Category: Maintenance Repair Overhaul

The Next Boeing 787? China And Russia Spending $20 Billion To Compete With Aircraft By Mid 2020’s

CR929-mock-up

A joint effort between Russia and China is aiming to create a brand new aircraft to compete with Boeing and Airbus. The $20 billion project sees Russia’s United Aircraft Corporation and The Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China working together. The new aircraft was unveiled as a life-size model at China’s biannual airshow. The CR929 would be comprised of a fuselage designed by China, and wings designed by Russia. The co-operative venture between the two countries has been called the China-Russia Commercial Aircraft International Corporation, or CRAIC for short.

CR929
A model of the CR929 displayed at the Paris Air Show. Photo: Marc Lacoste

Airbus Boeing Competitor

The new aircraft is being designed to compete with Airbus and Boeing, notably the A350 and B787. CRAIC is hoping that the aircraft could take its first flight some time in 2023. This represents a two year delay from the originally estimated 2021 first flight date. In turn this would allow for introduction between 2025 and 2028. UAC, the Russian entity, believes that 8,000 wide body aircraft will be needed by 2033, including a significant number for China. The current aim set by CRAIC is to claim 10% of the wide body market. The company will achieve this by making the aircraft 10-15% cheaper to run than its competitors.

CR929
A life-size mock up of the CR929.

Life-size Model Unveiled

Now CRAIC has unveiled a life-size model of the CR929. The model was unveiled at the Zhuhai Airshow taking place in China between 6th and 11th November. The company held a ceremony to unveil the design which was attended by senior executives from both the Chinese and Russian components of CRAIC. At the ceremony, UAC’s President Yury Slyusar told how the project is making good progress.

“Our program is making progress and is on schedule. It is currently in the preliminary design phase and we are also in the supplier and equipment selection phase, which will finish by the end of 2019.

As the project is still in the supplier and equipment selection phase, much of the cockpit of the model was comprised of generic equipment, however, a key design detail was given away. Instead of opting for the control column traditionally favoured by Boeing, the aircraft has been designed with a side stick, similar to Airbus.

CR929
Inside the CR929 model.

One Of Many New Aircraft

The CR929 is one of many new aircraft being designed by China to compete with the traditional manufacturers. Comac, the Chinese part of the CRAIC duo, is designing a number of different aircraft. Their first jet, the ARJ21 has been in service since June 2016. The C919, a medium range narrow body aircraft, took its first flight in May 2017. The first delivery of this aircraft is planned for 2021, followed by the 929.

What do you think of the CR929? Will the project be delivered to schedule? Let us know in the comments below!

Airbus needs more than 200 aircraft deliveries in two months to meet 2018 goal

a320neoreveal02_xx3396-2269-101-0

Airbus went full throttle on aircraft deliveries in October, handing over 81 commercial jets to customers last month.

But, after having been hit by supplier disruptions earlier in the year that it continues to wrestle with, that still leaves the European manufacturer plenty of work to do in the final two months of the year to reach its target for the year.

Airbus finished October with 584 deliveries, meaning it still has 216 to go to reach its goal of 800 deliveries for 2018.

The company said last week as part of its latest earnings report that it was still targeting 800 deliveries, although that goal would now include the 18 deliveries of A220 jets it expects to make.

That is the jet that was previously the Bombardier C Series, with Airbus closing on its majority stake in the program in July.

Of the October deliveries, 48 were from the A320neo line that has been hampered by delays from engine suppliers.

Airbus’ rival, the Boeing Co. (NYSE: BA), hasn’t yet released its October delivery numbers. It has also dealt with supplier disruptions, but finished September with 568 deliveries on the year so far.

Boeing also ended September with 631 net orders. That means it will still have a comfortable lead on that metric, as Airbus reported 340 net orders through the end of October.

Between Spirit AeroSystems Inc. (NYSE: SPR), other local commercial aerospace manufacturers and Airbus Americas Engineering, Wichita has a role in the design, production and support of all of the aircraft in the two companies’ combined commercial product lines.

