MC-21 prototype is already at Zhukovsky for certification tests

lunes, 23 de octubre de 2017

Press release:

On October 17 2017, the first test MC-21-300 aircraft flew from the airfield of Irkutsk Aviation Plant to the airfield of Flight Research Institute n.a. M.M. Gromov (Ramenskoye, Moscow Region), to continue flight tests.

The aircraft flew nonstop 4 500 km for 6 hours at the altitude of 10 000 meters.

Mr Oleg Kononenko, the Hero of Russia, the test pilot and the flight crew commander, noted: “The flight went in standard mode. All aircraft systems operated without failures.”

Mr Yuri Slyusar, the President of United Aircraft Corporation (UAC) and Irkut Corporation said: “Today we open the new milestone of MC-21 program. Ahead, there is a continuation of flight and ground tests, introduction of new aircraft samples into test program, certification and initiation of serial production. Together with Irkut Corporation, a number of UAC enterprises, our partners from Rostec Corporation, and leading foreign companies participate in the MC-21 program. This program moves our enterprises to the new technological level and ensures the professional growth of our specialists.”

Mr Oleg Demchenko, the First Vice-President and the Chief Designer of Irkut Corporation said: “Flight tests of MC-21 aircraft performed at Irkutsk Aviation Plant, together with the long flight (from Irkutsk to Ramenskoye) prove declared aircraft characteristics. Since today, tests will be continued at Flight Test and Development Facility of Yakovlev Design Bureau. The new hangar with the new up-to-date complex for collection, processing, and storage of information, obtained during flight and ground tests, had been built for MC-21 basing.”
The New-Generation MC-21-300 commercial aircraft

MC-21-300 new generation aircraft with capacity of 163 to 211 passengers targets the most massive segment of aviation market.

MC-21 aircraft provides passengers with the qualitatively new level of comfort, due to the biggest fuselage diameter in the category of narrow-body aircraft. This design decision significantly widens private space of each passenger, ensures free passage of passenger and service trolley over the aisle, and shortens airport turnover time. Natural lighting of the passenger cabin is enhanced due to big windows. Comfortable air pressure and advanced microclimate is maintained in the aircraft.

MC-21 aircraft features an innovative ergonomic pilot cabin.

High demands for comfort and economic effectiveness of the aircraft pushed forward introduction of advanced technical solutions in aerodynamics, engine-building, and avionics.

MC-21 aircraft is superior to existing counterparts in terms of flight-technical characteristics and efficiency.

The major contributor to the enhancement of flight-technical characteristics of the aircraft is the wing made of polymer composite materials, the first-in-the-word one developed for narrow-body aircraft with the capacity of over 130 passengers. The share of composites in MC-21 design exceeding 30% is unique for this category of aircraft.

For the first time in the history of Russian aircraft manufacturing, the airliner is offered to the customers with two options of power plant - PW1400G of Pratt & Whitney Company (USA) or PD-14 of United Engine Corporation (Russia). New-generation engines feature reduced fuel consumption, low noise and hazardous emissions. MC-21 aircraft meets prospective environmental requirements.

Calculated reduction of direct operational costs for MC-21 is 12-15% lower than for counterparts.

The initial portfolio of firm orders for 175 MC-21 aircraft provides utilization of production capacity in the coming years. All firm contracts are prepaid.

The Russian enterprises are the integrators of the major aircraft systems. During implementation of MC-21 program, the competence centres have been established in Russia for development and manufacturing of components made of composite materials. With the purpose of introduction of new technologies, the radical modernisation of manufacturing facilities of Irkutsk Aviation Plant (the affiliate of Irkut Corporation) and a number of aviation-building and related enterprises has been implemented.

The major participants of the MC-21 program are: Irkut Corporation, an affiliate of UAC, as the head contractor, the enterprises of UAC, Rostec State Corporation, and foreign companies.

Currently, the first test aircraft undergoes flight tests, the second test sample underdoes static tests in TsAGI. Four more samples are being built at Irkutsk Aviation Plant. Starting next year, they will be gradually introduced into the test program.
MC-21-300 Flight Performance

Two-class layout capacity                                         163 seats (16 business + 147 economy)
Dense layout capacity                                               211 seats
Maximum take-off weight                                       79 250 kg
Maximum payload                                                    22 600 kg
Maximum flight range                                              6 000 km
Length                                                                     42.2 m
Wing span                                                    35.9 m
Height                                                          11.5 m

MC-21 Program: Brief Timeline

In July 2007, the Board of United Aircraft Corporation made a decision on the start of works on the program of creation of MC-21 short-medium range aircraft, with Irkutsk Corporation designated as the developer.

In August 2007, Irkut Corporation revealed the concept and the business-plan of the MC-21 project as the family of short-medium range aircraft.

In December 2008, tenders were announced for development and supply of the MC-21 systems.

In 2008, full-scale state funding of the program was started. Irkutsk Aviation Plant (IAP) began implementation of the comprehensive program of technical re-equipment, directed to preparation for MC-21 manufacturing, financed from the state budget, own funds, and the loan of Sberbank of Russia.

During 2009, negotiations with potential suppliers of components were performed, so that by December the list of suppliers of the systems was mainly defined.

In 2009, the tests of separate items of similar design were started. The extensive test program is being continued by now, at more than 100 benches, including four integrative ones. In particular, testing and finishing of aircraft systems, on-board equipment, and elements of aircraft's structure are performed.

In 2010, preliminary design project was approved, the key technical and technological decisions were made, the major solutions on after-sale support and integrated logistics were determined.

