different restrictions on what they could or couldn't do. Both great designs, but with different limitations.

Thanks again to Harry Zertner for the question.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Fighter Jet Times - October 20, 2016

October 20, 2016

Norway expects its two F-35A fighters that were grounded for repairs last month, due to defective wiring insulation, to be back in the air by the end of November.

A group of legislators in the House of Representatives have been pushing to add additional funding for the purchase of more F-35s under the Fiscal 2017 budget.

South Korea's government rejected proposals from Washington that would have allowed Japanese warplanes to be flown out of Korea, in a combined U.S, Korean and Japanese show of strength following recent nuclear weapons and ballistic missile tests by North Korea.

Indications are that the Japanese Ministry of Defense has settled on a fighter requirement for the 2030s that no existing airplane can deliver - which would in turn mandate the development of an all-new, indigenous Japanese fighter.

The Russian air force expects to receive its first batch of production PAK-FA stealth fighters sometime next year.

Russian officials are pressing India to close on a deal for delivery of fifth-generaion stealth fighters by year-end.  The first aircraft would be delivered sometime after 2018.

China's J-20 stealth fighter has been photographed in a new tactical camouflage scheme for the first time, further supporting claims that the airplane is in the process of being transitioned into operational service.

The U.S. Air Force and U.S. Navy are in the preliminary planning stages for development of a next-generation warplane, to enter development in the 2030 time frame.  Widespread speculation persists regarding which features will constitute a "6th generation" fighter.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Space Highlights - October 19, 2016

October 19, 2016

China has launched its 6th manned mission into space this week, aboard the Shenzhou 11 spacecraft.  The launch was followed by a successfully dock between the Shenzhou 11 and Tiangong 2 space lab, allowing its two astronauts to remain up to 30 days in orbit.

Orbital ATK successfully launched its improved Antares rocket from Wallops Island, Virginia, on its way to delivering a cargo module to the International Space Station.

Pakistan has announced plans to launch its first earth observation satellite in 2018.

Europe's ExoMars spacecraft made final preparations this week for its arrival at Mars, with the separation of the Schiaparelli lander from the Trace Gas Orbiter.  ExoMars is a collaborative project between the European Space Agency and the Russian Space Agency, which is also seen as a forerunner to landing a Mars rover in 2020.

NASA has delayed a planned engine burn for the Juno spacecraft, which was to have changed its orbital period from 53 days to 14 days, due to a technical glitch with the pressurized fuel tanks.  The planned burn is being delayed while engineers study the problem.

NASA's MAVEN orbiter has supplied the first ultraviolet images of Martian weather systems, providing fresh data mapping chemical reactions and wind patterns in the Martian atmosphere.

Researchers combing through data from the Voyager 2 spacecraft believe they may have found evidence for two small, dark moons around the distant gas giant.  Voyager 2 is the only spacecraft to have made a flyby of Uranus, back in 1986.

New data continues to point to a large ring system around exoplanet J1407b, which was first identified in 2012.  The exoplanet is now believed to have a system of rings some 100 times larger than that which surrounds Saturn.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Wide Body Report - October 18, 2016

October 18, 2016

The Dubai-based leasing firm Novus has confirmed an agreement with Emirates for the supply of an additional Boeing 777-300ER.  This will be the fourth 777 that the firm will have placed with Emirates.

SWISS has announced plans to replace another Airbus A340 with a Boeing 777-300ER, bringing their 777 fleet to ten aircraft.

China Southern Airlines has ordered 12 Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners, a deal valued at $3.2 billion at list prices.

Spirit AeroSystems has completed its 500th composite forward fuselage for the Boeing 787 Dreamliner.

An American Airlines Boeing 787 en route from Shanghai to Chicago made an emergency landing in Cold Bay Alaska, after an engine warning light indicated a possible malfunction.  American Airlines' 787s are powered by General Electric GEnx-1B engines.

An Airbus A350-900 destined for Singapore Airlines recently became the 10,000th Airbus airplane to be delivered.  This was also the sixth A350-900 to be delivered to Singapore Airlines.

The first A350-900 to wear Lufthansa colors rolled out of the paint booth this past week.

Bureaucratic delays with Australian airworthiness officials have delayed the roll-out of Thai Airways International's new Airbus A350-900 aircraft, which had been slated to operate on its Melbourne route.  The A350-900 received airworthiness certification from the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) in September 2014, with certification from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) two months later, but has yet to be certified by Australian officials.

