March's top stories: New Nasa report on biofuels, Scientists develop new aircraft technology concepts

A new study led by Nasa has revealed that biofuel-powered aircraft engines can reduce carbon emissions by 50% to 70%, scientists have developed various aircraft technology concepts, which were inspired from flights of the peregrine falcon. Aerospace-technology.com wraps up key headlines from March 2017.


New Nasa study confirms biofuels’ ability to reduce pollution from aircraft

A new study led by Nasa revealed that biofuel-powered aircraft engines can reduce carbon emissions by 50% to 70%.

In 2013 and 2014, Nasa conducted a series of flight tests near its Armstrong Flight Research Centre in Edwards, California, US, as part of the recently published Alternative Fuel Effects on Contrails and Cruise Emissions Study (ACCESS).

During the tests, Nasa flew its DC-8 four-engine aircraft, powered by a 50-50 blend of aviation fuel and a renewable alternative fuel of hydro-processed esters and fatty acids produced from camelina plant oil, as high as 40,000ft above Earth.

BAE Systems and City develops falcons-inspired aircraft technology concepts

Scientists at BAE Systems and City, along with the UK's University of London, developed various aircraft technology concepts, which were inspired from flights of the peregrine falcon.

During the research, the bird’s ability to stay in control and airborne at speeds of up to 200mph, even in high winds, were taken into account.

As part of the research, the researchers have developed ‘sensory feathers’, which is a set of 3D-printed polymer ‘hair’ filaments that would act as sensors on the body of an aircraft that provide an early warning system if it began to stall.

GE Aviation buys aircraft records management company Critical Technologies

GE Aviation purchased digital aircraft records management company Critical Technologies for an undisclosed sum.

With the deal, GE aims to boost its ability to focus on asset lifecycle management and maintenance optimisation for the aviation sector.

The deal has enabled GE to gain access to Critical Technologies' portfolio AirVault, which provides cloud-based digital records management services and mission-critical records across the industrial supply chain network.

Rocket Lab secures $75m funding to boost satellite launch vehicle production

US-based spaceflight company Rocket Lab raised $75m in funding to enhance the production of its Electron satellite launch vehicle.

The recently closed Series D financing round was by Data Collective, Promus Ventures and an undisclosed investor.

Rocket Lab’s existing investors, including Khosla Ventures, Bessemer Venture Partners and K1W1, also participated in the new investment series.

IATA calls air cargo industry to accelerate modernisation

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) urged the air cargo industry to increase the pace of modernisation and focus on providing high-quality services.

It is noted that January’s cargo performance showed a 7% growth in demand compared to the same period last year.

According to IATA, the industry could be upgraded by adopting simple modern electronic or digital processes, including e-freight.

Honeywell to supply ten HTS900 helicopter engines to Eagle Copters

Honeywell has signed a deal to provide ten HTS900 helicopter engines to Canada's Eagle Copters throughout the year.

The order includes two engines from a previous order, which are expected to be delivered by the second quarter of this year. The two companies have launched the Eagle 407HP programme to improve performance of the existing Bell 407 helicopters.

The partnership will use design and engineering licence from Bell Helicopter and replace the standard engine on Bell 407 with the Honeywell HTS900 engine.

Blue Origin to launch new Eutelsat satellite into space

US-based spaceflight services provider Blue Origin secured a deal to launch its New Glenn rocket carrying a satellite for Eutelsat Communications.

Representing the first deal for New Glenn rocket, the proposed mission will see the lauch of one of Eutelsat’s geostationary satellites between 2021 and 2022.

Eutelsat Communications CEO Rodolphe Belmer said: "Blue Origin has been forthcoming with Eutelsat on its strategy and convinced us they have the right mindset to compete in the launch service industry."

Lufthansa Technik selects UTC Aerospace AID solution for better in-flight connectivity

Germany’s Lufthansa Technik chose UTC Aerospace Systems’ aircraft interface device (AID) solution to provide improved in-flight connectivity to its customers.

The UTC Aerospace Systems AID will also enable Lufthansa to offer enhanced data processing performance, advanced network security features and embedded application hosting capabilities.

Once delivered, the devices will be installed on the A320 series fleet of aircraft, operated by Lufthansa German Airlines.

Airbus and Bird.i finalise fresh earth observation imagery deal

Airbus Defence and Space entered a deal with Bird.i to have real-time online visualisation access to the freshest Pléiades and SPOT satellite images.

The arrangement will also support the development of new applications and services across several ranges of related analytics markets.

The newly signed agreement will see Bird.i have online access to One Atlas, a satellite image library developed by Airbus.

US-based LLNL researchers develop 3D print aerospace-grade carbon fibre composites

Researchers from the US' Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) developed the world's first 3D print aerospace-grade carbon fibre composites.

The new development could lead to the mass production of lightweight and stronger-than-steel material for the aerospace, defence and automotive industries.

Researchers say it could also help in the advancement of micro-extrusion 3D printing techniques for carbon fibre.