Saturday, October 14, 2017

Lavi - The Controversy Continues 30 Years Later

Even now, decades after the fact, the controversy surrounding the cancellation of the Lavi program remains unresolved, as evidenced by two recent columns on the subject published in Israel's Haaretz.

The first, from former Defense Minister Moshe Arens, outlines three lies that were used by the opponents of the airplane to convince Israel's Cabinet to cancel the program in August of 1987.[1] The three lies were:

  • The unit price of the airplane was quoted on the basis of 80 aircraft, rather than on a larger production run of 200 aircraft - which would have been better aligned with the number of warplanes that the IDF actually intended to purchase over the next two decades.
  • The Cabinet was informed that Israel's air force instead planned to purchase the Advanced Tactical Fighter (which later became the F-22) from the United States, which was then under development - despite the fact that the U.S. had not offered the airplane for sale to Israel or to any other nation, and had no intention of doing so.
  • The Cabinet was misled regarding the number of engineers and technicians that would be laid off in the event of a vote to cancel the program, with an array of theoretical development programs proposed which never materialized and which were never proposed again.

As many of us are aware, Dr. Arens was among the Lavi program's most vocal champions within the Israeli government.

The second article published in Haaretz was a rebuttal from Kobi Richter, who headed the Weapons Department division for Israel's air force from 1983 to 1986.[2] Kobi Richter outlines his reasons for opposing the Lavi development program, mostly surrounding the eventual cost of procuring and maintaining a small fleet of unique Israeli-built warplanes. Nowhere, however, does Kobi Richter refute any of the three points made by Dr. Arens regarding how the Israeli Cabinet was misled in order to secure a vote in favor of cancelling the program.

Unfortunately, the controversy surrounding the Lavi is likely to remain indefinitely, with supporters and opponents of the program unconvinced by the arguments from the other side.

[1] Moshe Arens, "The Three Lies That Shot Down the Lavi, the World's Greatest Israeli Fighter Aircraft," Haaretz (Sept 28, 2017).
[2] Kobi Richter, "I Opposed Building Israeli Fighter Jet Based on the Truth," Haaretz (Oct 2, 2017).

Monday, July 3, 2017

Space Highlights - July 3, 2017

July 3, 2017

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket has launched 10 communications satellites for Iridium Communications from Vandenberg AFB in California.  Shortly thereafter, in a separate launch from Cape Canaveral in Florida, another SpaceX Falcon 9 booster placed a Bulgarian communications satellite into orbit.

An ISRO PSLV rocket successfully placed 31 satellites into orbit, including the Cartosat-2 Earth observation satellite and 30 smaller satellites from 14 countries.

An Ariane 5 rocket placed two geosynchronous communications satellites into orbit, marking the 80th consecutive successful launch for the Ariane 5 booster.  The two satellites comprised the Indian-built GSAT 17, and the European Hellas-Sat 3/Inmarsat S EAN spacecraft.

China successfully launched an X-ray telescope into orbit aboard a Long March 4B rocket.  The Hard X-ray Modulation Telescope is intended to search for evidence of black holes.

The smallest experimental satellite yet built was recently launched into space from NASA's Wallop Island facility.  The microsatellite, which weighed in at 64 g, was designed by a student in India.

An upper stage booster malfunction has left the Chinasat-9A communications satellite in a lower-than-planned orbit.  This was the first failure involving a Long March 3B rocket since 2009.  The satellite is reportedly healthy, but will not be able to fulfill its planned role from its current, low earth orbit.

Upgraded software recently uploaded to Curiosity will allow NASA's Mars rover greater autonomy to identify targets for investigation.  The new AI software is being tested as a means to reduce idle time between when the rover initially surveys an area, and when human controllers on Earth can relay radio signals directing the rover to further investigate specific features.

NASA has released new images of sunrise on Saturn, as well as of Saturn's moon Iapetus, captured by the Cassini spacecraft as it winds down its mission to the ringed planet.  Cassini recently marked the 13-year anniversary of its arrival at Saturn.

NASA's Juno spacecraft has now completed five up-close passes of Jupiter, mapping atmospheric conditions at the gas giant.

A new study claims that a survey of the orbital patterns of four newly discovered Kuiper belt objects suggests that previous claims that orbital distributions in the outer solar system were indicative of a previously unidentified, Neptune-sized "Planet Nine" may have been premature.  However, the team which assembled the original "Planet Nine" study have countered that three of the four new objects actually do bolster the case for a ninth planet - and that only one of the newly discovered objects does not.

