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The Boeing Company is on the last stages of making over their 737 aircraft model. It aims to compete with their European competitor Airbus on aircraft fuel-efficiency amidst the soaring fuel prices.
The aviation company revealed several design choices that can lower weight and wind resistance for its upcoming 737 MAX. It had fixed on an 8-inch nose gear extension to make way for a larger engine fan.
The biggest airplane manufacturers are upgrading their airplane models with bigger engines to improve fuel-savings.
“My feeling about it is what they’re saying is plausible. And I’ll just wait until we see the results,” said Hans Weber, president of technology management consultancy Tecop International.
For 40 years, Boeing 737 has been the most-sold aircraft model. It is a major part of airline fleets world-wide. Boeing juggles engineering considerations, market opportunities and costs in upgrading it into the 737 MAX.
Boeing’s main rival, Airbus is also developing Airbus A320neo that will feature updated engines and offers fuel savings of up to 15 percent than the current A320 Airbus model.
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News source: www.reuters.com
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The Boeing 747-8 Freighter landed at exactly 5:35 p.m. at the Paris Le Bourget Airport in Le Bourget, France after the first transatlantic flight of a large commercial airplane powered on all engines by a sustainable aviation jet fuel.
Boeing pilots Captain Keith Otsuka, Captain Rick Braun and Cargolux Captain Sten Rossby piloted the 747 Frieghter from Washington Everett to Le Bourget equipped with four of its General Electric GEnx-2B engines powered by a blend of 15 percent camelina-based biofuel mixed with 85 percent traditional kerosene Jet A fuel. However, there are no changes were made to the airplane, its engines or operating procedures prior to departure. Normal flight parameters were followed and approved in advance by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration.
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The Boeing Company celebrated the 20th anniversary of the first flight that was done by the C-17 airlifter in Long Beach, California. Test aircraft T-1 took off from the Boeing Long Beach site on a two hour flight that proved the engineering and design concepts of the aircraft and marked the beginning of the program on September 15, 1991.
T-1 once again flew this September 15, 2011 in a re-creation of its milestone flight, “The first flight of T-1 ushered in a new era in military and humanitarian airlift,” said Bob Ceisla, C-17 program manager for Boeing. “Twenty years ago, when I was working in flight test for this new airlift program, I could not anticipate just how critical the C-17 would become for the U.S. Air Force and its allies. The success of the C-17 Globemaster III program extends beyond Boeing’s employees and supplier partners, who have proudly engineered and built the world’s greatest airlifter for two decades, to exceed the expectations of customers around the globe who fly the jet every day.”
For more than 2 million hours in its 20-year history the C-17 has flown, it was already supporting worldwide airlift missions that transport troops and supplies to global hot zones and bring aid to those in need during humanitarian crises.
“There is no question that the C-17 has set the bar high,” said Ciesla. “The program has performed on cost and on schedule for more than a decade. Now we are entering a new stage with a production-rate reduction from 15 to 10 aircraft per year, extending the life of the C-17 line to 2014 and beyond.”
Setting its history in aviation, the C-17 has achieved a number of record-breaking milestones to more than any other airlifter and set 33 world records during initial flight testing at Edwards Air Force Base, California. The C-17′s records include payload to altitude and time-to-climb, as well as a record for short-takeoff-and-landing in which the C-17 took off in less than 1,400 feet, carried a payload of 44,000 pounds to altitude, and landed in less than 1,400 feet.
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For a brief moment in 2011, fledgling rocket maker SpaceX silenced critics with a deal to launch a commercial telecom satellite for one of the largest fleet operators in the world.
Announced in March 2011, the agreement with Luxembourg-based SES to loft the SES-8 satellite to geostationary orbit atop the twice-flown Falcon 9 rocket was widely viewed as a vote of confidence in the Hawthorne, Calif.-based startup, despite its running years late in demonstrating the ability to boost cargo to the International Space Station (ISS) for its primary government backer, NASA.
But during the past two years, as SpaceX secured contracts in major Asian markets, announced plans to introduce a heavy-lift variant of the Falcon and started construction of a new launch pad at Vandenberg AFB, Calif., the company has fallen further behind schedule.
“They’re running up against the reality of rocket engineering—getting these systems to work is hard,” says John Logsdon, a space policy expert and professor emeritus at George Washington University. “This is the teething pain of an emerging firm that doesn’t match the rhetoric, doesn’t match their optimism, but matches the reality of the situation.”