Airbus has completed installation of Rolls-Royce Trent XWB-97 engines on its first A350-1000 prototype, and expects to begin ground tests in preparation for a first flight later this year.  The stretched A350 model features an all-new wing and greater fuel capacity.  A total of 195 firm orders for the new type have been placed so far.

A Lufthansa Airbus A380 superjumbo airline received an escort of Bulgarian MiG-29s as it landed in Sofia, Bulgaria for the first time.  The A380 was sent on a promotional tour to advertise the new long-haul routes that Lufthansa is opening up to and from eastern Europe.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Single Aisle News - October 17, 2016

October 17, 2016

Bombardier's CS300 has been awarded EASA (European Aviation Safety Agency) Type Validation, clearing the way for the first customer deliveries in Europe.  The CS300 had previously received Type Certification from Transport Canada in July 2016.

Latvia's airBaltic is preparing to become the first launch customer for the new CS300 model of the C-Series, with the first six pilots having completed training to fly the new single aisle aircraft.

Embraer is projecting that Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States (made up of Russia and other former members of the Soviet Union) will need to purchase some 1540 new aircraft in the 70 to 130-seat size class during the next 20 years.

A prototype of the Mitsubishi Regional Jet (MRJ) reportedly made an emergency landing at Ishikawa this past week during a flight test.  No further details have been provided.

Avianca Brazil took delivery of its first Airbus A320 NEO this past week, equipped with CFM International Leap-1A engines.  The airline has an additional 61 A320 NEOs on order.

Spirit Airlines has become the first U.S. operator to receive the A320 NEO, taking delivery of a Pratt & Whitney PW1100G powered aircraft on October 7th.  The aircraft is being leased from AirCap.

Air Lease Corporation has announced that it has placed six additional Boeing 737 MAX aircraft with LOT Polish Airlines, with an option for the lease of a further five.

Turkish Airlines has deferred deliveries on 39 A321 NEO and 737 MAX aircraft, due to reduced demand and unstable economic conditions in Turkey.  The airline declined to identify precisely which aircraft deliveries would be deferred.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Fighter Jet Times - October 14, 2016

October 14, 2016

Lockheed Martin officials have emphasized that they are seeking to find additional work share agreements for F-35 components for Japanese manufacturers, after previous attempts to negotiate agreements with Japanese industry failed.  Japan has 42 F-35 fighters on order, but work share agreements are believed to be essential to ensure that future Japanese governments do not decide to cancel or scale back Japan's order.

Japanese officials are currently evaluating whether to proceed with the next phase in development of the proposed F-3 indigenous stealth fighter, or to select a less expensive, foreign alternative.

Norway has become the first international partner to agree to be part of a proposed "block buy" of F-35 fighters, in an effort to lower the fighter's cost.  The Norwegian government has proposed funding for 12 additional F-35 aircraft, due for delivery in 2019 through 2020, which would bring Norway's total F-35 order to 40 aircraft.

U.S. officials have denied claims being circulated by Russia, contending that the S-400 and S-300V4 surface-to-air missile systems recently deployed to Syria would have the ability to successfully track and target U.S. F-22, B-2 or F-35 stealth aircraft.

32 F-22 Raptor fighters were temporarily relocated to Rickenbacker Air National Guard Base in Ohio to avoid damage from Hurricane Matthews.  The aircraft are normally stationed out of Langley Air Force Base in Virginia.

Engine manufacturer Rolls-Royce has offered to jointly produce its Eurojet EJ200 engine in Turkey, if the Turkish government selects the EJ200 to power its proposed indigenous stealth fighter.

India has launched a fresh round of proposals for the acquisition of a single-engine fighter to replace India's aging fleet of MiG-21 fighters.  The Lockheed Martin F-16 and Sweden's Saab Gripen are both believed to be contenders for the potential contract.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Space Highlights - October 13, 2016

October 13, 2016

Google has contracted SpaceX to provide launch services for Google's next earth observation satellite.

Satellite images indicate that North Korea may be preparing for another satellite launch/ballistic missile test.

International Launch Services (ILS) has announced launch dates for two future booster rockets, both for the launch of EUTELSAT communications satellite aboard a Russian Proton booster.

Two satellites carrying amateur radio payloads have been confirmed operational, following their launch last month by India's ISRO.

Scientists studying data from the Cassini spacecraft have confirmed the existence of a subsurface ocean on Saturn's moon Dione, creating another potential candidate in the search for extraterrestrial, microbial life.  Two other of Saturn's moons, Enceladus and Titan, were previously identified as having subsurface oceans, as have three of Jupiter's moons.

