June’s top stories: Boeing’s $8bn deal, Google to acquire Skybox Imaging

China Eastern Airlines has agreed to buy $8bn Boeing 737 aircraft, Google has signed an agreement to acquire satellite maker Skybox Imaging for $500m, while Solar Impulse 2 aircraft has completed first flight in Switzerland. Aerospace-technology.com wraps-up the key headlines from June 2014.


Boeing

China Eastern Airlines agrees to buy $8bn Boeing 737 aircraft

China Eastern Airlines committed to purchasing 80 Boeing 737 aircraft, worth more than $8bn at list prices.

When finalised, the order will become the country's largest-ever purchase by an airline for single-aisle aircraft.

Boeing Commercial Airplanes North East Asia sales and marketing vice-president Ihssane Mounir said: "We share an enduring partnership with China Eastern and we are excited to see that the 737 family of airplanes will play an important role in their continued success."

Google agrees to acquire satellite maker Skybox Imaging for $500m

Google signed an agreement to acquire US-based satellite company Skybox Imaging for $500m.

The deal is expected to help Google offer accurate maps with up-to-date imagery, as well as improve internet access and disaster relief, the areas the search engine has long been interested in.

The acquisition of the start-up satellite company comes at a time when Google and its rival Facebook are looking to acquire satellite and drone firms to strengthen their global market positions.

Bombardier

Bombardier receives Transport Canada certification for Challenger 350 aircraft

Bombardier Aerospace received Transport Canada (TC) full-type certification for its Challenger 350 aircraft, opening the way for the jet's entry-into-service.

The Challenger 350 airliner was launched in 2013 at the European Business Aviation Conference and Exhibition (EBACE) in Switzerland.

Bombardier Business Aircraft Challenger programmes vice-president and general manager Stéphane Leblanc said: "With Transport Canada certification of the Challenger 350 aircraft programme in-hand, another significant milestone has been achieved.

Solar Impulse

Solar Impulse 2 aircraft completes first flight in Switzerland

Solar-powered aircraft Solar Impulse 2 completed its maiden flight in Payerne, Switzerland, moving a step closer towards a round-the-world voyage in 2015.

The flight took-off from Payerne airfield with test pilot Markus Scherdel on-board. It lasted for two hours and 17 minutes, reaching altitudes of 5,500ft with an average ground speed of 55.6km/h.

Initial results are in line with calculations and simulations, the company said.

IATA prepares to recommend new aircraft tracking measures

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) announced plans to recommend new aircraft tracking measures to the United Nation's International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) in September, following the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370.

ICAO said that a standard could be in place in two to three years.

IATA director general Tony Tyler was quoted by Reuters as saying that the individual airlines could implement the measures sooner than that.

Lamda

Lamda Guard and Airbus to test new laser interference solution

Atlantic Canada-based Lamda Guard reached an agreement with Airbus to test a new technology designed to deflect unwanted bright light or laser sources from impacting aircraft flight paths that lead to pilot disorientation or injury.

The development comes weeks after the release of an FBI report citing 3,960 aircraft laser strikes in the US in 2013, according to the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA).

With the help of metamaterial technology, Lamda Guard's new thin films on cockpit windscreens selectively block and control light coming from different angles even at the highest power levels.

Rolls-Royce officially opens £100m aerospace facility in UK

Rolls-Royce officially opened its new £100m advanced aerospace disc manufacturing facility in Washington, Tyne and Wear, UK.

Opened by deputy prime minister Nick Clegg and business secretary Vince Cable, the new facility will have an annual manufacturing capacity of 2,500 fan and turbine discs, which will be installed in a variety of Trent aero engines, including Rolls-Royce Trent XWB.

To be fully operational in 2016, the plant will use manufacturing methods developed at the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) in Rotherham.

North Dakota researchers evaluate use of UAS in crop and livestock production

Researchers at North Dakota State University (NDSU) are working with the university's Carrington Research Extension Center to evaluate the use of unmanned aircraft system (UAS) to monitor crop and livestock research projects.

As part of the study, researchers are using UAS-mounted thermal, infrared sensors and cameras that capture images at specific frequencies to gather data from fields and livestock at specified times.

With the help of UAS technology, researchers are planning to examine plant emergence and populations in corn, soybeans and sunflowers, and nitrogen deficiencies in corn and wheat.