Pentagon to receive nearly 380 aircraft by 2020

 The Trump Administration’s 2020 Budget is out, and the Pentagon is asking for 17 more aircraft than it received in 2019. A quick tally of the aircraft shows the number of fighter jets and unmanned aerial vehicles the services are asking for is down slightly, while the number of helicopters is up. Also, the Air Force is purchasing eight new F-15s in a deal that smells fishy, given the Acting Secretary of Defense’s work career.

The tally, shared on Twitter by Aviation Week & Space Technology defense editor Stephen Trimble, shows a slight increase of 17 aircraft year over year, from 362 authorized in 2019 to 379 proposed for 2020. The aircraft are broken down into number categories as follows:

Fighters: DoD wants 110 fighters in 2020, down from 117 in 2019. The Air Force is asking for 48 F-35As, down eight from 2019. The Marines want just 10 F-35Bs, less than half their 2019 purchase. Only the Navy is buying more F-35s, with the service requesting 20 of the carrier-capable F-35C model. The Navy is also buying 24 F/A-18E/F Super Hornets.

The real wild card here: the Air Force is asking for eight F-15EX fighters, part of a goal of buying 80 through 2024. At the same time, the Air Force is asking for eight less F-35s. The service has said in the past it would not spend money on F-15s at the expense of the F-35 program, but that appears to be exactly what happened.

According to outgoing Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson, the service’s 2020 budget originally did not include the F-15s. The watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics has filed a complaint with the Pentagon alleging that Acting U.S. Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan, a 30-year Boeing employee, intervened to force the service to buy Boeing’s F-15s over the F-35.

Other Aircraft: The Air Force is asking for 12 KC-46A Pegasus tankers, three less than in 2019. The service will eventually order at least 179 of the aircraft, and at this rate, it’ll take about thirteen years to buy them all. It’s also asking for another squadron of 24 MQ-9A Reapers and a dozen HH-60W combat search and rescue helicopters.

The Navy and Marines, on the other hand, are asking for three more KC-130J tankers, six more P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft, and two MQ-4C Triton long-range unmanned aerial vehicles. The service also wants to purchase 22 F-5 Tiger IIs, recently retired from the Swiss Air Force, to act as aggressor aircraft for the US Navy and Marine Corps fighter pilots to train against.

Helicopters: More than half of the Pentagon’s aircraft request for 2020 consists of helicopters, with the US Army taking the lion’s share. The Army will request 48 AH-64 Apache helicopters remanufactured to the new AH-64E Apache Guardian standard, enough for two attack helicopter battalions. It’s also asking for 73 UH-60M Blackhawk transport helicopters, about 15 more than it got in 2019. Nine CH-47 Chinook heavy lift helicopters round out the Army’s request.

With a few exceptions, the rest of the helicopters go to the Marine Corps. The Marines are asking for six of the enormously expensive CH-53K King Stallion helicopter, ten MV-22 Ospreys, and six VH-92A helicopters, otherwise known as the new Marine One: the official vertical lift ride of the President of the United States.


Bander Almohanna CEO & Managing Director flynas

 Mr. Bander Al-Mohanna is the Chief Executive Officer & Managing Director of flynas, a Saudi national air carrier and a leading low-cost airline in the Middle East.

Al-Mohanna holds a Master’s Degree in Actuarial & Financial Mathematics from the University of Michigan as well as a Master’s Degree in Business Administration from the American University in Washington D.C. He has also obtained a Bachelor of Science Degree in Accounting from King Saud University, Riyadh. He is a member of CFA Institute and has also successfully completed an Advanced Management Program at Harvard University.

Al-Mohanna has over 20 years of experience in leadership, finance and management across several sectors. He is a key member of flynas Group, responsible for the restructuring, financing and acquisition strategy of more than US $ 8 billion. Al-Mohanna joined flynas in 2006 as the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) and was promoted to Executive Vice President in 2008. In 2015, he was appointed as the Chief Executive Officer of flynas Group (flynas, NASJET, and flynas Hajj & Umrah).

Prior to joining flynas, Al-Mohanna held several key positions, including Chief Financial Analyst at Makshaff Services and Investments Ltd. He also held several positions at the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency, including the Banking Supervision Department between 1993 and 2002.

Al-Mohanna also chairs and sits in the board of various prestigious business entities. Al-Mohanna is also Chairman of Middle East Financial Investment Company (MEFIC) bank and JAZL Investments. He is a board member of several companies including Sabb Takaful, Nitaq Actuarial Services, NAS Execujet Services and Nas Holding.

 Mr. Bander Al-Mohanna, together with his team, has contributed to the success of flynas and led it to win several prestigious international awards, including the Middle East's Leading Low-Cost Airline from World Travel Awards for four consecutive years 2015, 2016, 2017 & 2018 and Skytrax Awards for Middle East's Best Low-Cost Airline for 2017 & 2018.

Al-Mohanna, recently revealed that flynas has carried about 6.6 million passengers on 60,000 domestic and international flights during 2018, noting that the increase in the number of passengers is a result of the increasing number of flights and destinations in line with flynas’ expansion plans to meet its passengers’ needs.