A separate study of inner-Kuiper belt objects has suggested that another candidate planet my exist in the outer solar system: pointing to a much smaller, Mars-sized planet as being responsible for the orbital inclination of these inner Kuiper belt objects.  The proposed new object would be much smaller than the Neptune-sized "Planet Nine" that was first proposed in 2016, and would also lie much closer to the sun - close to the orbit of Pluto.

A new theory for the behavior of dark matter suggests that part of the reason that it may be so difficult to detect is that it behaves differently at different scales - forming a "superfluid" or Bose-Einstein condensate at a galactic level, but acting like a low-density gas or vapor when viewed from an inter-galactic scale.

A separate study has also attempted to resolve the differences in observed dark matter distributions and behavior at the galactic level - as compared to the intergalactic scale - by conducting a series of numerical simulations to pinpoint the dark matter characteristics that best match all observed phenomena.

Wide Body Report - July 2, 2017

July 2, 2017

Qatar Airways expects to receive its first A350-1000 later this year.  Qatar is the launch customer for the stretched version of the A350.

Airbus has rolled out plans for a revised wing-tip for the A380 superjumbo, aimed at enhancing the airplane's fuel efficiency.  A prototype was rolled-out at this year's Paris Air Show.

Boeing has announced its first layoffs at its South Carolina factory which produces the 787 Dreamliner.  Fewer than 200 workers are expected to be let go, through a combination of voluntary and involuntary separation packages.

Israel's El Al firmed up orders for three Boeing 787 Dreamliners.  The orders were part of a purchase originally announced in 2015, but not finalized until now.

Lessor AirCap has placed orders for 30 Boeing 787 Dreamliners.

Ethiopian Airlines has announced a commitment for two Boeing 777 freighters.  The order was previously announced as being made by an unidentified customer.

Iran Air expects to receive its first Boeing 777-300ER in April of 2018.

Single Aisle News - June 30, 2017

June 30, 2017

Bombardier is evaluating whether to update its official specification for the C-Series aircraft, to reflect better than expected fuel efficiency, as reported by operators Swiss and airBaltic.

Bombardier officials expect to receive additional C-Series orders by year-end, but announced no new aircraft orders during the Paris Air Show.

Embraer announced a total of 30 orders and commitments for its E-Jet E2 family of aircraft during this year's Paris Air Show.  This included firm orders for 10 E195-E2s from an undisclosed customer (with purchase rights on another 10 aircraft), and a commitment to purchase 20 E190-E2s from a second undisclosed customer (with purchase rights for another 20 aircraft).  Embraer also announced sales for 8 current-generation E-Jet aircraft.

Embraer has officially increased the MTOW (maximum take-off weight) for its E195-E2 aircraft now in flight test, and has improved the short-field performance numbers for its E190-E2 model, also in flight test.

This year's Paris Air Show marked the debut for the Bombardier E195-E2, KC-390 and Legacy 450 aircraft - all on display for the first time in Paris.

Observers at Paris noted the muted tones to the first appearance of Japan's Mitsubishi Regional Jet at the Air Show.  Customer deliveries for the MRJ have already been delayed five times, dampening interest in the airplane.

China Development Bank announced an order for 45 Airbus A320 NEO family aircraft during this year's Paris Air Show.

Lessor GECAS placed an order for 100 Airbus A320 NEO family aircraft during this year's Paris Air Show.  The GECAS aircraft will be powered by CFM Internaional LEAP-1A engines.  CFM is a 50-percent partnership between GE Aviation and France's Snecma.

UK's low-cost carrier EasyJet took delivery of its first A320 NEO, out of a standing order for 130 aircraft.  EasyJet's aircraft will be powered by the CFM International LEAP-1A.

Spain's Iberia announced an order for 20 new Airbus A320 NEO aircraft.  The aircraft will be powered by CFM International LEAP-1A engines.

Air Lease Corp ordered an additional 12 Airbus A321 NEOs during this year's Paris Air Show.  No engine selection was announced, although Air Lease Corp. has historically split its engine orders between the CFM LEAP-1A and Pratt & Whitney PW1100G engines.

