Our Christmas 2020 Newsletter is now online (Members only) +++ Legacy Destination of the Week 77: Polar Expedition Wilkins Aerodrome (YWKS) 17 Jan to 24 Jan 2021 +++ Congratulations Barrie Lewis and David McConkey on completing your first Around the World Challenge missions!

Cockpit Chatter

emoticons surprised

As virtual pilots, we share an absolute fascination with the art of flying. If not for the real world of aviation, this virtual airline would not exist. With our Cockpit Chatter page we pay tribute to our real life pilots and airlines. They show us the way - they make it happen. Below is a window into newsworthy historic, contemporary and futuristic aviation articles...enjoy.

(Due to the dynamic content nature of websites, links to web pages may be short lived)

COVID-19 and the Aviation Industry


Economic Context for Civil Aviation

Aviation provides the only rapid worldwide transportation network, which makes it essential for global business. It generates economic growth, creates jobs, and facilitates international trade and tourism.

The air transport industry supports a total of 65.5 million jobs globally. It provides 10.2 million direct jobs. Airlines, air navigation service providers and airports directly employs around three and a half million people. The civil aerospace sector (the manufacture of aircraft, systems and engines) employs 1.2 million people. A further 5.6 million people work in other on-airport positions. Another 55.3 million indirect, induced and tourism-related jobs are supported by aviation.

One of the industries that relies most heavily on aviation is tourism. By facilitating tourism, air transport helps generate economic growth and alleviate poverty. Currently, approximately 1.4 billion tourists are crossing borders every year, over half of whom travelled to their destinations by air. In 2016, aviation supported almost 37 million jobs within the tourism sector, contributing roughly USD 897 billion a year to global GDP.

Both air passenger traffic and air freight traffic are expected to more than double in the next two decades. Forecasts indicate that in 2036, aviation will provide 98 million jobs and generate USD 5.7 trillion in GDP - i.e. a 110% increase from 2016.

Impacts of COVID-19 across industries 

The COVID-19 virus has spread worldwide without acknowledging borders. It has impacted all industries, all sectors and all aspects of our lives with devastating economic and financial losses and significant uncertainties.

Within the spirit of collaboration, the below chart gathers information from international organizations representing the impacted industries. This information is subject to frequent change and you are invited to visit the official website of each organization for most up-to-date figures.

Figures are sourced from the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the Airports Council International (ACI), the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). All figures are in comparison to 2019 data, except for figures marked with an asterix (*) which are compared to 2020 baseline.


COVID-19 Air Traffic Dashboard

The COVID-19 pandemic has profoundly impacted the operations of air carriers, airports and air navigation service providers (ANSPs). The decisions taken today, and in the months to come, will impact the future of the industry. It is imperative for States, industries and all stakeholders to have reliable information and tool to monitor and assess the evolving impact of COVID-19 and leverage key indicators to make informed, data-driven decisions. 

ICAO, using ADS-B Flight aware data and the ICAO Enterprise Data Management (EDM), has worked jointly with the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) of Turkey to develop interactive dashboards to monitor four aspects of the impact of COVID-19 on civil aviation. 

  • Operational impact: impact on the number of flights, seats offered, for passenger and cargo flights segmented into international and domestic operations.
  • Economic impact: impact on the revenues of air carriers, airports and ANSPs.
  • Aircraft utilization: aircraft utilization and grounded aircraft by aircraft category.
  • Country-pair traffic: level of flights at the country-pair level on weekly basis.


The reliable and timely analysis presented in the dashboards will be of significant value to States, industries and all stakeholders in planning and making implementation decisions to restart and recover from the impacts of the pandemic.

For more details and further granular analysis at the State, air carrier, airport and ANSP level, please contact the ICAO Civil Aviation Data Solutions (ICADS) Team at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

To follow the links above and to read the full and lengthy article, click here

Airbus' Self-flying Plane

Airbus' self-flying plane just completed successful taxi, take-off, and landing tests, opening the door for fully autonomous flight

Airbus 1000 1

JUL 26, 2020, 10:09 PM

  • Airbus just completed its Autonomous Taxi, Take-Off, and Landing project that saw one of its jets perform normally pilot-flown manoeuvres entirely on its own.
  • The A350-1000 XWB acted as the testbed for the project in its role as Airbus’ flagship, with onboard cameras assisting the new technology.
  • The project’s successful completion opens the door for fully autonomous flights as autopilot already handles most of the functions while airborne.

The common belief with aeroplanes is that they fly themselves after take-off thanks to autopilot, and pilots can sit back and relax for most of the flight. But Airbus just took that idea to the next level after proving a passenger jet can perform complex manoeuvres without any pilot input.

The European manufacturer just completed flight testing for its Autonomous Taxi, Take-off, and Landing project in June after its flagship aircraft successfully navigated each phase of flight on its own as pilots simply watched.

Over 500 flights were conducted with the new Airbus A350-1000 XWB that successfully utilised “image recognition technology” to essentially give the plane a pair of eyes. The technology, integrated with the A350’s exterior cameras, allowed it to perform the phases of flight entirely on its own, Airbus announced.

The first milestone of the flight testing campaign occurred in December when Airbus was able to successfully demonstrate autonomous take-offs from Toulouse-Blagnac Airport in France. All pilots had to do in the first test was line up the plane with the runway and then sit back and watch as the plane barreled down the runway, lifting off on its own.

With Airbus proving that its jet can also land and taxi on its own, the door is now open to fully autonomous flights.

Take a look at how Airbus was able to do it.

Bidding goodbye to BA’s ‘Queen of the Skies’

BA 747 goodbey

By Flight International 24 July 2020 - Image by British Airways

The sudden but not entirely unexpected decision by British Airways (BA) to ditch its Boeing 747 fleet has led to some nostalgic and emotional reactions across the industry. But while the sadness over the demise of an icon at one of its most famous operators is ­understandable, the decision makes solid business sense.

At the time of Europe’s ground-stop in March, BA had 31 747-400s in operation, according to Cirium fleets data. This gave it the largest fleet – just – of 747 passenger aircraft and represented some 9,000 available seats.

The BA 747 fleet has been winding down gradually for the past two decades from a peak of 75 aircraft in the late 1990s. But pre-coronavirus, BA jumbos were not scheduled to disappear entirely from the skies until 2024 – to be replaced by various Airbus and Boeing big twins.

Like other carriers, BA has often used its older fleets tactically as “capacity buffers” to counter the “known unknowns” – those industry crises that airline management have to plan for and react to. The Lockheed TriStar fleet was withdrawn after the first Gulf War in 1991, and the 747 Classics departed the scene in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Just prior to the grounding, 132 widebodies were plying BA’s long-haul network, of which 89 were twinjet Airbus A350s and the remainder 777s and 787s. A further 47 widebodies were on order – all twins – including what is now Seattle’s spiritual successor to the 747, the 777-9.

Whether by design or by accident, the ­airline found itself with the tempting ­opportunity to be able to sacrifice a large fleet of “written-down” high-capacity aircraft to counter the expected slow recovery of the ­air-travel sector. The 747’s withdrawal also ­removes a type that represents higher ­operating costs from both fuel-burn and maintenance perspectives.

But that’s the cold-hearted business ­perspective, and air travel can be emotive. Despite their age, BA’s 747s undoubtedly represented a unique experience that was adored by passengers and crew alike – even if sometimes the cabins felt like they dated from the BOAC era celebrated by one of the 747 retrojets.

Since Concorde’s demise, the jumbo has been the most recognisable airliner among the public, achieving a flagship status that the A380 could only dream of. And few would disagree that Seattle’s “Queen” is one of the best-looking jet airliners to ever grace the skies. Farewell, your majesty.

Delta Air retires final eight McDonnell Douglas MD-88 and MD-90

MD88 90Photo by Thomas Pallini/Business Insider

Delta Air Lines retired its final eight McDonnell Douglas MD-88 and MD-90 aircraft on Tuesday.
After flying their final flights to Atlanta, the “Mad Dogs” were sent to an aircraft graveyard Blytheville, Arkansas for storage.
The retirement ends a 33-year era for Delta, which first took delivery of the McDonnell Douglas planes in 1987.

The financial difficulty brought on by the coronavirus have spurred nearly every business to re-evaluate their operations and weed out any inefficiencies. Some airlines are realising that they now have too many aircraft and are leaning their fleets accordingly, which have seen the advanced retirement of older aircraft.

For Delta, America’s second-largest airline, that meant saying goodbye to its oldest fleet type, the McDonnell Douglas MD-80 and MD-90 series aircraft, also known as “Mad Dogs.” On June 2, the final few Long Beach, California-built aircraft transported their last passengers from across the country to Atlanta before being sent to an aircraft graveyard in Arkansas.

A true workhorse of any fleet it was in, the first MD-80 series aircraft joined the Delta fleet in 1987 and was an integral part of the airline’s operation for over three decades. Now, it will be phased out to make way for newer aircraft as part of a wide-ranging fleet renewal.

It’s the second aircraft retirement for Delta in nearly as many years, with the airline retiring its Boeing 747-400 aircraft in December 2017, but there’s more to come. Delta’s Boeing 777 aircraft will also exit the fleet before the end of 2020.

Here’s what it was like for Delta on the final day of operations with McDonnell Douglas aircraft.

VoltAero Unveils Production Version of Hybrid-Electric Cassio

voltaeroby Charles Alcock - May 8, 2020

VoltAero this week revealed the production configuration for its Cassio hybrid-electric aircraft. The French company started flight testing the fixed-wing design in early March and plans to achieve type certification under EASA’s CS-23 rules in time for deliveries to begin by the end of 2022.

On May 6, VoltAero announced that it intends to offer three variants of the single pusherprop aircraft, featuring a distinctive aft main wing and tail boom, as well as a canard configuration. These will include the four-seat Cassio 330 with a combined hybrid-electric power rating of 330 kW, the six-seat Cassio 480 (480 kW), and the 10-seat Cassio 600 (600 kW).

Intended for a variety of business and general aviation applications, including air taxi, the Cassio family will offer range of up to 920 nm and 200-knot cruise speed. Takeoff and landing distance is projected to be less than 1,800 feet and VoltAero says the aircraft will be able to operate for up to 10 hours each day, allowing multiple rotations. Max takeoff weight will be below 2.5 tonnes (5,511 pounds) to comply with CS-23 requirements.

The hub of the Cassio’s proprietary propulsion system is an internal combustion engine that drives three 60-kW electric motors. In standard operations, the electric motors would be used for takeoff and landings (partly to reduce noise), with the engine extending range.

VoltAero is testing this power combination in an early prototype, the Cassio 1, which is loosely based on the Cessna 337 Skymaster. The production aircraft will not include this prototype’s two forward-facing sets of propellers and or the forward high wing.

The company intends to produce the all-composite aircraft in a purpose-built final assembly line in the Nouvelle Aquitaine region of southwest France. It will also seek partners for licensed production in North America and Asia.

VoltAero was founded by former Airbus chief technology officer Jean Botti, who led the European aerospace group’s E-Fan X electric aircraft development program.

This story comes from FutureFlight.aero resource developed by AIN to provide objective, independent coverage, and analysis of new aviation technology, including electric aircraft developments.

Boeing Completes First Flight of Second 777X

b777xno2ffby Gregory Polek

Boeing on Thursday conducted what it called a productive and successful first flight of the second 777X airplane. Designated WH002 and the second of four 777-9 flight test articles, the big widebody will test handling characteristics and airplane performance, the company said.

