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What does Richard Branson’s historic space flight mean for the future of space travel?

Tom Yun

Tom YunCTVNews.ca writer

@thetomyun Contact

Published Sunday, July 11, 2021 3:10PM EDT

TORONTO -- In the wake of British billionaire Richard Branson’s historic journey to the edge of space on Sunday, astronomers are heralding this achievement as a significant step forward when it comes to making space exploration more accessible.

The 71-year-old founder of Virgin Galactic isn’t the first civilian to visit space. However, he is the first to make that journey with a commercial spaceflight company. He made the successful journey on Sunday.

“Well, it's definitely a notable day for the business of space and space tourism. While we've had private individuals who've gone to space before, it's always been at very high costs,” said York University earth and space science Professor John Edward Moores in an interview with CTV News Channel.

The first space tourist was U.S. millionaire Dennis Tito, who shelled out US$20 million in 2001 for a trip to the International Space Station. Virgin Galactic, on the other hand, is charging US$250,000 for the flight, with more than 600 would-be space tourists having already booked reservations.

“While still out of reach for the vast majority of people, this probably expands the number of private individuals who could consider a trip to space,” said Moores.

Yale University astronomy and physics Professor Priyamvada Natarajan called Branson’s journey, “a real milestone for human exploration.”

“The instinct for exploring and to go beyond is so deeply human that this was nevertheless going to be the next frontier, and (Branson) must be really, really thrilled, I can imagine,” she told CTV News Channel.

Branson’s journey went off without a hitch and Moores says this also underscores the improvements that Virgin Galactic has made when it comes to safety.

“There's always a little bit of risk and Virgin Galactic has had accidents and setbacks in the past, just like NASA and other space agencies,” he said. “But with every flight… things get just a little bit safer as well and opens it up to a bigger group of people with not as much training as what we think of when we think of an astronaut classically.”

Branson isn’t the only billionaire interested in space. Amazon founder Jeff Bezos is also set to travel to space on July 20 with his own space company, Blue Origin.

Elon Musk’s SpaceX also has plans for a maiden commercial spaceflight in September, though Musk himself hasn’t said whether he plans on making any trips to space himself. SpaceX plans to take tourists on more than just brief, up-and-down trip. They will instead go into orbit around the Earth for days, with seats costing well into the millions.

Private space companies such as Virgin Galactic, SpaceX and Blue Origin have already been taking on a growing role in participating in space missions led by governmental space agencies such as NASA.

“Space travel tends to be all about collaboration,” said Moores. “These companies are not really launching the missions themselves. They're in a sense, contractors. So, if you have a mission you want to launch and you have the money, you can bring groups of these companies together to actually accomplish that.”

For these companies, space tourism is the next step. Even though it will still be financially out of reach for most, Moores says the advent of commercial spaceflight can make space accessible to the public in other ways, as more people experience the “excitement” and “thrill of discovery.”

“With advances like these, eventually you'll get more people who can share that excitement of actually having been there and can come back and tell their story to others,” Moores said.

With files from the Associated Press. 

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Boeing's problems continue.  More issues with 787's.


Boeing Faces New Dreamliner Production Problem

A production defect has surfaced on a new location on the popular wide-body jet, likely adding further delays to deliveries

A new production problem has surfaced with Boeing Co. BA -0.54% ’s 787 Dreamliner, likely further delaying deliveries of the popular wide-body jets, people familiar with the matter said.

Boeing expects the newly discovered defect to take at least three weeks to address, according to some of these people. That means its customers may not get new Dreamliners for much of the traditionally busy summer travel season.

Boeing halted handing over Dreamliners to airlines in late May, after federal air-safety regulators declined to approve the plane maker’s proposed method of inspecting the jets for previously disclosed production defects. It was the second such pause in the past year.

It wasn’t immediately clear how the current delivery halt would affect Boeing’s Dreamliner production, but one person familiar with the matter said the company is expected to slow down its previously disclosed monthly output of five planes as it addresses the quality issues.

The Federal Aviation Administration said the newly discovered quality issue posed no immediate safety threat. While the agency will determine whether to require modifications to 787s already in service, the FAA said: “Boeing has committed to fix these airplanes before resuming deliveries.”

The current Dreamliner delivery halt follows an earlier five-month delivery pause from last fall through this spring. That led to a pileup of around 100 planes by the end of April, many of which Boeing has hoped to deliver by the end of the year.


The delivery pause has been another setback for the aerospace giant, which has been grappling with various problems in its commercial, defense and space programs in recent years. It is also choking off a key source of cash as Boeing tries to overcome twin crises that resulted from two fatal crashes of its 737 MAX aircraft in late 2018 and early 2019, and the Covid-19 pandemic’s hit to aircraft demand.

The new problem surfaced on part of the aircraft known as the forward pressure bulkhead at the front of the plane, people familiar with the matter said. It involves the skin of the aircraft and is similar to a previously disclosed Dreamliner issue found elsewhere on the planes, one of these people said. It surfaced as part of the FAA’s review of Boeing’s quality checks on newly produced undelivered planes, this person said.