Boeing rolled-out its new 737 MAX-10 model at this year's Paris Airshow, with orders and commitments from more than 10 customers, totaling over 240 aircraft.  Customers included 50 aircraft for Lion Air Group, 40 for India's SpiceJet, 20 for GECAS, 18 for Germany's TUI Group, 20 for Tibet Financial Leasing, and 10 each for China's CDB Aviation and BOC Aviation.  Some of these orders, however, were Boeing 737 MAX-8 or -9 orders that were converted to the 737 MAX-10.

Boeing also announced a contract for 125 Boeing 737 MAX-8 aircraft, signed with an unidentified customer.  The 737 MAX is powered exclusively by the CFM International LEAP-1B engine.

Taken together, the orders total from Boeing surpassed that of Airbus at this year's Paris Air Show by twice the total order value, taken at list prices.

Boeing confirmed at the Paris Air Show that it is in the concept design stage for a new single-aisle airliner to replace its out-of-production 757.  The new airplane has been widely labeled as the 797, although design details remain sparse.

China's Comac announced a deal to sell 30 C919 aircraft to China's Everbright Financial Leasing.

Russia's Irkut MC-21 prototype has completed two more flights this past week, including the first flight where the landing gear was retracted.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Wide Body Report - June 14, 2017

June 14, 2017

Boeing's 777 celebrated 23 years of flight this past week.

El Al Israel Airlines expects to receive the first of 16 Boeing 787s that are currently on order this August.

Airbus has rolled out its first A350-900 in Delta Airlines livery.  The airplane is expected to enter service in October.

The first Airbus A350-1000 is expected to be delivered to Qatar Airways by the end of this year.

Airbus is examining the possibility of incorporating wing tip extensions onto the A380 superjumbo aircraft.

Russian officials have announced that they intend to develop a new jet engine of their own, the PD-35, to power the C929 mid-size airliner that was recently launched as a joint program with China.  Many industry sources expect export copies of the airplane, however, to feature more fuel-efficient Western jet engines.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Single Aisle News - June 13, 2017

June 13, 2017

The U.S. International Trade Commission has concluded that subsidies provided to Bombardier may have injured U.S. industry, a ruling that allows for a formal U.S. government investigation to proceed.

Bombardier expects to celebrate the C-Series' first year in service at this year's Paris Air Show, with plans to display an airBaltic CS300 aircraft.

Russia's Federal Air Transport Agency has granted type validation to Airbus for the A320 NEO and A321 NEO aircraft.  The ruling clears the way for Russian airlines to operate the airplanes.

Boeing has concluded a deal with Iran for the delivery of 30 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft, with options for up to 30 more.

Boeing officials continue to gradually divulge details surrounding the proposed 757 replacement aircraft that the manufacturer is contemplating as its next, new program.  Labeled by many as the 797, speculation is mounting regarding whether anything official will be announced at this year's Paris Air Show.

Following a wave of public outcry, American Airlines has backed away from plans to introduce a new, dense seating arrangment on the Boeing 737 MAX airplanes that it currently has on order.

Russian news outlets have already begun to plug Russia's Irkut MC-21 airline - which has performed a single flight test to date - ahead of the upcoming Paris Air Show.

China's Everbright Financial Leasing has signed an agreement for the purchase of 30 Comac C919 aircraft.  The order brings the total backlog for the C919 to some 600 aircraft - virtually all of them sold to state-operated airlines or lessors.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Fighter Jet Times - June 12, 2017

June 12, 2017

The USAF has temporarily grounded F-35 flights at Luke Air Force Base following pilot reports of hypoxia-like symptoms.  Similar problems with the air system on the F-22 led to the fleet being grounded for four months in 2011.

Japan rolled-out the first locally assembled F-35A at its Mitsubishi Heavy Industries plant.

The head of Airbus' military aircraft division has called upon France to join in the development of a new stealth fighter program being proposed by Germany and Spain as an eventual replacement for the Eurofighter Typhoon.  The New Generation Weapon System (NGWS) is a proposed 6th generation fighter aircraft that would be part of the proposed Future Combat Air System, which would also include unmanned air vehicles and space-based sensors.  In previous decades, France has resisted joining pan-European fighter development efforts, choosing for example to forge their own aircraft - the Dassault Rafale - rather than take part in the development of the Eurofighter Typhoon.

The Russian Air Force expects to take delivery of two additional PAK-FA stealth fighter prototypes in 2017.

The Pentagon is reporting that China is equipping three of its man-made island in the South China Sea to support fighter jet operations over the disputed waterways.

