. Scientific Frontline: Aviation
Showing posts with label Aviation. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Aviation. Show all posts

Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Sikorsky Looks to Future Family of VTOL Systems

Hybrid-electric demonstrator will test electrification and autonomy for next-gen products
Photo Credit: Lockheed Martin

Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin company, today unveiled its plan to build, test and fly a hybrid-electric vertical takeoff and landing demonstrator (HEX / VTOL) with a tilt-wing configuration.

The design is the first in a series of large, next generation VTOL aircraft — ranging from more traditional helicopters to winged configurations — which will feature varying degrees of electrification, and an advanced autonomy system for optionally piloted flight.

“We never stop innovating at Sikorsky,” said Sikorsky President Paul Lemmo. “Autonomy and electrification will bring transformational change to flight safety and operational efficiency of large VTOL aircraft. Our HEX demonstrator program will provide valuable insights as we look to a future family of aircraft built to the scale and preferred configurations relevant to commercial and military customers.”

The HEX program will put a premium on greater than 500 nautical mile range at high speed, fewer mechanical systems to reduce complexity, and lower maintenance costs.

Monday, December 11, 2023

Belgium And Lockheed Martin Celebrate Rollout of First F-35A For Belgium

Belgium F-35A
Photo Credit: Lockheed Martin Corporation

Lockheed Martin presented Belgium's first F-35A Lightning II to the Belgian government during a rollout ceremony at Lockheed Martin's F-35 production facility. This event marks a significant milestone in the Belgian Air Force's history and strengthens the alliance between the United States and Belgium, a key NATO ally.  

"The introduction of the F-35 within the Belgian Air Force will enable us to continue to fulfil all our missions in the coming decades, in cooperation with our allies and partners in NATO, the EU and beyond," said Chief of Defense for the Belgian Armed Forces, Admiral Michel Hofman.

Building on the strong legacy of the F-16, the F-35 will provide the next generation of air power to ensure the Belgian Air Force can fulfill its NATO missions and protect the alliance's key interests. By serving as the most advanced 21st Century Security solution, the F-35 will connect assets across domains to increase situational awareness for Belgium and its key European partners. 

"We congratulate Belgium on this significant achievement," said Lt. Gen. Mike Schmidt, program executive officer, F-35 Joint Program Office. "The growth of the F-35 in Europe strengthens international partnerships, interoperability, and warfighting capability; and emphasizes the importance the aircraft provides as a deterrent against potential adversaries." 

Thursday, November 9, 2023

General aviation sector grounded by red tape and sky-high costs

Dr Lucas Tisdall piloting his plane.
Photo Credit: Courtesy of University of South Australia

Red tape, over-regulation, spiraling costs and a vacuum of government policy are putting significant pressure on the general aviation sector in Australia, according to a survey of industry chiefs.

Ageing infrastructure, thin profit margins and conflicts over airspace allocation are all contributing to pessimism in the non-airline civil aviation sector that employs thousands of people.

In a new paper published this month in Case Studies on Transport Policy, aviation experts from Queensland and the University of South Australia (UniSA) outline the issues plaguing the industry, most of which come down to a lack of policy direction in aviation.

The sector includes training, aeromedical, emergency response and charter services in rural and remote communities.

Interviews conducted with the principals of 21 aviation organizations reveal that outside of regulation, the main concerns are the costs associated with operating premises and airport infrastructure.

Monday, October 16, 2023

Lockheed Martin's Next Generation Interceptor Program Advances Through Major Design Milestone

Lockheed Martin NGI Artist rendering of NGI.
Illustration Credit: Lockheed Martin

Lockheed Martin's Next Generation Interceptor (NGI) program executed its digital All Up Round (AUR) Preliminary Design Review (PDR), in partnership with the Missile Defense Agency (MDA), on September 29. The company remains on-plan to deliver NGI on an accelerated schedule for the warfighter.

NGI is part of the MDA's Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) system and will provide a new, advanced interceptor to protect the homeland against long range ballistic missile threats from rogue nations. During this review, the MDA assessed the NGI program's readiness and maturity to continue into the detailed design phase, confirming that Lockheed Martin's solution continues to meet requirements for the mission.