The new problem hasn’t raised any immediate safety concerns, but engineers at Boeing and the FAA are trying to understand the defect’s potential to cause premature fatigue on a key part of the aircraft’s structure, people familiar with the matter said.

In late May, Boeing again halted Dreamliner deliveries after the FAA declined to approve the plane maker’s proposed method using a mix of analysis and physical inspections to check newly produced Dreamliners for quality problems. The agency requested more data to back up Boeing’s proposal.

Boeing’s recent 787 production problems arose last year. A combination of defects prompted Boeing to voluntarily ground eight of the planes in service. The FAA launched a broad review of the manufacturer’s factory processes. Boeing widened its inspections and eventually resumed deliveries in late March.

Before it halted Dreamliner deliveries more recently, the plane maker delivered a total of 12 Dreamliners this year as of late May, according to aviation data firm Ascend by Cirium.


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Pilot Sues Delta for $1 Billion Claiming the Airline Stole Crew App

Thu Jul 15, 2021. - Bloomberg News
By Christopher Yasiejko

Delta Air Lines Inc. was sued for more than $1 billion by one of its own pilots, who claims he developed a text-messaging app for flight crews that the airline stole and used as the basis for its own app.

Captain Craig Alexander sued Atlanta-based Delta for trade-secrets theft in Georgia state court on Monday. He claims he spent $100,000 of his own money to develop his QrewLive app, which he pitched to the airline as a way to address crew communication snafus after disrupted flights. Delta turned him down but went on to launch its own identical tool, he claims.

Delta “stole like a thief in the night” and defrauded its own loyal employee, Keenan Nix , a lawyer for Alexander, said Wednesday in an interview. He said Alexander, an 11-year veteran at the airline, was flying a Delta 757 “as we speak.”

Morgan Durrant, a Delta spokesperson, said in a statement: “While we take the allegations specified in Mr. Alexander’s complaint seriously, they are not an accurate or fair description of Delta’s development of its internal crew messaging platform.”

A five-hour power outage that resulted in hundreds of flight cancellations in August 2016 cost Delta more than $150 million. The pilot said in the suit he emailed Chief Executive Officer Ed Bastian at the time saying “he had a ‘solution.’” Bastian allegedly responded promptly and referred Alexander to the company’s new chief information officer.

‘Carbon Copy’

Bastian and the CIO, Rahul Samant, are both named in the suit, along with four other Delta executives. Alexander claims he had several positive meetings with the airline in 2015 and 2016 in which executives made clear they were interested in acquiring his app. 

The pilot noted in his suit that Bastian and Samant have both bragged to investors that the app has smoothed operations. In describing the damages he’s seeking, Alexander said the value of the technology, “based solely upon operational cost savings to Delta, conservatively exceeds $1 billion.”

Alexander is also seeking punitive damages against Delta.

“To add insult to theft and injury, Captain Craig Alexander must use his stolen QrewLive text messaging platform every day while he works for Delta,” the suit claims. “Each time he looks at the FFC app, he is painfully reminded that Delta stole his proprietary trade secrets, used them to Delta’s enormous financial benefit.” But Delta eventually cut off discussions and then launched its own crew app in April 2018, called Flight Family Communications.

“‘FFC’ is a carbon copy, knock-off of the role-based text messaging component of Craig’s proprietary QrewLive communications platform,” Alexander said in his suit.

The pilot could face a challenge pursuing his claims as a Delta employee, as companies typically own the rights to anything produced by their workers. In his suit Alexander stressed that he put his own time and resources into QrewLive and said Delta indicated it would be willing to purchase the app from him on the same terms as from an outside vendor.

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The little tech firm gunning for an airspeed record

By Ben Morris
Technology of Business editor

48 minutes agoT has been under development for three years

Gloucester Airport is a pretty sleepy place, mainly serving flight training schools and private aircraft.

But among the hangars and industrial units attached to the airfield, a very special aircraft has been under construction.

The Electric NXT or E-NXT is a single-seater aircraft developed by Electroflight and the aerospace giant Rolls-Royce that they hope will soon break the world speed record for an electric aircraft by travelling at more than 480km/h (300mph). The current record stands at 342km/h (213mph).

For Rolls-Royce the project (which it calls Accel) is part of a broader effort to develop technology that will reduce the environmental impact of flying.

It has been working with Electroflight on E-NXT for three years, spending £6m ($8.3m; €7m) to develop the cutting edge technology needed for the record run.

Many of the 20-strong engineering team working at Electroflight's hangar have backgrounds in motor racing, and managing director Stjohn Youngman comes from the sports car industry. For him, the connection with performance cars was crucial when Electroflight approached Rolls-Royce with its idea three years ago.

"In aerospace, electrification was a brand new technology - and it's quite daunting to take that on from a traditional background.

"But if you look at the UK as a whole and our engineering capability, we're world leaders in niche automotive, especially motorsport electrification - Formula E is pretty much engineered in the UK.

