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Boeing Is Planning To Build What Will Be The Ultimate City Connector

From Airline Ratings

boeing797_617By Geoffrey Thomas

Boeing is planning to build what will be a revolutionary new aircraft that will make it economically viable to literally connect hundreds of new non-stop routes between smaller cities.

At last week’s Paris Air Show, Boeing’s VP and general manager of airplane development, Mike Delaney gave a tantalizing glimpse of what air travel will become by late 2024.

The new aircraft that could be called the Boeing 797 but is now known at Boeing as the New Midsize Airplane will come in two models and seat between 220 and 270 passengers. It will fit between the single-aisle 180-230 seat Boeing 737 and the much larger and ultra-long range 250-350 seat 787.

What started out as a replacement for the Boeing 757, which seats between 239 and 280 and flies 4000nm (7300km),  has evolved into an aircraft with far greater capability and appeal.

Making the twin-engine 797 so special is the fact it is designed from the outset to serve medium-haul routes of up to 9,300kms and will cut fuel costs by 25 to 30 percent compared to the 787- itself the world leader in fuel economy.

Boeing says that there are 30,000 city pairs that are not connected and could be served economically with the 797.

In a twist, the 797 will be almost identical in size to two planes -the 7J7 and DC-11 - that were touted by Boeing and its legacy company McDonnell Douglas in the 80s and 90s.

In both cases, neither could close the business case because the market was not ready and in the case of McDonnell Douglas management balked at the investment. But that has all changed.

The challenge for airlines today is that Boeing offers the 180-230 seat 737 that can only fly economically for about six hours while the next smallest plane in the Boeing range is the 787 which been designed for much longer distances and thus carries a great deal of extra structural weight.

There is a similar - although smaller - gap in the Airbus range of planes.

The 797 will fit neatly in between and give airlines great opportunities to open new routes.

For the passenger, the 797 will be a giant step forward in comfort with a 2-3-2 configuration in economy, 1-2-2 in premium economy and 1-1-1 in business class.

The plane will be an all composite construction and feature a new generation of engine that promises unparalleled fuel economy and quietness. Boeing is well advanced in closing the business case and has discussed the aircraft with 57 airlines and the reaction has been enthusiastic.

Mr Delaney said that Boeing hopes to launch the plane late next year with first flight and certification in 2024 with delivery to airlines early in 2025. The 797 will have oval-shaped fuselage and be something like a 767 above the floor and a 737 below.

The company is willing to compromise on cargo space to reduce the profile, and thus drag,  of the aircraft.

It reasons correctly that cargo is not as big of a consideration on the largely secondary routes it will operate.

And Mr Delaney said “Boeing already knows what the production system will look and the assembly sequence and is already building parts for the aircraft in the computer.”

“We are trying to build the first few hundred in the computer – that’s the power of the digital world.”

This is all key to working out the exact cost to build and then closing the business case. And the chances of a go-ahead?

“I am very optimistic that we will close the business case,” said Mr Delaney.

And...... Then there is a differing view

How Airbus Can Kill The Boeing 797

From Leeham News and Comment

Airbus can kill the business case for the prospective Boeing 797, the New Midrange Aircraft also known as the Middle of the Market Airplane.

All it has to do is move first, instead of waiting for Boeing to launch the 797, something considered likely next year.

If Airbus launched what is commonly called the A322, a larger, longer-range version of the A321neo, the new version would become a true replacement for the Boeing 757, meet economics of the smaller 797, which has a working title of the 797-6, at a much lower capital cost.

Studies underway for some time

Airbus has been working on plans to enhance the A321neo (the A321neo-plus) and go even farther (the A321neo plus-plus) for nearly two years.

In an interview with LNC at the March 2016 ISTAT meeting, Airbus COO Customers John Leahy declined to comment whether aircraft tweaks will add some improvements to the current A321neo (which at the time hadn’t even flown) to further lower the fuel burn. He also demurred on speculating what an “A321neo-Plus-Plus” response to a 737-10 or Boeing MOM airplane might look like.

(Since then, as the 737-10 design settled in to a mere stretch of the 737-9, Airbus sniffs that it doesn’t have to do anything to respond to the latest 737.)

“Let’s wait and see what they do [about the NMA},” Leahy said a year ago. “I rather liken the situation we’re in with the 350 and 787. We watched what they did and then we had the luxury of sitting down and saying, ‘what should we do to add value?’

“Let them do whatever they need to do in the Middle of the Market,” Leahy said.

Iffy business case, so far

The business case for the 797 so far remains iffy. LNC believes Boeing “has” to do the airplane, because of the weakness of the 737-9 and 737-10, and the clear trend toward essentially abandoning the 787-8. This creates a huge product gap for Boeing.

But designing and building the 797-6 and 797-7 at a cost that will permit sales in the $70m-$80m range is problematic at best.

(The 797-6 is roughly the same size as the Boeing 767-200 and the -7 is about the size of the 767-300.)

Much of the business case appears to rest on tying aftermarket service contracts for maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) with 797 sales, LNC’s market sources tell us. Wells Fargo aerospace analyst Sam Pearlstein reported the same in a research note last month.

Furthermore, the market demand remains a question. Boeing now claims there is demand for about 5,000 airplanes in the MOM sector. If so, this could comfortably support Airbus and Boeing aircraft.

But others—LNC included—believe the market, while significant, is quite a bit smaller than 5,000.


The most commonly discussed entry-into-service for the 797 is 2024-2025, though LNC has heard it could slip to 2026. The EIS depends entirely on engine availability.

The engine needs to have 45,000-50,000 lbs thrust. CFM and GE Aviation would jointly produce one, said Safran in its recent earnings call. Safran is 50% owner of CFM, with GE owning the other 50%.

Rolls-Royce also said publicly it will compete with an entirely new engine.

Pratt & Whitney would offer a larger version of its GTF.

Since CFM and RR are pursuing entirely new engines, while PW would up-scale its GTF, PW may be in a position to provide Airbus with a powerplant for the A322 before CFM and RR could offer a new engine for the 797.

Getting the jump

Might Airbus be able to offer an A322 with an EIS two or more years ahead of the 797?

If so, launching the A322 sooner than later (and at a much lower cost will put Airbus in a position to capture the lower end of the MOM Sector. This will undermine the case for the 797-6—and this reduce the business case for the 797-7.

And this is how Airbus might kill the 797 before it gets off the ground.

Two more views:

CNN Money


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Irkut MC-21-300 Performs First Flight

From AIN Online

Inkut MC-21-300

By Gregory Polek and Vladimir Karnozov

The Irkut MC-21-300 narrowbody flew for the first time on May 28, carrying not only “Heros of Russia” crew commander Oleg Kononenko and copilot Roman Taskayev, but also the aspirations of Russia’s aviation industry to regain a measure of prestige not felt since Soviet times. Lasting only 30 minutes, the flight from the Irkutsk Aviation Plant airfield in Siberia took the 163- to 211-seat airliner to an altitude of 3,280 feet and a speed of 162 knots. The flight plan included aerodynamic stability and controllability checks as well as engine control tests, and the crew performed a simulated landing approach, followed by a pass over the runway and climbing and turning maneuvers.  

