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Qatar Airways says regulator grounds 13 of its Airbus A350s over surface issue 

DUBAI (Reuters) - Qatar Airways has been instructed by its regulator to ground 13 Airbus A350 planes due a faster than expected deterioration of the fuselage surface below the paint on the jets. 

The state-owned Gulf airline said on Thursday it had been told to ground the planes until "the root cause can be established and a satisfactory solution made available to permanently correct the underlying condition." 

Qatar Airways has been locked in a months-long public dispute with Airbus, insisting it would not take any deliveries of the carbon-composite widebody jet until the problem was resolved. 

"With this latest development, we sincerely expect that Airbus treats this matter with the proper attention that it requires," Qatar Airways Chief Executive Akbar Al Baker said in a statement announcing the regulator's grounding of the jets. 

"Qatar Airways expects Airbus to have established the root cause and permanently corrected the underlying condition to the satisfaction of Qatar Airways and our regulator before we take delivery of any further A350 aircraft.” 

An Airbus spokesperson told Reuters the plane maker was always in talks with its customers but those discussions were confidential, declining to comment further.

Qatar Airways said in June it had grounded some of its A350 jets until the issue could be understood and fixed, without disclosing how many aircraft had been pulled from service. 

It said on Thursday it had brought A330 aircraft back into to service to make up for the lost capacity and was also "looking at other solutions."

Qatar Airways is the largest customer for the A350 and has taken delivery of 53 out of 76 on order.

The airline has periodically criticised Airbus or its U.S. rival Boeing for delays or quality lapses. 

It says its exacting standards reflect its premium brand, although aerospace executives have accused it of seizing on such details in the past to delay taking deliveries or gain leverage in other negotiations, a suggestion it has denied. 

Many airlines have adjusted deliveries due to the pandemic-related travel downturn. Qatar Airways said in June 2020 it would not take Boeing or Airbus jets in 2020 or 2021 and later that year said it had reached a deal on schedules with Airbus. 


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With all the issues that Boeing has had with the aircraft divisions, now it continues with their space division.

'If it's Boeing, I ain't going'....


Boeing's Starliner launch, a critical test flight for NASA, delayed indefinitely as capsule heads back to factory

By Amy Thompson 1 day ago

Starliner's OFT-2 mission won't launch in August, but when?

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — A crucial test flight of Boeing's Starliner spacecraft is on hold indefinitely following a valve issue in the vehicle's propulsion system, NASA and Boeing officials announced Friday (Aug. 13).


"This is obviously a disappointing day," Kathy Lueders, NASA's head of human spaceflight said Friday in a news conference with reporters. "But I want to emphasize that this is another example of why these demo missions are so very important to us."


Lueders added that Starliner will fly "when we are ready." 

Boeing's Starliner spacecraft was set to blast off on its second Orbital Flight Test (OFT-2) mission to the International Space Station earlier this month, riding to orbit on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Florida's Cape Canaveral Space Force Station. The mission will be a repeat of an earlier test that went wrong in 2019. 


After the first OFT mission lifted off on Dec. 20, 2019, several issues cropped up that ultimately prevented the spacecraft from reaching the International Space Station. After spending two days in orbit, the vehicle landed under a parachute in the New Mexico desert. 


Eighteen months later, a different Starliner spacecraft — this one nearly identical to the capsule that will eventually carry astronauts — rolled out to the launch pad to prove it had what it takes to safely ferry astronauts to and from the orbital outpost. 


However, a series of delays that began on July 30, following a mishap involving a Russian science module docked at the International Space Station, delayed Starliner's initial launch date. 


In the aftermath of Nauka's malfunction, the space station was temporarily too preoccupied to receive Starliner on its planned arrival date of July 31, so OFT-2's liftoff was postponed for a few more days. But during that time, teams on the ground discovered that 13 valves on the Starliner spacecraft were not functioning properly during preflight checks. Boeing has been troubleshooting that issue in an effort to get the spacecraft off the ground this month. 

"These valves are important because they isolate the thrusters from the propellant tanks, and they need to be open for flight in order to have the appropriate thrusters for aborts and on orbit maneuvering for the vehicle,"  NASA's Commercial Crew Program manager Steve Stitch said during the briefing.


A lot of work has been done at the launch pad and at ULA's vertical integration facility at Space Launch Complex 41. So far, efforts have paid off as the team has been able to open nine of the 13 affected valves. But that's not enough.


John Vollmer, vice president and program manager of Boeing's Commercial Crew Program, said that these thrusters are needed to operate the spacecraft so until they're all open, the craft is grounded. 


As a result, Boeing announced that it would have to put the launch on hold indefinitely in order to roll the vehicle back to Boeing's Commercial Crew and Cargo Processing Facility, also known as C3PF, at the agency's Kennedy Space Center, just down the road from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, to do some deeper-level troubleshooting. 


"We will not be launching in August — it's not for lack of trying," Vollmer said during Friday's briefing. "The team went through a lot of collaboration and on the spot, problem solving and troubleshooting. We will ultimately have a safer vehicle because of this."

What's wrong with Starliner?



Boeing's Starliner capsule and its United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket roll out to their launch pad at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station on Aug. 2, 2021.


Boeing's Starliner capsule and its United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket roll out to their launch pad at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station on Aug. 2, 2021. (Image credit: NASA via Twitter)

This isn't Boeing's first rodeo when it comes to valve malfunctions on its Starliner spacecraft. However, the issues Boeing is currently working to resolve are unrelated to previous problems that were detected in earlier tests. 


Each Starliner spacecraft is outfitted with numerous valves controlling a different aspect of the craft's propulsion system. Vollmer says the ones affected were in the vehicle's oxidation system, which controls the flow of oxidizer in the vehicle’s propulsion system. (Oxidizer is a crucial component of the spacecraft’s fuel system.)


Vollmer explained that the valves were used in the pad abort test and OFT, and there weren't any issues on either of those missions. He also said that the valves were working as expected during the prelaunch checks for the first attempt on July 30. 


It wasn't until the next attempt on Aug. 3 that the issue cropped up. 


Analysis shows that the spacecraft's oxidizer — a type of hypergolic fuel known as dinitrogen tetroxide, or NTO — permeated through some of the valves. 


As a result, it mixed with traces of moisture trapped in the valve and formed nitric acid. That acid buildup caused corrosion which in turn made the valves stick closed, Vollmer said.



A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket with Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft aboard is seen as it is rolled back to the Vertical Integration Facility from the launch pad at Space Launch Complex 41 to avoid inclement weather, Friday, July 30, 2021 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida.


A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket with Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft aboard is seen as it is rolled back to the Vertical Integration Facility from the launch pad at Space Launch Complex 41 to avoid inclement weather, on July 30, 2021. (Image credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky)

Vollmer explained that the moisture is atmospheric moisture and not from rainwater intrusion during storms that pummeled the launch site on Aug. 3, one day after the Atlas V and Starliner had rolled back out to the pad for another launch attempt. The vehicle was rolled back to the Vertical Integration Facility on Aug. 5. 