On 6 June 2010, by the Order of The President of the Russian Federation, Irkut Corporation was designated as the only contractor of the State Orders for creation of MC-21 aircraft family.

In 2013, development of design documentation for base version was completed, mastering of aircraft manufacturing was started.

In 2014-2016, a number of new production facilities were put into operation at IAP, within the frame of technological preparation for manufacturing. In particular, installation of the aggregate and final assembly line was finished.

On 8 June 2016, the rollout of the first test MC-21-300 aircraft designated for flight tests was implemented.

On 28 April 2017, the first flight test MC-21-300 aircraft was transferred from the final assembly shop to the IAP flight test division.

On 13-19 May 2017, MC-21-300-0001 aircraft performed taxiing and speed runs within the frame of preparation for the maiden flight.

On 25 May 2017, the Methodical Council of Experimental Aviation On Flight Tests issued the approval for the maiden flight of MC-21 aircraft.

On 28 May 2017, MC-21 performed the maiden flight.

On May-October 2017, flight tests of MC-21-300 aircraft were performed at IAP.

On 17 October 2017, MC-21-300 test aircraft flew to Ramenskoye airport for further flight tests at Flight Test and Development Facility of Yakovlev Design Bureau, where the new up-to-date complex for collection, processing, and storage of information, obtained during flight and ground tests, had been built.

Please, refer for details to


Certification of the Rig’N Fly automatic oil platform approach mode for the H175

London, Airbus Helicopters has received EASA certification for the Rig’N Fly (Rig Integrated GPS approaches with eNhanced Flyability and safetY) for its H175 super medium helicopter.

Already certified for the H225, this avionics upgrade enhances the H175’s offshore mission capability providing fully automatic rig approaches. The automated mode also reinforces flight safety by allowing the crew to focus on the flight parameters and the external environment.

“With 19 helicopters now in operation, the H175 continues to evolve to meet the demanding Oil & Gas industry mission needs,” said Marc Allongue, head of the H175 programme. “This automatic approach procedure is a key element to increase the reliability and safety of our customers’ offshore operations. Thanks to the Rig’N Fly mode, their approaches to and take-offs from platform-based helipads will be safer and simpler.”

Rig’N Fly uses a combination of sensors (GPS, barometric altimeter, radar altimeter, weather radar, etc.) to provide enhanced flight precision and situational awareness for automatic rig approaches. The system also includes offset approaches, which can be tailored according to weather conditions and oil rig environment for the safest, standardized approach, placing the helideck in the most easily visible position for the crew.

By providing a repeatable path computation, the ability to couple the Automatic Flight Control System along with the flexibility to take environmental elements into account, Rig’N Fly reduces the workload of the crew, while enhancing situational awareness.

The H175 upgraded avionics suite also include advances in the Synthetic Vision System - offering a better display resolution and decluttering capability- and in the Helicopter Terrain Avoidance System, which optimises crew alerting time. Approach-deviation alerts have also been improved while enhancement of the maintenance functions and associated ground tools allow for better detection of failures and simplification of data downloading.


The Air France A380 which suffered an engine failure is to be flown back with only 3 operating engines.

More info:


NASA Relearning Lost X-plane Skills With Low-Boom Demo

  • Bids to build NASA’s Low Boom Flight Demonstration X-plane submitted in September
  • Single-seat, single-engine demonstrator scheduled to begin flight testing in fiscal 2021
  • Designed to produce a reduced sonic boom of 70-75 PLdB through airframe shaping
  • Goal is community response data to support lifting ban on supersonic flight overland
Continue reading:

Photos: NASA


Podcast: A Trio of Pentagon Combat Aircraft Competitions

Aviation Week’s U.S. defense editors discuss pending battles for three new military airframes. The U.S. Navy has just issued a request for proposals for its MQ-25 UAV; the U.S. Air Force’s Jstars program is suddenly in limbo and its T-X trainer competition is delayed, while multiple competitors for that program jockey for position.


US Preparing to Put Nuclear Bombers Back on 24-Hour Alert

If the order comes, the B-52s will return to a ready-to-fly posture not seen since the Cold War


Boeing ponders restart of 767-300ER passenger line

Sources indicate that the prospect of restarting the 767-300ER passenger line could serve as interim lift until the prospective entry-into-service of the Boeing New Midrange Aircraft, now commonly called the 797, for the Middle of the Market sector. Continue reading


Opinion: What Could Go Wrong For Aerospace Industry?


Hypersonic Weapons: The Biggest Warfighting Disrupter Since Stealth Is Coming


Found Ultra Rare Footage Showing A B-2 Spirit Stealth Bomber Dropping A 30,000-Pound Bunker Buster Bomb [feedly]

We Have Found Ultra Rare Footage Showing A B-2 Spirit Stealth Bomber Dropping A 30,000-Pound Bunker Buster Bomb


NASA 'Pinpoints' Cause Of Earth's Recent Record Carbon Dioxide Spike

Study Cites El Niño-Caused Drought In Some Tropical Regions



U.K. MOD Introduces Mini-Drones For Surveillance

In AeroNews

MOD press release 

Winners announced in the latest round of the Autonomy of Hazardous Scene Assessment (AHSA) Defence and Security Accelerator competition which will change the way chemical and bio-hazards are investigated. 

Part of the Government’s innovation initiative, the project is funded jointly by the Ministry of Defence science and technology portfolio and by the Home Office.

The overall competition is worth nearly £3 million over 18 months. Run through the Defence and Security Accelerator, working with the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl), AHSA, to be known during phase 2 as ‘MINERVA’, is a competition to tackle the challenge of assessing scenes at incidents and on operations involving hazardous chemical or biological materials.
With a potential benefit to defence and security operations at home and abroad, the competition intends to help bring the conceptual designs into being, demonstration and eventual use, more quickly than usual.