“This is not just a first flight of a new aircraft, but rather an advance of the product that will determine the shape of the Russian civilian aviation industry for the next 50 years,” said Yury Slyusar, president of Irkut parent company United Aircraft Corporation.

First flight came only two weeks after United Aircraft subsidiary Irkut announced first taxi tests at its Irkutsk airfield and nearly a year after the airplane’s rollout in the Siberian city last June 8. At the time, officials eyed Russian certification in 2018, although earlier plans to fly the airplane by the end of last year were dashed. During the rollout ceremony Russian prime minister Dmitry Medvedev referenced plans for first flight “within a year,” and UAC officials acknowledged that the previously quoted target might prove too optimistic. A UAC spokesman told AIN February 2017 appeared more realistic, but since then virtually all went quiet at Irkut, until this month’s taxi tests.

Powered by Pratt & Whitney PW1400G geared turbofans, the MC-21 features the widest fuselage of any narrowbody on the market, promising cabin comfort for full-service airlines and cost advantages for low-fare carriers, according to UAC and Irkut. The MC-21’s list price of $91 million suggests a 15 percent lower acquisition cost than that of the current A320.

Irkut claims that either the PW1400G or a Russian engine alternative—namely, the Aviadvigatel PD-14 now undergoing a second round of testing aboard an Ilyushin Il-76 flying testbed—will produce a 12- to 15 percent operating cost advantage over the current Airbus A320. Apart from the engines, the MC-21’s most radical advance centers on its carbon fiber wings, which take the airplane’s composite content to 30 percent. AeroComposit in Ulyanovsk, Russia, builds the wings using an out-of-autoclave resin transfer infusion process never before tried on a commercial aircraft. Both Airbus and Boeing use a more expensive process that requires an autoclave to cure their composite wings on the A350 and 787, respectively. Both of the MC-21’s chief competitors—the Boeing 737 Max and Airbus A320—use metal wings.

While UAC’s definitive plans call for that innovation to extend to the smaller, 150-seat MC-21-200, Slyusar suggested it has seriously revisited prospects for a larger version airplane in the form of the MC-21-400. At the time of the rollout, Slyusar said discussions on the larger variant could start in 2017, but that any decision would depend on what competition ultimately exists in the segment of the market the MC-21 would occupy, or the so-called “Middle of the Market (MOM).”

“We should take into consideration the plans of our colleagues; that’s why we [plan to] make a decision rationally,” he said.

In terms of production capacity, Irkut claims it could build as many as 72 aircraft a year in its newly refurbished and modernized final assembly hall in Irkutsk. While the company’s need—or ability—to deliver six airplanes per month won’t likely materialize for several years, the production plan satisfies the company’s projected demand for 1,060 MC-21s over the next two decades. Slyusar, meanwhile, expressed satisfaction with the early level of commercial interest in the product: so far the MC-21 has drawn firm orders for 175 airplanes.

Although Irkut and UAC claim they have received payments on all supply contracts signed so far, some of the intended customers say they will firm their “preliminary orders” after the first flight, or when the airplane demonstrates advertised performance during fight trials.

Sergei Chemezov, general manager of state corportation Rostec, expressed optimism about the export potential of the new jetliner, most notably in the developing markets of Southeast Asia, Latin America, India and the Middle East. Rostec has long projected a presence in those regions selling weapons and now wants to expand its footprint through civilian projects. “We are ready to render complete support to United Aircraft promoting the MC-21 to these markets,” said Chemezov.

Aeroflot expects to receive its first MC-21 from Rostec-controlled lessor AviaCapitalService in 2019. Other lessors and financial institutions committed to the project include Ilyushin Finance, VEB and Savings Bank of Russia, while only two Russian airlines signed direct contracts with the manufacturer: Nordwind for five jets and IrAero’s for 10. Holding a commitment for six MC-21-300s, Egypt’s Cairo Aviation stands as the only confirmed non-Russian customer for the airplane. Malaysia’s Crecom Burj Resources placed a tentative order for 25 airplanes at Farnborough 2010 that has yet to become firm. Other carriers that have indicated interest include Russia’s Red Wings, Azerbaijan Airlines and Air Tanzania.

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Boeing Halts 737 Max Flights on Cusp of Debut After Engine Fault

From MSN Money

737max_517By Julie Johnsson and Richard Clough

Boeing Co. is temporarily suspending flights of its new 737 Max jetliner because of a potential manufacturing flaw in the engines, marring the commercial debut for the fastest-selling plane in company history.

The jetmaker and its engine supplier, a venture of General Electric Co. and Safran SA, are rushing to understand the problem ahead of the aircraft’s first delivery, which remains scheduled for later this month. Boeing said a possible quality defect in the Leap engine’s low-pressure turbine discs was discovered during inspections and hadn’t affected flight testing of the upgraded 737.

The grounding added to concerns about the strain on suppliers as the U.S. manufacturer and European rival Airbus SE unveil new aircraft models while ramping up single-aisle production to record levels. Boeing is counting on a smooth start for the 737 Max, the newest version of a plane that is the company’s largest source of profit, as it seeks to boost cash flow.

“Investors are acutely focused on 737 Max ramp risk -- and the impact on cash,” Robert Stallard, an analyst at Vertical Research Partners, said in a note to clients.

Boeing fell 1.2 percent to $183.18 at the close in New York, the second-biggest decline on the Dow Jones Industrial Average, after adjusting for the beginning of trading without the right to a dividend. GE dropped 0.8 percent to $28.70.

First Delivery

The Max has accumulated 3,714 orders before its commercial debut but is still racing to catch up to Airbus’s A320neo. The latest 737 model is slated to be handed over this month to Indonesia’s Malindo Air and Norwegian Air Shuttle ASA. Other major customers with deliveries this year include Southwest Airlines Co. and American Airlines Group Inc.

The decision to halt flights was made “out of an abundance of caution,” said Boeing spokesman Doug Alder, adding that the plane completed flight testing months ahead of schedule.  “The step is consistent with our priority focus on safety.”

Rick Kennedy, a spokesman for GE Aviation, said about 30 CFM International engines will be inspected at sites in the U.S. and France. In the meantime, production will continue using discs from other CFM suppliers, he said. The issue doesn’t affect other versions of the Leap engine used on planes from Airbus and Commercial Aircraft Corp. of China Ltd., Kennedy said.

“This doesn’t look like a serious concern,” Cai von Rumohr, an analyst with Cowen & Co., said in a note to clients. The engine problem is “not a design shortfall but what appears to be an easily fixable sub-tier supplier component issue.”

Both CFM and rival Pratt & Whitney, which together make the bulk of engines for narrow-body commercial jets, have encountered faults as they’ve churned out turbines over the past year.

Pratt Delays

Airbus has fallen behind in deliveries of its A320neo family of aircraft as Pratt’s cutting-edge geared turbofan engine encounters durability issues and production snarls. Executives of Air Lease Corp., a Los Angeles-based aircraft lessor, warned during an earnings call last week that a CFM-powered model was also encountering delays.

CFM faces a steep production increase for the Leap, as Boeing and Airbus plot to increase narrow-body production by 33 percent through the decade’s end. After delivering 77 of the engines last year, 28 fewer than it had predicted, CFM has targeted producing about 500 Leap this year and about 2,000 in 2020.