Pratt Begins Connected Factory Trials in Singapore

Efficiency increases and productivity boosts driving the OEM’s digital project.

601x339-PW-GTF-engine-pic-2

Pratt & Whitney began trials of its Connected Factory concept Nov. 5 at the company’s MRO facility in Singapore’s Seletar Aerospace Park.

The engine manufacturer’s digital transformation initiative aims to increase efficiency and boost productivity using customized off-the-shelf software developed by Dassault Systèmes.

The project will include a “lighthouse” cell in the repair shop, implementation of intelligent scheduling and overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) metrics, software adoption and sensor installation.

“This will give us good analytics on how the machines are running” and help prevent potential breakdowns, Pratt SD-aftermarket operations Asia Pacific Brendon McWilliam said.

The system, already in use at the company’s manufacturing plant in Connecticut, “will allow us to put engine parts through the most efficient flow and to cut down on bottlenecks,” McWilliam said.

The initial trial, including setup, will last about three months, followed by a six-month study of the relevant data.

Pratt plans to roll out the system to the remaining four facilities in Singapore by 2020 and at the company’s shops in New Zealand and China beginning in 2021.

Pratt has plans for the full digitalization of the shop floor with other initiatives, such as automated digital measurement, paperless work orders and digital material management, McWilliam said.

“A lot of companies are now looking at digital transformation and people are curious to see how these transformations will affect the end user,” he said.

UTAS, Lufthansa Technink Team Up On PW1100G Component Repairs

Deal expands cooperation between the two companies across Airbus, Boeing platforms.

DLH-A320-neo-HOWARTH

UTC Aerospace Systems (UTAS) and Lufthansa Technik (LHT) are teaming up to support each other’s aftermarket businesses for certain Pratt & Whitney PW1100G-JM components, agreeing to a “life-of-program” component-service agreement for parts supplied by UTAS, the companies will announce.

Under the deal, set to be unveiled Nov. 8, LHT will develop repairs for certain UTAS-supplied engine accessories, while the supplier will provide parts and repair services to LHT. The agreement covers specific accessories for the Airbus A320neo engines, including the integrated fuel pump and control, the electronic engine control, and the air turbine starter.

The agreement will see UTAS using the LHT-developed repairs in its shops, while the German MRO provider will leverage UTAS’s parts-supply and component-repair services to support its customer base. UTAS and Pratt are both part of United Technologies.

“Our customers will benefit greatly as we combine Lufthansa Technik’s maintenance, repair and overhaul capabilities with the design knowledge of UTC Aerospace Systems,” said LHT executive board chairman Johannes Bussmann. “Just like with the classic engine option, Lufthansa Technik will soon be able to repair A320neo line replaceable units in-house, including the engines.”

Tim White, UTAS president, electric, and environmental & engine systems, called the deal “a great opportunity for two companies to leverage each other’s knowledge, expertise and technology and work together to develop improved solutions that enhance the overall customer experience.”

Such deals are part of the growing trend of major suppliers teaming with MRO providers to broaden service offerings, gain access to more customers, and, increasingly, strengthen their positions against Airbus and Boeing, which are both creeping into the aftermarket space. In this agreement, LHT gains access to UTAS parts and repair data. In exchange, UTAS has one of the top MRO providers developing cost-effective repairs that it can use in its own shops.

The deal also extends the cooperation between the two large suppliers of new parts and aftermarket services. In 2017, LHT chose UTAS’s Aircraft Interface Device as part of an evaluation for sister company Lufthansa German Airlines, which is installing the units on its A320s. UTAS’s Aerostructures business also has a deal with LHT that supports the MRO provider’s Airbus A350 nacelle repair services. The companies have had aftermarket-support agreements in place for 787 components since 2011. LHT also is an official partner in Pratt’s PW1100G-JM overhaul network.

More And Smarter Sensors Are Coming

MR-SENSOR_ATR
Could the aviation industry be getting close to finding the holy grail of sensors, monitoring aircraft structures?

