NASA’s Opportunity Rover Dies on Mars - The New York Times

miércoles, 13 de febrero de 2019


Boeing and Safran announce new APU Joint Venture name: Initium Aerospace | Safran


Space in 2019 - a look ahead


The ltra High Bypass Ratio (UHBR) engine flight testing programme gathers momentum


Clean Sky’s PIPS harnesses space tech for plane de-icing


Humans and robots team up for Clean Sky’s CRO-INSPECT


Clean Sky 2 to test hybrid laminar-flow demonstrators


A380 program termination expected tomorrow (14/2/19) - Leeham News and Analysis


SpaceX's Mars Raptor engine claims rocketry record on path to lift-off levels of power


Thomas Cook considers selling its airlines [feedly]


National strike on 13 February in Belgium: Brussels South Charleroi Airport closed [feedly]

National strike on 13 February in Belgium: Brussels South Charleroi Airport closed

 -- via my feedly newsfeed


Two KLM Royal Dutch Airlines aircraft clip wings at Amsterdam Schiphol [feedly]

Two KLM Royal Dutch Airlines aircraft clip wings at Amsterdam Schiphol

 -- via my feedly newsfeed


Nanotechnology enables engineers to weld previously un-weldable 7075 aluminum alloy

press release

Super-strong but lightweight, AA 7075 now could be more widely used in automobiles and other manufacturing thanks to UCLA research

An aluminum alloy developed in the 1940s has long held promise for use in automobile manufacturing, except for one key obstacle. Although it’s nearly as strong as steel and just one-third the weight, it is almost impossible to weld together using the technique commonly used to assemble body panels or engine parts.

That’s because when the alloy is heated during welding, its molecular structure creates an uneven flow of its constituent elements — aluminum, zinc, magnesium and copper — which results in cracks along the weld.

Now, engineers at the UCLA Samueli School of Engineering have developed a way to weld the alloy, known as AA 7075. The solution: infusing titanium carbide nanoparticles — particles so small that they’re measured in units equal to one billionth of a meter — into AA 7075 welding wires, which are used as the filler material between the pieces being joined. A paper describing the advance was published in Nature Communications.

Using the new approach, the researchers produced welded joints with a tensile strength up to 392 megapascals. (By comparison, an aluminum alloy known as AA 6061 that is widely used in aircraft and automobile parts, has a tensile strength of 186 megapascals in welded joints.) And according to the study, post-welding heat treatments, could further increase the strength of AA 7075 joints, up to 551 megapascals, which is comparable to steel.

Because it’s strong but light, AA 7075 can help increase a vehicle’s fuel and battery efficiency, so it’s already often used to form airplane fuselages and wings, where the material is generally joined by bolts or rivets rather than welded. The alloy also has been used for products that don’t require joining, such as smartphone frames and rock-climbing carabiners.

But the alloy’s resistance to welding, specifically, to the type of welding used in automobile manufacturing, has prevented it from being widely adopted.

“The new technique is just a simple twist, but it could allow widespread use of this high-strength aluminum alloy in mass-produced products like cars or bicycles, where parts are often assembled together,” said Xiaochun Li, UCLA’s Raytheon Professor of Manufacturing and the study’s principal investigator. “Companies could use the same processes and equipment they already have to incorporate this super-strong aluminum alloy into their manufacturing processes, and their products could be lighter and more energy efficient, while still retaining their strength.”

The researchers already are working with a bicycle manufacturer on prototype bike frames that would use the alloy; and the new study suggests that nanoparticle-infused filler wires could also make it easier to join other hard-to-weld metals and metal alloys.

The study’s lead author is UCLA graduate student Maximilian Sokoluk. The other authors are Chezheng Cao, who earned a doctoral degree from UCLA in December, and Shuaihang Pan, a current UCLA graduate student. Li holds faculty appointments in mechanical and aerospace engineering, and in materials science and engineering.

