Wednesday, December 23, 2020

FAA grants Santa Claus special operating authority for Christmas Eve flight

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced Wednesday it has granted Santa Claus and his reindeer special operating authority to perform air-cargo-delivery services directly to rooftops throughout the United States on Christmas Eve.

In addition, for the first time ever, the FAA issued Santa a special commercial space license to visit the International Space Station using his StarSleigh-1 space capsule powered by the Rudolph Rocket. The mission license includes both launch and reentry operations and will occur from a U.S.-based spaceport.

Being a world humanitarian, Santa knows this Christmas is different from other years and he wholeheartedly agrees with the FAA decision to give priority to flights carrying COVID-19 vaccines and other cargo critical to the nation’s response to the ongoing public health emergency.

In addition, Santa has informed the FAA he will fly healthy during his journey by wearing a face mask on his flight to set a good example for everyone who is traveling by air this holiday season.

To ensure Santa and all other pilots have a safe trip, the FAA is asking the public for assistance and avoid creating a serious safety risk with drones and lasers. Sending up a drone to take a picture or video of an aircraft or sleigh is distracting to the pilots and will scare the reindeer, while holiday laser-light displays aimed into the sky can temporarily blind pilots.

Follow Santa’s progress as he travels across the U.S. by visiting the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) website, where NORAD tracks Santa’s Christmas Eve voyage.

airBaltic takes delivery of two Airbus A220-300 aircraft

Chorus Aviation Inc. announced Wednesday the delivery of two new Airbus A220-300 aircraft to airBaltic of Latvia. The aircraft (MSNs 55094 and 55095) are the final two of five units placed on long-term lease with the airline through a committed sale and leaseback transaction announced on November 20, 2019.

In December 2013, airBaltic became the first operator of the A220-300 aircraft and in May, the carrier re-launched as an all Airbus A220 airline. airBaltic is offering flights to more than 65 destinations from all three Baltic countries.

"We applaud airBaltic's successful resumption and expansion of services across Europe," stated Joe Randell, president and chief executive officer, Chorus.

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

New Beechcraft King Air 260 turboprop aircraft

Textron Aviation is launching an exciting new era for its renowned Beechcraft King Air 200 series of aircraft with the introduction of the Beechcraft King Air 260 turboprop. Assembly production for the new King Air 260 is already underway, and certification and deliveries are expected in early 2021.

The announcement comes on the heels of the recently introduced Beechcraft King Air 360, which features the latest enhancements to the cockpit and cabin. The King Air 360 achieved Federal Aviation Administration type certification in October, and customer deliveries are underway.

Key enhancements to the King Air 260 are the addition of the Innovative Solutions & Support ThrustSense Autothrottle, along with a new digital pressurization controller. The cockpit also offers the Collins Aerospace Multi-Scan weather radar system as a standard feature on every King Air 260.

“We place an immense value on our conversations with our customers, and the investments we make in our aircraft are a direct result of listening to their input,” said Ron Draper, Textron president and CEO, in a company press release.

The ThrustSense Autothrottle supports pilots in their critical mission of delivering people or cargo by automatically managing engine power from the takeoff roll through the climb, cruise, descent, go-around and landing phases of flight. This enhancement reduces pilot workload and is designed to prevent over-speed or under-speed, over-temp and over-torque conditions.

Another key update in the cockpit is the new digital pressurization controller, which automatically schedules cabin pressurization during both climb and descent, reducing pilot workload and increasing overall passenger comfort. The pressurization gauges have been integrated with the powerful Collins Aerospace Pro Line Fusion flight deck.

The Collins Multi-Scan RTA-4112 weather radar provides pilots with a fully automatic system that it optimized to detect short, mid and long-range weather. The system is designed to present an accurate picture of the weather around the aircraft, further reducing pilot workload.

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

DCNewsroom blog celebrates 10 years of news and information

January 2009 DCNewsroom first appears on Twitter.

December 28, 2010 – One year later the DCNewsroom blog is created to cover aviation, government, industry, space and stock market news.

January 25, 2015 – DCNewsroom covers the emergency landing of a Cirrus SR-22 aircraft in the Pacific Ocean (Single-engine airplane preparing to ditch in Pacific Ocean). This story stands as the most popular article on the blog today. (Dramatic video shows pilot ditch Cirrus plane in Pacific Ocean)

July 31, 2020 – DCNewsroom hits a record 57,218 pageviews in one day since its start in 2010. This record still stands today.

May 4, 2020 – DCNewsroom Twitter account reaches over 400 followers.

May 2020 – With over 860 published articles online, the DCNewsroom has logged over 691,950 pageviews in 10 years.

Thursday, November 12, 2020

First delivery of Beechcraft King Air 360 turboprop aircraft

Textron Aviation proudly celebrated the entry into service and first delivery of its Beechcraft King Air 360 turboprop aircraft on Thursday. The event was commemorated in a special delivery to its launch customer – Stamoules Produce Company, Inc. The California-based business selected the King Air 360 as its first-ever aircraft purchase, Textron said in a company press release.

Stamoules Produce Company is a family-owned business based in the San Joaquin Valley of central California, often referred to as the cantaloupe center of the world. Specializing in growing and harvesting fruits, vegetables and nuts on its 17,000 acre farm, Stamoules Produce Company has steadily expanded its business since it began in 1927.