Earlier this year SpaceX pushed its first cargo demonstrator to the ISS under NASA’s Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) program to the end of April from February. It also slipped the schedule on a midsummer debut of an upgrade to the Falcon 9 main-stage engine, which SpaceX is obligated to fly before it can loft SES-8 next year.
Now slated to lift off no earlier than October from the new Vandenberg site, the overhaul of Falcon 9’s Merlin 1C engine aims to add enough power to boost payloads to geostationary transfer orbit. In addition to lofting SES-8, the more robust rocket positions SpaceX to deliver on commercial launch agreements with Hong Kong-based AsiaSat and Thaicom of Thailand beginning as early as next year.
“Commercial launches now represent over 60 percent of our upcoming missions,” SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk said in February after announcing the agreement to launch AsiaSat-6 and AsiaSat-8 atop the Falcon 9 in early 2014.
With plans to debut the new Merlin 1D before year-end, SpaceX has been test-firing the motor “four or five times a week” at the company’s development facility in McGregor, Texas, says SpaceX spokeswoman Kirstin Grantham. The new Falcon 9 also will feature an extended propellant tank and wider payload fairing.
At Vandenberg, Grantham says SpaceX has completed demolition of the old launch site, including removal of a tower, and recently started construction of a new hangar. The upcoming launch is expected to deliver a small, scientific spacecraft built by MDA Corp. of Canada to a near-polar orbit. Delivery of hardware to the launch site, including the new rocket and satellite, dubbed Cassiope, is expected later this year.
Although SpaceX has secured commercial launch agreements with a handful of satellite operators, including a $500 million contract to loft Iridium’s 72 next-generation satellites to low Earth orbit in 2015-17, SES-8 marks the company’s first commercial mission to geostationary orbit. But with four flights on the SpaceX manifest in 2012 alone—Cassiope, the COTS demo and two commercial resupply services (CRS) missions scheduled under a separate, fixed-price contract with NASA—SES may need to consider other options.
“As an alternative, we always have a backup in place for all SES launches,” says Yves Feltes, a spokesman for SES, which has existing multi-launch agreements with Arianespace and ILS, in addition to a framework understanding with Sea Launch. “The same is true for SES-8.”
SpaceX is also expected to launch at least one mission for Orbcomm Inc. this year. After pulling a prototype of the operator’s second-generation data-relay satellite from the upcoming COTS demo, the two companies rescheduled the mission for mid-2012 as a piggyback on the first CRS mission.
SpaceX says it completed a dress rehearsal of the Falcon 9 at Cape Canaveral on March 1 in preparation for the upcoming COTS mission, loading the rocket with fuel and simulating a countdown to T-5 sec. But the company still has a roster of work to complete before the flight, which will be no earlier than April 20.
“It’s easy to expect success along the way,” Logsdon says. “But it’s still up to them to deliver on what they’ve promised.”
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The USS Enterprise starts the final voyage of its 50 years of service as it set sail for its 22nd and last deployment. The USS Enterprise is the first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier. It had been commissioned by the US Navy in 1961 and it is the Navy’s largest and oldest combat vessel.
The USS Enterprise, also known as the “Big E” live a storied and colorful career. It took part in the October 1962 missile crisis in Cuba. Big E also played a key role in the evacuation of Saigon during the Vietnam war. For its last deployment, the USS Enterprise will head to the 5th and 6th fleet areas of operation. It will be part of the on-going rotation of US forces that support maritime security operations on international waters all over the world.
The current crew of the USS Enterprise is very proud to be part of the ship’s illustrious career. According to Capt. William C. Hamilton, Commanding Officer of Enterprise: “The crew is very mindful that we are following the legacy of the more than 200,000 Sailors who have come before us during the last 50 years. It’s the Sailors of this great warship, and the Sailors that have served aboard Big E over the past half-century that have established the legacy she enjoys.”
Its 50 years of service has also taken its toll the famed aircraft carrier. It constantly suffers from mundane malfunction like stuck valves and decaying electrical equipment.
The USS Enterprise will be officially deactivated on December 1 of this year.
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Source: www.maritime-executive.com and www.npr.org
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A CV-22 Osprey, flown by the 8th Special Operations Squadron in Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. hangs in the anechoic chamber at the Joint Preflight Integration of Munitions and Electronic Systems hangar.