In Nature:

Nanoparticle-enabled phase control for arc welding of unweldable aluminum alloy 7075

Lightweight materials are of paramount importance to reduce energy consumption and emissions in today’s society. For materials to qualify for widespread use in lightweight structural assembly, they must be weldable or joinable, which has been a long-standing issue for high strength aluminum alloys, such as 7075 (AA7075) due to their hot crack susceptibility during fusion welding. Here, we show that AA7075 can be safely arc welded without hot cracks by introducing nanoparticle-enabled phase control during welding. Joints welded with an AA7075 filler rod containing TiC nanoparticles not only exhibit fine globular grains and a modified secondary phase, both which intrinsically eliminate the materials hot crack susceptibility, but moreover show exceptional tensile strength in both as-welded and post-weld heat-treated conditions. This rather simple twist to the filler material of a fusion weld could be generally applied to a wide range of hot crack susceptible materials.


A380 program termination expected tomorrow - Leeham News and Analysis


Nosedives would make for better landings on weighty Mars missions

press release

The heaviest vehicle to successfully land on Mars is the Curiosity Rover at 1 metric ton, about 2,200 pounds. Sending more ambitious robotic missions to the surface of Mars, and eventually humans, will require landed payload masses in the 5- to 20-ton range. To do that, we need to figure out how to land more mass. That was the goal of a recent study.

Normally, when a vehicle enters the Mars atmosphere at hypersonic speeds of about Mach 30, it slows down quickly, deploys a parachute to slow down more then uses rocket engines or air bags to finish the landing.

“Unfortunately, parachute systems do not scale well with increasing vehicle mass. The new idea is to eliminate the parachute and use larger rocket engines for descent,” said Zach Putnam, assistant professor in the Department of Aerospace Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

According to Putnam, when the lander has slowed to about Mach 3, the retropropulsion engines are ignited, fired in the opposite direction to slow the vehicle down for a safe landing. The trouble is, that burns a lot of propellant. Propellant adds to vehicle mass, which can quickly drive up vehicle cost and exceed the current launch capability here on Earth. And every kilogram of propellant is a kilogram that can’t be payload: humans, science instruments, cargo, etc.

“When a vehicle is flying hypersonically, before the rocket engines are fired, some lift is generated and we can use that lift for steering,” Putnam said. “If we move the center of gravity so that it’s not uniformly packaged, but heavier on one side, it will fly at a different angle.”

Putnam explained that the flow around the vehicle is different on the top and the bottom which creates an imbalance, a pressure differential. Because the lift is in one direction, it can be used to steer the vehicle as it decelerates through the atmosphere.

“We have a certain amount of control authority during entry, descent, and landing—that is, the ability to steer.” Putnam said. “Hypersonically, the vehicle can use lift to steer. Once the descent engines are ignited, the engines have a certain amount of propellant. You can fire engines in such a way that you land very accurately, you can forget about accuracy and use it all to land the largest spacecraft possible, or you can find a balance in between.

“The question is, if we know we’re going to light the descent engines at, say, Mach 3, how should we steer the vehicle aerodynamically in the hypersonic regime so that we use the minimum amount of propellant and maximize the mass of the payload that we can land?

“To maximize the amount of mass we can landing on the surface, the altitude at which you ignite your descent engines is important, but also the angle your velocity vector makes with the horizon—how steep you’re coming in,” Putnam said.

The study clarified how to make the best use of the lift vector, using optimal control techniques to identify control strategies that can be used hypersonically across different interplanetary delivery conditions, vehicle properties, and landed altitudes to maximize landed mass.

“Turns out, it is propellant-optimal to enter the atmosphere with the lift vector pointed down so the vehicle is diving. Then at just the right moment based on time or velocity, switch to lift up, so the vehicle pulls out and flies along at low altitude,” Putnam said. “This enables the vehicle to spend more time flying low where the atmospheric density is higher. This increases the drag, reducing the amount of energy that must be removed by the descent engines.”

The study, “Entry Trajectory Options for High Ballistic Coefficient Vehicles at Mars,” was authored by Christopher G. Lorenz and Zachary R. Putnam. It appears in the Journal of Spacecraft and Rockets.