The age of predictive maintenance and big data is just beginning, and the future will see aircraft generating ever more data, with more plentiful and smarter sensors and monitoring systems. This will be true for engines— where data collection began—and across a wide variety of aircraft components and possibly airframe structures that so far have been the most difficult components to monitor. New sensor connections, wireless or transmissible directly to communication buses, are also possible.

Esterline makes sensors for several aircraft components including engines, which are the most hostile sensing environment, according to James Ewing, vice president of engineering for advanced sensors. One major goal is to handle the increasing temperatures and pressures to which engine sensors are subject.

Engine OEMs are increasing pressures and temperatures to boost fuel efficiency, and Esterline must make sure its sensors can take the added punishment in engine hot sections, often by using exotic new materials and expensive alloys.

Engines on new-model aircraft will require sensors that support efficiency, safety and possibly new architectures for Full Authority Digital Engine Control, or FADEC systems. New engine sensors will have “less drift, longer life and better accuracy,” Ewing predicts. Engine-makers will want and even require sensors that are “fit and forget.”

MR-SENSORS_Meggitt

Sensors can monitor a range of engine parameters, as shown

Reducing drift means reducing some sensors’ tendency for performance degradation over time; for example, expressing an increased metric even when true engine performance is unchanged. Reliable accuracy from sensors will allow engines to be operated under the most efficient conditions, without fear that deterioration goes undetected.

Some sensors in hot sections are now replaced every five or six years. Airlines would like to lengthen or eliminate these replacement cycles entirely.

Future Sensors

Wireless sensors are used chiefly for testing engines under development, when a lot of data points are needed. In the future, to reduce weight and space used for wiring, sensors may transmit data wirelessly on operating engines. Wireless sensors need to harvest energy or tap local power sources. Engines generate powerful vibrations, but the challenge is to convert vibrations into usable power for sensors.

Another change might be distributing FADEC so sensors will need shorter connections. Rolls-Royce is considering dividing up FADEC into separate parts, which would reduce the amount of wiring needed to connect sensors.

Ewing expects sensors also will serve new uses. For example, for engine efficiency, sensors could measure turbine-blade clearances. The gap between tip and case determines air leakage and thus engine efficiency.

For safety purposes, sensors might measure the timing of turbine-blade tips. Changes in spinning speed or vibration could flag a bird strike or other foreign object damage that creates a risk to aircraft safety.

Ewing believes increased aircraft reliance on electric power will require sensors for battery health monitoring.

In the future, both more and different types of aircraft sensors likely will be required, says Lucas Sendra, Meggitt business development manager. Meggitt products include brakes, fire controls, bleed air valves, heat exchangers, fuel systems, engine components and sensing systems.

New technologies like optical and surface acoustic-wave sensing will enable new parameters to be monitored, he predicts. And more-electric aircraft will require new sensors to monitor electric motor performance. “Future monitoring systems will combine legacy sensors, smart and wireless sensors and new sensing technologies,” he says.

For example, Meggitt is working with Airbus and Textron on wireless tire-pressure monitoring systems that can transmit data up to 50 m (164 ft.), so mechanics won’t have to crawl around landing gear checking tire pressure.

Curtiss-Wright makes sensors for engine-fuel control, flight controls and critical-condition monitoring. The company is seeing more sensors being deployed for safety, efficiency, situational and health monitoring. “One of the strongest drivers . . . including retrofits, is . . . safety monitoring such as slat-skew, stall, engine-cowling position or thrust-reverser deployment,” says Graham Macdonald, senior vice president of sensors and controls. Curtiss-Wright recently delivered a suite of slat-skew detection sensors, placed on individual slats to increase accuracy.

Sensors typically interface with local control systems or data concentrators, which then interface with the communications bus. In many cases, sensors could eventually interface directly with the bus. Macdonald expects wireless sensors to become more attractive, especially in flight-test instruments and noncritical applications.

Airframe Sensors

The holy grail of health monitoring has been monitoring aircraft structures. This goal may be getting a little closer with Structural Monitoring Systems’ Comparative Vacuum Monitoring (CVM). CVM can test structural health on the ground, replacing time-consuming visual inspections.

