October’s top stories: Insitu’s ScanEagle 2 aircraft, GKN's wing technology

Insitu has unveiled ScanEagle 2 unmanned aircraft, GKN Aerospace has developed a natural laminar flow wing for next-generation aircraft, while US researchers develop optical device to identify Earth-like exoplanets, Aerospace-technology.com wraps-up the key headlines from October 2014.


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Insitu reveals ScanEagle 2 unmanned aircraft

US unmanned aerial vehicles producer Insitu unveiled ScanEagle 2, the next-generation of its ScanEagle platform.

The unmanned aircraft is said to feature a new-build propulsion system, which could facilitate the use of the airliner in the commercial segment.

ScanEagle 2 offers increased payload power with multiple new payload options, as well as navigation and digital video systems.

The new structural design of the aircraft shares commonality with other existing Insitu systems, reducing training, hardware and lifecycle costs, the company said.

AeroMobil unveils multi-modal prototype AeroMobil 3.0 flying car

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Slovakian firm AeroMobil showcased its advanced multi-modal prototype flying roadster, AeroMobil 3.0.

Launched in Vienna, the AeroMobil 3.0 prototype is built on the AeroMobil 2.5, a basic pre-prototype of the flying car launched last year.

AeroMobil co-founder and CTO Stefan Klein said: "AeroMobil 3.0 is not the end of a challenging project, it's the beginning of a whole new adventure which may change the way how we look at the personal transport in the future."

The AeroMobil 3.0 is currently undergoing a testing programme in real flight conditions.

Melbourne researchers to develop bird inspired anti-turbulence technology for aircraft

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Scientists at RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia, are developing a new system claimed to reduce turbulence on flights.

Built on phase-advanced sensing concept, the turbulence mitigation system for aircraft replicates the way feathers help birds detect disturbances while flying.

RMIT School of Aerospace, Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering professor Simon Watkins said: "By sensing gusts and disturbances in air flow through their feathers, birds are able to fly gracefully rather than bouncing around in turbulent air.

"The system we have developed replicates this natural technology, with the aim of enabling planes to fly smoothly through even severe turbulence, just like birds."

GKN Aerospace reveals innovative wing technology

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GKN Aerospace and Airbus partnered to develop an ultra-high performance, natural laminar flow (NLF) wing for the next-generation of low emission aircraft.

The new wing concept is developed as part of the ground based structural and systems demonstrator phase of the Clean Sky smart fixed-wing aircraft programme.

GKN has delivered the wing technology demonstrator to the Clean Sky programme, which will make further improvements to the technology.

GKN Aerospace technical director Rich Oldfield said: "The NLF wing promises a substantial improvement in aerodynamic performance and reduction in drag when compared to a modern turbulent wing."

Bombardier unveils Challenger 650 business jet

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Bombardier unveiled its Challenger 650 aircraft, the latest addition to its business jets portfolio.

The Challenger 650 is launched in partnership NetJets at the National Business Aviation Conference and Exhibition in Orlando, Florida.

Bombardier Business Aircraft president Éric Martel said: "The Challenger 650 jet enhances our leading business aircraft portfolio, the largest within the industry and will establish new standards in its segment.

"This aircraft will provide our customers with the ultimate in-flight experience, a superior baseline offering and the lowest direct operating costs in its class."

US researchers develop optical device to identify Earth-like exoplanets

Researchers at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center in the US developed a new optical device that will be installed on the Italian National Telescope to identify Earth-like exoplanets orbiting distant stars.

Initially the scientists will measure Venus's precise gravitational pull on the sun and the technology will be used to find remote Earth-like exoplanets.

Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics staff scientist David Phillips said: "We are building a telescope that will let us see the sun the way we would see other stars."

Astronomers have to date found over 1,700 exoplanets using the traditional transit method, which measures the decrease in brightness when a planet orbiting a distant star transits that luminous body moving directly between the Earth and the star.

Airbus unveils wide-body VIP cabin-concept

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Airbus revealed a new wide-body cabin concept, which features a VIP section at the front of the cabin and airline-style seating at the rear.

Called Summit, the new concept is said to offer greater capacity, capability and comfort, and is designed for private and government customers.

It features a bedroom with en-suite bathroom at the front, followed by an office, a conference and dining room, and working area.

The concept will be initially available on Airbus A330-200 aircraft.

GE to buy helicopter lessor Milestone Aviation for $1.7bn

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GE Capital Aviation Services (GECAS) has signed a $1.7bn deal to buy Irish helicopter-leasing firm Milestone Aviation.

The acquisition is part of GE Capital's strategy to strengthen presence in core industrial domains, including energy, aviation, oil and gas and healthcare, while divesting non-strategic assets.

With this deal, GECAS will be able to expand its leasing operations into helicopters.

Boeing to raise production rate of 737 aircraft in 2018

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Boeing unveiled plans to increase production of its single-aisle 737 aircraft to 52 per month in 2018, from the current 42, as part of its efforts to meet demand and strengthen its presence in the market.

If the company proceeds with the proposed plans, the 737 programme will have an output of over 620 aeroplanes a year.

Boeing Commercial Airplanes marketing vice-president Randy Tinseth said: "For over a decade we have seen resilient demand for the 737 and a rate increase to 52 per month reflects the appetite for airplanes like the 737 MAX and Next-Generation 737.

"Our thorough analysis tells us the single-aisle market continues to expand and is the fastest growing, most dynamic segment of the market."

Airbus looks to offload ownership in Dassault Aviation

Airbus announced plans to offer 10% of its stake in French aircraft manufacturer Dassault Aviation to institutional investors.

The European aircraft maker holds 46.3% stake in Dassault and is also considering participation in its planned buy-back programme. The deals could be worth around €2bn.

Airbus strategy head Marwan Lahoud was quoted by Bloomberg as saying: "Our preferred route is to place some of the shares on the market and combine that with Dassault buying some of the shares.

"Dassault's a well-managed company and should be interesting to institutional investors who like corporate jets."