"I am proud of our team's commitment to innovating with urgency to achieve expectations for this phase of the program," said Sarah Hiza, vice president and general manager of Strategic and Missile Defense at Lockheed Martin. "With this additional confidence in our NGI design through a week-long digital review with our MDA customer, we are on track to deliver the right solution to meet the needs of the nation."

Monday, October 9, 2023

Boeing, Nammo Ramjet 155 Test Sets Distance Record

A Boeing and Nammo team set a record for longest indirect fire test of a ramjet-powered artillery projectile.
Photo Credit: U.S. Army photo

A Boeing and Nammo team set a record for longest indirect fire test of a ramjet-powered artillery projectile alongside officials from the U.S. Army — firing a Ramjet 155 munition from a 58-caliber Extended Range Cannon Artillery (ERCA) at Yuma Proving Ground, Ariz. The test advances development efforts for the Army’s top modernization priority, Long Range Precision Fires.

“Our objective was to demonstrate the ability to safely operate from the ERCA system and validate our performance. Both objectives were met.” said Gil Griffin, executive director of Boeing Phantom Works. “The team is working to deliver a superior, affordable precision strike weapon that can neutralize critical targets at long distances.”

The success follows last year’s Boeing-Nammo test recording the longest-ever indirect fire test of a Ramjet 155 munition. That test was completed using a 39-caliber towed artillery cannon at the Andøya Test Center in Norway.

Tuesday, October 3, 2023

AI copilot enhances human precision for safer aviation

With Air-Guardian, a computer program can track where a human pilot is looking (using eye-tracking technology), so it can better understand what the pilot is focusing on. This helps the computer make better decisions that are in line with what the pilot is doing or intending to do.
Illustration Credit: Alex Shipps/MIT CSAIL via Midjourney

Imagine you're in an airplane with two pilots, one human and one computer. Both have their “hands” on the controllers, but they're always looking out for different things. If they're both paying attention to the same thing, the human gets to steer. But if the human gets distracted or misses something, the computer quickly takes over.

Meet the Air-Guardian, a system developed by researchers at the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL). As modern pilots grapple with an onslaught of information from multiple monitors, especially during critical moments, Air-Guardian acts as a proactive copilot; a partnership between human and machine, rooted in understanding attention.

But how does it determine attention, exactly? For humans, it uses eye-tracking, and for the neural system, it relies on something called "saliency maps," which pinpoint where attention is directed. The maps serve as visual guides highlighting key regions within an image, aiding in grasping and deciphering the behavior of intricate algorithms. Air-Guardian identifies early signs of potential risks through these attention markers, instead of only intervening during safety breaches like traditional autopilot systems. 

Monday, June 19, 2023

GE Aerospace runs one of the world’s largest supercomputer simulations to test revolutionary new open fan engine architecture

CFM’s RISE open fan engine architecture.
Image Credit: GE Aerospace

To support the development of a revolutionary new open fan engine architecture for the future of flight, GE Aerospace has run simulations using the world’s fastest supercomputer capable of crunching data in excess of exascale speed, or more than a quintillion calculations per second.

To model engine performance and noise levels, GE Aerospace created software capable of operating on Frontier, a recently commissioned supercomputer at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Oak Ridge National Laboratory with processing power of about 37,000 GPUs. For comparison, Frontier’s processing speed is so powerful, it would take every person on Earth combined more than four years to do what the supercomputer can in one second.  

By coupling GE Aerospace’s computational fluid dynamics software with Frontier, GE was able to simulate air movement of a full-scale open fan design with incredible detail.

“Developing game-changing new aircraft engines requires game-changing technical capabilities. With supercomputing, GE Aerospace engineers are redefining the future of flight and solving problems that would have previously been impossible,” said Mohamed Ali, vice president and general manager of engineering for GE Aerospace.