CVM uses Teflon tape that has elastomeric sensors with fine channels etched in the adhesive face. The tape is applied to an aircraft, explains Richard Poutier, vice president for business development at Structural Monitoring Systems.

During an inspection, equipment draws a vacuum over several channels of the tape. If there are any surface cracks, channels will leak air, and the equipment will detect the leak and pinpoint the crack location.

CVM has been proven to work on aluminum structures and is being tested on composites. It can be retrofitted on any structure on which mechanics can lay the tape and has been approved to check the health of wingboxes on the Boeing 737. One U.S. airline has installed the tape on seven 737s and used it for 120 inspections. Several others are evaluating it.

“CVM has been accepted by Boeing and included as an alternative method of compliance,” Poutier explains. “It avoids ripping up floorboards and taking out seats to inspect the wingbox.” He estimates CVM has saved $150,000 in lost revenue per aircraft during a heavy check by speeding up inspections.

Structural now offers CVM for inspections required by airworthiness directives and service bulletins. Longer term, it wants to deploy the technology for routine inspections. Eventually, it might be used to monitor inflight structural health.

CVM can detect surface cracks and measure their length. Only eddy current inspections can at present detect subsurface cracks. Poutier says OEMs may learn to judge structural integrity by surface cracks and run a CVM test every 500 cycles to remain confident about the safety of components.

The natural next step is to install CVM as a line fit in new aircraft. According to Poutier, several OEMs are now considering this.

Aviation Technician Shortage is a Gathering Storm, Although There are Solutions on the Horizon

A new report finds that while 30 percent of the aviation mechanics workforce is at or near retirement age, new entrants into the field only make up 2 percent of the workforce population each year.

The report from the Aviation Technician Education Council (ATEC) found that while there are more than 286,000 Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certified Airframe and Powerplant (A&P) mechanics, 27 percent of the workforce is aged 64 and above.

The large gap between the demand for trained workers and the number of new employees entering the aviation mechanics industry is problematic.

Boeing projects in its 2016 Pilot and Technician Outlook that 679,000 new maintenance technicians will be needed to maintain the world’s airlines over the next 20 years. Airlines in North America specifically will require 127,000 maintenance personnel, the report said.

According to the ATEC report, enrollment in all Aviation Maintenance Technician (AMT) schools totals nearly 17,800, but the program’s capacity is more than 34,000. And while A&P program capacity has increased by 2 percent in the last 18 months, enrollment has decreased by 2 percent.

Steve Sabold, director of admissions at the Pittsburgh Institute of Aeronautics (PIA), said certified mechanics are an industry necessity.

“Every aircraft that goes up in the air needs to be signed off on by an A&P certified mechanic,” Sabold said in an interview with Transportation Today. “That alone makes them, once they get their certification, a very hot commodity.”

But getting young people into the program may be difficult because of a larger issue that affects all skilled trade positions.

“There’s not a lot of people going into skilled trades period,” Sabold said. “When you have less people going into skilled trades across the board, it certainly doesn’t help us fill up our pipeline any quicker.”

Meeting that demand, Boeing said, will require educational outreach, career pipeline programs, and other innovative solutions. ATEC suggests a focus on strategies to increase the number of female candidates, where currently they make up just 2.3 percent of the certified mechanic workforce.

Improving the retention of graduates of AMT schools is another critical factor. AMT school respondents who were surveyed by ATEC estimate that 20 percent of graduates pursue careers outside of aviation, and just 60 percent take the FAA test for mechanic certification.

Dan Cooper, vice president of economic development and governmental affairs with Tri County Technical College in South Carolina, said the attitudes of parents can also add to the problem of engaging students in the skilled trades.

“A lot of the parents want their kids to be more successful than they were,” Cooper said. “They have no idea that these jobs have the potential to make six-figure salaries. People consider skilled trades jobs to be dirty or only for those who aren’t as smart. But that’s just not the case.”

The decreased enrollment in aviation mechanics may also be due to the experience of the students themselves.

