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Wednesday, July 21st, 2021

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Bezos and three crew enjoy successful sub-orbital flight aboard New Shepard

On the anniversary of Neil Armstrong’s and “Buzz” Aldrin’s moon landing in 1969, Jeff Bezos and three fellow crew members successfully completed a 10-minute ten-second suborbital flight aboard Blue Origin’s New Shepard, reaching a maximum altitude of 66.5 miles (107 km). Describing the event as “Best day ever,” Bezos was accompanied by his brother Mark Bezos, Oliver Daemen who is a recent high school graduate, and the pioneering female aviator 82-year-old Wally Funk who was one of the original Mercury 13 group of women who trained with NASA to become astronauts in the 1960s, but the program was cancelled and none of the 13 flew.

The spacecraft, New Shepard, was named after Alan Shepard, the first American in space and it reached a top speed of 2,233 miles per hour (3,595 kph) and exceeded the Karmen line, set at 62 miles above the Earth’s surface and defined by an international aeronautics body as the boundary between the Earth’s atmosphere and space. This exceeded the altitude achieved by Sir Richard Branson on July 11 and his Virgin Galactic Unity spacecraft which has a maximum achievable altitude of 55 miles (99 km). Unlike Branson’s spacecraft, New Shepard was pilotless and resembled more a space rocket as opposed to an aircraft like Unity. Once New Shepard’s capsule containing the four crew members had separated from the booster rocket, they were able to enjoy a short period of weightlessness, after which the capsule returned to earth under parachutes, with a retro-thrust system expelling a “pillow of air” being deployed for a soft landing.

These two successful spaceflights have given greater credibility to the space tourism industry, with Swiss Bank UBS estimating it will have a US$3 billion value in annual sales in ten years’ time. Currently Bezos has sales of approximately US$100 million for flights aboard Blue Origin’s New Shepard, while Sir Richard Branson has sold 600 flights aboard Virgin Galactic’s Unity at US$250,000 a seat for a total value of US$150 million.

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Malaysia Airports, Skyports, and Volocopter collaborate to conduct feasibility study for vertiport deployment in Malaysia

Malaysia Airports has signed a tripartite memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Skyports, the designer and operator of vertiport infrastructure for electric air taxis, and Volocopter, the pioneer of Urban Air Mobility (UAM). As a first step, the parties will combine their distinct aerospace and aviation expertise to conduct a feasibility study examining suitable vertiport solutions to enable the safe take-off and landing of passenger eVTOL vehicles, considering factors such as demand, customer flow, and how to integrate UAM operations.

The Asia Pacific region is expected to capture around 45% of the advanced air mobility (AAM) market by 2035, translating to US$9.5 billion. The outcome of this venture will be a game-changer in terms of air travel offerings. The collaboration forms part of the five-year Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah Airport, Subang (LTSAAS) regeneration plan. It will explore the deployment of revolutionary electric air taxi services at LTSAAS as well as other locations throughout Malaysia, putting the country amongst the leaders in the region in terms of willingness to implement UAM.

Malaysia Airports’ Group CEO, Dato’ Mohd Shukrie Mohd Salleh, said: “Air taxi technology and revolution is the next big thing that we want to see happen in Malaysian aviation. With LTSAAS offering a synergistic ecosystem within the aviation and aerospace sectors, it is timely for us to explore this new service as it complements other key developments of the regeneration initiative. Volocopter and Skyports are both leaders in their respective fields of advanced air mobility and we hope to further futureproof LTSAAS’s position in Asia Pacific by catering to research, assembly, manufacturing, maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) in addition to air taxi operations. Our objective is to provide end-to-end, mid-to-high value capabilities and solutions that are anchored by top tier operators.”

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MTU Maintenance Berlin-Brandenburg inducts first CFM56-7B engine

MTU Maintenance Berlin-Brandenburg has received German aviation authority (LBA) approval for the CFM56-7B engine and inducted the first engine of this type on July 21. It is now the third facility within the MTU Maintenance network capable of servicing this engine type and plans to ramp up to at least 50 engines per year in the coming years. 