NASA is preparing to send its Opportunity rover into a gully on the surface of Mars that is believed to have been carved by running water billions of years ago.  Although the scientific opportunities of exploring such a feature are immense, the decision also risks getting the rover stuck in the soft soil of the gully.

Scientists puzzling over how and why X-rays were detected at Pluto during the recent flyby of the New Horizons spacecraft have suggested that the unexpected anomaly could be tied to the presence of a subsurface ocean.  X-ray emissions such as the ones detected at Pluto are usually tied to neutral gases that interact with the planet's magnetic field and solar wind.  At Pluto, however, the solar wind is too sparse to explain the observed phenomena given Pluto's sparse atmosphere, indicating that the necessary gases must be vented from Pluto's interior - adding further evidence for those who have suggested that Pluto must have a subsurface ocean of liquid water.

Researchers have identified a new Kuiper object, 2014 UZ224 located some 91.6 AU (astronomical units) from the sun - or about 9 AU beyond Pluto.  The newly identified object has an estimated diameter of 530 km, slightly smaller than the 800 km threshold needed to qualify it as a "dwarf planet".

NASA researchers reviewing data from the Kepler Space Telescope have identifed at least 24 new exoplanet star systems that are believed to possess a "hot Earth" - a planet less than twice the diameter of the Earth with an orbital period of less than two-days.  The formation of these planets, in such close proximity to their parent star, continues to challenge theories for how planet systems evolve.

European researchers have identified a young, binary star system that appears to have three planet-forming disks around them - each potentially producing a different family of exoplanets.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Wide Body Report - October 11, 2016

October 11, 2016

Qatar Airways closed an order with Boeing for 30 Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners and 10 Boeing 777-300ER aircraft.  The total contract value comes to $11.7 billion at list prices.

Lessor Intrepid Aviation canceled orders for two Boeing 777-300ERs, but placed a new order for two 747-8F freighter aircraft.  Intrepid also maintains a standing order for four remaining 777-300ERs.

Swiss International Air Lines, a subsidiary of Lufthansa Group, has ordered one additional Boeing 777-300ER, bringing their total order for the type to 10 aircraft.

The emergency landing of an Etihad Airways-operated Boeing 777 in Abu Dhabi last week has been traced to a failed tire, that ejected tread into the airplane's left engine, causing the emergency landing shortly after take-off.

Kestrel Aviation Management has unveiled the first Boeing 787 Dreamliner to be converted into a luxury private jet.

Airbus had delivered 26 A350-900 aircraft as of the end of September, just over half of its target of 50 aircraft deliveries for the year.

Lufthansa has rolled out its first Airbus A350-900, fresh from the paint booth.

Sri Lanka's government is expected to pay out $170 million to lessor AerCap Holdngs, to cancel a lease agreement for four A350s.  Sri Lanka will be ordering four A350-900s directly from Airbus instead, for use by the country's national airline.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Single Aisle News - October 10, 2016

October 10, 2016

Industry analysts have suggested that engine delivery problems may have derailed Pratt & Whitney's bid to recapture the single aisle commercial engine business from GE.

Lessor AerCap has signed a deal to place five Embraer E2 regional jets - which are still undergoing flight test - with Turkey's Borajet.  This marks the first lease arrangement to be signed for the Embraer E2 aircraft.

The third Mitsubishi Regional Jet (MRJ) prototype made its first flight this past week.

Qatar Airways has announced a letter of intent for the purchase of 60 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft, expressing its frustration with delivery delays in Airbus' A320 NEO program.  Qatar Airways was originally expected to be the launch customer for the A320 NEO, but backed out when the initial aircraft experienced engine start-up delays.

Mexico's VivaAerobus has taken delivery of its first A320 NEO.  The Airline has 52 A320 NEO family aircraft on order, including 40 A320 NEOs and 12 A321 NEOs.  VivaAerobus' NEO aircraft are powered by Pratt & Whitney PW1100G Geared TurboFan engines.

Sri Lanka Airlines has announced a lease arrangement for 6 Airbus A320 NEO aircraft.  Four of the aircraft would come from Air Lease Corporation and two from AerCap.  Deliveries are expected between 2017 and 2018.;_boost_narrow_body_fleet-3-6283.html

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Lavi - A Book Review from the Air Force Research Institute

My book on the Lavi was recently reviewed by Maj Matthew C. Wunderlich (USAF), on behalf of the Air Force Research Institute.