Phase 1, which ran for 6 months until July 2017, funded 18 development projects and was worth £1.37million. Four of those initial phase 1 winners were then selected to develop their concepts further in this second phase. Early prototypes will be demonstrated by October 2018. Just over £1.6 million total funding was awarded to the following phase 2 winners:
  • BMT Defence Services, with an unmanned aerial vehicle which has gas-sensing technology
  • Horiba MIRA, which has a robot with its own neural networks which can deploy on decontamination missions
  • Loughborough University, with a pocket-sized drone which can search for chemicals
  • Snake Eyes, by Autonomous Devices Limited, which can be posted through a letter box and relay 3D images of a space and can detect chemical agents.
Peter Stockel, from Dstl, said: “After a fast-paced first phase, we are now delighted to rapidly move the project forward into phase 2 with four highly innovative and technically exciting system propositions to tackle this priority challenge for UK Defence and Security.
“With continued involvement and demonstration with the user community, we aim to mature this emergent capability over the next 12 months to test the ‘art of the possible’ and accelerate this into the hands of the prospective users for further operational evaluation, both for MOD and the Home Office.”
For more information visit AHSA or ‘MINERVA’.


Rocket motor for Ariane 6 and Vega C is cast for testing. It the largest solid-propellant rocket motor ever built in one segment.

The first full-scale model of the rocket motor that will propel Ariane 6 and Vega-C into orbit has been cast and filled with inert propellant for testing at Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana.

The P120C is the largest solid-propellant rocket motor ever built in one segment.

Each P120C will hold over 140 tonnes of propellant in a carbon fibre casing almost 11.5 m long and about 3.4 m in diameter. It is derived from Vega’s current first stage motor, the P80, which holds 88 tonnes of propellant.

The design builds on existing expertise and lessons learned with Vega’s P80, and it increases Vega performance with Vega-C. Two or four P120Cs will be strapped onto Ariane 6 as boosters for liftoff.

The model casing, shipped this summer from Avio in Italy, took about 36 hours to fill with inert propellant blended at Europe’s launch base in Kourou.

Using non-ignitable fluid that has a similar density to the real propellant meant that engineers could safely test all the new equipment and procedures.

Filled and sealed, the fluid in the casing could stabilise, cool and harden – the curing process – which took 10 days.

Further tests on the motor, now horizontal, will confirm that it is ready to be integrated with other structures in January.

These tests are a step towards casting active propellant in November with a P120C development motor that will be static fired in April.

Vega-C is expected to debut in mid-2019, increasing performance from Vega’s current 1.5 t to about 2.2 t in a reference 700 km polar orbit.

Ariane 6’s maiden flight is planned for 2020. This new launch vehicle will be gradually phased in to succeed Ariane 5.


Mars: living under its surface? Scientists testing in mines and lava tubes

If there are habitable conditions on Mars, they may be underground. Scientists from around the world are now testing how to search for life in extreme environments by venturing a kilometre beneath the surface in a UK mine. ESA astronaut Matthias Maurer has joined the expedition.

For two weeks, nearly 30 scientists and instrument specialists are venturing deep below for the fifth Mine Analogue Research sortie.

“Some of the most exciting places for planetary exploration are way below our feet,” notes Charles Cockell, head of the UK Centre for Astrobiology.

One day, explorers could live underground in lava tubes or caves in the Moon and Mars because they offer ideal environments for human outposts.

Just like some regions of the Red Planet, the Boulby mine in northeast England features brines that could host microbial life.

“I did not imagine that highly concentrated salt solutions could be a good place to start searching for traces of life,” remarked Matthias from underground.

“These features are completely new to me. There is so much you can learn on Earth about other planets.”

Down in the mine, Matthias is using life-detection equipment, drills and cameras for robotic and human exploration.

One of his tasks is to follow the performance of a robotic hammer that could one day be part of a Mars rover. It would help to sample a hostile planetary surface, exposing fresh surfaces for the search of life.

There are some ‘guests’ from ESA’s ExoMars mission that is gearing up for landing a rover on the Red Planet in 2020. The prototypes of a high-resolution camera and a package of sensors to measure water vapour are also exploring the deep darkness.

Next stop: Lava tubes

ESA’s Pangaea geology course will continue the work next month in the Mars-like landscapes of Lanzarote, Spain.

The volcanic features and tunnels created by flowing lava on the island will be a perfect setting for a team of astronauts, spacewalk experts, engineers and scientists to study tools and sampling techniques for exploring other planets.

Some of the tools used in the mine sorties will be put to the test for geology research and investigating lava tubes.

Pangaea’s five-day November test campaign will include 50 people, 14 experiments, 18 organisations and four space agencies.

ESA press release  


World’s first floating wind farm has started production

Hywind Scotland, the first floating wind farm in the world, has started to deliver electricity to the Scottish grid. Today the First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon, officially opens the wind farm.

The 30MW wind farm, operated by Statoil in partnership with Masdar, is located 25 kilometers offshore Peterhead in Aberdeenshire, Scotland and will power approximately 20,000 households.

“Hywind can be used for water depths up to 800 meters, thus opening up areas that so far have been inaccessible for offshore wind. The learnings from Hywind Scotland will pave the way for new global market opportunities for floating offshore wind energy. Through their government's support to develop the Hywind Scotland project, the UK and Scotland are now at the forefront of the development of this exciting new technology. Statoil looks forward to exploring the next steps for floating offshore wind,” says Irene Rummelhoff, executive vice president of the New Energy Solutions business area in Statoil.