“When selecting our first aircraft, we looked for a product that would not only give us the performance and flexibility we need to grow our business, but also by a company with a trusted name and expertise in the industry – and we found that in the King Air 360 and Textron Aviation,” said Katie Stefanopoulos, a family member, who will also serve as corporate pilot for the new aircraft.

The King Air 360 cockpit features the addition of the Innovative Solutions & Support ThrustSense Autothrottle. The autothrottle supports pilots in their critical mission of delivering people or cargo by automatically managing engine power from the takeoff roll through the climb, cruise, descent, and go-around phases of flight. Another key update in the cockpit is the new digital pressurization controller, which automatically schedules cabin pressurization during both climb and descent, reducing pilot workload and increasing overall passenger comfort.

Other upgrades include a lower cabin altitude at the aircraft’s certified ceiling of 35,000 feet – more than 10% lower when compared to the King Air 350i. The improved cabin altitude level provides greater comfort for passengers, especially during longer flights.

Monday, November 2, 2020

CBL Properties, one of the largest shopping mall owners, files bankruptcy

CBL Properties announced Monday they have filed voluntary petitions for reorganization under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code in order to implement a plan to recapitalize the company, including restructuring portions of its debt. “Through this process, all day-to-day operations and business of the company’s wholly owned, joint venture and third-party managed shopping centers will continue as normal,” CBL officials said in a company press release. “CBL’s customers, tenants and partners can expect business as usual at all of CBL’s owned and managed properties.”

Headquartered in Chattanooga, Tenn., CBL Properties owns and manages a national portfolio of shopping malls. CBL’s portfolio is comprised of 107 properties across 26 states, including 65 high-quality enclosed, outlet and open-air retail centers and eight properties managed for third parties.

“After months of discussions and consideration of a number of alternatives, CBL’s management and the Board of Directors firmly believe that implementing the comprehensive restructuring through a Chapter 11 voluntary bankruptcy filing will provide CBL with the best plan to emerge as a stronger and more stable company,” said Stephen Lebovitz, chief executive officer of CBL. “With an aggregate of approximately $1.5 billion in unsecured debt and preferred obligations eliminated and a significant increase to net cash flow, upon emergence, CBL will be in a better position to execute on our strategies and move forward as a stable and profitable business.”

As of Sept. 30, CBL had approximately $258.3 million in unrestricted cash on hand and available-for-sale securities. The company’s cash position, combined with the positive cash flow generated by ongoing operations, is expected to be sufficient to meet CBL’s operational and restructuring needs.

The company has filed various customary motions with the court seeking several types of relief to allow CBL to meet necessary obligations and fulfill its duties during the restructuring process, including authority to continue payment of employee wages and benefits, honor certain customer and vendor commitments and otherwise manage its day-to-day operations as usual.

CBL stock closed Monday at $0.09 per share, down -40.4% for the day.

Air Canada Rouge returns to the skies

The departure of Air Canada flight AC1810 from Toronto to Cancun on Monday marked the return of Air Canada Rouge to the skies.

"Air Canada Rouge remains an important part of our overall strategy in rebuilding Air Canada's global network," said Mark Galardo, vice president, Network Planning and Alliances at Air Canada. "As leisure traffic resumes, we will progressively add Air Canada Rouge to select North American leisure markets from Eastern Canada."

Air Canada Rouge flights are operated with narrow-body Airbus aircraft featuring a choice of Premium Rouge and Economy services.

Air Canada has been at the forefront of the airline industry in responding to COVID-19, including being among the first carriers globally to require customer face coverings onboard and the first airline in the Americas to take customers' temperatures prior to boarding.

Thursday, October 29, 2020

Atlantic Aviation hangar lease for DEA aircraft

The U.S. Department of Justice, Drug Enforcement Administration, intends to award a sole source purchase order to Atlantic Aviation for housing aircraft, according to contract documents released on Thursday.

“The proposed purchase order is for a service for which the government intends to solicit and negotiate only with Atlantic Aviation,” DEA officials said in a Special Notice contract document.

The Special Notice does not identify where the hangar lease purchase will take place. Atlantic Aviation has hangar space available at George Bush Intercontinental Airport, Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, Northeast Philadelphia Airport and Corpus Christi International Airport, according to the company's website. The contracting office handling the lease is located at 8701 Morrissette Drive, Springfield, Va. 22152, according to contract documents.


The DEA Aviation Division’s mission is to provide aviation support to operational and intelligence elements within DEA and the law enforcement community to detect, locate, identify, and assess illicit narcotics-related trafficking activities.

The Aviation Division's command and control functions are conducted from the Aviation Operations Center located at Alliance Airport in Fort Worth, Texas. The division has Special Agents/Pilots and aircraft strategically located throughout the United States, the Caribbean, Central America and South America.

Navy orders six more CH-53K King Stallion helicopters

Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin company, will build six additional production CH-53K King Stallion helicopters under a new contract for the U.S. Navy. The aircraft will further support the U.S. Marine Corps in its mission to conduct expeditionary heavy-lift assault transport of armored vehicles, equipment and personnel to support distributed operations deep inland from a sea-based center of operations.

The six helicopters are part of a 200 aircraft program for the Marine Corps, and their addition makes a total of 24 CH-53K production aircraft now under contract. Sikorsky will begin deliveries of the six aircraft in January 2024.

The CH-53K program has five aircraft on the line at Sikorsky facilities in Connecticut and over  two dozen in various stages of production. The program will deliver the first low rate initial production aircraft in September 2021.