During the first flight, 777X project pilot Ted Grady and 777/777X chief pilot Van Chaney flew for 2 hours and 58 minutes over Washington state before landing at Seattle's Boeing Field at 2:02 p.m. local time.

WH002 carries an array of equipment, sensors, and monitoring devices throughout the cabin, allowing the onboard and ground-based teams to document and evaluate the airplane's response to test conditions in real-time. The 777X test plan lays out a series of tests and conditions on the ground and in the air to demonstrate the safety and reliability of the design.

Crews have flown the first airplane nearly 100 hours at a variety of flaps settings, speeds, altitudes, and systems settings as part of the initial evaluation of the flight envelope. With initial airworthiness now demonstrated, the team can safely add personnel to monitor testing onboard instead of relying solely on a ground-based telemetry station, unlocking testing at greater distances, said the company.

The 777X program resumed flight test operations soon after Boeing reopened production in the Puget Sound region in Washington state on April 20. The company shuttered most production activity in the area on March 25, after Washington declared a state of emergency due to the Covid-19 epidemic.

Launching the flight test program with WH001 on January 25, Boeing had originally hoped to gain FAA certification for the larger of a duo of planned 777X variants this year, but engine-related delays and promises of more intense scrutiny from regulators arising from the twin crashes and grounding of the 737 Max had already created expectations of a longer wait. The company now cites a broad 2021 entry-into-service target.

Airbus Cuts Monthly Production Rates by One-third

airbusCaptureby Gregory Polek - April 8,20

A highly anticipated plan to cut monthly production rates at Airbus took effect Wednesday, as the company revealed that 60 airplanes it produced during the first quarter remain undelivered to customers due to the Covid-19 crisis. The company delivered 35 aircraft in March, down from 55 in February, reflecting customer requests for delivery deferrals and what Airbus called other factors related to the pandemic.

Specifically, Airbus plans to cut rates of its A320 family to 40 per month from a peak of 60 in 2019. Widebody production, meanwhile, will see A330 rates drop from some 3.25 per month to two per month, while A350 rates fall from roughly 10 per month to six. In February Airbus had already announced an A330 cut from 53 in 2019 to 40 in 2020.
The moves represent a reduction of the pre-coronavirus average rates of roughly one third throughout the Airbus product line. The company said the cuts preserve its ability to meet customer demand while protecting its ability to further adapt as the market evolves.

During this year’s first quarter, Airbus booked net orders for 290 commercial airplanes and delivered 122.
The company added that it continues to work with its social partners to define the most appropriate measures to adapt to the evolving situation, address a short-term cash containment plan, and revisit its strategy for its longer-term cost structure.

“The impact of this pandemic is unprecedented,” said Airbus chief executive officer Guillaume Faury. “At Airbus, protecting our people and supporting the fight against the virus are our chief priorities at this time. We are in constant dialogue with our customers and supply chain partners as we are all going through these difficult times together. Our airline customers are heavily impacted by the Covid-19 crisis. We are actively adapting our production to their new situation and working on operational and financial mitigation measures to face reality.”

In reaction to the pandemic, Airbus most recently decided to pause commercial aircraft production and assembly activity at its German sites in Bremen and Stade and its U.S. A220/A320 manufacturing facility in Mobile, Alabama. Airbus said the actions come in response to several factors related to the Covid-19 pandemic including high inventory levels at the sites and the various government recommendations and requirements that affect flow at different stages of production.

Farnborough Airshow Canceled Due To Virus Fears

DubaiASby Tom Boon March 20, 2020

The 2020 Farnborough Airshow has been canceled due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Events around the world have been canceled as governments look to slow the spread of the deadly virus. However, this is one of the most drastic events to be canceled in the aviation industry.

The Farnborough Airshow is held every two years. It alternates with the Paris Air Show during the years where there is no show. However, this year the Farnborough Air Show will not be held due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. A sign that the event organizers aren’t expecting the situation to get better any time soon.

A high profile cancelation
The cancelation of the 2020 Farnborough Airshow has some serious significance. It shows that the industry really is worried about the ongoing effect of the outbreak. It also signals that the organizers don’t expect everything to have totally blown over by late July.

However, the Farnborough Airshow is not the first event to be canceled by the virus, and won’t be the last. Surprisingly, the Singapore Air Show went ahead in February despite concern about the coronavirus outbreak in the region.

The first big event to be canceled was the ITB travel expo in Berlin due to take place at the start of March. The Aircraft Interior Expo due to take place at the end of the month has also been postponed, however, a new date has not been given yet.

What will we miss out on?
It is impossible to say exactly what exactly those who had been due to attend will miss out on. In fact, while the exhibitor list has been released, the list of aircraft at the show was not yet ready.

One highlight that would’ve been expected was the Boeing 777X. This is an aircraft that was supposed to debut at the Paris Air Show last year. However, following issues with the GE9X engines, the first flight of the aircraft didn’t take place until earlier this year. That meant that it missed out on an appearance at the Dubai Airshow as well.

The other thing that we will likely miss out on is the huge flurry of orders that are typically announced at an air show. While one would hope that these orders would instead be spread across the year. However, given the state of the industry, I doubt many large orders will be placed any time soon.

Alan Joyce: No shortage of pilots for London to Sydney route

To LondonWritten by Adam Thorn 

Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce upped the stakes in his negotiation with staff over the upcoming London to Sydney route, telling reporters there was “no shortage of pilots” ready to take on the assignment.

Talking as he announced cuts to services to Asia, he said, “I’ve had the letter from a captain from China Southern who says he’s been laid off in recent issues there, and he can get hundreds of captains from China and Asia to operate Project Sunrise if we want to.”

The direct response comes after a memo leaked to Reuters last week said the airline wouldn’t shy away from forming a lower-cost pilot group if a deal could not be reached for the new ultra-long-haul route.

Qantas and the Australian and International Pilots Association have been locked in talks for months over a deal to operate Project Sunrise, the name of Qantas’ ambitious plan to fly non-stop from the east coast of Australia to London and New York from 2023.

The airline has selected the Airbus SE A350-1000 as its plane to undertake the 17,000 kilometre journey – but the order is contingent on reaching a deal with pilots by March. In the memo obtained by Reuters, Qantas International head Tino La Spina was reported as saying the airline would form a new lower-cost pilot group if needs be.
He said, “Airbus extended the delivery slots one last time once they knew they were the preferred supplier, but they are not willing to continue their exposure beyond that point.”

The memo added that the offer for A330 pilots who would also fly the A350 is 5 per cent more than for its Boeing 787 fleet. In a statement after the release of the leaked email, La Spina said, “Our strong preference is to reach an agreement with our pilots.”

The escalation of the dispute came on a busy day for Qantas, which announced earlier that it would reduce overall capacity to Asia by 15 per cent until at least the end of May, cut international capacity by 16 per cent, and cut Jetstar seats to the region by a further 14 per cent. Flights between Sydney and Shanghai will remain suspended, Joyce said, while the popular route between Hong Kong and Sydney will be halved from 14 trips a week to just seven.

Meanwhile, flights from Melbourne and Brisbane will be axed, as will Jetstar flights to Japan and Thailand. Jetstar flights between Australia and New Zealand will also be reduced by around 5 per cent, and the group’s domestic capacity will go down by 2.3 per cent in the second half of the year.

Joyce said, “Coronavirus resulted in the suspension of flights to mainland China, and we’re now seeing some secondary impacts and weaker demand on Hong Kong, Singapore and to a lesser extent Japan. “What’s important is that we have flexibility in how we respond to coronavirus and how we maintain our strategic position more broadly.”

A380 Production Milestone as Final Wings Completed

AIRBUS A380 EMIRATESChris Frame February 7, 2020

Airbus’ former flagship, the massive A380, has reached a milestone in its production cycle, with the completion of the final set of wings.
Built at Airbus’ Broughton facility in Flintshire, Wales; the massive wings provide the world’s largest passenger jet with 845.8 square metres of area once installed onto the fuselage.

The A380 is manufactured across various facilities throughout Europe with the wings being part of the United Kingdom’s contribution to the superjumbo project. With a wingspan just shy of 80 metres, the giant surfaces are responsible for lifting the 560,185 kg airliner into the sky, as well as supporting the airliner’s four engines and housing part of the supersized landing gear.

With Airbus utilising a decentralised construction programme, parts and components of the A380 are shipped from various production facilities to Airbus’ final assembly plant in Toulouse, France.

Various nations are involved in this process, with several key European countries providing the bulk of the work.
Germany plants are responsible for construction and assembly of the forward and rear fuselage as well as pressure bulkheads and interior design while Spain produces the tail cone, stabilisers and landing gear.

The UK oversees wing production for the A380 and other Airbus models, while the building of the central fuselage air inlets and ailerons happens in France, as does the final production of the aircraft.

While some components are modest enough in size to be transported on heavy-lift aircraft – such as the Airbus Beluga – the size of the A380’s wings mean they are transported via land and sea.

From the UK plant in Wales, the wings are carefully transported to an awaiting barge for a journey down the River Dee that terminates at the Dee estuary. Here they are loaded aboard a custom-designed roll on roll off ship before being moved to Bordeaux in France.

Upon arrival in France, they are relocated to an awaiting barge, transiting the waters of Garonne River for the final leg of their journey to Toulouse.
This intricate production and transportation process has been underway since well before the first A380 prototype was revealed in January 2005, and the once novel sight of giant aircraft components moving slowly by river barge has become familiar for those living along the route.

When the A380 prototype was revealed, there were great expectations that the airliner – certified to carry up to 853 passengers – would revolutionise global air travel. Its spaciousness and capacity promised to aid in relieving pressure on slot restricted airports such as London Heathrow or airports with operating curfews such as Sydney, while airlines around the world utilised some of the internal space to showcase their finest luxury products including suites, bars and lounges.
Singapore Airlines launched the inaugural A380 services in October 2007, operating SQ380 from Singapore to Sydney.

Initial projections showed promise with a variety of airlines including Emirates, Air France, Qantas and Virgin Atlantic being among the first carriers to order the aircraft.
However despite an almost universal love for the aircraft among the travelling public – thanks to the A380’s spacious interior, improved air quality and smooth flying characteristics – airline affections for the superjumbo were less prominent.

Of all the airlines that took an interest in the A380 throughout its development, Emirates was the only carrier to fully embrace the Superjumbo. With its first model arriving in mid-2008, the airline built a significant network around the aircraft, introducing A380s to destinations near and far.

In fact, of 251 firm orders for the airliner, 123 were destined for Emirates; representing almost 50% of all A380s produced. With so much reliance on one carrier, the future of the A380 was somewhat tied to the ongoing desire of Emirates to continue adding superjumbos to its fleet. When the UAE based carrier reduced its existing order by 39 aircraft, Airbus announced that production of the superjumbo would end by 2021.

While the final wings have now been completed, A380 production will continue for the rest of the year It seems fitting that the final aircraft is destined for Emirates – its most loyal and successful customer.

Flight attendants sue Boeing over 'toxic' cabin air

777 OlympicWorld / 31 Jan 2020 by Jessica Villagomez /Chicao Tribune

Chicago - Boeing Co. is being sued by flight attendants who say they were made sick by toxic air that leaked onto a company-built aeroplane because of what they say is a design flaw.

The lawsuit by three flight attendants, filed Tuesday in Cook County Circuit Court, alleges some Boeing planes use a "bleed air system," which captures air from the outside off the engines. The air that enters the cabin can be contaminated with various chemicals, according to the lawsuit.

