Monday, July 9, 2018

Department of Energy replacing atmospheric research aircraft

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Atmospheric Radiation Measurement program is in the process of replacing its existing aircraft, and will be purchasing a replacement, used aircraft for atmospheric research. One of the following aircraft types (short list) is planned to be purchased, and therefore engineering modification will required on one of the following types:

Aircraft types: (only one aircraft will be purchased from this list)
Bombardier Dash 8 Q300
ATR 42-500/600
Bombardier CRJ 200
Bombardier Challenger 800/850
The purchased aircraft will need modifications to convert it into an aircraft that will be able to be fitted with instrumentation used for atmospheric research.
All original passenger seats (unless they have four or five point harnesses installed) shall be removed from the cabin. All overhead bins shall be removed except for the four bin spaces in the aft most section and the two bins in the forward most section of the aircraft. Quick connections for oxygen masks shall be installed. The cabin shall have a minimum of five and maximum of seven seats installed.
An atmospheric research aircraft rarely operates at designed cruising altitude and speed. The aircraft will routinely operate at altitudes between 1,000 feet to 5,000 ft above ground level. The aircraft will nominally operate at indicated air speeds of 180-190 knots with engines at 50 percent power. Ambient temperatures at these altitudes can often exceed 90 Fahrenheit.
The contractor shall design and install a cooling system that can keep the cabin temperature at or below 75F. The occupancy of the aircraft is a total of two pilots and seven operators. This requirement is both on the ground during taxi and in the air.

Pillsbury and Hungry Jack brands sold to private equity firm

Private equity firm Brynwood Partners of Greenwich, Conn., has signed a definitive agreement to acquire a portfolio of brands from The J.M. Smucker Company for $375 million. The portfolio includes the exclusive U.S. rights to the iconic Pillsbury brand's shelf-stable baking products along with the Hungry Jack, White Lily, Jim Dandy and Martha White brands. The Pillsbury brand license agreement is a royalty-free, perpetual agreement with General Mills, Inc. and encompasses all U.S. shelf-stable baking products, including flour, dry baking mixes and ready-to-spread frosting, in the retail channel. The transaction includes the 650,000 square foot manufacturing facility in Toledo, Ohio, and is expected to close in the third quarter of 2018, subject to customary U.S. regulatory review.

Brynwood Partners created the Hometown Food Company to acquire the assets from Smucker. Hometown will be headquartered in Chicago, Ill., and will operate the Toledo facility. Pillsbury and Hungry Jack are leading national brands in the shelf-stable baking and breakfast categories. The Funfetti sub-brand is also included in the acquisition as are the strong regional brands White Lily, Jim Dandy and Martha White, which participate in the flour, corn meal and grits categories. Many of the acquired products are manufactured at the Toledo facility where approximately 255 full-time employees are employed.

"The iconic portfolio of brands and the company's strong Mid-Western manufacturing footprint will provide us with a solid platform to invest in and to grow,” said Henk Hartong III, chairman and CEO of Brynwood Partners.

Sunday, July 8, 2018

USGS plans airborne electromagnetic and magnetic survey in California

The U.S. Geological Survey is conducting a market survey to find companies eligible to compete for a contract to conduct an airborne electromagnetic and magnetic survey in San Joaquin Valley, Calif. The contractor will be required to provide digitally recorded and processed airborne geophysical and ancillary data.

“The USGS requests airborne geophysical data covering areas in the southern San Joaquin Valley, Calif., using magnetic and electromagnetic methods,” USGS officials said in contract documents released Sunday. “An electromagnetic system is required that can image lithologic variations, groundwater salinity variations, and structural controls on groundwater flow within agricultural and suburban areas. These data are intended for rigorous inversion and interpretation of the 3-D hydrogeologic conditions of the subsurface. These data will be used in aquifer and salinity mapping, the design of groundwater monitoring strategies, and the characterization of geologic structures.

“The goal is to provide high quality airborne geophysical data that will be used for quantitative hydrogeologic framework and groundwater salinity studies.”

Companies interested in competing for the contract must contact the USGS by July 16.

First Air merges with Canadian North airline

Makivik Corp. and the Inuvialuit Corporate Group (ICG) announced Friday they have signed an agreement in principle to merge First Air and Canadian North in order to provide the best possible essential air services across the Arctic.