"So we've got this talent pool of people that are in automotive, but wouldn't necessarily consider job opportunities in the aerospace business. We offered a conduit, to get that talent into the building."

However, building battery-driven aircraft is an even bigger challenge than building battery-driven cars. For a start, an aircraft has to drag its batteries into the sky and ideally keep them there.

The battery system for E-NXT weighs 300kg - that's almost half the entire weight of the aircraft.

So most of Electroflight's work has gone into developing the battery system, all the time thinking about the trade-off between weight and power.

"There are no free lunches in engineering - you can't trick physics," Mr Youngman jokes.

Achieving a record-breaking speed will put the battery system under an serious strain.

While many sports cars can develop more than 500 horsepower, they only need that power for short bursts.

Electroflight's aircraft will need to sustain almost all of that power output for its entire record-breaking run - around eight minutes.

Even at cruising speed the batteries will be operating at 60% of their maximum output.

To help keep the weight down they have housed the entire battery system in a tough carbon fibre shell.

It is so strong that the motor, supplied by another partner, Oxford-based Yasa, is fixed directly to the battery case.

Inside are actually three independent battery packs - a safety feature which means the aircraft will still have power even if one or two of the packs fail.

There are 6,400 individual cells divided among those those three packs - each cell a little larger than the AA batteries you might have at home - the same type that are used in electric cars today.

The whole battery system is cooled by an elaborate system of pipework which runs a mixture of water and glycol around the batteries to keep temperatures down.

While the record attempt is the focus right now, Electroflight hopes that the engineering know-how that it has gathered has given it a head start in the market for batteries for aircraft.

At the moment that is not a huge business, but governments around the world are committed to making aviation greener and many electric aircraft are under development.

In the early days of electric aircraft it's likely that batteries will have to be replaced frequently, perhaps for recharging, and definitely when they get older and less efficient, so cost will be a big factor.

Electroflight plans to tackle this and to bring the price down by setting up a facility to mass produce them.

It will represent a change of mindset in the aerospace industry, which often operates by making relatively small numbers of high- value, high-quality parts.

"It's pretty unique, because aerospace has never had to solve this problem before. Normally the volume level of aerospace components is comparatively quite low," says Mr Youngman.

"The only way to do this is through highly autonomous manufacturing techniques, which is something that automotive has already done."

Electroflight has other innovations in mind, including switching from the cylindrical cells to pouch-like cells, which have an advanced internal chemistry, making them more energy-dense whilst retaining good power output. take over from cylindrical cells

At the moment, it is not clear what future aircraft will look like, or how they will be powered - and batteries are unlikely to be the only answer.

"Batteries are great for releasing energy but not so great for storing it, so we can use them on their own for short flights, and get rid of all the complication and mess of liquid fuel," says Steve Wright an avionics expert at the University of the West of England.

"For longer flights we are going to need hydrogen or alternative green fuels for a long time yet.

"The solution is a typical case of what I think of as typical 21st Century tech: a mash-up of many different kinds of machine, carefully orchestrated by computers that engineers could only dream of 50 years ago," Dr Wright says.

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China Unveils Its First National Passenger Aircraft—Rivaling Airbus and Boeing

Imagine stepping onto a Chinese-made airplane with outdated movies, scripted English from flight attendants, and corn chowder on the in-flight menu—this could be what travelers experience on China Eastern Airlines. With more than $72 billion in state support, China’s commercial airline is set to operate roughly 1,000 new Comac C919 airplanes, due to take flight before the end of this year. The airline industry is dominated by European planes like the Airbus and the American-made Boeing, which are battling the aviation market against China’s aircraft manufacturer Comac. The company has been testing a new passenger jet called the C919 for short-haul flights, and the C929 for long-haul. It’s all part of the Chinese government’s Made in China 2025 strategy, which aims to reduce China’s dependence on foreign technology.

“National airlines have long been a marker of a state’s status and prestige in the international sphere, so it’s not surprising to see a new airline in China as its importance and influence in global affairs grows,” said Michelle Murray, a professor and chair at the political studies program at Bard College in New York.

But how does China’s first commercial airline differ from the rest? According to Skytrax, China Eastern Airlines is a three-star airline for its level of quality, from seats to service and cleanliness, putting it on par with American Airlines and easyJet. This low-cost international airline is not polished but has unbeatable prices. The cuisine offers both Western-style and Chinese meals (though you may want to steer clear of the rubbery chicken).

On the downside, one travel blogger, Christine Ka’aloa of Grrrl Traveler, said that in her experience, the cabin staff “seemed to treat me like a passenger with second-class needs, when it came to dealing with the comforts of Chinese nationals.” Ka’aloa tells AD: “Chinese technology is strong with innovating of successful Western brands, but the American public is hard won, because Chinese brands cater to Chinese consumers.” She explains: “With the pandemic’s effect on travel, I predict American travelers will stay closer to home with traditional travel brands they know, gravitating toward comfort and safety. They won’t rule out Chinese carriers completely, but it won’t be their first thought.”