"We have covers on the trustees to protect them from the weather," Vollmer said, "but the storms were severe enough to disrupt some of those covers and allow some water entry." 


Although the vehicle was subjected to severe thunderstorms as it sat on the launch pad, the source of the moisture has to be identified. 


"The moisture could have been introduced in the assembly of the valve or in checkout of the valve in the factory at the C3PF," said Stitch. "Or even at the pad, it's too early to tell." 


Starliner will roll back to the factory where it will undergo extensive testing, though NASA and Boeing officials did not say exactly when that transport would take place. 


Vollmer added that at this point the team doesn't know if the four remaining valves will need to be replaced or if they can be opened after more extensive testing. 


If the valves are replaced it could mean the team needs to tweak the design a bit in order to prevent this type of issue from cropping up again in the future. The previous test flights of Starliner — including the first OFT mission and a pad-abort test in November 2019 — were not in the summer, during Florida's rainy season, so weather conditions could play a role. Vollmer says it's too early to tell. 

What's next for Starliner?



The Boeing CST-100 Starliner spacecraft is secured atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket at the Vertical Integration Facility at Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida, on July 17, 2021.


The Boeing CST-100 Starliner spacecraft is secured atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket at the Vertical Integration Facility at Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida, on July 17, 2021. (Image credit: John Grant/Boeing)

One thing is clear: Starliner isn't flying anytime soon. Not only is it facing valve challenges, but also scheduling issues. 


Cape Canaveral is a bustling spaceport with many launches on deck for this year. SpaceX is slated to fly a commercial cargo mission, CRS-23, on its Dragon spacecraft on Aug. 28, followed by the Crew-3 mission that will fly astronauts to the space station in October for a six-month stay. The cargo Dragon, which is scheduled to remain docked at the station for about two months, will occupy the docking port that Starliner needs for its mission. 


ULA is also gearing up to launch a spacecraft out past the asteroid belt next month, for a mission that will study a group of asteroids called Trojans. These primordial chunks of rock orbit Jupiter and can give us insights into planet formation. The spacecraft that will study them, called Lucy, is set to launch on another Atlas V rocket during a three-week window that opens on Oct. 16. 


So, the earliest Starliner could launch would be November, if all goes as planned. If the valves need a more extensive fix, the flight could be pushed into 2022. 


Either way, Boeing's first Crew Flight Test (CFT-1), which was tentatively scheduled for later this year, will absolutely be moved to sometime in 2022, Stitch said in the news conference. 


In spite of this setback, NASA officials have expressed their continued confidence in Boeing and its Starliner program. 

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Boeing can't even get off the ground, yet SpaceX is sending it's 23rd cargo resupply mission to the Space Station.

Say what you will about Elon Musk, he does know how to build a company that works!


NASA Announces Date for SpaceX’s 23rd Cargo Resupply Mission

NASA and SpaceX's 22nd commercial resupply services mission The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with the Dragon capsule atop is raised to the vertical position on June 2, 2021, at Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, in preparation for the company’s 22nd Commercial Resupply Services mission for NASA to the International Space Station. NASA and SpaceX are targeting Saturday, Aug. 28, at 3:37 a.m. EDT, for launch of the 23rd commercial resupply services mission. Photo credit: SpaceX

NASA commercial cargo provider SpaceX is targeting Saturday, Aug. 28, to launch its 23rd commercial resupply services mission to the International Space Station. SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket carrying the company’s Dragon spacecraft is scheduled for liftoff at 3:37 a.m. EDT from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The spacecraft will deliver a variety of NASA science investigations, including a study on preventing and treating bone density loss, an investigation that will test diagnostic devices that could detect and mitigate vision disorders, and a new robotic arm for demonstration that could reveal potential uses on Earth, including in disaster relief.

The capsule also will deliver materials including concrete, fiberglass composites, and substances that can offer protection against radiation to investigate how they respond to the harsh environment of space. Additionally, nanofluidic and educational experiments will use the new research facility aboard the orbiting laboratory.

Register as a virtual guest for this mission to access curated launch resources, receive up-to-date information and opportunities, and get your virtual guest passport stamp following a successful launch.

Visit NASA’s website for more coverage of NASA SpaceX missions.

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  • 3 weeks later...

US regulator grounds Virgin Galactic fleet over Branson space flight anomaly

FAA began probe after learning spacecraft veered out of designated airspace during founder’s July launch


Thu Sep 02, 2021 - The Financial Times
by Patrick McGee

The US Federal Aviation Administration has grounded Virgin Galactic’s fleet and launched an investigation after learning that the vehicle that carried Richard Branson into space in July veered beyond its designated airspace for nearly two minutes.

The regulator said on Thursday that the spacecraft had dropped below protected airspace for one minute and 41 seconds of its descent to New Mexico, during a landmark mission that saw founder Branson beat rival Jeff Bezos in a tight race into space.

“Virgin Galactic may not return the SpaceShipTwo vehicle to flight until the FAA approves the final mishap investigation report or determines the issues related to the mishap do not affect public safety,” the FAA said. 

Virgin Galactic acknowledged the investigation, adding: “At no time were passengers and crew put in any danger as a result of this change in trajectory.”

The FAA’s statement followed a story published in The New Yorker on Wednesday, which reported that a yellow caution light appeared on the ship’s console shortly after take-off, warning the six passengers that their flight path was too shallow.

This was followed by a more serious red warning light, the report said, citing unnamed people in the company who added that the appropriate response to such a red light is to abort the flight.

The magazine said that Virgin, whose mission continued despite the warning lights, “did not initially notify” regulators of its deviation.

Virgin Galactic’s stock fell 2 per cent on the news. The company disputed the characterisation of events in The New Yorker, which had also speculated that aborting the mission “would have dashed Branson’s hopes of beating his rival”, Amazon founder Bezos, into space.

On July 11, after the space flight had landed, CNN asked Branson: “Is there anything that needs to be addressed before it flies again?”

The billionaire deferred the question to Michael Moses, the company’s president. Moses said: “Everything looked perfect in real time . . . No issues whatsoever.”

Despite the investigation, the space tourism company said on Thursday it planned to proceed with its “Unity 23” commercial mission in a few weeks. The missions involves sending six people, including members of the Italian Air Force, to the edge of space to study microgravity.

'a yellow light should “scare the shît out of you,” because “when it turns red it’s gonna be too late”

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Following on Airband's post, this is from "The New Yorker":

The F.A.A. is investigating the ship’s off-course descent.

By Nicholas Schmidle

September 01 2021

On July 11th, nearly a minute into the rocket trip carrying Richard Branson, the British billionaire, to space, a yellow caution light appeared on the ship’s console. The craft was about twenty miles in the air above the White Sands Missile Range, in New Mexico, and climbing, travelling more than twice the speed of sound. But it was veering off course, and the light was a warning to the pilots that their flight path was too shallow and the nose of the ship was insufficiently vertical. If they didn’t fix it, they risked a perilous emergency landing in the desert on their descent.

