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.

Bureau of Land Management announces flight service contract in Alaska

The Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management, has a requirement for one contractor operated and maintained airplane for exclusive use utility flight services in support of fire and natural resource management activities and other government work, to include, but not limited to, aerial observation and passenger and cargo transport. All operations will be based at Fort Wainwright, Fairbanks, Alaska.

The aircraft shall be a single engine or multi-engine, turbine powered fixed wing aircraft. Additionally, aircraft must have Instrument File Rules/Visual Flight Rules capabilities, capacity to seat a minimum of five passengers with removable seats, have a payload of at least 1,000 pounds with 375 nautical-mile range and endurance of four hours, and have an airspeed of 160 knots true airspeed at 10 degrees Celsius at 5,000 feet, which are all minimum aircraft standards stated in the solicitation.

Environmental conditions during the exclusive use period will vary with snow packed, gravel and other prepared and unprepared runways.

The government anticipates awarding one Indefinite Delivery Indefinite Quantity firm fixed unit price contract. The contract will have an estimated five-year ordering period from April 1, 2021 through March 31, 2026. Once evaluations are complete, the exclusive use period for each year is estimated to occur on or around April 19th for 120 calendar days. The anticipated issue date of the solicitation is Sept. 4 with a projected closing date of Oct. 6.

Suburban Air Express, Inc., is currently providing services under contract D17PC00290. The existing contract is valued at $3 million.

Thursday, August 20, 2020

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.

A new development which will be powered by clean energy, Aerion Park will incorporate a new global headquarters and integrated campus for research, design, production and support of the company's supersonic aircraft. The new project represents a multi-year investment that is expected to generate at least 675 jobs in Florida by 2026.

"Florida has a rich history in the aviation industry from the first commercial air passenger service and it will now host production of the world's first commercial supersonic business jet,” said Frank DiBello, president and CEO of Space Florida.

Aerion will break ground on the new campus later this year and once complete, Aerion Park is expected to attract key aerospace suppliers within the supersonic technology ecosystem to bring business to Florida, creating additional roles for scientists, designers, engineers and aircraft builders.

"We are excited to partner with the State of Florida, Space Florida, Brevard County and the local Melbourne community to create a sustainable supersonic future," said Aerion Chairman, President & CEO, Tom Vice. “Backed by an excellent education system, a significant engineering and manufacturing talent pool, the right business climate with global access and the unique attributes of Orlando Melbourne International Airport, this is the ideal location for Aerion to continue our mission to build the global transportation networks of the future."

The AS2 supersonic business jet will be the first aircraft to be designed, built, and tested at Aerion Park. Designed to be inherently environmentally responsible from first flight, the AS2 is the first supersonic aircraft designed to be powered by 100% synthetic fuel and reach supersonic speeds without the need for an afterburner. Manufacturing is scheduled to commence in 2023.

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

United increases flight service between San Francisco and Shanghai, China

United Airlines announced Tuesday it will increase service to China from two to four weekly flights between San Francisco and Shanghai's Pudong International Airport via Seoul's Incheon International Airport. Beginning Sept. 4, United will operate four weekly 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, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays. Tickets will be available for purchase beginning Wednesday.

In July, United began operating twice-weekly service between San Francisco and Shanghai via Seoul. United was the largest U.S. carrier serving China prior to suspending service in February due to COVID-19.

Polish airline Enter Air orders Boeing 737-8 aircraft

Boeing and Enter Air announced Wednesday the Polish airline is expanding its commitment to the 737 family with a new order for two 737-8 airplanes plus options for two more jets.

An all-Boeing operator and Poland’s biggest charter carrier, Enter Air began operations in 2010 with a single 737 airplane. Today, the airline’s fleet includes 22 Next-Generation 737s and two 737 MAX airplanes. When the new purchase agreement is fully exercised, Enter Air’s 737 MAX fleet will rise to 10 aircraft.

Enter Air and Boeing have also finalized a settlement to address the commercial impacts stemming from the grounding of the 737 MAX fleet. While the details of the agreement are confidential, the compensation will be provided in a number of forms and staggered over a period of time.

“In the settlement with Boeing, we agreed to revise the delivery schedule for the previously-ordered airplanes in response to current market conditions,” said Grzegorz Polaniecki, general director and board member, Enter Air.

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Investors stacking silver stocks

Hecla Mining Company

Founded in 1891, Hecla Mining Company (NYSE:HL) is a leading low-cost U.S. silver producer with operating mines in Alaska, Idaho, and Mexico and is a gold producer with operating mines in Quebec, Canada and Nevada. The company also has exploration and pre-development properties in seven world-class silver and gold mining districts in the U.S., Canada and Mexico, and an exploration office and investments in early-stage silver exploration projects in Canada.