Tuesday, June 13, 2023

Next Generation Experimental Aircraft Becomes NASA’s Newest X-Plane

The X-66A is the X-plane specifically aimed at helping the United States achieve the goal of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. To build the X-66A, Boeing will work with NASA to modify an MD-90 aircraft, shortening the fuselage and replacing its wings and engines. The resulting demonstrator aircraft will have long, thin wings with engines mounted underneath and a set of aerodynamic trusses for support. The design, which Boeing submitted for NASA’s Sustainable Flight Demonstrator project, is known as a Transonic Truss-Braced Wing.
Full Size Image
Image Credits: NASA

NASA and Boeing said Monday the aircraft produced through the agency’s Sustainable Flight Demonstrator project has been designated by the U.S. Air Force as the X-66A.

The new X-plane seeks to inform a potential new generation of more sustainable single-aisle aircraft – the workhorse of passenger airlines around the world. Working with NASA, Boeing will build, test, and fly a full-scale demonstrator aircraft with extra-long, thin wings stabilized by diagonal struts, known as a Transonic Truss-Braced Wing concept.

“At NASA, our eyes are not just focused on stars but also fixated on the sky. The Sustainable Flight Demonstrator builds on NASA’s world-leading efforts in aeronautics as well climate,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson. “The X-66A will help shape the future of aviation, a new era where aircraft are greener, cleaner, and quieter, and create new possibilities for the flying public and American industry alike.”

The X-66A is the first X-plane specifically focused on helping the United States achieve the goal of net-zero aviation greenhouse gas emissions, which was articulated in the White House’s U.S. Aviation Climate Action Plan.

Monday, February 13, 2023

VISTA X-62 Advancing Autonomy and Changing the Face of Air Power

The X-62A VISTA Aircraft flying above Edwards Air Force Base, California.
Photo Credit: Kyle Brasier, U.S. Air Force

The Lockheed Martin VISTA X-62A, a one-of-a-kind training aircraft, was flown by an artificial intelligence agent for more than 17 hours recently, representing the first time AI engaged on a tactical aircraft.

VISTA, short for Variable In-flight Simulation Test Aircraft, is changing the face of air power at the U.S. Air Force Test Pilot School (USAF TPS) at Edwards Air Force Base in California.

VISTA is a one-of-a-kind training airplane developed by Lockheed Martin Skunk Works® in collaboration with Calspan Corporation for the USAF TPS. Built on open systems architecture, VISTA is fitted with software that allows it to mimic the performance characteristics of other aircraft.

"VISTA will allow us to parallelize the development and test of cutting-edge artificial intelligence techniques with new uncrewed vehicle designs," said Dr. M. Christopher Cotting, U.S. Air Force Test Pilot School director of research. "This approach, combined with focused testing on new vehicle systems as they are produced, will rapidly mature autonomy for uncrewed platforms and allow us to deliver tactically relevant capability to our warfighter."

Thursday, February 2, 2023

DARPA Selects Performer Teams for Liberty Lifter X-Plane Program

Liberty Lifter
Illustration Credit: Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency

Two teams -- General Atomics working with Maritime Applied Physics Corporation and Aurora Flight Sciences working with Gibbs & Cox and ReconCraft -- will develop designs for DARPA’s Liberty Lifter Seaplane Wing-in-Ground Effect full-scale demonstrator. The Liberty Lifter program aims to demonstrate a leap-ahead in operational capability by designing, building, floating, and flying a long-range, low-cost X-Plane capable of seaborne strategic and tactical heavy lift.

The planned Liberty Lifter demonstrator will be a large flying boat similar in size and capacity to the C-17 Globemaster III transport aircraft. Goals include takeoff and land in Sea State 4, sustained on-water operation up to Sea State 5, and extended flight close to the water in ground effect with the capability to fly out of ground effect at altitudes up to 10,000 feet above sea level.

“We are excited to kick off this program and looking forward to working closely with both performer teams as they mature their point-of-departure design concepts through Phase 1,” said DARPA Liberty Lifter Program Manager Christopher Kent. “The two teams have taken distinctly different design approaches that will enable us to explore a relatively large design space during Phase 1.”

