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China Secures Production Certificate for Mass Production of Pilotless eVTOL Aircraft

China Secures Production Certificate for Mass Production of Pilotless eVTOL Aircraft
EHang

The first passenger-carrying pilotless electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft in the world, the EH216-S, has received the Production Certificate for its eVTOL aircraft from the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC).

This is a significant milestone for EHang Holdings Limited, the leading UAM technology platform company in the world. This outstanding accomplishment is another big step towards mass manufacturing for the eVTOL aircraft and the ensuing commercial operations, building on the ground-breaking acquisition of the Type Certificate and the Standard Airworthiness Certificate for the EH216-S.

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The PC is a crucial certificate that the aircraft maker receives from the CAAC, the country’s aviation authority. By obtaining this certificate, EHang has demonstrated that it has set up a quality management system for mass production that satisfies the airworthiness regulation standards set forth by the CAAC, and the company has been given permission to continue producing mass quantities.

It is also a strong guarantee of the calibre of the goods made by EHang. Raw materials, supplier management, manufacturing organisation, production quality control, aircraft pre-delivery test, after-sales repair and maintenance, etc. are all included in the mass production quality management system for the EH216-S.

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To ensure that every aircraft and its components that roll off the production line strictly adhere to the approved type design and safety requirements, the system sets clear guidelines and documentation for every step in the production procedure. This ensures comprehensive traceability and safety control.

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Aerospace

Take First Glimpse of USAF B-21 Raider, Latest Nuclear Stealth Bomber

Take First Glimpse of USAF B-21 Raider, Latest Nuclear Stealth Bomber
Image:USAF

The United States Air Force (USAF) has unveiled the first photographs of the Northrop Grumman B-21 Raider bomber in flight.

These images were captured during test flights conducted by the B-21 Combined Test Force at Edwards Air Force Base, marking a significant milestone in the development of this sixth-generation aircraft.

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Currently undergoing flight tests in California, the B-21 Raider represents the next generation of stealth bombers. With an estimated cost of around $700 million per aircraft, the B-21 Raider is poised to become a crucial component of the USAF’s arsenal for conventional Long Range Strike missions.

According to Air Force briefings, the B-21 Raider will form part of a comprehensive family of systems, encompassing Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance capabilities, electronic warfare, communication systems, and more. Notably, the bomber will be nuclear-capable and adaptable for both manned and unmanned operations.

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It boasts the flexibility to deploy a wide array of stand-off and direct-attack munitions, ensuring versatility in various combat scenarios. One of the B-21’s distinguishing features is its extensive integration of digital technology, as highlighted in discussions held during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing.

Designed with an open systems architecture, the B-21 Raider is built to swiftly incorporate emerging technologies, ensuring its effectiveness against evolving threats over time. The B-21 Raider is slated to replace the aging B-1 Lancer and B-2 Spirit bombers, bolstering US national security objectives and providing reassurance to allies and partners worldwide.

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Aurora Flight Sciences Unveils Innovative X-Plane Design

Aurora Flight Sciences Unveils Innovative X-Plane Design

Aurora Flight Sciences, a Boeing company, has recently completed the conceptual design review for a groundbreaking high-speed, vertical lift X-plane.

This aircraft, part of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) program called Speed and Runway Independent Technologies (SPRINT), aims to demonstrate key technologies and integrated concepts that combine high speed with runway independence.

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Aurora’s design features a low-drag, fan-in-wing demonstrator integrated into a blended wing body platform. This innovative approach merges the agility of vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) with exceptional speed capabilities.

The team is focused on ensuring the program’s success by setting the stage for successful flight demonstrations, showcasing a transformative capability for air mobility and Special Operations Forces (SOF) missions.

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New renderings of the fan-in-wing (FIW) demonstrator show three lift fans, a more refined composite exterior, and an uncrewed cockpit. The decision to use three lift fans simplifies the demonstrator, streamlining its path to flight testing. This FIW technology can be scaled to incorporate four or more lift fans to meet future aircraft requirements, potentially leading to a new family of systems.

Additionally, while the current demonstrator is uncrewed to facilitate testing and reduce risk, the FIW technology is fully adaptable to crewed aircraft. Aurora’s concept is designed to meet or exceed DARPA’s challenging program objectives. The blended wing body platform is capable of a 450-knot cruise speed, and the embedded lift fans with integrated covers enable a smooth transition from vertical to horizontal flight.

