The production system that promises to support a reduction in final assembly times for the Boeing 737 from 10 to nine days this year should become still more efficient with the introduction of a new automated panel assembly line (PAL) by early 2015. Built by Mukilteo, Washington-based Electroimpact, the PAL fastens stringers to wing skin panels at twice the rate Boeing now can manage using the current process at the 737 plant in Renton, Washington. Electroimpact designed the machine to “normalize” to the panel with an array of lasers that “see” the surface without touching it, allowing it to follow the panel curvature or contour. The process improves accuracy, consistency and “repeatability,” according to Boeing.
News and issues concerning aerospace companies, including formations, acquisitions, mergers and financials; and announcements of significant aircraft sales, delivery statistics and personnel appointments.
An NPRM from the Treasury Department on the assessment of federal excise taxes (FET) in the aircraft management industry could be issued as early as August, according to Jorge Castro, a consultant to the National Air Transportation Association. Speaking at the group’s annual Air Charter Summit in Washington, D.C., last week, he told the audience that dialog has heated up between the Internal Revenue Service and FAA regarding regulation of the FET laws.
The fifth and final Airbus A350-900 flight-test article took to the skies for the first time Friday, marking the start of the last phase of the 2,500-hour certification program. The second passenger cabin-equipped A350, MSN005 embodies the “operationally definitive” configuration for flight test duties, said Airbus. Plans call for it to perform route proving and ETOPS validation ahead of certification in the third quarter of this year and first delivery to launch customer Qatar Airways in the fourth quarter.
In a move that could help pave the way for low-boom supersonic flight over land, NASA aeronautics researchers are presenting their work on how people on the ground perceive low sonic booms this week in Atlanta at an annual event held by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. “Lessening sonic booms is the most significant hurdle to [civil] supersonic flight,” said Peter Coen, head of the high-speed project in NASA’s aeronautics research mission directorate at the agency’s headquarters in Washington, D.C.
Industrial bioscience company Amyris and energy giant Total have begun to market a so-called drop in jet fuel containing a 10-percent mix of renewable farnesane under a newly revised ASTM standard, the companies announced Monday. Amyris and Total have worked closely on approval of the new fuel with Boeing, which, according to the airframer’s managing director of environmental strategy and integration, Julie Felgar, wants to see biofuel account for a 1-percent share of the total jet fuel supply within 10 years.
Emirates Airline has cancelled its order of 70 A350 XWBs, Airbus confirmed on Wednesday. The Dubai-based carrier originally placed the order for 50 A350-900s and 20 A350-1000s in 2007. It had planned to take first delivery in 2019.
Sales of single-aisle airplanes completely filled the May order books for both Airbus and Boeing this year, increasing narrowbody backlogs for both companies despite feverish production activity. The European airframer added 70 aircraft to its order book in May through transactions with both airline customers and leasing companies for its A320 product line, while U.S. manufacturer drew orders for ninety-nine 737s, primarily from unidentified customers.
Next month’s 2014 Farnborough International Airshow (July 14-20) will not be short on novelty, with 26 percent of exhibitors new to the biennial event. With economic conditions generally stronger even in Western markets that have been soft in recent years, and with continued and new military tensions around the world, the business context for this year’s show is arguably on more solid ground than it was for the 2012 event.
Business jet makers continued to build on their delivery momentum from last year, while total industry billings increased by 9 percent year-over-year, according to first-quarter delivery statistics released last month by the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA).
Gulfstream filed a patent last week for a new undercarriage configuration that significantly reduces the amount of noise created when an aircraft flies with the landing gear deployed. As engines have become ever quieter, the aerodynamic noise created by disturbed airflow around the aircraft itself makes up an increasing proportion of the overall noise signature.