Boeing’s first KC-46A Pegasus tanker test aircraft made a 4-hr. first flight on Sep. 25 from Paine Field, Washington. Aircraft EMD-2 carries Cobham-supplied wing-mounted refueling pods and centerline hose-and-drogue system, as well as a Boeing-designed refueling boom, expected to be deployed for the first time on the second flight. Read more (subscribers)
A Royal Australian Air Force Airbus KC-30A tanker/transport is expected to continue refueling tests with the Lockheed Martin F-35A through October following the first fuel transfer between the two aircraft during tests at Edwards AFB in California. The KC-30A transferred 43,200 lb. of fuel over five contacts during the initial 4-hr sortie. Read more (subscribers)
Boeing has selected BAE Systems to supply the Eagle Passive Active Warning Survivability System (Epawss) digital electronic-warfare suite for U.S. Air Force F-15s. Epawss, based on digital radio-frequency memory technology, will replace the F-15’s 1980s tactical electronic warfare system and provide radar warning, advanced electronic countermeasures and increased chaff/flare capacity.
UH-60 Black Hawk/Sikorsky
Development of a new engine for the Boeing AH-64 Apache and Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk has been launched by the U.S. Army with release of a request for proposals for the Improved Turbine Engine Program. The 3,000-shp-class turboshaft will replace General Electric T700s powering the AH-64E, UH-60M and medevac HH-60M beginning in 2024. Read more (subscribers)
Simon Ghesquiere/Marine Nationale
The sale to Egypt of two Mistral-class amphibious assault ships built for Russia, announced by French President Francois Hollande on Sep. 23, could cost the French government and industry €350-400 million despite a contract value estimated at €950-960 million. Russian reports say Egypt will buy Ka-52 helicopters, potentially including Ka-52Ks to operate from the ships. Read more (subscribers)
King Air 350i: Hawker
Membership-based private aviation company Wheels Up, which operates a fleet of Beechcraft King Air 350i and Cessna Citation Excel/XLSs, has raised $115 million in new capital to expand in the U.S., set up operations in Europe and launch a ride-sharing scheme. Read more (subscribers)
Crowdfunders have now reserved shares worth more than $10 million to support development of XTI Aircraft’s TriFan 600 ducted-fan vertical-takeoff-and-landing business aircraft. The campaign on StartEngine allows XTI to assess small-investor interest in the program before formally offering shares. Read more (subscribers)
Chinese entrepreneur Wei Hang is setting up facilities in Chengdu and Tongliao to produce the 1960s-vintage Windecker Eagle all-composite light aircraft. Hang purchased two of only eight Eagles ever produced, along with production rights and type certificate. An Eagle being restored and upgraded in the U.S. will be used for marketing in China. Read more (subscribers)
Russian airline Transaero is heading into bankruptcy after Aeroflot dropped plans to take over the struggling carrier. A government-brokered deal to buy 75% plus one share of Transaero for a token rouble was announced on Sept. 1, but Aeroflot says the airline’s shareholders did not submit a purchase proposal by the deadline. Aeroflot says it will meet all of Transaero’s obligations to passengers.
Texas Aero Engine Services (TAESL), a 50-50 joint venture between Rolls-Royce and American Airlines, is to be closed in January 2016 at the request of the engine manufacturer. Fort Worth-based TAESL was established in 1998 to overhaul Tay and RB211 engines, but demand is declining as aircraft with those engines leave American’s fleet.
Alcoa is to split into two publically traded companies, one producing rolled and engineered products for the transportation and construction industries and including Alcoa’s $4-billion aerospace portfolio. The other “upstream company”, to retain the Alcoa name, will comprise five business units in bauxite, alumina, aluminum, casting and energy. Read more (subscribers)
Virgin Galactic has completed extended-duration hot fire tests of the NewtonThree main-stage rocket engine for its LauncherOne satellite launch vehicle. Full-duration tests of the gas generator for the smaller NewtonFour upper stage engine were also conducted at Mojave, California. LauncherOne is designed to launch 200-kg. satellites into Sun-Synchronous orbits. Read more (subscribers)
Indian Space Research Organisation
India's first space observatory, Astrosat – a multi-wavelength mission to study distant celestial objects – was launched on Sep. 28 on the 31st flight of the country’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV). Astrosat and six satellites for foreign customers were launched by the most powerful PSLV XL with six strap-on boosters. Read more (subscribers)
Spectroscopic data from NASA’s 10-year-old Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter have confirmed that periodic dark streaks appearing on Martian slopes are the result of liquid water flowing on the planet’s surface. Discovery of the thin patches of damp soil is expected to sharpen the agency’s effort to determine if life exists or has existed on Mars. Read more (subscribers)
Airbus halted test flights with the first Pratt & Whitney PW1100G-powered A320neo following discovery of slight blade rubbing in the high-pressure compressor of one engine after hot-weather tests in the United Arab Emirates. Two other Pratt-powered test aircraft and two with CFM Leap-1 engines are flying, and Airbus still plans to begin deliveries this year. Read more
NASA has picked spacecraft aimed at Venus, asteroids and near-Earth objects for more study leading to one or two $500-million Discovery-class missions as early 2020. Selected from 27 proposals, the five missions will each receive $3 million for year-long concept studies leading to selection of one or two of them in September 2016 to complete development. 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.