FedEx to buy 24 Boeing freighters for $6.6bn

Global air cargo carrier FedEx Express placed an order with Boeing to purchase 24 freighter aircraft worth $6.6bn at list prices.

The order includes 12 767 and 12 777 freighters. Boeing has so far sold more than 50 widebody freighters this year.

Boeing’s 767 freighter is designed to carry around 52.7t of revenue cargo and offers a flexible platform to serve the long-haul, regional or feeder markets.

Researchers upgrade chip to help miniature drones navigate efficiently

Researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) upgraded the design of a computer chip developed last year to help honeybee-sized drones navigate.

The newly built chip, named Navion, is smaller and requires less power than its predecessor.

Navion is 20mm² in size and consumes 24mW of power, which is about one-thousandth of the energy required to power a lightbulb.

Airbus threatens to leave UK over uncertainty of Brexit deal

Airbus warned it could leave the UK if a transitional deal is not reached before the country exits the EU next year.

The warning follows a risk assessment carried out by Airbus on the possible impacts of Brexit without a withdrawal agreement on its business.

According to the assessment, the UK leaving the EU without a deal means the country is leaving both the single market and customs union immediately and without any agreed transition. This could severely disrupt and interrupt production across the UK.

Delta Air Lines to buy 20 new Bombardier aircraft for $961m

US-based carrier Delta Air Lines signed an agreement to purchase 20 CRJ900 regional aircraft with new Atmosphère cabin design from Bombardier for around $961m at list prices.

The new aircraft are expected to be delivered later this year and will make Delta the world’s first carrier to operate CRJ900 with Atmosphère cabin.

The Atmosphère cabin features new interior designs to offer larger passenger living space, wheel-first roller bag capability, more spacious lavatories, and additional cabin connectivity options.

India approves $1.6bn funding to continue PSLV and GSLV rocket programmes

India’s Union Cabinet approved $1.6bn in funding to continue the development and launch of the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) and Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) rocket programmes.

Of the total investment, $914m has been earmarked for the PSLV Continuation Programme (phase 6) and will cover the cost of 30 PSLV flights.

It will also include the costs of essential facility augmentation, programme management and the launch campaign.

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 EU.

Signed between the European Council and Parliament last November, 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.

Nasa’s Ikhana unmanned aircraft completes first test flight

Nasa’s remotely piloted Ikhana aircraft successfully completed its first test flight without using a safety chase aircraft.

The aircraft took off from Edwards Air Force Base in California, US and after travelling through a controlled airspace, returned to its base in Nasa’s Armstrong Flight Research Center in Edwards, California.

Prepared by the aircraft maintenance crews at the Armstrong centre, the flight was conducted to confirm that key technologies and operations required for the US Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) approval to fly Ikhana in the public airspace without a safety chase aircraft were being used.

Researchers develop new aircraft-scheduling models to ease air travel

A team of researchers from the University of Illinois developed a set of aircraft-scheduling models that could help ease air travel frustrations.

The research was led by industrial and enterprise systems engineering professor Lavanya Marla.

By focusing on the early phases of flight schedule planning and delays at various scales, researchers developed models to help create schedules that are less susceptible to delays and easier to fix once disrupted.

Bamboo Airways to buy 20 Boeing 787 Dreamliners for $5.6bn

Vietnam-based startup Bamboo Airways signed a $5.6bn commitment with Boeing to purchase 20 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft.

Under the deal, Bamboo Airways deposited the required funding to reserve the 20 planes,  which are expected to be delivered between April 2020 and 2021.

Bamboo Airways plans to start commercial operations next year from Vietnam’s capital Hanoi.

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 is equipped with three technologies developed by Airbus.

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