June's top stories: Québec-Bombardier deal, FAA releases drones rules

Canada's Québec Government entered an agreement with Bombardier to make a previously announced $1bn investment in the C Series aircraft, and FAA released the first operational rules for routine commercial use of small unmanned aircraft systems. Aerospace-technology.com wraps up the key headlines from June 2016.


Bomberdier

Bombardier and Government of Québec finalise $1bn investment for C Series aircraft

The Government of Québec in Canada entered into a definitive agreement with Bombardier to make a previously announced $1bn investment in the C Series aircraft.

A new limited partnership known as C Series aircraft (CSALP) was created where all of the assets, liabilities, and obligations of the aircraft's programme will be transferred.

The $1bn investment will be provided in two $500m instalments, to be completed by September.

Sierra Nevada and UNOOSA to develop Dream Chaser mission

SNC copy

US-based Sierra Nevada (SNC) entered a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) to develop one or more Dream Chaser missions.

The missions will host payloads from UNOOSA member countries.

As part of the deal, both parties will work with member countries to develop an interface control document and payload hosting guide to help payloads developed by participating countries to be hosted and operated on a dedicated mission.

Sky and Space to launch 200 nano-satellites using Virgin Galactic vehicle

Australia-based Sky and Space Global has selected Virgin Galactic to launch up to 200 nano-communications satellites from 2018.

Virgin Galactic is developing commercial spacecraft and intends to provide suborbital spaceflights to space tourists, suborbital launches for space science missions, and orbital launches of small satellites.

To be launched using Virgin Galactic's LauncherOne orbital launch vehicle, the satellite constellation will cover equatorial countries in Asia, South and Central America and Africa.

Orbital ATK concludes fifth cargo resupply mission to ISS

Global aerospace group Orbital ATK concluded Nasa's fifth cargo resupply mission with the re-entry of its Cygnus spacecraft into Earth's atmosphere after delivering cargos to the International Space Station (ISS).

Cygnus performed a destructive re-entry over the Pacific Ocean east of New Zealand upon returning to Earth.

Under a deal with Nasa's commercial resupply services-1 (CRS-1) contract, Orbital ATK sent around 3,600kg of cargo in March to the ISS from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, US.

Airbus tests 3D-printed mini aircraft prototype

Airbus

French plane maker Airbus tested a small-sized pilotless aircraft prototype known as testing high-tech objectives in reality (THOR), which implements 3D printing or additive layer manufacturing processes.

Powered by two 1.5kW electrically driven propellers, the initial THOR version weighs around 21kg and can fit in a 4m² area.

It is reported that 90% of THOR's structural components were 3D-printed from plastic polyamide powder.

Air New Zealand to sell 20% stake in Virgin Australia to Nanshan Group

Air New Zealand agreed to sell nearly 20% of its share in Virgin Australia to China's Nanshan Group for approximately $193m.

Nanshan Group owns Chinese start-up carrier Qingdao Airlines.

The deal is yet to receive approval from Chinese regulators.

Boeing awards $200m worth of space contracts to six US companies

Aerospace company Boeing awarded contracts worth a total of $200m to six small businesses, which will provide products and services to the International Space Station (ISS).

Nasa has selected Boeing as prime contractor for the ISS.

Selected under the Boeing Engineering and Technical Support Service programme, the companies will provide expertise in several areas such as engineering, information technology, software development and mission assurance support.

FAA releases rule Part 107 for commercial drones

The US Department of Transportation's Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) released the first operational rules for routine commercial use of small unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) or drones.

Named Part 107, the new rule will be effective in late August and encourages the full integration of UAS into the nation's airspace.

Apart from providing safety regulations for unmanned aircraft drones weighing less than 55p and conducting non-hobbyist operations, the new rules work to control new innovations safely, to stimulate job growth, advance critical scientific research, and save lives.

Ehang's 184 passenger drone to be tested in Nevada, US

Ehang

The Nevada Institute for Autonomous Systems (NIAS) in the US granted approval to Chinese aerial technology company Ehang to conduct flight tests of its 184 passenger drone in the state.

The approval was given following a teaming agreement signed among the US' Governor's Office of Economic Development (GOED), NIAS and Ehang.

NIAS and GOED will help Ehang during flight testing and submitting the results to the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to receive further regulatory approval.