Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Single Aisle News - January 31, 2017

January 31, 2017

Bombardier is evaluating options for re-engining its CRJ regional jet product line, to keep it competitive until it can afford to invest in an all-new regional jet design.

Mitsubishi Aircraft has announced plans to increase the staff at its U.S.-based engineering center from 150 to more than 350 personnel, in support of its Mitsubishi Regional Jet flight test center.

Despite being late, the Mitsubishi Regional Jet (MRJ) is still expected to be competitive in its market, with only the Embraer E175-E2 offering a comparable, next-generation regional jet.

Pratt & Whitney's Geared TurboFan (GTF) engine has reportedly run into reliability issues with a fuel seal and combustion liner.  Upgraded parts are expected to be available for retrofit later this year.

The first Airbus A320 NEO that had been designated for delivery to Qatar has been repainted in IndiGo colors.  Qatar has been renegotiating the sale to upgrade the airplanes that it has on order from the A320 NEO to the larger A321 NEO model.

Boeing has deployed a 737 MAX aircraft to Australia for the first time as part of its flight test program, and to test out anticipated customer routes.

Although Southwest is still officially the "launch customer" for the Boeing 737 MAX, the first customer deliveries are now expected to be for Norwegian Air Shuttle, which expects to receive its first aircraft in May.  Norwegian placed its order for the MAX about a month after Southwest, but is reportedly better positioned to absorb the airplanes early.

China's Comac expects to enter flight test with its C919 airline in March.  The airplane will feature the CFM International LEAP-1C engine, a derivative of the LEAP-1A that is offered as an option for the A320 NEO.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Fighter Jet Times - January 26, 2017

January 26, 2017

A total of thirteen F-35As were deployed this past month to Red Flag 17-1, together with twelve F-22 Raptors.

The U.S. Air Force's F-35/A-10 fly-off, a head-to-head evaluation for which aircraft can best fulfill the close air support role, is expected to be delayed until 2018.  Congress mandated the competative evaluation as part of the Defense Authorization Act approved last year.

BAE Systems has been contracted to supply an upgraded head-up display (HUD) for the F-22.

Speculation continues to surround the core objectives and deployment strategy behind China's J-20 stealth fighter, which recently entered serial production.

India's Tejas fighter made its Republic Day fly-over debut this past week.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Space Highlights - January 25, 2017

January 25, 2017

The U.S. Air Force successfully launched a new missile warning satellite aboard an Atlas V booster.

Japan launched its first DSN-2 military communications satellite aboard an H-IIA rocket.  Although commercially operated by the DSN Corporation, DSN-2 has been contracted for use by the Japanese armed forces.  This also marks the second successful commercial satellite launch using the H-IIA booster.

NASA's Cassini spacecraft has captured stunning images of Saturn's ring-shepherd satellite Daphnis generating waves in Saturn's rings.  Also newly released are fresh images of Saturn's moon Tethys, as Cassini makes its final series of orbits around Saturn.

NASA has launched a public poll among amateur astronomers to identify targets in Jupiter's atmosphere for investigation during future passes by the Juno spacecraft.  The Juno spacecraft is in a wide, elliptical orbit that takes it alternately very close, or very far from the cloud tops of the giant planet.

ISRO (Indian Space Research Organization) has realigned the orbit of its Mangalyaan Mars orbiter to avoid future long-duration solar eclipses, which threatened to exhaust the solar-powered spacecraft's batteries.

NASA's Opportunity Mars rover has recently celebrated its 13th year on Mars.  Opportunity is currently studying a gully in Endeavour Crater.

NASA's Curiosity rover has identified what appears to be cracked, sedimentary rock which may once have formed the muddy floor of a Martian lake.

The Curiosity rover has identified what appears to be a small meteorite on the Martian surface.  If confirmed, the meteorite may provide clues to the conditions on the Martian surface when it fell through the atmosphere of Mars billions of years ago.

Using a range of observations, scientists are attempting to unravel the characteristics of the three "super-Earth" planets that were recently identified as orbiting around the M-class dwarf star Wolf 1061 (also known as GJ628), some 14 light years from Earth.  At least one of the three is inside its host star's habitable zone - where liquid water is expected to be able to form.