Riding rockets is dangerous stuff. Around 1.4 per cent of Russian, Soviet, and American crewed spaceflight missions have resulted in fatalities. The foremost commercial space companies—Branson’s Virgin Galactic, Elon Musk’s SpaceX, and Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin—must, over the coming years, bring that number down. Their profits depend on making frequent and safe human spaceflight a reality. “A private program can’t afford to lose anybody,” Branson has said.

And yet, perhaps more than any of its competitors, Branson’s company is already hard at work fashioning its identity as a luxury life-style brand. Virgin Galactic is marketing its space-tourism business but for the time being remains an experimental flight-test program. I’ve been covering this company for almost seven years, reporting on its triumphs and tragedies, and on the disconnect between its lofty rhetoric (“Virgin Galactic’s mission is to democratize space,” Branson has said) and its supersonic risks. This account was informed by discussions with eight people knowledgeable about the program.

Virgin Galactic’s space vehicle is unique among its competitors. Whereas SpaceX and Blue Origin operate traditional, vertical-launch rockets that are automated by engineers, Virgin Galactic uses a piloted, winged rocket ship. Every test flight is crewed, which makes each one a matter of life and death. (SpaceX, on the other hand, completed scores of launches before it flew with a human onboard; Blue Origin completed more than a dozen launches before it did the same.)

The success of Virgin Galactic’s program, therefore, will ultimately depend on its pilots, high-calibre but nonetheless fallible, making the right decisions and adjustments in specific moments—like when a yellow caution light comes on. Alerts on the console can be triggered by any number of issues. On the July 11th flight, with Branson on board, it was a trajectory problem, or what’s known as the “entry glide cone.” The ship uses rocket power to get into space, but glides back to Earth and lands on a runway, like the space shuttle would do. This method, mimicking water circling a drain, enables a controlled descent. But the ship must begin its descent within a specified, imaginary “cone” to have enough glide energy to reach its destination. The pilots basically weren’t flying steeply enough.

Not only was the ship’s trajectory endangering the mission, it was also imperilling the ship’s chances of staying inside its mandated airspace. The Federal Aviation Administration regulates the private space industry and sets aside airspace for each mission, seeking to prevent collisions with general air traffic, including commercial airliners, and to limit civilian casualties in the event of an accident. The regulator uses formulas detailed in a hundred-and-twenty-one-page document—including an equation for calculating expected casualties—to assess the safety of a given spaceflight. According to the F.A.A., an acceptable Ec, as the equation is called, involves no more than one expected casualty per ten thousand missions. The agency designates airspace for flights with that equation in mind.

The rocket motor on Virgin Galactic’s ship is programmed to burn for a minute. On July 11th, it had a few more seconds to go when a red light also appeared on the console: an entry glide-cone warning. This was a big deal. I once sat in on a meeting, in 2015, during which the pilots on the July 11th mission—Dave Mackay, a former Virgin Atlantic pilot and veteran of the U.K.’s Royal Air Force, and Mike Masucci, a retired Air Force pilot—and others discussed procedures for responding to an entry glide-cone warning. C. J. Sturckow, a former marine and NASA astronaut, said that a yellow light should “scare the **bleep** out of you,” because “when it turns red it’s gonna be too late”; Masucci was less concerned about the yellow light but said, “Red should scare the crap out of you.” Based on pilot procedures, Mackay and Masucci had basically two options: implement immediate corrective action, or abort the rocket motor. According to multiple sources in the company, the safest way to respond to the warning would have been to abort. (A Virgin Galactic spokesperson disputed this contention.)

Aborting at that moment, however, would have dashed Branson’s hopes of beating his rival Bezos, whose flight was scheduled for later in the month, into space. Mackay and Masucci did not abort. Whether or not their decision was motivated by programmatic pressures and the hopes of their billionaire bankroller sitting in the back remains unclear. Virgin Galactic officials told me that the firm’s top priority is the safety of its crew and passengers. Branson, however, is known for his flamboyance and showmanship. On the morning of the flight, Branson, an outspoken environmentalist, appeared on the “livestream” arriving at the spaceport on a bicycle. But this turned out to be false: Branson did not pedal to work that day; the bike ride was filmed a week earlier and then made to look like it happened that morning. When Reuters called out the company, an anonymous official said, “We regret the error and any confusion it may have caused.”

Although Mackay and Masucci attempted to address their trajectory problem, it wasn’t enough. And now they were accelerating to Mach 3, with a red light glowing in the cockpit. Fortunately for Branson and the three other crew members in the back, the pilots got the ship into space and landed safely. But data retrieved from Flightradar24 shows the vehicle flying outside its designated airspace. An F.A.A. spokesperson confirmed that Virgin Galactic “deviated from its Air Traffic Control clearance” and that an “investigation is ongoing.” A Virgin Galactic spokesperson acknowledged that the company did not initially notify the F.A.A. and that the craft flew outside its designated airspace for a minute and forty-one seconds—flights generally last about fifteen minutes—but said that the company was working with the F.A.A. to update procedures for alerting the agency.

Virgin Galactic has faced close calls and calamities in the past. In 2011, with the company contracting its flight-test program to Scaled Composites, a boutique aviation firm, a crash was narrowly averted when the spaceship got into an inverted spin. And in 2014 an accident killed one pilot, badly injured another, and left their spaceship in ruins. Two recent episodes are perhaps more revealing.

In July, 2018, Mackay and Masucci were conducting a test flight thirty miles above the Earth when the ship got away from them, spinning and tumbling in the thin air. Virgin Galactic’s lead test pilot and flight-test director, Mark Stucky, was monitoring the flight from mission control, fearful that if Mackay and Masucci didn’t steady the ship soon, their off-kilter descent could seriously damage the vehicle and put the pilots in danger. They landed safely, though a post-flight inspection exposed manufacturing defects that required months of repairs.

Seven months later, in February, 2019, Mackay and Masucci flew again, this time with an engineer in the back. They reached space, as planned, but the ship sustained significant damage when a bond holding the trailing edge of the horizontal stabilizer came unglued. “I don’t know how we didn’t lose the vehicle and kill three people,” Todd Ericson, a retired Air Force Colonel and Virgin Galactic’s then vice-president of safety and test, told me in a 2020 interview. When, in Ericson’s view, management tried to keep the problem quiet, his concerns grew. “This should have been a come-to-Jesus moment, not the kind of thing you brush under the rug,” he said. The maintenance crew had supposedly inspected the ship and verified that it was safe to fly when it demonstrably was not, and Ericson was worried that the company was treating an organizational failure as an isolated incident. (The company disputed this account.) Eventually, Ericson shared his concerns with members of the board, which hired a retired Boeing executive to conduct a safety review of the flight-test program. Ericson resigned from his post in frustration, disillusioned by the company’s safety culture. (In a recent e-mail exchange, Ericson declined to comment on the company’s safety practices, or on his resignation.)

The former Boeing executive spent weeks interviewing pilots and engineers, before filing a forty-page report with observations and recommendations. Virgin Galactic, citing confidentiality agreements, declined numerous requests to share the document with me but said that it concluded it was safe to fly. Stucky, the flight-test director, told me that neither the former Boeing executive’s report, nor his observations, were ever shared with him or his team.