“It’s important that this gets straightened out pronto,” Nicholas Heymann, an analyst at William Blair & Co., said of the engine issue. Bladed discs, located in the hot section of a turbofan engine, pull energy from the hot gases of the combustor to produce thrust. The components must be able to withstand extreme stresses and high temperatures inside the engine.

The Leap 1-B engines, created for Boeing’s Max, were repeatedly inspected during more than 2,000 hours in the air for the Max 8’s flight test program, which concluded during the first quarter, Alder said. The engine endured another 3,000 simulated flight cycles during testing that ended last month so the plane would be certified for long ocean flights.

Airline Impact

The impact on airline customers eager to show off the brand-new planes wasn’t immediately apparent. Boeing has several unaffected engines available that it could swap to avoid lengthy delays on initial deliveries, Alder said.

Malindo Air, an affiliate of Lion Mentari Airlines, had expected to take the 737 Max early next week, advertising that commercial service would begin May 19.

For Norwegian, also awaiting its first Max this month, the inspections “will result in a few days’ delay” but aren’t expected to disrupt the carrier’s new trans-Atlantic flights starting next month, spokesman Anders Lindstrom said in an email. The carrier had expected to take five more of the single-aisle planes in June.

Southwest and American said they hadn’t been notified of any changes to their Max delivery schedules. Southwest is the second-biggest customer for the Max after Lion Air, with 200 on order, while American has ordered 100 of the planes.

On-time delivery of Southwest’s Max planes is critical because the Dallas-based airline is counting on them to fill a gap when it retires its oldest aircraft on Oct. 1. Southwest is set to take delivery of its first Max in July, the airline’s chief financial officer said in January. American is scheduled to receive four Max aircraft this year, the first in the third quarter.

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Boom CEO sees market for 1,000 supersonic passenger jets by 2035

From Air Transport World


By Aaron Karp

Denver-based Boom Technology founder and CEO Blake Scholl believes the company’s first supersonic passenger aircraft can enter commercial service as soon as 2023 and there is a market for as many as 1,000 supersonic airliners to be delivered by 2035.

Speaking at the IATA Wings of Change conference in Miami, Scholl said $33 million in funding secured last month—bringing Boom’s total financing to $41 million—removes monetary obstacles for the company, enabling it to build and flight test the “Baby Boom” prototype that will be a precursor to the full-size Boom aircraft. The full-size aircraft will be able to seat up to 55 passengers in an all-business class configuration, according to Scholl.

The Baby Boom’s first flight is targeted for 2018, and the full-size Boom aircraft’s first flight is targeted for 2020 with a 2023 FAA certification goal. The Baby Boom, which is being built now, will be a third of the size of the planned full-size Boom aircraft.

“Finally, the funding is not the problem,” Scholl said. “$41 million is not enough to get all the way through certification, but enough to build the first Baby Boom airplane and prove that it works.”

Unlike the supersonic Concorde, which was so costly for airlines to operate that fares were largely unaffordable and led to its commercial demise, the Boom aircraft will be cost-efficient and affordable for passengers, Scholl said. “You could charge the same fares you’re charging in business class today and get the same margins or better,” he said.

The full-size Boom aircraft will be priced at $200 million each, Scholl said. Maintenance costs on the airframe will be “very similar” to other carbon fiber aircraft, such as the Boeing 787, according to Scholl. He conceded that engine maintenance costs will be higher, although he emphasized that the engine will be a modified version of today’s turbofan jet engines and not an exotic new design.

“None of this stuff is in a lab somewhere,” he said. “All of the technology being put into the Boom is flying on other aircraft today and the FAA knows how to approve it.”

Scholl said the Boom aircraft would be viable on 500 daily routes globally and is generating interest from airlines.

Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic has taken options for the first 10 full-size Boom aircraft, and Scholl indicated additional agreements with airlines could be announced by the end of this year. “We get a lot of excitement from airlines all over the planet,” he said. “Getting there in half the time is a real differentiator for airlines.”

Flying at a speed of Mach 2.2 over water (overland supersonic flying is currently prohibited by regulation in the US), the Boom aircraft could fly between New York and London in 3 hr. and 15 min.; between Miami and Santiago de Chile in 3 hr. and 48 min.; between San Francisco and Tokyo in 5 hr. and 30 min.; and between Los Angeles and Sydney in 6 hr. and 45 min. The transpacific flights would require a refueling stop since the aircraft’s nonstop range will be limited to 4,500 nautical miles.

Although Scholl said it would be “irrational” for Airbus and Boeing to launch a commercial supersonic aircraft program now, he believes the established aircraft manufacturers will ultimately get into the game. “Will Boeing and Airbus do this? Eventually they’ll have to,” Scholl said. “But I think a startup is uniquely positioned to do this initially.”

The overall market for a new supersonic passenger aircraft is “not quite” as large as the market for the 787, but it is “close,” Scholl said. He acknowledged that Boom will not be able to serve this 1,000-aircraft market by itself in the decade or so after the first Boom aircraft enters service. “Scaling production is going to be a challenge,” he said. “We’ll likely start with a lower-rate production capability and then ramp that over time.”

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160-Knot VTOL Flying Car Flown Says Company

From AvWeb

Flying Car_417

By Russ Niles

Lilium Aviation, of Munich, says it has flown a prototype of its all-electric VTOL tilt-engine aircraft that the company says will fly 160 knots in horizontal thrust configuration with a range of 180 miles. A video provided by the company of the first flight shows the aircraft, with what looks like a spacious automotive-style cabin, autonomously taking off vertically, turning tightly and transitioning to aerodynamic flight before landing vertically. There has been no independent confirmation that the video is an accurate rendition of the flight but if it’s all real then it appears some breakthroughs have been made by the company, which is reportedly backed by Skype co-founder Niklas Zennstrom. “We have solved some of the toughest engineering challenges in aviation to get to this point,” the company said in a statement. 

They call it a “jet” but it’s powered by 36 electric-powered ducted fans, 24 on rotating “flaps” on the wings and six on each of the tubular canards ahead of the cabin. According to some reports, the motors have a total of 430 horsepower and the main technological breakthrough is in the batteries. The company will have a chance to celebrate, and explain, its milestone at the Uber Elevate Summit in Dallas this week. CEO Daniel Wiegand will be a panelist at the eVTOL Developer Concept and Technologies discussion at the meeting.


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Startup Envisions Transoceanic Cargo Drones

From AvWeb

Natilus Drone

By Mary Grady

Natilus, a small company with just three employees, based in Richmond, California, is working to launch a transoceanic cargo business with airliner-size drones. They are currently building a 30-foot-long prototype that they plan to test this summer, according to their press kit. They then plan to produce a full-scale, 200-foot-long turboprop drone, built of carbon-fiber composite, by 2020. The design is fairly simple, since there is no need for a cockpit, or landing gear, or pressurization. The drone is designed to land and take off from the water, and motor up to a dock for loading. CEO Aleksey Matyushev said the vehicle would cost about one-tenth as much as a crewed freight aircraft, and transoceanic trips would cost about half as much as standard air freight.