Scientists have been able to confirm the presence of an atmosphere surrounding the exoplanet GJ 1132b, with possible indications of both water vapor and methane.  Classified as a "super-Earth" planet, it has a diameter some 50-percent larger than that of Earth, and orbits within the "habitable zone" of its host star 39 light years from Earth.

Astronomers have identified three new gas giant exoplanets, using the SuperWASP-South Observatory in South Africa.  Two of the planets are classified as warm super-Jupiters orbiting metal-rich early or mid K-class stars, and the third is a warm super-Neptune planet orbiting a late K-class star.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Wide Body Report - January 24, 2017

January 24, 2017

Singapore Airlines has phased-out the Boeing 777-300 from its two-stop routes connecting Manchester, England, to Singapore, and then Houston, in favor of the Airbus A350-900.

Emirates will be adding a third daily flight connecting Dubai to Nairobi, Kenya flying the Boeing 777.

Workers at Boeing's North Charleston plant, which produces the 787 Dreamliner, are expected to vote on whether to join the International Association of Machinists, after IAM union officials filed a petition with the National Labor Relations Board.  Unlike Boeing's Washington plant, the Charleston facility has, up until now, been non-union.

Aeromexico will be launching service between Mexico City and Seoul aboard the Boeing 787-8.

The third and final A350-1000 prototype is expected to enter flight test in the next few weeks.

Rolls-Royce has agreed to pay a record $800 million fine in a foreign bribery and corruption probe, coordinated by the UK Serious Fraud Office, and including the U.S. Department of Justice, and the Brazilian Ministerio Publico Federal as plaintiffs.  The payment includes penalties for bribes and kickbacks provided to various government officials in the UK, U.S., and Brazil, connected with the sale of Rolls-Royce engines and services.  Rolls-Royce will also be required to undergo an independent compliance review to monitor future activities over the next two years.

Single Aisle News - January 23, 2017

January 23, 2017

Japan's Mitsubishi Aircraft has announced that its new Mitsubishi Regional Jet, now in flight test, will be delayed by another two years, with first customer deliveries not expected until mid-2020.  This is the fifth time that the airplane's delivery has been delayed during the last eight years of development.

Wideroe, the largest regional airline in Scandinavia, has placed an order for up to 15 Embraer E2 family aircraft, with a firm order for three E190-E2s, plus purchase rights on another twelve aircraft - which could be either E190-E2, E195-E2 or E175-E2 models.  The Embraer E2 aircraft are powered by Pratt & Whitney Geared TurboFan (GTF) engines.

China's first prototype Comac C919 has begun taxi tests, in preparation for a first flight anticipated this coming March.  Initial deliveries of the C919 are expected to be powered by the CFM International LEAP-1C engine.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Fighter Jet Times - January 19, 2017

January 19, 2017

The U.S. Department of Defense and Lockheed Martin are close to concluding a deal for the 10th low rate initial production (LRIP) batch of F-35 fighters, that would bring the unit cost below $100 million for the first time.

Israeli air force pilots conducted their first night sortie with the F-35, since receiving their first two aircraft last month.  The airplane is undergoing evaluations in preparation for operational service later this year.

Citing hundreds of deficiencies in the airplane to date, Pentagon weapons test chief Michael Gilmore has cautioned that initial operational test and evaluation (IOT&E) of the F-35 is expected to slip by at least a year, from 2018 to 2019.  At the heart of the deficiencies noted in the latest report are shortcomings and delays in the Block 3F software needed to operate many of the airplane's weapons systems, and to open up its flight envelope.

USMC F-35Bs have arrived in Japan for their first overseas deployment.

Russian manufacturer Sukhoi is expected to deliver the first of five PAK-FA stealth fighters to the Gromov Flight Research Institute, for familiarization training with Russian air force pilots.  To date, the airplane has been flown exclusively by dedicated test pilots.  This will be the first time that Russian air force pilots will fly the new airplane.