Al-Mohanna further stressed that the growth rate in passenger numbers is an extension of flynas’ previous successes and expansion plans in the domestic and international market, as it has launched 11 new destinations in 2018.

He added, “this year’s flynas results confirm that it continues to be the best travel choice in the Kingdom, which further enhances our future ambitions to expand and reach new destinations”. He also noted flynas’ achievements, as it has won the prestigious Skytrax Award twice in a row (2017 and 2018) and Middle East’s Leading Low-Cost Airline from the World Travel Awards for four consecutive years (2015, 2016, 2017, and 2018).

Al-Mohanna stated that flynas’ domestic flights has carried about 4.3 million passengers, while the total number of passengers on international flights exceeded 2.3 million in 2018. He also said, “the increasing number of passengers on our flights reflects our relentless efforts to improve passenger experience and develop plans to boost growth. We have expanded our domestic and international destinations as well as our strategic partnerships with Jet Airways, Pegasus and Etihad Airways”.

Moreover, flynas announced the graduation of the first batch of the Saudi Female Flight Attendants program, noting that their first practical flight will be during recent months.

This step stems from flynas’ keenness to empower Saudi women to play a key role in the renaissance of the Kingdom in diverse industries. flynas is the first Saudi national carrier to open opportunities for Saudi women through its ‘Future Pilots’ and ‘Flight Attendants’ Programs.

flynas stated that the ‘Flight Attendants’ program aims to attract 300 Saudi male and female flight attendants within two years, noting that it will consider the working hours and will allocate a uniform for Saudi female flight attendants in line with the Saudi customs and traditions.

In 2019, flynas will continue with its expansion strategy, and new destinations will be launched on a new fleet of 120, A320neo aircraft purchased from Airbus for a total value of 32 billion riyals, to be delivered successively in 2019.

Airbus, Dassault Systèmes sign MOA for advance aviation design

 Airbus and Dassault Systèmes have signed a five year Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) to cooperate on the implementation of collaborative 3D design, engineering, manufacturing, simulation and intelligence applications. This will enable Airbus to take a major step forward in its digital transformation and lay the foundation for a new European industrial ecosystem in aviation.     

Under the MOA, Airbus will deploy Dassault Systèmes’ 3DExperience platform, which delivers digital continuity, from design to operations, in a single data model for a unified user experience, making digital design, manufacturing and services (DDMS) a company-wide reality for all Airbus divisions and product lines. 

DDMS paves the way for breakthroughs in new product design, operational performance, support and maintenance, customer satisfaction and new business models, as it represents a move from sequential to parallel development processes. Instead of first focusing on product performance, Airbus will be able to co-design and develop the next generation of aircraft with the manufacturing facilities that will produce them, reducing costs and time to market. 

“We are not just talking about digitalization or a 3D experience, we are rethinking the way aircraft are designed and operated, streamlining and speeding up our processes with customer satisfaction in mind,” said Guillaume Faury, President Airbus Commercial Aircraft. “DDMS is a catalyst for change and with it we are building a new model for the European aerospace industry with state of the art technology. Our target is a robust production setup that offers a reduction in product development lead time.”


New foldable drone flies through narrow holes transporting objects on the way

 Inspecting a damaged building after an earthquake or during a fire is exactly the kind of job that human rescuers would like drones to do for them. A flying robot could look for people trapped inside and guide the rescue team towards them. But the drone would often have to enter the building through a crack in a wall, a partially open window, or through bars -- something the typical size of a drone does not allow.

To solve this problem, researchers from the Robotics and Perception Group at the University of Zurich and the Laboratory of Intelligent Systems at EPFL created a new kind of drone. Both groups are part of the National Centre of Competence in Research (NCCR) Robotics funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation. Inspired by birds that fold their wings in mid-air to cross narrow passages, the new drone can squeeze itself to pass through gaps and then go back to its previous shape, all the while continuing to fly. And it can even hold and transport objects along the way.

"Our solution is quite simple from a mechanical point of view, but it is very versatile and very autonomous, with onboard perception and control systems," explains Davide Falanga, researcher at the University of Zurich and the paper's first author. In comparison to other drones, this morphing drone can maneuver in tight spaces and guarantee a stable flight at all times.

The Zurich and Lausanne teams worked in collaboration and designed a quadrotor with four propellers that rotate independently, mounted on mobile arms that can fold around the main frame thanks to servo-motors. The ace in the hole is a control system that adapts in real time to any new position of the arms, adjusting the thrust of the propellers as the center of gravity shifts.

"The morphing drone can adopt different configurations according to what is needed in the field," adds Stefano Mintchev, co-author and researcher at EPFL. The standard configuration is X-shaped, with the four arms stretched out and the propellers at the widest possible distance from each other. When faced with a narrow passage, the drone can switch to a "H" shape, with all arms lined up along one axis or to a "O" shape, with all arms folded as close as possible to the body. A "T" shape can be used to bring the onboard camera mounted on the central frame as close as possible to objects that the drone needs to inspect.

