Thursday, June 16, 2022

Second Beechcraft Denali first flight

The second Beechcraft Denali flight test article performed its first flight recently as momentum builds for the aircraft’s certification program. The milestone flight follows the Denali prototype, which completed its first flight in November.

The Beechcraft Denali is designed and manufactured by Textron Aviation Inc.

The aircraft’s flight lasted two hours and one minute, reaching a max altitude of 15,500 feet with a max speed of 240 knots true airspeed. To date, the program has accumulated more than 250 flight hours.

“The aircraft will be used primarily for testing aircraft systems like avionics, cabin environmental control and ice protection,” said Chris Hearne, senior vice president, Engineering & Programs.

The Denali flight test certification program is expected to eventually include a third flight test article and three full airframe ground test articles as it expands operational goals focusing on testing aircraft systems, engine, avionics and overall performance.

Engineered to achieve cruise speeds of 285 knots and full fuel payload of 1,100 pounds, the Denali is designed to have a range of 1,600 nautical miles at high-speed cruise with one pilot and four passengers and to be able to fly from Los Angeles to Chicago, New York to Miami or London to Athens.

The Denali is the first aircraft powered with GE’s Catalyst engine.

The cockpit features the Garmin G3000 intuitive avionics suite with high-resolution and touchscreen controllers.

The Beechcraft Denali’s flat-floor cabin is designed to be the largest in its segment and offers the versatility to easily convert between passenger and cargo configurations.

Monday, June 13, 2022

NASA ready to design spacecraft for Geospace Dynamics Constellation

NASA is moving forward with plans to develop six observatories designed to study the local and global effects of the Sun’s activity on Earth's high- and mid- latitude regions with a launch in the late 2020’s.

The Geospace Dynamics Constellation (GDC) project intends to publish the draft spacecraft Request for Proposal (RFP) in August and the final spacecraft RFP approximately three months later, NASA said in contract documents released Monday. Proposals are expected to be due 30 calendar days after the release of the final RFP.

GDC is a mission concept to study the coupling between the magnetosphere and the ionosphere/thermosphere system, and how that coupled system responds to external energy input.

GDC will address crucial scientific questions pertaining to the dynamic processes active in Earth’s upper atmosphere; their local, regional, and global structure; and their role in driving and modifying magnetospheric activity, according to the project's website. GDC will be the first mission to address these questions on a global scale due to its use of a constellation of spacecraft that permit simultaneous multi-point observations. This investigation is central to understanding the basic physics and chemistry of the upper atmosphere and its interaction with Earth’s magnetosphere, but also will produce insights into space weather processes.

In April, NASA selected three investigation teams to join the GDC mission science team as well as five additional investigations that will be under consideration for inclusion in the mission.

The three GDC investigations selected for flight have a combined budget of $149 million to design and deliver their instruments to the mission.

“GDC will greatly increase our understanding of and ability to mitigate the effects of space weather,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for science at NASA Headquarters in Washington, D.C. “What we learn from GDC is both critical for missions in low-Earth orbit, and a critical ingredient for understanding orbital debris in that domain.”

Planned for launch no earlier than September 2027, GDC will orbit in the same altitude range as the International Space Station, approximately 215 to 250 miles above Earth.

Sunday, June 12, 2022

Aha! airline begins nonstop service between Reno and Idaho Falls in August

Travelers can replace a lengthy nine-hour drive or painful layover with a quick 95-minute nonstop flight between Reno and Idaho Falls once aha! starts service on Aug. 11.

Aha!, powered by Express Jet Airlines, announced the added nonstop service on Thursday.

Aha! will fly to Idaho Falls Regional Airport two times a week with 50-seat Embraer ERJ145 regional jets. With the addition of Idaho Falls, aha! will now serve 11 cities nonstop from its home base at Reno-Tahoe International Airport.

Flights will operate each Thursday and Sunday departing Reno-Tahoe International Airport at 7:40 a.m. arriving at Idaho Falls Regional Airport at 10:15 a.m. Return flights will depart Idaho Falls at 10:55 a.m. and arrive in Reno-Tahoe at 11:30 a.m.

"We are thrilled to offer eastern Idaho residents with the opportunity to explore the incredible gaming, dining, shows, and indoor/outdoor fun of Reno and Lake Tahoe without lengthy drives or layovers," said Tim Sieber, head of ExpressJet's aha! business unit, in a press release. "The easy access to Yellowstone, the Greenbelt, museums and other treasures will surely attract a lot of Reno residents to Idaho Falls."

Currently, aha! connects ten markets to its home base in Reno-Tahoe: Fresno, Ontario, Palm Springs and Santa Rosa Calif.; Eugene/Springfield, Medford/Ashland and Redmond/Bend, Ore.; and Pasco/Tri Cities and Spokane, Wash.