“I think there is less exposure for young adults in utilizing skilled trades today,” Sabold said. “As technology has advanced, I don’t think young adults see the people doing the hands-on work that is necessary, and because of that may not think of aviation mechanics as a career option.”

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, aviation mechanics make a median salary of $60,270 per year, as of 2016.

Aviation companies, Sabold said, are working to get more young adults into AMT programs.

“Aviation companies are being proactive about getting into the schools, even as early as middle school and changing the mentality of students,” he said. “They are starting to step up and help others see the benefit of a certified aviation mechanic career.”

For example, this month both Piedmont Airlines and Constant Aviation will participate in open house events at PIA to reach out to potential students about careers in aviation mechanics. Piedmont Airlines is owned by American Airlines and operates hubs in Philadelphia and Charlotte Douglas International Airports. Constant Aviation, with locations at airports in Cleveland, Orlando, Phoenix and Las Vegas, specializes in airframe and engine maintenance, major repairs and avionics.

“Open Houses give PIA the opportunity to deliver critical information about career demand,” said Suzanne Markle, president and CEO of the Pittsburgh Institute of Aeronautics, in a written statement. “That we are hosting events with such a large number of companies in comparison to the number of upcoming graduates attending is a strong indicator of career demand.”

PIA offers programs in aviation maintenance and aviation electronics. PIA’s campuses in Pittsburgh, Youngstown, Hagerstown and Myrtle Beach have been selected as four of approximately 40 aircraft maintenance schools to partner with Delta Air Lines.

“We look forward to the opportunity to serve new students and prepare them with the entry-level mechanic skills we know our employers are looking for,” Markle added.

Airbus Sees Strong Market for HEMS Twins

The stampede to single-engine helicopter air ambulances is likely coming to an end in the U.S., according to Chris Emerson, president of Airbus Helicopters Inc., Airbus Helicopters’ North American arm. “I think you are going to see a pickup on the twins,” Emerson said, citing his company’s own recent sales experience into the air medical market. “Over the last four years in air medical we have sold more twins than singles,” including several large twin orders in the last few years as more operators transition to IFR programs. “They’re all buying twins,” he said.

Emerson said changes in the air medical industry and the growing physical size of patients was leading to a pickup in demand for larger, twin-engine ships. “The needs of the population are changing. The demographics are such that helicopters need to do more. The famous air medical golden hour has given way with the need to get the emergent care on board immediately. It’s getting the equipment and the medical know-how on the helicopter to provide the service immediately, not in the golden hour. An H145 is now a flying hospital.”

Emerson also noted the change in basing models. “There’s a lot more interest in hospital-based models. When you are linked up with a hospital-based system that air transportation cost is a fraction of the entire health care bill that patient is getting. It’s not separated. You’re seeing that where it makes sense in urban environments. Four years ago I had a HEMS customer tell me that the twin-engine market was dead. Today that same customer is buying twins. Why? Because with a twin you can fly neo-natal isolettes and supplement on-scene rescues with more comprehensive service in the helicopter.”

He also said that patients are physically simply getting larger and “we need to adapt to that.”

That is not to say that single-engine helicopter air ambulances are going away, Emerson said, but you will be more likely to find them in rural settings. “You will always have on-scene, rural, community-based programs that service populations that are not near trauma centers. Otherwise, you’re in an ambulance forever or at a basic hospital that can’t deal with you.”

But a key reason for selecting a twin to service an urban program, aside from cabin size, is the one engine inoperative (OEI) capability, Emerson said. “If you are in an urban environment, what does your one engine inoperative environment look like? When you get into an urban environment you want OEI performance so that the pilot doesn’t feel it.”

The need for speed and OEI margins is driving interest in the new Airbus H160 medium twin from select air ambulance operators, Emerson said. He thinks the H160 will do well in the high-end air medical market, particularly hospital-based programs with strong transplant programs where the 155-knot speed and range of the H160 will make it an effective hospital-to-hospital solution compared to employing fixed-wing assets. “We’re in talks with several leading programs on the H160,” he said.