In the future, the researchers hope to further improve the drone structure so that it can fold in all three dimensions. Most importantly, they want to develop algorithms that will make the drone truly autonomous, allowing it to look for passages in a real disaster scenario and automatically choose the best way to pass through them. "The final goal is to give the drone a high-level instruction such as 'enter that building, inspect every room and come back' and let it figure out by itself how to do it," says Falanga.


CASIC to launch commercial rockets in space

 Chinese defense contractor CASIC is preparing to launch a new solid propellant launch vehicle in the first half of the year as part of a multiplatform commercial space strategy.

The Kuaizhou-11 (KZ-11) debut launch will carry six satellites, according to Chinese language news portal 3SNews, though it provided no information on the payloads or clients, nor more precise information on timing.

The new rocket will have a liftoff mass of 78 metric tons and be capable of lifting 1,000 kilograms to a 700-kilometer sun-synchronous orbit (SSO) or 1,500 kilograms into a 400-kilometer low Earth orbit using either 2.2 or 2.6-meter payload fairings, making it the largest Chinese solid propellant launch vehicle so far.

The Kuaizhou-11 has been developed by the China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation (CASIC), a huge state-owned enterprise. The commercial Kuaizhou launch vehicles, or ‘fast vessel’, have been derived from CASIC’s missile technology in order to provide fast-response and low-cost access to space.

The KZ-11 had previously been stated by Chinese media to be ready for test flight in the first half of 2018, then the second half of last year, before the slip to the first half of 2019. No reason for the delays has so far been released.

When the Kuaizhou-11 does take off, it will, like existing and planned future Kuaizhou rockets, be launched from a transporter erector launcher (TEL). It will likely launch from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in the Gobi Desert, run by the People’s Liberation Army.

Earlier public statements from CASIC and subsidiary Expace, a commercial launch provider, claim launch costs of between $10,000 to $20,000 per kilogram for the Kuaizhou series, and expect this to fall to $5,000 per kilogram.

CASIC currently only launches commercial payloads. With two launches of its smaller Kuaizhou-1A launcher, capable of carrying 200 kilograms to a 700-kilometer SSO, in January 2017 and September 2018, CASIC put Jilin-1 remote sensing satellites for Chang Guang Satellite Technology Co. Ltd., and small satellites for universities and private companies into orbit.

Design work on the Kuaizhou-21 launch vehicle began in 2017, according to Chinese state media. It will have a diameter of 4.5 meters and be capable of sending 20-metric tons into a low Earth orbit.

CASIC in December saw the launch of the first satellite for its 156-satellite Hongyun (‘rainbow cloud’) low Earth orbit wideband communications constellation and is planning an 80-satellite narrowband constellation for Internet of Things connectivity named Xingyun as well as a Tengyun project to develop a reusable space plane.

While CASC is restricted to commercial payloads, the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC), a sister company to CASIC and the main contractor for the Chinese space program, carries out China’s government and military missions using its family of Long March of launch vehicles.

CASC is meanwhile preparing for the debut flight of a new commercial launcher, named Jielong-1 (‘Smart Dragon-1’), with the company stating the flight will take place in the first half of 2019.

Jielong-1 is designed to be ‘fast, agile and flexible’ and capable of putting 150 kilograms into a 700-kilometer SSO, but appears to be the first step in development of new, more innovative and competitive launchers from CASC.

“Preliminarily, we plan to develop two series, the Jielong series and Tenglong series,” Tang Yagang, president of CASC subsidiary Chinarocket Co., Ltd., told China Central Television in December, adding that the Tenglong launch vehicles would be liquid propellant rockets with a large payload capacity.

“We are exploring different technical methods that include retrieval of rockets by vertical take off and landing, and horizontal take off and landing. Now we have expedited the development of the technology to reuse rockets. Hopefully, in the coming two to three years, China’s rockets will adopt the technology,” Tang said.


First UAE astronaut to launch in September, Sputnik notes

 The first UAE astronaut will blast off into space in September, according to Russian reports.

State-owned news agency Sputnik reported that the rocket, which will carry the pioneering Emirati, would launch on September 25.

A three-man crew will return to Earth on October 3 following eight days in space, rather than the 10 days that were originally announced.

Sputnik claimed the date for the Russian mission, which the UAE is participating in, was moved forward from October.

The Dubai-based Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre has not yet confirmed the amended details.

On its way to the International Space Station, the Soyuz rocket will carry one of the two Emirati astronauts who are currently undergoing training – Hazza Al Mansouri, or Sultan Al Neyadi, – as well as a Russian commander Oleg Skripochka and American flight engineer Chris Cassidy.

On its return, the rocket will bring back the UAE astronaut and a returning crew from the ISS who have spent several months in space.

Under an agreement signed with the Russian space agency Roscosmos, the first UAE astronaut was scheduled to go into orbit in April.

Those plans were disrupted by the aborted launch of a Soyuz rocket last October. What should have been a routine mission ended with the crew making an emergency landing just three minutes into the flight.

A faulty sensor on a booster rocket caused an inquiry later found the failure during separation.