Following execution of definitive agreements and the receipt of applicable regulatory approvals needed to establish a strong new entity, the proposed Pan-Arctic airline will operate under the name "Canadian North" and aircraft will feature new First Air livery, including its Inukshuk logo. Headquarters for the proposed airline will be located in Ottawa. The parties expect to complete the merger by the end of 2018.

The companies believe this merger will:
  • Improve Arctic air services by offering customers greater reliability, better on-time service, and fewer interruptions;
  • Further enhance safety by enabling newer aircraft across the network, as well as specialization in maintenance of B737 and ATR aircraft;
  • Improve sustainability and efficiency of Arctic air services thus enabling the airline to more effectively meet demand across vast service areas while addressing challenges related to pilot shortages; and
  • Contribute to Northern and Inuit economic development by creating a wholly Inuit-owned, new airline focused on Canada's North.
"Air service is not a luxury for Northerners; it is a vital lifeline which requires ongoing investment," said Patrick Gruben, chair of the Inuvialuit Development Corp.

A report commissioned by the Government of Nunavut supports the need for more efficiency in Nunavut air transportation services; a merger of First Air and Canadian North is the only viable way to both meet and exceed these essential needs for Nunavummiut and all Northerners.

“Customers of First Air and Canadian North will not see changes to services, including fares and scheduling, while we work toward achieving regulatory approval and finalizing the merger,” Makivik said in a company press release.

US Navy looks to test Close-Range Armed Unmanned Air Vehicles

The U.S. Navy released a Request For Information (RFI) on Friday as part of a market survey to determine the availability, technical capability, and logistics capability of industry to provide specific information to Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC) Crane Division about Commercial Off-The-Shelf Close-Range Armed Unmanned Air Vehicles (CRA-UAVs). The RFI document includes CRA-UAVs that are developed but not yet in production, but can reasonably be expected to be in the status of test-ready articles for comparative testing in April 2019. CRA-UAVs include armed UAVs that have a range of up to 50 kilometers and endurance time of five minutes to six hours. “Ordinary Close Range-UAVs are usually used only for reconnaissance and surveillance tasks; however the CRA-UAVs that NSWC Crane Division seeks should be armed for immediate firing on targets found during reconnaissance and surveillance flights,” the Navy said in the RFI.

NSWC Crane is presently conducting this market survey seeking information from industry, U.S. government, and academia, to analyze alternatives and consider various CRA-UAVs for future procurement. These can be either hover-type or loiter-type CRA-UAVs.

The CRA-UAVs that NSWC Crane Division seeks should meet the following:

• Carry armaments which may include small arms, rockets, grenades, and less-than-lethal weapons and devices, or combinations of weapons and devices.
• Have a wireless remote safe, arm, and fire capability, allowing safe, arm, and either fire, or return to safe while in flight.
• Once armed, CRA-UAVs must be able to be remotely placed back into the safe mode, allowing the CRA-UAVs to safely return to the launch point.
• Be capable of single person operation (pilot is the gunner) or double person operation (pilot and gunner separate individuals).
• Be compatible with common tactical mobile Smartphones or other mobile devices.
• May include remotely-controlled gimbals or mounted remote firing stations.
• May include concepts for non-line of sight operation, such as signal repeaters.

Saturday, July 7, 2018

New Western Sydney Airport due for completion in 2026

Bechtel, a global leader in project management, engineering, procurement and construction, has been selected by WSA Co as its Delivery Partner and Project Manager for the Western Sydney Airport, a $5.3 billion greenfield facility in Badgerys Creek, New South Wales. This will be a landmark project for both New South Wales and Australia, and is due for completion at the end of 2026.

Western Sydney Airport will provide much-needed additional aviation capacity to meet growing demand in the Sydney basin and improve access to flights for people in Western Sydney.

Alaska Airlines launches new nonstop service between San Jose and New York

Alaska Airlines launched nonstop service between Mineta San Jose International Airport and John F. Kennedy (JFK) International Airport in New York City on Friday.

With the addition of the new service, Alaska now operates 15 flights a day to JFK from six West Coast gateways including Las Vegas; Los Angeles; Portland, Oregon; San Francisco; San Jose; and Seattle.

With the addition of this new and expanded JFK service, Alaska provides 38 daily flights to 19 nonstop destinations from San Jose.

