Wednesday, September 18th, 2019


737 MAX software upgrade to be tested in simulator by new FAA chief

New Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) chief Stephen Dickson is heading to Seattle this week to visit Boeing and fly in a Boeing 737 simulator. The simulator will incorporate Boeing’s latest software ‘fix’ which will receive input from both angle-of-attack sensors in the 737 MAX’s MCAS anti-stall system.

However, this is not part of any certification process which will be required by Boeing before the beleaguered aircraft can once again take to the skies. Neither the FAA nor Boeing have yet given any clear timeline for the likelihood of such an event. According to Reuters news agency, Boeing has said it planned to conduct a certification test flight in the “September time frame” but Boeing Chief Executive Dennis Muilenburg did not give a specific date when asked last week. In addition to the simulator flight, Dickinson will also be meeting with the FAA aircraft certification team based in Seattle.

Separately, Boeing has recently declined an invitation to testify at a House Transportation Committee hearing. “Boeing is working diligently and transparently with committees in both the House (of Representatives) and the Senate to ensure that proper information is being shared and we will continue to do so,” the company made clear in an e-mailed statement. It was reported last month that the committee review would find the company needs to reorganize its engineering reporting lines company-wide and ensure higher ranking officials, including its CEO, get faster feedback about potential safety concerns from lower levels of the company.

Federal prosecutors aided by the FBI, the Department of Transportation’s inspector general and a number of blue-ribbon panels are investigating the 737 MAX as well as how the FAA certifies new aircraft.


Virgin Galactic announces major milestone in manufacture of next spaceship

Virgin Galactic released that it has mated the fuselage and cabin of its next spaceship to the completed wing assembly. In addition, the two tail booms have been mated to the spaceship’s rear feather flap assembly. The completion of these two milestones brings assembly of the next SpaceShipTwo, planned to enter service after VSS Unity, a major step forward.

With these milestones, the part fabrication of the wing, fuselage, cabin, nose and feather flap primary structures is now complete for the second commercial spaceship. In addition, the majority of systems integration for the wing is complete, as well as the build of the cabin crew station installation.

SpaceShipTwo vehicles are assembled in a modular fashion, with the cabin, fuselage, wing and feather assemblies built in parallel. Employing Design For Manufacturability and Assembly (DFMA) techniques, this approach grants easier access for systems integration earlier in the build
process, as well as an overall shorter assembly duration.

AAR wins parts supply contract with Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Aero Engines

AAR has signed its largest commercial deal in Japan to date, a multimillion dollar parts supply agreement with Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Aero Engines. AAR will begin work immediately as the parts supplier for MHIAEL’s PW4000 engine maintenance with international commercial airlines.

AAR will supply parts for MHIAEL’s demand of PW4000 94-inch fan engines used in thousands of commercial aircraft and will also have the capability to provide solutions from original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), including Unison and Eaton, for engine technological platforms.

This announcement follows AAR’s recent completion of its certification from the Japanese Civil Aviation Bureau (JCAB) allowing the company to also serve Japan-based airlines.


Bombardier delivers first of three Global 6000 business jets to Luftwaffe fleet

Bombardier has delivered the first of three Global 6000 business jets destined for use by the Luftwaffe, Germany’s air force. The Luftwaffe, a longtime Bombardier aircraft operator, will use the Global 6000 business jets to fulfill political and parliamentary transport requirements.

Powered by Rolls-Royce BR710 engines, developed and manufactured by Rolls-Royce Deutschland in Dahlewitz, Germany, the Global 6000 aircraft has enough range for non-stop flights between continents, which is ideal for political and parliamentary transport requirements.

Boeing and Safran to invest in Electric Power Systems

Boeing and Safran have announced a joint investment in Electric Power Systems (EPS), a company offering a suite of safe, certifiable and lightweight energy storage products that provide high-quality power for aerospace and other markets.

The joint investment will help EPS develop a highly automated industrial base capable of producing aviation-grade energy storage systems at an unprecedented scale. The investment will also support the advancement of technologies to further reduce the costs of battery systems for electric airplanes.