Russian fighters intercepted a U.S. B-52 strategic bomber in international air space over the Baltic Sea, as the U.S. and Russia resume many of their Cold War military exercises.

Israel has formally submitted its order for an additional 17 F-35 fighters, bringing Israel's total order for the new stealth aircraft to 50 examples.  The planned order increase was announced in November 2016, but contract details continued to be worked out in the months that followed.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Space Highlights - June 8, 2017

June 8, 2017

India's ISRO has successfully launched the GSAT-19 communications satellite into orbit, marking the first launch for India's Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mark III (GSLV MkIII) - India's largest booster rocket yet.

A Russian Proton rocket launched Echostar-21 into orbit this week - the first such launch in a year, since an engine glitch led to a previous launch failure.

NASA's Cassini spacecraft has completed its seventh dive inside of Saturn's rings.

NASA has released a new fly-by video of Jupiter, assembled from images collected by the Juno spacecraft.

Researchers have identified a Jupiter-sized exoplanet that is hotter than the surface of most stars.  The planet orbits close to a hot A-type star, which has been super-heating the planet's atmosphere.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Wide Body Report - June 7, 2017

June 7, 2017

India's Jet Airways has deployed the Boeing 777 on its Delhi to Singapore route, increasing the available passenger volume by some 35-percent over the Airbus A330-200 that was formerly assigned on this flight.

Lufhansa is evaluating the option of dropping first class seating from some of the Boeing 777-9 aircraft that it currently has on order, in favor of a "Business Plus" seating arrangement.  The 777-9 is part of the Boeing 777X family of aircraft currently under development.

Kestrel Aviation has closed a sale for a second luxury VIP conversion of a Boeing 787 Dreamliner.

Boeing's lineup at this year's Paris Air Show is expected to include a 737 MAX-9 and well as a 787-10 on static display.

United Airlines is expected to deploy the Boeing 787-9 on the world's third-longest route, connecting LAX and Singapore.

Airbus expects to refit Zodiac Aerospace seats on all of Finnair's A350s due to quality issues.  Airbus has been wracked with delivery delays for the A350, due largely to cabin hardware delivery issues.

Airbus expects to bring its A350-1000 prototype, now in flight test, to the Paris Air Show.

Airbus expects to cut production of the A380 superjumbo below one aircraft per month if no new orders are logged shortly.

China and Russia have formalized their plans to jointly develop the C929 wide-body airline over the next decade, as a direct competitor to Airbus and Boeing's mid-size aircraft.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Single Aisle News - June 6, 2017

June 6, 2017

Bombardier officials have revealed that Korean Air Lines will be the first C-Series customer to receive an airplane outfitted with updated Pratt & Whitney engines to address durability issues.

Bombardier has delivered its first CS300 aircraft to airBaltic, making the airline the second customer to receive the larger model of the C-Series.

Industry analysts continue to point out that Boeing's decision to challenge Bombardier's C-Series pricing practices likely puts in jeopardy profits from planned F/A-18 fighter sales to Canada - profits that would out-strip Boeing's supposed loss in 737 sales to Delta Air lines by two-to-one.

Reviewers have underscored how Boeing's legal challenge against Bombardier's C-Series only highlights how superior the C-Series offering is.

Pratt & Whitney has certified the engines for the Embraer E175-E2 and Mitsubishi Regional Jet aircraft with the FAA - the smallest members of its Geared TurboFan engine family.

Embraer has increased its official range projections for the E190-E2 regional jet, based on better than expected performance in flight test.

Embraer as offering its E195-E2 as a solution to JetBlue Airways' concerns over range and capacity limitations in the current E190 regional jet aircraft.

Mitsubishi Aircraft expects to accelerate its flight test program for the MRJ90 regional jet this summer, in an effort to recover some of the time lost due to previous delays.

Norwegian has been informed that its first delivery for the Boeing 737 MAX-8 has been delayed until the end of June.

Indonesia's Lion Air is being courted as the potential inaugural customer for the proposed Boeing 737 MAX-10 - a new stretched version of the MAX family.

China's leaders has called upon their German counterparts to help smooth the way for certification of the C919 single aisle aircraft with the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA).

Engine manufacturer Pratt & Whitney has warned that Rolls-Royce will likely face a patent battle if it attempts to offer its UltraFan geared turbofan engine to power Boeing's anticipated Middle of the Market (MoM) or New Midsized Aircraft (NMA).

