February's top stories: Airbus's $9bn order and 787 Dreamliner investigations
5 March 2013 Sarah Blackman
As Air Lease placed an order worth $9bn with Airbus, Boeing sought to conduct test flights on the 787 Dreamliner to determine the reasons behind recent battery failures. Aerospace-technology.com wraps up key headlines from February 2013.
In February, Boeing sought approval from US regulators to conduct test flights of its 787 Dreamliner as part of the organisation's efforts to investigate the reasons behind recent battery failures in the aircraft.
Boeing's application, submitted to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), is currently under evaluation.
The test flights will allow the manufacturer to study whether the Dreamliner's lithium-ion power packs were behind the failures.
US-based Air Lease (ALC) has placed orders worth a total of $9bn with European aircraft manufacturer Airbus for 25 A350 XWB airliners and 14 A321neo jets.
The A350 XWB order comprises 20 A350-900 and five A350-1000, with an option for five additional A350-1000s.
The A321neo deal follows a previous agreement announced at the UK's Farnborough International Air Show in 2012 for 36 A320neo jets, with an option for additional 14 aircraft.
Also this month, Lockheed Martin completed the final assembly of NASA's Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN (MAVEN)spacecraft, which is scheduled for launch in November 2013.
MAVEN is a robotic exploration mission that aims to determine the role that loss of volatile compounds -- such as carbon dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, and water -- from the Mars atmosphere to space has played through time.
The orbiter will now undergo environmental testing at the Lockheed Martin's Space Systems facilities near Denver, Colorado, US.
Meanwhile, the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) signed a declaration of cooperation with the Spanish Aviation Safety and Security Agency (AESA) to jointly promote alternative aviation fuels.
Signed by FAA Executive International Affairs director Carey Fagan and AESA director Isabel Maestre Moreno, the declaration is aimed at exchanging ideas, information, skills and techniques and working on issues and projects of mutual interest, with regard to the development and use of sustainable alternative aviation fuels.
Russian state-owned industrial and defence firm Rostec said it is holding negotiations with Canadian aeroplane manufacturer Bombardier over a multimillion dollar joint venture to construct Q400 aircraft in Russia.
If the talks prove successful, Rostec will help manufacture the Q400 turboprop medium range aircraft, reported Reuters.
Rostec chief Sergei Chemezov said the venture is set to invest around $100m in the project.
Also in February, Jetstar Japan, a low-cost carrier, received its first A320 aircraft fitted with Sharklet fuel-saving wing-tip devices.
Replacing the current wing-tip fence on A320s, the sharklet wingtip devices are 2.4m tall and offer operators the flexibility of either adding a range of around 100nm or increased payload capacity of up to 450kg.
Jetstar Japan president Miyuki Suzuki said the new A320 will help the carrier save on fuel costs.
Japanese regulators said they have identified the reasons for the fuel leaks and other problems that occurred on Japan Airlines' (JAL) 787 Dreamliner jets in January, but are still investigating battery problems that caused worldwide grounding of the aircraft.
Japan's Transport Ministry concluded that a leak which occurred on 9 January, prior to the take-off of the JAL 787 in Boston, was due to a foreign material that was stuck to fuel valves and caused them to remain partially open.
A fuel leak which occurred on the same aircraft at Tokyo's Narita airport, on 13 January, was caused by an improperly applied electrical-insulating coating material.
An Agusta 109 helicopter crashed in London this month, killing two people, while safety concerns forced European and Asian nations to issue grounding orders for Boeing 787 Dreamliners.