Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Ryanair orders five Boeing 737 planes

Boeing and Ryanair have finalized an order for five additional Next-Generation 737s, valued at $452 million at list prices. “Today's announcement brings the total number of unfilled Next-Generation 737 orders for the Ireland-based ultra-low-cost carrier to 180 airplanes,” Boeing said in a press statement on Wednesday.

"The 737-800 is the perfect airplane for us as we continue to expand our fleet," said Michael O'Leary, director and CEO of Ryanair.

The airline announced last year an order for 175 of the airplanes. Ryanair is the world's largest 737-800 customer, with orders placed for 528 of the type to date.

The Boeing 737-800 is the best-selling version of the highly successful Next-Generation 737 family, Boeing said.

"We are honored to be chosen by Ryanair as they expand their fleet and look forward to continuing our partnership for decades to come,” said Boeing Commercial Airplanes President and CEO Ray Conner.

Headquartered in Dublin, Ireland, Ryanair operates more than 1,600 flights daily from 68 bases connecting 186 destinations in 30 countries. Currently operating more than 300 737-800s, Ryanair took delivery of its first in 1999, and now operates the largest fleet of Boeing airplanes in Europe. With a team of more than 9,000 highly skilled professionals the airline is expected to fly more than 81.5 million passengers this year alone.

“Today's announcement brings the total number of 737s ordered to date to more than 11,000,” Boeing said. “Boeing currently has more than 3,700 unfilled orders for 737s.”

Monday, April 28, 2014

Unmanned aircraft to study marine mammals in Alaska

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is seeking Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) support services to conduct aerial surveys for marine mammals in the northeastern Chukchi and western Beaufort seas, offshore of Wainwright and Barrow, Alaska.

NOAA's National Marine Mammal Laboratory (NMML), Alaska Fisheries Science Center, conducts research on marine mammals. Results of NMML’s research and monitoring efforts are provided to various domestic and international organizations to assist in developing rational and appropriate management regimes for marine resources under NOAA’s jurisdiction.

The whales

Gray whales, bowhead whales, and belugas are seasonal residents of the northeastern Chukchi Sea and western Beaufort Sea, regions that provide important feeding grounds and migration pathways for all three species. All three species are protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act, the bowhead whale is granted additional protection as an endangered species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), and bowhead whales and belugas are granted additional management consideration as the targets of subsistence hunts by Alaskan natives. Under the National Environmental Policy Act and the ESA, federal agencies are required to evaluate if and how federal actions associated with oil and gas exploration, development, and production may affect these species. Aerial surveys are a standard methodology for conducting studies of whale distribution required to understand the effects of oil and gas exploration. In recent years, there has been increasing interest in using UAS to survey whales in the Arctic to decrease risk to personnel, increase survey efficiency, and minimize disturbance of marine wildlife.

“NOAA is seeking sources capable of supplying and providing support services for an unmanned aerial system to conduct studies of gray whales, bowhead whales and belugas,” the agency said in contract documents released Friday. Contractors supporting the project will be required to travel to NMML’s offices in Seattle, Wash., for a two-day kick-off meeting in late January or early February 2015, and a one day wrap-up meeting in October, 2015.

In mid-August, 2015, UAS support personnel will be required to travel to the port (anticipated to be Dutch Harbor or Nome, Alaska) where the UAS equipment and support personnel will embark the survey vessel. The government will provide the contractor’s lodging and meals while at sea. When operations are completed in mid-September, 2015, UAS support personnel and equipment will be required to disembark the survey vessel.

The contract will run from Jan. 20, 2015, to Oct. 31, 2015, with field deployment estimated to be from mid-August to mid-September, 2015. There will be a total of approximately 19 days at sea, with 14 days in the survey area and five transit days.

Unmanned Aerial System requirements
  • The UAS shall be a fixed wing, propeller driven air vehicle with demonstrated ability to be launched and recovered from a 100 foot to 250 foot vessel at sea.
  • Capable of operating at cruise speed range of between 40-110 knots.
  • Capable of flying at operational altitudes between 500 ft. – 5000 ft. AGL at cruise speeds.
  • UAS must have demonstrated flight endurance (at specified cruise speed, attitude range, and payload weight) of at least five hours.
Companies interested in supporting the project should contact NOAA by May 15.