In an opening event in Aberdeen today the Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon officially opens the world’s first floating wind farm.

“I am delighted to open Hywind Scotland—the world’s first floating wind farm. Hywind will provide clean energy to over twenty thousand homes and will help us meet our ambitious climate change targets.”

“This marks an exciting development for renewable energy in Scotland. Our support for floating offshore wind is testament to this government’s commitment to the development of this technology and, coupled with Statoil’s Battery Storage Project, Batwind, puts us at the forefront of this global race and positions Scotland as a world centre for energy innovation,” says the First Minister.

The onshore operations and maintenance base for Hywind Scotland is located in Peterhead, while the operations center is located in Great Yarmouth. Linked to the Hywind Scotland project Statoil and partner Masdar will also install Batwind, a 1MWh Lithium battery storage solution for offshore wind energy.

Battery storage has the potential to mitigate intermittency and optimise output.

Crown Estate Scotland leases seabed to renewables developers and works to encourage development and attract investment. Sian Wilson of Crown Estate Scotland said:

“It’s fantastic to see Hywind Scotland up and running. The project is a great success for the teams at Statoil and Masdar and for Scotland, where floating wind could really flourish due to our accessible deeper waters. We are committed to continuing our work to encourage floating offshore wind projects, which will in turn drive down costs, benefitting the whole sector—as well as the climate and consumers.”

In recent years, there have been significant cost reductions in both the onshore and bottom fixed offshore wind sectors. Floating wind is expected to follow a similar downward trajectory over the next decade, making it cost competitive with other renewable energy sources.

“Statoil has an ambition to reduce the costs of energy from the Hywind floating wind farm to € 40-60 €/MWh by 2030. Knowing that up to 80% of the offshore wind resources are in deep waters (+60 meters) where traditional bottom fixed installations are not suitable, floating offshore wind is expected to play a significant role in the growth of offshore wind going forward,” says Rummelhoff.

Mohamed Al Ramahi, CEO of Masdar, is pointing to that future opportunities are already being assessed.

“Masdar has a long-standing commitment to renewable energy in the United Kingdom, and we are immensely proud to deliver our first project in Scotland alongside our partners,” says Al Ramahi.

“Hywind Scotland is showing that floating wind technology can be commercially viable wherever sea depths are too great for conventional fixed offshore wind power. This opens up a number of new geographies, and we are already looking at future opportunities with our partners, building on our existing international portfolio in onshore and offshore wind energy, and solar power,” he says.

Hywind Scotland is adding to Statoil’s strong UK presence, and over the last few years Statoil’s footprint has grown in the UK. In Aberdeen over 1500 are employees in the final phase of commissioning the Mariner oil field, one of the largest upstream UKCS developments in the last ten years, due to come onstream in 2018.

Statoil already has a sizeable renewables portfolio with an offshore wind portfolio with the capacity of providing over 1 million homes with renewable energy. Statoil operates the Sheringham Shoal wind farm in the UK, which has been in production since 2012.

The Dudgeon offshore wind farm in the UK, also operated by Statoil has now been completed and is also in production. In 2016 Statoil also acquired 50% of the Arkona offshore wind farm in Germany, which will deliver power in 2019. Statoil recently announced the acquisition of a 40% share in the construction ready 162MW Apodi solar asset in Brazil.

Press Release


Snow removal on airfields: Automated Mercedes-Benz Arocs trucks clear the way

Daimler Press Release:

  • Self-driving snow removal vehicles in test operations with Fraport
  • Premiere of the latest Mercedes-Benz "Remote Truck Interface" technology
  • Real-time data sharing among all vehicles
  • Airfield clearance requires high-precision driving: the Arocs makes it possible
  • Proven series-production technology is the basis for advanced innovative solutions
Stuttgart / Bad Sobernheim – In an unprecedented test, Daimler AG is demonstrating another potential solution for the future use of automated commercial vehicles. Following the successful demonstration of the innovative Highway Pilot and Highway Pilot Connect systems, the latter making truck platooning possible, the company today presents another development step forward on the road to the fully connected and autonomous commercial vehicle.
On the site of the former Pferdsfeld airbase, the world's leading manufacturer of commercial vehicles demonstrates the practical application of automated snow removal operations at airports based on a specific customer requirement.

Martin Daum, the Daimler AG Board of Management member responsible for Daimler Trucks, emphasises: "We are not just talking about new technologies, we are bringing them onto the road. Step by step we are developing our very latest assistance systems even further – with a view to automated driving. We are currently working on the implementation of two specific use cases: Firstly automated driving in quite normal traffic on motorways – with the clear aim of relieving driver workload and significantly improving safety. And secondly driverless operation in enclosed areas to significantly improve productivity. With today's demonstration of automated snow clearance on an airfield, we are once more reinforcing our claim to technological leadership."

Under the project name "Automated Airfield Ground Maintenance“ (AAGM), four Mercedes-Benz Arocs tractor units demonstrate automated airfield clearing in a remote-controlled convoy. The benefits are obvious: Airfield clearances are hard to predict and thus difficult to plan, especially in winter. This makes snow removal units operated with pinpoint precision by a single vehicle operator to remove snow from runways especially crucial when extreme weather strikes without warning during the winter months, and they require no additional vehicle and staff scheduling.