Though the flight attendants have some understanding of English, their language skills are limited to a standard set of phrases and they’re not adept at going off-script. In-flight entertainment is limited too, with older films like The Karate Kid from 2010 and a video game featuring the aircraft as the star. However, the company has its own VIP lounge at Shanghai’s Pudong International Airport.

China Eastern was founded in 1988 (the same year Air China was founded), and today offers flights to roughly 250 destinations. It flies to seven destinations across America, including Anchorage, Chicago, and Honolulu. The parent company, China Eastern Air Holding, invested over $4.6 billion into the state-owned airline last fall—part of China’s boost to tourism after the airline lost over $1.28 billion in the first half of 2020 due to the pandemic.

Tourism in China is slowly growing, at least locally. The airline has seen travel demand this past spring reaching beyond pre-pandemic levels with 2,700 local flights a day (the Shanghai and Beijing routes are the most popular). They’re hoping to garner international interest through social media, where they’re highlighting stories from their foreign staff. In one Instagram post, a China Eastern captain from Italy says: “I want to experience the excitement that can only be found in the Orient.”

Among their selection of video commercials on YouTube, one details the airline’s journey to transport China-made vaccines from Beijing to the Dominican Republic, while another tells the story of a delayed flight, due to a doctor carrying a heart transplant to Wuhan (the dramatized ad is based on a true story).

“What is interesting about the commercials for China Eastern Airlines is that they seem to be pitched toward Chinese nationals living abroad and missing home,” says Murray. “This message has a broader resonance; the branding is capturing something relatable, and that message might be useful in promoting China as a tourist destination.”

But will foreigners feel safe boarding a Chinese-built airplane? “How the world will embrace China in a post-pandemic world is yet to be determined,” explains Murray. “As we see here in the United States and in other parts of the world, there is—unfair in my view—blame and animosity cast on China for the spread of the coronavirus. I will not be surprised if this continues and therefore, in the near term, it might not be the most sought-after destination for American tourists.”


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Forget the Bezos and Branson Spaceflights. The Real Deal Happens This Fall

his has been a big month for billionaires in space. On July 11, Richard Branson flew aboard his Virgin Galactic VSS Unity spacecraft 80 km (50 mi) up to suborbital altitude, returned safely to Earth, and earned his astronaut wings in the process. Tuesday morning, Jeff Bezos followed, flying his Blue Origin New Shepard ship even higher—100 km (62 mi) up—and similarly joined the astronaut club.

The media did what the media will always do in situations like this—present company included—which was to find a catchy hook (Billionaire Space Race!) and devote no end of coverage to the Branson-Bezos doings. And with good reason: the technology is nifty, the achievements are real, and both Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic aim to open the flights to the public too—or at least the vanishingly small portion of the public that can afford a six-figure fare for little more than a 10-minute flight to and from space.

But the storm of press has thus far largely overlooked a much bigger space deal coming in September, when yet another billionaire—Jared Isaacman, the CEO of Shift4 Payments, an online payments company—goes aloft with three other civilian astronauts aboard a SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft in a mission dubbed Inspiration4. Never mind 10 suborbital minutes, this will be a three-day trip to orbital space at an altitude higher than that of the International Space Station (ISS).

Link to the complete article: How Bezos, Branson Spaceflights Compare to Inspiration4 | Time

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Good Afternoon All:

I can imagine the "startle factor" was quite high in this incident and not the most compelling argument for single pilot operations in the Transport World in any flight phase.

Incident: French Bee A359 at Paris on Feb 4th 2020, altitude and heading deviations and low speed warning during go around

By Simon Hradecky, created Friday, Feb 21st 2020 18:40Z, last updated Wednesday, Jul 14th 2021 14:40Z

A French Bee Airbus A350-900, registration F-HREV performing flight BF-711 (dep Feb 3rd) from San Francisco,CA (USA) to Paris Orly (France), was on final approach to Orly's runway 25 descending through about 900 feet MSL when the crew initiated a go around due to wind shear. The aircraft attempted to climb to 5000 feet MSL, however, lost speed and began to descend again at 2500 feet. At about 1200 feet MSL the aircraft had accelerated from about 170 knots over ground to about 290 knots over ground and finally climbed to 5000 feet, positioned for another approach to runway 25 and landed without further incident about 15 minutes after the go around.

The French BEA reported on Feb 21st 2020: "During the approach to runway 25, the crew went around due to wind shear. During the missed approach procedure, deviations in heading and altitude are observed and the low speed alarm is triggered. The crew made a new approach and landed without any particular event." The occurrence was rated an incident and is being investigated by the BEA.

On Jul 13th 2021 the BEA released their final report concluding the probable causes of the incident were:

The following factors contributed to the initial path deviations in the go-around (Phase 1):

- The cognitive incapacitation of the PF, which by definition was difficult for the crew to identify. It was not possible to fully establish the reasons for this. However, the following factors may have contributed to its appearance:

- the surprise effect linked to the unexpected triggering of the predictive windshear warning;

- the initiative taken by the captain-PM, without conferring, with respect to the management of the flight during the go-around phase;

„- the workload associated with the go-around.