Taiwan has begun the upgrade of its F-16 fighters to the new F-16V standard.  Taiwan's fleet of 144 F-16A/B fighters were obtained second-hand from the U.S. Air Force during the 1990s.

India's indigenous Tejas fighter is expected to see its first appearance during a Republic Day celebration.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Space Highlights - January 18, 2017

January 18, 2017

An experimental Japanese micro-satellite launch rocket failed to reach orbit with its payload.

SpaceX successfully returned to orbit with the launch of a 10-satellite payload aboard a Falcon 9 booster, and a successful return rocket landing.  The payload of communications satellites achieved low earth orbit.

As the Cassini spacecraft winds down its final year of exploration, scientists look back on the 12-year anniversary of the Huygens lander which touched down on Saturn's moon Titan following its journey to Saturn aboard the Cassini spacecraft.

A new study suggests that methanogens, some of the simplest and earliest life forms to exist on Earth, could survive under the low atmospheric pressures of a simulated Martian environment.

Japan's Akatsuki spacecraft has identified a planet-wide atmospheric disturbance on Venus that is believed to have been caused by mountainous terrain on the planet's surface.

Citizen scientists continue to play a role in parsing together imagery from NASA's Juno spacecraft, as it orbits Jupiter.

A new study has suggested that, despite existing within the habitable zone of its parent star, the closest confirmed exoplanet - which orbits Proxima Centauri - was likely desiccated early in its history, rendering it a desert waste unsuitable for life.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Wide Body Report - January 17, 2017

January 17, 2017

Qatar Airways' CEO, Akbar Al Baker has suggested that deliveries of Boeing's 777-X could potentially be accelerated.  Qatar Airways is expected to be the launch customer for the new, stretched version of Boeing's twin-jet.

United Airlines is speeding up the retirement of its last Boeing 747 jumbo jets, with its final revenue flight now scheduled for the end of 2017.

Air France has commenced revenue service aboard its first Boeing 787 Dreamliner.

Lufthansa has become the first carrier to launch operations in India with the Airbus A350-900, with service from Munich to Delhi.

Russia's Aeroflot has cancelled its order for eight Airbus A350-800s.

Airbus' second A350-1000 prototype has made its first flight.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Single Aisle News - January 16, 2017

January 16, 2017

Latvian carrier airBaltic has commenced revenue service of the Bombardier CS300, the first of 20 CS300s that the airline has on order, and the first CS300 to enter commercial operation.

Lufthansa subsidiary Swiss Global Air Lines expects to introduce the larger CS300 C-Series model beginning in October 2017.  Swiss currently operates five CS100 models, with another ten on order, in addition to fifteen CS300s currently on order.

The delivery of the first two Airbus A320 NEO airplanes to Air India has been delayed by a month due to "engine issues."  Air India had opted for the CFM International LEAP-1A engine option, which up until now had not been reporting delays due to engine issues.

Saudi Arabia's budget carrier Flynas has closed on a firm order for 60 Airbus A320 NEO aircraft, and has upgraded an existing order for 20 A320 airplanes to the A320 NEO model.  The airline has options for a further 40 A320 NEOs.  No engine selection has been announced.

India's GoAir has firmed up an order for an additional 72 Airbus A320 NEO aircraft, doubling their previous order.  Their existing NEO order features the Pratt & Whitney PW1100G Geared TurboFan (GTF) engine.

India's SpiceJet has placed an order for an additional 100 Boeing 737 MAX-8 aircraft, in addtion to the 42 aircraft that they already have on firm order.  The 737 MAX is powered exclusively by the CFM International LEAP-1B engine.

Boeing has begun to market a stretched version of the 737 MAX, dubbed the MAX-10, in an effort to compete with the dominance of the Airbus A321 NEO in this size class.  The new version features a stretched fuselage and modified wing structure, but would retain the same LEAP-1B engine of the previous 737 MAX design.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Fighter Jet Times - January 12, 2017

January 12, 2017

In his first press conference since winning election, President-elect Donald Trump again leveled criticism at the F-35's "tremendous cost and cost overruns."