The project was established in close cooperation between Lab1886, the Daimler innovation incubator, Daimler Trucks and Fraport AG. Lab1886 actively supports the transformation of Daimler AG from an automotive manufacturer to a mobility provider, and works closely with the Daimler CASE initiative. CASE – � these letters shape the future of mobility and are an integral part of the corporate strategy of Daimler. They stand for the fields of connectivity (Connected), autonomous driving (Autonomous), flexible use (Shared & Services) and electric powertrains (Electric).
"The mission of Lab1886 is to develop new innovative business models for Daimler. The Fraport project is a great example in this regard. It shows how we bring together innovations with specific customer needs to develop new markets“, says Susanne Hahn, Head of Lab1886.
"As one of the first airports worldwide, we are pleased to be contributing our know-how to this innovative project. It enables us to examine autonomous control of heavy winter service equipment in the especially challenging winter conditions of an airport. We hope to obtain findings that will help us to plan the future deployment of equipment even more precisely and efficiently under sudden wintry conditions. Our commitment once again underlines the role of Fraport AG as an innovation driver in a wide range of areas," says Mathias Dudek, head of Infrastructural Facility Management at Fraport AG.

Based in Frankfurt/Main, Fraport AG operates one of the world's largest air traffic hubs. The objective of the joint testing activities is the implementation of state-of-the-art telematics-based vehicle control technology in areas not accessible to the public. This is one of the key aspects in which the new application differs from the technology milestones in the area of autonomous driving developed and realized for practical testing by Daimler to date. The Highway Pilot and the Highway Pilot Connect system presented for platooning are designed for use on public roads.
In addition to a comprehensive set of requirements on automated operating machines, Fraport also supplies the snow removal equipment for this unparalleled test. Among the equipment are four so-called sweeper blowers of the kind already in operation today as semitrailers towed by still conventional Mercedes-Benz tractor units.

Premiere for the "Remote Truck Interface" (RTI)
The four Arocs test vehicles are equipped with the new Remote Truck Interface (RTI) for remotely controlling vehicle functions and exchanging data. The RTI is the centrepiece of the new technology, for which Daimler can draw on a significant pool of knowledge and engineering from projects such as the advanced Highway Pilot and Highway Pilot Connect systems.

All vehicles are fully interlinked via the RTI by means of telematic systems, all operate automated and all are able to lead or follow in the vehicle convoy. Specifically, this means that a convoy leader chooses a random unit from a fleet of available semitrailer combinations and defines this as the "lead truck". He then uses a control panel to define the number and sequence of the other convoy vehicles, and conducts a pre-operation inspection of his and all other semitrailer combinations.
What sounds simple is actually just as simple in practice. However, the complexity of the software behind it is enormous. All vehicles are equipped with dual GPS tracking (DGPS) and of course state-of-the-art vehicle-to-vehicle communication (V2V communication) technology.

In addition, the interplay of the innovative RTI and the remote control unit provides extremely fast and not least secure date exchange among vehicles. To make this work in real time, a full data exchange between the vehicles and the main control unit of the RTI takes place every 0.1 seconds. The transmissions in the area of V2V communication are based on the "Digital Short Range Communication DSRC“ technology.

Looking ahead: automated driving offers a wide range of possible applications
The automated snow removal convoy comprises four vehicles during the test phase and can be expanded to up to 14 units. It paves the way for further applications. In addition to other airports that have already signalled interest in such precision work machines for automated runway maintenance, solutions for a wide variety of applications are feasible thanks to the Mercedes-Benz Remote Truck Interface.

"This opens up new possibilities for our customers: High-precision manoeuvring procedures of conventional trucks, remotely controlled by the driver outside the cab – for example, positioned at the rear of the vehicle with a perfect view of the manoeuvres – are possible, as is unmanned driving in mines, at container terminals or other closed-off sites", says Martin Zeilinger, Head of Advanced Engineering at Daimler Trucks.

The tasks of the automated Arocs in AAGM (Automated Airfield Ground Maintenance) test operations
In the case of the demonstration of the Arocs tractor units, the Remote Truck Interface connects the vehicle with the outside world. The control functions for track guidance and operation of the convoy are housed in additional external control units such as the track computer, the operating panel and the wireless interface. Specifically this means that the automated Arocs trucks are able to perform the following functions:
  • Control: engine start/stop
  • Control: parking brake
  • Vehicle lateral control: steering
  • Vehicle longitudinal control: engine control (throttling up and down)
  • Vehicle longitudinal control: service brake
  • Powertrain management: transmission (engage start-off gear, all gear changes, engage neutral)
  • Powertrain management: activation and deactivation of the differential locks
  • Peripherals: lights including turn indicators, rotating beacons and much more
  • Special functions: body control; here: control of the mounted sweeper blower
The RTI control unit allows actuation of all connected vehicle functions via an interface (CAN). Remote control is thus possible by integrating a wireless interface into the CAN.

"An important component of the RTI control unit is the integrated safety concept. This means that all vehicle functions are monitored. The safety routine is executed as soon as an error occurs. In this way we can ensure that the vehicles can be stopped safely and quickly if needed, and can then simply be operated manually", Zeilinger adds.

The test operations: snow removal equipment must offer highly flexible responses
In the past, airport operators have had to keep the required removal and cleaning equipment in an operational stand-by condition. The lead times for relatively rare and usually short-lived bad weather periods tie up major capacities.

On the other hand, an airfield requires consistent and thorough clearing operations even when just a little bit of snow covers the ground. On such sites, the snow must be cleared to one side over a width of up to 60 metres in a single pass. In the case of Frankfurt Airport today, up to 14 vehicles drive in a convoy with the appropriate overlap.

This means the snow is "passed on" from the front to the rear from one vehicle to the next. As a result, the snow load increases from vehicle to vehicle, and the performance requirement for the individual snow removal units rises sharply from front to rear. Furthermore, the staggered driving also makes high-precision guidance crucial for the quality of the clearing pattern. All this necessitates highly dissimilar requirements on the performance of each snow removal vehicle.