Russia briefly suspended Soyuz flights, before allowing them to resume in early December, but the issue forced a rethink of its timetable for future missions.

The UAE astronaut's place on the MS-12 was bumped following the incident as the seats were reportedly reserved for the two astronauts from the previous mission who had missed out.

It is expected that the Emirati astronaut will be accompanied on the return home by one of them – Russia’s Aleksey Ovchinin.

The two Emiratis are training for the mission, enduring simulations of zero gravity and learning to fend for themselves in the wilderness to prepare them for the possibility of an off-course landing in Siberia.

They were chosen from more than 4,000 hopefuls in a national competition organized by the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre, and only one of them will be picked to take part in September's space mission.

The United Arab Emirates will seek to encourage both investment in space ventures in the country as well as investment by domestic funds into the broader space industry under a new plan.

The “National Plan for the Promotion of Space Investment,” announced last week by the UAE Space Agency, is part of a wider initiative to turn the country into a rising space power through projects ranging from a Mars mission to launching the country’s first astronaut.

The plan seeks to encourage foreign investment in the UAE’s emerging space sector, while also encouraging the country’s own investment vehicles to invest in the industry, either within or outside the country, according to a statement from the space agency. It added that details about the plan will be released in the coming months, but will include creation of business accelerators, funds and specially designated economic zones.

“The UAE Space Agency, as a federal government entity, will actively play the part of an enabler and facilitator to encourage local and foreign investment in the sector, and proactively design a conducive environment which ensures startups and investors feel welcome and have access to business in the UAE that can drive their growth potential,” said Mohammed Al Ahbabi, director general of the UAE Space Agency, in a statement.

The space industry is not new to the country. Mobile satellite operator Thuraya was founded in the UAE in the 1990s, operating two satellites in geostationary orbit to provide voice and data services from Europe to Asia. Yahsat, a satellite operator also based in the UAE that operates three geostationary orbit satellites, acquired Thuraya in 2018.

In 2009, Aabar Investments, an Abu Dhabi-based fund now part of Mubadala Investment Company, invested $280 million into suborbital spaceflight operator Virgin Galactic for a roughly one-third stake in the company. This has led to discussions, but no firm plans, to eventually operate one of Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo vehicles from the UAE.

The UAE government has, in recent years, invested more attention, and money, into space initiatives, including the formation of the UAE Space Agency and establishment of a national space law. Among those projects is the country’s first Mars orbiter mission, Hope, scheduled for launch in 2020. The domestically built KhalifaSat remote sensing satellite, the first such satellite developed entirely within the UAE, launched in October 2018 on a Japanese H-2 rocket.

The agency also recruited its first class of astronauts last year, one of which will fly on a Soyuz mission to the International Space Station. That mission was scheduled to take place this spring but has been delayed until the fall because of changes in the overall schedule of Soyuz missions to the ISS prompted by a launch failure in October 2018 that aborted the Soyuz MS-10 mission to the station.


Flynas’ unveils initiatives to empower women

 Saudi Arabian Airline Company and leading low-cost carrier in the Middle East region Flynas launched its first ‘Let’s Talk Aviation’ meet that was jointly organized with Prince Sultan University. The first meeting, titled ‘Saudi Women in Aviation’ took place at the Prince Sultan University Campus.

Bandar Al Mohanna, CEO of Flynas, several VIPs from the aviation sector, in addition to academics and representatives from various airline companies in Saudi Arabia attended the meeting. During the meeting, discussions focused on the role of Saudi women within the aviation sector and the potential they can contribute towards developing it through participating in various roles and positions.

Al Mohanna announced two new initiatives by the company to empower women in the aviation sector, through enabling them to work in the maintenance department, and allowing married couples to work together within shared roles that suit their work schedules.

Flynas’ Director of Corporate Communications and official spokesperson Ahmad Almusained welcomed all participants and praised Prince Sultan University for its efforts in supporting this initiative. He highlighted the meeting’s objective to create job opportunities for national talents, and in particular Saudi women, which is in-line with Flynas’ social responsibility commitment.

He stated that Saudi women possess the capabilities to contribute effectively within various roles in the civil aviation sector, and this has inspired the company to adopt this topic as one of the main themes for the ‘Let’s Talk Aviation’ meetings in 2019. The company has decided to organize such meetings once every 2 to 3 months.

Almusained also emphasized Flynas’ commitment towards empowering Saudi women through initiatives such as this meeting, which stems from Flynas’ belief in Saudi women’s capabilities to lead and work in top positions in the aviation sector and all other sectors, and also its dedication to promote national social responsibility and spread awareness on the aviation sector’s significance and role in creating jobs and supporting youth.

During a panel discussion moderated by media personality Ali Alghofaili, Mashael Muteb, first Saudi female flight attendant to serve at Flynas, commended the company’s pioneering move in hiring the first Saudi female flight attendant, and its recent training of the first batch of female flight attendants, which reiterates its commitments towards supporting the nationalization of aviation jobs and empowering women in particular.

She added that Saudi women are just as competent as their male counterparts in working as flight attendants and ensuring the safety and comfort of travelers, and that this work upholds Saudi Arabian traditions and values.