Boeing HorizonX Ventures and Safran Corporate Ventures jointly invested in EPS during this Series A funding round. EPS is the second advanced battery solutions company to join the Boeing HorizonX Ventures investment portfolio, following an investment in Cuberg, an advanced lithium metal battery technology company, in 2018. Safran Ventures also recently invested in OXIS Energy, a UK-based leader in lithium-sulfur cell technology for high energy density battery systems.


ST Engineering acquires Satcom Anti-Jamming capabilities

Singapore Technologies Engineering has released that its U.S. subsidiary iDirect Government has acquired 100% ownership in Glowlink Communications Technology.

This acquisition was carried out by way of a merger through a newly-incorporated special purpose vehicle, Intrepid Merger Sub and Glowlink, with Glowlink being the surviving entity.

The aggregate purchase consideration was US$20 million on a cash-free and debt-free basis plus employment based retention payment of up to US$5 million subject to fulfilment of certain conditions.

NR Investments highlights plans for Chisinau International Airport

NR Investments, has recently acquired the controlling interest in the operation of Chisinau International Airport.  On September 17, NRI reiterated its commitment to direct a significant percentage of this year’s pledged funding towards a new runway and to further enhance its modern terminal to create a world-class airport.

Concession holder Avia Invest needs to fund approximately €72 million in capital expenditure by the end of this year. A further €83.9 million will be required when passenger numbers surpass €3.2 million per annum. Total investment (under the concession agreement) will amount to €242 million, a significant sum to support and grow an important asset.


Austrian Airlines using Donecle’s automated inspection drone

Donecle has signed on Austrian Airlines, member of the Lufthansa Group, for its automated drone inspection solution. Donecle is excited to partner with Austrian Airlines to help the airline optimize their maintenance process by reducing time of aircraft inspection while increasing reliability, safety and traceability of airframe checks.

Donecle not only provides an automated drone which scans the complete external surface of the aircraft, but also delivers analysis software which assists the inspector to visualize and detect defects on the images, evaluate paint quality or check regulatory markings. All images are stored on a secure cloud platform to build a digital history of the aircraft and improve traceability over time, contributing to a paperless process.

A technical partnership was also agreed to work on the lightning strike use case. With the current traditional manual process, inspecting an aircraft after a lightning takes several hours to check for potential damage. With Donecle’s solution, Austrian expects to considerably reduce this long inspection time down to 2 hours, having a significant impact on AOG costs
and aircraft availability to better serve its passengers.

FAA’s 737 MAX certification process to be heavily criticized by JATR

A soon-to-be-finished report produced by the Joint Authorities Technical Review (JATR) has been reported by the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) as criticizing the U.S. approval process for Boeing’s 737 MAX jet.

It is understood that the panel, which includes air-safety regulators from Canada, China, Indonesia, the UAE, the EU, Brazil and the U.S., will call out the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for what it says is a lack of clarity and transparency in the way it delegated authority to Boeing to evaluate certain flight-control features. In addition, the FAA appeared to pay insufficient attention to a number of essential design changes.

JATR will likely demand greater data-sharing and transparency among different governments, the WSJ reported, with the draft report recommending a review and updating of FAA guidance and day-to-day certification procedures, thus ensuring the FAA’s early involvement in new onboard systems. “We look forward to the publication of the JATR report when it is complete,” a Boeing spokesperson said in a statement.


Air Belgium renews contract with Rusada

Air Belgium has signed a multi-year contract extension for Rusada’s MRO and Flight Operations software, ENVISION.

Air Belgium operates a mixture of scheduled and ACMI services using a fleet of Airbus A340’s. Its scheduled flights serve the Caribbean islands of Guadeloupe and Martinique, while its ACMI customers include British Airways, Air France and LOT Polish Airlines.

The airline initially signed up for ENVISION in September 2016, and after a successful initial term has elected to renew its agreement with Rusada for a further 3 years. The carrier uses ENVISION’s Fleet Management module for the continuing airworthiness management of its aircraft.


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