Monday, January 30, 2023

Second Hypersonic Air-Breathing Weapon Concept Launched From B-52 Accomplishes "All Test Objectives"

Artist’s concept of the DARPA and Lockheed Martin Hypersonic Air Breathing Weapon Concept (HAWC).
Illustration Credit: Lockheed Martin

DARPA's Latest HAWC Flight Test Demonstrates Mature, Affordable Hypersonic Systems Design and Manufacturing Techniques

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), Air Force Research Lab (AFRL), Lockheed Martin and Aerojet Rocketdyne team accomplished their primary objectives during its second Hypersonic Air-breathing Weapon Concept (HAWC) flight test doubling the amount of scramjet powered vehicle data.

Launching from a B-52, the HAWC system's first stage boosted it to the targeted engine ignition envelope, where the Aerojet Rocketdyne scramjet engine fired and accelerated the system to speeds in excess of Mach 5. The system performed as predicted travelling more than 300 nautical miles and reaching altitudes above 60,000 feet. 

Boeing Awarded U.S. Air Force Contract for 15 KC-46A Tankers

KC-46A Pegasus tanker
Photo Credit: Boeing

The U.S. Air Force has awarded Boeing a $2.3 billion contract for the ninth production lot of 15 KC-46A Pegasus tanker aircraft, expanding its fleet of the world’s most advanced multi-mission aerial refueler. To date, 128 KC-46A Pegasus are on contract with the U.S. Air Force, with 68 delivered and operationally deployed worldwide.

“The combat-ready KC-46A is transforming the role of the tanker for the 21st century,” said James Burgess, vice president and KC-46 program manager. “We’re proud to work side-by-side with the Air Force ensuring the Pegasus provides unmatched capabilities and continues to evolve for the U.S. and its allies’ global mission needs.”

The KC-46A Pegasus delivers crucial fuel and data for the fleet, as well as cargo, personnel and aeromedical transportation for joint force rapid mobility, global reach and agile combat employment.

Friday, January 27, 2023

UNSW eco-friendly aviation research project receives CRC-P funding

Dr Branislav Hredzak and Professor John Fletcher have been awarded funding from Round 13 of the CRC Project scheme in collaboration with Dovetail Electric Aviation
Photo Credit: Dovetail Electric Aviation

An innovative UNSW research and development project focused on making regional commuter services greener and cheaper has been awarded a CRC-P grant.

Two UNSW Sydney researchers in collaboration with industry partners have been awarded $3 million in funding from the federal government’s Cooperative Research Centre Projects (CRC-P) program. This is part of a $12.8 million project that will convert a turboprop plane to electric propulsion, providing regional commuter services.

UNSW Senior Lecturer Dr Branislav Hredzak and Professor John Fletcher at the School of Electrical Engineering and Telecommunications secured the funding from Round 13 of the CRC Project scheme, for the project 'Electric Conversion to Fast Track Zero Emissions Commercial Aviation', together with Dovetail Electric Aviation, Sydney Seaplanes, Memko Aviation, Aerospace and Defense and CSIRO.

The project will develop, flight test and certify the conversion to electric propulsion of a turboprop aircraft, which will make regional commuter services eco-friendlier and more affordable with a focus on emissions-free aircraft for use on regional routes in the future.

Tuesday, January 24, 2023

Lockheed Martin Announces Successful First Flight Of F-16 Block 70 Aircraft

F-16 Block 70 first flight
Photo Credit: Lockheed Martin Corporation

Lockheed Martin today announced the successful first flight of the F-16 Block 70 at its Greenville, South Carolina site. 

The flight occurred Jan. 24 at 9:17 a.m. ET, with Lockheed Martin test pilots Dwayne "Pro" Opella and Monessa "Siren" Balzhiser at the helm. Total flight time was approximately 50 minutes and included airworthiness checks, such as engine, flight control and fuel system checks, as well as basic aircraft handling. 

