Airbusnow plans to deliver the first A320neo to Lufthansa, and not Qatar Airways, because of operational restrictions still in place on the Pratt & Whitney PW1100G engine, pending shaft bearing changes and a software update. If negotiations are successful, the first A320neo is expected to be delivered to Lufthansa on Dec. 22.Read more
Credit: GE9X/General Electric
General Electric has begun tests of the high-pressure core of the GE9X engine for Boeing’s 777X twinjet, paving the way for the first full engine tests to begin in 2016. During initial tests at GE Aviation’s altitude facility in Evendale, Ohio, the demonstration core operated at maximum speeds and exceeded the engine’s design compression ratio of 27:1. Read more (subscribers)
Boeing has completed detailed design of the stretched 787-10, and fatigue testing of the basic 787-8. First flight of the 330-seat 787-10 is scheduled for 2017, leading the service entry in 2018. The five-year fatigue test is the first conducted for a primarily composite-built aircraft and covered some 165,000 cycles, more than 3.6 times the design life of the 787, and met expectations, says Boeing. Read more
Boeing plans to fly the 737 MAX early in 2016 after rolling out the first MAX 8 on Dec. 8 in Renton, Washington. The second and third test aircraft are in final assembly and the first variant of the CFM International Leap-1B-powered 737 MAX is on track for delivery to launch customer Southwest Airlines in the third quarter of 2017, says Boeing, which has more than 2,950 firm orders for the MAX. Read more
Credit: Venus image taken by Akatsuki/Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA)
Japan’s Akatsuki Venus Climate Orbiter entered orbit around the planet on Dec. 7 and is expected to begin studying its atmosphere in April 2016. Launched in May 2010, Akatsuki experienced a propulsion system failure the following December that prevented it achieving orbit on arrival. The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency used the spacecraft’s reaction-control thrusters to maneuver it into orbit. Read more (subscribers)
Orbital ATK’s Cygnus cargo vehicle docked with the International Space Station (ISS) on Dec. 9 after launching on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V, carrying almost 7,400 lb. of supplies. The mission followed the loss of the fourth Cygnus in the failure of Orbital ATK’s Antares booster soon after liftoff in October 2014. The latest launch is the first for the larger Enhanced Cygnus. Orbital ATK plans to launch its redesigned Antares on a mission to the ISS in March 2016. Read more
Credit: BAE Systems
The U.K.’s BAE Systems Taranis unmanned combat aircraft technology demonstrator has completed a third round of flight trials. The aircraft was airlifted back to the U.K. on Dec. 8 after the tests at Woomera, Southern Australia, where previous trials were conducted in 2013 and 2014. It is unclear whether further testing has been funded. Read more (subscribers)
Credit: Three fighter design concepts for the TF-X indigenous fighter/Turkish Aerospace Industries
BAE Systems is to assist Turkish industry with development of an indigenous fighter for the 2030s. BAE says it has begun “pre-contract study activities” after Ankara’s Undersecretariat for Defense Industries selected the U.K. company from a shortlist of five to help develop the TFX. BAE is expected to participate with program lead Turkish Aerospace Industries in a four-year preliminary design phase to begin in 2016. Read more (subscribers)
The Russian air force has taken delivery of the first modernized Ilyushin Il-76MD-90A airlifter from Aviastar-SP in Ulyanovsk, a subsidiary of United Aircraft Corporation (UAC). The first two aircraft were delivered to UAC subsidiary Beriev to serve as platforms for the A-50 airborne early warning system. The Il-76MD-90A has Aviadvigatel PS-90 engines and an updated glass cockpit. Read more
Boeing has delivered the fourth and final Peace Eagle 737 airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) system to Turkey. The aircraft is the last of 14 737 AEW&Cs ordered by Australia (6), South Korea (4) and Turkey. The commercially developed 737 AEW&C program was significantly delayed by development issues. Deliveries to launch customer Australia began in 2009, three years behind schedule.
Honda Aircraft received FAA type certification for the HA-420 HondaJet light business jet on Dec. 9. Powered by two GE Honda HF120 turbofans mounted over the wing, the HondaJet flew for the first time in December 2003. The test program involved more than 3,000 flight hours. Deliveries from the Greensboro, North Carolina, production line are planned to begin by the end of the year.
Credit: Pratt & Whitney Canada's new PT6A-140AG turboprop engine
Pratt & Whitney Canada’s new PT6A-140AG turboprop has been selected to power Air Tractor’s AT-502XP agricultural aircraft. The engine has a mechanical rating of 867 shp, and delivers 5% more power and 15% lower specific fuel consumption than other engines in its class, the company says. Thrush Aircraft is to develop a version of its 510G ag aircraft powered by General Electric’s H85 turboprop.
Credit: Airbus Group/James Darcy
The Airbus Perlan II mission to fly a glider to 90,000 ft. altitude has opened a hangar at Minden/Tahoe Municipal Airport in Nevada, as a base for flight testing of the 84-ft.-span pressurized Perlan 2 ahead of an attempt on the glider altitude record in southern Argentina in summer 2016. The two-seat Perlan 2 made its first flight in October in Oregon.
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.