ˆ- The presence of several elements of a typical scenario of the BEA Aeroplane State

Awareness During Go-Around (ASAGA) study:

„- the surprise effect linked to a disruptive element, without any forewarning;

- carrying out the go-around in manual flight control at an altitude close to the stabilization altitude;

- a complex missed approach procedure with a low stabilization altitude and a turn.

ˆ- The time taken for the PM to take over control.

After the captain had taken over control (Phase 2), the following factors may have contributed to the triggering of the low energy alert and to descending below the published missed approach stabilization altitude:

- the cognitive incapacitation of the copilot, which led to his intervening on the flight systems such as the speedbrakes and AP without calling this out;

- the captain’s high workload as he had to manage the flight alone in a dynamic phase, which included the interactions with the ATC to manage the conflict with a departing aeroplane.

The BEA summarized the scenario in their conclusions:


Established on ILS 25 at Paris-Orly, the copilot-PF disconnected the autopilot (AP) at 1,400 ft with a view to landing. Four seconds later, and without any forewarning, the crew were surprised by the predictive windshear warning, “GO AROUND, WINDSHEAR AHEAD” (Phase 1). The captain ordered a go-around which was flown in manual flight control by the copilot. This led to an immediate and brutal break in the crew’s action plan, substantially increased their workload and considerably changed the rate of work after a flight of more than 11 hours. The flight phase suddenly became very dynamic, all of the occurrence sequence lasting around four minutes and the difference in altitude between the start of the go-around and the stabilization altitude at 2,000 ft being small.

The captain-PM’s call for a go-around in immediate response to the predictive windshear warning may have contributed to the destabilization of the copilot-PF. The copilot thought that the AP was engaged whereas this was no longer the case, and made no input on the sidestick after the initiation of the go-around. The plane started to deviate from the missed approach path and the FD command bars progressively moved off-centre on the two axes. The copilot, confronted with the surprise effect in connection with the unexpected triggering of the predictive windshear warning, the change in the rate of work and the increased workload was then “absent” for a few minutes. This cognitive incapacitation was not initially identified by the captain or the relief pilot.

In the vertical profile, the go-around was continued to around 800 ft above the stabilization altitude, and this despite the position of the FD command bars, the altitude alerts and the altitude calls made by the captain-PM and relief pilot. Although the captain had quickly identified this flight path deviation, he took over control of the aircraft and started correcting the flight path more than 50 s after busting 2,000 ft.

In the horizontal profile, it was the slight right input on the copilot’s sidestick on increasing the nose-up attitude at the beginning of the go-around and not subsequently corrected, and the FD command bar indications not being followed, which resulted in the plane being around 650 m to the right of the runway centreline, and flying over the control tower.

The copilot then put the aeroplane into level flight at an altitude of around 2,800 ft. The captain had just put his hand on the sidestick when the copilot probably extended the speedbrakes without calling this out. After calling out “I have control”, the captain engaged the AP (Phase 2) to return to the published missed approach path by turning left and descending to 2,000 ft. The case of the PM taking late control of the flight path once the aeroplane configuration changes had been completed, is typical of the occurrences in the study carried out by the BEA into Aeroplane State Awareness During Go-Around (ASAGA).

In the dynamic context of the go-around, the cognitive incapacitation of the copilot was not verbalized by the crew. The captain had to manage a high workload on his own: flight control and navigation as well as handing radio communications and the conflict with a plane taking off from runway 24.

The extension of the speedbrakes, very probably commanded by the copilot, led to an increase in the VLS and the activation of the low energy alert “SPEED, SPEED, SPEED”. For the captain, this was the third disruptive element at the end of this flight, coming after the predictive windshear warning and the copilot’s incapacitation. The captain then returned to conventional manual flight control with the objective of increasing speed and then stabilizing at 2,000 ft. He temporarily put the thrust levers in the TOGA detent (which automatically caused the speedbrakes to retract) and disengaged the AP by his actions on the sidestick (which also disengaged the FDs due to the effect of a mode reversion). He continued the descent while monitoring the separation with the other aeroplane. In this very emotional situation, the stability of his manual flight control was affected.

During this descent and in reaction to a suggestion made by the relief pilot, the copilot engaged AP2 without coordinating this action with the captain. The latter was surprised and did not understand why the AP was engaged in V/S mode. This led to his firm request for silence in the cockpit, “Everybody silent, I’m the only one giving orders” to allow him to concentrate on the management of the flight. He then disengaged AP2 to engage AP1.

After a descent to 1,550 ft, the captain stabilized the plane at 3,000 ft as requested by air traffic control (Phase 3). As the copilot felt better, he became PM for the landing which took place without further incident.