Sikorsky and its suppliers have made significant investments in facilities, machinery, tooling, and workforce training to ramp up production required for the CH-53K program. For example, for the first time, newly installed 10-ton cranes lifted a 12,000-pound gearbox into a CH-53K production aircraft.

The CH-53K is also nearing the conclusion of the developmental flight test events in preparation for Initial Operational Test & Evaluation, having flown more than 2,000 flight hours validating the aircraft's performance on a ship and in both hot and cold environments.

Monday, October 26, 2020

US military outlines approach to Counter Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems

The Department of Defense is hosting a virtual industry open house on Friday to outline its approach to Counter Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (C-sUAS). The event is open to all vendors interested in C-sUAS and will cover key aspects including strategy, training, current capabilities and operational capability requirements.

The one-day online event will inform vendors on upcoming efforts to align C-sUAS systems into an enduring and integrated enterprise approach. The meeting will be hosted by the Joint Counter-small Unmanned Aircraft System Office (JCO) and the Army Rapid Capabilities and Critical Technologies Office (RCCTO). The open house will provide information regarding emerging requirements, address the multitude of C-sUAS challenges, and encourage competition and efficiencies in future technology development and procurement activities.

The Department of Defense designated the Army as the Executive Agent for C-sUAS. The Secretary of the Army established the Joint C-sUAS Office (JCO) to lead and direct efforts to identify and prioritize joint improvement opportunities and C-sUAS solutions.

The RCCTO's mission is to rapidly and efficiently research, develop, prototype, test, evaluate, procure, transition, and/or field critical enabling technologies and capabilities that address near-term and mid-term threats. The RCCTO serves as the materiel and acquisition lead in support of the JCO.

Friday, October 23, 2020

Ethiopian Airlines takes delivery of 30th Dash 8-400 aircraft

De Havilland Aircraft of Canada Limited delivered another two Dash 8-400 aircraft to Ethiopian Airlines. The 30th aircraft – MSN 4617 – is preparing to depart for Ethiopian's hub in Addis Ababa, along with aircraft MSN 4615. Ethiopian first welcomed the Dash 8-400 aircraft into its fleet in March 2010.

"Ethiopian has taken tremendous positive steps to strengthen their capabilities with the acquisition of the first Dash 8-400 simulator for Africa and by recently adding a second simulator; achieving recognition as an Authorized Service Facility; and proving the value of a business class configuration on regional aircraft in Africa,” said Sameer Adam, Regional Vice President, Sales – Europe and Russia, Middle East, Africa, and South America/Caribbean. “We certainly look forward to more examples of Ethiopian's continuing leadership and the success of their ongoing strategic partnerships with ASKY Airlines, Malawi Airlines, Ethiopian Mo├žambique Airlines and Tchadia Airlines in the operation of Dash 8-400 aircraft across Africa.”

The fleet of over 155 Dash 8 Series aircraft in Africa includes more than 90 Dash 8-400 aircraft. Worldwide, more than 155 airlines, leasing companies and other organizations have ordered almost 1,300 Dash 8 aircraft.

Video: Unmanned Loyal Wingman aircraft performs first taxi test

The Boeing Loyal Wingman aircraft being developed with the Royal Australian Air Force recently moved under its own power for the first time, a key milestone for the aircraft that’s expected to make its first flight this year.

“This latest test marks the first full unmanned movement of the Loyal Wingman with our Australian partners and takes us a step closer to first flight,” said Shane Arnott, program director, Boeing Airpower Teaming System.

Reaching a maximum speed of 14 knots (approximately 16 miles per hour, or 26 kilometers per hour), on the ground, the aircraft demonstrated several activities while maneuvering and stopping on command.

“The low-speed taxi enabled us to verify the function and integration of the aircraft systems, including steering, braking and engine controls, with the aircraft in motion,” said Paul Ryder, Boeing Australia Flight Test manager.

Three Loyal Wingman prototypes will be the foundation for the Airpower Teaming System that Boeing will offer customers worldwide.

The aircraft will fly alongside other platforms, using artificial intelligence for such teaming missions. It has advanced design and flight characteristics, including a modular nose section that’s customizable for specific needs and a conventional takeoff and landing approach suitable for many missions and runway types.

Thursday, October 22, 2020

Navy will use World War II B-25 to train test pilots

The Naval Air Warfare Center- Aircraft Division and U.S. Naval Test Pilot School (USNTPS) in Patuxent River, Md., announced Thursday its intention to solicit and negotiate a firm fixed-price purchase order on a sole source basis with Rag Wings and Radials Aircraft Leasing, LLC for flight hours aboard the company's B-25 Mitchell aircraft.

The anticipated period of performance under the contract is Nov. 1 to Sept. 30, 2022.

“The aircraft to be provided for this exercise, the B-25 Mitchell, is a unique configuration not readily available for hire commercially,” Navy officials said in contract documents. “Extensive research of all known contractors possessing this model aircraft has been completed. This is the only known contractor possessing a suitable aircraft, with acceptable safety posture and desired configuration, pre-qualified by USNTPS staff personnel, and is available for hire at the specified time and having a proven instructional training program compatible with USNTPS standards, that can provide the training and demonstration flights. Also, with the current COVID situation, TPS is not willing to expose its personnel to additional risk incurred by vetting a new vendor at this time. Due to an extremely tight schedule, the contract start date is mandatory to meet USNTPS syllabus requirements.”

The contractor shall provide up to 18 demonstration flight hours per period in a B-25 aircraft to USNTPS student and instructor personnel to support the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School Qualitative Evaluation Program. The typical flight duration will depend on the number of students/staff on board, but will be planned as one hour flight time per student/staff member. Flight demonstrations shall take place at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md.

