MC-21 Starts Phase 2 Flight Testing

The United Aircraft Corporation MC-21 airliner’s second phase of flight testing is under way after a break of several weeks to allow the prototype aircraft to be instrumented to record in-flight g loadings and for modifications to be made in its software and onboard systems. It is reportedly on schedule for its first public appearance at the Dubai Air Show in November. Long lead-time components for the first production batch of five MC- 21s were reportedly ordered in August. Marketing efforts continue, with the visit of an Indian ministerial-level delegation to the Irkut factory on September 21. Russia is also marketing the MC-21 to Algeria at the ministerial level through the Russian- Algerian intergovernmental commission on trade and economic and scientific technical cooperation.

David C Isby

Coyotes Study Maria

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) recently used six Raytheon Coyote small unmanned aerial vehicles to track and model Hurricane Maria. The Coyotes were launched from the NOAA’s WP-3D Orion and flew directly into the storm. The Coyote is a small expendable UAV originally developed for the military that is air or ground-launched into environments too dangerous for manned aircraft. The system can fly for more than an hour and up to 50 miles (80km) from its host aircraft. The NOAA is investing in these systems to improve its hurricane forecasting accuracy.

Mark Broadbent

Thales 3D Printing

Thales has opened an additive manufacturing facility in Casablanca, Morocco, specialising in 3D printing metal components, that fuses metal alloy powders using a laser. There are currently two selective laser melting machines, but Thales plans to acquire another eight in the next five years. They will initially produce aluminium and titanium parts at a greatly reduced cost and in less time than conventional techniques. Thales has invested around €25 million in the facility.

Guy Martin

More Funding for SAA

South Africa’s National Treasury has given struggling national carrier South African Airways (SAA) ZAR 3 billion to pay creditors and keep operations running. On September 29, the government approved the transfer of funds from the National Revenue Fund to allow the airline to pay its debt to Citibank, thereby avoiding a default, which would have triggered a call on the airline’s ZAR 16.4 billion guarantee. ZAR 1.8 billion went towards this loan and another ZAR 1.2 billion went to working capital in what the treasury called a “last resort” measure. In June, the treasury bailed out SAA with ZAR 2.2 billion to repay Standard Chartered Bank. SAA is implementing its turnaround strategy as it attempts to remain a going concern, which includes adjustments to the route schedule from October 29. Domestic flights on two routes will be reduced by half, while flights to Luanda will be reduced from seven to four a week and Kinshasa from five to four a week.

Guy Martin