Efficient operations thanks to automated snow removal machines
In the case of Frankfurt-Main airport, the convoy must keep the runways and taxiways free from snow and ice as a precisely staggered formation. To date, snow clearance machines have worked their way along metre by metre under poor visibility conditions in darkness and fog, with snow constantly being thrown up by the vehicles driving ahead.

The poor visibility often leads to increasing distances between vehicles, opening up the convoy and extending the time it takes to clear a runway. Moreover, poor visibility can lead to the outer vehicles damaging the runway marker lights, which are very expensive to repair.

In the test of the autonomously operating snow removal trucks of Daimler, a predefined snow removal programme – under the constant control of a convoy leader – specifies the routes, direction and speed. The person in the lead vehicle of the removal convoy in charge of the demanding task enjoys relatively good visibility of the swaths to be cleared ahead of the lead and the trailing vehicles.
The swaths to be cleared are predefined with the goal of a high-precision clearing trajectory. This means the routes to be driven are always specified cartographically and are followed with pinpoint precision thanks to a differential GPS system – accuracy: three centimetres – by the lead vehicle as well as the other convoy vehicles thanks to constant target/actual comparisons.

A high level of flexibility is also a must for snow clearance operations on airfields. That is why the convoy leader – owing to suddenly identified and then immediately required deviations from the digitally specified clearing path – is able to take over the routing personally at any time.
To this end, the convoy leader has the classic controls - steering wheel, accelerator and brake pedal - at his disposal in each Arocs – and thereby full control over the vehicle. The trailing vehicles then immediately and fully automatically adopt the target paths resulting for them from the change of the route of "vehicle 1".

All-wheel drive Arocs 2045 AS 4x4 as the basis for the snow-clearing semitrailer combination
The prototype convoy from Advance Engineering presented now comprises four individual vehicles initially. The basis is provided by all-wheel-drive Mercedes-Benz Arocs 2045 AS production tractor units from the robust Grounder product range, equipped with the latest OM 470 LA engine generation certified to Euro VI standards with an output of 315 kW (428 hp) and producing 2100 Nm of torque. At a brisk speed, most of the mass of snow is thrown to the side by a fully hydraulic, three-section snow plough measuring eight metres in width.

The finishing surface clearing touches are carried out by a sweeper, a so-called sweeper blower. It is towed as a semitrailer and powered independently of the tractor unit by a six-cylinder engine from Mercedes-Benz installed at the rear of the semitrailer.

The entire tractor/semi-trailer combination is 23 metres long and weighs 25 tonnes in operational condition. The tractor unit, which was reinforced in the area of the snow plough mounts, accounts for about ten tonnes, the plough blade adds two tonnes to the total weight, the semi-trailer with the sweeper blower has a gross weight of 13 tonnes.

Innovation as a tradition: Daimler Trucks is the leader on the road to autonomous driving
Mercedes-Benz has traditionally taken the lead in new safety and assistance systems, and in improving the driver-friendliness of commercial vehicles. The same applies to networking and automated driving. Know-how accumulated over decades is the basis for developments such as the Highway Pilot and Highway Pilot Connect, on the road to automated driving.

The Future Truck 2025 presented in 2014 with the Highway Pilot system was the answer to the challenges of the future: increasing traffic, inadequate infrastructure, growing cost pressure and shortage of drivers. Based on the current Mercedes-Benz Actros and its numerous, improved assistance and telematic systems, it ushered in a new era for road goods transport.
Only one year later, the Freightliner Inspiration Truck continued to write history. Its technology is based on the Future Truck 2025, but adapted to suit North American operating conditions. The Freightliner Inspiration Truck was the world's first automated driving truck to have operating approval for the public roads of Nevada.

Shortly afterwards, Daimler Trucks opened up a new chapter in Europe: in autumn 2015, a standard Mercedes-Benz Actros with the Highway Pilot was given approval for public roads as a test vehicle. It is permitted to drive on all German autobahns in semi-automated mode. This means that the vehicle drives automated, but the driver must constantly monitor the system and be able to take over control at any time.

While the Mercedes-Benz Future Truck 2025 was a concept vehicle, the transition to series production technology has proved successful in the form of the Mercedes-Benz Actros with the Highway Pilot. It demonstrates the everyday suitability of automated driving.

As early as 2016, three Actros trucks with the Highway Pilot Connect took to the roads: the technology allows electronic docking by vehicles on motorways and long-distance highways, also known as "platooning". During the cross-border European Truck Platooning Challenge, Daimler Trucks was able to demonstrate the advantages of electronic vehicle-to-vehicle networking on the journey to Rotterdam. In truck platooning, connectivity and automated driving increase safety for trucks driving in convoy, relieve driver workload and improve fuel efficiency by reducing distances between vehicles.


Self-Portrait of NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope Marks Critical Test

NASA press release

What appears to be a unique selfie opportunity was actually a critical photo for the cryogenic testing of NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope in Chamber A at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. The photo was used to verify the line of sight (the path light will travel) for the testing configuration.

During Webb’s extensive cryogenic testing, engineers checked the alignment of all the telescope optics and demonstrated the individual primary mirror segments can be properly aligned to each other and to the rest of the system. This all occurred in test conditions that simulated the space environment where Webb will operate, and where it will collect data of never-before-observed portions of the universe. Verifying the optics as a system is a very important step that will ensure the telescope will work correctly in space.