Timed with the flight expansion, Alaska's newest Lounge is now open on the mezzanine level of Terminal 7 at JFK.

Alaska gates and the Alaska Lounge are located in the same terminal as Global Partners British Airways and Icelandair, providing guests traveling through JFK with convenient access to a combined 10 daily flights to top global destinations across Europe.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Flying car goes on display in UK, full certification expected in 2020

Inspired by nature, engineered by men and evolved over time, the PAL-V Liberty flying car will have its aviation debut at the Farnborough International Airshow this month. Between July 16 and 20 the PAL-V can be found in hall 4 at stand 4100. On July 21 and 22 the PAL-V will be in the static display area. It's the very first time that the PAL-V Liberty is present at an airshow and in the United Kingdom.

Over the past years, PAL-V concentrated all efforts on perfecting its design and setting up the production process and supply chain.

Robert Dingemanse, CEO of PAL-V, stated: "The production model is the moment of truth. The moment where the wall between fiction and facts is torn down. A production model is the last stage in the research & development process before starting full production and delivery. All certifications required for commercialization will be granted on the basis of this production model.”

The certification not only guarantees the safety of the flying car but also is the approval that the vehicle can be driven on the roads and flown in the air. Dingemanse said: "Once full certification is granted in 2020 we will hand over the keys of the PAL-V Liberty to our first customers."

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Putting a price tag on the most coveted trophy in hockey

The Stanley Cup is the most coveted trophy in hockey. And every year, professional hockey teams across the United States and Canada battle it out in hopes of winning this stunning prize and become a part of history. And while many people know and love everything that the Stanley Cup represents, not many people know the history of the cup’s creation and how it got to where it is today. Along with that, even fewer people know that the Stanley Cup not only has an intrinsic value, but an inherent one as well. That’s right - even though the trophy is considered priceless, there is a definite value attached to it.

The cup stands at 35¼ inches tall and weighs around 34 pounds. And, surprisingly, the Stanley Cup is made out of 459 troy ounces of pure silver. The metal content alone gives the Stanley Cup a lot of value, but it’s rich history and appeal to hockey fans the world over make that value skyrocket.
The Stanley Cup was named after the Lord Stanley of Preston, who was appointed as the Governor General of Canada in 1888 by Queen Victoria. Once he and his family moved to Canada, he developed a passion for ice hockey and grew to champion the sport. But, it was really his sons that took hockey from a popular hobby to a proper sport.
Lord Stanley’s sons were instrumental in the formation of the sport of hockey. For instance, they collectively created one of the first hockey teams in Canada, established the Ontario Hockey Association, and started ice hockey in Great Britain. But they felt that there was still something missing. That’s where the Lord Stanley makes history.
Lord Stanley gave them an elaborately decorative bowl . He bought it for around $50.00, which would equal around $1,300 in today’s society. He had the words "Dominion Hockey Challenge Cup" engraved on one side of the outside rim, and "From Stanley of Preston" on the other side. And, even though he made one of the most important investments into the sport, Stanley never actually saw a Stanley Cup championship game, and he never had the opportunity to present the cup to a winning team.
One of Lord Stanley's original conditions of the trophy was that each team could add a ring to the cup to commemorate their victory, and that’s a tradition that has followed in varying degrees to the present day. If you look closely at the trophy, you can see much of the journey that the Stanley Cup, and ultimately, the sport of hockey, has been through since the 1800s.
Based on the current spot price of silver, the Stanley Cup would set you back over $7,500.
Thursday night in Las Vegas, the Washington Capitals could close out the Golden Knights and claim their first Stanley Cup title and Lord Stanley's decorative bowl will make its way to Washington, D.C.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

New HondaJet Elite aircraft displayed for the first time to the public

Honda Aircraft Company revealed their new, upgraded aircraft, the "HondaJet Elite," on Sunday at a special hangar event ahead of the 2018 European Business Aviation Convention and Exhibition (EBACE) in Geneva, Switzerland.

The HondaJet Elite has achieved an extended range of an additional 17 percent and is equipped with a newly developed noise attenuating inlet structure that lines each engine and greatly reduces high frequency noise to enhance cabin quietness. Additionally, the new aircraft's advanced avionics system incorporates additional performance management functions for optimum flight planning and automatic stability and protection functions to enhance safety of flight.