Raghda Alsulaimani, corporate communications manager and official spokesperson at Nesma Airlines, spoke about her experience serving in the aviation sector after she received an offer to work at Nesma, thanks to her experience as a copywriter specialized in the sector. She stressed on the importance of creating a balance and a culture of equality between men and women in this regard. She also urged all aviation companies to present opportunities to women, and also highlighted the importance of social awareness and the major role women play across all sectors.

Fahad Bahdailah, vice president of corporate communications at Saudi Arabian Airlines, pointed out a number of difficulties and challenges faced by the sector’s workforce, and stressed on the importance of creating equal opportunities for men and women, and also creating further training options to keep up with global sector developments, as jobs and skills within the sector are continually developing.

Nawras Al Khalifah, customer and quality services manager at Flynas, spoke about her experience within the sector, which started in 2008, when she unexpectedly joined the sector after being specialized in another field. Today, and thanks to her long experience covering an array of multiple roles, she was able to form a strong skill set and overcome any challenges faced during the transition.

Dr. Rafed Zawawi, chairman of the department of aviation and management at Prince Sultan University, mentioned the high demand for national talent within the aviation sector, and stated that the current rate of women working within the sector is 4%. He also spoke about the challenges the sector must overcome to achieve women empowerment objectives outlined in Vision 2030, and expressed his optimism in accomplishing them thanks to Saudi women’s capabilities and supporting global trends.

He added that the Saudi market requires specialized aviation colleges and schools, and announced that Prince Sultan University has launched 12 new aviation programs, which were added to tens of existing relevant programs. He also reiterated the importance of this sector in realizing revenues and enhancing a varied and robust Saudi economy.

Maha Alyamani, a specialist in risk management, shared her experience as the first Saudi woman to be hired at the General Authority of Civil Aviation, and stated that the sector offers a plethora of jobs suitable for women. She also said that the number of women working in the aviation sector has recently doubled, which presents a positive outlook towards further empowerment for women. She also stressed on the need to follow up on various studies and developments in the sector to keep up with

Al Mohanna later also presented recognition trophies to all speakers, and stressed on the importance of this meeting as valuable opportunity to gather those interested in the aviation sector and to urge national talents to consider careers within it. 

Ethiopian Airlines plans All-Women Flight Crew to celebrate Women’s Day

 Ethiopian Airlines schools the world on feminism; plans 100% flight crew from Addis-Ababa to Norway, to celebrate International Women’s Day

“Empower woman, empower the human community. The base on which the world stands is a women.”

For many years, Ethiopia has been a good model for Africa and has seldom failed to show the continent the way when needed. Now, it appears the East African country not only leads Africa in certain areas but the world in general.

In a move that will undoubtedly make big international Airline operators like Qatar Airways, Emirates Airlines, Delta Airlines, etc. frown at their creative departments for not thinking ‘out of the box’, Ethiopian Airlines has again announced plans to operate an international flight from Addis Ababa to Stockholm-Oslo, Norway, with an all-women crew to mark International Women’s Day.

 The International Women's Day is celebrated on March 8 every year. The United Nations began celebrating International Women's Day in 1975. The March 8 date was however fixed in 1977 when the United Nations General Assembly invited member states to proclaim the day as the UN Day for women's rights and world peace. International Women’s Day has been celebrated yearly since then.

The move by Africa's largest and fastest growing airline, Ethiopian Airlines to mark International Women’s Day by operating an all-female crew from Addis-Ababa to Stockholm-Oslo, Norway is a welcome development as the carrier has received commendations from around the world for its decision.

 The airline made the announcement a few days ago to mark the special day, the flight from Addis-Ababa to Oslo will consist of a crew whose cockpit, airport operations, passenger control, flight deck crew, safety, catering staff, etc. will be 100 percent female.

Ethiopian Airlines operates five weekly flights to Oslo, Norway via Stockholm.

The airline also revealed that the theme of the flight is “all women functioned flight to operate from the continent of Africa to meet their counterparts in Europe to show the power of women to the world.”

 One thing that has impressed many, is the consistency of the airline management because this is not the first time they have marked International Women’s Day in this special way. The airline seems to always be a step ahead of its competitors.

You will recall that that Ethiopian Airlines celebrated the 2018 International Women’s Day by operating an all-female crew on a flight from Addis Ababa to Buenos Aires, Argentina, and operated same within Africa the year before.

Speaking on the development, the Ethiopian Airlines Group CEO, Tewolde GebreMariam said,

“We are immensely honored that we have women trailblazers in every aspect of our aviation field. Women are an integral part of our success story from the start and with this dedicated flight, we honor and celebrate their indispensable contribution to our aviation Group and the broader aviation industry, our country and the continent at large.

“Although women are Africa’s greatest resource, gender inequality still persists in our continent. Therefore, we all need to ensure that women take their rightful position in all human endeavor by creating the right conditions and through all-inclusive engagement models.”


Purdue Institute adds new simulator to its flight training devices

 Purdue Polytechnic Institute students will soon reach a new level of aviation training without leaving the ground.

