The United States Navy’s twin-engine supersonic, multirole combat jet, the F-18 Hornet, has been experiencing issues with its On-Board Oxygen Generation System (OBOGS), as the Navy has been continuously searching for a fix for five years. The system failure, while rare, could potentially kill the aircraft’s pilot due to in-flight oxygen deprivation, consequently costing a pilot’s life as well as potentially destroying a $30 million to $60 million aircraft.

“I’m concerned about the high rate of hypoxia — which is caused by a lack of oxygen — and other physiological events apparently being experienced by the crew members of F-18 aircraft over the past five years,”

said a senior Democrat on the House Armed Services subcommittee for tactical land and air forces, Rep. Niki Tsongas.

Oxygen deprivation can cause the pilot of the aircraft to feel nauseous or dizzy, which could be very dangerous while flying through the sky at hundreds of miles per hour. While Tsongas noted that the F-18s carry backup bottles of oxygen, the emergency supply requires manual intervention in order to be turned on properly. This can be challenging for a pilot already experiencing oxygen deprivation. Also, this auxiliary oxygen supply only contains about 10 minutes’ worth of oxygen, which is hardly enough to get the aircraft back to an aircraft carrier or base in order to land safely.

From May of 2010 through October of 2015, the United States Navy recorded 297 incidents for every variant of the F-18.

“None of the incidents….have resulted in loss or damage of an aircraft,”

said the Navy papers.

“In all but one instance, the pilot made a full recovery from the episode.”

Not much information has been released regarding that one pilot.

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Gogo Inflight Internet announced this week that they have signed an agreement to collaborate with Shareco Technologies to provide connectivity services on commercial aircraft.

This partnership marks Gogo’s first venture into China, and it is also the biggest deal ever announced in the country in terms of in-flight connectivity. Under the terms of the deal, Gogo will also supply features such as in-flight entertainment options to Shareco to install on the aircraft. The companies’ goal is to install the systems onto fifty aircraft within two years.

“We are extremely excited to partner with Shareco to deliver in-flight connectivity to passengers in China,"

said Gogo's president and CEO, Michael Small.

  "2Ku was built on the premise of being able to deliver an experience similar to what passengers experience on the ground all over the world including the Chinese market. Gogo will help assure that Shareco is at the leading edge of in-flight connectivity technology today and in the future."

Gogo and Shareco will begin seeking the required approval to install their technology immediately. Shareco is one of the bigger Chinese providers of in-flight entertainment and connectivity options, supplying domestic and international commercial airlines.

"Shareco is a high-tech company dedicated to building an ecosystem in the cabin that will create unique in-flight experiences which will benefit both airlines and passengers,"

said Pan Yunbin, CEO of Shareco.

"We have been looking for great partners to find the best that can customize in-flight connectivity and in-flight entertainment solutions, as well as other things the passengers may be interested in. We believe that Gogo, as a pioneer in this field, is one of the best at providing these services."

Gogo is a provider of in-flight wifi to airlines such as American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, United Airlines, and many more.

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Over the next few months, Bombardier will work to focus on incorporating the SmartSky 4G LTE network into all of its US based business jet platforms including Challenger, Global, and Learjet aircraft.  SmartSky utilizes a unique air-to-ground network to provide 4G LTE network capabilities to customers throughout the continental US.  The network was developed as a direct response to an industry-wide lack of high-speed internet, and today it is the premier choice for in-flight connectivity.

SmartSky Networks president Ryan Stone said:

"SmartSky 4G is the only in-flight network capable of offering services in which bi-directional high bandwidth and low latency are essential”.

"That includes two-way streaming video or support of new advanced applications optimized to take advantage of ultrafast connectivity."

Additionally, the system will be used in tandem with Bombardier’s existing internet connectivity network known as WAVE.  Bombardier is hoping that the combined power of SmartSky and WAVE will provide users with an unparalleled in-flight network.  The speed of this new combined system will allow users to stream videos, make phone calls, perform video conferences, and surf the web all while aboard a business jet.

Bombardier Business Aircraft services sales and authorized service facilities vice-president Chris Milligan said:

"This is the airborne network experience our customers have been waiting for”.

Bombardier is already underway testing the capabilities of the WAVE system in their experimental test bed, so it is only a matter of time until they also incorporate the SmartSky system into this same testing session.

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MTU Maintenance, the maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO) division of the German aircraft engine manufacturer, MTU Aero Engines, has steadily been strengthening its position as a world leading provider for maintenance, repair, and overhaul. In 2015, MTU Maintenance signed deals totaling in at a value of 2.1 billion U.S. dollars, creating for a new company record which represents a rough increase of 25 percent from 2014.

“With our team and our capabilities, we are uniquely positioned to meet current and future requirements in the commercial engine MRO market,”

said the Chief Program Offer for MTU Aero Engines, Michael Schreyögg.

