Wednesday, July 30, 2014

TeleCommunication Systems antennas will track flock of Earth imaging satellites

TeleCommunication Systems, Inc. (TCS), a world leader in highly reliable and secure mobile communication technology, announced Wednesday that it has entered into a contract with Planet Labs to supply a global network of X/Y Tracking Antenna Systems. These precision systems are designed specifically for low-Earth orbit and medium-Earth orbit satellites used for Earth observation, remote sensing, as well as telemetry, tracking and control applications. Planet Labs is utilizing TCS' antenna systems to track "Flock-1", the world's largest, single constellation of Earth-imaging satellites.

Planet Labs Director of Engineering Strategy Kevin Meissner said: "Operating a large fleet of small spacecraft creates unique ground station requirements. We needed a high-speed, high-performance system at a competitive price, and TCS was able to put together a winning solution for us in a very short time period."

"Planet Labs is leading the transformation of Earth imaging systems for high-value monitoring applications, such as global environmental protection, distributed commercial assets or humanitarian relief," said TCS Government Solutions Group President Michael Bristol.

Planet Labs Inc. is a space-information company based in San Francisco, Calif. The company operates Earth imaging satellites to image the entire planet at an unprecedented frequency, collecting data and insight to encourage global action. Planet Labs aims to provide universal access to information about the changing planet to enable both commercial and humanitarian applications.

Wyle wins contract at NASA Ames Research Center

Wyle has been named the prime contractor on the Fully Integrated Lifecycle Mission Support Services contract awarded by NASA. Under the terms of the contract, Wyle will provide mission support to Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, Calif. In particular, Wyle will provide program and project management support for bioscience flight development projects on the International Space Station and collaborative science programs, as well as assist various Ames offices.

This single award contract has a potential value of $270 million. The period of performance is one base year plus four one-year options.

As prime contractor, Wyle will lead a highly respected team of science, technology and academic partners. The team includes ASRC Federal Space and Defense; Logyx, LCC; The SETI Institute; The Bionetics Corp; University of New Mexico, Albuquerque; Miltec Corp; University of Colorado, Boulder; AAC Microtec North America, LLC; Santa Clara University; Cimarron Software Services, Inc.; and Paragon TEC.

Wyle, a privately held company, is a leading provider of specialized engineering, professional, scientific and technical services to the federal government on long-term contracts. In addition to performing test and evaluation of aircraft, weapon systems, networks and other government assets, Wyle delivers a variety of engineering services to federal government customers including the Department of Defense and NASA.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Southwest Airlines hit with $12 million fine for aircraft repairs

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is proposing a $12 million civil penalty against Southwest Airlines for failing to comply with Federal Aviation Regulations in three separate enforcement cases related to repairs on Boeing 737 jetliners operated by the Dallas-based airline.

The FAA alleges that beginning in 2006, Southwest conducted so-called “extreme makeover” alterations to eliminate potential cracking of the aluminum skin on 44 jetliners. The FAA conducted an investigation that included both the airline and its contractor, Aviation Technical Services, Inc., (ATS) of Everett, Wash.

Investigators determined that ATS failed to follow proper procedures for replacing the fuselage skins on these aircraft. FAA investigators also determined that ATS failed to follow required procedures for placing the airplanes on jacks and stabilizing them. All of the work was done under the supervision of Southwest Airlines, which was responsible for ensuring that procedures were properly followed.

Southwest returned the jetliners to service and operated them when they were not in compliance with Federal Aviation Regulations, the FAA alleges. The regulatory violations charged involve numerous flights that occurred in 2009 after the FAA put the airline on notice that these aircraft were not in compliance with either FAA Airworthiness Directives or alternate, FAA-approved methods of complying with the directives. The FAA later approved the repairs after the airline provided proper documentation that the repairs met safety standards.

Southwest Airlines has 30 days from the receipt of the FAA’s civil penalty letter to respond to the allegations.

Passengers not informed of dangerous flights over war zones

In light of the shoot down of the MH 17 flight over eastern Ukraine, has called on all airlines to provide passengers on international flights with detailed route maps on their web sites, so passengers can decide whether to take such flights.

"Airlines should no longer be able hide behind weak and ambiguous international regulation and confidential warnings that are not shared with passengers," said Paul Hudson, president of, the largest U.S. based airline passenger organization. "After the bombing of Pan Am 103 over Lockerbie, it came to light that governments and airlines had received specific warnings of a likely bombing, but chose to hide this knowledge from passengers and flight crews, those actually at risk. Now it has been revealed that some airlines were flying over eastern Ukraine despite danger warnings that were not shared with passengers."

"Today, despite known dangers and the MH 17 shoot down, passengers are not being informed of dangerous flights over or near numerous conflict zones with missile systems capable of shooting down commercial airliners at over 30,000 feet. Such areas in addition to Ukraine and Russia, include Syria, Iraq, Egypt-Sinai, Israel-Gaza, the China Sea, North Korea, Pakistan-Afghanistan. Other conflict areas are known to have anti aircraft weapons capable of downing low flying aircraft including Libya, Yemen, and Mali."

"This week an emergency meeting of the United Nations International Civil Aeronautics Organization is being held to discuss the situation, but passenger representatives have unfortunately again been excluded from meetings between airlines and regulators, as they were previously after the mysterious disappearance of another Malaysian airliner over the Indian Ocean."

Swanson to retire from Raytheon

The Board of Directors of Raytheon Company has elected Thomas Kennedy, 59, chairman effective Oct. 1. Kennedy will replace William Swanson, Raytheon's current chairman of the board. Swanson is retiring from the company Sept. 30.

Swanson has served as chairman of the board since January 2004. He joined Raytheon Company in 1972 and has served in a wide range of leadership positions, including as the company's chief executive officer from July 2003 to March 2014.

Kennedy succeeded Swanson as chief executive officer of Raytheon in March. Kennedy previously served as executive vice president and chief operating officer of Raytheon from April 2013 to March 2014, and as vice president of Raytheon Company and president of Raytheon Integrated Defense Systems, one of the company's four operating businesses. He has worked for Raytheon in a number of positions with increasing responsibility for more than 31 years.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Contact re-established with Russian scientific satellite

Stable contact was established with the Photon-M satellite, Roscosmos head Oleg Ostapenko told Itar-Tass on Saturday. [source: Itar-Tass] [Full story]

Tornado hits Massey Ranch Air Park in Florida

As a tornado tore through the Massey Ranch Air Park in Edgewater, several people were inside the hangars, said fire officials. [source: WKMG-TV] [Full story]

Chief pilot not to blame for TransAsia Airways crash

A top official in Taiwan's civil aviation administration on Saturday denied that the chief pilot was blamed for the TransAsia Airways crash that killed 48 people. [source: IOL News] [Full story]