The contamination occurred on a Boeing 767-300 Delta flight from Frankfurt, Germany, to Detroit on February 5, 2018, according to the lawsuit. A number of passengers became sick because of the contaminated air and the captain decided to divert the flight, the suit alleges.

"As a result of this event, Plaintiffs have suffered loss of wages and wage-earning capacity in the past and in the future," the suit states.

The lawsuit also alleges that Boeing officials and engineers were aware of the design flaw and that flight attendants were not briefed on the health concerns surrounding the contaminated cabin air.

"For more than sixty years, Boeing has been put on notice, on more than a hundred occasions, that its bleed air system aeroplanes are unreasonably dangerous and can cause serious acute and permanent injuries to flight crew and passengers," the suit alleges.

There have been other lawsuits filed regarding the issue in the past, including a 2015 suit by the same law firm that filed Tuesday's suit, and the issue has been researched by the Association of Flight Attendants union. The 2015 lawsuit was settled last month, according to court records.

The flight attendants are seeking a jury trial and damages of over 50,000 dollars, according to the suit. The flight attendants continue to suffer from myriad health problems due to breathing the toxic air, including headaches, nausea and confusion, the suit says.

The Boeing 747 Variants That Never Were

747 variantsby Nicholas Cummins

The Boeing 747 Trijet
Modeled after other trijets like the smaller Lockheed L-1011 TriStar and McDonnell Douglas DC-10, it was designed on the frame of the Boeing 747-300 but with only two underwing engines. The third engine, unusually, is housed in the rear of the plane. This version of the 747 would have the advantage of less fuel consumption. However, during engineering, it was discovered that major changes would need to be made to the wing and aerodynamics of the plane, and thus the aircraft would be given a new type rating. Airline pilots who wanted to fly the aircraft would have to be retrained on the new type and not be able to use their Boeing 747 training. This made it unfeasible to build.

The Boeing 747 ASB
Following the success of the Boeing 747SP, Boeing decided that they would develop a Boeing 747-400SP, dubbed the ASB. This would be a competitor aircraft to the new-at-the-time Airbus A340. It would be able to carry 295 passengers to a range of 8,000 nautical miles. However, in the end, airlines were not interested in the product and Boeing rolled its production design into what would become the Boeing 777.

The Boeing 747-500 -600 -700
You might notice that the Boeing 747 series makes a big jump from the -400 up to the -8, seemingly missing entire generations (The Boeing 747-8 is called -8 as it incorporates multiple technologies from the Boeing 787). The first in the mid-generation aircraft was the Boeing 747-500, designed in 1986. This aircraft would have been an ultra-long-range 747 to fly between London and Sydney. The aircraft would have been stretched for more passengers and fuel, as well as using new engines developed at the time, allowing it to fly faster. Qantas would eventually go with Airbus 30 years later as this was never built.

The Boeing 747X and 747 Stretch
When Boeing heard rumors that Airbus was cooking up some sort of double-deck aircraft, they decided to speak to airlines about a possible stretch version of the Boeing 747. They created two versions:

The Boeing 747X – 430 passengers over ranges of up to 8,700 nautical miles
The Boeing 747X Stretch – 500 passengers over ranges of up to 7,800 nautical miles
Like the previous models, airlines were not interested in it. Boeing shelved the idea and put its research into range extension the Boeing 747-400ER and speed capability into the Boeing Sonic Cruiser.

The Boeing 747-400QLR
The last serious design of the Boeing 747 was the QLR, or quiet long-range aircraft. Designed to be as quiet as possible, the aircraft went through different rounds of revision until eventually being canceled. But research done to reduce engine noise was rolled into the rest of the Boeing fleet.

This article is an excerpt from the orignal published by Simple Flying. To view images and read the full article follow this link

Boeing Fires CEO Dennis Muilenburg

Boeing 737 MAXBy Ryan Whitwam

Boeing has had a very bad year, and now heads are starting to roll. The company’s board of directors has fired CEO Dennis Muilenburg, whose tenure at the firm has covered the years leading up to a pair of fatal crashes involving the 737 MAX aircraft. Aviation authorities around the world have grounded the plane, and ongoing investigations suggest Boeing may have cut corners in testing and regulatory oversight. At the same time, the company has seen numerous delays in the development of the CST-100 Starliner spacecraft.
Muilenburg became CEO of Boeing in 2015 after previously being president of the company. That’s the same year when the company’s engineers began wondering if a single angle of attack (AOA) sensor failure in the company’s new 737 MAX aircraft could cause problems with the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS). This system is supposed to lower the nose of the plane when it detects a high AOA. However, MCAS can malfunction and essentially force a plane into an unintended dive.
Boeing has failed to properly address the 737 MAX issue ever since the first fatal crash in October 2018. A second crash in March of this year led to the grounding of all 737 Max aircraft. Between the first Indonesian and second Ethiopian crash, a total of 346 people have died. MCAS has been implicated in both crashes, and regulators haven’t signed off on proposed software changes aimed at getting the planes in the air again. In fact, the FAA took the unusual step of publicly chastising for pushing to get the planes recertified so quickly. The agency may have been looking to distance itself from the company after accusations that it allowed Boeing to do too much safety testing on its own terms.

The writing was probably on the wall for Muilenburg several months ago. The board voted to separate the roles of Chairman and CEO in October, but it allowed Muilenburg to continue on as CEO at the time. With the latest board action, Muilenburg has been removed from his post effective immediately. He’ll be replaced as CEO by Chairman David Calhoun on January 13th. Current board member Lawrence Kellner will take over as chairman of the board, again, keeping those two roles separate.
Boeing hasn’t made any statements about Muilenburg’s compensation as he leaves the company, but he did wave his 2019 bonus in November as the 737 scandal dragged on. He continues to serve on the boards of several companies and foundations. Full article

Air New Zealand Forgets To Renew Alcohol License For Lounge

Nu Zillandby Chris Loh, December 14, 2019 full article

Oops! The domestic Air New Zealand Koru lounge in Auckland can’t serve alcoholic drinks at the moment because it’s alcohol license isn’t up to date. According to the Australian site Traveller, the airline said on Tuesday that the mix-up was due to a “processing delay” with the lounge’s liquor license. However, the council of the City of Auckland is disputing that statement.

In speaking with Traveller, Auckland Council made it clear that there was no delay on its end saying:

“As part of Auckland Council’s alcohol license renewal policy, all applicants get a reminder letter one month before their license is due to expire…Unfortunately Air New Zealand did not contact council to renew their liquor licence for the Koru Lounge on time and it has expired. They have now been in contact and we are working with all our partner agencies to try and resolve this issue as soon as possible.” -Peter Knight, manager of alcohol licensing, Auckland council.

Nonetheless, Air New Zealand’s social media team was able to poke fun at themselves with an amusing tweet about their “Christmas to-do list”:

nu zilland booze





United Airlines Operates Extra Special “North Pole” Flight

Santa Unitedby Nicholas Cummins

Simple Flying

United Airlines has flown a special flight to the ‘North Pole’, giving very sick children a chance to meet Santa and explore his workshop before he is too busy with Christmas.

United has performed the 30th year of Fantasy Flight,s arranging spare aircraft to take a group of sick children from various charities on a themed journey to Santa’s workshop in the ‘North Pole’. Several different flights took place, within the airline operating more across the US and its territories.

“Beginning December 5 and in the first two weeks of December, United Airlines is holding Fantasy Flights across the world. We work with children’s hospitals, hospices, homeless shelters, and other organizations to fly children and their families onboard a United plane for a short magical flight that lands at the “North Pole” to meet Santa, receive gifts and enjoy a transformed winter wonderland. Every moment from arriving to leaving the airport is full of heartwarming moments.” – United Spokesperson to Simple Flying

“It is scientifically proven that positive experiences increase the efficiency of kids treatment plans,” Liz Wesolowski said, mother of one of the sick children on a flight from Chicago to WGNTV. “Her sisters get to join in which is humongous because it really impacts the entire family.”

“It brings smiles and a change for these people. A lot of the times these families are stuck in the hospital during Christmas time so bringing Christmas spirit to these families and helping them get out of their normalcy for a bit,” Megan Gertz with Cal’s Angels, one of the partnered charity organizations said in the same story. “We bring normalcy to them so they can enjoy their Christmas time.” 

Autoland Is Garmin's Newest Safety Feature

garminALby Matt Thurber

For the past eight years, Garmin has secretly been working on a fascinating new capability, an autoland function that can rescue an airplane with an incapacitated pilot or save a pilot when weather conditions present no other safe option. Autoland should soon receive its first FAA approval, with certification expected shortly in the Piper M600, followed by the Cirrus Vision Jet.

The Garmin Autoland system is part of Garmin’s Autonomi family of automation products, which includes Electronic Stability and Protection and Emergency Descent Mode. The Autoland system is designed to safely fly an airplane from cruising altitude to a suitable runway, then land the airplane, apply brakes, and stop the engine. Autoland can even switch on anti-/deicing systems if necessary.

Autoland is available for aircraft manufacturers to incorporate in their airplanes equipped with Garmin G3000 avionics and autothrottle. Piper Aircraft will make the system (branded Halo) standard in the new M600 SLS version of its single-engine turboprop. Cirrus is following suit with the Vision Jet, which will also offer Autoland (branded Safe Return).

The concept behind Autoland is to develop a system that can take control of a perfectly good airplane with a pilot who is no longer capable of flying, and then land the airplane safely.

More than 100 Garmin engineers worked on Autoland, including a team of human factors experts. They had to carefully design the system so that a non-flying passenger can not only switch it on, but also understand what is happening during an Autoland event.

To learn more about the genesis of Autoland and how it works, I visited Garmin’s Olathe, Kansas, headquarters for a briefing and demo flight in the M600 with flight test pilot and engineer Eric Sargent.

The project began in 2011 with a Garmin engineer testing some algorithms that could make an autolanding possible, and in 2014 Garmin accomplished a first autolanding in a Columbia 400 piston single. In September 2015, Garmin got the FAA involved with the goal of certifying Autoland in production airplanes. So far, Garmin has flown more than 800 autolands in various airplanes, including about 200 in the M600, which made its first autolanding on September 10, 2018.

Read the full article here. Thanks to Platinum Pilot Daniel Katz for the lead to the article.

First Airbus A350 Spotted In South African Airways Colors

zorroby Joanna Bailey October 30, 2019

An eagle-eyed planespotter has snapped the first image of South African Airways’’ very first A350 in Singapore today. Emerging from the paint shop in full SAA livery, the new aircraft looks set to join the fleet in a matter of days. It will be deployed on the Johannesburg to New York route, replacing an A340.

SAA’s first A350
The first A350 for South African Airways was spotted in Singapore today in its full SAA colors. While most of the livery remains the same as the rest of the fleet, the A350 appears to have adopted larger ‘billboard’ style titles on the sides. This is a trend we’ve seen in a few airlines this year, notably United.

This first A350 will be registered ZS-SDC. By the looks of it, it should be ready to deliver to SAA within a matter of days. Some commenters have indicated they expect it to land in South Africa on Thursday, but this is unconfirmed by the airline.

Given its current financial state, the A350 might seem like a bit of a strange investment for SAA. However, at this stage, the airline is only leasing these aircraft, in a bid to reduce their use of the gas-guzzling A340. This first A350 will replace an A340 on the Johannesburg to New York JFK service.