"Today's successful flight is a testament of the hard work, dedication and commitment to our customers and their missions," said OJ Sanchez, vice president, Integrated Fighter Group, which includes the F-16 program. "This milestone demonstrates Lockheed Martin's commitment to advancing this program and getting this much-needed aircraft and its advanced 21st Century Security capabilities to the warfighter."

This F-16 Block 70 jet is the first of 16 jets to be delivered to Bahrain. Six countries have selected Block 70/72 aircraft. In addition to the current official backlog of 128 jets to-date to be built in Greenville, Jordan last year signed a Letter of Offer and Acceptance (LOA) for eight jets and last week signed an additional LOA for four more jets. Lockheed Martin has received a contract to begin Jordan's long-lead activities. Bulgaria has also signed an LOA for an additional eight jets for its fleet. Once these are finalized, the backlog will increase to 148.

Saturday, January 21, 2023

DARPA Selects Aurora Flight Sciences for Phase 2 of Active Flow Control X-Plane

DARPA CRANE X-Plane configuration in development for flight testing Active Flow Control (AFC) technologies
Image Credit: Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency

DARPA has selected Aurora Flight Sciences to move into the detailed design phase of the Control of Revolutionary Aircraft with Novel Effectors (CRANE) program. This follows successful completion of the project’s Phase 1 preliminary design, which resulted in an innovative testbed aircraft that used active flow control (AFC) to generate control forces in a wind tunnel test. Phase 2 will focus on detailed design and development of flight software and controls, culminating in a critical design review of an X-plane demonstrator that can fly without traditional moving flight controls on the exterior of the wings and tail.

The contract includes a Phase 3 option in which DARPA intends to fly a 7,000-pound X-plane that addresses the two primary technical hurdles of incorporation of AFC into a full-scale aircraft and reliance on it for controlled flight. Unique features of the demonstrator aircraft will include modular wing configurations that enable future integration of advanced technologies for flight testing either by DARPA or potential transition partners.

Friday, January 20, 2023

Sikorsky Delivers 5,000th “Hawk,” Highlights Versatility And Future Of Iconic Helicopter

Sikorsky marks the delivery of the 5,000th “Hawk” helicopter, a UH-60M (pictured), at its headquarters in Stratford, Conn., Jan. 20, 2023.
Resized Image using AI by SFLORG
Photo Credit: Courtesy Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin company.

Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin company (NYSE: LMT), today delivered its 5,000th “Hawk” variant helicopter, a U.S. Army UH-60M Black Hawk. The iconic aircraft will continue to support medium-lift requirements for the U.S. military and international operators for decades into the future.

Sikorsky celebrates its 100th anniversary this year.

“Sikorsky, as a company, has been forged by the Black Hawk,” said Sikorsky President Paul Lemmo. “The Black Hawk and its variants deliver when reliability and performance are nonnegotiable. Hawk aircraft continue to demonstrate their versatility and readiness with the latest technological advancements and ongoing U.S. and global investment in the aircraft.”

Customers worldwide depend on the Black Hawk platform and its derivatives, including MH-60R/S maritime operations helicopters, MH-60T multi-mission helicopters, HH-60W rescue helicopters and internationally built S-70 Black Hawks to include the baseline FIREHAWK, which have all proven their versatility and capability across a spectrum of challenging mission sets.

Wednesday, January 18, 2023

Boeing Awarded NASA Sustainable Flight Demonstrator Contract

SFD Rendering
NASA has selected Boeing and its industry team to lead the development and flight testing of a full-scale Transonic Truss-Braced Wing (TTBW) demonstrator airplane.
Image Credit: Boeing

NASA has selected Boeing and its industry team to lead the development and flight testing of a full-scale Transonic Truss-Braced Wing (TTBW) demonstrator airplane.

The technologies demonstrated and tested as part of the Sustainable Flight Demonstrator (SFD) program will inform future designs and could lead to breakthrough aerodynamics and fuel efficiency gains.