Stucky, a pillar of Virgin Galactic’s program and a legend in the flight-test community, had issued his own warnings about protecting the integrity of the flight-test program. In a 2017 e-mail to his team, he wrote, “We must stop de-scoping timelines because we are overworked and understaffed and instead should be jumping up and down on senior management’s desks saying exactly what contractor support, new hires, redistribution of effort, or whatever else is required.” In another e-mail, in 2019, he urged his fellow test pilots to be more transparent: “Failure to admit mistakes in flight test is a cancer that must be nipped at the bud.” Stucky, whom I wrote about in the magazine in 2018, had been particularly troubled by Mackay and Masucci’s unwillingness to take responsibility for what he perceived to be their mistakes on the July, 2018, flight.

Some of Stucky’s criticisms appeared in the book I wrote about him and Virgin Galactic’s rocket ship-program, “Test Gods: Virgin Galactic and the Making of a Modern Astronaut.” After the publication of my book, in May, Stucky was stripped of his flight duties and excluded from key planning meetings ahead of the July 11th event. He watched Branson’s flight from the runway; it was the first mission for which he had no responsibilities after more than a decade on the program. Eight days after Branson’s flight, an H.R. manager booked time on his calendar, and then fired Stucky over Zoom.

His departure—coupled with Ericson’s, two years earlier—leaves the company without important internal voices for accountability. In a recent meeting, when an attendee suggested that Mackay and Masucci were lucky to have escaped serious problems after the entry glide-cone warning, the pilots grew defensive. A source inside the company said of Mackay, the pilot, “He should man up, own his mistake, and admit that he pooched the profile.” A senior company official told me that the flight path trajectory was acceptable but not optimal, nor what they intended, and that the incident was being reviewed.

In a written statement, Virgin Galactic described the July 11th flight as “a safe and successful test flight that adhered to our flight procedures and training protocols.” The statement added, “When the vehicle encountered high altitude winds which changed the trajectory, the pilots and systems monitored the trajectory to ensure it remained within mission parameters. Our pilots responded appropriately to these changing flight conditions exactly as they have been trained and in strict accordance with our established procedures.”

Last month, Virgin Galactic’s C.E.O. announced that, beginning in October, it would ground its fleet for eight months to work on the mothership that carries its space plane aloft, and then put a new space ship through a rigorous flight-test program—all of this without Stucky, the seasoned director of flight test. In 2018, after Stucky flew Virgin Galactic’s first successful space mission, a mentor of his from NASA wrote to congratulate him on “a job well done: as a Test Pilot and as a Program leader—in the face of significant technical and organizational challenges.” Sturckow, the former marine and current Virgin Galactic test pilot who’s flown to space twice with the company and four times with NASA, once commended Stucky for doing “an excellent **bleep** job as flight-test director, keeping this team of innocents from wandering in the woods endlessly.”

Stucky has spent the days since his departure mostly at home. He has received job offers, and former colleagues have stopped by bearing gifts and condolences. “What a loss for us, and what a way to treat someone who has been here since the beginning,” one engineer wrote to him. Others have come by asking for advice, which Stucky admits puts him in an awkward position. “I want to help my friends,” he told me. “But by the same token, I don’t think I should be helping a company that didn’t see any value in me.”

In late September, before overhauling its fleet, Virgin Galactic is scheduled to fly its next test flight, carrying several members of the Italian Air Force to space. The company spokesperson said Virgin Galactic “is guided by a fundamental commitment to safety at every level.”

Edited by Don Hudson
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It is disturbing when, in a still-highly-experimental test regime, established procedures regarding such warnings were, in my view, almost certainly ignored by an experienced, highly-trained crew in favour of not disappointing the important & powerful rider in the back. Why else would the red "cone" warning be ignored after the engine was kept running for a second longer? This isn't a mechanical or structural matter, it is a discipline & performance matter.

Stucky has already left, indicating that his services were no longer valued. That's a really bad sign and signal to send but there it is. Stucky appears to have been the lone restraint with the experience & position that this organization has benefitted from, to tone down Sir Branson's penchant for showmanship.

The FAA, maybe still smarting from recent history, has grounded Branson and so it should and so should he be. The organizational factors were dismissed in favour of the "bad apple" (once-off) theory, a statement likely made under great pressure, but in fact this has characteristics reminiscent of the Challenger and Columbia shuttle accidents.

All in my opinion.

Edited by Don Hudson
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Some of you may be seasoned enough to have flown this aircraft.

The Canadair North Star Vs The Douglas DC-4


The Douglas DC-4 was a key piston-engined airliner that entered service in the 1940s. Boasting four engines, there were also military variants of the aircraft that, owing to the timing of the Second World War, actually ended up being far more numerous. Meanwhile, Canadair also developed an upgraded version of the type known as the North Star, which first flew just after the conflict had ceased. But how exactly do the two designs compare?

Douglas DC-4 Douglas produced 80 passenger-carrying examples of the DC-4. Photo: Charly W. Karl via Flickr

How the DC-4 came to be

The DC-4’s story actually began in the late 1930s, before the outbreak of the Second World War. At this time, US planemaker Douglas developed an experimental airliner also known as the DC-4. It renamed this to the DC-4E once the DC-4 that we know today came to be.

The DC-4E’s roots can be traced back to 1935, when United Airlines reportedly requested that Douglas developed a larger and more sophisticated alternative to its existing DC-3. This was despite the fact that the DC-3 only made its first flight in December that year.


In the end, Douglas found that the DC-4E’s initial 52-seat design was simply too large to offer economically viable operations. Armed with a series of requested alterations from partner airlines, it developed a new aircraft known as the DC-4A, which later became known as just the DC-4. This piston-engined design entered service with United in 1942.

Douglas DC-4 Almost all passenger DC-4s were produced after the Second World War. Photo: Edgardo E. Carbajal via Wikimedia Commons

By then, the US’s involvement in the Second World War prompted Douglas to halt passenger DC-4 production. This resulted in the development of two military variants. These transport aircraft were known as the C-54 ‘Skymaster’ and the R5D. Production of passenger-carrying DC-4s resumed after the war, and eventually ceased in August 1947.

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The rise of the Canadair North Star

With post-war DC-4 production focusing once again on passenger-carrying examples, across the border, Montréal-based manufacturer Canadair was also getting in on the act. Specifically, the company developed an upgraded version of the DC-4 that it called the North Star. It inherited this project from Canadian Vickers in November 1944.

Canadair North Star The Canadair North Star first flew in July 1946. Photo: tormentor4555 via Flickr

The aircraft’s official name was actually the Canadair Four. However, operators including Trans-Canada Air Lines (TCA) and the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) knew these planes as North Stars. Meanwhile, Canadian Pacific Airlines used the official Canadair Four title, while the British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC) called them Argonauts.


The main difference between the DC-4 and the North Star was the fact that the matter was re-engined with Rolls-Royce Merlin 626 V-12s. These enabled operators to fly at higher speeds than those achieved with the original DC-4’s Pratt & Whitney R-2000-2SD13-G Twin Wasp radial piston engines. But what sort of a difference did this change make?