In 2015, the Air Force Test Center Contracting Directorate at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., used a B-25 bomber to provide test pilot training for up to 50 U.S. Air Force Test Pilot School (TPS) students and staff members.

NASA COVID-19 Testing Request for Information / Sources Sought Notice

NASA is looking at strategies for testing employees in the course of executing essential and / or mission critical agency activities, to include:

Travel Related Testing- Many countries, and even some states and private companies, are requiring a test 72 hours prior to travel. Several countries are requiring this test to be a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test, due to the higher sensitivity.

Mission Related Testing- In the course of keeping critical personnel safe and preventing a mission impact, it is becoming increasingly necessary to test personnel who have access to the astronauts (trainers, rescue personnel, etc). It is also becoming necessary to maintain the vigilance and safety of NASA critical operations.

Employees Identified in a Case Tracing at Work- If the employee was exposed in the course of doing work, they may require testing both to ensure the safety of their family, in accordance with public health strategies for quarantine, and to identify those critical workers that may need to return to work if un-infected.

Employees Returning from Foreign Travel- Prolonged exposures in a commercial aircraft, multiple social contacts in the course of doing business abroad, reliance of outside vendors for food and transport, all may put employees at increased risk for infection especially if they were in areas where the viral cases are endemic or increasing.

The Agency Office of the Chief Medical Officer has determined that the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test has the broadest application for those undertaking travel, those working critical operations, those identified in a workplace case tracing, and those returning from overseas travel. NASA is seeking a provider that is able to provide nationwide service in which PCR is the method of testing.

Friday, October 16, 2020

NASA begins work on radio transmitters for Mars Ascent Vehicle

NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) in Huntsville, Ala., is soliciting information from potential sources for the manufacturing of Radio Frequency (RF) Transmitters for the Mars Ascent Vehicle (MAV). The space agency made the announcement in a Request For Information contract document released Thursday.

The MAV is one part of the Mars Sample Return Campaign and is a joint effort between MSFC and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. The MAV is a vehicle designed to launch from the surface of Mars and will transport Mars samples taken from the Martian surface and launch the payload into orbit for rendezvous with an orbiting spacecraft. The Earth Return Orbiter (ERO) will rendezvous with and capture the payload from orbit, and bring it back to earth.

The MAV transmitter will transmit navigation and vehicle health data during the flight from launch until stage separation in order to aide in the capture of the released payload. The MAV has a downlink/transmit-only requirement for RF communications during the mission. There is currently no uplink/receive signal requirement. Therefore, only the manufacture of a device with data transmitting capabilities will be required. The transmitter will operate without any return link signal.  The transmitter will be required to operate solely in transmitting data mode during the first stage of the flight. The transmitter shall be able to switch between transmitting data mode, CW continuous mode, and CW pulse mode upon receiving a command from the flight computer.

RF Transmitter Specifications and Characteristics

  • Mode of Operation:  Transmit Data
  • Mode of Operation:  Carrier-only CW
  • Mode of Operation:  Carrier Pulses
  • Frequency:  401.585625 MHz
  • Information Rate (prior to any encoding applied):  8 kbps
  • Coded Symbol Rate (after all encoding applied):  16 kbps
  • Coding:  Convolution Coding, Rate = ½ ; Constraint Length = 7, non-inverted G2
  • PCM Data Encoding:  Bi-Phase-L (Manchester)
  • Symmetry of PCM Bi-Phase Waveform:  Mark-to-Space Ratio between 0.98 and 1.02
  • Necessary Bandwidth:  64 kHz

The RF transmitter will be required to tolerate environments of launch, 2.5 years of deep space cruise, Entry, Descent, and Landing, and a storage period of approximately one year on the Martian surface. Note that the RF transmitter will be in an unpowered state for a majority of the cruise except for short durations during health check-outs. For planning purposes, this requirement will involve the design, development, manufacture, testing, qualification, and delivery to NASA/MSFC of multiple RF transmitter units.  Due to the design configuration of the MAV, mass (minimal) is a key factor in determining the selected RF transmitter.

Organizations interested in supporting development of the RF transmitters should contact MSFC no later than Nov. 16.

Thursday, October 15, 2020

US Marshals Service shopping for a Boeing 737 aircraft

The U.S. Marshals Service (USMS), Justice Prisoner and Alien Transportation System (JPATS), Oklahoma City operational site, is seeking information from responsible sources and commercial agencies concerning the lease, with the option to purchase, one large transport turbine powered aircraft.

The primary mission of JPATS is the safe, secure and efficient transportation of federal and non-federal prisoners and the provision of aircraft and flight crew for the support of other operational missions. Additional mission assignments include international flights in support of foreign extraditions, witness security and enforcement operations, strategic deployment of USMS and Special Operations Group personnel and equipment and other special operations assigned by the USMS or U.S. Attorney General.

JPATS says a Boeing 737-700 or 737-800, transport category, narrow body, twin-engine jet aircraft will fit the lease requirement. The aircraft will be operated primarily from the JPATS Oklahoma City operational site but may at times, based on particular mission demands, operate from the JPATS Las Vegas operational site. The period of performance under the lease will be a base period: Oct. 1, 2021 through Sept. 30, 2022, with four Option Years. JPATS will have the option to purchase the aircraft at any time during the base period or the option years.