The research was funded by the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Entry Trajectory Options for High Ballistic Coefficient Vehicles at Mars
Future large-scale Mars surface exploration missions require landed masses beyond the capability of current entry, descent, and landing technology. Hypersonic trajectory options for large ballistic coefficient vehicles are explored to assess the potential for improved landed mass capability in the absence of landed accuracy requirements. Hypersonic trajectories appropriate for use with supersonic parachute and supersonic retropropulsion descent systems are studied. Optimal control techniques are used to determine hypersonic bank-angle control profiles that achieve favorable conditions at terminal descent initiation. Terminal descent initiation altitude-maximizing bank strategies for parachute descent systems are explored across vehicle and mission design parameters of interest. A tradeoff between altitude and flight-path angle at terminal descent initiation is identified. Hypersonic trajectories that minimize required propellant for propulsive descent are identified and studied parametrically. A hypersonic ballistic coefficient and lift-to-drag ratio are shown to have the largest effects on required propellant mass fraction; changes to the vehicle state at entry interface have a smaller effect. The space of reachable supersonic retropropulsion ignition states is presented over a range of vehicle and trajectory parameters. Overall, results indicate execution of an appropriate hypersonic bank profile can significantly increase the parachute deploy altitude for parachute descent systems or reduce the amount of propellant required when compared to full lift-up entry for supersonic retropropulsion descent systems operating at Mars.


Frankfurt Airport and Volocopter Are Developing Airport Infrastructure and Passenger Processes for Air Taxi Services

Press Release

FRA/Bruchsal, 12 February 2019 – Fraport AG and Volocopter GmbH are pioneering mobility of the future. Together, they are developing concepts for ground infrastructure and operations required for air taxi services at airports. This cooperation focuses on smooth passenger handling and efficient integration into existing transport infrastructure. This will be examined using a so-called Volocopter Port. In the future, Volocopter Ports could link existing urban transportation junctions with one another and provide connections to and from Frankfurt Airport (FRA).

Fraport is a globally active airport manager with many years of expertise in airport operations – particularly in ground infrastructure, ground handling, and terminal and passenger services. Fraport can also leverage its extensive experience in unmanned flying. Via its FraDrones program, Fraport has already tested various scenarios for using drones for operational purposes. Volocopter has already proven that its electrically-powered vertical take-off multicopters meet the requirements of Urban Aerial Mobility in various test flights, most notably in Dubai. Based on drone technology, the Volocopter offers space for two people and is a suitable urban transport solution thanks to its quiet and zero-emissions flying. Frankfurt Airport, Germany’s most important aviation hub with more than 69.5 million passengers last year, offers the ideal conditions for this innovative partnership.

Anke Giesen, Fraport AG’s executive board member for operations (COO), explained: “Autonomous flying will fundamentally change aviation in the years to come. We want to be the first airport in Europe to harness the potential of electric air taxis in partnership with pioneer Volocopter – for the benefit of our passengers and the Frankfurt/Rhine-Main region. This partnership underscores Fraport AG’s role as a key driver of innovation in diverse fields.” Florian Reuter, CEO of Volocopter GmbH, said: “Providing the ideal connection between the city center and the airport poses a huge challenge for the world’s major cities. Together with Fraport AG, we are excited to pioneer the implementation of an air taxi service at one of Europe’s most important airports. We will be tapping into Fraport’s wealth of experience to integrate the Volocopter Service safely and efficiently into the complex array of processes required at a major international airport.”

About Volocopter GmbH

Volocopter is the global leader in the development of electrical vertical take-off and landing multicopters (eVTOL) as air taxis to fly people safely to their destination. The technical platform is extremely flexible and permits piloted, remote controlled, and fully autonomous flight. In addition, the unique design offers unprecedented degrees of safety based on the high level of redundancy in all critical components. As early as 2011 the company earned its entry into the history of aviation through the manned flight of the world’s first purely electrical multicopter. Since then, the young enterprise has set new milestones: in 2016 Volocopter obtained provisional licensing for a two-seater Volocopter from the German aviation authorities, and in 2017 the aviation start-up showcased the first ever autonomous flight of an urban air taxi in cooperation with RTA Dubai. In the meantime, the founders Stephan Wolf and Alexander Zosel have gathered an effective team of experienced managers like CEO Florian Reuter, CTO Jan-Hendrik Boelens, and CFO Rene Griemens. This has paved the way for the further expansion of the company. Daimler and Intel are among the investors in the company.