North_Star_C-5 Re-engining the North Star improved both its speed and range. Photo: Canada Department of National Defence / Library and Archives Canada via Wikimedia Commons

Performance and specifications

It is important to note that there were several other differences between the DC-4 and the North Star. For example, the Canadian alternative also had a shorter fuselage, and borrowed aspects from other Douglas designs such as the C-54 and the DC-6.

However, the North Star’s selling point was its higher speed, which came about due to its new engines. The original DC-4 typically cruised at 365 km/h (197 knots), with a maximum cruise speed was 396 km/h (214 knots). Its outright top speed was 450 km/h (240 knots).


Meanwhile, its high-speed Canadian counterpart comfortably outranked these figures, boasting a rapid typical cruise speed of 523 km/h (282 knots). As you can see, this is some 17.5% faster than the DC-4’s outright maximum speed. Its range was also further by a similar ratio, clocking in at 6,210 km (3,350 NM). The DC-4 only managed 5,300 km (2,900 NM).

Douglas DC-4 The DC-4 couldn’t match the North Star’s performance. Photo: Bill Larkins via Flickr

In terms of dimensions, both designs shared the same 35.81-meter wide wingspan. Meanwhile, the DC-4 was the slightly longer design, measuring 28.60 meters long compared to the North Star’s 28.54 meters. The North Star seated 55 passengers, whereas the DC-4 could accommodate between 44 and 88 depending on the density of the seats.

Sales figures

There is little to split the two designs in terms of sales figures when it comes to the pure passenger-carrying versions of each model. Neither design hit three figures, with Douglas producing 80 passenger-specific DC-4s. Meanwhile, Canadair produced 71 North Stars, including those made for the military. This is where the designs differ.

Canadair North Star The sole survivor of the 71 North Stars is now undergoing restoration at a museum. Photo: JustSomePics via Wikimedia Commons

Of course, it can be argued that the DC’4s commercial success in a military sense owes a lot to the fact that it was in production during the Second World War. This can’t be said for the North Star, which first flew in July 1946. Nonetheless, the fact that Douglas churned out almost 1,200 military DC-4s in just five years is a very impressive statistic.

Service lives

Curiously, the Canadair North Star had a far shorter service life than the DC-4, despite boasting more favorable specifications. Of course, a key factor in this is the sheer number of ex-military DC-4s that later flew in civilian roles. There’s certainly strength in numbers when it comes to getting a class of aircraft to have a long service life!

All in all, the Canadair North Star lasted until the 1960s in a military capacity. In terms of civilian operations, it soldiered on until 1975. Today, just a single example remains in preservation. Meanwhile, the DC-4 ended up boasting far greater longevity.

Douglas C-54 The sole active DC-4 is an ex-USAF C-54 that now flies as a tanker in Alaska. Photo: RuthAS via Wikimedia Commons

Having entered service in 1942, the DC-4 remains active today, albeit in a minimal capacity. According to data from ATDB.aero, a single example of the piston-engined aircraft continues to fly to this day. Like many classic planes, it is based in Alaska. Currently registered as N3054V, Douglas built this vintage plane more than 76 years ago in 1945.

Having flown for various military operators, including the RAF and the USAF, it has since found work as a tanker. It presently flies for Alaska Air Fuel, with its most recent flight (at the time of writing) taking place on September 1st, according to RadarBox.com. Overall, it seems that the Douglas DC-4 was able to overcome the Canadair North Star’s speed and range advantages to enjoy a longer and more commercially successful career.

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Progress being made...


All-electric aircraft from Rolls-Royce completes maiden flight in Britain

  • The last few years have seen a number of firms develop plans and concepts related to low and zero-emission aviation.
  • Rolls-Royce’s aircraft is the result of a program called ACCEL, or Accelerating the Electrification of Flight.
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Congratulations to Spacex and the first private, commercial crew for a safe flight and spectacular return.

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Tequila Bottles Found on New Boeing Air Force One Jet in Development

Company has faced problems of factory debris found in commercial, military aircraft in recent years

Sat Sep 18, 2021 - WSJ
by Andrew Tangel

Two empty liquor bottles were found this month on one of Boeing Co. ’s new Air Force One planes under development in San Antonio, people familiar with the matter said.

The discovery of miniature bottles of tequila on one of the future U.S. presidential jets is under investigation by the company, these people said. It couldn’t be determined where on the plane the bottles were discovered.

While Boeing has had problems in recent years with tools, rags and other factory garbage left on commercial and military aircraft, this incident is particularly serious because it involves alcohol and highly classified jets, which will be known as Air Force One when the commander-in-chief is on board.

A Boeing spokesman said the incident was a personnel matter. The company has said it is working to improve quality and manufacturing operations.

Boeing’s new Air Force One jets are heavily modified 747-8 aircraft known as VC-25B military variants. Employees need security clearances to work on the aircraft. In court papers in a supplier dispute earlier this year, Boeing attorneys described the aircraft as “effectively an airborne seat of government” ranking alongside defense programs such as ballistic missiles that carry the “highest national priority.”

Boeing internally doesn’t regard the discovery primarily as an incident of foreign object debris, known in the industry of FOD, as alcohol isn’t allowed at any of the manufacturer’s facilities, according to a person familiar with the matter. This person said the company took the finding extremely seriously.

A White House spokesman referred questions to the U.S. Air Force. An Air Force spokeswoman said that Boeing informed the service branch about the personnel matter and that there was no effect on the aircraft-modification work.

The Air Force and Defense Contract Management Agency, which oversees Pentagon suppliers, monitors production quality closely and holds “Boeing accountable to ensure the VC-25B program meets stringent quality-control requirements,” she said.

The Pentagon contract agency said it takes factory-debris incidents seriously and works with contractors to correct such issues.

Boeing earlier this year told the Pentagon the new Air Force One jets could be a year late and signaled it may request a more than $500 million in additional taxpayer funding due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the supplier dispute. Boeing struck a $3.9 billion deal for two new jets with President Donald Trump in 2018.

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Airline Pilots, Crews Exposed to Increasing Levels of Radiation

Longer flights have raised safety concerns for staff

Thu Sep 23, 2021. - Bloomberg News
By Tara Patel
Airlines are exposing their personnel to increasing amounts of radiation as planes fly longer distances, with pilots receiving the highest annual doses, France’s nuclear safety institute warned in a new report. 

The five-year study by the Institut de Radioprotection et de Surete Nucleaire found that while the number of crew receiving annual exposure above a specific safety limit remains relatively tiny, the proportion doubled between 2016 and 2019. The government agency recommended rotating staff more frequently away from the most-affected routes.


Airline crews are more exposed than people on the ground to radiation from cosmic rays, which are blocked by the atmosphere. As carriers connect farther-flung cities and use polar routes to save time and fuel, pilot unions and health experts have begun raising safety concerns about higher radiation exposure.

Levels affecting pilots and cabin crew should be closely monitored, and they “should be considered exposed workers,” the report concluded.

According to the IRSN, exposure to these cosmic rays is about 150 times more potent at 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) above ground than at sea level, and is two or three times higher at the poles than the equator.