The Polytechnic’s School of Aviation and Transportation Technology announced the addition of a Hawker 900XP full-motion, Level D simulator to its collection of flight training devices. Purdue is the only university to offer Hawker simulator training.

The Hawker simulator will be housed in the Holleman-Niswonger Simulator Center at Purdue University Airport along with the aviation school’s Phenom 100 jet, CRJ-700 airliner, Cirrus SR20 aircraft training devices and a number of part-task trainers.

“We are the only university in the nation to offer jet-type training integrated into our Bachelor of Science degree program,” said Manoj Patankar, the Raisbeck Engineering Professor of Aviation Technology and head of the School of Aviation and Transportation Technology. “Adding the Hawker simulator is a giant leap in collegiate flight education that gives our students a significant competitive advantage upon graduation.”

The Hawker simulator is designed and manufactured by FlightSafety International, a world leader in aviation training and simulation.

“Purdue’s degree combines the depth of university study with the practical skills to be employment ready,” said Mike Suckow, associate professor of practice in the aviation school. “Thus, we are continuously working with industry to understand the gaps as technology advances.”

“We plan on acquiring a full spectrum of flight training devices that allow us to expand our capacity to support the increasing enrollment, conduct leading research projects and keep our students competitive in the job market,” Patankar said.

The Hawker flight simulator will arrive later this spring and be ready for use by students in Purdue Polytechnic’s professional flight program this fall.


Airbus inaugurates new training center in India

 Global aerospace major Airbus recently made an announcement that the company has opened its training center for commercial pilots and maintenance engineers at Haryana's Gurugram in the National Capital Region (NCR). 

"Through the center, we aim to train 8,000 commercial pilots and 2,000 maintenance engineers over the next 10 years," an Airbus spokesperson told IANS at the Aero India air show. 

The center includes an A320 simulator for full-flight simulation and programs on aircraft procedure training, computer-based classroom training and standard pilot transition training, the company said in a statement. 

It also has an 'Upgrade to Command' course to improve the skills of the co-pilots. 

The facility will complement Airbus India's training center in Bengaluru, which has trained over 4,500 maintenance engineers since its inception in 2007, the statement said. 

"Providing a training infrastructure to support our customers' businesses is a priority for us," said Airbus India and South Asia President Anand E. Stanley in the statement. 

The aerospace major assessed that India will need 25,000 additional pilots over the next 20 years to keep pace with the growing commercial aviation industry. 

"Over 500,000 additional pilots will be required worldwide over the next 20 years," it added. 


Free' commercial pilot training to be provided to selective UAE residents

 Selected applicants will also get guaranteed employment with an airline.

Applications are open for a new batch of Cadet Pilots who will be trained to become aviators for Cebu Pacific (CEB).

The airline will be recruiting 16 candidates who will undergo a ‘study now, pay later, zero-interest’ training program to become full-fledged commercial pilots with guaranteed employment with the airline.

The Cebu Pacific Cadet Pilot Program is open to all Filipino citizens (those in the UAE included) who are college graduates and are proficient in English. There are no preferred college degrees, and applicants need only have an average grade of at least 70% or its equivalent in subjects related to Math, Physics and English.

The program entails 52 weeks of integrated flight training, theory and education at Flight Training Adelaide (FTA) in Australia. They will undergo learning modules; train in a flight simulator and then on to an actual aircraft.

Successful candidates will receive Diplomas of Aviation for Commercial Pilot License - Aeroplane, Instrument Rating, and for Pilot in Command. They will also undergo an additional four weeks of training to obtain a Pilot's License under the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines.

CEB cadet-pilots need not worry about expenses related to the flight training, as the airline will shoulder the costs first-including a stipend, and amortize the payment for the course while they are employed. Cebu Pacific will finance the entire program, and successful cadet-pilots who enter the CEB corps of pilots will reimburse the cost of the program through salary deduction over a maximum of ten years at zero-interest.

There is no application fee for the program. The application process begins with an online pre-screening. This is followed by an on-site screening for core skills and pilot aptitude tests, among other examinations where a fee of $425.00 Australian dollars (Dh1332 approx) will be charged.

FTA will screen and shortlist all the candidates. Cebu Pacific and FTA will then jointly select the final Cadet Pilots through a final interview and deliberation.


US Air Force awards $739m in launch contracts to ULA and SpaceX

 The US Air Force has divided $739 million in launch contracts between United Launch Alliance and SpaceX for six national security missions slated for 2021-2022.

Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center announced the contracts, awarded under the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) program, Tuesday evening.

ULA will receive $441.76 million under a fixed-price contract to launch SBIRS GEO-5, SBIRS GEO-6 and Silent Barker, a classified space situational awareness mission.

NROL-85, NROL-87 and Silent Barker are classified missions for the National Reconnaissance Office. The Space-Based Infrared System Geosynchronous Earth Orbit SBIRS GEO-5, SBIRS GEO-6 and AFSPC-44 are Air Force satellites.

This is the sixth competition under the current Phase 1A EELV procurement. The final request for proposals for these launches was released Jan. 31, 2018 and proposals were due April 16, 2018.

