This Week in Aviation

senne Senne Vandenputte   /   Sep 23, 2017   /   0   /   6 min read  /  336   /

This Week in Aviation

At the end of every week, we publish a summary of what happened in aviation the past week.

Here's this week's roundup!

First engine start for Stratolaunch

Stratolaunch, the massive airplane that is being built by Scaled Composites to deliver satellites to low Earth orbit, successfully ran all six of its Pratt & Whitney turbofan engines for the first time this week, the company has announced. The PW4056 engines, which previously powered a Boeing 747, support a payload capacity of more than 150,000 pounds and an operational range of about 2,000 nautical miles. At 385 feet from wingtip to wingtip, Stratolaunch is the largest airplane, by wingspan, ever built. It’s also the first aircraft to fly with six 747 engines. It’s under construction at the Mojave Air & Space Port, in California. The company, which is funded by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, says the airplane will be fully operational by 2020.

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Strega wins Reno

The highly modified P-51 Strega flown by James Consalvi edged longtime rival Steve Hinton Jr. in Voodoo, another Mustang, in the gold unlimited class final at the National Championship Air Races in Reno, Nevada, on Sunday, reclaiming the title and spoiling the Voodoo team’s swan song race. Strega covered the 62.8114 miles (eight laps of the pylon course) in 7:49.774 (481.34 mph), less than half a second ahead of Voodoo at 7:50.356 (480.744). The two leaders lapped the rest of the field in the rest and third place went to Joel Swager in Dreadnought, a TMK Sea Fury, who finished only seven of the eight laps at an average speed of 419.760.

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Plane-Blimp hybrid drone debuts

Two brothers in Seattle, working as Egan Airships, have built a drone that combines features from both fixed-wing aircraft and blimps to create an aircraft that can hover, take off and land vertically, and fly at up to 40 mph. The 28-foot-long aircraft weighs less than 55 pounds and uses a patented streamlined envelope design, rotational wings and an extended tail. It’s powered on both the wings and the tail. It offers smooth flight and acceleration for nearly stable platform filming, the company says, and an unpowered descent speed of 9.5 mph should engines fail. The Plimp aircraft is expected to be commercially available by early next year, the company said.

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Pilot union BALPA urges Ryanair to improve working conditions

BALPA has declared its willingness to help Ryanair improve working conditions in order to facilitate recruitment and retention of pilots, after a lack of available flightcrew led to the budget carrier's cancellation of 2,100 flights over the next six weeks.

The UK union is urging the airline to "do more to encourage pilots to stay with the airline, following news of its pilot holiday chaos" and to foster a "more attractive place for people to build their career".

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Elixir two-seat piston-single takes flight

French start-up Elixir Aircraft flew its two-seat Elixir piston-single for the first time on 31 August, and says the carbonfibre aircraft is on track to secure European certification in mid-2018.

To date, the prototype has logged 5h 30min of flight testing across seven sorties from Elixir’s base in La Rochelle, western France. “Everything is going well,” says company co-founder and chief operating officer Cyril Champenois.

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Saab to establish US production for T-X

In an attempt to shed its foreign brand in the US Air Force trainer replacement competition, Saab will establish manufacturing and production in the United States for its Boeing/Saab T-X advanced trainer aircraft.

Last week, Boeing announced Triumph Aerospace Structures will supply the wing and tail structures for its T-X trainer and revealed Saab would supply the aft fuselage, as the company did for its first two production ready T-X aircraft. During a dramatic announcement at the annual Air, Space and Cyber conference this week outside Washington, D.C., Boeing CEO Leanne Caret and Saab Group Håkan Buskhe told an audience Saab would establish a production capability in the US should the USAF select their bid. Along with Triumph and General Electric, more than 90% of Boeing’s T-X would be made in the US, Caret says.

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United Nations considering global drone guidelines

The aviation arm of the United Nations is sponsoring a two-day event in Montreal, where participants like Amazon Inc., the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Boeing Co., General Electric Co., two leading industry trade associations, and researchers from China and Brazil will gather to meet about the booming drone industry.

“(The event) isn’t likely to produce specific rules or even a consensus around general principles. It’s not intended to prompt any country to immediately adopt new regulations,” the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday.

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Piper returns grounded M600 fleet to service

It was a tense couple of months for Piper, but all 39 M600 single-engine turboprops that had been voluntarily grounded by the manufacturer in July have now returned to service after successfully passing wing-spar inspections, according to a report by Flight Global.

The FAA issued an airworthiness directive last month after Piper discovered cracking in the aft wing spar of a single M600 during final assembly. Piper said it was grounding the fleet and issuing a service bulletin requiring inspections of all M600 wing spars out of an “abundance of caution.” Piper blamed the issue on a single out-of-tolerance part produced by its wing spar supplier.

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Ryanair’s O’Leary apologizes for mass cancellations

Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary apologized during the company’s annual general meeting on Thursday for mass flight cancellations due to what the airline attributed to a failure in its pilot scheduling functions. Ryanair has canceled 2,100 flights over a six-week period in September and October to compensate for a shortage of pilots on standby caused by a miscalculation in annual leave.

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San Juan assesses Maria's wrath

One day after Hurricane Maria churned over Puerto Rico, the island awoke today to estimates that it could take months to restore its shattered power grid, which left it in the dark overnight. While communications remain difficult, Signature Flight Support said that its facility at Fernando Luis Ribas Dominicci Airport suffered “significant damage” and that the company is still assessing the situation. Tommy Hill, president of Million Air San Juan, the other service provider there, reported that his FBO is up and running and expected the airport could open today, albeit with no lights or tower.

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Disclaimer: The news excerpts above belong to the respectful owners and websites. We publish them as a summary of the aviation news and include a link to the original article but do not own the rights of any of them.

Cover photo by Scott Germain Photo

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About the author


Senne Vandenputte

As a 22-year-old Belgian Business Management student, web designer, glider pilot, aviation blogger and founder of Hangar.Flights, Senne is passionate about aviation. He started gliding at age 14 and flew his first solo at 15. Now, he spends his time writing about aviation, creating and designing things, traveling, studying and of course, flying.

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