AVIATION NEWS

USEFUL AVIATION LINKS

Aviation Week: https://aviationweek.com

Commercial Aviation Info, Photos, and News: https://www.airliners.net/aviation-news

AVweb: https://www.avweb.com

General Aviation News: https://generalaviationnews.com

NASA AERONAUTIC RESEARCH INFORMATION

NASA Aeronautic Research: https://www.nasa.gov/aeroresearch/resources

NASA Next Gen STEM: Aeronaut-X: https://www.nasa.gov/stem/nextgenstem/aeronaut-x/index.html

NASA Aeronautics at Home: https://www.nasa.gov/aero-at-home

Aeronautics E-books: https://www.nasa.gov/connect/ebooks/aeronautics_ebooks_archive_1.html

AVIATION/AERONAUTICS NEWS

Coming to You: Amazon via Drone: Amazon has long been interested in using flying drones to deliver orders to your doorstep, but was limited by the FAA’s constraint that such cargo drones had to be operated by a human with a line-of-sight on the drone at all times. The FAA has now relaxed that requirement, at least on a limited basis. The FAA recently approved BVLOS (Beyond Visual Line Of Sight) operation of cargo drones delivering from its facility at College Station, Texas. The use of cargo drones will “begin integrating into Amazon’s delivery network” later this year. Amazon’s goal is to shave delivery time to less than 60 minutes. For more on this development, see: https://aviationweek.com/aerospace/advanced-air-mobility/faa-approves-amazon-bvlos-flights-cargo-drones.

Senate Passes 5-Year FAA Reauthorization Bill last Thursday (5/9), on the eve of its expiration date. The Securing Growth and Robust Leadership in American Aviation Act was approved 88-4. It included a one-week extension to allow the House to study and approve the bill before it goes to President Biden for signature. The $105B bill includes provisions to “set national priorities to strengthen aviation safety standards, grow air traffic controller & safety inspector workforce, and implement safety technology on runways & in cockpits.” For more information, see here and here. UPDATE: President Biden signed the H.R. 3935 FAA Reauthorization Act of 2024 into law on May 16.

More FFA: Report on National Airspace System Safety: A number of close-calls between aircraft aloft and on the ground has been in the news of late. The FAA just released a major study on “the structure, culture, processes, systems, and integration of safety efforts” across the Air Traffic Organization. The review team identify a number of problems and make a series of recommendations addressing “process integrity, staffing, equipment, and technology.” Everyone involved in aerospace education, and all air travelers, should take a look at the report. You can find it at: https://www.faa.gov/NAS_safety_review_team_report.pdf.

Follow-up: The FAA just announced it was establishing a three-person expert review panel to examine fatigue among air traffic controllers. The report already released, as described immediately above, recognizes staffing issues, including fatigue, but the issue is framed in a lot of “managementese.” For a more “down to Earth” take on the issue, see: https://www.avweb.com/aviation-news/faa-launches-panel-to-study-air-traffic-controller-fatigue, including the comments section.

R.I.P. BGen “Bud” Anderson: Triple-Ace Bud Anderson passed away last Friday (5/17) at his home in Auburn, California; he was 102. He often flew with Chuck Yeager in the War (Yeager called Anderson “the best fighter pilot I ever saw”-!), became a test pilot at Wright-Patterson afterward, then flew 25 F-105 missions over Vietnam, and had a successful post-military career, including writing a book on his flying adventures. He was a regular attendee at the AirVenture event in Oshkosh, along with his P-51, “Old Crow.” See: https://www.avweb.com/aviation-news/brig-gen-bud-anderson-dies-at-102 and here: Anderson, Clarence E. and Joseph P. Hamelin, 1990, To Fly and Fight: Memoirs of a Triple Ace, ISBN 0-553-29240-4

New: AVweb has posted a “Rememberances of Triple-Ace Bud Anderson,” at: https://www.avweb.com/insider/blog-remembrances-of-triple-ace-bud-anderson.

