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FLIGHT TRIM ISSUE HITS QANTAS A380 DELIVERIES

Delivery of Qantas's fifth and sixth Airbus A380 have been delayed to December owing to a flight trim problem with the fifth aircraft. "Qantas has robust contractual provisions in place with all aircraft manufacturers, including Airbus, that govern tolerances around aircraft specifications, including flight trim," says the airline.


USAF BOMB DECISION AWAITED

A Boeing/Lockheed Martin team is awaitingthe US Air Force's final decision on a contract award for the small diameter bomb-II contract after finishing a 42-month risk-reduction phase. The last major event came on 29 September when Boeing's guided test vehicle, equipped with Lockheed's tri-mode seeker, identified its intended target and hit it. The weapon received in-flight updates about the target using a Harris datalink, and the weapon fuze detonated upon impact. The Boeing/Lockheed team is competing against Raytheon for a contract to continue into full-scale development.


SOUTH KOREA AND INDIA SEEK ISS MEMBERSHIP

South Korea and India are set to start talks on their membership of the International Space Station programme in 2010. The heads of the South Korean and Indian space agencies told the International Astronautical Congress in Daejeon, South Korea that they want to join the ISS. Indian Space Research Organisation chairman G Madhavan Nair said his country could help with crew transport as ISRO is planning a manned space programme with a first flight around 2015. Korea Aerospace Research Institute president Joo-jin Lee gave Flightglobal details of an ISS talks timetable starting early next year, but he said: "We need to close issues with our own programme. We are talking about participation [in ISS]. In principle we agree for joint work for extended [use of] ISS."


SIDEWAYS SEATING COULD BE TESTED BY YEAR-END

Consultancy Design Q is moving quickly to develop a new high-density sideways seating configuration for short-haul travel, and could begin testing the solution in December. Dubbed Maxcabin, the concept was first reported in August by Flight International, and entails a row of inward facing seats on each side of the aircraft plus two back-to-back rows down the middle resulting in a configuration whereby passengers are facing each other.


GALACTIC'S LAUNCHER MAY ORBIT BESPOKE VEHICLE

Virgin Galactic's proposed LauncherOne rocket may orbit a new mini satellite designed specifically for the launch vehicle to increase the payload's useful mass for power, propulsion or instruments. A decision about a specific satellite could come following internal studies or Virgin Galactic's expected mid-2010 request for industry proposals. A previous Virgin Galactic study concluded an all-composite two-stage rocket, air launched by the WhiteKnight Two carrier aircraft, could orbit a 200kg (440lb) satellite. Whatever the decision, Virgin Galactic's target launch price is $2 million.


WINGLET PIONEER WHITCOMB DIES

Richard Whitcomb of winglet fame has died aged 89. Described as the most significant aerodynamic contributor of the second half of the 20th century, the NASA Langley engineer's major accomplishments include area rule fuselage and supercritical wing designs. His development of winglets in the 1970s came after an article on birds led him to refine an existing concept.