Eclipse Aerospace of Albuquerque, N.M., delivered its sixth Eclipse 550 light twinjet this week at the Sun ’n’ Fun Fly-In in Lakeland, Fla. Purchased by an undisclosed customer in Chicago, the aircraft is on display throughout the show, which closes on Sunday evening. The Eclipse 550 was certified on February 28 and the first copy was delivered on March 12. “We think we can produce, sell and deliver 16 to 20 [550s] this year, and we’d like to do more than that in the future,” said Eclipse CEO Mason Holland.
In what the organizers claim is a first, an aircraft–in this case a chartered Dassault Falcon 900B carrying 12 photographers and amateur astronomers on November 3–was used to intercept an extremely short total solar eclipse with a “perpendicular crossing” of the eclipse path. While aircraft have previously been used to capture solar eclipses, they flew with the eclipse path and waited for the shadow to catch up with the airplane.
UAV start-up Titan Aerospace of Moriarty, N.M., yesterday named former Eclipse Aviation CEO Vern Raburn as its chairman and CEO. Originally a Microsoft executive, Raburn founded Eclipse, manufacturer of the Eclipse 500 very light jet, in 1998. He stepped down from the company in 2008 before it entered bankruptcy, and it later re-emerged from bankruptcy as Eclipse Aerospace.
Flight Display Systems has provided a custom 20-inch flip-up monitor to NASA for its Boeing 747SP, which is taking part in the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (Sofia) research program. The display is intended to monitor infrared emissions from space as part of Sofia, which is funded jointly by NASA and the German Aerospace Center. The centerpiece of the research is a 2.5-meter-diameter telescope mounted in the 747SP.
Eclipse Aerospace received FAA approval for the extension of the service life of the Eclipse 500 and 550 to 20,000 hours/20,000 cycles with unlimited calendar life. According to the company, the life extension will provide the typical Eclipse Jet owner with more than 50 years of operation at typical usage rates, as well as improved airframe residual value.
The latest version of the Selex Galileo Mirach jet target drone is ready for production. The company is also working on two new targets that will complement the current designs.
Zodiac Aerospace (Hall 1 Stand A15k) announced at the Farnborough International airshow on Monday that it has signed two contracts with Irkut (Hall 1 Stand E8) to supply equipment for the Russian manufacturer’s in-development MC-21 narrowbody airliner. Under the first deal, Zodiac subsidiary ECE will provide the primary power distribution system. Another new contract, with cabin specialist Zodiac C&D, is for the MC-21’s interior.
Progression in the development of both aircraft and their systems have made it so that in many cases pilots manage the systems more than they handle the airplane. However, old-fashioned piloting skills remain as essential as ever since such systems can be affected by interference from outside sources such as the sun–a vulnerability that might rear its head quite soon.
Zodiac has announced the implementation by September of a global customer service and support network for all its products sold under 12 different brand names–Intertechnique, ECE, Avox, IDD, Aerazur, Air Cruisers, IN-LHC, Precilec, Sicma, In-Flex, Monogram and Icore. The existing offices will be regrouped into Zodiac Services Europe, Zodiac Services Americas and Zodiac Services Asia.
While the term space weather may at first invoke visions of Capt. Kirk and his starship Enterprise encountering ion storms, it is in reality something which affects radio communications, satellite transmissions and signals intelligence. And because HF radio is particularly susceptible, it often forces airlines and any other aircraft operating on polar routes to switch to different tracks, and sometimes make unscheduled fuel stops.
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