May’s top stories: New brain-controlled aircraft, UK’s new space industry policies

German scientists successfully tested brain-controlled aircraft, UK Government announced new policies to support growth of space industry, while the UN aviation agency has pledged to develop enhanced standards for real-time aircraft tracking. Aerospace-technology.com wraps up the key headlines from May 2014.


Brain controlled aircraft

German scientists successfully test brain-controlled aircraft

Scientists from the Institute for Flight System Dynamics at Technical University of Munich (TUM), Germany demonstrated the feasibility of flying a brain-controlled aircraft.

Led by professor Florian Holzapfel, the team is researching ways that brain-controlled flight works in the EU-funded project 'Brainflight'.

TUM project head Tim Fricke said a long-term vision of the project is to make flying accessible to more people.

UK Government announces new policies to support growth of space industry

The UK Government released two new policies to unlock the potential of the country's growing space industry.

The two policies, the space Innovation and Growth Strategy (IGS) action plan 2014-2030 and the national space security policy (NSSP) have been framed to achieve a £40bn UK space industry by 2030.

UK Minister for Universities and Science David Willetts said the space sector continues to thrive, and is one of the eight technologies with the potential to boost UK growth.

aircraft tracking

UN aviation agency to develop enhanced standards for real-time aircraft tracking

The United Nations' International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) pledged to develop mandatory standards to improve global tracking of airline flights.

The move comes in the wake of the recent disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 with 239 people on board that is believed to have crashed in a remote part of the southern Indian Ocean.

However, the agency has not set binding solution or time frame for when those standards would go into effect.

easyJet to employ drones for aircraft checks

British carrier easyJet partnered with Bristol Robotics Laboratory (BRL), a collaboration between the University of Bristol and the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol), to use drones to inspect its fleet of 220 Airbus jets.

With the help of new technology, drones will be programmed to scan and assess easyJet's aircraft, reporting to engineers on any damage or a need for further inspection or maintenance work.

The drones are currently in development, and are expected to be tested in the coming months, with plans to begin operation as early as next year.

AerCap buys AIG's aircraft leasing unit for $7.6bn

AerCap Holdings completed its $7.6bn purchase of International Lease Finance Corporation (ILFC), the aircraft leasing business of American International Group (AIG).

The move ends AIG's five-year effort to offload the leasing unit following the US rescue of the insurer in the 2008 financial crisis.

Under the deal, AIG has received $3bn in cash and a 46% stake in AerCap.

EASA proposes tougher flight recorder rules

The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) unveiled new proposals to facilitate easy location of an aircraft and its flight recorders in the event of an unfortunate incident, the first tough official reaction after the disappearance of MH370.

The new proposals are for flight recorders and underwater locating devices for easier recovery of aircraft black boxes.

These requirements by EASA include the extension of the transmission time of underwater locating devices (ULD) fitted on flight recorders from the present 30 days to 90 days.

Tools

US researchers develop modified tools to avoid midair collisions for small aircraft

Researchers at North Carolina State (NC State) University developed new modified tools that help lower the risk of midair collision for small aircraft.

The new technology considerably improves response times of pilot of small aircraft in making decisions, helping them avoid midair collisions.

As present, pilots often concentrate on the closest aircraft on the display on cockpit displays of traffic information (CDTIs), the GPS displays used by private pilots to track other aircraft in their vicinity.

Robot

Researchers to develop snake-like robot for automated assembly of aircraft wings

Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Machine Tools and Forming Technology IWU in Chemnitz, Germany, are developing a new snake-like robot to automate the assembly process of aircraft wings.

The automation solution is based on articulated robot arms and will be capable of tightening bolts in even difficult-to-access cavities of the wing structure.

Wing assembly remains a major challenge and is performed manually, resulting in limited production output.