Commercial airline flight personnel are the second most vulnerable worker category to radiation exposure after people making nuclear fuel, it said.  

Steady Increase
The IRSN study on airlines was part of an annual report published Wednesday on radiation in the workplace. The institute studied exposure of an average of 22,000 crew members working for unnamed carriers. Their total annual dose rose 38% between 2015 and 2019, and the average individual doses “increased steadily.”

Before 2015, most of the 100 employees receiving the highest annual doses were cabin crew, but by 2019 there was an equal split with pilots, who tend to specialize in one type of plane and route. 

More than three-quarters of the pilots who received an annual dose of more than 5 milliSieverts (mSv) were flying wide-body planes on long-haul routes to North America and Asia, the study found. The most highly exposed flight attendants were also on these types of routes.  A measure of 5 mSv represents a quarter of the maximum of 20 per year permitted by France for workers and is a level that the IRSN considers to be significant. 

High levels of radiation can damage cells and could lead to cancer in later life. The French study found that 96 crew members had exposure of between 5 to 10 mSv in 2019. A CT scan of someone’s head equates to about 2 mSv.

The French pilot union is calling for better technology in planes to detect solar flares, which lead to higher radiation, so they can limit the danger by flying at lower altitudes or changing routes.

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Airlines Are Ripping Out Business Seats to Create a New Middle Class

Premium economy lets flyers avoid the cattle-car feel of coach, and it’s super profitable for carriers.
Fri Oct 1, 2021.- Bloomberg Businessweek 
By William Wilkes and Christopher Jasper


'A premium seat costs $8,000 to $20,000, a fraction of the $75,000 to $250,000 price tag for a lie-flat pod in business class.'

For decades, ferrying tourists to vacation destinations has helped major airlines cover basic costs, but the front of the plane is where they’ve racked up the bulk of their profits.

So when the pandemic whacked business travel, carriers were left looking for another way to pad the bottom line. Increasingly they’re finding it in premium economy, where travelers can avoid the cattle-car aesthetics of coach without spending thousands of dollars for the expansive digs of business class. And with Covid-19, growing numbers of leisure travelers are willing to splash out for a bit of extra elbow room at fares that are frequently more than double the cheapest economy seats. “People are desperate to take charge of their lives now, and airlines can no longer force them into just one or two categories,” says Juha Jarvinen, chief commercial officer at Virgin Atlantic Airways Ltd., which pioneered the service in 1992.

The trend was already on an upswing before the pandemic, with installations of premium economy seats—not including the “plus” sections of coach, which offer extra legroom—growing 5% annually in the three years before the coronavirus hit. Researcher Counterpoint Market Intelligence predicts that pace will accelerate as more carriers embrace the idea of a separate cabin on long-haul flights featuring slightly wider seats, several extra inches of legroom, a deeper recline, bigger screens, and marginally better food and drink.

The three largest U.S. carriers—American, United, and Delta—have been installing the class across their widebody fleets. Emirates introduced its first premium economy offering this year on some Airbus SE A380 double-deckers and plans to add it to 777X planes on order from Boeing Co. Finnair Oyj, which specializes in flights linking Europe with East Asia via its Helsinki hub, next year will start adding the service on all 27 of its widebodies. “The investment has been an easy decision for us,” says Topi Manner, Finnair’s chief executive officer. “Premium economy is the most profitable real estate on the aircraft, and the pandemic is reinforcing that.”


Emirates’ new premium economy cabin.

Seats in the premium cabin occupy barely 10% more space than coach, whereas a business-class berth typically requires three times as much room. Deutsche Lufthansa AG says premium economy generates 33% more revenue per square foot than economy and 6% more than business—and is 40% more profitable than the latter because it’s cheaper to install. The German carrier has premium economy cabins on all 102 of its long-haul aircraft and is considering stripping out more business-class seats to expand the sections. Initially, Lufthansa was concerned that the service would cannibalize its business bookings, but most passengers upgrade from coach. “Premium economy is the area we’re focusing on the most,” says Heike Birlenbach, head of customer experience.

Some in the industry caution that the cost could be an issue for airlines just recovering from the financial devastation of the pandemic. A premium seat costs $8,000 to $20,000, a fraction of the $75,000 to $250,000 price tag for a lie-flat pod in business class. But it’s still about five times what carriers pay for a coach berth, and Quentin Munier, strategy chief at seat-maker Safran SA, says some carriers are struggling to scrape together the funds needed to make the change. “Many are in wait-and-see mode,” he says.

Lufthansa Technik, a unit of the German carrier that specializes in cabin makeovers, says it’s had several inquiries from other airlines about adding premium economy and shrinking business—with some Asian carriers considering eliminating business class altogether. And it takes only about five days to install the berths and rewire the cabin, says Niels Dose, product sales manager with Lufthansa Technik. “It’s a pretty simple engineering operation,” he says.

Today’s premium economy is similar to the business class that airlines introduced in the 1970s—a marginal increase in comfort at a substantial increase in price. But carriers in recent years have deemphasized first class, making business the key differentiator for their brands, with lie-flat seats and sumptuous service. A recent design study envisions flat berths in premium, though carriers haven’t jumped at the idea. Surveys show the most important feature of business class is the ability to get a good night’s sleep on red-eye flights, so such an offering would likely spur more business passengers to take a step down rather than encourage coach-class flyers to upgrade, says Ben Bettell, a consultant with Counterpoint. That means for the foreseeable future, aside from a few extra inches of space, the principal appeal of premium economy may still be that warm, fuzzy feeling you get when you know you’re not sitting in the worst seat on the plane. “Premium economy offers an affordable escape out of economy,” Bettell says, “and perhaps more importantly an opportunity for coach passengers to improve their status.” 

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Airbus’s A220 ‘success’ is built on Canadian failure

Wed Oct 06, 2021 - The Globe and Mail
by Konrad Yakabuski


'While Airbus reaps the upside from A220 sales, Canada is left with the crumbs.'

Canadian taxpayers could be forgiven for holding their applause last week when Airbus SA and Air France broke out the champagne as the French carrier took possession of its first A220.

At a formal ceremony in a vast hangar at Paris’s Charles de Gaulle airport, Air France-KLM managing-director Benjamin Smith and French Transport Minister Jean-Baptiste Djebbari ran out of superlatives to describe the new 148-seat aircraft that France’s flag carrier will begin flying this month on medium-haul routes across Europe.

“This is not just another airplane. It’s an Airbus. And not just any Airbus. It’s a new series Airbus, an A220. And an A220 operated by Air France,” Mr. Djebbari explained. “In other words, the quintessence of French success and excellence.”

Canadians and Quebeckers may beg to differ.

After all, the A220 was developed in Canada by Montreal-based Bombardier Inc. and backstopped by governments here to the tune of almost $2-billion. It landed in Airbus’s lap only after a desperate and debt-strapped Bombardier was forced to surrender control of the aircraft – then called the C Series – for a mere US$1.

If the A220 is the “quintessence” of anything, it is the failure of Canadian innovators to translate ground-breaking technology into commercial success. It is another example of intellectual property, developed by Canadians with Canadian tax dollars, fleeing the country.