Emerson thinks the air medical market is on the upswing. “Today there is a general optimism around growth again,” he said, noting that Airbus has “enjoyed the most multi-ship sales over the last four years into air medical.” But the growth is likely to be measured, characterized more by incremental fleet replacement and strategic base growth as opposed to the large net fleet growth of decades past.

However, Emerson thinks the overall U.S. helicopter market is poised for healthy growth thanks to thinning used inventories and more generous bonus depreciation under the new tax law. “This is the strongest we’ve entered a fourth quarter since I’ve been here—four years. We’re going to hit our annual targets this year before the end of October, which is unreal. It’s a good sign. We’ll continue to see a strong push to the end of the year.

“The impact of the accelerated depreciation and expansion to used aircraft has benefited the market to the extent that you cannot find a good quality used H125 or H145 with less than 8,000 or 9,000 hours because they have all been bought up this year because of that accelerated depreciation being applicable to used aircraft. That’s great for our new business. I think we’ll see a big push at the end of this year and we need to be ready for it. Last year we had 72 percent of the new order market share. Today we are sitting at 70 percent and we should be 70 or plus this year.”

 

Take a look inside the MH-139, the helicopter chosen by the US Air Force to replace the UH-1N Huey

MH-139

In what many have defined an upset victory, the United States Air Force announced the selection of the MH-139, to replace its fleet of UH-1N “Huey” helicopters. A 375M USD firm-fixed-price contract for the non-developmental item integration of four aircraft was awarded on Sept. 14.

If all options are exercised the programme is valued at $2.4 billion for up to 84 helicopters, training devices and associated support equipment until 2031.

The new choppers, based on the Leonardo AW139 and offered by Boeing as prime contractor, are expected to reach the IOC (initial operational capability) in 2021 (this is what Leonardo claims in its press release even though it appears a bit optimistic considered that the Lockheed Martin and Sierra Nevada, both offering UH-60 Black Hawk variants, may contest the award)when they will replace the old Huey taking over the role of protecting the America’s ICBM missile silos as well as VIP transportation and utility tasks.

The MH-139 leverages the market-leading Leonardo AW139 baseline, a modern, non-developmental, multi-mission helicopter that is in service with 270 governments, militaries and companies across the world. According to Leonardo, over 900 AW139s are already in service with 260 assembled and delivered from Philadelphia, where the U.S. Air Force’s MH-139 will be assembled. ​Check it out below.

The U.S. Air Force MH-139 will be equipped with sensor turret under the nose with electro-optical and infrared cameras, provisions for machine gun mounts and possibly hoists.

The U.S. Air Force MH-139 will be equipped with sensor turret under the nose with electro-optical and infrared cameras, provisions for machine gun mounts and possibly hoists.
MH-139 demonstrator.
 Boeing/Leonardo

The helicopter features provisions two wing-mounted pods for 70 mm unguided rockets as those presented by AgustaWestland at Farnborough International Airshow in 2012.

The Italian Air Force helicopter can do also something else. Since they can carry a bambi bucket they can perform aerial firefighting activity. Beginning in 2018, the Italian HH-139A belonging to the 82° Centro CSAR (Combat SAR Center) from Trapani have carried out firefighting tasks in Sicily.

The Italian Air Force helicopter can do also something else. Since they can carry a bambi bucket they can perform aerial firefighting activity. Beginning in 2018, the Italian HH-139A belonging to the 82° Centro CSAR (Combat SAR Center) from Trapani have carried out firefighting tasks in Sicily.
The HH-139A during the firefighting training activity carried out at Decimomannu airbase in 2015.
 Alessandro Caglieri

NASA’S SUPERSONIC TECHNOLOGY WILL CUT TRANSCONTINENTAL FLIGHTS IN HALF

Resultado de imagen para nasa supersonic jet

The air corridor from the East to West coasts is one of the busiest in the United States. On a typical day, more than 100 flights make the six-hour journey between the Big Apple and Tinseltown. That’s thousands of hours per day that passengers are stuck in airless, soulless tubes with lousy Wi-Fi. And the experience is much worse when you realize that the technology exists to cut that time in half—but airlines are forbidden to use it.

