An Italian air force Boeing KC-767A has become the first international tanker to refuel the Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, completing its first U.S. Air Force F-35A boom receiver certification flight on July 29 over California. One for four KC-767As operated by F-35 customer Italy, the tanker completed 25 boom contacts with the F-35 during the flight, and offloaded 16,000 lb. of fuel.
After years of delays and changes in program direction, the U.S. Army and Navy awarded Lockheed Martin a $66.3 million contract to develop a dual-mode millimeter-wave-radar/semi-active-laser guidance section for the Hellfire II air-to-surface missile under the Joint Air-to-Ground Missile (JAGM) program. JAGM is to be operational in 2018, arming Boeing AH-64E and Bell AH-1Z attack helicopters.
Boeing is facing another delay in flying the first fully outfitted KC-46A tanker after testers used a fuel substitute for an integrated fuel system ground test that they later discovered was mislabeled and did not meet military specifications. The system had to be dismantled, flushed and inspected for damage. The first flight of development aircraft EMD 2 is now expected in the fall.
Airbus has taken a further €290 million ($316 million) charge on its A400M military airlifter program, after the fatal crash on May 9 in Seville, Spain stopped some flight-test activities for several weeks and created bottlenecks in production, delaying deliveries. The loss comes on top of the €551 million charge taken in fourth-quarter 2014 because of program delays.
The U.K. defense ministry has dismissed Indian media reports that Indian air force Sukhoi Su-30MKIs dominated air combat exercises against Royal Air Force Eurofighter Typhoons.India’s NDTV says Su-30 crews enjoyed a 12-0 scoreline in within-visual-range combat against Typhoon pilots during last month’s Exercise Indradhanush IV in the U.K. The RAF says its analysis does not match the media reports and its pilots and the Typhoon performed well throughout the exercise.
The U.K. has committed to continue its involvement in U.S-led air strikes against Islamic State militants into 2017, and as a result will retain its third front-line Panavia Tornado GR4 squadron until at least March 2017. The Royal Air Force’s 12 Sqn. was reformed in January after having been deactivated in 2014 as part of the drawn-down of the Tornado fleet.
Mitsubishi Aircraft has opened its design office in Seattle, operated by AeroTEC, an aerospace consultancy that provides flight test, analysis and certification support. AeroTEC is also working with Mitsubishi to develop a flight-test center test center for the MRJ regional jet in Moses Lake, Washington, where the first of up to four aircraft is scheduled to arrive in the second quarter of 2016.
The flaperon found on La Reunion Island is from missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, says Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, although the French justice ministry says further tests are needed to confirm the finding. The Australian Transport Safety Bureau says revised drift modeling confirms debris reaching La Reunion is consistent with the search area being combed for remains of the Boeing 777.
Creditors of Japan’s Skymark Airlines have approved a rehabilitation plan that will see All Nippon Airways (ANA) take a 16.5% stake in the carrier, rejecting a rival plan that included Delta Air Lines. The proposal filed by Skymark, with the support of debtor-in-possession Integral Corp., ANA and major banks, received 135 of the 174 votes cast by eligible creditors, Integral will hold 50.1% of Skymark.
U.S. Airlines for Open Skies, a coalition of Hawaiian Airlines, JetBlue Airways and cargo carriers Atlas Air and FedEx Express, has formed to support unfettered open skies and oppose efforts by American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines to freeze the expansion of Gulf carriers Emirates Airline, Etihad Airways and Qatar Airways into the U.S under current open skies agreements.
U.S. Patent and Trademark office
Airbus Group has received a U.S. patent (9079661) for a supersonic airliner concept, unveiled at the 2011 Paris Air Show as the Zero Emissions High Speed Transport. Fueled by liquid or slush hydrogen and liquid oxygen, the gothic-delta-wing aircraft takes off conventionally on retractable turbojets, but then accelerates near-vertically on rocket power, transitions to ramjets to cruise at Mach 4-4.5 at 100,000-115,000 ft., covering up to 9,000 km in 3 hr., then lands on turbojets.
The Embraer Phenom 300 that crashed at Blackbushe Airport, England, on July 31, killing all four in board, maneuvered to avoid a microlight on approach then touched down 710 meters (2,330 ft.) beyond the threshold at 135 kt., well above the 108 kt. target speed and with only 349 meters landing distance remaining. The aircraft left the runway end, hit an earth bank then crashed into parked cars and burned.
NASA is extending its contract with Russia’s Roscosmos to deliver astronauts to the International Space Station on Soyuz vehicles, at a cost of U.S. $490 million, Administrator Charles Bolden blaming Congress for failing to fully fund the commercial crew program. The contract extension covers launches through 2018, landings through 2019, and options through 2020. Boeing and SpaceX are scheduled to begin sending crew to the station by 2017.
The FAA has granted more than 1,000 exemptions from airworthiness requirements to enable low-risk operations with small unmanned aircraft systems. The first exemptions under Section 333 legislation were granted in July 2014, for aerial filming on closed sets. Since then more than 20 different industries have received approvals to use small UAS.
Internet giants Amazon and Google are proposing changes to airspace below 500 ft. to enable operations by small unmanned aircraft, including their planned Prime Air and Project Wing package delivery services. Both propose allowing private-sector airspace service providers, including fleet operators, to manage low-altitude airspace and interface with FAA air traffic control.
Graham leads Aviation Week's coverage of technology, focusing on engineering and technology across the aerospace industry, with a special focus on identifying technologies of strategic importance to aviation, aerospace and defense.