2016: The year's biggest Aerospace Technology stories

Iran to buy 118 Airbus aircraft, Ball Aerospace to build OMPS, and ISRO to launch indigenous space shuttle. Aerospace-technology.com wraps up the key headlines from 2016.


Iran to buy 118 Airbus aircraft worth $25bn

Iran Air signed a $25bn agreement to buy 118 aircraft from Airbus, marking the country's return to the international civil aviation community.

The deal includes 21 A320ceo Family and 24 A320neo Family jetliners, 27 from the A330ceo Family, 18 A330-900neo aircraft, 16 A350-1000s and 12 A380s.

It also covers the training of pilots, customer support and services. Iran Air will also benefit from the advantages of Airbus' product line commonality.

Ball Aerospace to build OMPS for NOAA’s JPSS Polar Follow-On/JPSS-3 and JPSS-4 missions

Nasa awarded a contract to Ball Aerospace to build the ozone mapping and profiler suite (OMPS) instruments for National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS) Polar Follow-On/JPSS-3 and JPSS-4 missions.

Under a sole source contract modification, the $214m contract is valid for ten years for a total value of approximately $421m.

Under the deal, Ball will build, test and deliver the OMPS JPSS-3 and JPSS-4 instruments, which are composed of a nadir sensor and electronics module, as well as provide launch and post-launch support for both.

ISRO to launch indigenous space shuttle

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is preparing to launch the Reusable Launch Vehicle - Technology Demonstrator (RLV-TD) space shuttle, which has been developed by the country's own indigenous efforts.

As part of its initiative, ISRO scientists are developing a winged body design prototype that is approximately the weight and size of a sports utility vehicle (SUV).

However, while some countries are abandoning the idea of using a winged reusable launch vehicle, ISRO considers it as a way to reduce satellite launching expenses.

LIGO collaboration detects gravitational waves in space

Enhanced laser interferometer gravitational-wave observatory (LIGO) detectors, a US National Science Foundation (NSF)-funded project, detected gravitational waves in space for the first time.

This confirms the prediction of Albert Einstein's general theory of relativity after a hundred years.

LIGO researchers observed the merger of a pair of black holes through a transient gravitational-wave signal, more than a billion light years from Earth.

Safran and Dassault developing digital solution for 3D-printing aerospace components

Safran and Dassault Systèmes entered a strategic partnership to develop an end-to-end digital solution for additive manufacturing of aerospace engine components.

Also known as 3D-printing, additive manufacturing uses computer-aided design, engineering, manufacturing and materials science software to generate 3D models of parts and subsystems, which are then built using successive layers of materials.

Using Dassault Systèmes' 3DEXPERIENCE platform and Safran's expertise in innovative technologies, the companies will develop expertise for virtual validation of an additive manufacturing process.

US researchers develop UAV prototype that flies from underwater

Researchers from Johns Hopkins University's Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Maryland, US, developed a new unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) that can effectively operate in both air and water.

The new Corrosion-Resistant Aerial Covert Unmanned Nautical System (Cracuns) submersible UAV can stay on station underwater, and also be launched from an unmanned underwater vehicle (UUV) into the air to perform various missions.

For developing the new design, a team from APL's force projection sector collaborated with fabrication experts in the research and exploratory development department.

FAA's new commercial drone rules take effect in US

The US Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) new small drone regulation, known as Part 107, became effective from 29 August, making it easier for businesses to fly drones for commercial purposes.

Designed mainly to reduce risks to other aircraft, as well as people and property on the ground, the new regulations do not apply to model aircraft operations that meet all the criteria mentioned in section 336 of Public Law 112-95.

Section 336 also mandates that drones can be operated only for hobby or recreational purposes.

Lufthansa Technik and MTU Aero Engines to establish PW1000G engine maintenance joint venture

Germany-based Lufthansa Technik and MTU Aero Engines announced plans to establish a joint venture (JV) to provide maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) services for PW1000G family of geared turbofan (GTF) engines.

Manufactured by Pratt & Whitney, PW1000G has been selected as the exclusive engine for the Bombardier C Series, Mitsubishi Regional Jet (MRJ), Embraer's second generation E-Jets, and other aircraft families.

In order to establish the JV, both companies entered a memorandum of understanding.

Bombardier delivers first CS300 jet to airBaltic

Bombardier Commercial Aircraft delivered the first CS300 plane to launch operator Air Baltic (airBaltic).

Designed to accommodate between 130 and 150 passengers, CS300 is the larger model of Bombardier’s new C Series aircraft.

airBaltic deployed the CS300 in its maiden flight on 14 December, on the route between Riga, Latvia, to Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

Orbital ATK to build Eutelsat 5 West B satellite

Global aerospace group Orbital ATK won a deal from Eutelsat Communications to build a broadcast satellite, Eutelsat 5 West B.

To be built in collaboration with Airbus Defence and Space, the satellite will be developed using Orbital ATK’s GEOStar satellite platform.

Airbus Defence and Space will provide the communications payload of 35 active Ku-band channels for Eutelsat 5 West B.