About Fraport AG and Frankfurt Airport

One of the leading players in the global airport business, Fraport AG offers a wide range of operational and management solutions based on over 90 years of aviation expertise. Fraport’s portfolio of companies spans four continents with activities at 30 airports worldwide. In fiscal year 2017 (Dec. 31), Fraport generated sales of €2.93 billion and profit of about €360 million. More than 176 million passengers in 2018 used airports around the world in which Fraport has more than a 50 percent stake. In its Mission Statement, Fraport places the focus on its customers. The Group’s commitment to ensuring a “good trip” to all passengers and travelers is also reflected in its corporate slogan: “Gute Reise! We make it happen”. This applies to all of Fraport’s business activities and services at Germany’s largest aviation hub in Frankfurt and the Group’s airports worldwide.

At its Frankfurt Airport (FRA) home base, Fraport welcomed more than 69.5 million passengers and handled about 2.21 million metric tons of cargo (airfreight and airmail) in 2018. For the current winter timetable, FRA is served by 89 passenger airlines flying to 266 destinations in 101 countries worldwide. A total of 131 intercontinental destinations are served from FRA in the 2018/2019 winter schedule – underscoring Frankfurt’s role as a leading hub in the global air transportation system. In Europe, Frankfurt Airport ranks second in terms of cargo tonnage and is the fourth busiest for passenger traffic. With about 55 percent of all passengers using Frankfurt as a connecting hub, FRA also has the highest transfer rate among the major European hubs.

Frankfurt Airport City has become Germany’s largest job complex at a single location, employing approximately 81,000 people at some 450 companies and organizations on site. Almost half of Germany’s population lives within a 200-kilometer radius of the FRA intermodal travel hub – the largest airport catchment area in Europe. FRA also serves as a magnet for other companies located throughout the economically vital Frankfurt-RMN (Rhine-Main-Neckar) region. Thanks to synergies associated with the region’s dynamic industries, networked expertise, and outstanding intermodal transportation infrastructure, FRA’s world route network enables Germany’s export-oriented businesses to flourish in global markets. Likewise, FRA is a key gateway for companies wanting to access the huge European marketplace. Thus, Frankfurt Airport – which is strategically located in the heart of Europe – is one of the most important hubs in the global logistics chain.


Is life getting easier for GA manufacturers? New AMC&GM for production and design as a first step! | EASA



press release

Sebring, FL – TECNAM and Universal Helicopters (UHI) announced an aircraft purchase agreement for a fleet of 10 initial aircraft for two fixed-wing flight training locations. The purchase consists of four (4) P2008 LSA, four (4) P2010 standard category 4 place, and two (2) P2006T twins.

UHI has distinguished itself over the past decade as one of the largest FAA Part 141 Training Companies in the world, operating up to 58 helicopters for flight training and has its sights set on the Fixed-Wing training market. “As we watched the shortage of fixed wing pilots increase and the hiring requirements change, I felt compelled to assist the fixed wing industry as we have done for decades withregards to the helicopter industry” stated Dr. Gordon A Jiroux, hc.

Universal’s renewed push into fixed wing aircraft demanded a modern, cost-effective fleet for all training levels. Universal Fixed Wing (UFW) will be utilizing the high wing P2008 LSA for initial through IFR introduction training utilizing the Garmin G3X two screen system with Garmin autopilot and Garmin GTN 650. Students will then move to the FAA standard Category P2010 4 place single with G1000Nxi and GFC700 for completion of IFR, Commercial and CFI Certificates. Finally, students will fly the P2006T light twin with Garmin G1000Nxi to complete their Multi-Commercial and Multi-Instructor certificates.