“We analyze customer expectations very carefully and offer service solutions geared to their specific needs, to better jointly leverage business potential with them.”

“The engine maintenance landscape is changing, calling for closer proximity to customers and more innovative services than ever. We are adding new engine models to our portfolio, developing innovative component repairs and offering highly competitive leasing and asset management products,”

said Schreyögg.

“When customers call us a partner, that’s a huge compliment – it gives the entire team a strong motivational boost to do their best for the customer.”

Many MTU customers have reaffirmed their trust in MTU’s MRO capabilities by extending or renewing their already existing contracts. Serving as an independent maintenance provider, MTU has signed more than 250 new contracts. Since its enter into business, MTU Maintenance has recorded around 16,000 shop visits, creating for more shop visits than any other MRO services provider in the world.

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Pratt and Whitney Canada, one of the global leaders in aerospace technologies, is introducing their PT6B-37A engine to China, in order to power twenty-five new Agusta Westland QW119Kx Helicopters.

The helicopters, which will be used for emergency medical purposes, are provided by defense company Finmeccanica through a contract with Sino-US. Over the course of the next two years, a total of sixty Agusta helicopters will be delivered under this contract to the medical team. Pratt and Whitney executives were delighted to be selected for this opportunity.

"The selection of the PT6B-37A-powered AW119 helicopters speaks to P&WC's quality, reliability and seamless customer service experience,"

said Vice President, Marketing, P&WC Irene Makris,

"We are thrilled and honored to be a key part of supporting Finmeccanica, Sino-US and the operator Kingwing - in the business of EMS missions, responding to emergencies and saving lives."

This engine type is one of the most popular in the world for turboprop aircraft. This version of it is based off the highly-acclaimed PT6T-3D Twin-Pac engine. It has recently been upgraded to increase its time between overhauls by 50%. There are electronic engine control systems installed on it, which give it the ability to govern the rotor no matter the conditions. This engine uses the same turbo machine

Kingwing General Aviation Co. Ltd, an emergency medical service company, will operate the helicopters. They have created a dedicated project called China Helicopter Air Ambulance, which helps out the Chinese emergency medical service sector.

This family of engines powers the most helicopters of any engine in the same power class. Currently, the engines are used in 115 countries, and there are over 5,000 PT6 turboshaft engines in operation. The combined total flight time of the engines exceeds 400 million flying hours.

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Turbomeca, the French manufacturer of low-power and medium-power gas turbine turboshaft engines for helicopters, remains hopeful that their Ardinden 3 engine will be offered on the Airbus Helicopter H175 super medium. Currently, the H175 helicopter features Pratt & Whitney Canada’s PT6 engines. The Airbus H175 helicopter remains as the only aircraft from Airbus Helicopters which is not equipped with an engine from Turbomeca.

Turbomeca has been working to develop their Ardiden 3C for use on a Chinese-built variant of the H175, the Avicopter Z-15/AC352. Test flights as well as integration work has been progressing ever since late 2015 on an early H175 prototype, now referred to as “Z-15 PT1,” at Airbus Helicopters’ facility in Marignane. The chief executive for Turbomexa, Bruno Even, suggested at a Heli-Expo media briefing that the H175 helicopter is a “natural target” for the Ardiden 3.

 “When we decided to launch Ardiden 3 our clear ambition was to be able to selected by all helicopter programs in the range of 6-7t,” Even said. “I am convinced that the Ardiden 3 could be a perfect target for this platform,”

as he suggested that the AgustaWestland AW139 might be another good possibility as well.

Program officials at Airbus Helicopters have recently suggested that there is no plan for integration of the 3C while at a recent press event at Marignane. Airbus Helicopters is hopeful that they can match the sales performance of the H175 during 2015 which consisted of 36 orders. Airbus is still working to reschedule deliveries for two early customers who were originally scheduled to receive their aircraft last year.

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The Boeing Company is struggling to agree on an idea regarding what kind of midsize jet they should build to compete with the Airbus A321neo.

The two options they have, as they see it, are to create a bigger and better version of the 737 MAX, or to create an entirely new 797 aircraft. Chief Ray Conner of Boeing Commercial Airplanes has expressed his desire to finalize decision sometime this year.

Ideas for a replacement has been described as a “757 on steroids”. Their idea is for it to carry over 200 passengers and a range of nearly 5,200 miles. The process of building an entirely new aircraft would obviously be very complex, so they would have to find a solution that fits the budget.

"These are questions that involve multibillion-dollar decisions, they involve questions about where you build this airplane," said Steven Udvar-Hazy, chief executive of Air Lease Corp. (ALC), and one of the leaders in the aviation industry, "It's not whether Boeing can build a good airplane, but can they build it cost efficiently.”

It is completely up to Boeing whether or not they want to disclose information such as development costs with partners, what sort of materials to build it out of, and where the jet will be built. No word has been given so far regarding their decision on this.