Podcasts from Aviation Week:

The F-35 Has a Case of Long COVID: The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, by latest GAO estimates, will be a $2T project of the project service life of the aircraft. It’s had some teething problems, but is popular with our overseas market. Two updates are being made: “Technology Refresh 3, which adds a new integrated core processor, basically a modern supercomputer” and the Block 4 modernization. And you can't get Block 4 modernization without Technology Refresh or TR-3, TR-3.” Block 4 involves a U.S. market-only radar update. For more of the discussion in Aviation Week about the F-35, see here: https://aviationweek.com/podcasts/check-6/podcast-f-35-has-case-long-covid.

Is It Time For a U.S. Mandate on Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF)? The aviation industry is trying to be “greener,” but meeting goals set for 2050 will be difficult to do with traditional or near-traditional fuels. SAF “is arguably the only lever other than aircraft replacement that can make a dent in emissions over the next 10-15 years.” See more about AW’s latest thinking on SAF here: https://aviationweek.com/special-topics/sustainability/opinion-it-time-us-saf-mandate . A lot of other items about SAF are available in the A+StW website’s News: Aviation section.

How Can We Solve Aviation’s Big Contrails Problem? The tinfoil-hat crowd has been spreading ridiculous rumors about toxic contrails for years, but contrails do have a non-trivial impact on climate. High-altitude contrails reflect some sunlight that would have warmed the ground beneath them, causing cooling, and the contrails also act to prevent the re-radiation of ground heat to Space, causing cooling, and the two effects do not cancel each other out. For a discussion of the problem, see: https://aviationweek.com/podcasts/check-6/podcast-how-can-we-solve-aviations-big-contrails-problem.

Will Embraer Step Up to Challenge the Duopoly? https://aviationweek.com/podcasts/check-6/podcast-will-embraer-step-challenge-duopoly

V-22 Osprey – Long-term Upgrades Amid Near-term Fixes:https://aviationweek.com/defense-space/aircraft-propulsion/v-22-office-looks-long-term-upgrades-amid-near-term-fixes

Shielding the Skies: Missile Defense in a Changing World: https://aviationweek.com/podcasts/check-6/podcast-shielding-skies-missile-defense-changing-world

Boeing Over a Barrel: https://aviationweek.com/podcasts/check-6/podcast-boeing-over-barrel

Lifting the Veil on Area 51 Secret Flight-Test History: Peter Merlin has written a new history of flight test at Area 51, Dreamland: The Secret History of Area 51, and discusses it with AW’s editors at: https://aviationweek.com/podcasts/check-6/podcast-lifting-veil-area-51s-secret-flight-test-history

R.I.P. Dick Rutan: Famed aviator Dick Rutan passed away recently from complications attendant to long COVID; he was 85. He’s best remembered as the pilot of the first around-the-world non-stop flight without refueling, along with Jenna Yeager in 1986. Their airplane, the Rutan Voyager, is in the collection of the National Air and Space Museum. For more information, see: https://www.avweb.com/aviation-news/dick-rutan-dies-at-85.

It Had to Happen Sooner or Later… Major Shane Gentry was named the USMC’s Aviator of the Year for 2024 recently. He was also received the Marine Corps Aviation Association’s Alfred A. Cunningham Award (Cunningham was the very first Marine Corps pilot). What kind of aircraft does Major Gentry fly? He doesn’t fly; he’s a drone pilot! For more on this harbinger of the future, see: https://www.marinecorpstimes.com/news/your-marine-corps/2024/04/17/meet-the-marine-aviator-of-the-year-an-unmanned-aerial-vehicle-pilot.

Airport Infrastructure Funding: The White House announced recently (2/15) that it was allocating nearly $1 billion in federal funds for airport infrastructure improvements. The funds are part of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which will provide a total of $24B to modernize airports and supporting facilities around the country, including upgrading baggage handling equipment and expanding security checkpoints. The $1B allotment will directly affect 114 airports, both large and small. Dulles, O’Hare, and LAX will each get much-needed upgrades. Read more about it at: https://www.avweb.com/aviation-news/nearly-1-billion-allocated-for-airport-infrastructure-funding.

Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) News

Overview of Different Types of SAF:https://simpleflying.com/sustainable-aviation-fuel-types

China to Boost SAF Production Through New HEFA Facility: https://aviationweek.com/special-topics/sustainability/china-boost-saf-production-through-new-hefa-facility

AW Opinion Piece:Opinion: It is Time to Move Boldly on Sustainable Aviation Fuel (1/17/2022): https://aviationweek.com/special-topics/sustainability/opinion-it-time-move-boldly-sustainable-aviation-fuel. AW advocates for a more aggressive reduction of the commercial airline carbon footprint than the present agreement for a 10% use of SAF by 2030.

AW Gallery: Aviation Sustainability Investments Taking Off: https://aviationweek.com/special-topics/sustainability/gallery-aviation-sustainability-investments-taking

Aviation’s Future Fuels:https://aviationweek.com/shownews/nbaa/podcast-aviations-future-fuels

Flight Made on 100% Sustainable Aviation Fuel: The Royal Air Force conducted a ninety-minute test flight of one of their Voyager tanker aircraft flying totally on SAF recently. The Voyager is a militarized conversion of an Airbus 300. For more info, see here, and see also the other SAF links at the end of this section (website version).

Business Aviation Leaders issued a progress report on meeting 2050 Net-Zero emissions goals. Important milestones have been met, and new technologies are under development, but challenges remain. One brighter spot: Over the previous decade, business aviation sector fuel efficiency improved by 2% each year. One challenge: SAF production and demand. For more info, see: https://www.flyingmag.com/business-aviation-industry-emissions-report.

Pratt & Whitney and Embraer have signed an MOU to conduct studies of aircraft use of 100% SAF. Integrated ground and flight testing will use an Embraer E195-E2 aircraft with P&W GTF engines. For more info, see: https://www.avweb.com/ownership/fuel-news/embraer-pratt-whitney-partner-on-saf-demonstration-program.

Bell Textron 525 Helo Flies SAF:https://www.avweb.com/aviation-news/bell-525-relentless-test-flights-now-running-on-sustainable-fuels

Phillips 66 SAF Plant: https://www.flyingmag.com/phillips-66-sustainable-fuel-commitment

The U.K.’s New “Net Zero” Strategy was released on October 19. It calls for a $247M investment in SAF technology in order to meet a net-zero carbon emission for commercial aviation by 2050; see here.

Plant-based Jet Fuel Could Reduce Emissions by up to 68%, using a type of mustard plant, according to research conducted at the University of Georgia. Kinda puts a new spin on the whole “Pardon me, do you have and Grey Poupon?” thing!”

President Biden’s SAF Grand Challenge: The president is calling for 3 billion gallons of cost-competitive SAF to be available to US commercial aircraft annually by 2030, and for the aviation sector to be carbon-free by 2050. This would significantly reduce both CO2 emissions (which contribute to human-caused global warming and the related environmental problems) and lead exposure. The move is backed by a variety of tax measures and other incentives, and is well-received by many of the sector’s key players. For more info on the Grand Challenge, see: https://www.flyingmag.com/story/news/biden-admin-saf-challenge-industry-reaction.

NASA is On Board with SAF: NASA Administrator Bill Nelson joined other federal government and industry leaders at a recent White House event highlighting sustainable aviation, pointing out NASA’s increasing role in helping develop the technologies needed to make aviation more sustainable in the near future. For the full statement, see: https://www.nasa.gov/press-release/nasa-innovations-will-help-us-meet-sustainable-aviation-goals.

FAA and Sustainable Airports: The Federal Aviation Administration recently awarded $788M in grants to upgrade airports across the US. Their National Plan of Integrated Airport Systems looks to make airports safer, more energy efficient, and more accessible to passengers with special needs. For details, see: https://www.flyingmag.com/story/news/faa-766-million-sustainable-airport-grant.

Shell Plans Big SAF Plant: Shell will repurpose a fuel refinery in the Netherlands to create up to 0.5 million gallons of synthetic aviation fuel annually. Production is expected to begin in 2024. For more info, see: https://www.flyingmag.com/story/news/shell-saf.