Airbus secures $49.5bn aircraft order from Indigo Partners

Airbus entered a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with US-based Indigo Partners’ four portfolio airlines for the $49.5bn sale of 430 new A320neo family aircraft.

The order included 273 A320neos and 157 A321neo planes.

Following final purchase agreements and delivery, the aircraft were distributed among Indigo Partners’ four airlines, including US-based ultra low-cost airlines Frontier Airlines, Chile’s JetSMART, Mexico’s Volaris and Hungary’s Wizz Air.

New research finds Mars’ surface may have granular flows, not liquid water

New research revealed that dark features found on the surface of Mars might not indicate the subsurface flowing of water as previously believed by scientists, but could be the signs of granular flows, where grains of sand and dust slip downhill to create dark streaks.

Examination by Nasa’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) showed that these seasonal dark streaks exist only on slopes steep enough for dry grains to descend upon, similar to the way they do on faces of active dunes.

However, scientists are yet to explain the origin and evaluation of the numerous dark streaks on Mars, which are known as recurrent slope lineae (RSL).

China launches new X-ray satellite to study black holes

China launched its first astronomical satellite into space from Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre in the Gobi Desert.

Lifted-off by a Long March-4B rocket, the Hard X-ray Modulation Telescope (HXMT) was designed to study black holes, pulsars and gamma-ray bursts.

It will also help scientists better understand strong magnetic fields, how to use pulsars for spacecraft navigation, and search for gamma-ray bursts corresponding to gravitational waves.

Embraer secures $914m order from SkyWest to sell 20 aircraft

Brazil-based aircraft manufacturer Embraer won a firm order from US-based aviation company SkyWest to sell 20 new E-Jets, worth $914m.

The order included 15 E175 SC aircraft, which will be configured in 70 seats and feature an E175 airframe that can be retrofitted to 76 seats in the future.

In addition, five 76-seat E175 aircraft were also supplied under the order.

Indian youth develops world’s lightest satellite

An Indian teenager developed the world’s lightest satellite, which was launched from a Nasa facility in Wallops Island, US.

The 64g KalamSat was manufactured using 3D printing technology.

According to 18-year old developer Rifath Shaarook, KalamSat mainly seeks to reveal the performance of 3D-printed carbon-fibre.

United Technologies to purchase Rockwell Collins for $30bn

US-based aerospace group United Technologies (UTC) reached a definitive agreement to purchase aircraft parts manufacturer Rockwell Collins for $30bn, which includes the acquisition of a $7bn debt.

UTC was set to pay $140 per share in cash and stock as part of the agreement.

Rockwell shareholders were expected to receive $93.33 per share in cash and the remaining $46.67 in UTC stock.

Russian cosmonauts release 3D-printed satellite into space during spacewalk

A team of two Russian cosmonauts released five nanosatellites into space during a spacewalk, which lasted more than six hours outside the International Space Station (ISS).

The satellites measured between 1ft and 2ft in size, and deployed by Fyodor Yurchikhin and Sergey Ryazanskiy, reported Associated Press (AP).

One of the crafts’ exterior casing was made using 3D printing technology.

IACO to urge development of global registry for drones

Reuters reported that the International Civil Aviation Organisation (IACO) is planning to support the establishment of a single global registration system for drone users.

The plan was expected to be a part of a larger attempt to formulate a common framework for flying and tracking unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV).

With the registry, IACO aimed to make data related to both drone operators and owners available in real-time.

Dubai to begin testing of autonomous air taxis in Q4

The Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) of Dubai began a trial run of its manned autonomous air taxi (AAT) in the last quarter of this year.

RTA also signed an agreement with German autonomous air vehicles manufacturer VOLOCOPTER to launch the first AAT, which will be designed to carry two passengers.

The transport authority also extended the trial of its autonomous air vehicle to meet all the necessary operational requirements in terms of safety and security.

ISRO launches 104 satellites into space aboard PSLV rocket

Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) launched 104 satellites into space in a single mission from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC) in Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh.

Launched aboard ISRO’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) rocket, the satellites included a 714kg Cartosat-2 series satellite for earth observation

Featuring a combined weight of 663kg at lift-off, the Cartosat-2 series satellite and its 103 co-passenger satellites were placed in a 505km polar Sun-synchronous orbit (SSO).