Friday, June 2, 2017

Fighter Jet Times - June 2, 2017

June 2, 2017

Pratt & Whitney has announced the successful test of its first F135 Growth Option 1 engine, intended to provide an improved, evolved powerplant for the F-35 fighter.  The F135 derivative engine is aimed at delivering a 10-percent increase in thrust and a 6-percent decrease in fuel consumption.

India and Russia have still failed to reach an agreement on a proposed Indian derivative of Russia's PAK-FA stealth fighter.  Sticking points continue to revolve around cost, and technology transfer issues.

The U.S. has protested after two Chinese J-10 fighters made "unsafe maneuvers" while intercepting a U.S. Navy surveillance aircraft over the South China Sea.

India has recovered the black box from an Su-30 fighter that crashed last week.  Two pilots died in the crash.  The cause of the accident is under investigation.

Space Highlights - June 1, 2017

June 1, 2017

An Ariane 5 booster successfully placed two communications satellites - the ViaSat-2 and Eutelsat 172B - into orbit.

Stratolaunch Systems rolled out its satellite launch platform for the first time: a giant airplane that's intended to heft satellite launch rockets to high altitude for release.  Stratolaunch has been largely funded by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen.

Cassini has made its closest pass yet with Saturn's innermost ring.

Data collected from Cassini suggests that Saturn's moon Enceladus may have tipped over in the distant pass - with terrain that's now in its polar region once having been located near the moon's equator.

The first two research papers connected with NASA's Juno spacecraft have been released, revealing some of the first results from the deep, multilayered picture that Juno's instruments are providing to map Jupiter's atmosphere.

Passing close to Jupiter's cloud tops, the Juno spacecraft has captured the first views of Jupiter's small, faint rings ever captured from inside the ring's orbit.

NASA's Curiosity rover has revealed that the ancient lake that once existed at Gale crater on Mars was divided into two distinct layers - both of which had the necessary conditions to support microbial life, if any had existed.

A deep pit identified on the surface of Mars appears to be surrounded by a "Swiss cheese" terrain that continues to puzzle researchers.  The area was identified by NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.

LIGO, an instrument designed to detect gravity waves, has identified its third black hole merger.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Wide Body Report - May 31, 2017

May 31, 2017

Turkish Airlines has taken delivery of their 30th Boeing 777-300ER.

Boeing has delivered its 550th 787 Dreamliner - with the latest airplane delivery to Hainan Airlines this week.

The FAA has proposed a $435,000 fine on United Airlines for flying a Boeing 747 without performing a mandatory fuel pump inspection.  The offending airplane flew 23 times before the inspection was carried out.

Asiana Airlines' first A350 made its inaugural flight from Manila to Seoul this week.

Airbus has installed the wing-fuselage section on the first A350-900 destined for Air Mauritius.  Delivery is expected in the fourth quarter of this year.

Etihad has taken delivery of its tenth and final Airbus A380.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Single Aisle News - May 29, 2017

May 29, 2017

Bombardier has delivered its first CS300 aircraft to launch customer Swiss International Air Lines.  The CS300 is the largest member of the C-Series family.

Bombardier's Commercial Aircraft president Fred Cromer has gone on the offensive, emphasizing that the competitive pricing offered to Delta Air Lines for the C-Series was no different than similar discounts offered by Boeing or Airbus to gain market acceptance of new products.

Boeing's vice-chairman Ray Conner has complained that Bombardier's C-Series threatens the existence of Boeing's 737 MAX-7 aircraft.

United Airlines president Scott Kirby is attempting to convince the airline's pilots' union to relax the current restrictions on regional jets, which would allow the airline to field some of the newer regional jet models currently under development by Embraer and Mitsubishi.

India's Vistara has taken delivery of its first Airbus A320 NEO, equipped with CFM International LEAP-1A engines.

Singapore lessor BOC Aviation has placed an order for four Airbus A320 NEO family aircraft, plus two A330-900 widebody jets.  All six aircraft are expected to be leased to TAP Portugal.

Russia's Irkut MC-21 prototype successfully completed its first flight test this past week, powered by Pratt & Whitney PW1400G Geared TurboFan engines.  The airplane reached an altitude of just over 3,000 ft during its 30-minute maiden flight.