Matyushev says he plans to launch an 80-foot-long production-ready vehicle with 40,000-pound cargo capacity for a launch customer in 2019, to fly a route between Los Angeles and Hawaii. The next step will be a 140-foot-long vehicle with 200,000 pounds cargo capacity, to fly between the U.S. and China by 2020. Since the drone won’t be flying in U.S. airspace, no FAA approval is required, he said, which simplifies the production process. The drone will land in international waters, about 12 miles offshore, and taxi into port under the control of a remote human pilot at speeds of about 30 knots.

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FAA Clears Hondajet For Icing, RVSM Flights

From Aviation Voice

Honda Jet 1/29/17One year after awarding Honda Aircraft an airworthiness certification, the US Federal Aviation Administration has cleared the Hondajet to fly into known icing (FIKI) conditions and use reduced vertical separation minima (RVSM).

The approval, dated 22 December, removes the only two operating restrictions imposed by the FAA on Hondajets delivered to customers.

The second revision to the Hondajet’s type certificate data sheet lifts means the five-seat business jet is allowed to fly in cloudy or rainy airspace, as well as take advantage of airspace controlled using RVSM procedures.

The FAA approval covers all Hondajets after the first 10 serial numbers, which were assigned to flight test duties.

Honda Aircraft designed the Hondajet to with an electromechanical decing expulsion system on the horizontal stabilisers and a bleed-air anti-icing system on the leading edges of the aircraft’s laminar flow wings.

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Spike Aero To Fly Subsonic Prototype of SSBJ This Year

From AIN Online

Spike Aero SSBJ

By Chad Trautvetter

Spike Aerospace expects to fly a subsonic prototype of its 18-passenger supersonic business jet (SSBJ) this summer, the Boston-based company announced today. The scale prototype of its S-512 Quiet Supersonic Jet will demonstrate low-speed aerodynamic flight characteristics. It plans to follow this with a series of larger prototypes and a supersonic demonstrator by the end of next year.

“We made a lot of progress in 2016 in engineering and with the addition of a number of engineers and partners,” said Spike Aerospace president and CEO Vik Kachoria. “Our plans for 2017 are even more exciting as we continue development of the Spike S-512. I’m looking forward to our first flight later this year.”

Spike Aerospace expects to certify its low-boom, Mach 1.6 SSBJ by 2023. Meanwhile, the company recently added several advisors with experience selling business jets in the U.S., Canada, Europe and the Middle East. Target price of the S-512 is somewhere between $60 million and $80 million.

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Cirrus Delivers First Vision Jet

From AIN Online

Vision Jet

By Mark Phelps

Cirrus celebrated the delivery of its first Vision Jet on Monday, simultaneously taking the wraps off its new 68,000-sq-ft “finishing center” in Duluth, Minnesota. Accompanied by his wife and six children, customer Joe Whisenhunt, a commercial real-estate developer from Arkansas, pocketed the keys to the single-engine personal jet in a ceremony attended by close to 800 Cirrus employees and local dignitaries. Cirrus Aircraft CEO Dale Klapmeier said, “Most of you have seen Joe around. This is Cirrus number 11 for Joe.”

Whisenhunt said the jet, in Corso Red Vitesse design, “will extend our range and help us reach more regions for our business. It will cut a lot of our trips in half.” Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Rep. Rick Nolan (D-Minn.) attended the ceremony. Both celebrated the recent release of the revision of FAA’s Part 23, streamlining the pathway to innovation for companies such as Cirrus, they said.The lawmakers were part of the congressional effort to press for Part 23 reform. Cirrus reported a current backlog of some 600 Vision jets.

Whisenhut’s daughter recently soloed in a piston-powered Cirrus SR22, and intends to earn her private pilot certificate, instrument rating and possibly a Vision Jet type rating. Her father said during the ceremony, “Duluth is where my heart is.”

In 18 months, employment at Cirrus in Duluth has increased from 600 to almost 800. Plans call for adding 70 more in the coming months. Cirrus’s Grand Forks, North Dakota manufacturing facility has 200 workers and is growing. The new “Vision Center” customer service facility in Knoxville, Tennessee, will expand its workforce from the current 35 workers to nearly 100 over 2017, according to Cirrus.

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Airbus’ A350-1000 vs. Boeing’s 777-300ER

From Airline Geeks


Beyond The One Inch Length Difference:

By Parker Davis

In 1986, Boeing announced plans for a stretched version of the Boeing 767, tentatively coined as the Boeing 767-X, which would retain many of the elements of the standard 767, but would expand and lengthen the fuselage. Airlines, however, were unimpressed, wanting a wider fuselage and a lower operating cost than the 767. As a result, Boeing was forced to turn away from a likely 3-engine design to a twin-engine configuration. Soon after, on Dec. 8, 1989, Boeing began accepting orders for the newly named Boeing 777’s first generation, the 777-200. The newest and thus far most ordered variant of the 777, the Boeing 777-300ER, made its first flight on Feb. 24, 2003. The first delivery of the new “Extended Range” aircraft went to Air France, ILFC on Apr. 29, 2004.

In 2004, Airbus announced their plans to create a new aircraft to replace their aging Airbus A340s and to compete with Boeing’s 777 and their relatively new 787. After airlines rejected redesigns of the A330, the manufacturer announced they would create an entirely new aircraft type known as the Airbus A350XWB. Before production began, Airbus announced plans for multiple variants, including the -800, -900, -900ULR, and -1000. The first A350-900 prototype took flight in June 2013, and the first delivery went to Qatar Airways on Dec. 22, 2014. After customer demand for the -800 diminished, with many airlines switching their orders to the A350-900 variant, production began on the first prototypes for the -1000 variant. The first completed body of the new variant rolled out of the factory on Apr. 15, 2016. Finally, the first prototype took flight Thursday at Airbus’ principle factory in Toulouse France, setting in motion the aircraft that could be the nearest competitor to Boeing’s 777-300ER.

The two aircraft variants, each the “latest and greatest” of their respective types, bear one striking resemblance: the 777-300ER has a length of 242 ft. 4 in., while the A350-1000 has a length of 242 ft. 3 in., a difference of only one inch. That remarkable similarity raises the question: if their lengths are so similar, what exactly makes these two aircraft different from one another?

The Dimensions

Other than the length, the wingspan of the two aircraft is quite similar. The 777-300ER stands wider, with a wingspan of 212 feet 7 inches, but the A350 is close behind, with two inches less from wingtip to wingtip. The 777 is also taller, measuring 60 feet 8 inches to the top of the tail, almost three feet taller than its French competition. Cabin width is another key measurement, often determining how many seats will be added within the aircraft. The 777-300 takes the cake here with a distance of 19 feet 2 inches from wall to wall. The A350, on the other hand, measures 18 feet 5 inches, nearly 9 inches narrower than the 777 variant. Airbus also says their jet is 30 tons lighter than its American-built counterpart, which helps it to be 25 percent more cost-efficient, though no exact numbers exist on that front.

Even though Boeing’s biggest twin-engine jet is slightly larger than Airbus’, the differences are minuscule, less than 5 percent in terms of height and .04 percent in their lengths. In the end, it is highly unlikely passengers will be able to easily discern the difference solely in the cabin width, but these simple measurements show the similarities between the two aircraft.