The C Series fiasco, which led to the effective dismantling of Bombardier as the company sold off its rail and regional jet businesses to pay down debts related to the C Series, also raises questions about whether a Canadian-based innovator can go it alone in a global economy dominated by foreign-based oligopolies.

Bombardier tried. But its attempt to take on Airbus and Boeing was met with a ferocious response to prevent the Canadian upstart from upsetting their cozy duopoly. Airbus and U.S.-based Boeing slashed prices for their planes to undercut C Series sales. And when Bombardier did land a breakthrough order from Atlanta-based Delta Airlines, Boeing complained it had been “propelled by massive, supply creating and illegal government subsidies,” leading the U.S. Commerce Department to slap duties of 300 per cent on the C Series.

Such hardball tactics were nevertheless foreseeable when Conservative prime minister Stephen Harper’s government invested $350-million in the C Series in 2008. They became inevitable when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberals stepped up in early 2017 with a $372-million loan for Bombardier’s C Series and Global 7000 business jet programs. That investment followed the Quebec government’s 2015 move to inject US$1-billion into the C Series program.

The direct government aid was on top of the lucrative research tax credits Bombardier was able to claim on the $6-billion it cost to develop the C Series.


Canadians and Quebeckers were led to believe the government aid would enable Bombardier to bring the C Series to market on its own. Instead, as former Bombardier chief executive officer Alain Bellemare later revealed, the 2015 investment by Quebec and 2017 federal loan amounted to “bridge financing” aimed at keeping the C Series program afloat until it could be sold to Airbus.

After ceding control for a symbolic US$1 in late 2017, Bombardier sold its remaining 31-per-cent stake in the C Series to Airbus in early 2020. The Quebec government, meanwhile, this year wrote off the remaining $289-million value of its 25-per-cent interest in the A220 program.

Even so, under Airbus, the A220 is being touted as a “game-changer” that will enable Air France to cut operating costs by 10 per cent, carbon emissions by 20 per cent and noise levels by 34 per cent compared to the aging A318s and A319s it replaces. Air France is pushing Airbus to launch a stretched version of the A220 to replace its 200-seat-range A320s.

While Airbus reaps the upside from A220 sales, Canada is left with the crumbs.

Airbus continues to assemble most A220s at the former Bombardier plant in Mirabel, Que., that it inherited when it acquired a controlling stake in the C Series program in late 2017. But as the French-based manufacturer ramps up production of the A220 to 14 planes a month, from the current five, it will rely more on its plant in Alabama. The future of the Mirabel plant looks safe for now, but it is by no means guaranteed.

After all, Airbus is slated to own 100 per cent of the A220 program by 2026, when it is set to buy the Quebec government’s stake “at fair market value.” That stake is currently worthless, since Airbus loses about US$400-million a year on the plane, according to analyst estimates cited by Leeham News.

To reach profitability, Airbus remains laser-focused on slashing A220 production costs. It aims to cut in half the time it takes to assemble each A220 by “stuffing” the Chinese-built fuselage, adding electrical wiring and other components, before the final assembly stage as it boosts output to 170 planes a year by 2025.

Airbus is also launching a business jet version of the A220 that will compete directly with Bombardier’s Global 6500 and 7500 executive aircraft, offering larger cabins and lower operating costs than the Montreal-based company’s planes. That could interfere with Bombardier’s hopes of thriving as a stand-alone business jet maker.

Will the flipside of French success be more Canadian failure?


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William Shatner 'thrilled' and 'frightened' ahead of space flight - CNN Video


William Shatner, the actor who portrayed Captain Kirk on the original "Star Trek" TV series and films will launch into space on Oct. 12, 2021 aboard Blue Origin's New Shepard spacecraft. Liftoff is set for 9:30 a.m. EDT (1330 GMT) from Blue Origin's Launch Site One in West Texas with Shatner and three others aboard. 

Main Story: William Shatner will launch into space with Blue Origin on Oct. 12

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NASA To Nudge Asteroid To Keep It From Threatening Earth

The U.S. space agency plans to conduct a mission next month to deflect a pair of asteroids far out in deep space to keep them from threatening Earth.

Dubbed the DART Mission, or the Double Asteroid Redirection Test, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) will send spacecraft to a pair of asteroids — the Didymos binary — on November 24 aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launched from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California.

If all goes as planned, DART will smash into one of the two asteroids, known as Didymoon, at roughly 13,500 mph nearly a full year later, on October 2, 2022.

Didymoon is more than 500 feet wide and orbits a much larger space rock known as Didymos, which is five times as big.

Didymoon came relatively close to Earth in 2003 — at least in space terms. The asteroid came within 3.7 million miles. “Of the two asteroids, Didymoon is more likely to hit Earth, given there are more space rocks its size that NASA and the Center for Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS) have yet to observe,” the Daily Mail reported.

NASA considers any near-Earth object (NEO) as “potentially hazardous” if it comes within 0.05 astronomical units (4.6 million miles) and measures more than 460 feet in diameter, said the Mail. “According to the U.S. space agency, there are just over 25,000 NEOs, but many more are waiting to be discovered.”

“DART will be the first demonstration of the kinetic impactor technique, which involves sending one or more large, high-speed spacecraft into the path of an asteroid in space to change its motion,” NASA said in a statement.

Back in 2017, NASA explained what the kinetic impactor technique is.

“Kinetic impaction involves sending one or more large, high-speed spacecraft into the path of an approaching near-earth object. This could deflect the asteroid into a different trajectory, steering it away from the Earth’s orbital path. NASA demonstrated on a small scale with the Deep Impact mission of 2005. If preparations were made in advance so that kinetic impactors were available upon detection, the National Academy of Sciences would require a warning time of at least 1 to 2 years for smaller asteroids,” NASA said.

“If an approaching asteroid were detected tomorrow, perhaps 20 years would be required to build and launch an impactor, to reach and impact the target, and to nudge the asteroid from Earth’s path. However, decades or more might be required to deflect larger asteroids (hundreds of kilometers in diameter) that present the most catastrophic threats. If time allows, a mission to study the asteroid up close and send information back to Earth before sending the impactor could greatly increase the chance of success. Kinetic impactors may not be effective in change the orbit of the very largest asteroids,” the space agency added.

The mission is being managed by NASA’s Planetary Defense Coordination Office and the Science Mission Directorate’s Planetary Science Division at NASA headquarters



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Boeing deals with new defect on 787 Dreamliner - WSJ | Financial Post

Boeing deals with NEW defect on its 787 Dreamliner in latest slip-up



Boeing is dealing with an alarming new defect on its 787 Dreamliner, which involves certain titanium parts that are weaker than they should be, according to a new report.

The defect is on 787s built over the past three years, and is among the Dreamliner issues that has led to $25 billion in jet inventory piling up on Boeing’s hands, the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday, citing people familiar with the matter. 

In a statement to DailyMail.com, a Boeing spokesman confirmed that the company had received a notice from a supplier about ‘certain 787 parts that were improperly manufactured.’