Russia's United Engine Corporation has completed its second series of flight tests for its PD-14 engine, which will be offered as an alternative to the Pratt & Whitney PW1400G to power later variants of the MC-21 aircraft.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Fighter Jet Times - May 25, 2017

May 25, 2017

The U.S. Air Force is accelerating its timetable for updating the threat library for the F-35's electronic systems to include emerging Russian and Chinese stealth aircraft.

The U.S. Air Force is testing a lighter weight helmet system as part of ongoing efforts to enhance the F-35 stealth fighter.

Lockheed Martin has proposed a plan to upgrade the stealth coatings on the F-22 Raptor fleet to make them more durable.

Officials at Dassault plan to pitch proposals to India in coming months, for delivery of additional Rafale fighters.  India had previously capped its planned Rafale purchase at 36 aircraft, and opened a competition for a new single-engine fighter to lower the costs of recapitalizing its fighter fleet.

An Indian Su-30 fighter has gone missing near the border region with China.  No word has been received confirming the whereabouts of the pilot and navigator.

South Korean developers have turned to Israeli contractors to supply assistance in the development of an AESA (Active Electronic Scanned Array) radar for the KF-X stealth fighter now in the early stages of development.

Russia expects to receive some 50 production-standard PAK-FA stealth fighters by the end of 2019.

Spiraling costs and disagreements on technology transfer have reportedly prevented India and Russia from closing a deal on continued development of an Indian version of the PAK-FA fighter.

U.S. and Israeli warplanes participated in a joint training exercise in Israel over this past week.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Space Highlights - May 24, 2017

May 24, 2017

NASA has entered into an agreement with India's ISRO (Indian Space Research Organization) to jointly place an Earth resources, radar mapping satellite into orbit in 2021 using India's GSLV rocket.

Rocket Lab's Electron small satellite rocket is expected to make its first orbital attempt later this week.  The new booster is aimed at the microsatellite market.

The first microsatellite to be developed and built in Slovakia is expected to be launched on a Falcon 9 rocket in early June.

Ireland's first satellite, developed by University College Dublin and Queen's University Belfast, is expected to be released as a piggy-back payload to the International Space Station.

NASA has released new images of Saturn's icy moon Enceladus, capturing the moon's polar regions in greater detail.

A new study canvasing data from the Cassini spacecraft has concluded that the geology of Saturn's largest moon Titan, with its river beds and lakes formed by liquid methane, resembles its counterparts on Mars more closely than its counterparts on Earth.

Researchers have now precisely mapped the orbits of all seven TRAPPIST-1 exoplanets - the outermost of which takes less than 19 Earth days to complete one orbit.

Despite a wide range of exoplanets identified within the past decade, no consistent classificiation system currently exists for identifying the various bodies.

Having failed to detect evidence for Axions, CERN's CAST detector has placed further limits on the sort of particles that might make up dark matter.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Wide Body Report - May 23, 2017

May 23, 2017

Luxury travel air carrier Deer Jet has added a second Boeing 787 to its fleet.

China's Hainan Airlines has signed a deal for the purchase of 19 aircraft from Boeing, including 13 Boeing 787-9s and 6 Boeing 737 MAX-8s.

Kuwait Airways has received its 7th Boeing 777-300ER.  Its full fleet of 777-300ER aircraft will be delivered by the third quarter of 2017.

General Electric has unveiled new details surrounding its new GE9X engine, slated for service aboard the Boeing 777X.

A threatened worker's strike at a supplier for key components in the Airbus A350 wing structure, has further jeopardized already late deliveries for the Airbus A350-900.

Singapore Airlines expects to phase out four of its oldest Airbus A380 superjumbo jets, in favor of new A350 aircraft that are expected to be delivered in the coming years.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Single Aisle News - May 22, 2017

May 22, 2017

Malaysia's Malindo Air has received the first Boeing 737 MAX-8 to be delivered to a customer.

Icelandair has arranged to sell the four Boeing 737 MAX aircraft that it has on order, in a sale and lease-back arrangement.  The aircraft are expected to be delivered in 2018 through 2019.

The U.S. Commerce Department and the U.S. International Trade Commission have announced that they are launching formal investigations into Bombardier's sale of 75 C-Series aircraft to Delta Air Lines, in response to Boeing's complaints that Bombardier was "dumping" the aircraft to win sales.  Delta is the only U.S. carrier with a standing order for the C-Series.