Capacity and Passenger Comfort

Both aircraft allow airlines to dream up new and exciting first and business class concepts, but in hindsight, the majority of passengers will be seated in the back of the airplane. Airbus states that the capacity of the A350-1000 in “typical” configuration is 366 seats, while Boeing states the 777-300ER can hold 365 in a standard configuration.

Almost all airlines have transitioned to 10-abreast seats in economy on the 777-300ER, leaving many passengers squished in the new 17.5-inch seats. No airlines, however, have yet passed nine per row on the A350-900, which has the same cabin width as the -1000 variant. With the slightly smaller cabin, seats in that configuration on the A350 generally are 18 inches wide.

The A350XWB, like Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner, is pressurized to a lower altitude than the majority of commercial jets today. The aircraft is pressurized to only 6,000 feet, while the 777-300ER’s cabin pressure, like most other non-composite airliners, generally sits around 8,000 feet when airborne. This difference can certainly allow passengers to arrive at their destinations feeling refreshed and rested.

Range and Routes

The 777-300ER has a maximum range of 7,370 nautical miles, the second highest of any 777 variant behind only the 777-200LR. The longest route currently flown by a 777-300ER is Saudia’s Jeddah to Los Angeles route, which measures 7,240 nautical miles on a line, a mere 130 nautical miles less than the plane’s published maximum range. The A350-1000, on the other hand, has a published maximum range of 7,990 nautical miles with passengers and baggage, 620 more than the 777-300ER.

In theory, that means the aircraft could operate the longest route in the world: Emirates’ Dubai to Auckland flight, which stands at 7,668 nautical miles. However, the A350-900 has a published maximum range 110 nautical miles higher than that of the A350-1000. Even then, it was speculated the A350-900’s longest flight, more than 800 nautical miles less than the aircraft’s published maximum range, would have to be weight restricted in the westbound direction.

The A350-1000 actually has one of the shortest ranges of all A350 variants, paling in comparison to the 20,000 nautical miles range of Airbus’ ACJ350, Airbus’ business jet version of the A350, based on the A350-900ULR. Anyhow, a higher maximum range allows airlines to open more doors to their route networks, keeping the world’s passengers traveling farther and faster and eliminating any problems that may come with connecting flights.

Both the A350-1000 and 777-300ER are pushing the bounds of what twin-engine aircraft can be and do. They are the largest of their type, guzzling less fuel than their bigger four-engine counterparts, while still delivering hundreds of seats worth of capacity.

Currently, there are 195 orders for the A350-1000 and 810 orders for A350 aircraft as a whole, while the 777-300ER has 809 orders in its time, and 1902 orders for the entire program. Despite their already higher order number, Boeing already responded to the A350-1000’s release, announcing their 777-X program in 2013. Two of those aircraft will carry over 400 passengers, approaching passenger numbers of their own 747 aircraft. Airbus has not announced plans for anything that could bridge the gap between the capacity of the A350-1000 and the A380, which is capable of seating 850 people in an all-economy class configuration. Airbus’s CEO Fabrice Bregier told USA Today that his company isn’t ready to push for another large aircraft, saying, ““It’s much too early today, and I’m not convinced that there will be a large market,” Bregier said. “We would look at the market and the business case. And I can tell you we’re far away from that.”

Passengers really cannot lose in this situation. As competition between the A350 and 777 arises, the manufacturers will strive to make their aircraft better than they ever have been before. Now, no connection is necessary to fly distances that could have taken five or more different legs years ago. On top of that, Boeing has said the 777-X will have the same technology as the A350 and 787, allowing the cabin to be pressurized to a lower altitude, which is just another example of how the manufacturers are looking to better the customer experience.

Competition is harsh between Airbus and Boeing, neither missing a chance to subtly insult the other’s aircraft or methods. Both manufacturers, however, feel they have accomplished their goals, at least to this point, with their current programs, with Bregier even telling USA Today, “What we wanted has been achieved,” before the A350-1000’s first flight on Thursday. Though they may revel in their glory for a short time, the fruits of their labors will be able to impact their customers for decades to come.

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Gulfstream Continues Sonic-boom Mitigation Research

From AIN Online

Gulfstream Quite Spike

By Chad Trautvetter

Gulfstream Aerospace continues to pursue technologies that would enable building a supersonic business jet (SSBJ). The company has logged two new patents for sonic-boom mitigation technologies in the past two months alone. Queried about the new patents, a company spokeswoman stated, “Gulfstream has a small team committed to researching sonic-boom mitigation. We also continue to work to remove the ban on flying supersonically over land.”

The Savannah, Georgia-based aircraft manufacturer’s most prominent research in this field is its Quiet Spike, a telescoping nose meant to greatly reduce or possibly eliminate the sonic boom. It has previously tested the Quiet Spike on a NASA F-15.

The company, however, previously noted that the engine inlet is also a major factor in reducing sonic boom noise. On this note, Gulfstream received a patent on November 1 for a “sentropic compression inlet for supersonic aircraft,” which shapes “the compression surface of the inlet to defocus the resulting shocklets away from the cowl lip.” This improves inlet and interference drag characteristics, according to the patent.

Gulfstream has also developed a way to shift fuel loads to mitigate the sonic boom. In a patent issued on September 20, its engineers outline a computerized fuel redistribution system “to adjust an amount of fuel stored within a wing to minimize a twist in the wing caused by the [weight] deviation.” Such redistribution will reduce the magnitude of the sonic boom caused by the deviation, the patent notes.

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Boom Technology Unveils Supersonic Demonstrator

From Aviation Voice

Boom SST

Boom Technologies expects to start subsonic flight tests of its XB-1 supersonic demonstrator in late 2017. The engineering design was unveiled at the company’s Centennial airport facility in Denver, Colorado, on November 15.

Dubbed “Baby Boom,” the delta wing aircraft is a one-third scale demonstrator for a small supersonic airliner which Boom aims to certificate for commercial service by 2023. The XB-1 is 68 ft. long and powered by three 3,500 lb. thrust, non-afterburning General Electric J85-21 engines which are configured with specially developed variable geometry inlets and exhaust systems.

Designed to operate at Mach 2.2, and with a range of more than 1,000 nm, the 17 ft. span XB-1 is intended to pave the way for the follow-on development of a full-scale supersonic trijet transport seating 45 passengers in standard configuration, and up to 55 seats in a higher-density layout.

Constructed primarily of lightweight composites, the XB-1 is configured with a two-crew cockpit, a chined forebody and swept trailing edges. The XB-1 has a maximum take-off weight of 13,500 lb.

The Boom concept is targeting affordable supersonic travel by using a collection of structures, aerodynamic and propulsion technology that was not available when the Anglo-French Concorde, the world’s first operationally successful supersonic airliner, was developed in the 1960s.

While the engineering design will be used to check equipment and systems layout and installation, the “flight-ready airframe is under construction now and will fly in late 2017,” says Boom. Following the expansion of the subsonic flight envelope over Colorado, supersonic flight tests will take place in restricted airspace near Edwards AFB, California, likely beginning in 2018.

Testing will be undertaken in partnership with The Spaceship Company (TSC), the Mojave-based manufacturing arm of Virgin Galactic which has taken options on the first 10 passenger-carrying aircraft. Virgin founder Richard Branson says the decision to work with Boom was “an easy one.” TSC, will “provide engineering and manufacturing services, along with flight test support and operations as part of our shared ambitions.”