When combined with expected advancements in propulsion systems, materials and systems architecture, a single-aisle airplane with a TTBW configuration could reduce fuel consumption and emissions up to 30% relative to today's most efficient single-aisle airplanes, depending on the mission. The SFD program aims to advance the civil aviation industry's commitment to reaching net zero carbon emissions by 2050, as well as the goals set forth in the White House's U.S. Aviation Climate Action Plan.

Monday, January 16, 2023

Speeding up sugar's conversion into fuel

The research has accelerated the production rate and yield of isobutanol from sugar.
Photo Credit: Bishnu Sarangi

University of Queensland researchers have found a way to more efficiently convert sugarcane into a building block of aviation fuel and other products.

By zeroing in on a specific enzyme, a UQ team working in collaboration with the Technical University of Munich (TUM) has sped up the slowest step in processing sugar into a chemical called isobutanol.

Professor Gary Schenk from UQ’s School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences said isobutanol from a renewable resource could be used to make fuels, plastics, rubbers and food additives.

“Our research into this particular enzyme means we can accelerate the production rate and yield of isobutanol from sugarcane, ultimately enabling biomanufacturers to make diverse products at scale sustainably and efficiently,” Professor Schenk said.

“Usually during a biomanufacturing process, cells such as yeasts are used as a production platform, but in our research only a small number of a sugar acid-specific dehydratase enzyme was used.

Monday, January 9, 2023

Jet engine lubrication oils are a major source of ultrafine particles

Lubrication oil in the hot exhaust plume of an aircraft engine can form ultrafine particles as soon as the plume cools down. This has now been corroborated in a study by Goethe University Frankfurt and the Hessian Agency for Nature Conservation, Environment and Geology.   
Photo Credit: Alexander Vogel, Goethe University Frankfurt

Measurements conducted by the Hessian Agency for Nature Conservation, Environment and Geology (HLNUG) in recent years have shown that Frankfurt International Airport is a major source of ultrafine particles and that these can disperse over long distances across the city. In collaboration with experts at the HLNUG, researchers at Goethe University Frankfurt have now discovered that ultrafine particles partly consist of synthetic jet oils. The research team has deduced that emissions from lubrication oils must be lowered in addition to those from kerosene in order to reduce the concentration of ultrafine particles and thus improve air quality.

Ultrafine particles form during combustion processes, for example when wood or biomass is burned, as well as in power and industrial plants. Alongside road traffic, large airports are a major source of these ultrafine particles, which are less than 100 millionths of a millimeter (100 nanometers) in size. Because they are so small, they can penetrate deep into the lower respiratory tract, overcome the air-blood barrier and, depending on their composition, cause inflammatory reactions in the tissue, for example. What's more, ultrafine particles are suspected of being capable of triggering cardiovascular diseases.

Monday, December 5, 2022

Consortium develops sustainable aircraft engines

Flying without pollutant emissions should be possible in the future.
Photo Credit: RUB, Marquard

A new drive technology should make air travel possible with a clear conscience.

In the face of climate change, many people get on the plane with a guilty conscience: the emission of climate-damaging carbon dioxide from the combustion of fossil fuels is high. An international consortium wants to change this: The aim of the "MYTHOS" project is to develop aircraft engines that can flexibly use various sustainably produced fuels up to pure hydrogen. The project called "Medium-range hybrid low-pollution flexi-fuel / hydrogen sustainable engine" will start from 1. January 2023 funded by the European Union for four years. The coordination is carried out by Prof. Dr. Francesca di Mare, holder of the professorship for thermal turbo machines and aircraft engines of the RUB.

The overarching goal to which the project team is committed is nothing less than the decarbonization of aviation. "We will be developing and demonstrating a groundbreaking design methodology for future short and medium-range civil engines that can use a wide range of liquid and gaseous fuels and ultimately pure hydrogen," said Francesca di Mare. The fuels for which the engines are to be designed include so-called Sustainable Aviation Fuels, or SAF for short: sustainably produced fuels that are not based on fossil fuels. In order to achieve these goals, the MYTHOS consortium develops a multidisciplinary modeling approach for the characterization of the relevant engine components and uses methods of machine learning.

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