General aviation design guru and space pioneer Burt Rutan was presented with a lifetime achievement award at the Dubai Air Show yesterday, though the founder and ex-CEO of Scaled Composite protested, “I haven’t done anything for months.” Rutan retired from his company earlier this year and moved to a home in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, but the feet-up posture lasted just a few months until, “I got bored,” he said.
How does one measure the success of an airplane designer?
Northrop Grumman unveiled a new optionally piloted vehicle in the medium-altitude, long-endurance (Male) class, which is currently dominated by General Atomics Aeronautical Systems with its Predator/Reaper series. The Firebird will fly in piloted and multisensor configuration later this month at Empire Challenge 2011, a military intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance (ISR) exercise hosted by the U.S.
Moribund Adam Aircraft has a new owner. Thomas Hsueh says he plans to decide by year-end whether to place a modified version of the piston-powered A500 push-pull twin into production. He has hired very light jet designer Luc Van Bavel, a veteran of the Safire Jet and Diamond D-Jet programs, to evaluate changes required to make the 500 commercially viable.
Global airlines are still suffering reduced demand for flights, but the Virgin Group’s dream of launching passenger flights into space has received a boost in the form of significant new investment from Abu Dhabi’s Aabar Investments. The Middle East firm will invest about $280 million to take a 32-percent stake in Virgin Galactic, valuing the subsidiary at almost $900 million.
The Beech Starship fleet is being destroyed at the behest of manufacturer Raytheon, which owns 40 of the 50 production airplanes built between 1988 and 1995.
So far, Toyota is downplaying the significance of its TAA (Toyota Advanced Aircraft) proof-of-concept airplane. The all-composite, four-place piston aircraft took flight for the first time on May 31 at Mojave (Calif.) Airport, and Toyota officials are calling the project “an early look” and a “feasibility study.” Some 35 Toyota engineers have been working on the single-engine airplane.
Ralph Vasami is the new president of Universal Weather & Aviation. He is responsible for the company’s daily business operations and for implementing future business strategies. Greg Evans retains the CEO position.
When aerospace designer Burt Rutan rolled out his manned suborbital spaceflight program and its centerpiece, SpaceShipOne (SS1), from its Mojave, Calif., hangar in April last year, reporters asked about his plans for space tourism. Rutan said he himself wasn’t interested in launching a space tourism business, but he hoped others would be able to use his technology “sometime in the future” to begin a new space industry.
In preparation for his solo nonstop around-the-world (ATW) flight tentatively scheduled for January, adventurer and solo ATW balloonist Steve Fossett has begun familiarization flights in the single-engine Virgin Atlantic GlobalFlyer in Mojave, Calif., following a number of envelope expansion flights by Scaled Composites project engineer and test pilot Jon Karkow.