Highlights from Hecla's second quarter 2020 financial and operating results:
  • All mines in operation (non-U.S. mines had government-mandated shutdowns of less than a month).
  • Sales of $166.4 million, an increase of 24% over prior year period.
  • Silver production of 3.4 million ounces and gold production of 59,982 ounces.
"Despite the pandemic, Hecla had its second highest quarterly silver production since 2016 which, combined with higher prices, resulted in almost 25% more revenue than a year ago and generated about $27 million of free cash flow," said Phillips S. Baker, Jr., Hecla's president and CEO. “Hecla currently produces about a third of all the silver mined in the U.S., almost three times larger than the next primary producer. That number is expected to grow as Lucky Friday [mine] ramps up. As the United States' largest and oldest silver producer with America's largest silver reserve and resource, Hecla gives investors unique exposure to higher silver prices."

HL stock shares are up 305.92% over the past 52-weeks. This year alone shares are up 80.41%, closing Tuesday at $6.11 per share, down 3.10% for the day. HL has a 52-week low of $1.40 and a high of $6.79.

Pan American Silver Corp.

Pan American Silver Corp. (NASDAQ:PAAS) owns and operates silver and gold mines located in Mexico, Peru, Canada, Argentina and Bolivia. The company also owns the Escobal mine in Guatemala that is currently not operating. As the world's second largest primary silver producer with the largest silver reserve base globally, the company provides enhanced exposure to silver in addition to a diversified portfolio of gold producing assets. Pan American has a 26-year history of operating in Latin America, earning an industry-leading reputation for corporate social responsibility, operational excellence and prudent financial management. The company is headquartered in Vancouver, B.C.

"The global COVID-19 pandemic had a significant impact on Q2 results, with all our Latin American operations placed in care and maintenance mode for periods of time during the quarter. Except for our two polymetallic underground mines in Peru, all operations are now back in production under comprehensive health and safety protocols," said Michael Steinmann, president and chief executive officer. "With the updated guidance for 2020 that we provided today and rising precious metal prices, we are looking forward to strong cash flow generation over the remainder of 2020."

PAAS shares are up 114.70% over the past 52-weeks. This year alone shares are up 48.8%, closing at $34.91 on Tuesday, down 0.74% for the day. PAAS has a 52-week low of $10.61 and a high of $40.11.

Pan American paid a $0.035 dividend in August 2019 and November. The dividend was then increased to $0.05 per share and paid in March and May. A $0.05 dividend is planned in August.

Disclaimer: This post is provided for information purposes only and should not be used as the basis for any investment decision. I am neither licensed nor qualified to provide investment advice. Keith Stein has no position in any stocks mentioned in this post. DCNewsroom has no position in any of the stocks mentioned in this post.

Volaris launches nonstop flights to Mexico City from Ontario International Airport

Southern California's Ontario International Airport (ONT) announced Tuesday that Volaris will launch nonstop service to Mexico City (MEX), making the capital city the second Mexico destination reached nonstop from ONT.

Volaris will begin the ONT-MEX service Nov. 9. The new route will complement Volaris' existing ONT nonstop flight serving Guadalajara that began in 2014.

The approximately two-hour flight will operate with A320 equipment outfitted with 179 coach seats.

Announcement of the ONT-MEX services comes on the heels of airlines resuming nonstop flights to Chicago Midway and Houston Intercontinental earlier this month, marking the fourth straight month of flight increases for ONT since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ontario International Airport is the fastest growing airport in the United States, according to Global Traveler, a leading publication for frequent fliers. Located in the Inland Empire, ONT is approximately 35 miles east of downtown Los Angeles in the center of Southern California. It is a full-service airport which, before the coronavirus pandemic, offered nonstop commercial jet service to 26 major airports in the U.S., Mexico and Taiwan.

Monday, August 17, 2020

Harness the sun's energy and investment returns in this leading solar stock

Consistent research and development efforts to improve solar cell efficiency have yielded positive results for stock investors year over year. The increasing focus in the U.S. on green energy will see more and more power being produced from solar cells.

A new survey reveals American adults are eager to harness the sun's energy, with 70 percent saying they would support a nationwide mandate requiring solar panels to be installed on all newly built homes. The survey, conducted by CITE Research on behalf of Vivint Solar (NYSE: VSLR), also revealed significant others and environmental experts are the most influential when deciding to install residential solar for the good of the environment, while politicians are the least influential by far.

In 2013, the leading stock in the solar sector was Canadian Solar Inc. (CSIQ). Canadian Solar has provided good investment returns with the stock up over 90% since 2013. The whole solar sector is predicted to continue providing nice returns for the long-term investors, but we have a new leader.

Vivint Solar Inc.