Qantas test non-stop flight from New York to Sydney


By Aimee Lewis, CNN

Australian airline Qantas has completed the longest non-stop commercial passenger flight, researching the potential impacts of ultra-long haul flights on pilots, crew and passengers.

With 49 people on board, the Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner flight completed the 10,066-mile journey from New York to Sydney in 19 hours and 16 minutes.

Qantas Group Chief executive Alan Joyce said: "This is a really significant first for aviation. Hopefully, it's a preview of a regular service that will speed up how people travel from one side of the globe to the other."

Research into the health and well-being of those on board were conducted during the flight with tests ranging from monitoring pilot brain waves, melatonin levels and alertness to exercise classes for passengers.

Joyce added: "We know ultra long haul flights pose some extra challenges but that's been true every time technology has allowed us to fly further. The research we're doing should give us better strategies for improving comfort and wellbeing along the way."

The next test flight will take place in November, from London to Sydney, while there will be another New York to Sydney flight before the end of the year.

Qantas has said it hopes to operate direct flights from three cities on Australia's east coast -- Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane -- and New York and London by 2022 or 2023.

Captain Sean Golding said: "Overall, we're really happy with how the flight went and it's great have some of the data we need to help assess turning this into a regular service."

Beijing Daxing International Airport Open for Business

Daxing Airport

Beijing Daxing International Airport (IATA: PKX, ICAO: ZBAD) (nicknamed "starfish"), located on the border of Beijing and Langfang, Hebei Province, is Beijing's second international airport. The name of the airport was announced on September 14, 2018. The terminal building is the largest single-structure airport terminal in the world, with an area of more than 1,000,000 m2 (11,000,000 sq ft). It was completed on June 30, 2019. The opening ceremony for the airport was held on September 25, 2019, with the airport opened to the public on September 26, 2019. The first commercial flight landed at Beijing Daxing at 10:12 (UTC+8), September 26, 2019.

The airport is 46 kilometres (29 mi) south of Tiananmen Square, 26 kilometres (16 mi) west of downtown Langfang, 50 kilometres (31 mi) northeast of Xiong'an New Area, and 65 kilometres (40 mi) south of Beijing Capital International Airport, and is expected to serve Beijing, Tianjin, and Hebei. It serves as a hub for SkyTeam alliance airlines and some Oneworld members, while Star Alliance members will stay at Beijing Capital International Airport (with the exception of LOT Polish Airlines, which will serve Daxing as well). Hainan Airlines, which accounted for 10% of Beijing Capital International's passenger seat capacity in 2016, but is not part of any major alliance, remains at Capital Airport.

After almost five years of construction, the $11 billion facility features a 700,000 m2 (7,500,000 sq ft) terminal and sits on 47 km2 (18 sq mi) of land, making it the world's second-largest single-building airport terminal, after Istanbul Airport's main terminal.

Longest flights

AnnotationFrom Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Over time, different airline companies have established a number of ultra-long haul non-stop flights. This article covers the longest flights among them. The opening of these super long routes can reduce the number of stops passengers must take to increase passenger comfort in the journey and reduce the time needed to travel between distant city pairs, although stopovers can also be rejuvenating in long distance travel.It also can help build ego and build loyalty among a set of flyers.And thus there is competition among airlines to establish the longest flight.

From 1943 to 1945, Qantas operated "The Double Sunrise", a weekly 5,652 kilometres (3,052 nmi; 3,512 mi) flight between Perth, Australia and Koggala Lagoon in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) with average flight times of 28 hours, using a Consolidated PBY Catalina.One of these flights remains the record holder for longest time airborne (for a commercial flight) at 32 hours, 9 minutes.

On October 1–2, 1957, a Trans World Airlines Lockheed L-1649 Starliner, the ultimate piston-engine airliner in terms of range and endurance, flew the inaugural 8,638 kilometres (4,664 nmi; 5,367 mi) London–San Francisco polar route in 23 hours, 19 minutes.

In June 1961, an El Al Boeing 707-320 flew a 9,137 kilometres (4,934 nmi; 5,677 mi) route from New York City-JFK to Tel Aviv averaging 9 hours, 33 minutes. This route was previously tested in December 1957 with a Bristol Britannia.

In August 1967, Aerolíneas Argentinas established its non-stop Boeing 707-320B service on a 10,063 kilometres (5,434 nmi; 6,253 mi) route between Madrid and Buenos Aires with a flight time of 12 hours.The arrival of the more fuel-efficient turbofans made easier the possibility of longer flights.

The Aerolíneas Argentinas route was the longest scheduled flight by distance until 1976, when the Boeing 747-SP entered service. In April 1976, Pan American World Airways set the new record with its 10,899 kilometres (5,885 nmi; 6,772 mi) New York City-JFK/Tokyo-Haneda route. In December, the airline set another record with Sydney–San Francisco, covering 11,937 kilometres (6,445 nmi; 7,417 mi).

The dissolution of the Soviet Union eventually opened the airspace over Russia, allowing new circumpolar routes to come into use for commercial airlines. On March 1, 2001, Continental Airlines launched a 12,980 kilometres (7,009 nmi; 8,065 mi) non-stop service from Newark to Hong Kong flying Boeing 777 aircraft. The duration of the non-stop flight exceeded 16 hours. Within a month, United Airlines started its own New York City-JFK to Hong Kong service with Boeing 747-400 aircraft, adding 11 kilometers to the distance.

In June 2004, Singapore Airlines introduced Flight SQ 21, using the Airbus A340-500 on a 15,344 kilometres (8,285 nmi; 9,534 mi) great circle route from Newark to Singapore, passing within 130 kilometres (70 nmi; 81 mi) of the North Pole and taking a little over 18 hours. This was immediately surpassed by return Flight SQ 22, which flew the current record of 16,600 kilometres (8,963 nmi; 10,315 mi) back to Newark. Despite the greater distance, SQ 22 averaged a slightly shorter 17 hours, 45 minutes because of prevailing high-altitude winds.

In the late 2000s/early 2010s, rising fuel prices coupled with the Great Recession caused the cancellation of many ultra-long haul, non-stop flights.This included the services provided by Singapore Airlines from Singapore to both Newark and Los Angeles that was ended in late 2013. But as fuel prices have since decreased and more fuel efficient aircraft have come into service, many ultra-long haul routes have been reinstated or newly scheduled.

Read the full (lengthy) article here

Irked Emirates Boss Tells Airbus, Boeing to Raise Their Game

TimClark1By Bloomberg

Emirates President Tim Clark delivered a broadside against Airbus SE and Boeing Co. as well as their biggest engine suppliers, saying he’s no longer prepared to take delivery of aircraft that don’t meet specifications.

The veteran airline executive, who oversees the world’s largest international carrier, said he’s run out of patience with glitches that have held up new models or forced costly groundings for emergency repairs. He likened the nuisance to purchasing a new luxury car, only to have the dealer warn that the engine will need changing after three months.

“That’s not going to happen any more,” Clark said at a briefing Wednesday in London. “When they’re ready to give us what they’re contracted to do then we will have an assessment of the number and type of aircraft that are going to be used.”

Delivered from one of the most respected executives in the aviation world, it’s a stern message that threatens to have repercussions across the industry. At stake are orders for more than 250 wide-body jets, which Clark said Emirates won’t take without a cast-iron guarantee of trouble-free performance.

Boeing rose less than 1% to $356.58 at 2:46 p.m. in New York. Airbus advanced 1.3% to 126.20 euros at the close in Paris.

Rolls-Royce, GE
Both Airbus and Boeing have suffered performance setbacks with their aircraft, and Clark said he can’t be sure about the reliability of the Rolls-Royce Holdings Plc engines that power the planes, or that the U.K. company has resolved issues with a turbine it supplies for the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, of which Emirates has 40 on order.

Clark’s warning comes against the background of a fleet review triggered by a deteriorating global economy and the looming demise of Airbus’s A380 superjumbo, around which Emirates had previously built its business.

It also serves notice to Airbus and Boeing, which enjoy a duopoly in the market for the biggest globe-spanning jets, that they have no chance of gaining final agreement for the slew of contracts by the time of November’s Dubai Air Show without a major shift in commitments. Emirates announced a $21 billion deal for 30 A350-900s and 40 A330-900neos earlier this year, though the order has yet to be signed off.

At the same time, Clark said, it’s also impossible to know when the 777X will enter service after Boeing pushed back the first flight to 2020 and said deliveries may be delayed amid problems with its General Electric Co.-made turbines. Emirates is the launch customer for the plane, with 150 orders.

Let Down
Clark insisted that Emirates hasn’t over-ordered on jets and said it has always honored its obligations, despite being consistently let down, citing under-performing Rolls-Royce engines on the A380. He said the issue has become more acute given punitive damages being levied under consumer-protection laws, even taking into account compensation from planemakers.

The timing may be right for Clark to turn to hardball. In an interview, he said he’s seeing “signs of diminishing demand,” and growth falling amid trade tensions and political upheaval. Hong Kong, for example, has seen the so-called seat factor drop by 10 percentage points in the wake of weeks of continued protest, he said, with freight demand also “greatly affected” by the upheaval.

“We’re not in a good place at the moment, but we’ll deal with it,” Clark said. “At the moment, I don’t see any green shoots,” and bottoming out might take 3 to 5 years, he said.

Even before global demand took a turn for the worse, Clark, who is a British knight, had initiated the fleet review, partly driven by end of the A380. With Airbus closing production after the final run of planes is built, Emirates will retire the double-decker in the next 10 to 15 years and “look at the range of alternatives to maintain the structure of network,” Clark said.

The review signals shifting priorities for Emirates, which turned itself into the world’s largest international carrier by deploying the superjumbo and original 777 to funnel global travelers through Dubai.

Clark, the plan’s architect during 16 years in charge, has acknowledged that the very biggest jets may be nearing the limits of expansion at the airline and that some cities may be better served with a different fleet makeup.

Emirates is mulling its fleet profile as part of a wider strategy study begun in February. The Gulf carrier slashed its order for the A380, for which it’s by far the biggest customer, by 39 planes to 123 after reaching an impasse with Rolls on the price and fuel efficiency of the latest batch of aircraft. Clark said he wants to take the remaining eight or nine jets, though that’s contingent on reaching a final agreement on the other Airbus planes.

The carrier has meanwhile retired two superjumbos and begun removing landing gear for use on newer planes. Clark said that with no second-hand market for the A380 both aircraft may be dismantled for further components.

Clark, 69, told journalists he still enjoys running Emirates, describing it as a favorite hobby and akin to playing three-dimensional chess. Two possible contenders to succeed him, Christoph Mueller and Thierry Antinori, recently left the airline, and Clark said the appointment of an Emirati as president, though not a question for him, is a possibility and would be “a good thing.” The carrier now has U.A.E. nationals at senior levels, including Chief Commercial Officer Adnan Kazim and Chief Operating Officer Adel Al Redha.

Qantas Tests 19-hour Direct Flights from UK and US to Sydney

Lead submitted by Platinum Airways pilot Daniel Katz

Joyce NormanThree flights scheduled on new Boeing 787-9 as airline looks at introducing route in 2022

Qantas is to test non-stop direct flights from London to Sydney to see whether passengers and crew can tolerate what would be the world’s longest commercial flight at 19 hours.

The Australian airline will carry 40 passengers and crew on two flights from New York to Sydney and another from London to Sydney.

The test passengers on the flights this autumn will mainly be Qantas employees, as well as scientists, with no seats sold on the flights. Passengers and crew will be fitted with wearable technology devices to monitor sleep patterns and food and drink consumption, and to see how lighting, physical movement and inflight entertainment impact their health.

