October's top stories: World View completes test flight, Airbus wins $17bn aircraft order

State-owned China Aviation Supplies Holding has signed an agreement with Airbus to buy 130 aircraft at an estimated cost of $17bn, Taiwan-based EVA Airways is planning to buy up to 24 787-10 Dreamliners and two additional 777-300ER jetliners from Boeing, which will be worth more than $8bn at list price, while Boeing has signed an order with El Al Israel Airlines for up to nine 787 Dreamliners, valued at more than $2.2bn. Aerospace-technology wraps-up the top stories from October.


Airbus

China Aviation Supplies Holding to buy 130 Airbus aircraft for $17bn

State-owned China Aviation Supplies Holding signed a general terms agreement with Airbus to buy 130 aircraft at an estimated cost of $17bn.

The deal was signed in Beijing during German chancellor Angela Merkel's visit to China, and includes 30 wide-body A330 planes and 100 single-aisle A320 aircraft.

Airbus president Fabrice Bregier said: "This strong demand in China for the A330 has been the key driver behind our decision to set-up an A330 completion and delivery centre in Tianjin, China, next to the A320 family final assembly line and delivery centre in Tianjin, which has assembled and delivered more than 240 Airbus single-aisle aircraft."

Québec government to invest $1bn in Bombardier's C Series aircraft programme

C Series

The Québec government in Canada signed a MoU with Bombardier to invest $1bn in the company's C Series aircraft programme, days after talks ended with Airbus.

Under the deal, the provincial government will receive a 49.5% stake in a newly created limited partnership that will take control of the assets, liabilities and obligations of the C Series programme.

The development comes as the smaller CS100 version of the jetliner nears certification.

 

Boeing's Insitu drones tested for monitoring railway tracks

Boeing subsidiary InSitu conducted a test flight of its ScanEagle drones to inspect a 132 mile long railway track in remote areas of New Mexico, US.

InSitu conducted the test flights in collaboration with BNSF railway, where a series of flights between Clovis and Belin was planned. The programme is part of a US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) project to develop regulations for the commercial use of drones.

The company claimed to have completed the first commercial operations beyond the visual line of sight with an unmanned aerial system.

Scientific Systems wins contract to develop visual control systems for UAV

The Defense Applied Research Projects Agency (DARPA) awarded a contract to Scientific Systems Company (SSCI) to develop autonomous visual control systems for small, unmanned air vehicles (UAVs) in cluttered environments without GPS or human operator assistance.

SSCI's Rapid Adaptive preDiction for Vision-based Autonomous Navigation and Evasion (Rapid ADVANCE) programme is designed to reactive navigation. It supports low size, weight and power requirements on small UAVs.

Scientific Systems Company founder Raman Mehra said: "Our products provide the brains and nervous systems for unmanned vehicles to operate autonomously and accomplish their missions in difficult environments."

EVA Airways to buy 26 new Boeing planes for $8bn

Eva Airways

Taiwan-based EVA Airways announced that they plan to buy up to 24 787-10 Dreamliners and two additional 777-300ER jetliners from Boeing, which will be worth more than $8bn at list price.

The airline participated in the development of the Boeing 777-300ER and became a launch customer.

Currently, it flies 21 Boeing 777-300ERs and has 13 more on order.

 

Nasa completes tests of methane-powered engine for next-generation landers

Nasa finished testing components of an engine powered by methane, which has never been used by the space agency for propelling its spacecraft.

During a series of tests, a blue flame erupted as a rocket engine thruster roared to life at Nasa's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, US.

The blue flame was the cause of the thruster's methane fuel.

Norwegian Air orders 19 Boeing Dreamliners for $5bn

Norway-based Norwegian Air placed an order of 19 787-9 Dreamliners with Boeing valued at $5bn in the list price.

Boeing said this is the largest single order for 787-9s from a European airline.

The order includes the option to buy ten more 787-9s as part of its plan to expand its existing long-haul fleet over the next decade.

Norwegian Air CEO Bjørn Kjos said: "This order of 19 new Dreamliners is a major milestone and enables Norwegian to offer a wide range of new routes to consumers worldwide."


World View successfully completes test flight for commercial balloon flights

World View

American commercial spaceflight company World View successfully completed a test flight from Page, Arizona, which brings the company closer to commercial balloon flights.

The company aims to meet its goal for manned private flights to the edge of space by 2017.

The test flight carried a scale down model of its flight capsule under a huge balloon that travelled to a final altitude of 100,475ft, successfully marking the transition from sub-scale to full scale testing.

DARPA develops robotic helicopter legs for versatile landing

Defense Advanced Projects Agency (DARPA) of the US Department of Defence created robotic landing gear to enable future helicopters to take-off and land almost anywhere.

The system was developed in collaboration with the Georgia Institute of Technology, using funding from DARPA's Mission Adaptive Rotor (MAR) programme.

Helicopters require stable and flat surfaces during landing and take-off due to their skid and wheel-based landing gear. However, such surfaces are often hard to find in regions requiring their services such as forward operating areas, ships at violent sea areas and natural-disaster zones.

Boeing and El Al Israel Airlines signs $2.2bn deal for nine 787 Dreamliners

EI AL Israel

Boeing signed an order with El Al Israel Airlines for up to nine 787 Dreamliners, valued at more than $2.2bn.

The airline seeks to replace its existing long-haul fleet, increase capacity and provide greater route flexibility to and from its hub at Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv.

El Al will also lease six 787s from independent leasing companies.