November’s top stories: ESA’s Rosetta mission, Nasa’s shape-changing aircraft wing

The European Space Agency's Rosetta spacecraft placed its Philae lander onto the surface of the 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko comet, Rolls-Royce is planning to cut 2,600 jobs, while Nasa has completed a flight test of a wing surface that can change shape in flight, Aerospace-technology.com wraps-up the key headlines from November 2014.


philae

Airbus gets $14bn order for 50 wide-body aircraft

Delta

Delta Air Lines confirmed a $14bn order with Airbus for 25 A350-900 and 25 A330-900neo airliners.

After delivery, the new A350 and A330neo aircraft will replace Delta Air Lines' existing Boeing 747-400 and 767-300ER jetliners starting in 2017 and 2019 respectively.

The A330neo will be powered by Rolls-Royce Trent 7000 engines, while the A350 XWB will be equipped with Trent XWB engines.

ESA's Rosetta mission lands Philae robot on comet 67P

Rosetta

The European Space Agency's (ESA) Rosetta spacecraft successfully placed its small lander, Philae, onto the surface of the 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko comet.

It is the first time in the history of space exploration that a robot has landed on a comet after more than a ten-year, six billion kilometre journey through space.

ESA director-general Jean-Jacques Dordain said: "Our ambitious Rosetta mission has secured another place in the history books: not only is it the first to rendezvous with and orbit a comet, but it is now also the first to deliver a probe to a comet's surface."

Boeing tests new technologies to improve aircraft efficiency

Boeing started flight testing more than 25 new technologies, designed to improve aircraft efficiency.

These technologies will assess Boeing in improving aviation environmental performance through every phase of flight.

Being conducted the trial using ecoDemonstrator 787, or 787 Dreamliner ZA004, the flight tests will accelerate the testing, refinement and use of new technologies and methods to improve efficiency and reduce noise.

Nasa tests shape-changing wing surface for fuel-efficient aircraft

Nasa Wing

Nasa completed a flight test of a wing surface that can change shape in flight, moving a step closer to develop technology for quieter and more fuel-efficient aircraft.

A joint effort of Nasa and the US Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), the adaptive compliant trailing edge (ACTE) project is designed to identify ways to improve aerodynamic efficiency and reduce aircraft noise during takeoffs and landings.

Carried out at Nasa's Armstrong Flight Research Center in Edwards, California, the test flight will help identify the feasibility of trailing-edge wing flaps approach, the agency said.

Toray to supply carbon fibre to Boeing in $8.6bn deal

Boeing signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Japan-based composite material manufacturer Toray Industries to extend the carbon fibre supply contract for its Dreamliner 787 and 777X aircraft.

The agreement is expected to be signed by early next year. The contract value is estimated to exceed JPY1tn ($8.6bn) over a period of ten years.

Toray has been supplying TorayCA prepreg for Dreamliner 787 since 2005. The potential contract will expand the provision of the material to 777X and also extend the supply period for 787 by ten years.

Rolls-Royce to slash 2,600 jobs

Rolls-Royce

Rolls-Royce unveiled plans to cut 2,600 jobs across its operations in the next 18 months, with the majority from its aerospace division.

The restructuring programme is part of the company's strategy to improve operational efficiency and reduce costs.

The company said in a statement: "This is consistent with our announcement of October 17, when we committed to accelerate progress on the four Cs: customer, concentration, cost and cash, particularly cost."

Rolls-Royce's aerospace division produces engines for Boeing and Airbus airliners.

US researcher develops process to convert human waste into rocket fuel

Researchers at the University of Florida have come up with an anaerobic digestion process to convert human waste into rocket fuel.

For the study, scientists used a chemically produced human waste which included simulated food waste, towels, wash cloths, clothing and packaging materials.

The anaerobic digester process can produce 290l of methane per crew per day.

China Aircraft Leasing to buy 100 A320 family aircraft

China Aircraft Leasing (CALC) signed a provisional agreement with Airbus to buy 100 A320 family aircraft, valued at around $10.2bn.

The memorandum of understanding includes 74 A320neo, 16 A320ceo and 10 A321ceo, according to Airbus.

With this commitment, CALC's total order with Airbus reaches 140 A320 family airliners.

Boeing plans to develop replacement for 737 MAX by 2030

737 Max

Boeing announced plans to develop a new aircraft with carbon-fibre composite materials by 2030, to replace its narrow-body 737 MAX.

The proposed plans are part of the company's strategy to remain ahead of competition from China and elsewhere.

Boeing CEO Jim McNerney was quoted by Reuters as saying: "By 2030, we will have a new airplane.

"It will be slightly bigger, there will be new engines. The current look of the planes (shape) won't change dramatically."

ISRO plans second mission to Mars in 2018

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) announced plans to launch second mission to Mars with a lander and rover to carry out more experiments on the red planet.

The proposed plans come after the Indian space agency has successfully placed its unmanned Mars Orbiter Mission spacecraft to the Martian orbit in September.

ISRO satellite centre director Shiva Kumar was quoted by IANS as saying: "We plan to launch a second mission to Mars in 2018, probably with a lander and rover, to conduct more experiments for which we have to develop new technologies.

"We will be able to take the Mars-2 mission after launching the second mission to the moon (Chandrayaan-2) in 2016 with our own lander and rover, which will help us develop a separate lander and rover for the red planet."