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Monday, November 16th, 2020

SpaceX successfully launches rocket with four crew bound for the ISS

In conjunction with NASA, SpaceX, owned by Tesla car maker Elon Musk, successfully launched its Crew Dragon capsule atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 on Sunday evening, at 7.27 eastern time (0027GMT). Onboard were four astronauts bound for the International Space Station (ISS), the first to be transported to the space station by an American-built rocket in over nine years.

More recent trips to the ISS have relied on securing places onboard Russia’s Soyuz spacecraft. This is also the first trip to the ISS onboard a privately built spacecraft, the U.S. and NASA deciding not to continue the original space shuttle program in 2011.

In 2014 both SpaceX and Boeing were awarded contracts under NASA's Commercial Crew Program to develop competitive space capsules to replace the shelved shuttle program with contracts worth US$2.6 billion and US$4.2 billion, respectively. Boeing's Starliner spacecraft has been delayed because of major software issues detected during a test mission last year, though officials expect it will be operational next year.

This is the first of six scheduled missions on behalf of NASA, though additional flights have been booked for private astronaut missions, including one believed to be for the Actor Tom Cruise, with a price tag estimated to be around the US$50 million-plus mark.

The launch and subsequent journey of the Crew Dragon capsule have been successful at the time of publication, with the duration of the flight set at 27 hours between launch and docking at the ISS. The original launch scheduled for November 15, had to be canceled owing to poor weather conditions which would have made recovery of the reusable booster stage difficult. Some two hours prior to launch, there was also an air pressure leak detected, but this problem was successfully resolved. The ISS orbits the Earth at an altitude of approximately 250 miles (400km) and the crew are expected to dock at around 11 p.m. eastern time today, November 16. 


Qantas marks 100 years of serving Australia

Queensland and Northern Territory Aerial Services (QANTAS) today marks 100 years since it was founded in the Australian outback.

On November 16, 1920, two veterans of the Australian Flying Corps, Hudson Fysh and Paul McGinness, together with local grazier Fergus McMaster, founded what would later become the national carrier.

This happened just 17 years after the first powered flight by the Wright Brothers, two years after the end of World War One and at the tail end of the last major global pandemic, the Spanish Flu.

The new airline focused on conquering the “tyranny of distance” that was a major barrier to the growth of modern Australia. Its early chances of success were uncertain, to the point early backers called their investment “a donation”.

Initially carrying mail between outback towns, the airline was flying passengers to Singapore by the 1930s. By the end of the 1940s its strategic importance saw it nationalized and in the 1960s it was an early adopter of the jet aircraft that mainstreamed global travel. Qantas invented business class in the 1970s, switched to an all-747 fleet in the 1980s, was privatised in the 1990s, founded Jetstar in 2004, went through major restructuring in 2014 and, by 2020, had recently completed several important ‘firsts’ in non-stop travel to Europe and the US.

Qantas is the oldest continuously-operating airline in the world and the only one that flies to every single inhabited continent on earth.

Planned centenary celebrations have been significantly scaled back due to the impact of COVID – but Qantas will still mark the occasion with a low-level flyover of Sydney Harbour on the evening of its anniversary.

The flight path is expected to pass near Rose Bay where the Empire Flying Boats took off for Singapore between 1938 and 1942.


Beechcraft King Air 360 enters into service

Txtron Aviation has announced the entry into service and first delivery of its Beechcraft King Air 360 turboprop aircraft. Launch customer Stamoules Produce Company selected the flagship King Air 360 as its first-ever aircraft purchase due to its combination of outstanding performance capabilities, ease of operation and the enhanced passenger experience, all of which will help expand the company’s growing operations.

Stamoules Produce Company is a family-owned business based in the San Joaquin Valley of central California, often referred to as the cantaloupe center of the world. Specializing in growing and harvesting fruits, vegetables and nuts on its 17,000 acre farm, Stamoules Produce Company has steadily expanded its business since it began in 1927.

OGMA becomes new Pratt & Whitney authorized maintenance center to support GTF engines

OGMA, an Embraer Group Company, is the new authorized maintenance center for Pratt & Whitney engines. This is the culmination of a project developed by OGMA, with the support of Embraer, over the past 12 months, which allows it to expand its scope of services in the area of engine maintenance, marking the entry of Pratt & Whitney maintenance, repair and overhaul in Portugal.

The industrialization and training project to carry out the maintenance of Pratt & Whitney GTF™ (Geared Turbofan) PW1100G-JM engine is scheduled to start in 2021 and is expected to develop for the next two decades. Throughout the project, with higher incidence between 2022 and 2023, about 300 highly qualified direct jobs are expected to be created.

OGMA will invest €74 million, mostly in the first four years of the project, in a strategic step that allows it to broaden its scope of activity in the area of engine maintenance and to achieve new business over the next decades, which will triple OGMA’s turnover and reach the level of €600 million annually.


Singapore Airlines raises S$850 million through convertible bond issue

Singapore Airlines (SIA) has successfully raised S$850 million via a convertible bond issue that has been placed with a variety of institutional investors.

The offer was more than four times oversubscribed with strong investor interest. As a result, the issuance was upsized from the initial S$750 million to S$850 million with more attractive terms for SIA.

The five-year bonds will carry a competitive coupon of 1.625%, and can be converted into ordinary shares at a price of S$5.743 - a significant premium of 45.8% over the 12 November 2020 closing price of S$3.94. The Company appointed The Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation (HSBC) as the sole bookrunner and lead manager of the issue.

This issuance further strengthens the Company’s liquidity position, and bolsters its ability to navigate the challenges posed by the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the business. Proceeds from the bonds will be used to fund operating and capital expenditure, and debt servicing.

HEICO Repair Group is the world’s largest independent component MRO with capability for over 26,000 unique aircraft parts, servicing over 60,000 components annually. www.heico.com

Mid-Canada Mod Center completes first Canadian Installation of Universal Avionics InSight™ display system

Mid-Canada Mod Center (MC2) has completed the installation of a Universal Avionics (UA) InSight display system on a Citation VII aircraft. This marks the first Canadian installation of Universal Avionics’ integrated flight deck solution.

The work included an extensive flight deck upgrade, inflight connectivity, plus additional certification related to activities to obtain Transport Canada approval of UA’s FAA Supplemental Type Certificates (STC). MC2’s sister division, Avionics Design Services (ADS) helped smooth the way for application submissions and developed an STC for a software upgrade.

With this completed installation and certification, the InSight Display System is now a solution for all Citation VII aircraft with existing Honeywell and Collins Nav/Comm packages.


U.S. Department of Defense exercises options for 36 TH-73A helicopters

The U.S. Department of Defense has awarded Agusta Westland Philadelphia a US$171 million modification to the previously awarded firm-fixed-price contract for the US Navy’s Advanced Helicopter Training System. This modification exercises options for the production and delivery of an additional 36 TH-73A aircraft, with work expected to be completed in December 2022 in Philadelphia, PA.

In January 2020 Leonardo, through AgustaWestland Philadelphia, was awarded a firm-fixed-price contract valued at US$176 million for the production and delivery of 32 TH-73A helicopters, initial spares, support and dedicated equipment, and specific pilot and maintenance training services. The TH-73A will be used to train the next generation of student aviators from the US Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard.

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