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LFPO 041800Z 31012KT 9999 SCT034 BKN042 08/03 Q1027 TEMPO SCT030TCU=
LFPO 041700Z 31011KT 9999 SCT034 BKN045 08/02 Q1027 TEMPO 29015G30KT SCT020TCU=
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LFPO 041600Z 33015KT 290V360 9999 SCT042TCU BKN050 07/02 Q1026 TEMPO 29015G30KT SCT020TCU=
LFPO 041530Z 32012KT 280V020 9999 SCT042 BKN050 08/01 Q1025 TEMPO 29015G30KT SCT020TCU=
LFPO 041500Z 30017KT 9999 SCT042 BKN053 09/01 Q1024 TEMPO 29015G30KT SCT020TCU=
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LFPO 041330Z 31015KT 9999 R25/1200D SCT040 SCT053 07/02 Q1024 TEMPO 29015G30KT SCT020TCU



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Slovakia-based Klein Vision successfully flew its AirCar roadable aircraft prototype from Nitra to Bratislava this week. The 35-minute flight marks the first time the vehicle has travelled between two cities.

Described as a “dual-mode car-aircraft vehicle,” the AirCar is equipped with a 160-HP BMW engine and features an automated transition time of less than three minutes.

To date, the two-seat AirCar Prototype 1 has flown for over 40 hours, reaching altitudes of up to 8,200 feet and a top speed of 190km/h (103 knots).

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When I read Popular Mechanics as a kid, these dreams were pencil drawings. So were gyrocopters, although I did send away (and received) the plans for the machine. Despite the many & varied challenges, it's good to see the dream turned into reality, mostly due to knowledge & materials developed during the space program in the U.S.!

Edited by Don Hudson
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Boeing’s Talent Exodus Threatens Turnaround After 737 Max Crisis, Pandemic

After calamity and years of restrained ambition under cost-obsessed executives, the company that was once a factory of dreams is losing workers to SpaceX and Amazon


'No fewer than 32 Boeing engineers have landed at Amazon’s Prime Air cargo drone service, most of them hired within the past two years. In fact, Amazon overtook Boeing as Washington's largest employer last year as its sales surged'

Software design and coding errors have repeatedly led to performance shortfalls

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Aerial Scouting of 'Raised Ridges' for Ingenuity's Flight 10
by Teddy Tzanetos | Ops Lead at Ingenuity
Pasadena CA (JPL) Jul 28, 2021

This annotated image of Mars' Jezero Crater depicts the ground track and waypoints for Ingenuity's planned tenth flight - scheduled to take place no earlier than Saturday, July 24.

Ingenuity has come a long way from its original airfield, "Wright Brothers Field," which is 0.64 miles (1.04 kilometers) to the northeast of our current location. We got here during Flight 9, an endeavor that had our helicopter breaking several of our own records as we relocated to the far side of the "Seitah" geologic unit. Covering 2,051 feet (625 meters), Flight 9 was executed so that Ingenuity could provide valuable imagery and information for the Perseverance science team.

Flight 10 will allow us to reap the benefits of our previous flight. Scheduled for no earlier than this Saturday (July 24), Flight 10 will target an area called the "Raised Ridges" (RR), named for the geographic features that start approximately 164 feet (50 meters) south-by-southwest of our current location. We will be imaging Raised Ridges because it's an area that Perseverance scientists find intriguing and are considering visiting sometime in the future.

From navigation and performance perspectives, Flight 10 will be our most complex flight to date, with 10 distinct waypoints and a nominal altitude of 40 feet (12 meters).

It begins with Ingenuity taking off from its sixth airfield and climbing to the new record height. It will then head south-by-southwest about 165 feet (50 meters), where upon hitting our second waypoint, take our first Return to Earth (RTE) camera image of the Raised Ridges, looking south. Next, we'll translate sideways to waypoint 3 and take our next RTE image - again looking south at Raised Ridges.

Imagery experts at JPL hope to combine the overlapping data from these two images to generate one stereo image. Flying farther to the west, we'll try for another stereo pair of images (waypoints 4 and 5), then head northwest for two more sets of stereo pairs at waypoints 6 and 7 as well as 8 and 9. Then, Ingenuity will turn northeast, landing at its seventh airfield - about 310 feet (95 meters) west of airfield 6. Total time in the air is expected to be about 165 seconds.

Ingenuity has survived 107 sols (Martian days) since deployment from Perseverance, 76 sols beyond the original technology demonstration mission it was designed for. It has also successfully executed two separate flight-software updates, improving the aircraft's ability to execute flights and capture color imagery (collecting 43 13 MP images to date).

It's flown a total distance of 0.997 miles (1.605 kilometers), with total time aloft of 842 seconds (14 minutes, 2 seconds), in nine flights. Should we be successful, we'll cross the 1-mile total distance metric with Flight 10.

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Coverage of the Launch of the Boeing Starliner OFT-2 Mission to the International Space Station (Launch scheduled at 2:53 p.m. EDT) Friday July 30

The Launch has been scrubbed and rescheduled.