Unlike a new generation of supersonic business jets and a NASA X-plane in development, the small airliner is neither a low-boom or lower Mach number design. Instead, the delta-winged Boom design is intended to rely on a 10% higher speed than that of Concorde to achieve high utilization and shorter sector times on 4,500 nm. routes, most of which will be flown over water. If successful, Boom’s airliner will fill a gap in the air transport industry that has been unfilled since British Airways retired the final Concorde in 2003.

The initial design of the full-scale aircraft has meanwhile settled with an overall length of 170 ft. and span of 60 ft. and differs in several key areas from the XB-1. The airliner variant will be configured with podded engines mounted close inboard and flush with the underside of the delta wing, and will feature a dedicated inlet for the tail-mounted engine with intakes mounted either side of the fuselage. The XB-1, on the other hand, has only two fighter-style rectangular supersonic inlets which are mounted below the wings alongside the fuselage. These inlets also feed the buried inlet for the tail engine via bifurcated ducts.

To augment the limited pitch stability of the XB-1’s very small slender delta wing, the demonstrator is also configured with sharply swept horizontal stabilizers, or strakes, which are mounted low on the engine nacelle, directly aft of the wing trailing edge.

The full-scale aircraft is designed with a larger area delta wing and, like Concorde, does not have canards or tail-mounted strakes or stabilizers.

The Silicon Valley-backed startup is supported by a range of entrepreneurs, venture capital firms and investment groups including 8VC, RRE Ventures, Lightbank and Y Combinator as well as angel investors such as computer scientist Paul Graham and Kyle Vogt, a robotics innovator whose self-driving car tech company was recently acquired by General Motors.A

Source: aviationweek.com

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Uh...... Boeing Uh...... Airbus

From Aviation News

new_kidA mock-up of a wide-body passenger aircraft jointly being developed by Moscow and Beijing has been presented at Airshow China. The new plane is expected to challenge the Airbus-Boeing duopoly.

Manufacturers Russia’s United Aircraft Corporation and Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (COMAC) have announced the start of the search for suppliers. They didn’t provide any details on financing or technical specification.

“We will choose suppliers who have rich experience in development, whose products are competitive globally, and who can continually guarantee quality from the development stage until the planes go into operation,” Guo Bozhi, general manager of COMAC’s wide-body department told Reuters.

US firms Honeywell and United Technologies Corporation have reportedly discussed the jet with COMAC officials at the air show.

The Russia-China joint venture will start this year, according to Guo. The firms plan a maiden flight in 2022 and deliveries to begin in 2025 or later.

“A wide-body jet is an extremely complicated product, which will require a lot of skills (to develop) and require broad industrial knowledge,” Guo told reporters. “China and Russia each have their own advantages.”

The memorandum on the creation of a new airliner was signed in 2014 during President Vladimir Putin’s visit to China. It is part of a $13 billion aviation cooperation deal.

The basic version of the aircraft will have 250-280 seats and a range of 12,000 kilometers.

The plane will be developed in Russia and assembled in China. It will be based on the Russian-designed IL-96, and will have two engines instead of four.

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said in June the construction of a heavy-lift aircraft engine for the plane has already started.


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Good Job UPS!!!

From Aviation Voice

UPS 747-8

Boeing announced an order for 14 747-8 Freighters. The agreement also includes an option to purchase an additional 14 of the cargo airplanes.

“These aircraft are a strategic investment for increased capacity for UPS customers around the globe,” said Brendan Canavan, president, UPS Airlines. “The 747-8 will allow UPS to upsize our network in both new and existing markets.”

The 747-8 Freighter is the world’s most efficient freighter, providing cargo operators the lowest operating costs and best economics of any large freighter on the market. With its iconic nose door, the airplane has 16 percent more revenue cargo volume than the 747-400F. The airplane also reduces the noise footprint around an airport by 30 percent compared to its predecessor.

"UPS could not have selected a better aircraft to meet its growing business needs,” said Brad McMullen, vice president, Sales, North America and Leasing, Boeing Commercial Airplanes. “We’ve continued to make the 747-8 Freighter even better, and we look forward to seeing UPS introduce it to its fleet.”

With 109 747-8 passenger and freighter airplanes delivered to customers around the globe, the fleet is performing with the highest dispatch reliability and utilization of any four-engine airplane in service.

UPS is a global leader in logistics, offering a broad range of solutions including transporting packages and freight; facilitating international trade, and deploying advanced technology to more efficiently manage the world of business. Headquartered in Atlanta, UPS serves more than 220 countries and territories worldwide.

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Rolls-Royce makes initial run of UltraFan gearbox

Fro Air Transport World

Rolls-Royce Engine Gearing

By Alan Dron

UK-based engine manufacturer Rolls-Royce has run what it describes as the world’s most powerful aerospace gearbox for the first time. The gearbox will be fitted to its planned new UltraFan engine.

UltraFan, the newest model in the manufacturer’s Trent range of engines, is planned to enter service in the middle of the next decade and will deliver fuel economies of 25% compared to early Trent models, the company said.

Rolls-Royce is partnering Liebherr-Aerospace, through their Aerospace Transmission Technologies joint venture, to develop manufacturing capability and capacity for the new gearbox. Rolls-Royce leads the design definition and design integration of the component, as well as testing activities.

The first run of the Rolls-Royce Power Gearbox (PGB) took place at the company’s facility in Dahlewitz, Germany. Future testing will see the gearbox reach up to 100,000 horsepower.

“This is another significant step in bringing our future technology to life,” Rolls-Royce chief engineer and UltraFan Technologies program head-Civil Aerospace Mike Whitehead said.

“We launched the UltraFan design in 2014 and now we are putting our new infrastructure to work to turn it into reality.”

The new gearbox will enable the engine to offer efficient power over a wide range of takeoff thrusts.

Its first run took place on the company’s Attitude Rig, which allows engineers to simulate the effects of the gearbox climbing after takeoff, landing approach or banking while in flight. The company said the initial run confirmed rig dynamics and oil system functionality at low pressures and speeds.

Further testing will take place by the end of the year to provide additional data on low-power, high-speed combinations at various pitch and roll angles and at different simulated altitudes. High power testing will take place next year on the PGB Power Rig, where the gearbox will reach full power.

UltraFan’s design features will include a new engine core architecture, carbon/titanium fan blades and a composite casing to reduce weight, advanced, heat-resistant ceramic matrix composites and a new geared design to deliver efficient power for future high-thrust, high-bypass ratio engines.

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Airbus Offers a Peek at Its Flying Taxi

From Aviation Voice

Airbus Vahana

European aerospace giant Airbus has quietly lifted the curtain on an ambitious Silicon Valley project called Vahana.

It’s a pilotless passenger aircraft that aims to someday add a vertical component to your commute.

Think of Uber-like air taxis that can beat the traffic on Highway 101 by flying over it.

Airbus has shared few details about the aircraft, but recently posted its first conceptual renderings on a Medium blog.

The drawings depict a craft that can take off and land vertically. It has helicopter-like struts, and two sets of tilting wings each with four electric motors. There’s room for a passenger under a canopy that retracts like a motorcycle helmet visor.

