AMERICAN EAGLE FACES PENALTIES
The US Transportation Security Administration may levy civil penalties against American Eagle Airlines after one of its inspectors was able to gain access to the interior of seven out of nine Embraer ERJ-145s at Chicago O'Hare International airport on 19 August. American Eagle says it is concerned about the "unorthodox inspection techniques" used at roughly 05:30 on 19 August. An airline employee noticed a man hoisting himself up to the jet bridge close to an ERJ-145 using the pitot tube on the side of the aircraft near the closed and locked cockpit door for leverage. The TSA agent admitted to using the same procedure on a total of nine aircraft, all of which the airline then pulled out of service. Subsequent inspections revealed no damage.
AEROVIRONMENT LANDS 'PERCH AND STARE' DEAL
AeroVironment is to upgrade its Wasp micro air vehicle to perform "hover/perch and stare" missions under a $4.6 million contract with the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. The 0.5kg (1lb) Wasp design will be modified for the agency's stealthy, persistent, perch and stare programme, which seeks an MAV capable of "flying to difficult targets, landing on and securing to a perch position". Key challenges include integrating multifunctional materials that blend airframe structure with the power supply and antennas, and developing a perch-and-grip system and "microminiature" pan/tilt/zoom electro-optical cameras.
SPACEDEV WINS $15 MILLION MULTI-YEAR SPACESHIPTWO ROCKET CONTRACT
Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo prime contractor Scaled Composites has awarded California based-Spacedev a $15 million contract that runs through to 2012 for SpaceShipTwo (SS2) rocket motor development that will occur mostly over the next two years. SpaceDev's engineering services for Scaled's hybrid rocket design include manufacturing and integrating motor system components and conducting ground tests. It will also assist Scaled with SS2 flight tests.
HAWKER BEECHCRAFT TO NEGOTIATE WITH MACHINISTS
Hawker Beechcraft has agreed to enter a fresh round of negotiations with the union representing 4,300 machinists who have been on strike since 4 August, bringing production to a virtual standstill. "At the request of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Services, Hawker Beechcraft and the Machinists Union have agreed to meet to explore options concerning the strike and negotiations," says the manufacturer. The company has proposed a 4% wage increase in each of the next three years, which it says is the "best package offered in the past 20 years". Bob Wood, who speaks for union members at the main Wichita plant and a smaller facility in Salina, Kansas, says: "The healthcare is very substandard and it's very expensive for our members."
SNECMA POWER FOR INDIA'S TEJAS
India's Gas Turbine Research Establishment has identified Snecma for the joint development of a new engine for the Tejas light combat aircraft. The French manufacturer is expected to provide the core for the new "ECO" engine, which will replace General Electric's F404-IN20. GTRE sources say 85% of manufacturing activities will be performed in India, with Hindustan Aeronautics to assemble the new powerplant. Meanwhile, the GTRE's troubled Kaveri engine developed for the Tejas could be power a future unmanned combat air vehicle, they say.
ALLIANT TECHSYSTEM'S ATK LAUNCH VEHICLE FAILS
Alliant Techsystems' Launch Vehicle (ALV) suborbital rocket carrying two NASA hypersonic experiments was destroyed 27s into its X-1 flight from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. Launched at 05:10 local time, the ALV is a two-stage all solid fuel motor design. The cause of the failure is unknown and a joint NASA, ATK investigation is under way.
Source: Flight International