The HondaJet Elite also protects the environment by offering the best fuel efficiency in its class while also featuring best-in-class speed, altitude and range. The aircraft will be displayed for the first time to the public at EBACE from May 28 through May 31.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

CPS Energy using drones to inspect power lines and poles

CPS Energy of San Antonio, Texas, is now using drone technology to perform routine inspections of overhead infrastructure in a safer and more efficient way.

CPS Energy piloted the use of drones to inspect transmission towers and associated high voltage lines in May 2017. Through the pilot, they learned that drone inspections of 50 transmission line towers were completed in 2 ½ days. Normally, this work would have taken nearly two weeks to complete using conventional methods. The utility anticipates drones will be used to inspect equipment approaching its end of life as well as equipment damaged during severe weather.

Currently, CPS Energy has two drones in its inventory. The drone pilots must follow Federal Aviation Administration guidelines and ensure they are being mindful of customer privacy when conducting drone operations. CPS Energy is committed to providing advance notice to the community whenever planned drone flight inspections occur near their home or business.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

All systems are go for NASA's next launch to the Red Planet

The early-morning liftoff on Saturday of the Mars InSight lander will mark the first time in history an interplanetary launch will originate from the West Coast. InSight will launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Space Launch Complex 3E in California.

InSight, which stands for Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport, will launch aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket. InSight will study the deep interior of Mars to learn how all rocky planets formed, including Earth and its Moon. The lander's instruments include a seismometer to detect marsquakes, and a probe that will monitor the flow of heat from the planet's interior.

The Atlas V rocket will carry the spacecraft over the Channel Islands just off the California Coast and continue climbing out over the Pacific. The rocket will reach orbit about 13 minutes after launch, when the rocket is about 1,200 miles (1,900 kilometers) northwest of Isabella Island, Ecuador.

Getting a Mars mission flying requires a great many milestones. Among those still to come are the official start of the countdown to launch -- which comes on Saturday at 1:14 a.m. EDT. A little over an hour later, at about 2:30 a.m. EDT, the 260-foot-tall (80-meter) Mobile Service Tower -- a structure that has been protecting the Atlas V launch vehicle and its InSight payload during their vertical assembly -- will begin a 20-minute long, 250-foot (about 80-meter) roll away from the Atlas.

InSight's landing on Mars is planned for Nov. 26, around 3 p.m. EST.

The Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, Calif., manages InSight for NASA's Science Mission Directorate. InSight is part of NASA's Discovery Program, managed by the agency's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. The InSight spacecraft, including cruise stage and lander, was built and tested by Lockheed Martin Space in Denver, Colo. NASA's Launch Services Program at the agency's Kennedy Space Center in Florida provides launch management. United Launch Alliance of Centennial, Colo., is NASA's launch service provider of the Atlas V rocket. A number of European partners, including France's Centre National d'√Čtudes Spatiales (CNES) and the German Aerospace Center (DLR), are supporting the InSight mission. In particular, CNES provided the Seismic Experiment for Interior Structure instrument, with significant contributions from the Max Planck Institute for Solar Systems Research. DLR provided the Heat Flow and Physical Properties Package instrument.

Video: First interplanetary mission launch from West Coast

Insight, NASA's next Mars explorer, has arrived at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The spacecraft is called InSight - short for Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport - and it's being tested, fueled and encapsulated for launch aboard the powerful United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket. The upcoming liftoff will mark the first time an interplanetary mission has launched from the West Coast.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Air Canada launches the only non-stop flights linking Alberta to the Bay Area

Air Canada inaugurated non-stop daily flights between Edmonton and San Francisco on Tuesday, one of 25 new routes being inaugurated this summer.

Air Canada's Edmonton-San Francisco daily non-stop, year-round flights are operated onboard Bombardier CRJ 900 jets offering a choice of 12 Business Class seats and 64 Economy Class seats, wi-fi, and features Air Canada's in-flight entertainment on personal touch-screens at every seat.

Flights have been timed to connect conveniently with Air Canada's regional flight network in Edmonton and with Star Alliance partner United Airlines in San Francisco.

Monday, April 30, 2018

Video: Building NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope

“Into the Unknown” tells the story of the building of NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope – a revolutionary observatory, 100 times more powerful and the scientific successor to the Hubble Telescope. Webb will reveal a universe we have never seen before and is poised to answer questions that have intrigued us for thousands of years. “Into the Unknown” offers an in-depth look at one of the most daring scientific missions ever attempted.