The main reason is noise. As soon a plane exceeds the speed of sound—about 767 miles per hour, depending on temperature and other conditions—it creates a thunderclap heard in all directions. In 1973, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) banned supersonic planes operating over the continental U.S. But NASA thinks it can finally solve the problem that’s dogged aerospace engineers for decades: lowering the sonic boom.

In April, NASA signed a $247.5 million contract with Lockheed Martin to help develop a quiet supersonic plane, the X-59 QueSST. A “low-boom flight demonstrator,” the X-59 won’t carry passengers across the U.S.; it’s designed to prove to federal and international regulators that supersonic jets can create a sound no more disruptive than conventional passenger planes. If the project is successful, it could lead to a change in regulations and a new class of speedier jets.

NASA already has a basic design for the plane, a slender shape that reduces its “acoustic signature.” In early November, it will test the concept over the skies of Galveston, Texas, sending a modified combat jet, the F/A-18 Hornet, into a series of dives that produce sonic booms similar to the X-59’s. NASA has recruited 500 people on the ground to answer surveys about the noise.

“We’re solely focused on addressing the challenges of quiet supersonic flights over land, reducing that sonic boom to a sonic thump,” said Sasha Ellis, a NASA spokesperson for the X-59 mission.

After gathering the data, NASA will share the information with Lockheed Martin, which is scheduled to start building the X-59 in January 2019. The goal is to have an X-59 ready for trials in 2021. Only after NASA shares sound data with the FAA can manufacturers begin crafting their own supersonic planes. Peter Coen, NASA’s project manager for commercial supersonic technology, said sonic boom lessons from the X-59 can be scaled up to plane capacity as large as 100 passengers.

NASA has taken some criticism for developing a technology that would likely add to carbon emissions, a contributor to global warming. Once NASA and Lockheed prove to regulators that supersonic jets can produce publicly tolerable noise levels, they plan to focus on environmental issues. Emissions and fuel efficiency are beyond the scope of the X-59 mission, said Peter Iosifidis, Lockheed Martin’s X-59 program manager.

The likely beneficiaries of supersonic travel over land, at least at first, will be high-end corporate customers. “Such flights won’t be available for vacations to Disney World. It’s designed for road warriors who need to get to and return from places quickly,” said Vik Kachoria, president and CEO of Spike Aerospace, which is building a supersonic corporate jet for ocean routes.

“As with most new products, the affluent are more likely to be the first adopters,” said Iosifidis. But once technology is taken up, prices often fall.

Boeing opens first factory in Europe, chooses UK

Boeing opens first factory in Europe, chooses UK

Boeing inaugurated its first production plant in Europe on October 25, 2018. And to take its first footstep, the U.S. manufacturer chose Sheffield in the United Kingdom.

The plane maker invested £40 million ($51.24 million) into the factory of 6,200 square meters that produces aluminum and steel parts for the 737 and the 767. Raw materials should come from thirteen suppliers, mainly from the United Kingdom. The parts are currently being produced using ten completely automated machines, that are capable of performing all processes required for each part.

Once manufactured, the components should then be transported to be assembled in Portland, Oregon, before reaching the final assembly line in Seattle, Washington. The final output of the factory should be of 7,000 to 8,000 parts per month, with 25 automated machines.

It is not the first installation of Boeing in Sheffield, however. In 2001, the manufacturer already co-founded the Advanced Manufacturing Research Center (AMRC) with Sheffield University, Rotherham. The manufacturer solutions of the AMRC should be applied at the Boeing Sheffield plant.

The creation of this new plant follows Boeing’s recent years strategy to diversify parts production and gain in independence. In October 2018, Boeing acquired aviation parts provider KLX Aerospace Solutions which supplies chemicals and composites for the sector. The same month, the European Commission has approved, under the EU Merger Regulation, the creation of a joint venture between Boeing and French aerospace manufacturer Safran to manufacture auxiliary power units (APUs).