The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) conducted a fresh audit of the aviation safety system run by the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) in what regulators there hope will lead to an upgrade of that nation’s Category 2 safety status to Category 1. Such an upgrade would spearhead the move to allow Philippine airlines to operate to the U.S. and Europe. The FAA downgraded the Philippines to Category 2 over safety concerns in 2009, with Europe blacklisting the carriers in 2010.
Timothy Hershman, a Kona, Hawaii, resident, was indicted by a federal grand jury last week for falsely reporting a potential hijacking aboard an Alaska Airlines Boeing 737 en route to Seattle from Kona. Hershman called the FBI office in Honolulu January 17 and reported a hijacker might be aboard the aircraft, which caused the Oregon Air National Guard to scramble two F-16s to escort the aircraft to a safe arrival at Seattle, where the hoax was discovered.
The U.S. military grounded its fleet of Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighters after a routine engine inspection revealed a cracked turbine blade in an F-35A based at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. The precautionary flight suspension was announced on February 22, following an inspection earlier in the week. The grounding affects all three variants of the fighter, for a total of 51 aircraft.
At a White House press conference this morning, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood laid out the likely consequences of possible automatic federal budget cuts, also called sequestration, scheduled to start on March 1, to his department and the U.S. FAA.
The British Army is using what may be the world’s smallest UAV yet deployed on military operations. The Black Hornet “nanocopter” is eight inches long with a rotor diameter of about five inches and weighs less than two pounds. It can provide video and still imagery of difficult-to-reconnoitre targets such as walled compounds and even the interior of buildings. It was recently introduced in Afghanistan and demonstrated in public for the first time last week during a pre-deployment exercise on Salisbury Plain in the UK, for the next British Army task force to be sent there.
The U.S. Army cancelled development of the Northrop Grumman long-endurance, multi-intelligence vehicle (LEMV), a huge, optionally manned hybrid airship that the service planned to deploy to Afghanistan as an urgent requirement for persistent surveillance. The airship was overweight and behind schedule; it made its first and only announced flight last August, about 10 months late.
Top Russian officials have confirmed sales deals with China for the Sukhoi Su-35 and with Indonesia on an additional quantity of Su-30MK2 multirole fighters.
Bombardier Business Aircraft saw a “remarkable level” of order intake last year, logging net orders for 343 aircraft versus 191 in 2011, the Canadian aircraft manufacturer reported today.
When the U.S. Congress returns from recess on Monday, there will be just five working days to avoid across-the-board sequestration cuts, and prospects appear dim for a compromise that would avert these federal budget cuts. The general aviation community is sizing up the possible effects of sequestration on everything from the FAA’s NextGen modernization program to the contract tower program, as well as the day-to-day operation of current air traffic control services and facilities.
Aerion has started its next round of high-speed test flights, in conjunction with NASA Dryden Flight Research Center, to validate the laminar-flow wing for its supersonic business jet. These tests, using a test article mounted under the centerline of NASA’s F-15B research aircraft and flown at speeds up to Mach 2.0, are intended to measure the real-world robustness of supersonic natural laminar flow. Information from these tests will help define manufacturing standards for surface quality and assembly tolerances of the proposed SSBJ’s laminar-flow wing.