NASA and Boeing delay Starliner ISS launch

Saqib Shah
Saqib Shah
·Contributing Writer
Fri, July 30, 2021, 3:24 AM·2 min read

The Boeing Starliner's trip to the International Space Station has hit another hurdle. The craft was scheduled for a second uncrewed test flight to the ISS today, July 30th, after its first attempt went awry back in late 2019. But, it will have to wait a bit longer for take off. NASA and Boeing have decided to push back the launch to the tentative date of Tuesday, August 3rd. 

The delay comes after the thrusters on the ISS' new Russian module Nauka accidentally activated causing the station to move out of orientation. Though ground teams managed to regain control and motion of the ISS, NASA is proceeding with caution.

"The International Space Station team will use the time to continue working checkouts of the newly arrived Roscosmos Nauka multipurpose laboratory module and to ensure the station will be ready for Starliner’s arrival," the agency said in a statement.

The completion of the second test flight is a critical part of the Starliner's development phase that will be followed by the first of six crew rotation missions. NASA added that launch preparations would resume pending a final decision from the ISS and Commercial Crew Program teams. 

In the meantime, staff are assessing whether to move the United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket — atop which the Starliner is placed — from the launch pad at the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station back to the Vehicle Integration Facility. While both are mission-ready, the move is seen as a mitigation measure to protect them from weather damage.

The delay is the latest in a series of setbacks that have thus far prevented the Starliner from reaching the ISS. In December 2019, the Boeing craft suffered an automation issue during its first test flight that caused it to miss its planned orbit. While the second test flight has been held up since late last year due to ongoing software checks.

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Airlines like United and American are dedicating billions of dollars to fly a new type of aircraft that won't require pilots

tpallini@businessinsider.com (Thomas Pallini)  6 hrs ago
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image.png.6ab541bfd3cdd5e402a2245f88fba8d0.png%7B© Provided by Business Insider A rendering of a Denso eVTOL. Denso and Honeywell Aerospace
  • American Airlines and United Airlines have both committed to flying electric vertical takeoff and land aircraft, or eVTOLs.
  • The helicopter-like electric aircraft aim to fly over highway traffic without onboard pilots.
  • Startups and aerospace giants are still deciding on how they'll get the public to accept the new technology.
  • United Airlines became the first major US airline to place an order for electric take-off and land aircraft, better known as eVTOLs, in February and its early adoption kicked off a trend in the industry. American Airlines soon followed with a $1 billion preorder with Vertical Aerospace for up to 250 eVTOLs.

Behind these high-profile orders is an industry of startups dedicated to making the dream of true air taxis a reality, even though countless hurdles stand in the way. Helping them along, however, are aerospace giants like Honeywell Aerospace that are developing the systems to power the aircraft.

The reality of eVTOLs flying paying customers, according to companies like Joby Aviation and Volocopter, will arrive as soon as 2024. It's a timeline that Stéphane Fymat, vice president and general manager, urban air mobility and unmanned aerial systems, at Honeywell Aerospace, told Insider is "realistic" and that if not by 2024, at least by the end of the current decade.

But the questions remain, who will fly them and who will fly on them? The compact flying machines are a brand-new technology that are often smaller than helicopters, powered solely on battery power, and intended to be flown autonomously with no pilot.

%7B© Volocopter Volocopter's electric takeoff and land aircraft. Volocopter

It's a proposition that will be entirely new to most travelers and Honeywell is already thinking about how to overcome hurdles in public perception, starting with putting pilots in the aircraft. While autonomous flying without any onboard pilot is the goal of most eVTOL companies, Fymat believes the first aircraft will need pilots to make customers feel comfortable.

"Consumer acceptance comes down to a few things, in my mind, it comes down to a sense of control and trust," Fymat said. "If we went immediately, automatically to completely autonomous air taxis with no pilot onboard, passengers would have no sense of control."

But with a resurging pilot shortage that the pandemic merely painted over, it hasn't been decided whether certificated pilots will be at the controls or rather, trained "operators." In either case, Honeywell is making cockpits that are easy to use as possible.

Fymat says eVTOLs will incorporate "simplified vehicle operations" in cockpit designs to make them "simple, intuitive, aesthetic," and "cool." The goal is to both enable a ramp-up of pilots or operators while hopefully easing the minds of flyers.

Honeywell is already leading the charge on advanced cockpit systems including multi-touch display screens and voice-controlled cockpits. Dassault Aviation's new Falcon 10X is powered by Honeywell avionics and designed to eventually fly with only one pilot during cruise flight, once regulations allow.

If flyers can understand what they're looking at in the cockpit, they may be more amenable to the idea of flying on the aircraft. Under the hood, however, will be existing fly-by-wire technology that's used on commercial airliners and makes dangerous maneuvers like high-bank turns or stalls nearly impossible.

%7B© Archer Aviation A rendering of Archer Aviation's electric takeoff and land aircraft. Archer Aviation

Simplified, however, doesn't mean unsafe as safety will be paramount to the success of the new mode of transport. Many aerospace firms are choosing to comply with European Union Aviation Safety Agency certification requirements that have become stricter than the FAA's in the wake of the Boeing 737 Max scandal.