China has taken delivery of its first four Su-35 fighters, in what many have suggested will likely be the last batch of aircraft that China purchases from Russia.

Russian officials claim to have developed a new IFF (identify friend or foe) system for the prototype PAK-FA stealth fighter, that will allow the aircraft to retain its low observable characteristics while also identifying itself to friendly aircraft.

Japan and South Korea scrambled fighters after eight Chinese warplanes - including six H-6 bombers - flew across the Korean Strait which separates Japan from Korea.

The U.S. Marine Corps has deployed its F-35 stealth fighters overseas for the first time, with the dispatch of aircraft from VMFA-121 to Japan.

Russian aircraft have reportedly staged air strikes in northern Syria in support of a Turkish offensive against ISIS, marking the latest attempt at mending relations between the two governments.  Russian-Turkish relations have been strained since a Turkish fighter shot down a Russian strike aircraft flying out of Syria that had strayed into Turkish air space in November 2015.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Space Highlights - January 11, 2017

January 11, 2017

China orbited three small satellites with its new Kuaizhou-1A (KZ-1A) rocket, including the Jilin Linye-1 forestry satellite and two small CubeSats.

India's ISRO has established a February launch window for its record-setting attempt to place 103 satellites into orbit with a single launch.

The U.S. Air Force has encapsulated its SBIRS GEO 4 missile detection and intelligence-gathering satellite in preparation for launch.  The Space Based Infrared System (SBIRS) will be launched into a geosynchronous orbit (GEO) later this year.  Two other SBIRS satellites are on order.

NASA has released a family portrait of the Earth and its moon, as viewed from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.

NASA this past week commemorated the 13th anniversary of the successful landing of the Spirit Mars Exploration Rover (MER) on the red planet, on January 3, 2003.

NASA has released an image of Saturn's moon Mimas, as captured from the Cassini spacecraft, which highlights the odd moon's 86-mile wide Herschel crater with its central peak.

Researchers reviewing the "snakeskin" terrain discovered on areas of Pluto by the New Horizons spacecraft, have identified equivalent features on Earth, caused by the natural erosion of snow and ice.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Wide Body Report - January 10, 2017

January 10, 2017

Etihad Airways will launch a third daily flight between Abu Dhabi and Riyadh beginning in February, to meet increased demand.  The route is already serviced by one Boeing 777 and a 787.

Boeing has closed a deal for the sale of four 787 Dreamliners to Uzbekistan Airways.

Rolls-Royce is poised to begin two new flight test programs in the coming weeks: one for the Trent 1000-TEN which will equip the Boeing 787-10 Dreamliner model; and another for the Trent 7000 which will equip the Airbus A330 NEO.  The Trent is the exclusive engine choice for the A330 NEO, and is the lead-in engine model for the stretched Boeing 787-10.

Sichuan Airlines has signed an agreement for the lease of a single Airbus A350-900, with Air Lease Corporation.

China Airlines is expected to be the first airline to operate the Airbus A350 flying out of Vienna.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Single Aisle News - January 9, 2017

January 9, 2017

Bombardier met its year-end goal for delivering seven C-Series aircraft in 2016.

Lufthansa's subsidiary Swiss International Air Lines is expecting to receive 12 Bombardier CS100 aircraft in 2017.  The airline received five C-Series aircraft in 2016.

Boeing closed a year-end deal with GE Capital Aviation Services for 75 Boing 737 MAX-8 aircraft.  The 737 MAX is powered by CFM International LEAP-1B engines.  CFM International is a 50/50 partnership between GE and France's Snecma.

Czech Travel Service has ordered an additional five Boeing 737 MAX aircraft, bringing their total order to 30 airplanes.

Lufthansa expects to take delivery of 10 A320 NEO aircraft in 2017.  It received five aircraft in 2016, out of a total order for 116 A320 NEO family aircraft.