The Tecnam line of aircraft that we chose as our primary training aircraft, offered the perfect progression of high wing Ab-initio trainers (P2008 & P2010), culminating with their light Multi-Engine P2006 model” stated Dr. Jiroux.
Dr. Jiroux also stated, “Having the desire to bring the same level of Quality and Safety to the fixed-wing community that our helicopter students and training partners have enjoyed, we knew from our experience with the Robinson Helicopter Company, that having 3 different model aircraft from the same manufacturer was a priority. We know from our extensive helicopters training experience, that the uniformity and consistency that will exist by operating one brand of state-of-the-art airplanes that Tecnam offers, will help us deliver quality training with that  extra element of safety we are always looking for”.
“Tecnam aircraft being selected by UHI as their next generation training fleet is a high honor, especially when considering Universal’s operational experience in the flight training industry. The Tecnam fleet solution offers easy transition to more complexity while leveraging an LSA, a Rotax powered twin and US based AOG support to keep the acquisition and operational costs down. This will allow UFW to continue to provide a safe and cost attainable pathway for students,” said Shannon Yeager, Director for Tecnam in North America.
“I found Tecnam to be extremely accommodating through the negotiation process with a sincere desire to help our business grow“. said Dr. Jiroux.
“We are delighted at UHI’s choice for their fixed wing fleet. Our expanded commitment and direct factory involvement to the US market is showing the results we hoped for. We care a lot for our North American customers and training organizations, we are proud to be a partner on their path to success. With the widest line of aircraft in our portfolio, post-sales support and services, Tecnam is not only providing aircraft but a solid Fleet Solution.” said Paolo Pascale, President of Tecnam US and CEO of Tecnam Italy.
About Universal Helicopters (UHI) and Universal Flight Concepts (UFC)
UNIVERSAL FLIGHT CONCEPTS (“UFC”) was established by Dr. Gordon A. Jiroux, an aviation training professional since 1982, and now is part of a group of flight training companies including Universal Helicopters (UHI), Universal Fixed-Wing (UFW), Night Flight Concepts (NFC), all independently operating under the banner of Universal Flight Concepts starting in 2019. There are presently 6 locations, with a 7th location set to open August 1, 2019.  Over the past few years, UHI has conducted over 100,000 total flight hours, to include over 32,800 flight hours in 2015 and nearly 34,000 flight hours in 2016. UHI is clearly recognized as a leader in aviation safety as a result of the company leadership, standardized training methodologies, and their organizational safety culture.


Embraer Delivers 181 total jets in 2018

press release

Embraer (NYSE: ERJ; B3: BOVESPA: EMBR3) delivered a total of 181 jets in 2018, of which 90 were commercial aircraft and 91 were executive jets (64 light and 27 large). The deliveries were within the outlook ranges for the year of 85 to 95 for the commercial aviation market, while business aviation market deliveries were below the 105 to 125 outlook, as recently disclosed by Embraer during its recent meeting with investors and analysts at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE). In the fourth quarter of 2018, Embraer delivered 33 commercial jets and 36 executive jets (24 light and 12 large). As of December 31, the firm order backlog totaled USD 16.3 billion. See full PR attached. Download


Airbus and Hisdesat successfully processed the first TerraSAR-X / PAZ Radar Interferogram

press release

Friedrichshafen, Madrid, 11 February 2019 – Airbus Defence and Space and Hisdesat Servicios Estratégicos, S.A. have generated the first joint TerraSAR-X / PAZ Radar Interferogram. This milestone demonstrates the missions’ capacity for cross-sensor interferometry, whose processing is among the most challenging.

Interferograms are typically used to derive the topographic elevation and deformation of the Earth’s surface, and are created using at least two different images acquired at different date. This flattened Cross-Sensor-Interferogram has been created from a mixed image pair with 4 days temporal separation acquired by TerraSAR-X and PAZ (StripMap scenes from 22 and 26 November 2018). The area covers the oil and gas production site Burgan (Kuwait) and parts of the Persian Gulf. The oil field is the world largest sandstone oil field with the total surface area of about 1,000 km².

As PAZ is positioned in the same orbit as TerraSAR-X and TanDEM-X and features exactly identical ground swaths and acquisition modes, they all three form a high-resolution SAR satellite constellation, jointly exploited by Hisdesat and Airbus. With the launch of PAZ, the observation repeat cycle has been divided by half, which improves the monitoring of fast ground deformation phenomena that can endanger lives and infrastructures.

“This is a major step towards achieving the implementation of our TerraSAR-X / PAZ Radar Constellation. The level of accuracy obtained with this interferogram is a guarantee for our customers to continue to rely on the high quality standard we have set with TerraSAR-X and TanDEM-X, but with an improved monitoring capacitiy” said Hanjo Kahabka, Head of Production and Radar Constellation Manager at Airbus Defence and Space, Intelligence.