Vivint Solar is a leading full-service residential solar provider in the United States. With Vivint Solar, customers can power their homes with clean, renewable energy and typically achieve significant financial savings over time. Vivint Solar designs and installs solar energy systems for its customers and offers monitoring and maintenance services. In addition to being able to purchase a solar energy system outright, customers may benefit from Vivint Solar's affordable, flexible financing options, including power purchase agreements, or lease agreements, where available. Vivint Solar also offers solar plus storage systems with LG home batteries.

Vivint Solar has installed solar energy systems on more than 160,000 U.S. Homes. With nearly a million new single-family homes built annually, if all of them took advantage of solar energy, it would be equivalent to driving 12 billion fewer miles a year or consuming 12 million fewer barrels of oil, according to David Bywater, CEO of Vivint Solar.

VSLR shares are up 214.84% over the past 52-weeks. This year alone the stock is up 244.78%, closing Monday at $26.10, up 4.48% for the day. VSLR has a 52-week low of $3.17 and a high of $27.00.

Disclaimer: This post is provided for information purposes only and should not be used as the basis for any investment decision. I am neither licensed nor qualified to provide investment advice. Keith Stein has no position in any stocks mentioned in this post. DCNewsroom has no position in any of the stocks mentioned in this post.

Boeing 777 Freighter joins Volga-Dnepr Group

A Boeing 777 Freighter joined the Volga-Dnepr Group fleet of aircraft on Monday, departing Paine Field in Everett, Wash. The fuel efficient twin-engine freighter will begin operations with AirBridgeCargo, a subsidiary of Volga-Dnepr. AirBridgeCargo will operate the airplane via a sale-leaseback agreement with Dubai Aerospace Enterprise.

Volga-Dnepr Group is among the world's largest Boeing freighter operators, flying 17 747 freighters and five 737 freighters, including 13 747-8F, four 747-400ERF, two 737-800BCF and three 737-400SF.

The 777 Freighter, which can fly 4,970 nautical miles (9,200 kilometers), can carry a payload of 224,900 lbs. (102,010 kg), more cargo capacity than any other twin-engine freighter. Of all production freighters, only the 747F and 777 Freighter are capable of carrying tall and outsized cargo loads on three-meter (10-foot) tall pallets. In addition, the 777F main deck side cargo door is extraordinarily wide at 3.72 meters (146.5 inches), giving that airplane outsized carriage capability beyond tall payloads.

Boeing provides more than 90 percent of the worldwide dedicated freighter capacity. Customers have ordered 231 777 Freighters since the program began in 2005. Volga-Dnepr becomes the 19th operator to date to use the large-capacity twin-engine freighter.

US military aircraft delivers COVID-19 supplies to South Africa

The U.S. government has delivered approximately $340,000 worth of personal protective equipment to the South African National Department of Health. The equipment, delivered via a military C-130 aircraft, consist of masks, gloves, medical gowns, and sanitizing supplies. The equipment is bound for Gauteng, Western Cape, Eastern Cape, and KwaZulu Natal, where it will benefit front-line health workers.

The United States Africa Command also announced that it is supporting the set-up of handwashing stations in Limpopo, Eastern Cape, and KwaZulu Natal, contributing $225,000 to this initiative. This brings the total value of U.S. support toward South Africa’s COVID-19 response to over $46 million.

On the occasion of the C-130’s arrival at OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg, U.S. Ambassador to South Africa Lana Marks told assembled media, “We are so proud of our growing partnership with South Africa’s National Defense Forces and our cooperation to ensure peace in the region.”

Sunday, August 16, 2020

Two stocks capitalizing on outdoor recreation trends

Vista Outdoor Inc. (NYSE: VSTO)

Vista Outdoor, Inc., is a leading provider of innovative outdoor products that enable customers to achieve rugged independence in the activity of their choice. Vista Outdoor operates in two primary business segments: Shooting Sports and Outdoor Products. Their portfolio includes well-respected brands designed to bring the world outside. The company's highly recognized brands include Federal Premium, CamelBak, Bushnell, Camp Chef, Primos, Blackhawk, Bell, Giro, Bushnell Golf, Primos, Eagle, RCBS, CCI, Speer and many others.

"We had an incredible start to our fiscal year, and we see continued strength going forward in both our Outdoor Products and Shooting Sports segments, with increasing participation rates across all of our categories,” said Vista Outdoor Chief Executive Officer, Chris Metz, in a company press release. “The hard work we have done over the past two years in building a nimble and profitable platform has enabled our brands to capitalize on these outdoor recreation trends. We are turning incremental sales growth into margin acceleration, higher quality earnings and strong cash flow, allowing us to further de-leverage our balance sheet.

"Going forward, we will continue to reinvest our improved cash flow in several areas, including enhancing the new product innovation pipeline within our market leading brands; pursuing acquisitions that deliver top line growth and earnings accretion within one year of purchase; and further expanding our e-commerce channels to make it even easier for consumers to buy our products wherever and however they shop."