Keeping an eye on Earth's water cycle, ice sheets and crust from space

A pair of spacecraft that will observe our planet's ever-changing water cycle, ice sheets and crust are in final preparations for launch from California no earlier than May 19. The Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment Follow-On (GRACE-FO) mission, a partnership between NASA and the German Research Centre for Geosciences, will take over where the first GRACE mission left off when it completed its 15-year mission in 2017.

GRACE-FO will continue monitoring monthly changes in the distribution of mass within and among Earth's atmosphere, oceans, land and ice sheets, as well as within the solid Earth itself. These data will provide unique insights into Earth's changing climate, Earth system processes and even the impacts of some human activities, and will have far-reaching benefits to society, such as improving water resource management.

"Water is critical to every aspect of life on Earth -- for health, for agriculture, for maintaining our way of living," said Michael Watkins, GRACE-FO science lead and director of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. "You can't manage it well until you can measure it. GRACE-FO provides a unique way to measure water in many of its phases, allowing us to manage water resources more effectively."

Like GRACE, the first mission, GRACE-FO will use an innovative technique to observe something that can't be seen directly from space. It uses the weight of water to measure its movement -- even water hidden far below Earth's surface. GRACE-FO will do this by very precisely measuring the changes in the shape of Earth's gravity field caused by the movement of massive amounts of water, ice and solid Earth.

"When water is underground, it's impossible to directly observe from space. There's no picture you can take or radar you can bounce off the surface to measure changes in that deep water," said Watkins. "But it has mass, and GRACE-FO is almost the only way we have of observing it on large scales. Similarly, tracking changes in the total mass of the polar ice sheets is also very difficult, but GRACE-FO essentially puts a 'scale' under them to track their changes over time."

Like its predecessors, the two identical GRACE-FO satellites will function as a single instrument. The satellites will orbit Earth about 137 miles (220 kilometers) apart, at an initial altitude of about 305 miles (490 kilometers). Each satellite continually sends microwave signals to the other to accurately measure changes in the distance between them. As they fly over a massive Earth feature, such as a mountain range or underground aquifer, the gravitational pull of that feature tugs on the satellites, changing the distance separating them. By tracking changes in their separation distance with incredible accuracy -- to less than the thickness of a human hair -- the satellites are able to map these regional gravity changes.

GRACE-FO will be launched into orbit with five Iridium NEXT communications satellites on a commercially procured SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Video: Satellite imagery highlights changes in US forests

Annual maps of the lower-48 United States produced from satellite data illustrate dynamic changes in U.S. forests from 1986-2010. Logging and hurricanes play a significant role in the Southeast, and fires and insect invasion damage forest canopy in the West.

Trees are one of the world's best absorbers of atmospheric carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas. Understanding how trees and forests change through time is one of the first steps to understanding how active they are in pulling carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere, which is of profound interest to scientists monitoring climate change.

Developed for the North American Forest Dynamics study, scientists combined 25 years of satellite data from the joint U.S. Geological Survey/NASA Landsat satellite program with information from the U.S. Forest Service to highlight where forest canopy was disturbed.

Friday, April 27, 2018

Yahsat signs agreement to purchase majority stake in Thuraya

Yahsat, a leading satellite operator based in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), has entered into an agreement to acquire a majority stake in the mobile satellite services operator Thuraya, also based in the UAE.

The acquisition of the UAE's first home grown satellite operator, Thuraya, will significantly expand Yahsat's current satellite solutions portfolio for both commercial and government verticals, as well as its global footprint.

The acquisition will set Yahsat on a new phase of growth, with Thuraya bringing 20 years of innovation and experience in the mobile satellite services market along with a rich portfolio of products and services complimented by a renowned brand.

Thuraya's two satellites, serving over 140 countries, will join the Yahsat fleet, expanding the group's satellite fleet to five. The combination of geostationary satellites operating in the C, Ka, Ku and L-bands will jointly cover Europe, Africa, the Middle East, South America, and Asia, providing a broad range of Fixed and Mobile Satellite Services spanning voice and data communications to both commercial and government sectors.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Department of Energy shopping for used Bell helicopter

The Department of Energy/Western Area Power Administration (WAPA) intends to procure a used Bell 407 helicopter, according to contract documents released Thursday. Bell Helicopter Textron Inc. in Fort Worth, Texas, is the sole manufacturer of the Bell 407.