“In Hisdesat we are very proud of reaching this milestone. Interferometry is one of the most technically demanding applications and thanks to this successful joint exercise with Airbus we have not only demonstrated the top performance of our PAZ satellite but its full compatibility with TerraSAR-X and TanDEM-X. Now operation in constellation can become a reality and we will be able to provide to our customers full set of images and services with the constellation.” said Miguel García Primo, Chief Operating Officer at Hisdesat.

About Airbus

Airbus is a global leader in aeronautics, space and related services. In 2017 it generated revenues of € 59 billion restated for IFRS 15 and employed a workforce of around 129,000. Airbus offers the most comprehensive range of passenger airliners from 100 to more than 600 seats. Airbus is also a European leader providing tanker, combat, transport and mission aircraft, as well as one of the world’s leading space companies. In helicopters, Airbus provides the most efficient civil and military rotorcraft solutions worldwide.

About Hisdesat

Hisdesat was born in 2001 as an operator of satellite government services to act fundamentally in the areas of defense, security, intelligence and external services. Since 2005, the company provides secure satellite communications services to government agencies in different countries and since September 2018, it provides Earth observation services with radar technology through the PAZ satellite, successfully launched on February 22nd. At present, the company is developing new constellations of maritime Satellite Traffic Information Satellites (AIS). More information:


Airbus invests €25 million in the future of its aerospace site in Ottobrunn/Taufkirchen, near Munich

press release

Ottobrunn/Taufkirchen, 11 February 2019 – Airbus is expanding its aerospace activities at its site in Ottobrunn/Taufkirchen, near Munich. Today, it has reached two new milestones, with Bavarian Minister-President Markus Söder and Dirk Hoke, CEO of Airbus Defence and Space, giving the green light for the modernisation of solar array production for satellites, and for the commissioning of expanded clean rooms for optical satellite instruments. In total, the company will be investing approximately €25 million.

In February 2019, Airbus will begin building an Industry 4.0 factory to automate and digitalise the production of solar arrays for satellites. This will entail a complete revamp of the production building, during which it will be expanded by 800 m2 to a total of 5,500 m2. A robotic assembly line will also be introduced. This €15 million investment demonstrates the company’s ability to remain competitive on the world market, while the automated assembly line will allow throughput times and costs to be halved. This state-of-the-art technology will safeguard 170 jobs and position the company to maximise future growth opportunities such as satellite constellations or ‘New Space’ approaches. Furthermore, ongoing cutting-edge research will be supported, particularly in the area of scientific satellites, such as the Jupiter mission or missions to the Sun or Mercury.

In addition Airbus will use the clean room (expanded by 250 m2 to a total of 1,700 m2) for the integration of satellite-based optical instruments, an area in which Airbus has invested over €10 million at its Ottobrunn/Taufkirchen site. The new clean room will be used by some of the 150 employees in the Optical Instruments business unit to build the MERLIN instrument (Methane Remote Sensing Lidar Mission). MERLIN is a Franco-German satellite project to measure the methane concentration in Earth’s atmosphere to improve understanding of climate change.

“The aerospace site in Ottobrunn/Taufkirchen has not only shaped the history of cutting-edge technology over the last 60 years, it is also actively shaping the future. Today, our solar array production marks our entry into the age of Industry 4.0, with the site now boasting the largest clean room for optical satellite integration in Germany. This will improve our competitive standing worldwide and will contribute towards safeguarding local jobs,” said Dirk Hoke, CEO of Airbus Defence and Space.


Airbus: Urban Air Mobility: on the path to public acceptance

Are people ready to see their sky filled with aircraft, drones and other aerial vehicles? The answer is increasingly yes, according to a recent preliminary study on public acceptance for Urban Air Mobility.


Hard Brexit would doom future merger of UK, Franco-German fighter projects: Airbus Defence | Article [AMP] | Reuters


Airbus to give update on A380 shutdown plans: sources | Article [AMP] | Reuters


Third British HAPS breaks cover…

After Airbus & BAE Systems, the 3rd UK solar powered HAPS


New MiG-29 Buy Afoot, Less Than Half The IAF’s Fighter Suitors Are Showing Up For #AeroIndia2019 | Livefist


Flying taxis. Why don’t they fly yet?


Spain to join French-German next fighter jet program