“The CFM56-7B engine will be a key program for the next decade,” says Michael Schreyögg, Chief Program Officer, MTU Aero Engines. “This introduction will increase the flexibility within our network to serve customer needs, builds on synergies within MTU Maintenance and ensures volume for our facility in Berlin-Brandenburg.”

Platinum Equity to acquire global aerospace supply chain services provider Unical Aviation

Platinum Equity has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Unical Aviation Inc. and certain of the company’s affiliates (Unical), a leading provider of aircraft parts and components to the global commercial aerospace market, from affiliates of the company’s founders.

The acquisition includes Unical Aviation, Unical MRO, Unical 145 and Unical Aero. Unical Defense Inc., an affiliate that serves government defense contracts, is not included in the sale to Platinum Equity. The transaction is expected to close during the third quarter of 2021. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Platinum Equity, a Los Angeles-based global investment firm with more than US$25 billion of assets under management, has substantial experience investing in supply chain and logistics businesses, including in the aerospace sector. The firm currently owns Incora, a global aerospace and defense supply chain service provider based in Fort Worth, Texas. Unical will operate as a standalone company in Platinum Equity’s portfolio.

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HAECO harnesses advanced livestream technology to complete remote on-wing modification with OEM

HAECO Group has leveraged its new remote inspection technology to complete the on-wing modification of nacelles in close collaboration with an original equipment manufacturer (OEM). The modification was conducted by Base Maintenance’s 24/7 On-wing Structure Support (OSS) team at HAECO Hong Kong’s maintenance hangar in Chek Lap Kok.

Both the airline customer and the OEM expressed complete satisfaction with the work performed, which represented the culmination of months of preparation and teamwork involving multiple parties. The circumstances presented by the COVID-19 pandemic revealed the increasing importance of digital innovation. Turning a challenging situation into an opportunity, the OSS team introduced remote digital inspection to ensure a seamless live collaborative environment between the Hong Kong-based HAECO maintenance team and the OEM technical support teams based in Singapore and the United States.

HAECO’s remote inspection system includes voice-controlled goggles (a hands-free device equipped with a camera and screen, approved for use in hazardous environments) paired with a communication interface that can be accessed from any computer or mobile device. This software allows each party connected to the system to see through the mechanic’s eyes at any time to ensure their work meets expected safety and quality standards. With their hands-free smart glasses, mechanics or inspectors can also follow digital workflows in the field, take inspection pictures, share files and capture field data.

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Airbus delivers first A350 from widebody completion and delivery center in Tianjin

Airbus has delivered the first A350 from its widebody completion and delivery center in Tianjin (C&DC), China, taking additional steps in the expansion of its global footprint and long-term strategic partnership with China.

The A350-900 aircraft was delivered to China Eastern Airlines, the largest Airbus operator in Asia. At the end of June 2021, China Eastern Airlines operated an Airbus fleet of 413 aircraft, including 349 A320-family aircraft, 55 A330-family aircraft and nine A350 aircraft.

Located at the same site as the Airbus Tianjin A320 family final assembly line and the Airbus Tianjin delivery center, the widebody C&DC covers the aircraft completion activities, including cabin installation, aircraft painting and production flight test, as well as customer flight acceptance and aircraft delivery.

Collins Aerospace selects AdaCore’s QGen code generator to streamline model-based development

AdaCore, a trusted provider of software development and verification tools, has announced that Collins Aerospace has selected AdaCore’s QGen code generator for Simulink®/Stateflow® models, and the new TQL-1 Enterprise Qualification Package, to advance the development of their FAA-certifiable PerigonTM computer, which is designed to support the future flight control and vehicle management needs of commercial and military rotary/fixed wing platforms.

By using the TQL-1 release of QGen, PerigonTM software developers are able to save thousands of hours of testing, verification, and certification efforts, while providing additional safety guarantees to their customers. With the adoption of the QGen Enterprise Qualification Package, Collins is now able to streamline its model-based engineering practices.

“AdaCore is excited to partner with Collins Aerospace to bring to market the first TQL-1 code generator for Simulink,” said JC Bernedo, AdaCore QGen team lead. “AdaCore has worked closely with Collins throughout the development of QGen to ensure it meets the development needs of their most critical aerospace software.”
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Tamar Jorssen
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Tamar