WAPA requires that the helicopter be manufactured in 2010 or newer and not exceed 1,000 flight hours, the Energy Department said in a Pre-Solicitation Notice released Thursday. The Bell 407 should be utility equipped with no damage history, high skid gear, rotor brake, and covered by a warranty for replacement and/or repair of defective components for a period of one year.

The contract solicitation will be available on or around May 10 with quotes due seven calendar days after release.

Study looks at commercialization of low Earth orbit

In May, NASA will be releasing a NASA Research Announcement (NRA) for low Earth orbit (LEO) commercialization, according to contract documents released Tuesday.

The purpose of this NRA is to inform NASA's strategy for enabling the commercialization of human spaceflight in LEO and meeting NASA's long-term LEO needs. The NRA will solicit industry concepts, business plans and viability for habitable platforms, whether using the International Space Station (ISS) or free-flying, that would enable a commercial marketplace in LEO where NASA is one of many customers. Additionally, the study seeks industry input on the role of government and evolution of ISS in the roadmap to commercialization of LEO.

NASA anticipates awarding multiple four-month, fixed priced contracts, up to $1 million per award. Participation is open to U.S. organizations, including industry, educational institutions, and nonprofit institutions, the agency said in documents.

A Pre-Proposal Conference to discuss the study objectives and proposal instructions with prospective respondents is planned for May 1 in the Gilruth Center at Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Ryanair orders 25 737 MAX 8 planes

The Boeing Company and Ryanair announced Tuesday they finalized an order for 25 additional high-capacity 737 MAX 8 airplanes. The $3 billion order, at current list prices, was previously listed as unidentified on Boeing's Orders & Deliveries website.

This order will bringing Ryanair's firm order to 135 737 MAX 8s. “The aircraft has eight more seats than our current 189-seat Boeing 737-800NG and incorporates the latest technology engines and winglets which reduce fuel consumption and noise emissions,” said Neil Sorahan, chief financial officer, Ryanair. “We look forward to taking delivery of our first aircraft in spring 2019."

Ryanair launched the high-capacity 737 MAX 8 in late 2014 with an order for 100 airplanes, followed by an additional order for 10 airplanes at the 2017 Paris Air Show. The airplane will provide Ryanair with 197 seats, increasing revenue potential and delivering up to 14 percent lower fuel consumption than today's Next-Generation 737s.

The Dublin, Ireland-based carrier is the largest 737-800 customer in the world and the largest Boeing operator in Europe. Last month, Ryanair took delivery of its 500th Next-Generation 737-800 and has now ordered more than 650 Boeing airplanes.

The 737 MAX incorporates the latest CFM International LEAP-1B engines, Advanced Technology winglets, Boeing Sky Interior, large flight deck displays and other features to deliver the highest efficiency, reliability and passenger comfort in the single-aisle market.

The 737 MAX is the fastest-selling airplane in Boeing history, accumulating almost 4,500 orders from 96 customers worldwide.

Monday, April 23, 2018

First United Airlines 737 MAX 9 aircraft delivered

United Airlines announced Monday that it has taken delivery of its first 737 MAX 9 aircraft from the Boeing Delivery Center in Seattle, Wash. The new aircraft, which arrived right after Earth Day, reduces fuel use and CO2 emissions significantly compared with older generation aircraft. In honor of this more eco-friendly aircraft, United has given the MAX a new livery, similar to its fuel-efficient Boeing Dreamliner aircraft, so that employees and customers can easily recognize the plane and its superior fuel efficiency.

United expects to take delivery of two more 737 MAX 9 aircraft this month, and will have 10 by the end of the year. The aircraft will enter United's schedule June 7 with service between the airline's hub at Houston's George Bush Intercontinental Airport and five cities – Anchorage, Alaska; Austin, Texas; Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; Orlando, Fla.. and San Diego, Calif. The aircraft will operate on additional routes from Houston and Los Angeles International Airport starting June 29.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

First fully capable KC-46 tanker aircraft delayed

Under the Air Force's KC-46 modernization program, commercial aircraft are being converted by The Boeing Company into aerial refueling tankers. The program is one of the Air Force's highest acquisition priorities, and will replace a third of the aging fleet.