Read More: Meet the 8 electric aviation startups poised to blow past the jet age and modernize air travel and logistics, according to industry experts

The public will soon become accustomed to eVTOLs as these startups near the finish line and begin to fly their products, just as the public has accepted small drones delivering packages, as Fymat pointed out, and autopilot on airplanes.

And for those on the ground, they'll barely notice the aircraft shuttling passengers above.

"These things, when they take off, the design target is as quiet as your dishwasher at home," Fymat said. "And then when they're flying overhead, you don't hear them."

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NASA will provide coverage of the upcoming prelaunch, launch, and docking activities for the agency’s Boeing Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2) mission to the International Space Station. OFT-2 is the second uncrewed flight for Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft as part of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program. The mission is targeted to launch at 1:20 p.m. EDT Tuesday, Aug. 3


Starliner will launch on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. About 30 minutes after launch, Starliner will perform its orbital insertion burn to begin its daylong trip to the space station. The spacecraft is scheduled to dock to the space station at 1:37 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 4. Launch and docking coverage will air live on NASA Television, the NASA app, and the agency’s website.


The spacecraft will carry more than 400 pounds of NASA cargo and crew supplies to the space station. It will return to Earth with more than 550 pounds of cargo, including the reusable Nitrogen Oxygen Recharge System tanks that provide breathable air to station crew members.


OFT-2 will demonstrate the end-to-end capabilities of the Starliner spacecraft and Atlas V rocket, from launch, to docking, to a return to Earth with a desert landing in the western United States. The uncrewed mission will provide valuable data toward NASA certifying Boeing’s crew transportation system for regular flights to and from the space station.


The deadline has passed for media accreditation for in-person coverage of this launch. More information about media accreditation is available by emailing: ksc-media-accreditat@mail.nasa.gov.


NASA has updated its coronavirus (COVID-19) policies to remain consistent with new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance. Credentialed media will receive additional details from the media operations team at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.


NASA’s Boeing OFT-2 mission coverage is as follows (all times Eastern):


Tuesday, Aug. 3


12:30 p.m. – NASA TV launch coverage begins for a targeted 1:20 p.m. liftoff. NASA TV will have continuous coverage through Starliner orbital insertion.


3:30 p.m. (approximately) – Postlaunch news conference on NASA TV. Participants will include:

  • Steve Stich, manager, NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.
  • TBD, NASA’s International Space Station Program.
  • John Vollmer, vice president and program manager, Boeing Commercial Crew Program.
  • John Elbon, chief operating officer, United Launch Alliance.


Media may ask questions in-person and via phone. Limited auditorium space will be available for in-person participation. For the dial-in number and passcode, please contact the Kennedy newsroom no later than 2 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 3, at: ksc-newsroom@mail.nasa.gov.


 Wednesday, Aug. 4


10:30 a.m. – NASA TV rendezvous and docking coverage begins.


1:37 p.m. (scheduled) – Docking


Thursday, Aug. 5


8:30 a.m. – NASA TV hatch opening coverage begins


8:40 a.m. – Hatch opening


9:40 a.m. (approximately) –Welcoming remarks


NASA TV Launch Coverage


NASA TV live coverage will begin at 12:30 p.m. For NASA TV downlink information, schedules, and links to streaming video, visit:



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Boeing CST-100 Starliner spacecraft



Tune in Tuesday, August 3, for the second uncrewed test flight of the Starliner, scheduled to lift off at 1:20 p.m. EDT (17:20 UTC) on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex 41, on Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. Launch coverage starts at 12:30 p.m. EDT (16:30 UTC). 


Watch Boeing's Starliner Spacecraft Launch to the International Space Station


This Commercial Crew mission, called Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2), will test the end-to-end capabilities of Starliner from launch to docking at the International Space Station, atmospheric re-entry, and a desert landing in the western United States. Following a successful completion of the OFT-2 mission, we are targeting late 2021 for the Boeing Crew Flight Test, Starliner’s first flight with astronauts aboard.  


NASA logo

Virtual Launch Party – Register to attend the launch virtually and receive curated launch resources, notifications about NASA social interactions, and the opportunity for a virtual launch passport stamp following a successful launch.


The Commercial Crew Program 2021 Children’s Artwork Calendar features unique and original artwork submitted by children from all over the world.

Next Gen STEM – Engage kids and students in virtual and hands-on activities that are both family-friendly and educational through Next Gen STEM Commercial Crew. Check out our coloring sheets, classroom activities, and more. 


A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket with Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft onboard is seen as it is rolling out out of the Vertical Integration Facility ahead of the Orbital Flight Test mission on Dec. 18.

Go Starliner! – What can we expect to see on launch day? How did teams prepare for OFT-2? Hear Bob Dempsey, flight director at our Johnson Space Center, on this week's episode of Houston We Have a Podcast.


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