“The competitive award of these EELV launch service contracts directly supports SMC’s mission of delivering resilient and affordable space capabilities to our nation while maintaining assured access to space,” Lt. Gen. John Thompson, SMC commander and program executive officer for space, said in a statement. “Phase 1A continues to enable the space enterprise to respond to the rapidly evolving operating environment.”


First Hawkeye 360 satellites pinpoints frequency signals

 Hawkeye 360 recently announced that it could pinpoint the location of radio frequency signals with its first three satellites launched in December on the SpaceX rideshare mission.

“It took us about two months to do all the commissioning and testing but we are very excited to announce the satellites are working very well,” John Serafini, Hawkeye 360 chief executive, told SpaceNews. “They are now in commercial service providing data to our customers.”

Hawkeye 360 has attracted defense, intelligence and commercial customers since the startup formed in Herndon, Virginia, in October 2015. In a little over three years, the company moved from initial financing to spaceflight operations, Serafini noted.

One unique aspect of Hawkeye 360’s business model is formation flying. The company operates three satellites, spaced 100 to 200 kilometers apart.

“That unique geometry allows us to geolocate the signals,” Serafini said. “To our knowledge, we are the first commercial company to fly satellites in formation with software-defined radios to detect, analyze and geolocate RF activity.”

In early testing of its three Pathfinder satellites in orbit, Hawkeye demonstrated it can geolocate a variety of sources including VHF Channels 16 and 70, Emergency Position-Indicating Radiobeacons, Automatic Identification System for ship tracking and marine radar signals. Hawkeye then analyzes the signals to provide “insights for maritime, emergency response, and spectrum analysis applications,” according to the company’s Feb. 26 press release.

Because Hawkeye 360 can determine the source of the signal, the company does not have to trust whatever coordinates are announced. “In fact, this means if a ship claims a particular location, we can verify if that claim is true or false,” Adam Bennett, Hawkeye 360 product marketing manager, said by email.

To date, Hawkeye 360 has raised more than $28 million from investors including Raytheon, Allied Minds, Space Angels, Razor’s Edge Ventures, Shield Capital Partners and Sumitomo Corp. of Japan.

Will the on-orbit demonstration attract new Hawkeye 360 customers and investors? “We’re certainly engaged with both and excited to bring this commercial offering to the market,” Serafini said.

Hawkeye 360 is developing its second three-satellite cluster which it plans to launch in late 2019 or early 2020. The company has not announced a launch provider. The second satellite cluster is fully financed, Serafini said.


HH-60W Combat Helicopters prepare for flight test

 Two fully assembled HH-60W Combat Rescue Helicopters (CRH), built by Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin company, are preparing for their maiden flights, which will occur before mid-year at the Sikorsky West Palm Beach site in Florida.

Both aircraft, which are being built for the US Air Force, were transported late last year to West Palm Beach following final assembly at Sikorsky's facility in Stratford, Connecticut. The aircraft test readiness review was completed in October 2018. The CRH HH-60W flight test team is currently preparing both aircraft for flight by conducting final installation of instrumentation and ground run testing. This marks formal entry into the flight test program that culminates in Ready Assets Available (RAA), allowing the Air Force to declare Initial Operational Capability (IOC).

Sikorsky Combat Rescue Helicopter West Palm Beach 2019

 "Having these initial HH-60W helicopters in West Palm Beach for flight test is an exciting time for the Sikorsky team. It is the first step toward a low rate initial production decision later this year, which will allow Sikorsky to provide a constant production flow of aircraft to the warfighter," said Greg Hames, Sikorsky director, Combat Rescue Helicopter program. "This is the point in the program when Sikorsky begins providing new aircraft into the warfighters' hands, initiating transition to the vastly more capable and reliable HH-60W Combat Rescue Helicopter."  

The first of the two HH-60W aircraft will enter flight test with the new Tactical Mission Kit. The integration of sensors, radar, and multiple defense systems will bring added intelligence into the cockpit, enhancing pilots' situational awareness to complete missions, which is key to improving aircraft and isolated personnel survivability. Sikorsky's HH-60W team completed the System Configuration Test Readiness Review milestones for the Tactical Mission Kit last year.

The HH-60W hosts a new fuel system that nearly doubles the capacity of the internal tank on a UH-60M Black Hawk, giving the Air Force crew extended range and more capability to rescue those injured in the battle space. The CRH specification drives more capable defensive system, vulnerability reduction, weapons, cyber-security, environmental, and net-centric requirements than currently held by the HH-60G.

"Our team is working every day to build and deliver a superior quality helicopter to the U.S. Air Force for this critical mission," added Hames. "Both Sikorsky and the Air Force remain committed to achieving a low rate initial production decision this year and getting this much-needed aircraft to our air men and women out in the field." 

A total of nine aircraft will be built in Connecticut during the Engineering Manufacturing Development (EMD) phase of the program ― four EMD aircraft and five System Demonstration Test Articles. The Air Force program of record calls for 112 helicopters to replace its aging HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopters.