Based on current mission flying schedules, JPATS’ estimated utilization rate for the proposed aircraft is approximately 1,290 flight hours or 900 takeoffs and landings per year. “Flight Hour” by definition is “wheels off” during takeoff to “wheels on” during landing. The actual hours and cycles will vary due to scheduling demands. JPATS will pay a monthly firm-fixed price lease rate for the aircraft through the leasing period for unlimited use of the aircraft. If JPATS elects to purchase the aircraft (at a firm-fixed price) the monthly firm-fixed price lease rate will cease on effective date of the purchase.

This is a “dry” lease, which includes the aircraft, insurance, and heavy maintenance. JPATS has determined that only the Boeing 737-700 or the Boeing 737-800 will meet our unique mission requirements.

“A solicitation is being developed and a contract may or may not result,” U.S. Marshals Service officials said in contract documents released in October. Companies interested in responding to the request should contact the U.S. Marshals Service no later than Oct. 26.

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

US Customs orders two additional King Air 350CER aircraft

Textron Aviation announced Tuesday it was awarded a contract for the 26th and 27th Beechcraft King Air 350CER turboprop aircraft for the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Air and Marine Operations (AMO).

The Beechcraft King Air 350CER is designed and manufactured by Textron Aviation Inc.

“These two Multi-role Enforcement Aircraft will join a fleet of King Air 350 turboprops used to safeguard the United States as part of the coordinated application of AMO’s aviation and maritime law enforcement resources,” said Bob Gibbs, vice president, Special Mission Sales. “This represents the third and fourth Beechcraft King Air 350CER ordered for AMO in 2020.”

The agency’s aircraft are equipped with a sophisticated array of technology that can be deployed for ground interdiction operations, air-to-air intercept operations and medium-range maritime patrols, including active and passive sensors and an optimized communications suite.

The Beechcraft King Air 350CER aircraft is an extended range version of the King Air 350i twin-engine turboprop aircraft. Two Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-60A or optional factory installed PT6A-67A turboprop engines with Hartzell four blade propellers power the King Air 350CER aircraft.

Nearly 7,600 Beechcraft King Air turboprops have been delivered to customers around the world since 1964.

Monday, October 5, 2020

Most popular posts for September 2020

1.) Vintage warbirds plan flyover of Washington, DC, later this month - On Sept. 26, some 70 vintage aircraft will take to the skies over Washington, D.C. to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II. [Full story]

2.) Third and final test aircraft joins Cessna SkyCourier program - The Cessna SkyCourier turboprop development program has achieved another significant milestone as the third and final flight test aircraft (P2) successfully completed its first flight on Monday. [Full story]

3.) Palm Springs Air Museum adds F-117 Nighthawk to collection - On Oct. 3, a Stealth Fighter F-117 arrives at Palm Springs Air Museum, where it will be welcomed into the permanent collection. [Full story]

4.) DARPA and Air Force ready to launch hypersonic air-breathing weapon this year - The Defense Advanced Research Project Agency and the U.S. Air Force announced Tuesday successful completion of captive carry tests of two variants of the Hypersonic Air-breathing Weapon Concept and are ready to proceed to first free-flight testing within the calendar year. [Full story]

Nonstop service between San Francisco and Shanghai resumes for United Airlines

United Airlines announced Monday it will start nonstop service to China four-times weekly between San Francisco and Shanghai's Pudong International Airport. Beginning Oct. 21, United will operate four weekly nonstop flights with Boeing 777-300ER aircraft from San Francisco to Shanghai on Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. Customers traveling from Shanghai will return to San Francisco on Mondays, Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays.

United will no longer be required to stop in Seoul. United offered more service to China than any other U.S. carrier prior to suspending service in February due to COVID-19. In 2019, United operated five daily flights between Shanghai and its hubs in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago and New York/Newark.

WestJet 787 Dreamliner now operating five-times weekly between Vancouver and Toronto

Canada-based WestJet and Vancouver International Airport announced Monday the airline's newest aircraft, the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, is now operating five-times weekly between Vancouver and Toronto. Vancouver joins Calgary and Toronto as another domestic destination served by the airline's award-winning aircraft.

"We are proud our signature aircraft is now flying non-stop service between two of Canada's major cities and two of our hub airports,” said John Weatherill, WestJet Vice-President Network Planning and Revenue.

WestJet is also operating Boeing 737 aircraft on three other non-stop daily flights between Vancouver and Toronto for a total of four daily flights, with the exception of Saturdays. On Nov. 5, the WestJet Dreamliner increases operations between Vancouver and Toronto to daily service.

The WestJet Dreamliner features 320 seats in three cabins: Business, Premium and Economy.

Friday, October 2, 2020

US Customs will use a helicopter to replace solar equipment on Mohawk Mountain

The battery bank that supplies power to the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) owned Tactical Communication site at Mohawk Mountain in Mohawk, Ariz., is beginning to show signs of failure. To avoid a complete site failure, CBP’s Office of Information Technology along with other agencies working with CBP are planning to replace the solar equipment.

Mohawk Mountain is in a remote location that requires helicopter transport for access by personnel and delivery of all materials, supplies, tools and equipment. Given the nature of the allowable work space and approved location for installations, the site has no additional staging area to support concurrent delivery of removals and installations. All deliveries are anticipated to be completed by single point lifts using a single hook up and single set down as no release or drop lifts are anticipated.

