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Stratolaunch: The world’s largest plane rolls out.

Stratolaunch

WASHINGTON — Stratolaunch, the company backed by billionaire Paul Allen to develop air-launch systems, rolled out its giant carrier aircraft for the first time May 31 in advance of ground and flight tests.
The aircraft moved out of its hangar at the Mojave Air and Space Port in California for the first time since construction of the giant plane began there several years ago. Two tugs towed the aircraft, resting on its 28-wheel landing gear, just outside the hangar to begin a series of tests.
“This marks the completion of the initial aircraft construction phase and the beginning of the aircraft ground and flight testing phase,” Jean Floyd, chief executive of Stratolaunch Systems, said in a statement about the rollout.


The aircraft’s test program will begin with fueling tests, where each of the plane’s six fuel tanks is independently filled to test their fueling mechanisms and check for leaks. The tanks will then be drained and the plane moved back into the hangar for weight and balance testing, according to a company fact sheet.
Stratolaunch then plans ground and engine tests, including taxi tests at the airport, in the “coming weeks and months,” Floyd said, before the airplane’s first flight. “This is a first-of-its-kind aircraft, so we’re going to be diligent throughout testing and continue to prioritize the safety of our pilots, crew and staff,” he said. “Stratolaunch is on track to perform its first launch demonstration as early as 2019.”
The Stratolaunch aircraft is the largest in the world by wingspan, measuring more than 117 meters from tip to tip. The plane weighs 226,800 kilograms empty, and 50 percent more when fully fueled. It can accommodate payloads weighing nearly 250,000 kilograms, attached to the wing segment between the twin fuselages.
Allen, the co-founder of Microsoft, announced Stratolaunch in late 2011. The aircraft’s size was dictated by initial plans to launch medium-sized payloads using a version of SpaceX’s Falcon 9. The companies parted ways a year later, and Stratolaunch then signed a contract with Orbital Sciences Corp. (now Orbital ATK) to develop a new rocket also for medium-class payloads. That project, known as Thunderbolt, has also been set aside.
Stratolaunch is now focused on the growing demand for small satellites. In October 2016, the company announced a new partnership with Orbital ATK where the Stratolaunch aircraft will be used for launches of Pegasus XL rockets, potentially up to three on a single flight.
Floyd, in the statement, said Stratolaunch was also looking at other vehicles as it makes preparations for accommodating Pegasus rockets at its Mojave hangar. “We’re actively exploring a broad spectrum of launch vehicles that will enable us to provide more flexibility to customers,” he said, without identifying the vehicles under consideration.
The company, funded by Allen, has not disclosed how much money it has spent on the project to date. However, in a May 1 panel session here on ultra low-cost access to space, Floyd was asked if his company was ready to spend “hundreds of millions of dollars” on technologies to reduce launch costs. “Definitely yes, and we already have,” he responded.
Floyd, earlier in that panel, said that Allen’s investment in Stratolaunch was not motivated by any potential financial return. “His vision is to change the human condition,” Floyd said of Allen. “He’s not out to make a buck. He’s not out to get a return on investment.”
“I’m not saying he wants to lose money,” he added. “But Paul Allen has never talked to me about, ‘How much money am I going to make if I pull this off?”

Space news 

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Aviation

B737 MAX 8 Cabin System Malfunctions: Passengers Experience Nosebleeds and Ear Pain

B737 MAX 8 Cabin System Malfunctions: Passengers Experience Nosebleeds and Ear Pain

A Boeing 737 MAX 8 jet operated by Korean Air, bound for Taichung, Taiwan, encountered a distressing incident when its cabin pressurization system malfunctioned shortly after takeoff.

Reports from passengers described a sudden onset of problems, prompting the aircraft to promptly return to Incheon International Airport in Seoul, South Korea. As the malfunction unfolded, the aircraft was compelled to rapidly descend from its cruising altitude of over 30,000 feet to approximately 9,000 feet.

2 passengers suffered nosebleeds; 15 reported ear pain

This sudden change in altitude caused discomfort among passengers, with at least two individuals suffering from nosebleeds and 15 others experiencing ear pain and hyperventilation. Emergency protocols were swiftly activated, including the deployment of oxygen masks as the aircraft descended.

Passengers recounted harrowing moments during the incident, describing how the aircraft unexpectedly lowered altitude during meal service, leading to cries from children and widespread discomfort among travelers. Many reported sensations of ear pain, dizziness, and the disorienting effects of sudden cabin pressure changes.