SynapseMX’s new cloud platform to solve unscheduled maintenance challenges

 SynapseMX’s new cloud platform seeks to help carriers solve the headaches of unscheduled maintenance through artificial intelligence and better team coordination rather than through hiring of more technicians.

Time is money when it comes to unscheduled maintenance events, and in an industry already facing a significant shortage of skilled workers, many carriers are feeling the pressure to make sure their maintenance operations are staffed up to minimize downtime as much as possible. Atlanta-based software startup SynapseMX has rolled out a new cloud-based maintenance management and execution platform that seeks to help companies solve unscheduled maintenance challenges through better productivity and coordination rather than through spending extra money to beef up staff. 

“We are very focused on improving productivity and not headcounts,” says Shane Ballman, CEO, SynapseMX. “There’s obviously a huge skilled labor crisis in the industry today, and it’s hard to find people to backfill positions or expand your operation.”

Ballman points to his prior experience heading AirTran Airways’ Maintenance Technology group, where his team used early versions of the technology and automation tools built into SynapseMX to grow the carrier’s operation without needing to hire additional technicians. According to Ballman, the low-cost carrier started out with approximately 4.2 technicians per aircraft and got the number down to 2.6 technicians per aircraft while growing fleet size—this at a time when Ballman says the industry was averaging around 10.2 technicians per aircraft.

“They saved a bunch of money in being more effective in how they performed maintenance,” he says. “You can’t put nine people in a cockpit and expect to get any kind of productive work done. By helping people understand how you can deploy people more effectively, you can start to do work between turns or maybe more efficiently schedule on the overnight maintenance.”

Ballman says SynapseMX took that mentality and applied it to an industry need for a targeted software tool to help solve unscheduled maintenance headaches through real-time data tools. The SynapseMX platform, which the company started building approximately one year ago, enables digital team collaboration to monitor maintenance issues in real time, assign jobs, perform and sign off on work, track job progress and use performance metrics to identify where bottlenecks are taking place. In the event of an unscheduled maintenance event, Ballman says a technician or operator in the field can use their mobile device to notify relevant team members via text message about the issue, projected downtime and parts that will be required.

According to Ballman, SynapseMX helps teams understand what sort of impact an unscheduled maintenance event will have in terms of operational disruption and then dives deeper into data to forecast how long it will take a specific technician to complete a certain task within varying conditions, such as cold weather. The platform automatically generates an event log for specific maintenance items or for an operation’s entire day so managers and dispatch can see what is going on in real time.

Ballman says SynapseMX and one of its partners have started exploring notification escalations, such as notifying senior executives of a maintenance event only when an asset has been down for a certain period of time. The company is also working on releasing the newest version of the platform, which Ballman says will deploy new features related to artificial intelligence (AI) and people tagging functionality similar to that used on social media platforms.

Full deployment of SynapseMX’s new AI functionality will tell users which technicians to contact for troubleshooting questions about particular issues, how long it should take to solve particular problems in various locations, common parts required for different maintenance events and how long an aircraft is predicted to be completely out of service. Meanwhile, users of the platform will be able to tag people in automatically generated reports to bring them into the conversation as needed without bogging them down with constant updates. Ballman says the newest version of the platform is scheduled for release at the beginning of March.


Dassault Aviation acquires TAG Aviation’s European MRO activities

 Dassault Aviation and TAG Aviation announced the acquisition of the European maintenance activities of TAG Aviation Group by Dassault. The announcement was made privately at both companies.

Talks of the acquisition began in the middle of 2018, however, the deal was put into motion only at the end of 2018.

Adeline Vareon, marketing manager, TAG Aviation, said, “Given the changes that are taking place in the market, TAG felt it would be the best decision to go through with this.”

She said it would enable TAG to be more competitive in the MRO segment, since their main focus is aircraft management.

“This acquisition is not only good for clients, but also for our employees. Dassault will continue to service our existing clients.”

As such, the transition period is likely to last until June next year. The activities carried out by the now-Dassault maintenance centers in Europe will continue unaltered. The senior staff team that worked under TAG will helm operations carried out for other manufacturers at these centers.

Vareon also said, “Dassault was the one that came forward with the idea for the acquisition and we have strong reason to believe this will be extremely beneficial to us in the future.”

“The acquisition of the maintenance activities of TAG AVIATION, a major MRO provider, will allow Dassault Aviation to reinforce its European service center network. With TAG Maintenance Services, we intend to develop further a network of excellence and to support TAG different aircraft clients with the same commitment to service quality, while expanding the share of Falcon maintenance activities controlled by the Dassault Group”, declared Eric Trappier, Chairman and CEO of Dassault Aviation.

“We have been working hard over the past twenty years to build up a high quality maintenance organization, specializing in the Dassault and Bombardier product lines”, remarked Mr. Mansour Ojjeh, President of TAG Group, the majority shareholder of TAG Aviation. “During that time we have built a strong relationship with Dassault Aviation, based upon mutual trust and respect. Given the many challenges faced by independent MROs in the current industry environment, we are pleased to sell this segment of TAG Aviation to a respected OEM who values it’s employees and shares TAG’s high business standards”.


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