We found that the program, now in its seventh year, is meeting its estimated acquisition cost. However, the program office projects that Boeing will not deliver the first 18 fully capable aircraft until May 2019—21 months later than initially planned,” the Government Accountability Office (GAO) said in a recent report. Boeing won the competition to develop the KC-46 aircraft in February 2011.

The total acquisition cost estimate for the KC-46 refueling tanker aircraft remained stable over the last year at $44.4 billion. This is about $7.3 billion, or about 14 percent, less than the original estimate of $51.7 billion, the GAO said.

Boeing faces the following risks and challenges and is trying to address them:
updating test aircraft to the correct configuration to complete remaining tests;
completing flight tests at a pace that is almost double its monthly average;
updating test plans to reflect a more realistic schedule for certifying aircraft, such as F-16 fighters and C-17 cargo planes, to be refueled by a KC-46;
retrofitting production aircraft to their final configuration for delivery; and
fixing a critical deficiency to keep the boom from contacting receiver aircraft outside the refueling receptacle.

The program plans to eventually field 179 KC-46 aircraft in total. These aircraft are intended to replace roughly one-third of the Air Force’s aging aerial refueling tanker fleet, comprised mostly of KC135 Stratotankers.

Aviation attorney calls for immediate grounding of all Boeing 737-700 aircraft

Aviation attorney Robert A. Clifford is calling for the grounding of all Boeing 737-700 aircraft in the wake of the second uncontained engine failure (UEF) of a 17-year-old Southwest Airlines 737-700 in less than 20 months.

Clifford, founder and senior partner of Clifford Law Offices of Chicago, represents a number of passengers injured in a fire after a similar UEF on an American Airlines 767 at O'Hare Airport in October 2016.

In August, 2016, Southwest Airlines Flight 3472 from New Orleans to Orlando experienced a UEF of the same engine (CFM56-7) involved in the UEF tragedy on Southwest Airlines Flight 1380. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has not completed its investigation into Flight 3472 but in August of 2017 the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to require fan disk inspections on all CFM56-7 engines as a result of the NTSB's findings to date. Such inspections might have prevented the tragedy on Flight 1380 and Southwest Airlines and CFM  International (engine manufacturer) should not have waited negligently for the FAA to issue this notice before taking action to prevent death and injury, according to Clifford.

The NTSB already has revealed that a fan blade is missing from one of the engines on Flight 1380, leading to now two UEFs due to CFM56-7 fan disk failures in less than 20 months, and an innocent mother of two is dead because of it, the law firm said in a statement.

The flying public does not have another 20 months for the NTSB and FAA to take action - the 737-700 fleet must be grounded until each airplane's engines are inspected for such fan disk flaws and an acceptable longer-term inspection and replacement plan is finalized,” Clifford said. “This is drastic action but we now have positive proof of the deadly and negligent consequences of not doing so.”

Clifford served as co-lead counsel in yet another similar UEF accident involving United Airlines Flight 232 where an engine exploded in mid air in July, 1989, and the DC-10 wide body airliner crash landed at Sioux City, Iowa, killing a number of people and injuring my more as it chartwheeled in flames down the runway.

"The General Electric/Safran CFM56 engines and 737-700 airplanes they are mounted on are just too dangerous to remain in the air until immediate initial inspections of each and every engine is conducted and a longer-term safety plan is implemented." Clifford said.

Clifford explained that the FAA should also consider changing airliner design requirements to provide better fuselage and passenger protection from UEF parts via tougher skin and window designs adjacent to the rotating parts of engines.

On Tuesday, Southwest Airlines announced that it is accelerating its existing engine inspection program relating to the CFM56 engine family. “The accelerated inspections are being performed out of an abundance of caution and are expected to be completed over the next 30 days,” Southwest Airlines said in a statement on their website. “The accelerated checks are ultrasonic inspections of fan blades of the CFM56 engines.” The airline expects minimal disruption to the operation during the course of the inspections.

Monday, April 9, 2018

Camp Perry Landing Strip

A single-engine Pilatus PC-12 aircraft landed at Camp Peary Landing Strip, Va., on Monday after departing Oceana Naval Air Station in Virginia Beach. The turboprop plane (tail number N617EX) is registered to Cowen 1576 LLC in New York.