Qatar Airways expects to swap it order for up to 80 A320 NEOs for the larger A321 NEO model.  The airline is also reportedly negotiating whether it will switch the engine selection from the Pratt & Whitney PW1100G Geared TurboFan (GTF) engine to the CFM International LEAP-1A engine that is also available for the NEO.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Fighter Jet Times - January 5, 2017

January 5, 2017

Issues with the U.S. Navy's F-35C variant, which make the airplane's catapult-assisted launch more difficult and hazardous for pilots, are expected to persist until sometime in 2019.  Although corrective actions have been identified, it will take at least that long before modifications can be validated and incorporated into the airplane.

Russian media is reporting that Russia's sixth-generation PAK-FA stealth fighter is expected to enter squadron service in 2017.

In return for its investment in Russia's PAK-FA stealth fighter development program, India is reportedly seeking the right to domestically produce and export the airplane.  India is expected to buy roughly as many examples of the new airplane as the Russian air force.

The U.S. Navy is deploying its latest E-2D Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) aircraft to Japan, which reportedly will have the ability to detect Chinese and Russian stealth fighters.

A new Chinese recruitment video released by the People's Liberation Army (PLA) shows footage of Japanese jets being warned away from Chinese warplanes near contested islands in the East China Sea.

China's first carrier battlegroup has commenced its first training exercise in the South China Sea.

The U.S. Air Force has released its formal Request for Proposal for the T-X trainer competition.  The proposal calls for the procurement of 350 aircraft, with five teams vieing to provide the replacement for the Air Force's T-38 Talon.

Competition is already heating up over whether Israel's next jet fighter buy will center around additional F-35s, which offer stealth features, or new-build F-15s, which offer the strike radius that the F-35 lacks.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Space Highlights - January 4, 2017

January 4, 2017

Four months after an explosion on the launch pad destroyed a booster and its satellite, SpaceX plans to return to orbit with revised fueling procedures.  The final report on the incident suggests that investigators "identified several credible causes” for the event, and that “corrective actions address all credible causes.”

Following a launch anomaly that placed two Earth observation satellites in lower than anticipated orbits, China is slowly raising the satellites' orbits.  The two SuperView-1 satellites were launched on December 27th aboard a Long March 2D rocket.

NASA's Curiosity rover has identified a band of purple rocks on the surface of Mars.  The coloring appears to be from hematite, an iron-oxide mineral.

NASA's New Horizons spacecraft is preparing for its second flyby of a Kuiper Belt object, scheduled for January 1, 2019.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Wide Body Report - January 3, 2017

January 3, 2017

Boeing has delivered a second 777-300ER to Kuwait Airways.  The remaining eight aircraft on order are expected to arrive by the end of the year.

Delta Air Lines has cancelled its order for 18 Boeing 787 Dreamliners.  The order had been inherited when Delta merged with Northwest in 2008.

Emirates has formally taken delivery of its first Rolls-Royce Trent powered A380 super-jumbo airliner.  Emirates currently has a total of 50 Rolls-Royce Trent 900 powered A380s are on order, which will serve alongside its fleet of 90 A380s powered by Engine Alliance GP7000 engines.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Single Aisle News - January 2, 2017

January 2, 2017

Bombardier has delivered a second CS300 airliner to airBaltic.  The Latvian carrier has a total of 20 CS300 aircraft on order.

Lufthansa has taken delivery of its fifth Airbus A320 NEO.  An additional ten aircraft are expected to be delivered to Lufthansa in 2017.  All of the Lufthansa aircraft are expected to feature Pratt & Whitney PW1100G Geared TurboFan (GFT) engines.

IndiGo has taken delivery of its 13th Airbus A320 NEO.  Indigo is currently the largest domestic carrier in India, with 430 A320 NEO family aircraft on order, all equipped with Pratt & Whitney PW1100G engines.

Assembly is underway for the third and fourth prototype Irkut MC-21 aircraft.  First flight for the new airliner is expected within the next several weeks.  Early editions of the aircraft will feature Pratt & Whitney's PW1400G Geared TurboFan (GTF) engine.

Russia's Central Aerohydrodynamic Institute has completed thrust reverser tests for the Irkut MC-21 aircraft.

Comac's first C919 prototype has begun taxi tests in preparation of its first flight in coming weeks.  Early editions of the C919 will feature the CFM International LEAP-1C engine.