The Osprey is currently in the chamber for approximately four weeks to test upgraded electronic warfare systems. The J-PRIMES anechoic chamber is a room designed to stop internal reflections of electromagnetic waves, as well as insulate from exterior sources of electromagnetic noise. J-PRIMES provides this environment to facilitate testing air-to-air and air-to-surface munitions and electronics systems on full-scale aircraft and land vehicles prior to open air testing.
The CV-22 Osprey is a tiltrotor aircraft that combines the vertical takeoff, hover and vertical landing qualities of a helicopter with the long-range, fuel efficiency and speed characteristics of a turboprop aircraft. Its mission is to conduct long-range infiltration, exfiltration and resupply missions for special operations forces.
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Source: U.S. Air Force, Eglin Air Force Base, U.S. Air Force photo/Samuel King Jr
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The Asian Shipowners Forum (ASF) firmly convinces the United Nations to adopt its counter-piracy proposal. The proposal would see armed military personnel, sponsored and supervised by the UN, guarding merchant vessels as they travel around the Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Aden where pirates continuously flocked. (www.hellenicshippingnews.com)
The proposal would used floating bases to perform its operation against pirates sprawling in the said areas “It is extremely urgent that the ASF proposal should be implemented as soon as possible as international shipping and trade, and most importantly of lives of the ships’ crews, are all at the mercy of these ruthless Somali pirates,” said Patrick Phoon, chairman of the ASF Safe Navigation and Environment Committee.
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The business aviation market is showing early signs of increased sales from late last year carrying until 2012 with key indicators improving in January, based on initial analyst reports. (www.aviationweek.com) Used aircraft sales continued to improve while prices soar dramatically in January for the first time in months, according to Jetnet’s latest report.
Business aircraft flights, meanwhile, mark its highest levels of activity in almost a year, based on the data of Morgan Stanley and the FAA. Some of the original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) shares that they seen strong interests and activity in January which is traditionally a weaker month for aircraft business.
Fleet sales across all categories drop to 10 %, specifically for turboprops while business jets decline to almost a full percentage point of 13.7 % in January. One the other hand, turboprops were down more than a percentage point of 9.3 % while both turbine’s and piston helicopters’ sales fell to 6.4 % and 6 %, respectively.
Meanwhile, average asking prices for all categories soar dramatically in January, except for piston helicopters. Prices rose to 51.6 % for turboprops and 58 % for turbine helicopters, Jetnet says. Sales in business jets has also improved while piston helicopter prices drop modestly.
The overall increase in prices favors the OEMs, some of which had to offer discounts to trim unsold inventory. It is not the first increase in prices since the economy declines.
However, expert Brian Foley, founder of the consultancy Brian Foley Associations, notes that the market value in January 2011 “will have been near the low-mark for turboprop pricing and that 2012 could potentially see pricing approaching levels not seen in three years.”
He notes that a number of factors could have affected the price increase, including the fuel price in the world market. He furthers that since turboprops are more fuel-efficient than jets, it helps to advance its value proposition. “However, within the category, buyers at the low end of the turbo product spectrum are more sensitive to overall operating costs that buyers at the high end, which could end up bifurcating the market much as we’ve seen with the business jets.”
Meanwhile, market indicators showed positive signs for used aircraft inventory, which marked an increased sale in January. Analyst Morgan Stanley adds that business aircraft improved 1.27 % in January, reaching its highest peak since June.
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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Pentagon estimates that it will still cost about $1 trillion to operate a fleet of 2,443 F-35 fighter jets over the next 50 years, but is continuing to analyze how to drive that staggering sum down, a top U.S. Marine Corps official told Reuters.
Lieutenant General Terry Robling, deputy Marine Corps commandant for aviation, said top defense officials agreed last week to continue low-rate production of the new radar-evading warplane built by Lockheed Martin Corp, while keeping a close eye on the cost of maintaining and operating the new jets.
“Everybody was on board with … the program,” Robling told Reuters aboard a military aircraft on Saturday after a ceremony involving three F-35B jets at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida. “We understand the costs are high. We understand that we need to do something, we need to make decisions down the road.”
Robling said the cost estimate would likely decline in coming years as more jets were built and flown, reducing the reliance on comparison data from other aircraft programs.
Unless the estimates do come down substantially, the Pentagon may have to decide to buy fewer airplanes, reduce the number of anticipated flight hours, or skip adding certain capabilities to the plane, Robling said, although he noted that decision point could still be five to 10 years off.
The estimated cost just to develop and buy the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) is around $382 billion, but that number could increase somewhat when the Pentagon reports the cost of its major acquisition programs to Congress next month.