The actual test of the optics involved a piece of support equipment called the ASPA, a nested acronym that means “AOS Source Plate Assembly.” The ASPA is a piece of hardware that sits atop Webb’s Aft Optics Subsystem (AOS), which is recognizable as a black “nose cone” that protrudes from the center of Webb’s primary mirror. The AOS contains the telescope’s tertiary and fine-steering mirrors. The ASPA is ground test hardware, and it will be removed from the telescope before it is launched into space.

During testing, the ASPA fed laser light of various infrared wavelengths into and out of the telescope, thus acting like a source of artificial stars. In the first part of the optical test, called the “half-pass” test, the ASPA fed laser light straight into the AOS, where it was directed by the tertiary and fine-steering mirrors to Webb’s science instruments, which sit in a compartment directly behind the giant primary mirror. This test let engineers make measurements of the optics inside the AOS, and how the optics interacted with the science instruments. Critically, the test verified the tertiary mirror, which is immovable, was correctly aligned to the instruments.

In another part of the test, called the “pass-and-a-half” test, light traveled in a reverse path through the telescope optics. The light was again fed into the system from the ASPA, but upwards, to the secondary mirror. The secondary mirror then reflected the light down to the primary mirror, which sent it back up to the top of Chamber A. Mirrors at the top of the chamber sent the light back down again, where it followed its normal path through the telescope to the instruments. This verified not only the alignment of the primary mirror itself but also the alignment of the whole telescope — the primary mirror, secondary mirror, and the tertiary and fine-steering mirrors inside the AOS.

Taken together, the half-pass and pass-and-a-half tests demonstrated all the telescope optics are properly aligned and that they can be aligned again after being deployed in space.

The photo, snapped by Ball Aerospace optical engineer Larkin Carey after the final fiber optic connections between ASPA and the laser source outside the chamber were made, verified the line of sight for the pass-and-a-half part of the test. The image was compared with one collected once the telescope was cold inside the chamber, to ensure any observed obscurations were due to the ASPA hardware and would not be present during science data collection on orbit.

In the photo, Carey is harnessed to a “diving board” over the primary mirror. All tools (including the camera) were tethered, and all safety protocol for working over the mirror were closely followed. Carey faced upwards and took the photo of the secondary mirror to verify the ASPA line of sight. The secondary mirror is reflecting him as well as the AOS, the ASPA, and the primary mirror below.

“Intricate equipment is required to test an instrument as complex as the Webb telescope. The ASPA allowed us to directly test key alignments to ensure the telescope is working as we expect, but its location meant we had to have a person install over 100 fiber optic cables by hand over the primary mirror,” said Allison Barto, Webb telescope program manager at Ball Aerospace. “This challenging task, which Larkin rehearsed many times to ensure it could be performed safely, also offered the opportunity to check the alignments by taking this ‘selfie’ prior to entering the test.”

After cryogenic testing at Johnson is complete, Webb’s combined science instruments and optics journey to Northrop Grumman in Redondo Beach, California, where they will be integrated with the spacecraft element, which is the combined sunshield and spacecraft bus. Together, the pieces form the complete James Webb Space Telescope observatory. Once fully integrated, the entire observatory will undergo more tests during what is called "observatory-level testing." This testing is the last exposure to a simulated launch environment before flight and deployment testing on the whole observatory.

Webb is expected to launch from Kourou, French Guiana, in the spring of 2019.

The James Webb Space Telescope, the scientific complement to NASA's Hubble Space Telescope, will be the premier space observatory of the next decade. Webb is an international project led by NASA with its partners, ESA (European Space Agency) and CSA (Canadian Space Agency).

For more information about the Webb telescope visit: or


Light from objects in space is captured and reflected by the primary mirror of a telescope like Webb. The slightly curved (concave parabolic) primary mirror reflects a more focused beam of light out to the round secondary mirror. The secondary mirror is curved outward (convex hyperbolic), and it reflects an even more focused beam of light down through the center of the primary mirror. In the case of Webb, the Aft Optics Subsystem (AOS) is at the primary mirror’s center. It contains the tertiary and fine-steering mirrors, which further focus and direct the light to the science instruments. The tertiary mirror also serves to minimize optical aberrations common in reflecting telescopes.
Credits: NASA, ESA, and G. Bacon (STScI)


Dawn's mission extension to send probe into indefinite orbit around dwarf planet

In New Atlas

In Nasa Press Release:

NASA has authorized a second extension of the Dawn mission at Ceres, the largest object in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. During this extension, the spacecraft will descend to lower altitudes than ever before at the dwarf planet, which it has been orbiting since March 2015. The spacecraft will continue at Ceres for the remainder of its science investigation and will remain in a stable orbit indefinitely after its hydrazine fuel runs out.

The Dawn flight team is studying ways to maneuver Dawn into a new elliptical orbit, which may take the spacecraft to less than 120 miles (200 kilometers) from the surface of Ceres at closest approach. Previously, Dawn's lowest altitude was 240 miles (385 kilometers).

A priority of the second Ceres mission extension is collecting data with Dawn's gamma ray and neutron spectrometer, which measures the number and energy of gamma rays and neutrons. This information is important for understanding the composition of Ceres' uppermost layer and how much ice it contains.

The spacecraft also will take visible-light images of Ceres' surface geology with its camera, as well as measurements of Ceres’ mineralogy with its visible and infrared mapping spectrometer.