‘While our investigation is ongoing, we have determined that this does not present an immediate safety of flight concern for the active in-service fleet,’ the spokesman added.



A Boeing Co. 787 Dreamliner aircraft, center, is seen under maintenance in ANA’s hanger at Haneda Airport in Tokyo, Japan in April

The statement continued: ‘Yet-to-deliver airplanes will be reworked as necessary prior to customer delivery. Any potential fleet actions will be determined through our normal review process and confirmed with the FAA.’

The apparent titanium defect is the latest evidence that Boeing is still struggling to fix production issues, following CEO David Calhoun’s push to improve the planemaker’s reputation for quality and safety.

Boeing has grappled with a host of manufacturing issues in recent years, in addition to the two deadly 737 MAX crashes that grounded that model of jet for nearly two years.

Last month, Boeing launched an urgent internal investigation after empty tequila bottles were found inside a top-secret Air Force One jumbo jet being built at the company’s Texas factory.

The Dreamliner has been particularly plagued by concerns, which have caused it to cut production and halt deliveries of the larger 787. 

Deliveries of Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner, suspended since May, likely won’t resume until at least the end of October amid disagreements with US safety regulators at the Federal Aviation Administration.

Dreamliner deliveries were suspended for much of the past year, including between last November and March, after Boeing uncovered manufacturing defects.. Boeing is dealing with a new defect on its 787 Dreamliner, which involves certain titanium parts that are weaker than they should be 

The company announced in July that it had spotted additional problems near the nose of the plane and was working to fix them.

‘We are making progress as we apply our Quality Management System to improve first-time quality in our production and delivery system,’ a Boeing spokesman told DailyMail.com in a statement.

‘As part of these efforts, we continually raise the standards we hold ourselves to. We have strengthened our focus on quality and constantly encourage all members of our team and supply chain to raise any issues that need attention,’ the statement added. 

‘When issues are raised, that is an indication that these efforts are working. Even where these efforts result in a near term impact on operations, we’re confident it’s the right approach to drive safety, stability and first-time quality for the long term,’ the spokesman said. 

Boeing said on Tuesday that its airplane deliveries rose to 35 in September as it benefited from an uptick in domestic travel.


Boeing said the titanium defect ‘does not present an immediate safety of flight concern for the active in-service fleet’

That was 13 more planes than in August and 24 more than in September last year.

Of the 35 jetliners delivered last month, 26 were 737 MAX passenger jets and one was a P-8 maritime patrol aircraft to the U.K. Royal Air Force.

But the 787 program remains hobbled by structural defects and deliveries remain on pause. 

The closely watched monthly snapshot comes as Boeing tries to recoup billions of dollars in lost sales from the coronavirus pandemic, and move beyond a safety scandal caused by the fatal 737 MAX crashes.

Boeing also said it delivered eight widebodies including one 747-8 freighter to United Parcel Service, two 767 freighters to FedEx Corp and one 767 tanker for the U.S. Air Force.

For the year so far, Boeing has delivered 241 aircraft, up from 206 a month ago and 98 for the first nine months of 2020.

Of these, 194 were for its best-selling 737 MAX jets which returned to service in late 2020 following a near two-year safety ban. 

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NASA, Boeing to Provide Update on Boeing’s Orbital Flight Test-2

Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket as it is rolled out of the Vertical Integration Facility to the launch pad at Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida.
Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket as it is rolled out of the Vertical Integration Facility to the launch pad at Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida.
Credits: NASA

NASA and Boeing will hold a joint teleconference at 2:30 p.m. EDT Tuesday, Oct. 19, to update media on the company’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft. Teams will discuss work on the oxidizer isolation valve issue that was discovered ahead of the planned uncrewed Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2) mission to the International Space Station in August.


Participants in the briefing will be:


  • Steve Stich, manager of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program
  • John Vollmer, vice president and program manager, Boeing Commercial Crew Program
  • Michelle Parker, chief engineer, Boeing Space and Launch


Audio of the teleconference will stream live online at: 




To participate in the teleconference, media must contact ksc-newsroom@mail.nasa.gov by 1:30 p.m. Oct. 19 for the dial-in information.


The OFT-2 mission will launch Starliner on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. Starliner will dock to the space station before returning to land in the western United States about a week later as part of an end-to-end test flight to prove the system is ready to fly crew.


Learn more about NASA’s Commercial Crew Program at:





Joshua Finch
Headquarters, Washington

Last Updated: Oct 15, 2021
Editor: Sean Potter
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Israeli startup AIR unveils flying vehicle to be used 'like cars'

By Nick Carey  4 hrs ago

Like6 Comments|5

By Nick Carey

© Reuters/AIR A rendition of the AIR ONE, a two-seater electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) vehicle

A rendition of the AIR ONE, a two-seater electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) vehicle

LONDON (Reuters) - Israeli startup AIR on Tuesday unveiled its first "easy-to-operate" electric, vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft that it aims to sell directly to consumers predominantly in the United States starting in 2024.

AIR has been working with the U.S. Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) for two years and expects to obtain certification by the end of 2023 for the AIR ONE, a two-seater, 970 kg (2,138 lb) eVTOL, which will have a flight range of 110 miles (177 km), Chief Executive Rani Plaut told Reuters.

AIR raised seed funding of under $10 million last year and has been running unmanned tests of its vehicle. It is building prototype models and expects to sell its eVTOLs for around the same price as an expensive car, Plaut said, without providing more precise details.

An increasing number of investors and aviation companies have piled into the hot but yet-to-be-approved urban air mobility space and the number of eVTOL startups has proliferated.

Air taxi firm Joby Aviation has gone public via a merger with a blank-check company and Vertical Aerospace - which has pre-orders for up to 1,000 eVTOL aircraft with launch customers Avolon and American Airlines - is going public via a merger with Broadstone Acquisition Corp.

Plaut said the difference with AIR is that it will be sold to consumers who can use its "fly by intent" software to fly without being fully trained pilots.

"Our focus is entirely personal," he said. "We're not talking about commercial flights, we're talking about people using this as they use cars."

The United States has a lot of open airspace that makes it a suitable first market for the AIR ONE. Plaut said AIR expects demand could reach 15,000 vehicles a year.

AIR is currently raising additional funds to get through the FAA certification process, but did not disclose how much.

(Reporting By Nick Carey; Editing by Bernadette Baum)


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Nolinor selects 4 employees for its 2021 cohort of the Become a Pilot program



15 October 2021

Nolinor is proud to announce the selection of 4 employees for its 2021 cohort of the Become a Pilot program. This program allows our employees to realize their dream of becoming a pilot at our expense.

Despite the pandemic, Nolinor’s operations have not slowed down. This year, we have decided not to limit ourselves to 2 candidates, but to extend the selection to 4 employees who have distinguished themselves by their determination and passion.

Carrie, Technical Records Specialist, Marc, Ramp Agent, Nicola, Avionics Technician and Darragh, Safety Investigator, will begin their pilot training in the coming week.

We are confident that these employees will represent Nolinor with flying colors. We look forward to flying on their wings.

Please join us in congratulating Carrie, Marc, Nicola, and Darragh!

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