For those who are less familiar with it, the Air Force Research Institute sponsors the quarterly Air & Space Power Journal, as well as the Air University Press which publishes its own collection of aviation-themed titles.

As Maj Wunderlich notes, "individual personalities in the Israeli and US governments, complemented by repeated financial crises, ultimately doomed the cutting-edge Lavi program." The ramifications of these events, and the lessons in real world politics that they hold, remain relevant for us even to this day.  As Maj Wunderlich points out,
The themes of airpower dominance, technological innovation, and aviation acquisition provide critical lessons learned from the Lavi that readily translate to contemporary issues facing the United States Air Force.
As I pointed out in a previous posting, no one writes a book like this in the belief that they are going to make their fortunes as an author. You write a book such as this because you have something to say. It has been my sincere hope that the lessons of these events might yet be learned by future generations.

Friday, October 7, 2016

In Memorial: Maj. Ohad Cohen Nov

Maj. Ohad Cohen Nov (photo courtesy of his family)
An Israeli fighter pilot died this past week, while attempting to eject from his stricken airplane. His navigator survived with minor injuries. The event should serve as a reminder for just how dangerous operating these high performance aircraft really is.

The pilot, Maj. Ohad Cohen Nov, was buried in his home town of Mazor - a Moshav (farming village) east of Tel Aviv.  The 34 year old pilot, who was recently promoted to deputy squadron commander of the 119 Squadron, leaves behind a daughter and a pregnant wife. He is described by those who knew him as, "simply a great guy, a fabulous uncle, and the number one brother."

Flying a supersonic fighter is hazardous even in peacetime. These are extremely complicated machines, operating at very high speed, often where the slightest mistake can mean almost certain death. For a small nation such as Israel, the death of one of its sons is not taken lightly. The men (and now women) who operate these aircraft risk their lives to do so because their nation's security depends on them. It is a daily gamble, but a necessary one.

According to reports, Maj. Nov's airplane was returning from an air strike in Gaza (in retaliation for rockets fired at Israeli towns), when his aircraft experienced technical difficulty. He was flying with assymmetric loading - one wing free of bombs and the other still loaded - and had already aborted an attempted landing. It was during the second landing attempt that his aircraft reportedly caught fire, forcing the pilot and his navigator to eject. In the ejection sequence for the two-seat aircraft, the navigator ejects first, and the pilot immediately after. In a situation such as this, those seconds can be crucial.,7340,L-4863508,00.html

As his family mourns his loss, we should all be reminded of the sacrifices that the young men and women of the IDF are called upon to make every day, and without which there would be no Israel, no Jewish State, and no man, woman or child left alive in Israel.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Fighter Jet Times - October 6, 2016

October 6, 2016

Despite service introduction troubles, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein reaffirmed this past week that "I would have concerns if I didn't feel like we had the right folks or the right plan.  But I think, because I think we have both of those in place, I'm very confident that we're going to be getting this fixed."

Officials in Singapore, which so far has avoided placing an order for the new F-35 stealth fighter, have suggested that Singapore might be interested in procuring the F-35 in the 2030 time frame.  However, they see know pressing requirement that would lead them to purchase the new aircraft now.

Industry experts in eastern Europe - who have experience working with Russian suppliers - have suggested that despite claims to the contrary, Russia is not ready to introduce an operational AESA (active electronically scanned array) radar in the near term.  These claims contradict Russian assertions that the new PAK-FA stealth fighter will be equipped with an AESA radar when it enters service in the next couple of years.

Japanese defense officials are reportedly planning for the deployment of unmanned combat air vehicle (UCAV) platforms, alongside its manned fighters, sometime after 2030.

Indian officials have confirmed that the 36 Rafale fighters recently purchased from France will be equipped to carry tactical nuclear weapons.

An Israeli pilot was killed and his navigator was injured after ejecting from an F-16I fighter during an approach for landing.  Unconfirmed reports suggest that the airplane caught fire during descent.  The accident is still under investigation.

The Obama administration has approved jet fighter sales to Qatar, Kuwait and Bahrain.  The sales are expected to include the delivery of 36 F-15E Strike Eagles to Qatar, 28 F/A-18E/F fighters to Kuwait, and an unknown number of F-16s to Bahrain.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Space Highlights - October 5, 2016

October 5, 2016

The launch of India's GSAT-18 communications satellite was postponed by one day until Thursday of this week, due to heavy crosswinds.