In response to Boeing's complaints over supposed unfair competition from Bombardier, the Canadian government has announced that it will be re-reviewing all proposed government purchases of Boeing products - including the proposed purchase of Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornets that had previously seemed likely under the current Canadian government.

China's Comac is reportedly in talks with Canada's Bombardier over a possible plan for Chinese investment in the C-Series program.

UK budget carrier EasyJet has converted 30 of the Airbus A320 NEO aircraft that it has on order to the larger A321 NEO model.

Air Lease Corporation's CEO John Plueger expressed the lessor's concern over continued delays in the deliver of Airbus A320 NEO aircraft, with four more aircraft deliveries having been pushed out into 2018.  ALC's internal analysis reportedly shows that the fuel efficiency of the PW1100G-powered A320 NEO is "a little bit better" than that of its CFM International LEAP-1A powered alternative, but that maintenance issues that continue to hound the Pratt & Whitney engine.

Iran has scrapped plans for the purchase of regional jets from Japan's Mitsubishi.  The Iranians had been negotiating to buy over two dozen regional jets as of last September.

China's Comac expects to make its first customer deliveries of its new C919 airline beginning in 2020.  The aircraft entered flight test earlier this month.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Fighter Jet Times - May 19, 2017

May 19, 2017

The German government has requested a series of briefings on the F-35 stealth fighter, at a time when Germany is evaluating an eventual replacement for its Panavia Tornado strike jets.

The U.S. Air Force has confirmed that the modifications package to fix ejection seat issues on the F-35 stealth fighter have now been validated and will begin entering service shortly.  The F-35's ejection seat had previously restricted the airplane from being flown by lighter weight pilots, due to the potential for neck injuries during the ejection sequence.  The new version of the ejection system is intended to adjust for the pilot's weight.

Oman has taken delivery of its first Eurofighter Typhoon fighter, out of a total of twelve on order.

Two Chinese fighters intercepted a U.S. WC-135 surveillance aircraft over the East China Sea this past week, in what the U.S. complained was an unsafe intercept.

Japan scrambled F-15J fighters to the East China Sea to escort a Chinese drone away from a series of disputed islands.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Space Highlights - May 18, 2017

May 18, 2017

A Russian-made Soyuz rocket launched the Boeing-made SES-15 communications satellite into orbit this past week from French Guiana.

SpaceX launched the Inmarsat-5 F4 communications satellite into orbit aboard a FalconX booster this week.  This was the heaviest geosynchronous satellite launch yet made by a FalconX rocket, leaving no fuel remaining in the tanks to attempt a recovery of the booster's first stage.

Satellite photos indicate that North Korea is upgrading its Sohae launch facility, possibly for another satellite launch or ballistic missile test.

NASA has released another batch of photographs as the Cassini spacecraft continues its ring-diving orbits around Saturn.

The Opportunity rover has begun its descent into "Perserverance Valley," entering the rim of a giant Martian crater.

NASA officials have revealed that the Curiosity rover was very nearly lost some six months after it had landed on Mars, due to a software glitch that could have permanently disabled the rover.

NASA has released a new time-lapse video of the dwarf planet Ceres, as captured by the Dawn spacecraft.

Researchers have identified a moon orbiting the third largest dwarf planet, 2007 OR10 in the outer reaches of the solar system.

Researchers have successfully mapped the magnetic field lines of a giant exoplanet over 1000 light years away.  The planet, HAT-P-7b is nearly 80-percent more massive than Jupiter, and orbits its star every couple of days - leading to a very hot and active atmosphere.

Results released from the first trial run of the XENON1T, the most sensitive instrument yet devised to hunt for the existance of WIMPS (weakly interacting massive particles), has yet to find evidence for one of the hypothesized forms of dark matter.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Wide Body Report - May 17, 2017

May 17, 2017

Singapore based low-cost carrier Scoot Airlines has taken delivery of its second Boeing 787 Dreamliner.

An ANA (All Nippon Airways) 787 Dreamliner made an emergency landing in Bratsk, Russia after reporting a problem with one of its Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 engines.  The airplane was en route from Tokyo to Dusseldorf at the time.  Another aircraft was dispatched to complete the flight.

Delta Air Lines plans to shrink its business class seating aboard its Boeing 777 airlines in favor of additional economy seating in coming years.

Airbus' prototype A350-1000 has completed its first Early Long Flight with 310 passengers on board, including 10 Airbus flight test crew members, and 13 cabin crew members from Virgin Atlantic.  The airplane took off and landed in Toulouse after a 12-hour flight.  The Early Long Flight was intended to test out the passenger accommodations.