CBP is looking for a contractor to supply a helicopter to lift tools, equipment, and personnel up to the remote site that is located at Mohawk Mountain (Latitude 32.5900, Longitude - 113.6479). All lifts will be from a predetermined staging area or forward operating base (FOB) that will be used as the meet up location for transportation to and from the remote site and as the hook up location for all loads. The FOB is anticipated to be located at the following location: Marker Beacon 35 (Latitude: 32.605222, Longitude: ---113.773417). The FOB is accessed via a dirt road from Interstate 8. The contractor’s fuel truck is expected to park daily at FOB for refueling. Should the FOB change, it is anticipated that the location will not vary more than five miles away from the predetermined location. Local air restrictions may apply and will be the responsibility of the contractor to become familiar with local air restrictions and potential no fly zones/times. The contractor should note the site is mountainous where topography and winds can be highly variable an may impact approach vectors.

CBP will coordinate pre-clearance through the Barry M. Goldwater Range restricted airspace R-2301 and will inform contractor of any special transit procedures.

Multiple airlifts, of different payloads, will be required throughout the duration of the project to transport removals and installations to the remote site. The anticipated flight schedule is presumed to be four personnel flights (i.e. two in and two out) plus three to five flights for tools and equipment per day during Site Prep Activities and Site Clean Up activities.

The Period of Performance under the contract is anticipated to be a total of 32 days to complete all required meetings and performance objectives for helicopter lift services. The anticipated start date of helicopter lift services is Oct. 28.

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Third and final test aircraft joins Cessna SkyCourier program

The Cessna SkyCourier turboprop development program has achieved another significant milestone as the third and final flight test aircraft (P2) successfully completed its first flight on Monday. This maiden flight for the high-wing, large utility aircraft comes on the heels of the second test article (P1) completing its initial flight in August. The P2 aircraft is the second airframe configured in the passenger variant, and it will join two other aircraft in the flight test certification program, which to date have already accumulated 150 flight hours.

The Cessna SkyCourier aircraft is designed and manufactured by Textron Aviation Inc.

The first flight of P2, piloted by Todd Dafton and Caleb Quick, lasted 90 minutes, reaching a speed of 210 knots true airspeed (ktas) and an altitude of 15,000 feet. The aircraft will primarily be used to focus on avionics testing, flammable fluids testing, and the cold and hot weather testing in the climatic chamber at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida.

“We will soon be starting line production in Wichita as we move closer to getting the Cessna SkyCourier into the hands of our customers,” said Chris Hearne, senior vice president, Engineering & Programs.

The P2 and prototype aircraft both have the passenger configuration, including windows and escape hatches, while the P1 aircraft is configured in the freighter configuration.

The Cessna SkyCourier aircraft will be offered in various configurations including a 6,000-pound payload capable freighter and a 19-seat passenger version.

The aircraft feature the popular Garmin G1000 NXi avionics suite and a maximum range of 900 nautical miles.

Sunday, September 27, 2020

Palm Springs Air Museum adds F-117 Nighthawk to collection

On Oct. 3, a Stealth Fighter F-117 arrives at Palm Springs Air Museum, where it will be welcomed into the permanent collection. The museum is organizing a Stealth Fighter F-117 Exclusive Arrival Party to welcome the aircraft. Limited availability tickets are $117 each that includes boxed appetizers, beverage, meet and greet with a F-117 pilot, and commemorative t-shirts. The F-117 will be welcomed with a formal military retirement ceremony, including water arch. This will be the only chance to see this aircraft for many months. It goes into restoration and will not be seen for at least a year.

The Palm Springs Air Museum contains over 60 vintage aircraft from World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War contained in 86,000 square feet of open hangars and on the tarmac.

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Vintage warbirds plan flyover of Washington, DC, later this month

On Sept. 26, some 70 vintage aircraft will take to the skies over Washington, D.C. to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II. The Arsenal of Democracy Flyover will feature historically sequenced formations representing the war’s major battles – from the Battle of Britain through the final air assault on Japan.

More than 20 different types of vintage military aircraft are scheduled to fly in formations beginning over the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. The airshow is scheduled to begin at 11:30 a.m. EDT with planes flying in two-minute intervals over the skies of the nation’s capital. The commemoration is expected to last approximately 70 minutes.

As a principle organizer of this historic event, the Commemorative Air Force – the world’s largest flying museum – will send 18 warbirds from 13 units across seven states to participate:
  • B-29 Superfortress FIFI: One of only two B-29 Heavy Bombers still flying.
  • C-47 That’s All, Brother: Led the formation of 800 aircraft from which 13,000 U.S. paratroopers jumped during the D-Day invasion of Normandy.
  • P-51 Mustang Tuskegee Airmen: Long range fighter-bomber made famous by the inspirational stories of the African-American pilots who flew them.
  • B-17 Flying Fortress Sentimental Journey: Flew bombing missions over Europe throughout the war. One of only five B-17s around the world still actively flying.
  • T-6 Texan Nella: Flown by the Women Airforce Service Pilots – America’s first female military aviators and the “spiritual grandmothers” to today’s female pilots.