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The design also utilizes existing engine solutions, reducing development risks and timelines. Besides VTOL, the aircraft can perform short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL), super short take-off and landing (SSTOL), and conventional take-off and landing.

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China Developing Comac C939 Wide Body Aircraft to Compete with A350 and B777

China Developing Comac C939 Wide Body Aircraft to Compete with A350 and B777


China’s Comac aircraft company is currently underway with the development of its own wide-body aircraft, the C939, positioned to compete with industry stalwarts like the Boeing 787 and Airbus A350 in the future. This strategic move by Comac involves crafting the next iteration with enhanced capacity and extended range capabilities, marking a significant leap forward in technological advancement compared to the current C919 aircraft.

Air China has inked a substantial deal worth a staggering $10.8 billion, based on list prices, to acquire 100 Comac C919 jets, signaling a strong vote of confidence in the domestic challenger to aerospace giants Airbus and Boeing.

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China Comac C919 Total Order

With both China Southern and Air China combining orders for nearly 200 aircraft, the prospects for the new C919 aircraft appear increasingly promising for future fleet growth. To date, Comac has garnered orders for nearly 1,100 aircraft.

China is contemplating the development of another wide-body aircraft, the C939, poised to significantly bolster the aerospace industry in China.

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COMAC has initiated work on the C939, a new wide-body airliner. While design concepts have been formulated, it will still take several years before a prototype materializes, according to reports from the South China Morning Post, citing anonymous sources.

Initially intended to be a joint venture with Russia, plans were halted due to Russia’s decision to safeguard its copyrights and technological advancements within its borders. Consequently, collaboration between China and Russia on aircraft development was discontinued. Sources suggest that China is vigorously pursuing new avenues for the independent development of its own wide-body aircraft, crucial for accommodating larger passenger capacities and extended flight ranges.

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Comac C939 competes with Boeing 777 and A350

Information regarding the program remains limited. COMAC has refrained from commenting on the development of the new aircraft type, stating that official announcements will be made in due course. Nevertheless, the C939 could potentially accommodate up to 390 passengers, positioning it to compete with the largest Boeing 777 and Airbus A350 aircraft.

In addition to the prospective C939, COMAC is already advancing with the development of another widebody aircraft, known as the C929. This aircraft is poised to rival the Boeing 787 and Airbus A330, boasting 280 seats and a range approaching 6,500 nautical miles.

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Since obtaining certification in late 2022, the COMAC C919 has been operational, accumulating nearly 1,000 firm orders, predominantly from Chinese-owned airlines and leasing companies.

With multiple widebody aircraft in the pipeline, COMAC stands to achieve parity with the two leading international aircraft manufacturers. Boeing, with its 777 and 787 models, and Airbus, with the A330neo and A350, both have a comparable range of offerings. However, Boeing’s aircraft are encountering delays and production challenges despite substantial orders, while the A350 is performing commendably, though the A330neo’s order intake has not met initial projections.

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How much does C919 cost?

China is under pressure to fulfill the current orders for the C919 aircraft, prompting plans to expand production facilities across various regions within the country. The aim is to ramp up production capacity for C919 planes to 150 aircraft annually over the next five years. The latest reports indicate that the C919 is priced around $99 million, comparable to the price of Boeing 737 Max and Airbus A320 aircraft, with expectations for further price reductions in the future.

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While the C919 has yet to be certified in major aviation markets outside of China, only four have been delivered thus far. In the long term, COMAC’s widebody aircraft will vie for global competitiveness. One potential benefit of COMAC aircraft could be in reducing China’s reliance on Western aircraft manufacturers. However, this shift won’t happen immediately; the current delivery rate of four aircraft in nearly 18 months is not sustainable, and both Airbus and Boeing have established manufacturing facilities in China to cater to its sizable market.

Nevertheless, assuming COMAC addresses the issues impeding deliveries, there’s a plausible scenario where the manufacturer assumes a significant role, particularly as China’s aviation market continues to expand.

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As the C939 progresses through its development stages, more details are expected to emerge. Comparisons between official specifications of the C929 and C939 will be noteworthy, as will the initial orders for each aircraft type. However, it’s anticipated that neither will undergo test flights or enter into service for several years.

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