U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Antonio P. Turretto Ramos
Repeated malfunction of the rudder travel limiter, and the crew’s response, caused the crash of Indonesian AirAsia Flight QZ8501 in December 2014, killing all 162 on board, Indonesian safety officials conclude. Evidence suggests the crew reset a circuit breaker on the rudder control computers, resulting in a roll and stall that they did not control. Read more (subscribers)
Etihad Airways has been chosen as the 2016 Air Transport World Airline of the Year. The award was announced during a reception hosted in New York by Etihad Airways and its president and CEO, James Hogan. ATW editors selected the airline from a field of more than 100 global competitors. Read more
After a development effort which began in 2002, China’s Comac delivered the first ARJ21 90-seat regional jet to launch customer Chengdu Airlines on Nov. 29. The aircraft is expected to enter service early next year after post-delivery tests. Chengdu, 48% owned by Comac, has 30 ARJ21s on order and expects to receive four more in 2016.
Embraer has thrown its hat into the ring to promote its KC-390 twin-turbofan airlifter for Canada’s long-delayed Fixed-Wing Search and Rescue (FWSAR) program to replace the CC-115 Buffalo. Bids are due in January. Airbus is offering the C295, Alenia Aermacchi the C-27J, and Lockheed Martin may offer the C-130J, already in service in Canada.
Online retailer Amazon has revealed its latest prototype unmanned delivery aircraft, a hybrid design combining multirotor vertical takeoff and landing and fixed-wing forward flight. Weighing under 55 lb. the aircraft will fly below 400 ft. for up to 15 mi. to deliver packages up to 5 lb. within 30 min., with sensors for collision avoidance in flight and obstacle detection on landing.
Italy’s Tecnam has completed assembly of the P2012 Traveller 11-seat aircraft, with roll-out planned for February and first flight for June 2016. Designed in partnership with commuter airline Cape Air, the aircraft is powered by two Lycoming TEO 540-C1A piston engines and has a Garmin glass cockpit. Tecnam and a Cape Air team including President Linda Markham (center) completed a production development review in November.
Flying-car developer Terrafugia has received FAA authorization to fly 1/10th-scale models of its next-generation TF-X to test the hovering capabilities of the unconventional tailless, tilting/folding-rotor configuration. The TF-X is a four-seat, hybrid electric, semi-autonomous, vertical-takeoff-and-landing flying car now in the early stages of development.
Germany’s e-volo has begun outdoor test flights of its VC200 Volocopter two-seat electric-powered vertical-takeoff-and-landing aircraft. Initially being flown by remote control, Karlsruhe-based e-volo says the battery-powered multi-rotor aircraft is easy to fly because of its highly automated flight controls.
Three of XCOR Aerospace’s founders – including founding CEO Jeff Greason - have left the suborbital spaceflight developer to set up a new company – Agile Aero – offering rapid vehicle prototyping services. The departure comes as XCOR moves from pioneering technology to flying and operating its lynx two-seat reusable spaceplane. Read more (subscribers)
European Space Agency
The European Space Agency’s LISA Pathfinder was launched on Dec. 3 from Kourou, French Guiana, on the sixth flight of the Avio-developed Vega rocket. The spacecraft will demonstrate technology for observing gravitational waves from space. Weighing close to 2,000 kg, LISA Pathfinder was placed in a low elliptical orbit , but its final location will be the Lagrange point L1, 1.5 million km from Earth.
Virgin Galactic has selected a Boeing 747 as the carrier aircraft for its LauncherOne air-released satellite launch vehicle. The aircraft, a modified passenger 747-400 formerly flown by sister company Virgin Atlantic Airways as Cosmic Girl (G-VWOW), will carry the LauncherOne vehicle to 35,000-40,000 ft. where it will be air-dropped and boosted into orbit. Read more
Lockheed Martin has received a $914 million foreign military sale contract to upgrade Singapore’s F-16s. No details are provided. In January 2014, the U.S. notified a possible $2.43 billion upgrade for 60 Singaporean F-16C/Ds, including active electronically scanned array radars.
Boeing ended production of the C-17, and seven decades of aircraft manufacture in Long Beach, California, with departure of the last of four airlifters scheduled to be delivered to Qatar in 2016. Including one unsold C-17 in storage, production totaled 279 aircraft. Read more
Test runs of the Trent 7000 for the re-engined Airbus A330neo are getting underway at Rolls-Royce in Derby in the build-up to certification in early 2017. Based on the Trent 1000 TEN in final development for the Boeing 787, the 68,000-72,000-lb.-thrust Trent 7000 will improve specific fuel consumption by 10%, double the bypass ratio and halve the noise emissions of the current Trent engines on the A330. Read more (subscribers)
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.