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Most popular posts for August 2020

1.) Introducing the Beechcraft King Air 360 - Textron Aviation ushered in the next generation of its legendary King Air turboprop family on Tuesday with the introduction of the Beechcraft King Air 360/360ER. [Full story]


2.) What happens when a drone gets ingested by an aircraft engine, FAA ready to conduct live test - The inclusion of large numbers of small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (sUAS) into the National Airspace System (NAS) may pose unique hazards to other aircraft sharing the airspace. [Full story]


3.) AS2 supersonic business jet to be built at new Florida research park - Space Florida is pleased to announce it has finalized a multi-million-dollar investment in Aerion Supersonic to accelerate the hiring of employees and development of the company's new state-of-the-art campus – Aerion Park – in Melbourne, Fla. [Full story]

4.) Second Cessna SkyCourier test article takes flight - Textron Aviation announced Tuesday the successful flight of its second Cessna SkyCourier flight test article (P1). [Full story]

5.) United Airlines adds new nonstop flights to four popular Florida destinations - United Airlines announced Tuesday plans to add up to 28 daily nonstop flights this winter connecting customers in Boston, Cleveland, Indianapolis, Milwaukee, New York/LaGuardia, Pittsburgh and Columbus, Ohio to four popular Florida destinations. [Full story]

DARPA and Air Force ready to launch hypersonic air-breathing weapon this year

The Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA) and the U.S. Air Force (USAF) announced Tuesday successful completion of captive carry tests of two variants of the Hypersonic Air-breathing Weapon Concept (HAWC) and are ready to proceed to first free-flight testing within the calendar year. The joint effort seeks to develop and demonstrate critical technologies to enable an effective and affordable air-launched hypersonic cruise missile.

HAWC contractors Lockheed Martin and Raytheon Technologies have each tested advanced air vehicle configurations that promise to achieve and sustain efficient hypersonic flight. Their upcoming flight tests will focus on hydrocarbon scramjet-powered propulsion and thermal management techniques to enable prolonged hypersonic cruise, in addition to affordable system designs and manufacturing approaches.

The HAWC program, since inception, has been executed as a joint program between DARPA and the USAF. In addition, DARPA is working in cooperation with military services and agencies, including the Missile Defense Agency, U.S. Navy, and NASA to validate, and eventually transition key technologies. The extensive flight data collected is intended to increase the confidence in air-breathing hypersonic systems and reduce the risks to potential future acquisition programs across the U.S. government.

In the 1990s, NASA developed an experimental unmanned hypersonic aircraft called the X-43. The first plane in the series, the X-43A, was a single-use vehicle, of which three were built. The first X-43A was destroyed after malfunctioning in flight in 2001. Each of the other two flew successfully in 2004, setting speed records, with the scramjets operating for approximately 10 seconds followed by 10-minute glides and intentional crashes into the ocean. Plans for more planes in the X-43 series have been suspended or canceled.

Monday, August 31, 2020

Every year the Army disposes of government property, including aircraft

The U.S. Army Contracting Command-Redstone on behalf of Program Executive Office, Aviation, Logistics, Black Hawk Exchange and Sales Team (BEST) Program, announced Monday they have another UH-60A Black Hawk helicopter up for sale.

“The following property is available for sale through negotiation at fixed prices,” the Army said in contract documents released Monday. A reasonable period of time not to exceed 15 days shall be given the buyer to indicate its desire to purchase the item and arrange satisfactory arrangements for payment, pickup, handling, and transportation charges. However, when more than one buyer has indicated interest in the item, the sale will be on a ''first-come, first-served'' basis. Payment must be made within 30 calendar days after purchase.

The Sikorsky UH-60A Black Hawk medium lift utility helicopter (S/N: 79-23343) is located at the BEST Aircraft Consolidation Facility in Huntsville, Ala.

Some 271 H-60 Black Hawk helicopters have been divested since the BEST program began in 2014 resulting in $230 million in revenue. The H-60A and L models are out of production but are widely used by U.S. civilian contractors, federal/state agencies and international customers. The BEST program allows other governmental activities, commercial firms and foreign governments to acquire used flyable aircraft, rapidly at an affordable cost.

Saturday, August 29, 2020

Air Force begins 'rapid research' to combat commercial drones used by adversaries

The Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), Information Directorate, in Rome, N.Y., has a requirement to provide a focused yet flexible, rapid, agile contracting vehicle between the AFRL, its products centers, and the operational community to support rapid research, development, prototyping, demonstration, evaluation, and transition of Counter small Unmanned Aircraft System (C-sUAS) capabilities.

“These capabilities are to be used in combating Commercial Off-The-Shelf (COTS) small Unmanned Aircraft Systems—and others leveraging COTS technology—presently being used by our adversaries in asymmetric warfare against U.S. military personnel and materiel,” the Air Force said in contract documents released in December. “Emphasis will be placed on: a) development of technology capability solutions that address specific user requirements; b) delivery of prototype technologies for evaluation and feedback in the context of the user’s operational environment; c) provision of a mechanism for user acquisition of limited product quantities required for operational introduction of technologies. Anticipated deliverables include software, hardware, technical documentation and technical reports.”

The government anticipates a single award Indefinite-Delivery, Indefinite-Quantity research and development contract with Cost-Plus-Fixed-Fee Completion Task Orders, an ordering period of 72 months, and a maximum ordering amount of approximately $490 million.

“In order to meet the users’ critical schedule to combat the UAS threat, and due to the required synchronicity and top level systems engineering between both the new capabilities to be developed and changes to fielded software baseline, this IDIQ is intended to be a single award,” the Air Force said in response to questions from contractors interested in bidding on the contract. The government anticipates a contract award in September.

Friday, August 28, 2020

Otto Aviation officially introduces the Celera 500L passenger aircraft

Otto Aviation is pleased to officially introduce the Celera 500L, the most fuel-efficient commercially viable passenger aircraft in the world. The full-scale prototype has completed 31 successful test flights that validate its operating performance goals. Otto Aviation currently holds seven patents, further contributing to the credibility and potential of the aircraft.