Qantas aims to operate regular, non-stop flights to London and New York from Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne as soon as 2022. The airline will make a decision on whether to introduce the ultra-long routes commercially by the end 2019.

The airline, last year, launched direct flights between London and Perth, on the west coast of Australia, a 17-hour journey. However, the three most populous cities in Australia are all on the country’s east coast, and Melbourne is more than 10,300 miles from New York. London to Sydney is 10,500 miles.

The test flights will use new Boeing 787-9 planes, with fewer passengers and less luggage than usual to extend the range. However, successful test flights would fire the starting gun on a race between the US firm Boeing and its European rival, Airbus, to sell Qantas their new ultra-long-range aircraft, the 777X and the A350 respectively.

The A350 is currently in service on the world’s longest passenger flight: Singapore Airlines’s New York to Singapore slog, which covers 9,500 miles, taking 18 hours and 25 minutes.

The proposed new routes reflect a trend in the airline industry to increase direct, long-distance flights, which are generally preferred by passengers. Alan Joyce, Qantas’s chief executive, said that flying a commercial airliner non-stop from New York to Sydney was “truly the final frontier in aviation”, reflecting the immense distances involved.

Joyce said the start of the commercial flights on the routes was not a “foregone conclusion”, with questions remaining as to whether the routes would be profitable.

“This is ultimately a business decision and the economics have to stack up,” Joyce said.

Article courtesey of The Guardian

Futuristic plane: Emirates shows first photos Boeing 777X

Boeing 777XUAE flag carrier is expected to get delivery of the 777X in mid 2020

By Ashfaq Ahmed

Dubai: UAE’s flag carrier, Emirates airline, has released photos of its newest Boeing 777X aicraft, which is currently in production.

“We’re proud to see the UAE flag for the first time on the Emirates Boeing 777X. Currently in production, the 777X combines the best features of today’s Boeing airplanes 777 with a longer fuselage, new engines, new composite wing design, greater cabin width & seating capacity,” Emirates tweeted with a number of photos of Boeing 777X adorned with the UAE flag and colours.

On November 17, the first day of the 2013 Dubai Air Show, Emirates had announced an order for 150 777Xs, in the process breaking a record for the single largest order for a new airplane from Emirates and the single largest airplane order ever in the world.

Emirates had also confirmed in June that it was in talks with Boeing to renegotiate its order and may replace some of them with smaller 787s. However, no updates are available about the renegotiations.

According to the American manufacturer, the new Boeing 777X will be the world’s largest and most efficient twin-engine jet, unmatched in every aspect of performance.

With new breakthroughs in aerodynamics and engines, the 777X will have 10 per cent lower fuel use and emissions, and 10 per cent lower operating costs than the competition.

The 777X offers low-risk, profitable growth, industry-leading reliability and seamless integration with the 777 and 787 Dreamliner families for even more flexibility.

But performance is just part of the story. With a spacious wide cabin, new custom architecture and innovations from the 787 Dreamliner, the 777X will deliver the flight experience of the future.

Emirates will be the first airline to receive Boeing’s all-new 777X aircraft, when it gets rolled out in 2020, a senior Boeing executive had earlier told Gulf News.

Emirates is expected to receive its first 777X aircraft in mid-2020.

“Emirates is now actually ahead of its original mid-2020 schedule to receive its first 777X aircraft,” said Marty Bentrott, Boeing’s Vice-President, Sales for Middle East, Turkey, Russia and Central Asia.

“When we launched the programme at Dubai Air Show in 2013, we stood at the podium and Emirates was the key fundamental launch customer and at the same time we announced other customers as part of the launch group,” he had told Gulf News in an interview in Seattle in 2017.

Boeing 777X comes in two variations: the 777-8 and 777-9. The 777-8 has a seat capacity of between 350 and 375 passengers, while the other, the 777-9, can carry 400 to 425.

CornwellBritain could soon begin sending tourists into outer space from a proposed new "spaceport" in Cornwall.

The UK Space Agency last month confirmed it was contributing £7.85 million (A$14.2 million) to work with Virgin Orbit to build the facility, with another proposed for the Scottish Highlands.

The Telegraph reports the government body has now drafted regulations to allow human trips from what would be Europe's first launch site.
The flights would be sub-orbital launches, which propel travellers beyond the Earth's atmosphere and allow them to see the curvature of the planet but below the range where they enter orbit.

Virgin Galactic, the early favourite to win the right to operate the first tourist flights, uses horizontal launches to take tourists into space as opposed to rockets.

It's hoped flight times between the UK and Australia could be cut to just 90 minutes as Virgin's technology improves.

"For Britain to be the first spaceport in Europe to be able to offer that service because we have the legislation in place, because we've sorted out our infrastructure, that will be huge," Mr Peake said.

The UK Space Agency's Andrew Kuh said existing legal frameworks meant human space travel from the UK was closer than ever before.
"We're hoping to have the right regulations in place so that we could launch from Britain," he said.

The Cornwall Council is providing another £12 million (A$21.7 million) to the project.

Article by 9NEWS

Boeing to donate USD 100 million to those affected by Boeing 737 crashes

Indonesia plane crashBoeing will donate USD 100 million in funds to address family and community needs of those affected by the tragic accidents of Lion Air Flight 610 and Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 in March 2019.

These funds will support education, hardship and living expenses for impacted families, community programs, and economic development in impacted communities. Boeing will partner with local governments and non-profit organisations to address these needs.
This initial investment will be made over multiple years.

“We at Boeing are sorry for the tragic loss of lives in both of these accidents and these lives lost will continue to weigh heavily on our hearts and on our minds for years to come. The families and loved ones of those on board have our deepest sympathies, and we hope this initial outreach can help bring them comfort,” said Dennis Muilenburg, Boeing chairman, president and CEO.

“We know every person who steps aboard one of our airplanes places their trust in us. We are focused on re-earning that trust and confidence from our customers and the flying public in the months ahead.”

Boeing will release additional information in the near future.

Why a V-shaped plane may make a whole lot of sense

By Robby Berman 

Flying V

1. A new partnership between the Delft University of Technology and KLM Royal Dutch Airlines has been announced along with a plan for a striking new plane.

2. The Flying-V is a plane that's all wing, and promises a 20% reduction in fuel use.

3. Riding in the Flying-V as it banks may not be for the faint of heart.

As more of us take to the skies more often and for longer trips, carbon emissions from aircraft are becoming a real problem. Currently, some 2.5 percent of total global CO2 emissions come from airplanes, and that number is on the rise. It's estimated that by 2050, they'll be responsible for 5 percent of the worldwide carbon budget — that's 43 gigatonnes of pollution, a dirty mix of CO2 and nitrogen oxides. The source of all this is, of course, the fuel consumed by the craft.

To address this, Delft University of Technology (TU Delft) has announced that it's partnering with KLM Dutch Royal Airlines on the design of a new type of plane dubbed the "Flying-V." It was actually the brainchild of TU Berlin student Justus Benad, developed while working on his thesis. The plan is to debut a flying scale model and display a full-sized cabin section as part of the October commemoration of KLM's 100-year anniversary. What's exciting about the Flying-V is that it would use 20 percent less fuel than the most advanced plane of today, the Airbus 350. What's worrying is that its bold shape may not fly too well.

The Flying-V promise

The Flying-V, as its name suggests, is shaped like that letter of the alphabet. It's really all wing, with no central fuselage. The passenger cabins, cargo hold, and fuel tanks live in both of the Flying-V's wings. The wingspan of the craft would be the same as the Airbus 350, though it's about 20 meters shorter in length. Nonetheless, the Flying-V would accommodate the same number of passengers — 314 — and have the same kerosene fuel capacity — 160m3 — even though it this amount of fuel would take the Flying-V farther. The plane's smaller overall size would incur less aerodynamic resistance.

The partners also envision the new plane and form-factor as an opportunity to improve the cabin experience for passengers, though the details on this have not been announced.

The problem with the Flying-V

An issue that could keep the plane from ever becoming a reality has to do with the manner in which planes turn in the sky: They bank as they change course, one wing tipping up as the other tips down.

In conventional craft, we sit along the spine of the fuselage, and so turns are typically fairly easy to stomach. However — and this has been a problem with previous v-wing designs — when you're seated outward in a wing far away from that center axis, banking feels far more extreme, and may feel like more of a rollercoaster than a tolerable means of getting the family to Disneyworld. Still, the actual deployment of the Flying-V is estimated to be 20-30 years off, so there's plenty of time to assess the severity of the problem and hopefully devise a remedy. 

Polish Airlines Inaugural Flight From Warsaw to Miami

Polish AirBy Ryan Taylor

MIAMI — The Miami International Airport (MIA) strengthened its position as the US airport with the most diverse portfolio of airlines by welcoming the inaugural flight of LOT Polish Airlines from Warsaw, Poland.

The inaugural flight was the very first direct link between Poland and Florida, helping to establish Miami as a true international gateway and feed the large Polish community in the Sunshine State.

“At present, there are nearly 500,000 people of Polish origin living in Florida,” said Rafał Milczarski, the airline’s CEO. “We are very glad that we can meet the expectations and needs of the Polish Diaspora in America who now, for the first time, can take advantage of direct flights on the route between Poland and the U.S,” added Milczarski.

The scheduled service will operate four times a week on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays,and Saturdays on the carrier’s Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner. Serving seven destinations across North America, the launch of the Warsaw-Miami link will take that number to eight. Overall, the carrier flies to 111 destinations around the world.

The Polish carrier has a history spanning over ninety years. Formed in 1928 by the merger of several smaller airlines, the company operated its first scheduled service on January 1, 1929. Since then LOT Polish Airlines has operated as a conventional hub-and-spoke carrier model, connecting Europe with Asia, North and Central America. Today, the airline has operating bases at Warsaw-Chopin Airport (WAW) and Budapest-Ferenc Liszt Airport (BUD).

The introduction of the Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner fleet in 2012 has enabled the airline to offer new routes, improved passenger comfort and operate a more efficient environmentally friendly service. With the launch of the new direct service between two large economic, social and cultural cities of significance it is fair to conclude this new service will provide new opportunities and much-needed air link bringing people and places closer together.

U.S. airlines expect Boeing 737 MAX jets need up to 150 hours of work before flying again

CHICAGO, May 23 (Reuters) - Once regulators approve Boeing Co's grounded 737 MAX jets for flight, each aircraft will likely require between 100 and 150 hours of preparation before flying, officials from the three U.S. airlines that operate the MAX told Reuters.
By Tracy Rucinski

B 737MaxThe estimate, provided to Reuters by American Airlines Group Inc, United Airlines and Southwest Airlines Co officials, is the first indication of the time needed to bring the jets out of storage following a worldwide grounding in March spurred by deadly crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia.

The preparations were discussed at a meeting between Boeing and MAX customers in Miami earlier this week, and include a list of items ranging from fluid changes and engine checks to uploading new 737 MAX software. The estimated time frame does not include pilot training, they said.

Southwest is the world’s largest MAX operator with 34 jets, followed in the United States by American Airlines with 24 and United with 14. All three have dozens more on order, meant to service booming air travel demand.

Boeing did not comment on the airlines’ MAX maintenance estimate, but spokesman Paul Bergman said the company’s maintenance and engineering teams have been working with customers to determine how to efficiently stage work once regulators approve the fleet’s return to service.