Airbus, a rival of American icon Boeing, is best known for its large jetliners like the double-decker A380. But it’s also pouring big money into the future, and holds an advantage that many aviation startups with radical concepts don’t have: Experience and funding.

It is developing Vahana through its A3 unit, which formally opened this year in San Jose, the heart of California’s tech community. Airbus made an initial $150 million funding commitment for A3 (pronounced “A-cubed”).

Vahana grows out of that seed funding.

The aircraft we’re building doesn’t need a runway, is self-piloted, and can automatically detect and avoid obstacles and other aircraft,” A3 chief executive Rodin Lyasoff wrote in September. “Designed to carry a single passenger or cargo, we’re aiming to make it the first certified passenger aircraft without a pilot.”

The project hopes to fly a full-size prototype by the end of 2017 and eventually have something it can sell by 2020, Lyasoff wrote.

For sure, commercial or passenger use of such a machine faces significant hurdles, including a lack of established standards for electric planes and any aircraft that doesn’t have pilots.

Airbus isn’t the only manufacturing industry pillar to explore new areas of mobility. Car-makers Toyota and Honda have sought to expand into aviation. Honda delivered its first private jet in 2015 after three decades developing new aerospace technology.

Airbus is trying to tap into a nascent, but fast-growing, field: the use of battery-powered electric propulsion technology to enable on-demand services.

In this case, the vision is for air taxis that use “urban airways in a predictable and controlled manner,” wrote Lyasoff.

Airbus announced last year that one of Vahana’s first projects would be a collaboration with Uber to prove a new business model for helicopter operators. NASA, too, is investing heavily in researching electric propulsion and plans to fly its own design, the X-57, in 2018.

Of course, flying taxis that don’t have pilots pose some tricky safety issues. Airbus says that “sense and avoid” technology will be used to prevent midair collisions, and a ballistic parachute would deploy if a craft’s engines malfunction.

Airbus has intentionally separated A3 from the rest of its manufacturing operations in Europe, China and the U.S. Unlike its buttoned-up parent, A3 has hallmarks of a Silicon Valley startup: It has a recruiting profile on its website for “Jane Jackalope” — a job listing for an executive who is a “jackalope of all trades.”

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Arnold Palmer Flew, Set Records in Learjets Before Turning to Cessna

From Aviation Pros


By Jerry Siebenmark

Arnold Palmer may have elevated golf into the mainstream, but he was just as important to Wichita's aircraft manufacturers and the business and general aviation industries.

Palmer, who died Sunday at 87, was the first customer to take delivery of Cessna's Citation X in 1996 -- and an upgraded version of the super midsize jet in 2002 -- and on occasion he could be found at Cessna's booth at the National Business Aviation Association's annual convention as well as at the company's customer conferences.

In all, Palmer owned seven Citation business jets in his lifetime: a Citation 500, a Citation II, two Citation IIIs, a Citation VII and two Citation Xs.

More importantly, he became a strong advocate for business and general aviation, former executives said Monday.

Before Palmer was a Cessna customer, he was a Learjet customer. Palmer acquired his first Wichita-built business jet in 1968, a Learjet 24.

That year was retired advertising executive Al Higdon's first of several encounters with the golfing legend.

Palmer agreed to appear in a print advertisement for Learjet, and Higdon and a photographer traveled to Orlando, Fla., to meet with him.

"He looked you in the eye" when he talked to you, and "you felt you were one of the more important guys in the world at the moment," said Higdon, who was Learjet's director of public relations and later was a consultant to the company as a principal at Sullivan, Higdon & Sink. "He was just a guy who had no airs about him at all."

The second encounter was in 1976, when Palmer was one of a crew of three -- along with Learjet company pilots Jim Bir and Bill Purkey -- who set a business jet record in a Learjet 36 for an around-the-world flight in less than 58 hours.

Higdon said Palmer's switch to Cessna Citations was inevitable. That's because the young Cleveland attorney who handled the Learjet 24 transaction on Palmer's behalf was Russ Meyer, who in 1974 joined Cessna and later became the company's president, CEO and chairman.

"Clearly, Learjet hated to lose him as an iconic customer," Higdon said. "So when he did make the switch, it was a matter of time. Russ' and Arnold's roots run deep."

Jack Pelton got to know Palmer during his tenure as Cessna's CEO, from 2003 to 2011.

Pelton, now chairman and CEO of the Experimental Aircraft Association, said Palmer was an advocate for general aviation, including in the fight against user fees and as a "generous supporter of EAA financially."

"He was also pretty convincing if you were thinking about using general aviation for business purposes," Pelton said.

At Cessna, Palmer indirectly helped the company sell airplanes.

"He was not just an insider pitching (aviation) but somebody who lived and breathed it," Pelton said. "Aviation was a pure love of his.

"We were really, really fortunate in our industry to have someone as iconic as Arnie."

The National Business Aviation Association said Monday that it was dedicating its 2016 convention and exhibition in November to Palmer.

"While Arnold's appeal is universal, he holds a truly special place in the hearts of everyone in aviation," NBAA president and CEO Ed Bolen said in a statement.

Palmer was a key figure in the NBAA's "No Plane No Gain" campaign and in 2010 was awarded the organization's Meritorious Service to Aviation Award for his dedication to business aviation.

Jerry Siebenmark: 316-268-6576, @jsiebenmark

Copyright 2016 - The Wichita Eagle

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How Aircraft Design is Changing Maintenance

From Aviation Pros

737 MAX CockpitBy Barb Zuehlke

Designing aircraft now includes software solutions that will make it easier for maintainers to troubleshoot.

With the development of the Boeing 737 MAX, Base2 Solutions, an engineering and software development company based in Bellevue, WA, has created a diagnostic software application that will allow mechanics to access performance diagnostics via the cockpit or a mobile device.

No more taking an engine apart to see what is malfunctioning. Reading codes from sensors will speed up the maintenance process saving time and money. Whether it is checking components in the manufacturing process or when the aircraft is at the gate, maintainers will have the data they need to get the aircraft flying.

Updated technology on the 737 Max disrupted the way diagnostics/testing for manufacturing and maintenance is traditionally done. The 737 MAX features new engines and components, along with updated sensor technology that changes how diagnostics and testing are performed during manufacturing and maintenance. On older aircraft, maintainers need to physically climb into the maintenance bay for manual checks of the sensors, which just like your car, light up with “check engine” message codes. They previously had to find and read the codes off multiple servers, then look up its meaning in a manual.

Boeing needed a solution

Boeing gave Base2 Solutions more than 1,700 requirements to meet its project deadlines for the 737 MAX. Ron Hopkins, Base 2 Solutions president, says with the company’s smoke-jumper attitude, it jumped right into the project. With the status of the project (in design stage), the software developers had to become virtual mechanics to create a simulator which mimicked the attributes of the real aircraft. The solution, known as the Onboard Maintenance Function (OMF), supports the MAX 737 during manufacturing and maintenance by easily surfacing fault conditions for the mechanics.

The company was formed in 1996 as the IMS Company, and rebranded in 2012 as Base2 Solutions. As a boutique consulting company, Base2 has skilled developers, engineers, and consultants who thrive on tough challenges, especially in regulated environments such as aerospace, transportation, and health care.