The aircraft has a maximum cruise speed of 450 miles per hour, a range of over 4,500 miles, a large stand-up cabin and an astounding fuel economy of only 18 to 25 miles per gallon. The dramatic reduction in fuel consumption makes the Celera 500L the most environmentally friendly airplane in its class and presents a major leap forward in the effort to develop a zero-emission air transportation system.

The manufacturing detail delivers cruise efficiencies unmatched by conventional aircraft while offering a clean-sheet design that will completely alter the way people and parcels travel.

“Our goal was to create a private aircraft that would allow for direct flights between any city pair in the U.S. at speeds and cost comparable to commercial air travel,” said William Otto Sr., chairman and chief scientist of Otto Aviation.

The Celera 500L offers a spacious stand-up cabin with six first-class seats and lavatory.

Otto adds, “Since the results from our prototype test flights have been so promising, we’re ready to bring the Celera 500L to market.”

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Textron delivers King Air 350ER aircraft to Victoria Police

Textron Aviation announced Tuesday it delivered a Beechcraft King Air 350ER aircraft to Australian aviation service company Skytraders, which will operate and maintain the aircraft on behalf of Victoria Police.

The Beechcraft King Air 350ER is designed and manufactured by Textron Aviation Inc.

The King Air 350ER will primarily support Victoria Police Air Wing and its team of Tactical Flight Officers, who lead airborne law enforcement, training, search and rescue, and extended offshore marine safety missions throughout the state of Victoria, Australia.

“By integrating the King Air 350ER into their fleet, Victoria Police Air Wing greatly enhances the capabilities of the professionals who respond to more than 5,000 taskings every year,” said Bob Gibbs, vice president, Special Mission Sales for Textron Aviation.

The custom-configured mission package for Victoria Police includes advanced mission management system, ground moving target indicator object detection, Tactical Flight Officer workstations, tactical radios, satellite communications and a data downlink. The extended range King Air is also fitted with optional factory installed Pratt and Whitney PT6A-67A engines.

Saturday, August 22, 2020

What happens when a drone gets ingested by an aircraft engine, FAA ready to conduct live test

The inclusion of large numbers of small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (sUAS) into the National Airspace System (NAS) may pose unique hazards to other aircraft sharing the airspace. It is necessary to determine the potential severity of sUAS mid-air collisions with aircraft in order to define an Equivalent Level of Safety to manned aviation.

Through H.R. 636 – FAA Extension, Safety, and Security Act of 2016, Section 2212, Unmanned Aircraft Systems – Manned Aircraft Collision Research, Congress mandated UAS research to determine the impact severity of ground and airborne collisions. The latest engine ingestion request from Congress came in September 2019 and aligns with the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) readiness to conduct the final research phase.

The project is titled, “High-Bypass Turbofan UAS Engine Ingestion Test,” according to contract documents released Friday. This project encompasses the final research phase which is a live engine ingestion test.

“Understanding the severity of the ingestion event is critical to be able to estimate the extent of damage encountered in a typical incident/accident,” the FAA said in a Performance Work Statement released Friday. “To aid in the longevity of the information gathered during this effort, high fidelity data gathering, instrumentation, and model validation is crucial for future FAA regulatory and policy development surrounding safe UAS integration (here throughout to include sUAS) into the NAS.”

The FAA Reauthorization Act of 2016 states that “in continuation of ongoing work, shall coordinate a program to conduct comprehensive testing or modeling of unmanned aircraft systems colliding with various sized aircraft in various operational settings, as considered appropriate by the FAA, including subpart (4)(D) Collisions between unmanned aircraft systems and various parts of an aircraft, including an engine.” Congressional Mandate, H. R. 636 – FAA Extension, Safety, and Security Act of 2016, Section 2212 states, “in testing and providing a final report detailing the overall risks associated with, and the underlying data and analysis for an actual UAS ingestion into a representative mid- to high-bypass gas turbofan engine of current commercial airliners.”

As sUAS become more prevalent in the NAS, proper integration is necessary to help prevent collisions between both unmanned and manned aircraft. In the final phase of this research, this work effort is intended to provide high-fidelity data from the actual ingestion of a market-representative sUAS into a commercial airline mid- to high-bypass gas turbofan engine, with a diameter of approximately 62 inches.

As sUAS operations become closer in proximity to manned aviation operations, specifically around airports, this effort will investigate the ingestion event representative of incidents occurring during the landing and takeoff phases of flight for a commercial airliner. This work effort is intended to identify the risks and recommend manufacturing best-practices for sUAS manufacturers, and inform the FAA on the potential outcome of an ingestion event.

This work effort is intended to identify risks and recommend solutions, or recommendations on the risks associated with UAS operating near commercial airliner engines, to the FAA that enable sUAS operations. This work effort will help the FAA by providing justification for operational limitations that can be used as inputs to FAA guidance and industry consensus standards relating to the use of sUAS near manned aircraft operations, specifically commercial airliner operations at airports. The work effort will also be immediately helpful for providing direction to FAA approvers for approving operations of sUAS that will take place near manned aircraft operations. sUAS operations need to have adequate standoff distances from flight obstacles and also avoid conflicts and collisions with manned aircraft (e.g. commercial airliners), specifically those sUAS that operate in the vicinity of an airport for operations such as runway inspections.

The FAA is working on a timeline to award contracts and move forward with the live ingestion test.