VSTO stock shares are up 411.34% over the last 52-weeks. This year alone shares are up 218.05%, closing Friday at $22.55 per share, up 1.49% for the day. VSTO has a 52-week low of $4.29 and a high of $22.60.

Escalade Inc. (NASDAQ: ESCA)

Headquartered in Evansville, Ind., Escalade Sports  manufactures, imports, and distributes widely recognized sporting goods brands in basketball goals, archery, indoor and outdoor game recreation and fitness products through major sporting goods retailers, specialty dealers, key on-line retailers, traditional department stores and mass merchants. Escalade is a leader in table tennis tables, residential in-ground basketball goals and in archery bows.

"Following a strong first quarter performance, the company accelerated growth in the second quarter, delivering record sales and earnings,” said Scott Sincerbeaux, president and CEO of Escalade, Inc. “Despite continued challenges associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, our revenue grew 50.1%. Early in the quarter, our production facilities in Gainesville, Fla. and Rosarito, Mexico, experienced closures associated with the outbreak of COVID-19 and reopened with heightened health and safety protocols and we expect this to continue for the foreseeable future. We have proactively worked to ramp up domestic and international production to meet existing and anticipated future demand, while securing critical inventory to support ongoing trends in the marketplace. Our ability to react and accelerate manufacturing efforts is a meaningful reflection on the relationships we have with our partners across the globe. These essential steps will serve to support our key retailers and business partners as the country continues to reopen. The changing consumer landscape and return to home recreation and entertainment places us in a position to meet demand and our strong pipeline of product and industry leading innovation positions us for sustained growth now and into the future. We are making appropriate investments in talent and organizational structure as well as facility improvements and expanded supply chain capabilities. These investments will enable us to navigate the continued uncertainty in the marketplace, meet customer and consumer demand and pave the way for continued organic growth. My first three months as the new Chief Executive Officer of Escalade, Inc. have been educational and inspiring.  We are fortunate to have a talented team working together to accelerate growth at a critical time in our history.”

ESCA stock shares are up 83.80% over the last 52-weeks. This year alone shares are up 94.02%, closing Friday at $18.49 per share, down 1.07% for the day. ESCA has a 52-week low of $4.69 and a high of $19.96.

Escalade paid a $0.125 dividend in September, December, March and June. A $0.14 dividend is planned for September.

Disclaimer: This post is provided for information purposes only and should not be used as the basis for any investment decision. I am neither licensed nor qualified to provide investment advice. Keith Stein has no position in any stocks mentioned in this post. DCNewsroom has no position in any of the stocks mentioned in this post.

Coast Guard HC-130J Long Range Surveillance aircraft upgrades

The United States Coast Guard (USCG) HC-130J Long Range Surveillance (LRS) aircraft acquisition program has an approved acquisition baseline of 22 HC-130J aircraft. Each aircraft is procured from Lockheed Martin Aero as a baseline C-130J and missionized with the government developed Minotaur Mission System Suite (MSS+). Following missionization, a C-130J is designated HC-130J.

The Coast Guard currently has 17 HC-130J aircraft in either operational use or active production. “The USCG will receive new aircraft with the same baseline configuration as the previously delivered aircraft with the exception of changes made to mitigate Diminishing Manufacturing Sources and material obsolescence,” the Coast Guard said in contract documents released Friday. “Additionally, all C-130J aircraft will require Block Upgrade 8.1 modifications in order to maintain access to global airspace, enhance aircraft navigational accuracy, maintain commonality with the worldwide C-130J operational community, and reduce component obsolescence.”

The HC-130J’s capabilities lends itself ideally to protecting critical national infrastructure by reducing vulnerabilities, providing continuity of operations in the event of an emergency and providing surveillance capability for protecting maritime transportation systems. The USCG fleet of HC-130J aircraft is the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) largest airlift asset and can provide critical support to DHS partners in response to national events as well as logistical support during routine operations.

The Coast Guard is transitioning its entire LRS inventory of HC-130H aircraft to the HC-130J.  The aircraft and MSS+ line repairable units and software have commonality across multiple platforms within the Department of Defense and DHS. By leveraging same/like components and software programs, the USCG gains efficiencies in logistics support, purchase agreements and obsolescence mitigation.

“At this time, the USCG is only interested in information from contractors capable of performing the required spare parts procurements and modifications on up to three C-130J aircraft simultaneously as a prime contractor,” officials said in a Request For Information document released Friday.

The USCG anticipates an effort to modify up to six baseline C-130J aircraft to incorporate the MSS+ and all external sensors and communications equipment (integration). In this case, the project consists of installation, integration, and test of the complete complement of HC-130J MSS+, which includes the legacy belly-mounted radar, Electro-Optical/Infrared Sensors and INMARSAT systems.