OMF took the company two and a half years to complete, and testing on prototype 737MAX aircraft is currently in progress. By bringing all the sensor data to a central location, OMF allows the maintainers to access the data on a flight deck computer or a portable maintenance device, which significantly speeds the troubleshooting and systems integration process.

The biggest challenge according to Andrew Hosch, vice president software, was the timeline. Because the implementation of the OMF tool was ahead of the data bus that would provide all of the fault information, Base2 engineers had to become virtual maintenance engineers and create their own fault simulator. At its peak, the development team had over 25 engineers on the project, but averaged between 17 and 18 engineers through its lifespan. “With the limited schedule, we had to ramp up quickly and get the team up to speed. Since Base2 is technology agnostic, our employees have a broad range of skills and we must quickly learn the customer’s domain.”

At its core, The OMF application evaluates more than 6,000 fault conditions using sensor data from across the aircraft, according to Donevan Dolby, Base2 development lead. To speed up the avionics integration cycle, OMF was used to diagnose issues when those components were installed during manufacturing. To hasten gate-turn (and reduce airline costs), OMF will also be used to diagnose fault conditions at the gate and during regular maintenance flight checks.

While Base2 Solutions developed the functionality, the OMF application belongs to Boeing, which owns the right to use it in additional aircraft platforms.

“On our test airplane, we have been impressed with the responsiveness of the OMF system on both the manufacturing and maintenance interfaces,” Jessica Kowal, Boeing spokesperson, says. “When the airplane is in service, even a small reduction in maintenance turnaround time would produce impressive benefits for airline customers.”

Hosch says the application is part of the overall trend of aircraft maintenance switching from wrenches to technology. With the OMF as part of the engine health management you don’t have to unbolt things to get the information you need to perform maintenance checks.

The 737 MAX is scheduled for delivery to Southwest Airlines in 2017. It is undergoing test flights now and was introduced at the Farnborough International Airshow in July.

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Flexible Wings Could Soon Be a Reality for Commercial Airplanes

From Travel Pulse

Flex Wing GIIICommercial airplane designers have been able to significantly improve fuel efficiency in recent years with lighter materials and more aerodynamic shapes. The problem is that the efficiency of traditional airliner designs is already near its maximum. Any future changes probably won't decrease fuel consumption by a meaningful amount.

Are flexible wings the answer?

By Josh Lew

NASA has been testing a new design that features wings with flexible parts instead of the standard flaps that have been a part of airplane wings since the early days of aviation. This new trait could not only increase fuel efficiency, it could also make airplanes much quieter during takeoff and landing.

Best of all, this is a very realistic design. NASA and the US Air Force have already successfully tested a version of the flexible wing on a small passenger jet (a Gulfstream III) over the course of more than two dozen flights. The space agency has said that the wings could be tested on commercial airliners within the next three years.

One smooth surface

The flexible wings have one smooth surface, rather than the separate flaps, spoilers and ailerons that can be seen on today’s commercial aircraft wings. The moving parts help the plane turn, ascend and descend, but they increase drag while doing so. Pilots generally adjust the flaps for maximum efficiency when they are at the ideal cruising altitude.

The flexible wings, however, are able to create the ideal ratio between lift and drag throughout the flight, not only while cruising in perfect conditions. According to the wing’s designers, the fuel efficiency of airplanes with the single-surface wings would be about 12 percent better than planes with traditional wings.

The design, which is being called FlexFoil, acts much like the movable parts on the trailing (back) part of a traditional wing, but the moving features blend seamlessly into the wing. This means that there is one blend-able surface without any gaps.


Flex Wing


Ideal aerodynamics

In an article discussing the idea behind the design, the project’s main designer, Sridhar Kota, described flying with the less-than-ideal lift-drag ratio of traditional wings as “not unlike riding to the top of a hill on a bicycle in the wrong gear—you may get there, but with considerably more effort than if you’d switched to a lower gear.”

Kota took the analogy a step further by explaining that with the flexible wing, “a plane could switch gears, so to speak, and achieve a more optimal lift-to-drag ratio by changing the shape of its wings.”

Close to reality

The first test flights have been successful, and the promise of quieter planes and perhaps even less turbulence in flight sounds great for fliers and for those who live near airports. There is also a potential that the FlexFoil wings could be retrofitted onto existing planes. This would allow airlines to start using the technology sooner.

Usually, when new technology is first announced and tested, it is still a decade or two away from actually being used on commercial planes. This could be the case with FlexFoil, but airlines are hungry for better fuel efficiency now that oil prices appear to be rising again. This could push development of the wings forward at a faster pace, especially if no other efficiency upgrades are on the horizon.

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Why Airbus Should Keep Making the A380

From Tarvel Pulse

A380 Climbing OutBy Josh Lew

The Airbus A380 earned a lot of buzz when it was first used for commercial service in 2007. The double decker’s sheer size (it can fit 525 passengers in three classes) and glitzy premium class cabins made it the heir apparent to the dated Boeing 747.

Now, however, the trend is for airlines to purchase smaller, more efficient long-haul planes like the A350 and Boeing 787. Does this mean that the A380’s days are numbered? Based on other current industry trends, it looks like the giant plane should be able to carve out a niche in the commercial air travel industry.

Only one airline is betting on the A380

Emirates is one airline that has made the A380 the backbone of its fleet. The Gulf carrier has received more than 80 of the giant planes and flies them on many of its busiest long-haul routes. Singapore Airlines has a comparatively modest 19 A380s in its fleet, and no other carrier currently operates more than a dozen.

Some airlines are balking at adding to their A380 fleets. Qantas exercised an option to defer the delivery of eight A380s that it had ordered. The Australian flag carrier already has 12 of the giant planes in its fleet, but that appears to be enough for it for the time being.

That does not mean that Qantas will try to dump its dozen A380s anytime soon. They are still relatively new, so it should be at least 10 years before the airline is ready to order replacements.

The Emirates model

There are two reasons to bet against the demise of the A380. First, more and more airlines appear to be trying to emulate Emirates. The Dubai-based carrier has been crushing the competition on some of the world’s busiest long-haul routes.  

The A380 provides the capacity that allows Emirates to offer competitive fares. Yes, the four-engine plane costs more to operate than a lighter two-engine model like the A350 or 777, but those planes have a lower capacity, meaning that it would take multiple flights to match the number of seats that Emirates can offer with one A380 flight.

Demand expected to rise

The demand for international air travel is expected to rise significantly in the coming years, and airlines with the A380s in their stables will have an advantage on the busiest routes for the reason I've just mentioned. Even low-cost carriers could be interested in an all-economy-class A380. This version seats more than 800 people.

Airbus is making a special version of the A330 that will be used for regional flights on high traffic routes. It could potentially do the same thing with the A380. Some of the busiest domestic routes in China and India would have enough demand that flying a one-class or two-class version of the A380 could be very profitable.  

More room to create more classes

This leads us to another trend that is working in the A380's favor: airlines are trying to maximize revenue by segmenting their planes into multiple classes. The push to add premium economy seating is an example of this. Because of its sheer size, future versions of the A380 could provide a number of different class setups that include  knees-to-chin below-economy class, premium economy, first-class private suites and everything in between.  

So while orders for four-engine planes are currently sluggish, there could eventually be enough demand for Airbus to continue producing the A380 in the future.

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