Delta has deferred delivery of 10 Airbus A350-900 aircraft from 2017-18 to 2019-2020.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Single Aisle News - May 15, 2017

May 15, 2017

Bombardier officials have reaffirmed that the manufacturer is on track to deliver 30-35 C-Series aircraft this year, despite a slow first quarter.

Bombardier chairman Pierre Beaudoin has agreed to give up his executive duties, but would retain his post as chairman of the board.  This compromise arrangement was announced in an attempt to diffuse recent calls for his resignation, made by the firm's largest outside shareholder.  The recent calls for his resignation revolve around executive compensation, at a time when the company has been laying off workers and seeking government loans to balance its books.  Beaudoin owes his special status to the dual-tier share system that allows Bombardier's founding family, of which Beaudoin is a member, to retain a voting majority in the company.

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries reported a 51% drop in its operating profit for 2016, partially due to increased development costs for flight test of the Mitsubishi Regional Jet.

Airbus has commenced assembly for the first A320 that is expected to be produced from its U.S.-based manufacturing plant in Alabama.  The initial aircraft will be CEO models, slated for delivery to Spirit Airlines over the summer.

Boeing has temporarily grounded its 737 MAX flight test fleet, over a quality issue with the CFM International LEAP-1B engines which power the aircraft.  A quality problem was identified in the LPT disks provided by a supplier, leading to a temporary grounding order while the suspect parts are culled from the fleet.

The Russian-built Irkut MC-21 began taxi tests this week, in preparation for its first flight.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Fighter Jet Times - May 11, 2017

May 11, 2017

The U.S. Department of Defense has reversed its earlier decision, and announced that the F-35 will appear at this year's Paris Air Show.

The Italian assembly floor in Cameri has rolled out its first F-35B, destined for the Italian Air Force.  Italy maintains the sole European assembly site for the F-35.

Russian officials continue to maintain that they are closing in on a deal with India for development of an Indian version of Russia's PAK-FA stealth fighter.  Indian officials, however, have been less commital, insisting that outstanding issues surrounding technology transfer must first be resolved.

Rolls-Royce has unveiled a plan to set up a joint development effort with Turkey's Kale to develop a fighter engine for Turkey's proposed TF-X stealth fighter.

U.S. Air Force F-15Cs are expected to participate in a joint military training exercise at Israel's Uvda Air Base in the coming days.

The U.S. Air Force has released video footage from the Atlantic Trident 17 NATO exercise, demonstrating some of the capabilities that the fifth generation F-22 stealth fighter brings to the table as part of a larger fighter fleet.

The U.S. Air Force has formally designated the demonstrator engines for the Adaptive Engine Transition Program (AETP) as the XA100 and XA101 - with the XA100 to be built by General Electric and the XA101 to be built by Pratt & Whitney.  The XA engine designation indicates the "adaptive" nature of this next generation of jet engine, in contrast to the XF engine development designations used for previous generations of turbofan fighter engines.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Space Highlights - May 10, 2017

May 10, 2017

The Indian Geosynchronous Satellite Launch communications satellite was placed into orbit this past week, linking India with its neighbors in South Asia.

Iran has announced plans to launch two satellites in the coming weeks, in what critics are describing as a cover for Iran's ballistic missile weapons program.

Vector Space has made its first successful launch of its microsatellite booster.

The U.S. Air Force's miniature, unmanned space plane returned for a landing in Florida this past week, after spending nearly two years in orbit.  The purpose and details behind the X-37B's orbital missions remains classified.

NASA has released images of Titan's methane cloud cover, captured during the last close pass made by the Cassini spacecraft before it began its "ring diving" orbits last month.

Researchers have confirmed that the gap between Saturn and its rings really is the "big empty," after the Cassini spacecraft sent back data from its two initial ring-diving orbits where it passed between Saturn and its innermost ring.  Dust levels between Saturn and its innermost ring were much lower than what scientists had expected.

NASA has released a new video depicting images from Cassini's "ring diving" orbit, that took it between Saturn and its innermost rings.

NASA's Curiosity rover sent back photos of black sanddunes on Mars, as the rover began to take samples from a linear, active sand dune.

Two new Saturn-sized exoplanets have been identified by researchers.  The planets orbit red dwarf stars.