Tuesday, June 30, 2015

FAA grants Houston Airport System space Launch Site License

The Houston Airport System has been granted a Launch Site License from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) that enables Ellington Airport to establish itself as a launch site for Reusable Launch Vehicles, making it the 10th commercial spaceport in the United States.

Nearly two years after Houston City Council members gave their overwhelming support for the project, the FAA's formal approval opens the door for plans that could see Ellington Airport become a focal point for aerospace operations, such as the launching of micro satellites, astronaut training, zero gravity experimentation, spacecraft manufacturing and a host of other potential activities.

Situated near the Gulf of Mexico, and featuring more than 400 acres of land readily available for development, Ellington Airport is tailor-made for the requirements associated with an operating licensed Spaceport.

Lack of training contributed to 2014 seaplane accident in Canada

The Transportation Safety Board of Canada on Tuesday released its investigation report into the loss of control and subsequent collision with water and fatality involving a Cessna 185E at Taylor Lake, Ontario, Canada.

On May 24, 2014, a privately-registered Cessna 185E, equipped with amphibious floats, departed the Guelph Airpark for a flight to Taylor Lake, Ontario. The pilot was the sole occupant of the aircraft. While conducting a glassy-water landing, the pilot lost control and the aircraft cartwheeled and sank. The aircraft fuselage was damaged by impact forces and the pilot's door could not be opened. The pilot survived the impact but was not able to escape the submerged aircraft before drowning.

The investigation found that the right float contacted the water first, dug in, and resulted in a loss of control and the aircraft cartwheeling. With respect to contributing factors, the investigation determined that the number of hours the pilot had flown in recent years had decreased, and the pilot was likely less proficient than in earlier years. This would make the glassy-water landing more difficult. Glassy-water conditions are considered to present the most difficulty for landing a seaplane, regardless of experience. The mirror effect created by glassy-water conditions affects depth perception making it difficult for pilots to determine the aircraft's height above the water.

The investigation also found that the pilot did not have emergency egress training. Although not required by regulation, egress training has been shown to improve the chances of exiting a submerged aircraft following a survivable accident.

Boeing, Embraer collaborate to test environment-focused aviation technologies

U.S.-based Boeing and Brazil's Embraer S.A. announced Tuesday that they intend to collaborate to test environment-focused technologies through the ecoDemonstrator Program in a joint effort to improve aviation's environmental performance. This expands ongoing cooperation between two of the world's largest airplane manufacturers.

Frederico Curado, president and CEO of Embraer, and Marc Allen, president of Boeing International, signed a Memorandum of Understanding at the Brazil-U.S. Business Summit organized by the Brazil-U.S. Business Council.

Boeing launched its ecoDemonstrator Program in 2011 to accelerate testing and use of new technologies that can reduce fuel use, carbon emissions and noise. The company has so far tested more than 50 technologies with a Next-Generation 737-800, 787 Dreamliner and, currently, a 757. Through their collaboration, Boeing and Embraer are planning to conduct ecoDemonstrator tests with an Embraer airplane in 2016. 

The ecoDemonstrator cooperation between Boeing and Embraer advances a relationship that began in 2012 when the manufacturers announced they would cooperate in ways that create value for both companies and their customers. Since then, the manufacturers have worked together to improve runway safety and support Embraer's KC-390 defense aircraft program.

In addition, in 2015, Boeing and Embraer opened a joint biofuel research center in São José dos Campos, Brazil, to perform biofuel research and coordinate research with Brazilian universities and other institutions. Boeing has worked with suppliers, airlines and government agencies on previous ecoDemonstrator flight tests. Those technologies include a new winglet and "bug-phobic" wing coatings that can improve aerodynamic efficiency, software applications that can improve in-flight efficiency and new types of sustainable aviation biofuel.

New airborne target tracking system tested aboard F-16

Lockheed Martin's Legion Pod recently completed its first flight test, successfully tracking multiple airborne targets while flying on an F-16 in Fort Worth, Texas.

Legion Pod was integrated onto the F-16 without making any hardware or software changes to the aircraft. Additional flight tests on the F-16 and F-15C will continue throughout the year.

"Legion Pod is a production-ready, multi-sensor system," said Paul Lemmo, vice president of fire control at Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control.

Equipped with an IRST21 infrared sensor and advanced networking and data processing technology, Legion Pod provides high-fidelity detection and tracking of airborne targets. It also accommodates additional sensors without costly system or aircraft modifications.

Legion Pod is available to meet the requirements of the U.S. Air Force F-15C infrared search and track program of record, which include long-range detection and tracking in a wide field of view. Its flexible design and open systems architecture enable Legion Pod to offer a variety of capabilities for other fighter and non-fighter aircraft.