The extended mission at Ceres additionally allows Dawn to be in orbit while the dwarf planet goes through perihelion, its closest approach to the Sun, which will occur in April 2018. At closer proximity to the Sun, more ice on Ceres' surface may turn to water vapor, which may in turn contribute to the weak transient atmosphere detected by the European Space Agency's Herschel Space Observatory before Dawn's arrival. Building on Dawn’s findings, the team has hypothesized that water vapor may be produced in part from energetic particles from the Sun interacting with ice in Ceres’ shallow surface. Scientists will combine data from ground-based observatories with Dawn's observations to further study these phenomena as Ceres approaches perihelion.

The Dawn team is currently refining its plans for this next and final chapter of the mission. Because of its commitment to protect Ceres from Earthly contamination, Dawn will not land or crash into Ceres. Instead, it will carry out as much science as it can in its final planned orbit, where it will stay even after it can no longer communicate with Earth. Mission planners estimate the spacecraft can continue operating until the second half of 2018.

Dawn is the only mission ever to orbit two extraterrestrial targets. It orbited giant asteroid Vesta for 14 months from 2011 to 2012, then continued on to Ceres, where it has been in orbit since March 2015.

The Dawn mission is managed by JPL for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. Dawn is a project of the directorate's Discovery Program, managed by NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. UCLA is responsible for overall Dawn mission science. Orbital ATK Inc., in Dulles, Virginia, designed and built the spacecraft. The German Aerospace Center, Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research, Italian Space Agency and Italian National Astrophysical Institute are international partners on the mission team. For a complete list of mission participants, visit:

More information about Dawn is available at the following sites:



Boeing HorizonX Invests in Unmanned Systems Technology Leader Near Earth Autonomy

Partnership to explore technologies for defense and commercial applications

CHICAGO, Oct. 19, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- Boeing [NYSE: BA] announced its investment in Near Earth Autonomy, a Pittsburgh-based company focused on developing a portfolio of technologies that enable safe and reliable autonomous flight.

In addition to the investment, Boeing and Near Earth Autonomy also announced a partnership to explore future products and applications for emerging markets such as urban mobility.

"This partnership will accelerate technology solutions that we feel will be key to unlocking emerging markets of autonomous flight," said Steve Nordlund, Boeing HorizonX vice president. "We are excited to begin this partnership with a company with such a depth of experience in autonomy so we can leverage the scale of Boeing to innovate for our customers."

The investment in Near Earth Autonomy is the first in autonomous technologies by Boeing HorizonX Ventures since it was established in April. Near Earth Autonomy, a spin-off from Carnegie Mellon University's Robotics Institute, is a leader in software and sensor technology that enables aircraft ranging from sub-meter to full scale to inspect, map and survey terrain and infrastructure, as well as transport cargo autonomously.

"This is an exciting opportunity for Near Earth," said Sanjiv Singh, CEO, Near Earth Autonomy. "The Boeing HorizonX investment will accelerate the development of robust products and enable access to a broader portfolio of applications for aerial autonomy."

Near Earth's founders have over three decades of experience developing autonomous systems for ground and aerial vehicles. Two of their groundbreaking achievements include the world's first full-size autonomous helicopter flights in partnership with the U.S. Army in 2010 and ongoing work with the Office of Naval Research developing an autonomous aerial cargo delivery platform for the U.S. Marines.

By leveraging the power of the world's largest aerospace company, Boeing HorizonX invests in new business ventures to unlock the next generation of game-changing ideas, products, and markets. The Boeing HorizonX Ventures portfolio includes investments in wearable enabled technologies, augmented reality systems, hybrid-electric propulsion, and artificial intelligence. HorizonX also seeks unique business opportunities and non-traditional partnerships for the company's aerospace technology using disruptive innovations and business strategies.

Boeing is the leading manufacturer of commercial jetliners and defense, space and security systems. The leading U.S. exporter, Boeing supports airlines and U.S. and allied government customers in 150 countries. Boeing products and tailored services include commercial and military aircraft, satellites, weapons, electronic and defense systems, launch systems, advanced information and communication systems, and performance-based logistics and training.


Boeing, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Reach Agreement on Cost Reduction for 787 Production

Partnering for Success collaboration to enable sales and competitiveness

SEATTLE, Oct. 23, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- Boeing [NYSE:BA] and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. (MHI) today announced an agreement to strengthen collaboration in ways that will enhance both companies' competitiveness. The agreement includes efforts to reduce costs in MHI production of wings for the 787 Dreamliner and joint studies of advanced aerostructure technologies for future-generation commercial aircraft.

MHI manufactures 787 composite wings at its factory in Nagoya. The agreement aims to enable sales by pursuing increased efficiency in MHI's production system and its supply chain through lean production methods, automation and other activities.

"This agreement advances the strong relationship between Boeing and MHI through joint efforts to reduce cost and improve efficiency, with a focus on MHI's production for the 787 Dreamliner," said Boeing Commercial Airplanes President and CEO Kevin McAllister. "Collaboration with suppliers is at the heart of our Partnering for Success efforts, positioning our companies to win in today's competitive marketplace and look ahead to future opportunities."

"We are delighted to be enhancing the competitiveness of our commercial aircraft business with this agreement," said Shunichi Miyanaga, President and CEO of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries. "We have built our partnership with Boeing over more than 40 years, collaborating on various aircraft programs including the 737, 747, 767, 777, 787 Dreamliner and state-of-the-art 777X and look forward to cooperating to explore future opportunities."

MHI's work statement for Boeing Commercial Airplanes also includes fuselage sections for the 767, 777 and 777X programs. In total, about 150 Japanese companies are suppliers to Boeing across its commercial and defense product lines. Boeing procures approximately $5 billion worth of goods and services from Japan every year, and Boeing-related work supports tens of thousands of highly skilled aerospace jobs in the United States and Japan.