Australia's National Broadband Network (NBN) also had to delay the launch of its latest communications satellite due to poor weather.

NASA has released a "selfie" of the Curiosity Mars rover, captured on the slopes of Mount Sharp.

NASA has begun tests of a new camera design for its 2020 Mars rover.  The new camera is expected to assist in the autonomous landing system, validating a safe landing site before the rover touches down on the Martian surface.

The Cassini spacecraft has captured images of two "shepherd" moons lurking among Saturn's rings.  These and other small moons are believed to contribute to the longevity and stability of Saturn's ring system.

The ESA's Rosetta spacecraft completed its "controlled crash" into Comet 67P this past week.  Close-up photographs reveal the rough surface of the comet, in the final moments before impact.

Collecting images from Juno's insertion into orbit around Jupiter, a citizen scientist has released a video of Juno's approach and capture by Jupiter's gravity.

Astronomers have spotted a spiral-arm structure around a young star, possibly pointing to an alternate method for how gas-giant planets might form in the furthest reaches of a solar system.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Wide Body Report - October 4, 2016

October 4, 2016

Qatar Airways is reportedly close to signing a $6.7 billion deal for the supply of some 30 Boeing 777 and 787 aircraft.  The large deal is being counted on by Boeing to secure its sales objectives for the year, and maintain its backlog for the widebody jets.

The wingtip of a Qatar Airways Boeing 787 clipped a flagpole in Namibia during taxi this past week.

Angola's TAAG has taken delivery of its third Boeing 777-300ER.

Etihad Airways is set to deploy the Boeing 787 Dreamliner on its regular route between Abu Dhabi and Riyadh.

Finnair has taken delivery of its seventh Airbus A350-900.

Chile's LATAM has taken delivery of its first A350-900 under a leaseback arrangement with Dutch lessor AerCap.

Airbus has begun final assembly of its first A330 NEO prototype.  The A330 NEO features the Rolls-Royce Trent 7000 engine, filling a gap in Airbus' lineup between the A320 NEO and A350-900 in size.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Single Aisle News - October 3, 2016

October 3, 2016

Bombardier's CEO Alain Bellemare said at a marketing conference that while Bombardier was still "pleased that we made that choice" to select a Pratt & Whitney engine for the C-Series, delays in engine deliveries were "hurting the momentum right now."

Bombardier's prototype CS300 C-Series model has begun a European route proving tour, ahead of first customer delivery.

Bombardier reports that it is examining where it wants to invest for its next new product offering, now that the C-Series is entering production.  The Global 7000 business jet is expected to enter service in 2018, but executives at the Canadian manufacturer caution that whatever new commercial or business jet aircraft that follows will need to begin development this next year.

Brazil's Embraer has announced a plan to cut nearly 8-percent of its work force through voluntary buyouts.  The job cuts will be accompanied by furloughs that are expected to begin next month.  Embraer is currently developing the E-Jet E2 to compete with the Mitsubishi Regional Jet and Bombardier C-Series in the regional jet market.

The first prototype Mitsubishi Regional Jet (MRJ) finally made a successful ferry flight across the Pacific this past week, to reach its Moses Lake flight test facility in Washington state.

Mitsubishi Aircraft Corporation has notified customers that the MRJ is facing additional delays in development and certification that will likely impact service introduction.  The MRJ had been expected to enter service with ANA (All Nippon Airways), its launch customer, in 2018.

Turkey's Pegasus Airlines reports that it has had a smooth introduction to service for its LEAP-1A powered Airbus A320 NEO single-aisle aircraft.  The A320 NEO has two engine options available: the Pratt & Whitney PW1100G Geared TurboFan, and the CFM International LEAP-1A.  Pegasus Airlines has firm orders for 75 A320 NEO family aircraft.

IndiGo is expecting to begin upgrading the engines on its early-model A320 NEO aircraft over the coming weeks, to incorporate changes that will reduce the start-up time for the PW1100G engines.  Long start-up times were one of the leading complaints that were aired when the new-technology engines were first introduced into service.

The fourth Boeing 737 MAX-8 has returned to Seattle following six days of operational readiness trials with launch custtomer Southwest Airlines.

Malaysia Airlines has finalized its contract with CFM International for the supply of LEAP-1B engines to equip the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft that it currently has on order.  The 737 MAX is powered exclusively by the LEAP-1B engine.

Russia's Aeroflot Airlines reports that it is seeking to expand its order for the Irkut MC-21 single-aisle airline from 50 to 100 aircraft.