The process has included work with Boeing’s supply chain to ensure key parts “are available for current maintenance tasks and the fleet’s transition from storage and preservation activities to operational flight,” he said.

Airline officials stressed that jets would only be removed from storage once regulators approve Boeing’s software update, meant to fix a system called MCAS that played a role in both crashes, which together killed 346 people.

U.S. Federal Aviation Administration Chief Dan Elwell, who is meeting with global regulators in Texas on Thursday, said on Wednesday there is no time table to approve the plane for flight.

Boeing has yet to formally submit the fix to the FAA.

Officials said it usually takes 80 hours to put one jet into storage. For removal, the process is reversed and requires additional maintenance work and testing. For the MAX, it will also include uploading and testing the software fix.


The allotted 100 to 150 hours of jet preparation comes on top of the hours needed for pilot training. Regulators are still debating whether pilots should test the crash scenarios in a simulator, which would cost airlines more time and money than Boeing’s proposed computer-based training.

Boeing has said that simulator training is not necessary for the 737 MAX, and is recommending a mandatory computer-based audio course that explains MCAS and could be completed at a pilot’s home in about an hour, according to pilot unions.

The planemaker has also offered supplemental training that includes a video on emergency checklists, though some regulators and pilots are pushing for either immediate or continuing simulator training.

Ultimately each airline will be responsible for developing its own training regime based on its different needs.

So far U.S. airlines have canceled MAX flights into July and August, taking a hit to revenues during the busy summer travel season, and will need to decide soon whether to extend cancellations given the uncertain regulatory timeline, officials said.

Southwest has parked its MAX jets at a facility in the California desert, while American has parked 14 of its 24 jets in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where it plans to prepare the jets for flight once regulators give the green light.

Boeing will also have to ready roughly 30 MAX jets that it is storing across the Seattle area, with wheels and engines wrapped in plastic, before delivering them to customers.

The planemaker is also storing MAX jets at a maintenance base in Texas. Deliveries were halted following the worldwide grounding.

(Reporting by Tracy Rucinski; additional reporting Eric M. Johnson; editing by Edward Tobin) DM

Boeing Disputes Reports it Disabled Max Disagree Alert

Max737SWAby Gregory Polek

Boeing insisted on Monday that it did not intentionally deactivate the angle of attack disagree alert on the 737 Max narrowbodies delivered to Southwest Airlines following a report on Sunday by the Wall Street Journal that the carrier “disabled” the feature on models that did not come with angle of attack (AOA) indicators. Boeing did concede, however, that the disagree alert did not activate in airplanes that came with the AOA indicators.

“The disagree alert was intended to be a standard, standalone feature on Max airplanes,” said Boeing in a statement released Monday. “However, the disagree alert was not operable on all airplanes because the feature was not activated as intended.

“The disagree alert was tied or linked into the angle of attack indicator, which is an optional feature on the Max. Unless an airline opted for the angle of attack indicator, the disagree alert was not operable.”

A Boeing spokesman confirmed to AIN that the company at first failed to recognize that the disagree alert would not work on airplanes not equipped with an angle of attack indicator. He said he could not yet elaborate on the reasons behind the oversight, however.

Boeing has since decided to include the disagree alert independent of the still optional angle of attack indicator once the Max returns to service. A service bulletin will instruct airlines on how to activate the disagree alert on the Max, it added.

The company said although it included the disagree alert as a standard function on the Max, it does not consider the feature necessary for the safe operation of the airplane.

“On every airplane delivered to our customers, including the Max, all flight data and information needed to safely operate the aircraft is provided in the flight deck and on the flight deck display. This information is readily accessible to pilots, and it always has been,” said Boeing.

“The airspeed, attitude, and altitude displays, together with the stick shaker, are the primary flight information indicators in the flight deck. All recommended pilot actions, checklists, and training are based upon these primary indicators, not on the AOA disagree alert or the angle of attack indicator.”

New Nonstop Service Between New York/Newark and Cape Town, South Africa

Cape TownUnited's new nonstop service will save customers nearly eight hours of travel time round trip between New York and Cape Town.

CHICAGO, April 15, 2019 /PRNewswire/ - United Airlines today applied with the U.S. Department of Transportation for authority to begin new service between New York/Newark Liberty International Airport and Cape Town International Airport. United plans to operate nonstop three-times weekly flights to Cape Town starting in December 2019.

"We are always looking at ways to expand our industry-leading international route network to offer our customers more convenient options. We're thrilled to announce the addition of Africa to our global route offering," said Patrick Quayle, United's vice president of International Network. "This new flight will provide customers with the only nonstop service between the United States and Cape Town."

United's nonstop service between New York/Newark and Cape Town will decrease the current travel time from New York to Cape Town by more than four hours and provide customers from more than 80 U.S. cities with easy one-stop access to Cape Town. If approved, United's service between New York/Newark and Cape Town will be operated with Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft featuring 48 seats in United Polaris business class, 88 seats in United Economy Plus and 116 seats in United Economy.

Cape Town is the oldest city in South Africa and the country's center of trade and commerce. Located at the shore of Table Bay, the city is home to some of the most popular attractions in South Africa including Table Mountain, Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens and the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront. Travellers to South Africa often begin their African journey in Cape Town before touring the Cape Winelands, viewing the African penguins at Boulder Beach or travelling beyond Cape Town to explore South Africa's natural beauty including its many national parks, game reserves and beautiful coastlines and beaches of the KwaZulu-Natal and Western Cape provinces.

Istanbul’s New Mega-airport To Be Fully Operational in April

istanbulBy Cathy Buyck

After a series of delays, Turkish authorities have set the full opening of Istanbul’s new airport for next month and the relocation of operations and equipment from Atatürk International Airport (IST) to happen from 3 a.m. local time on April 5 to 12 midnight on April 7. Labeled the “Great Move” by both İGA, the consortium that won the concession to build and manage Istanbul’s mega-airport for 25 years, and Turkish Airlines, IST’s largest operator accounting for almost 80 percent of the airport’s traffic, the changeover to Istanbul Airport (ISL) will involve 1,800 staff and see approximately 47,300 tons of equipment moved by road from Atatürk Airport to Istanbul Airport.

The switch from IST to ISL represents “the biggest move of the aviation history,” according to Turkish Airlines chairman İlker Aycı. “The combined size of the equipment we are going to transfer would cover 33 football pitches,” he said. The distance covered by the trucks transporting the equipment during the 45-hour period will amount to 400,000 kilometers (248,000 miles), a length equal to circling Earth ten times, Turkish Airlines noted.

Atatürk Airport and Istanbul Airport will close for all scheduled passenger flights between 2 a.m. and 2 p.m. on April 6, Turkish Airlines said. İGA has advised passengers to check with airlines for details of their flights. Due to the move of its main hub, Turkish Airlines has canceled several flights between April 5 and April 20.

After the transfer process, the airports’ IATA codes will migrate and Atatürk Airport’s IST code will transfer to the new Istanbul Airport. Atatürk Airport, which will remain open for cargo and VIP passenger flights, will adopt the ISL code. The last scheduled flight carrying passengers from Atatürk Airport will be Turkish Airlines’ service to Singapore and the first flight after the “Great Move” will be the flag carrier’s Istanbul Airport to Ankara Esenboğa Airport service.

Hawaiian Airlines Inaugurates Nonstop Flights To Boston

hawainBy Eric Dunetz

BOSTON — Direct flights from the East Coast of the United States to Hawaii are few and far between. Delta and United have both a direct flight from Atlanta and Newark, respectively, with a Boeing 767, and Hawaiian with an Airbus A330 from JFK. All other flights are connected through West Coast cities.

But starting today Hawaiian is bringing another direct flight to the northeast with the introduction of the longest nonstop domestic service in US history, as flights between Boston (BOS) and Honolulu (HNL) commence.

New Englanders will now be able to experience the airline’s Hawaiian hospitality and cuisine.

Hawaiian Airlines launched five-day a weekly service with hopes of increasing to daily. The flight leaving BOS at 8 am coming in just over 11 hours westbound and clocking in at 5,095 miles.

The return flight to BOS, eastbound, is just under 10 hours. The route is flown by the airlines’ widebody Airbus A330-200. Hawaiian has the Boeing 787-9 on order and, according to CEO Peter Ingram, could be used on the long haul route sometime after 2021. “There is nowhere on Earth like Hawai’i, and we are bringing our islands closer than ever to Boston with nonstop service,” said Ingram.

“Hawaiian is a unique airline because we have represented Hawai’i for nearly a century while flying people to, from and between the Hawaiian Islands. Each one of our routes starts or ends in the Aloha State. We look forward to sharing our warm hospitality with our New England guests whose vacation starts the minute they check in and step onto our plane,” he said.

NASA's Mars Helicopter Ready for Red Planet Flight

Mars Heliby Mark Huber

NASA’s Mars Helicopter is completing Earthbound flight testing and is being incorporated into the mission package for a July 2020 Cape Canaveral launch aboard an Atlas V rocket bound for a landing on the Red Planet in February 2021. "The next time we fly, we fly on Mars," said MiMi Aung, project manager for the Mars Helicopter at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). JPL tested the four-pound helicopter in the laboratory’s space simulator, a 25-foot-wide vacuum chamber injected with carbon dioxide to mimic the atmospheric composition and pressure found on Mars, where the atmospheric density is 1 percent of Earth’s.

"Our test flights could have similar atmospheric density here on Earth, if you put your airfield 100,000 feet up. So you can't go somewhere and find that. You have to make it," Aung said. The test team also had to simulate Mars’ gravity in the simulator—about two-thirds of that found on Earth. It accomplished this by attaching a motorized lanyard called a “gravity offload system” to the top of the helicopter to simulate the appropriate gravitational forces. Data sets from the helicopter were obtained to confirm its ability to fly autonomously in the thin Martian atmosphere. Two test flights were performed in the vacuum chamber totaling one minute of flight time at an altitude of two inches.

Before that, JPL conducted 75 minutes of flight time on an engineering model designed to approximate the Mars Helicopter. The Mars Helicopter consists of 1,500 individual pieces of carbon fiber, flight-grade aluminum, silicon, copper, foil, and foam. It will be paired with the Mars 2020 Rover and used to conduct geological and environmental assessments, assess life signs, natural resources, and hazards. Scientists will use the rover to identify and collect rock and soil samples, encase them in sealed tubes, and leave them on the planet's surface for potential future retrieval. The Mars Helicopter is scheduled to begin actual test flights on Mars within the few months of its arrival there. Initial flights on the planet will be up to 90 seconds long.

Paine Field Airport Is Now Open For Business

PaineFieldMIAMI – Paine Field Airport (PAE) will open up its doors today as the first commercial flight to Portland (PDX) takes off.

First constructed in the 1930s, PAE has been an industrial, military, and general aviation airport for most of its existence. Also home to Boeing’s assembly lines, this airport has been the birthplace of planes as big as the 747.

This airport is set to become a major alternative to passengers who were forced to commute to the larger and busier Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA).

Located about 30 miles north of the Seattle metropolitan area, and roughly 50 minutes away from SEA, the two-gate airport is ready to open its doors today.

The opening of PAE, which has been designed to hold as many as 24 flights per day, will allow local passengers to spare the trouble of commuting the busy traffic into the Sea-Tac area.

Alaska Airlines will be the first carrier to launch services out of the airport today on services to Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Orange County, Phoenix-Sky Harbor, Portland, San Diego, San Francisco, and San Jose, earmarking a rapid initial expansion.

The terminal was designed and built through agreements with Propeller Airports and the Snohomish County.