Despite the chaotic situation, the cabin crew was commended for their prompt response, assisting passengers with oxygen masks and swiftly securing the cabin for landing. The pilots successfully landed the aircraft back at Incheon International Airport, ensuring the safety of all on board by 7:38 p.m. local time.

No serious injuries reported despite the alarming incident

Following the incident, Korean Air took immediate steps to mitigate disruption, arranging for a different aircraft to complete the flight to Taichung the following morning. The airline issued an apology to affected passengers and initiated an investigation into the root cause of the malfunction.

Videos shared by Taiwanese passengers captured the tense atmosphere inside the cabin during the incident, highlighting the urgency and gravity of the situation faced by those on board.

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Aviation

How Emirates pilots reduce fuel and emissions during operations

How Emirates pilots reduce fuel and emissions during operations

Flying smarter and minimizing fuel consumption and emissions starts in the cockpit. Emirates embarked on implementing “Green Operating Procedures” (‘Green Ops’) in 2016, adopting a multi-pronged approach to reduce on-ground and in-flight fuel use.

This initiative also provides pilots with necessary education, awareness, data analytics, and technology to manage flights efficiently.

Led by an internal cross-functional Operations Efficiency Steering Group, Emirates aims to mitigate unnecessary fuel burn and emissions while maintaining high safety standards.

In the financial year 2023-2024, ‘Green Ops’ and other initiatives helped reduce fuel burn by over 48,000 tonnes and carbon emissions by more than 151,000 tonnes. Key operational measures include:

Discretionary Extra Fuel

  • Pilots assess operational circumstances to uplift extra fuel beyond the minimum regulatory standards only when necessary, resulting in a significant reduction of discretionary extra fuel uplift.

Flight Speed Optimization

  • Pilots optimize flight speed to reduce fuel consumption while maintaining schedule integrity, as part of Emirates’ standard operating procedures.

Reduced Flap Landing

  • Pilots select flap settings that minimize aerodynamic drag, reducing fuel consumption without compromising safety.

Idle Reverse Thrust

  • Upon landing, pilots use idle reverse thrust to decelerate the aircraft, depending on runway conditions, to reduce fuel consumption.

Reduced Engine Taxi-In (RETI)

  • After landing, pilots shut down one or two engines during ground taxiing, increasing the use of RETI sevenfold since its introduction.

Optimized Flight Routings

  • Emirates uses flexible flight routes, optimizing each route for fuel efficiency and time savings since 2003.

Technology and Innovation – FlightPulse

  • Emirates introduced FlightPulse, a self-service data analytics tool developed with GE Digital Aviation Services, enhancing monitoring and collaboration for improved safety and fuel efficiency.

Center of Gravity Optimization

  • Aircraft are loaded to optimize the center of gravity, enhancing aerodynamic efficiency and saving fuel.

APU Usage

  • On the ground, Emirates reduces APU usage in favor of electrical ground power units (GPU), reducing emissions by over 30%.

Adjusted Potable Water Uplift

  • Flights upload the required amount of potable water calculated scientifically, reducing weight and ensuring fuel efficiency without compromising passenger comfort.

Through these comprehensive measures, Emirates pilots play a crucial role in reducing fuel consumption and emissions, contributing to more sustainable airline operations.

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Aviation

Air India Alters Elderly Couple’s US Flights Without Notice

Air India Alters Elderly Couple's US Flights Without Notice

An elderly couple’s travel plans were unexpectedly disrupted when Air India allegedly changed their tickets and destinations without prior notification, as reported by a user recounting the ordeal.

According to Dushyant Arora, the couple discovered the changes only when they attempted to check in for their flight to Newark, New Jersey, scheduled for June 19.

They were shocked to find that Air India had booked them on separate flights. The husband was re-routed to New York instead of Newark, departing on a different day than originally planned, while the wife’s itinerary remained unchanged.

The couple, unfamiliar with the changes and concerned about flying separately, decided to cancel their tickets. This decision was particularly difficult for the mother, as it would have been her first time flying abroad, and she expressed reluctance to travel alone.

The couple was not contacted by anyone from the airline to inform them of the changes. The tickets had to be cancelled by the couple. In response to the X user, Air India stated that the customer’s request for a complete refund has been fulfilled.

“Dear Sir, we apologise that this happened and assure you that we never plan to interfere with our clients’ travel arrangements. “We have conducted a complete refund in accordance with the primary customer’s request, who was booked in the PNR,” stated Air India.

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