RemoveDEBRIS mission launched to clear space debris

The RemoveDEBRIS spacecraft was launched from the International Space Station (ISS) to demonstrate a range of new technologies to clean up space junk.

Led by Surrey Space Centre (SSC) at the University of Surrey, the spacecraft was equipped with three technologies developed by Airbus.

This included a net and a harpoon to capture debris and a vision based navigation(VBN) system to develop rendezvous techniques in orbit with space debris.

SpiceJet and CFM finalise $12.5bn LEAP-1B engine deal

Indian low-cost airline SpiceJet finalised a $12.5bn deal with CFM International for the purchase of LEAP-1B engines to power its new fleet of 155 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft.

Under the deal, CFM International also provides spare engines for the fleet.

In addition, SpiceJet entered a ten-year rate-per-flight-hour (RPFH) agreement with CFM Services to maintain the LEAP-1B engines powering its 737 MAX planes.

Bye Aerospace completes first flight of Sun Flyer 2 prototype

Bye Aerospace completed the Sun Flyer 2 prototype aircraft’s first flight as part of a test programme that commenced last month.

The programme is being carried out at Centennial Airport south of Denver in Colorado, US. It is now moving towards the next phase of testing at increased speed, altitude, and endurance.

During the test, the Sun Flyer 2 prototype was equipped with Electric Power Systems’ (EPS) energy storage system that included battery module packs, battery management units and power distribution units.

Boeing and Lion Air finalise $6.24bn deal for 50 737 MAX 10 aircraft

Boeing finalised a $6.24bn order with Indonesia’s Lion Air Group for 50 737 MAX 10 aircraft.

Lion Air Group is also planning to place a provisional order to buy Boeing 787 widebody jets. However, the company did not disclose details on the number of aircraft to be ordered, reported Reuters.

Lion Air Group was the launch customer of Boeing’s 737 MAX 8 aircraft and was the first to place an order for 737 MAX 9.

Sichuan Airlines pilot sucked out of cockpit window in mid-air

A co-pilot of a Sichuan Airlines aircraft was almost sucked out of a shattered cockpit window when the plane was flying at an altitude of 30,000ft.

The co-pilot survived the incident with a few cuts on his face and a sprained wrist. A flight attendant also suffered an injury from the incident but all 119 passengers on-board remained unharmed.

Flight captain Liu Chuanjian and his crew managed to make an emergency landing at Chengdu Shuangliu Airport in southern China, reported

European Parliament approves new rule for safe drone flights

Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) approved an agreement that aims to ensure safe operations of drones flying within the European Union (EU).

Signed between the European Council and Parliament last year, the agreement also intends to help drone operators and manufacturers with the predictability to develop products and services.

It will also create a common regulation for drone operators throughout the EU.

Air New Zealand and Zephyr Airworks partner on air taxi

Air New Zealand signed a deal with Zephyr Airworks to bring autonomous electric air taxi services to New Zealand.

Zephyr currently operates Cora, an autonomous electric aircraft, in New Zealand. It was developed by Zephyr’s parent company Kitty Hawk with the aim of easing traffic congestion on roads and offering a cleaner energy solution for air travel.

Cora completed 700 flight tests worldwide during its first six months of operation.

Report fails to determine cause of missing MH370 flight

A report on the missing MH370 flight released by the Malaysian authorities was unable to provide a concrete conclusion on the disappearance of the flight.

However, the authorities offered a number of possibilities that could have caused the Boeing 777 aircraft operated by Malaysia Airlines to disappear in March 2014 with 239 people onboard.

The safety investigation report highlighted protocols and guidelines that were not followed by the air traffic controllers in Kuala Lumpur and Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam.

Aerospace demonstrates laser communications from CubeSats

US-based Aerospace demonstrated a new laser communication system using two low-Earth-orbiting optical communications and sensor demonstration (OCSD) CubeSats named AeroCube-7B and Aerocube-7C.

During the demonstration, the CubeSats transmitted data at a rate of 100mbps, which is 50 times higher than the typical communication systems carried out by satellites of this size.

The OCSD mission is funded and managed by Nasa’s Space Technology Mission Directorate Small Spacecraft Technology programme, while Aerospace designed and built the OCSD spacecraft.

MIT researchers develop aircraft powered by ion wind

A group of researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the US developed an aircraft that is powered by an ion wind propulsion system.

The system uses ionic wind, also known as electro-aerodynamic thrust, which generates adequate power to propel the aircraft to fly for longer durations.

First identified in the 1920s, electro-aerodynamic thrust is a force that can be produced when a current is passed between a thin and a thick electrode.