Airbus scraps A380 Production

A380 syd

By Tim Hepher

Loved by passengers, feared by accountants, the world's largest airliner has run out of runway after Airbus decided to close A380 production after 12 years in service due to weak sales.

The decision to halt production of the A380 superjumbo is the final act in one of Europe's greatest industrial adventures and reflects a dearth of orders by airline bosses unwilling to back Airbus's vision of huge jets to combat airport congestion.

Air traffic is growing at a near-record pace but this has mainly generated demand for twin-engined jets nimble enough to fly directly to where people want to travel, rather than bulky four-engined jets forcing passengers to change at hub airports.

And while loyal supporters like top customer Emirates say the popular 544-seat jet makes money when full, each unsold seat potentially burns a hole in airline finances because of the fuel needed to keep the huge double-decker structure aloft.

"It's an aircraft that frightens airline CFOs; the risk of failing to sell so many seats is just too high," said a senior aerospace industry source familiar with the programme.

Once hailed as the industrial counterpart to Europe's single currency, the demise of a globally recognised European symbol coincides with growing political strains between Britain, France, Germany and Spain where the plane is built.

That's in stark contrast to the display of European unity and optimism when the engineering behemoth was unveiled in front of European leaders under a spectacular light show in 2005.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair called the A380 a "symbol of economic strength" while Spanish premier Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero called the rollout "the realisation of a dream".

Passengers marvelled at the European giant with room for 70 cars on its wings, looking rather like the hump-backed Boeing 747 but with the top section stretching all the way to the back.

Airlines had initially rushed to place orders, expecting it to lower operating costs and boost profits as the industry crawled out of a slowdown in tourism since September 2001.

Airbus boasted it would sell 700-750 A380s, which nowadays cost $US446 million ($628 million) at list prices, and render the 747 obsolete.

In fact, A380 orders barely crossed the 300 threshold and the 747 has outlived its rival, after reaching the age of 50 this week.

Now, airline bosses are seeking assurances that Airbus will support the A380 with spare parts for years to come. Many invested in the A380 as their flagship while airports also spent heavily on new facilities.

Some customers like Air France and Lufthansa may not shed too many tears, analysts say.

They too invested in the A380 but may also be relieved to see a potent weapon removed from Gulf rivals like Emirates, whom they accuse of flooding the market.

Emirates insists it plays fairly and has called the A380 a "passenger magnet," misunderstood and badly marketed by rivals.

Its chairman said on Thursday he was disappointed in the A380's demise, but added "we accept that this is the reality of the situation".

El Al Retires Boeing 767 Fleet

el al 767BY: David Kaminski-Morrow

Israeli flag-carrier El Al has formally withdrawn the Boeing 767 from its fleet, following a final service from Milan to Tel Aviv.
The 767-300ER twinjet (4X-EAJ) operated the last flight, LY382, on 3 February.

El Al says it has used different variants of the 767 for 36 years, following introduction of -200s in 1983, and that the type has logged over 100,000 flights with the airline.
The carrier has been introducing Boeing 787s to replace the 767. It has eight 787-9s in its fleet.
Chief executive Gonen Usishkin, who opted to accelerate the withdrawal of the 767s, says the aircraft has featured in some high-profile roles for the carrier, including transport of the country’s prime ministers.

It enabled El Al to become the first airline to operate a twin-engined aircraft on a transatlantic commercial service.
El Al adds that 767s participated in the ‘Operation Solomon’ airlift from Ethiopia in 1991, the exercise in which one of the carrier’s Boeing 747s transported a record official load of 1,088 passengers during a single flight.

Boeing’s Autonomous Air Taxi Completes First Flight

webboeing 2by Cathy Buyck

A Boeing prototype for an unmanned passenger air vehicle (PAV) “successfully” completed its first test flights, marking another milestone of the OEM’s efforts to take a leading position in the development of autonomous transportation and urban mobility. The PAV complements Boeing’s autonomous all-electric cargo air vehicle, or CAV, which is designed to transport up to 500 pounds (227 kg) within a radius of up to 20 miles. The CAV prototype completed its first indoor flight test in January last year and will transition to outdoor flight testing this year.

Powered by an electric propulsion system, the PAV prototype is designed for fully autonomous flight from takeoff to landing, with a range of up to 50 miles (80 km). Measuring 30 feet (9.14 meters) long and 28 feet wide, its airframe integrates the propulsion and wing systems to achieve efficient hover and forward flight.

The air-taxi concept demonstrator completed a controlled takeoff, hover, and landing during the flight, which tested the vehicle's autonomous functions and ground control systems. The flight took place in Manassas, Virginia on Tuesday, Boeing said. Future flights will test forward, wing-borne flight, as well as the transition phase between vertical and forward-flight modes. This transition phase is typically the most significant engineering challenge for any high-speed vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) aircraft, the OEM noted.

“In one year, we have progressed from a conceptual design to a flying prototype,” said Boeing chief technology officer Greg Hyslop. “Boeing's expertise and innovation have been critical in developing aviation as the world's safest and most efficient form of transportation, and we will continue to lead with a safe, innovative, and responsible approach to new mobility solutions.”

Boeing enlisted Aurora Flight Sciences to design and develop the electric VTOL aircraft. It acquired the Virginia-based company in October 2017. It now resides under Boeing NeXt, which Boeing launched at the Farnborough air show last year to consolidate its research and development efforts in autonomous flight and advanced propulsion.

Rolls-Royce Is Building the World's Fastest Electric Airplane

elect planeIf all goes according to plan, top speed is projected to be more than 300 mph.

By Stephen Pope

Rolls-Royce is leading a research project known as Accelerating the Electrification of Flight (ACCEL) to explore the use of a high-power electrical system in a demonstrator aircraft. The goal is to build and fly the world's fastest electric-powered airplane.

Partly funded by the UK government, Rolls-Royce is working with YASA, a manufacturer of high-power, lightweight electric motors and controllers used in automotive, aerospace and industrial applications. Drawing on its expertise in aviation design and safety, the project aims to flight test the system "to gain a detailed understanding of the potential for electric flight."

As part of the initiative, Rolls-Royce is building a high-performance electric airplane unlike anything the world has yet seen. It’s scheduled to take to the skies over Great Britain next year, reaching a projected speed of 300mph – "and quite likely more," Rolls-Royce says – making it the fastest all-electric plane in history.

“This plane will be powered by a state-of-the-art electrical system and the most powerful battery ever built for flight. In the year ahead, we’re going to demonstrate its abilities in demanding test environments before going for gold in 2020 from a landing strip on the Welsh coastline,” says Matheu Parr, ACCEL Project Manager for Rolls-Royce.

GE9X is the largest engine ever produced by General Electric

777engineThe General Electric GE9X engine that will exclusively power the Boeing 777-X program is the biggest, most powerful and most fuel efficient engine ever produced by GE Aviation.

The GE9X is a high bypass-ratio engine having the world’s largest front fan diameter of 134 in (340 cm). It has only 16 blades, whereas the GE90 has 22 and the GEnx has 18. This makes the engine lighter, and allows the low pressure (LP) fan and booster to spin faster to better match its speed with the LP turbine.

The fan blades made of carbon fibre, feature steel leading edges and glass-fibre trailing edges to better absorb bird impacts with more flexibility than carbon fiber.

The engines compressor with a pressure ratio of 27:1(highest in Aviation history), could produce a whopping 105,000 pounds (470N) of takeoff thrust., That is equivalent to three of the F-22’s F119 engines in full afterburner.

The GE9X has completed static testing and initial flight testing at “Flying Test Bed” based at an airstrip in Victorville, California and ready to enter service with Boeing 777x in 2020.

Boeing Delivers 787th 787 Dreamliner

Boeing787 600x400

Boeing has delivered the 787th 787 Dreamliner to come off the production line, marking a milestone for the widebody type. The aircraft, a 787-8, joined the China Southern Airlines fleet on December 14.

Since its inaugural delivery in September 2011, the 787 family has flown nearly 300 million passengers on more than 1.5 million flights around the world, including more than 210 new nonstop routes made possible by the airplane’s fuel efficiency and range.

Kevin McAllister, president and chief executive officer for Boeing Commercial Airplanes said: “Reaching this milestone delivery is a testament to our amazing Boeing team who build the world’s most capable and reliable airplanes,” “This delivery also reflects the special capabilities of the 787 Dreamliner. The growing fleet continues to deliver unmatched efficiency, open new routes, and provide an exceptional passenger experience.”

The airplane was delivered to AerCap, the world’s largest lessor and 787 customer. Sporting a special logo commemorating the production milestone, the airliner will be leased and operated by China Southern, which continues to expand its long-haul fleet of 787 Dreamliners, including 10 787-8s and eight 787-9s.

Ihssane Mounir, senior vice president of commercial sales and marketing for The Boeing Company, remarked that: “As one of the 787 launch customers and the first Chinese airline to operate the 787, we are honored to celebrate this important milestone with China Southern Airlines… “We also thank AerCap for their large commitment to the Dreamliner. They continue to be a valued partner and we look forward to celebrating many more milestones with them in the coming years.”

China Southern Airlines first ordered 10 787-8 Dreamliners in 2005 and further increased its capability on long-haul routes when they placed an order for 12 787-9s in 2016. The 787s have enabled the airline to launch non-stop global routes connecting Guangzhou to London and Rome in Europe; Vancouver, British Columbia, in North America; and Perth, Auckland, and Christchurch in the Oceania region.
Photo: Boeing

First Digital Tower in the UK Goes Active

digitalTowerby David Donald

On December 13, the UK’s aviation minister, Baroness Liz Sugg, formally opened the digital air traffic control center at Cranfield University airfield in Bedfordshire. In the early afternoon, the center handled its first live air traffic, marking the first time in the UK that an aircraft had been controlled from an all-digital “tower.”

Saab Digital Air Traffic Solutions installed Cranfield’s new tower in a jointly funded partnership with the university. Implementation has been swift: the contract was signed in October 2017, with construction beginning in March. Completion of the installation permitted air traffic control officers (ATCOs) to “shadow” the operations of the existing traditional visual tower for six weeks while Saab technicians fine-tuned the system. The “opening” of the control center was made possible under a temporary approval to gain live experience with limited traffic. Now the stakeholders are embarking on a phase of working closely with the UK CAA (Civil Aviation Authority) to clear the system for unrestricted use. Cranfield hopes to complete the transition in around six months, at which time its aging visual tower can be closed.

The system installed at Cranfield comprises two elements: a sensor “tower” and the control center. The former mounts 14 cameras that are arranged to provide 360-degree surveillance of the entire airfield and surrounding airspace. The cameras are fitted with compressed air blowers to clean moisture from the lenses. The tower also has cameras that can be panned, zoomed (up to 30 times) and elevated to the vertical to provide controllers with the ability to examine targets of interest in detail, effectively replacing the binoculars in a traditional tower.

The 360-degree imagery from the cameras is displayed in real time on a 225-degree arc of screens around the operator consoles. This provides the ATCOs with a measure of directional awareness, but without the need to turn all the way around to see behind. Each controller can operate the pan/zoom function, imagery from which appears in a picture-in-picture box on the main screens.

Security and safety are of paramount concern, and the system features high levels of redundancy, with digital data handled through two independent networks and powered by three independent sources. There is a spare TV screen available in the control center should there be any issues with the “live” screens. All imagery is automatically recorded, along with ATC voice communications, making it readily available for investigation in the case of an incident.

