SMBC Aviation Capital places $7.4bn order for 65 Airbus aircraft

Aircraft lessor SMBC Aviation Capital signed an agreement to purchase 65 A320neo Family aircraft from Airbus for more than $7.4bn at list prices.

The order includes 15 A321neo and 50 A320neo aircraft.

It also includes an upsizing of 15 A320neo from a previous order to 15 A321neo aircraft, bringing SMBC Aviation Capital’s total order for the aircraft type to 30.

IATA suggest ‘no deal’ Brexit could affect air connectivity

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) claimed that a ‘no deal’ Brexit could result in a restriction on flights and higher prices for customers.

IATA said that the UK Parliament’s decision to reject the UK-EU Brexit agreement will not impact the majority of passengers’ flights, but may bring uncertainty to both airlines and travellers if the UK leaves without an agreement.

Guidance from the EU Commission in the event of a ‘no deal’ Brexit states that existing flights between the UK and EU will continue to operate, but no increase in the number of flights will be allowed during this year.

Thales and ESA sign €150m deal for FLEX satellite mission

Thales Alenia Space signed a €150m contract with the European Space Agency (ESA) to lead the development of the Fluorescence Explorer (FLEX) satellite mission.

As part of the contract, Thales will act as a programme prime contractor and lead a consortium to develop the programme.

The consortium will include Thales’ own subsidiaries and partners from the space sector.

ISRO launches Microsat-R and Kalamsat-V2 satellites

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) launched two satellites, Microsat-R and Kalamsat-V2, from Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh.

The launch was conducted by ISRO’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) rocket, representing the 46th flight of the launch vehicle. It also marks the first mission launch of PSLV-DL, a new variant of PSLV with two connecting motors.

Approximately 13 minutes 26 seconds after the launch, Microsat-R was injected into its planned orbit of 274km.

KKR to invest $1bn in Altavair to set up leased aircraft portfolio

American investment company KKR announced a $1bn capital commitment to creating a portfolio of leased commercial aircraft, in partnership with aircraft leasing company Altavair AirFinance.

It will also purchase a 50% stake in Altavair AirFinance as part of the long-term partnership.

KKR member Dan Pietrzak said: “The decades-long proven track record that Altavair brings to this partnership is impressive and it is exactly the kind of company we were looking for when we sought out continued investment in aviation.”

China’s Chang’e-4 probe lands on far side of Moon

China’s Chang’e-4 spacecraft made a successful landing on the far side of the Moon, an area that remains mostly unknown to the people on Earth.

The probe was landed by China’s National Space Administration (CNSA) in the South Pole-Aitken (SPA) Basin, the Moon’s biggest and oldest impact crater, reported China Central Television (CCTV).

The landing marks the world’s first such attempt and touchdown, as well as a milestone in the history of human space exploration, reported BBC.

Nasa probe helps discover new exoplanet

Data provided by Nasa’s Kepler space telescope helped citizen scientists to discover a new exoplanet that is half the size of Earth.

The new planet, K2-288Bb, is situated 226 light-years away in the constellation Taurus and a stellar system called K2-288, which features a pair of dim, cool M-type stars separated by nearly 5.1 billion miles.

Half the size of Neptune, K2-288Bb currently circles around the smaller, dimmer star every 31.3 days.

New data reveals 15 fatal airliner accidents last year

New data released by the Aviation Safety Network has shown that a total of 15 fatal airliner accidents were reported last year.

These accidents resulted in 556 fatalities, which was worse than the five-year average of 14 accidents and 480 deaths caused by airline accidents.

The number of fatalities recorded last year was also higher than the ten accidents and 44 deaths that occurred in 2017.

SpaceX launches ten new Iridium NEXT satellites into space

SpaceX launched a constellation of ten new Iridium NEXT satellites into space from Vandenberg Air Force Base in the US.

The constellation represents the eighth and final units of Iridium NEXT satellite in a series of 75 next-generation communications satellites owned and operated by Iridium.

Around one hour and 12 minutes after the launch, a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket deployed all the satellites into a low-Earth orbit (LEO).

UK-based entities test self-driving Martian robot in Morocco

A group of companies and universities from the UK completed the testing of a Martian robot at Ibn Battuta Test Centre in Morocco.

Airbus Defence and Space, Thales Alenia Space, Scisys, King’s College London, University of Strathclyde, and GMV-UK took part in the month-long test in the Sahara Desert.

As part of the test, the scientists mounted newly developed software systems onto a four-wheeled rover called ‘Sherpa’, which was provided by German Robotics Innovation Centre DFKI.