Defense officials say the cost of the program will increase somewhat since the Pentagon is postponing orders for 179 planes for five years to allow more testing and limit the number of costly retrofits to already produced planes.
The delays and budget pressures at home are prompting eight international partners who are helping fund the F-35 development — Britain, Italy, Australia, Denmark, Norway, Turkey, Canada and the Netherlands — to rethink their orders as well.
-more at wtvr.com
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San Diego, CA. – A collision that killed seven Marines in one of the Marine Corps’ deadliest aviation training accidents in years occurred over a sprawling desert range favored by the U.S. military because its craggy mountains and hot, dusty conditions are similar to Afghanistan’s harsh environment.
Officials were scrambling Thursday to determine what caused the AH-1W Cobra and UH-1 Huey to crash during a routine exercise Wednesday night when skies were clear and the weather was mild.
There were no survivors in the accident near the Chocolate Mountains along the California-Arizona border.
It was the fifth aviation mishap since March involving the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing headquartered at Miramar Marine Corps Air Station in San Diego. Throughout the Navy and Marine Corp, there have only been two other aviation training accidents in the past five years involving seven or more deaths, according to the military’s Naval Safety Center.
“It’s an unfortunate consequence of the high tempo of operations,” said retired Marine Col. J.F. Joseph, an aviation safety consultant. “They’re out there working on the edge trying to exploit the maximum capabilities of the aircraft and their tactics. Just by the virtue of that, in becoming combat ready, these unfortunately are not uncommon occurrences.”
The Marine Corps and Navy, nonetheless, stand out in their efforts to mitigate that risk and make training as safe as possible, he said.
With 17,500 Marines and sailors, including personnel stationed at Camp Pendleton and Marine Corps Air Station Yuma in Arizona, the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing conducts hundreds of aviation training exercises a year so troops can get as much experience as possible before they go to war.
The number of Marines killed in the latest crash shook the military community. Chaplains and counselors were called in to talk to troops. Six of the Marines killed were from Pendleton — the West Coast’s largest base — and one was from the base in Yuma.
Their identities will not be released until their families have all been notified.
Two of the Marines were aboard an AH-1W Cobra and the rest were in a UH-1 Huey utility helicopter. They were flying in a remote section of the 1.2 million-acre Yuma Training Range Complex as part of a two-week standard training called “Scorpion Fire” that involved a squadron of about 450 troops from the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing.
The helicopters collided near dunes at the edge of the Yuma range about an hour before the range was to shut down for the evening. Ground troops were in the area, but they were not affected, said Gunnery Sgt. Dustin Dunk, a spokesman at the Yuma base, which is a 90-minute drive from the accident site.
Part of the exercise involved having helicopters low on fuel descend to ground troops that have set up a refueling outpost, Dunk said.
He did not know if that’s what the pilots were doing at the time of the crash.
“Our training is always evolving, safety is paramount, and being prepared is paramount,” he said. “It was a very standard exercise for what we do. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family members … Our investigation will look to see what went wrong and how to correct it.”
The AH-1W carries a pilot and gunner and is considered the Marine Corps’ main attack helicopter. The UH-1Y, which is replacing the aging version of the Huey utility helicopter first used during the Vietnam War, carries one or two pilots, a crew chief and other crew members, depending on the mission.
Hueys often are used to pick up and drop off ground crews, while Cobras hover by ready to fire if the Huey comes under attack.
In other crashes in the past year, a twin-engine, two-seat AH-1W Cobra helicopter went down in September during training in a remote area of Camp Pendleton, killing two Marine pilots and igniting a brush fire that burned about 120 acres at the base north of San Diego.
In August, two Marines were ejected from their F/A-18 Hornet fighter jet as it plunged toward the Pacific Ocean. The two Marines spent four hours in the dark, chilly ocean before they were rescued. Both suffered broken bones but survived.
In July, a decorated Marine from western New York was killed during a training exercise when his UH-1Y helicopter went down in a remote section of Camp Pendleton.
Another Hornet sustained at least $1 million damage when its engine caught fire on March 30 aboard the USS John C. Stennis during an exercise about 100 miles off the San Diego coast. Eight sailors, a Marine and two civilians were injured.
In one of the worst accidents in the past five years, an AH1-W flying in formation with three other Marine helicopters on a nighttime training mission from Camp Pendleton to San Clemente Island collided with a Coast Guard C-130 airplane in October 2009, killing two aboard the Marine helicopters and seven aboard the C-130.