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Monday, June 28th, 2021

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Virgin Galactic gets FAA go-ahead for space tourism flights

Shares in Virgin Galactic jumped nearly 40% on news that Sir Richard Branson’s spaceship company has been given approval for passengers to fly into space on a commercial basis, while putting pressure on ‘space race’ rivals Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos with Space X and Blue Origin, respectively. Shares in Virgin Galactic have all but doubled in value this year.

The FAA’s approval comes just a month after Virgin Galactic’s first manned space flight from its base in New Mexico in May with its SpaceShipTwo aircraft which has a capacity for six passengers. The company has more over 600 reservations for the 90-minute flight that will include several minutes of weightlessness, and which cost US$250,000 a piece.

"Today's approval by the FAA ... gives us confidence as we proceed toward our first fully crewed test flight this summer," said Virgin Galactic Chief Executive Officer Michael Colglazier in a statement.

Jeff Bezos announced earlier this month that he intends to be one of those onboard Blue Origin when it makes its first manned space flight, scheduled for July 20, 52 years to the day when Apollo 11’s Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin stepped on the Moon; Richard Branson has long since made it clear he will be one of the first to fly into space with Virgin Galactic, though whether this will be before July 20 remains to be seen.


BOC Aviation delivers three new Airbus A320neo aircraft to Scoot Airlines

BOC Aviation has delivered three of four new Airbus A321neo aircraft for lease to Scoot Airlines (Scoot). The aircraft will be powered by Pratt & Whitney’s PurePower® PW1100G-JM engines.

Robert Martin, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, BOC Aviation, said: “We are delighted to have delivered these aircraft to Scoot, and we’re pleased to be building a new relationship with another member of the Singapore Airlines Group. We look forward to working with Scoot and our other customers to provide more fuel-efficient and technologically advanced aircraft in the future.”

Leonardo delivers HH-139B helicopter to Italian Air Force

The Italian Minister of Defence Lorenzo Guerini and Italian Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Alberto Rosso have attended the acceptance ceremony of an Italian Air Force HH-139B helicopter during an official visit to Leonardo’s helicopter facility in Vergiate (Italy).

The HH-139B is a dedicated Air Force variant of the AW139 type. The aircraft will be used for a wide range of missions including SAR – Search and Rescue, firefighting, slow mover interceptor.

Over 1,200 AW139s have been sold to more than 280 customers in over 70 countries, including more than 80 for Italian government operators (Air Force, Guardia di Finanza, State Police, Coast Guard, National Firefighting Department and Carabinieri), plus emergency medical service operators. This helicopter model benefits from advanced digital technology solutions, for both flight and missions as well as training (pilots and maintenance technicians) and support.


VoltAero signs Airways Aviation as its French launch customer for Cassio-family of hybrid-electric aircraft

An agreement signed on June 25, has positioned Airways Aviation as the launch customer in France for VoltAero’s family of Cassio hybrid-electric aircraft, to be deployed for regional mobility and in pilot training.

Based on this Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), VoltAero will collaborate with Airways Aviation on defining the utilization of Cassio aircraft in its four-, six- and 10-seat versions (the Cassio 330, Cassio 480 and Cassio 600, respectively) to develop scheduled and on-demand air transport services in Southern France.

Additionally, Airways Aviation is to explore Cassio’s use in the company’s own pilot training courses – including the development of a flight simulator, as well as evolving innovative training and courses related to hybrid-electric technologies in aviation – covering such subject matter as airports and infrastructure.

The Memorandum of Understanding was signed by Jean Botti, VoltAero’s CEO and Chief Technical Officer; and Capt. Mauro Calvano, the President of Airways Aviation, during an event at Airways Aviation’s Montpellier-Méditerranée Airport headquarters.

This event, which was themed: “For a Quieter and Cleaner Sky,” also included the presence of VoltAero’s Cassio 1 hybrid-electric demonstrator aircraft, which performed a local flight to highlight its performance capabilities and low noise level. Cassio 1 was made available for inspection by invited local and regional officials, as well as by pilots currently in Airways Aviation’s training.


Jet Aviation acquires ExecuJet’s Zurich FBO and hangar operations and Luxaviation’s Swiss aircraft management and charter division

Jet Aviation has acquired ExecuJet’s Zurich FBO and Hangar Operations and Luxaviation’s Swiss Aircraft Management and Charter Division. With this acquisition the company adds a second FBO terminal, two private ramps and two hangars to its Zurich footprint and 17 aircraft to its European fleet.

Located opposite Jet Aviation’s FBO at Zurich Airport, the ExecuJet Zurich FBO includes one near-5,000 m² hangar and one 2,500 m² hangar; two private ramps at 4,620 and 5,760 m²; a 500 m² parking area; and a multifunctional, state of-the-art terminal for passengers and crews. 

Stefan Benz, Jet Aviation’s SVP of regional operations in EMEA, said, “Acquisition of the ExecuJet FBO in Zurich enables us to offer a more comprehensive range of services — including hangar space for short- and long-term private parking. For our charter customers, Luxaviation’s Swiss aircraft management and charter business significantly expands our fleet in Europe, offering even greater choice in meeting their varying requirements.”


Iridium Awarded US$30 million research & development contract by the United States Army

Iridium Communications has been awarded a research and development contract worth up to US$30 million by the United States Army (Army) to develop a payload to be hosted on small satellites that supports navigation systems, guidance and control for the global positioning system (GPS) and GPS-denied precision systems. The new experimental Iridium payload is intended to be hosted by another Low Earth Orbit (LEO) commercial satellite constellation, complementing the Iridium® constellation’s capabilities.

Through this contract the Army intends to develop this payload to support the concept of a rapidly deployable smallsat constellation to provide more effective sensor-to-soldier data transmission when in the field. The development of this new payload is based on Iridium Burst® technology, a unique service that can transmit data to millions of enabled devices at a time from space.

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Tamar Jorssen
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Email: tamar.jorssen@avitrader.com
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