Boeing’s 757 went out of production in 2006, and is now only used sparingly. Previously, it was beloved by airlines due to its power and range compared to other single-aisle jets. If they were to build an upgraded version to compete with the A321neo, it would open up transatlantic flight routes such as Chicago to Manchester and Newark to Barcelona. Some airlines are seeing their 757’s age pretty quickly, so a replacement for them could be needed sooner rather than later.

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The Flight Acquisition Storage and Transmission (FAST™) solution from Pratt & Whitney Canada is now available for the AgustaWestland AW139 helicopter. The FAST™ solution from Pratt & Whitney Canada offers a wireless solution which provides preventative and actionable engine health information in addition to flight data recorder (FDR) data collection as well as transmission to operators. Available through Finmeccanica’s Helicopter Division, the FAST™ solution allows for lessened pilot workload while simultaneously reducing the operating costs as well as downtime of the helicopter due to advanced engine health monitoring accuracy.

“We are thrilled to work with Finmeccanica to deliver the FAST solution on the world-leading AW139 helicopter,” said the Vice President of Customer Programs at Pratt & Whitney Canada, Timothy Swail. “We know operators want easy-to-use tools that automate processes, reduce costs, ease maintenance and help avoid downtime. Today, including FAST, we have more than 800 helicopters using one of our diagnostics, prognostics and health management solutions and we fully expect the number to keep rising.”

Top Manufacturer Pratt & Whitney’s FAST solution is capable of wirelessly capturing, analyzing, and transmitting full flight data; this includes flight data recorder information to maintenance technicians and helicopter operators within minutes of landing. This solution will not require manual intervention in order to off-load data from the helicopter, as is typically the case. The FAST solution captures complete mission data, from engine start to shut down, and has the capacity to analyze more than 80 distinct helicopter and engine parameters related to pressure, temperature, as well as speed.

“These operators know that P&WC’s FAST solution help them deliver increased aircraft availability and reduce operating costs,” Swail added.

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Van Horn Aviation (VHA), the Rotor blade manufacturing company has received the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) supplemental type certificate (STC) for their composite main rotor blades tailored for the JetRanger helicopter Bell 206B. The new VHA 206B rotor blades have triple the amount of service hour life at more than 18,000 hours compared to the current OEM blades which stands for the original equipment manufacturer.

With more than five years of planning, designing, assembling and testing, which includes extensive flight and fatigue testing, the STC was designed with the expressed desire to reduce operator cost and improve upon the durability of the existing composite main rotor blades from the current OEM.

CEO of VHA James Van Horn notes that during their flight testing, the developers felt and saw major improvements with the responsiveness in terms of the composite blades versus the metal blades. The company expects that JetRanger operators will be very pleased with the upgrade in the composite blades which uses carbon fiber and a similar construction method as the company’s other successful 206bL tail rotor blades. The new VHA blades contains stainless steel with nickel abrasion strips covering the whole length of the blade protecting it from the lightning strikes and erosion. And while the composite blades are virtually an upgrade in every facet compared to the old metal blades, they use the same installation configuration allowing a seamless replacement without hub modification.

VHA has stressed tested these composite blades so extensively, putting it through simulated weather damage, extreme operator damage as well as induced manufacturing defects, that they are on the verge of being bullet-proof. This vigorous fatigue testing has earned the VHA the right to certify their 206B main rotor blades with a service life of 18,000 hours at less than $80,000.00 USD per blade all the while requiring an overhaul only once per every 2800 hours of service.

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ViaSat announced yesterday, February 22, 2016 that they have come to an agreement to provide Qantas Airways the highest-quality and fastest in-flight Wi-Fi connectivity on Qantas’ domestic flights. ViaSat speeds will be up to 10 times faster than ground based in-flight internet services. This will allow customer to stream live sports, news, TV shows, and movies.

ViaSats Ku/Ka-band antenna will be streamlined across ViaSat’s global Ku-band network and nbn’s Sky Muster ka-band satellites. This will effectively connect all Qantas passengers while they fly domestically.

This partnership between Qantas and Via Sat “has been an ambition of ours for a long time”, as stated by Qantas CEO Alan Joyce.  Their goal of having quality internet experience on the ground similar to inflight will be finally reached for Australia’s domestic aviation market.

Mark Dankberg, chairman and CEO is adamant that they are

“bringing the best internet service—with the highest capacity, speeds, and take-rates – to Qantas passengers”.

He is especially excited to be working with Qantas who he feels is a premium airline that strives to bring quality services to their customers.

These negotiations are set for trials later in 2016 on Qantas Boeing 737 aircraft. Beginning 2017 they plan for services across the Qantas domestic fleet of A330s and B737s with all carriers fitted with in-cabin Wi-Fi hotspots.

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