The system automatically handles varying light conditions, with four preset settings that cater to seasonal differences in the environment, such as sun elevation and vegetation color. Manual control permits the controllers to adjust for specific conditions; for instance, an individual screen can be dimmed to reduce the effects of sun glare in a particular sector. There is also a geo-referenced graphic overlay function that can present various data to the ATCOs that is not possible with a traditional tower, such as the exact location of taxiway/runway boundaries. This can be very useful in poor visibility or snowy conditions.

Cranfield’s ATCOs, who are employed directly by the university, have found the transition easier than expected, and have adapted quickly to the new working environment, which has been designed with input from controllers at every stage.

For Saab—a pioneer in digital towers—the Cranfield installation represents a good investment to showcase the company’s technology. The company began digital tower operations in Sweden in 2015 as part of a joint venture with air navigation services provider LFV. The first installation was a control center at Sundsvall airport that also controls operations at Örnsköldsvik remotely. In this case, the center has two separate “cabs” for the two airfields, but Saab could configure one screen array to handle two airfields on an active-inactive sequential basis. While one airfield is active the screen array shows that airfield, with possibly a separate small display to permit secondary monitoring of the inactive field. Saab is now installing digital systems at Linköping and at the new-build Scandinavian Mountains Airport at Sälen-Trysil. The company is also providing digital systems to the Irish CAA, and at London City Airport.

As well as replicating the view from a traditional tower, the Saab system allows advanced augmented reality functions, some of which will be researched in the Cranfield center. An automatic tracking function can be added to the zoom camera, allowing it to alert ATCOs to drones and other potential hazards, while the graphic overlay function permits the display of numerous other data, such as radar and secondary surveillance information as provided by wide area multilateration and other technologies. The control center can also be expanded to monitor and control the operations of ground vehicles, especially those that operate autonomously.

Research into these fields, and especially into the integration of manned and unmanned systems, is the primary reason that Cranfield has adopted the digital tower as part of its Cranfield Global Research Airport vision. The University—which grew out of the College of Aeronautics that was founded in 1946 as a post-graduate research center, and which is situated at the heart of the Oxford-Cambridge “innovation arc”—is globally unique in owning and operating its own airfield and research/flying classroom aircraft (two Jetstream 31s, one of which is shortly to be replaced by a Saab 340, plus a British Airways-donated Boeing 737 ground trainer). It has the ability to completely shut down the airfield to conduct trials of new innovations on behalf of both industry and academia.

The new digital tower is an integral part of the future activities of the University’s DARTeC (Digital Aviation Research and Technology Centre), a venture part-funded by industry that will open in 2020. DARTeC is tasked with exploring areas such as drone and unmanned vehicle integration, secure data communications, increased aircraft reliability and availability through self-sensing and self-aware technologies, and to the harnessing of digital technologies to enhance airport efficiencies.

 Air New Zealand Lands In Chicago Nonstop From Auckland

NZ dreamlinerBy Anne Spiselman

CHICAGO — When Air New Zealand flight NZ26 pulled into Chicago-O’Hare’s (ORD) Terminal 5, gate M11 at 12:33 on November 30, 2018, the occasion was historic for both the airline and the airport.

Flight NZ26, which had taken off at 17:01 Auckland time and traveled roughly 8,200 miles, was the carrier’s first commercial nonstop to ORD and its longest flight ever. It also was the longest flight in the airport’s history.

The Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner actually landed more than half-an-hour early after spending 14 hours, 32 minutes in the air.

The route took it over the Pacific Ocean north of Tahiti, past northern Mexico, then over New Mexico, Kansas, and Missouri before descending into Illinois, according to one passenger.

The return flight, NZ27, was scheduled to leave Chicago at 19:10 and land in Auckland at 06.30 on December 2 (because of the time change). Flying time was estimated at slightly more than 16 hours.

Air New Zealand celebrated the launch with a Haka performance by airline employees in O’Hare’s departure area.

Traditionally used on the battlefield, the ancient Māori war dance also displayed pride, strength, and unity when groups came together in peace. It was a fitting welcome for executives, including the airline’s CEO Christopher Luxon, and New Zealand Minister of Tourism, Kelvin Davis.

A press conference followed with short speeches by the two men, as well as by Richard Butler representing the Chicago Department of Aviation and David Whitaker, CEO of Choose Chicago.

Read the full article here

Happy 50th Birthday to the 747

747 RolloutSeptember 30, 2018

The Boeing 747 turns fifty years old today.

By Patrick Smith

Smithsonian magazine has published an essay of mine about the plane for its “American Icon” feature. You can read it here. It appears in the magazine’s print version as well.

Read the longer, unabridged version here.

When the first Boeing 747 rolled from the hangar in Everett, Washington, 50 years ago, onlookers were stunned. The aircraft before them, gleaming in the morning sunshine, was more than double the size and weight of any existing jetliner. An airplane of firsts and superlatives, the 747 owed its instant fame mostly to feats of size. It was the first jetliner with two aisles—two floors, even!—and enormous as it was, the 747 had gone from a literal back-of-a-napkin drawing to a fully functional aircraft in just over two years, an astonishing achievement.

A decade earlier Boeing’s 707 had ushered in the Jet Age, but with four fuel-thirsty engines and room for fewer than 200 passengers, fares were beyond the budget of most vacationers. The 747 introduced economies of scale that, for the first time, allowed millions of people to travel nonstop over great distances. It changed global air travel forever.

And it did so with a style and panache that we seldom see in aircraft design. The “Father of the 747,” Boeing engineer Joe Sutter, and his team, built an airplane that wasn’t just colossal, but also downright beautiful. “Most architects who design skyscrapers focus on two aesthetic problems,” the architecture critic Paul Goldberger once wrote. “How to meet the ground and how to meet the sky—the bottom and the top, in other words.” What is a jetliner to the eye but a horizontal skyscraper, its beauty created (or squandered) primarily through the sculpting of the nose and tail? Sutter understood this perfectly. The 747’s most distinctive feature, the upper deck, has inspired descriptions like “bubble-topped” or “humpbacked,” which couldn’t be more mistaken. The deck’s design is smoothly integrated into the rest of the fuselage, tapering rearward from the cockpit windscreen to form an assertive, almost regal-looking prow. Two hundred feet behind, the jet’s six-story tail evokes the rakishly canted sail of a tall ship. Even the name itself is such a neat little snippet of palindromic poetry.

Airbus Racer on Track for 2020 First Flight

racer cleansky2by Jon Lake

Key sub-systems of the Airbus Racer (Rapid And Cost-Efficient Rotorcraft) high-speed rotorcraft technology demonstrator have successfully passed their preliminary design review (PDR), Airbus Helicopters announced this week at Helitech.

Airbus said this clears the way for the launch of initial components manufacture and confirmed that the company remains on track to begin final assembly of the demonstrator in Q4 2019, with a first flight in 2020.

The Racer program has been funded through the European Union’s H2020 framework via the Clean Sky 2 program and aims to achieve the optimum trade-off between speed, mission performance, cost-efficiency, and sustainability.

The Racer demonstrator builds on the company funded X3 demonstrator and uses a similar compound helicopter configuration, with aerodynamic wings offloading the conventional main rotor in forward flight, and with twin propellers providing thrust. Whereas the X3 used tractor propellers and a Dauphin airframe, the Racer will have a more streamlined fuselage—similar to that of the new H160 and uses pusher propellers—also known as lateral rotors in this application.

The Racer also incorporates a diamond-shaped "box-wing" design, optimized for aerodynamic efficiency, increased stiffness, and lower weight. The Racer demonstrator will also feature a hybrid metallic-composite airframe, designed for low weight and low recurring costs, and will be equipped with a new high voltage direct current electrical generation system, which will also reduce weight.

Power will be provided by a pair of Safran's new 2,500-shp Aneto engines, which will feature an auto-stop eco mode, allowing one engine to be shut down and restarted in flight to save fuel and increase range.

The Racer demonstrator will be optimized for cruising speeds of more than 400 km/h (50 percent faster than a conventional helicopter) and should be capable of equalling or exceeding the X3’s record-breaking speed of 472 km/h (293 mph).

This is faster than the official FAI speed record for non-compound helicopters of 400.87 km/h (249.09 mph) set by a specially prepared Westland Lynx in 1989.

More important, the Racer will consume 15 percent less fuel while cruising at 330 km/h than a conventional helicopter cruising at 240 km/h, and Airbus aims to travel a given distance with a 25 percent cost reduction.

The successful preliminary design review allowed Airbus Helicopters to freeze interfaces and 3D definitions of the main subsystems even before the completion of detailed design. This in turn has enabled Airbus Helicopters and its suppliers to start manufacturing some key components, including the lateral drive shafts, the gearbox housing (manufactured by Avio Aero in Italy), the wing’s titanium cradle (built by GE Aviation Integrated Systems in the UK), composite side panels (manufactured by INCAS/Romaero in Romania) and parts of the primary tail structure manufactured by Aernnova in Spain.

The 200-hour Racer flight demonstration will begin in 2020, with the first phase will focus on envelope expansion and on assessing key performance parameters as well as handling qualities, stability, and aerodynamics.

The second phase of flight testing demonstrated the aircraft’s suitability for particular missions in which increased speed and efficiency would be useful, including search & rescue (SAR), emergency medical services (EMS), and private and corporate transport.

Singapore Air Takes Delivery of Jet for World's Longest Flight

By Anand Krishnamoorthy

A350 900Singapore Airlines Ltd. took delivery of the Airbus SE A350-900 ultra long range aircraft to start a non-stop service to New York, a journey of about 19 hours that will become the world’s longest.

The first commercial flight between Singapore and Newark Liberty International Airport will be on Oct. 11, Singapore Air said in a statement yesterday. This is the first of the seven A350-900ULRs the carrier has on firm order with Airbus.

Reviving the route that the Singapore flag carrier scrapped more than four years ago will help the airline fill a gap in its U.S. network that has benefited rivals including Qantas Airways Ltd. and Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd. Singapore Air’s new service -- which will overtake Qatar Airways’ Doha-Auckland route as the world’s longest -- will initially offer three flights in the first week, increasing to daily from Oct. 18.

Singapore Air will use the aircraft for non-stop services to Los Angeles in November.

Boeing Successfully Tests Autonomous UAV Technology

New onboard command and control systems removes the need for human input.

UAVTBy George Clark

Boeing has successfully completed the first tests of new on-board autonomous command and control technology for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), which allows them to operate without input from human pilots, the company announced. Testing took place at an airfield in Queensland, Australia and saw five UAV’s equipped with the new systems, complete airborne programmed missions as a team without any input from a human. This achievement occurred just six months after Boeing established their international autonomous systems development program in Queensland.

“What we’ve created here in Australia has the potential to transform the use of unmanned vehicles for civil, commercial and defense applications – whether that be in the air, on the ground or out at sea,” said Shane Arnott, director of Boeing Phantom Works International, in the release.

The company’s partnership with small and medium-sized enterprises aided in driving the expeditious design, development, and testing of the new technology. In two months, Boeing established AU$2.3 in contracts with 14 businesses in Queensland. The next steps in the program will see more advanced testing of this technology on high-performance air vehicles, before beginning research on incorporating it for use in other sectors, like in unmanned ocean vehicles.

“This capability will be a huge driver of efficiency and productivity. By safely teaming unmanned systems with human operated systems, we keep people away from dull, dirty and dangerous tasks so they can focus on activities that machines can’t or shouldn’t do,” Arnott said.



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