"Welcome to the birthplace of MIRCE Science: a system of MIRCE
formulas that predicts the functionability performance of machines."
                                                            Dr Jezdimir Kneezevic, Founder and President, 1999


MIRCE Science Events

 To become a member of the MIRCE Akademy and gain access to the full information regarding the functionability events recorded below  please click here

Category: General

20 September 2018: Rolls-Royce Unveils Details Of Trent 1000 Fixes And Testing

Rolls-Royce is completing development of a suite of modifications designed to resolve the reliability issues that are having an impact on a large portion of the Trent 1000-powered Boeing 787 fleet, following the discovery of fatigue cracks. The modifications are centered on the three-shaft engine’s intermediate pressure (IP) spool, where initial service problems first emerged in 2016. The initial elements of the fix, a revised base material and coating to counter IP turbine corrosion, already are being rolled into the engine fleet, while certification of redesigned IP compressor rotors is in the final stages. The modifications are being introduced by wholesale refurbishment of IP modules in a bid to fast-track the return of engines to airlines that have faced major disruptions over the Trent issues and solve the problem that have cost the company £554 million. The baseline problem was caused by “hot corrosion,” in which the thermal barrier coating on the IP turbine blades was stripped away prematurely, exposing the underlying material to low-cycle fatigue. Analysis of the phenomena indicated it was tied primarily to operations in and around airports in the Asia-Pacific region with high atmospheric sulfur concentrations. To help manage the issue while the permanent fix was developed, Rolls also developed a corrosion fatigue-lifing (CFL) model designed to predict the exposure of specific engines to the threat based on the presence of corrosive agents, the way the engine is being operated, city pairs flown and the time operated within a set of specific temperature bands. The fatigue issue emerged following the discovery in a high-time engine of failures of four blades on the first IP compressor rotor and a single blade on the second rotor. Analysis indicated a frequency difference of around 100 Hz between the IP and low-pressure spools, which set up a vibrational response, or eigenmode, in the first two compressor rotors. An eigenmode is a natural vibration of a system in which various parts all move together at the same frequency. This causes wear and tear over time that can lead to microcracks in the root of the blades and eventually to proper cracks if not managed. After 1,000 cycles or so it can lead to a failure, which would result in an in-flight shutdown. So  RR have redesigned the blades at the front of the compressor so they don’t have the eigenmodes in this specific regime. The change, which involves moving the mass of the blade away from the centre out toward the edges, transitions the torsional vibration frequency out of the eigenmode zone without affecting aerodynamic efficiency. Testing, which involved back-to-back operability evaluation of an engine with and without the new blade, showed there was no damaging vibration in the running range.

19 September 2018: ExoMars highlights radiation risk for Mars astronauts

According to data from the ESA-Roscosmos ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter astronauts on a mission to Mars would be exposed to at least 60% of the total radiation dose limit recommended for their career during the journey itself to and from the Red Planet.  On Earth, a strong magnetic field and thick atmosphere protects us from the unceasing bombardment of galactic cosmic rays, fragments of atoms from outside our Solar System that travel at close to the speed of light and are highly penetrating for biological material.  In space this has the potential to cause serious damage to humans, including radiation sickness, an increased lifetime risk for cancer, central nervous system effects, and degenerative diseases.  Thus, one of the basic factors in planning and designing a long-duration crewed mission to Mars is consideration of the radiation risk. Radiation doses accumulated by astronauts in interplanetary space would be several hundred times larger than the doses accumulated by humans over the same time period on Earth, and several times larger than the doses of astronauts and cosmonauts working on the International Space Station. Radiation is not the only hazard facing Mars missions. A global dust storm that engulfed the planet earlier this year resulted in severely reduced light levels at the surface, sending NASA’s Opportunity rover into hibernation. The solar-powered rover has been silent for more than three months.

14 September 2018: SpaceX Signs Passenger for Flight Around the Moon

An unmanned passenger has been signed by  SpaceX has for a flight around the Moon aboard its Big Falcon Rocket (BFR), heavy-lift space transportation system capable of ferrying people and cargo to and from Mars. BFR is a reusable, two-stage, multipurpose superheavy-lift launcher expected to not only take on the satellite and NASA cargo delivery missions that keep SpaceX financially viable, but also fly crews and payloads to the Moon and Mars. The system also could be used for suborbital, point-to-point travel between destinations on Earth. BFR is designed to minimise the number of systems that need to be developed, operated and sustained. The upper stage, for example, also serves as a Mars lander, a Mars ascent vehicle and an Earth re-entry and landing vehicle. Direct trip to Mars with large amounts of payload is possible by either having a “giga” big booster or or by doing in-space refuelling. SpaceX have chosen in-space refuelling. Also they have chosen propellants that can be sourced in situ at Mars to return to Earth rather than carrying all that propellant there. 

12 September 2018: British Airways To Lease Air Belgium A340s while 787 Trent Engines Are Inspected

Air British Airways (BA) fleet of Boeing’s 787 is undergoing precautionary inspections in light of durability problems in the compressor of the Trent 1000 Package C engines. These have required additional inspections, which has forced airlines to ground 787s using this model of engine while the checks take place.  This situation has forced BA to contract leased-in help to maintain its schedules. BA plans to use an Air Belgium Airbus A340-300 on its daily London Heathrow-Abu Dhabi service from Sept. 15 to Oct. 4. BA has already used the Belgian start-up for a small number of flights from London to Cairo earlier this month. Also BA has got in touch with customers who are affected to offer them a range of options if they don't wish to continue with their booking. In recent months, BA has leased aircraft from fellow oneworld carrier Qatar Airways to help fill its shortfall in aircraft.  However, given the 15-month diplomatic stand-off between Qatar and the UAE (as well as Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Egypt), Qatari aircraft would not have been able to operate the service to Abu Dhabi, which is the federal capital of the UAE.

11 September 2018:  Diversion of Iberia A350 Flight

Iberia-operated Airbus A350-900 flight from New York to Madrid diverted to Boston due to in-flight engine shutdown. Although Rolls cautioned it is too early to know exactly what caused the event, first for any Trent XWB in service on the A350, the engine maker is believed to be looking closely at engine control or quality issues among possible causes. The A350-900 was at 41,000 ft., 70 nm southeast of Halifax, Nova Scotia, when the crew reported they were shutting down the left engine. The aircraft returned for a landing at Boston about 90 min. later. The aircraft is one of the youngest A350-900s in service, having been delivered at the end of July. As a precautionary measure, the engine has been removed for additional examinations. The Trent XWB engine fleet has enjoyed the smoothest entry-into-service of any widebody engine. Rolls, which delivered the 500th XWB to the A350 assembly line in Toulouse earlier this summer, noted the rapidly growing engine fleet has accumulated 2.2 million flight hours, and the fleet-leading XWB-84 engine has operated around 3,500 flight cycles.

7 September 2018: A320neo Engine Vibration Issue Hits Lufthansa Operations

Higher-than-usual geared turbofan engine vibrations are noticed after fewer than 1,000 flight hours in some cases. It is severely affecting utilization of the Pratt & Whitney PW1100G-powered Airbus A320neo in-service fleet and threatens to slow the air framer’s recovery from delivery delays. Pilots are receiving engine vibration alerts in the climb phase at higher power settings in particular, and the vibrations subside in the later phases of flights. They become more intense over time and ultimately require an engine change. The airline's A320neos have accumulated a combined 254 days of ground time since it took delivery of its first aircraft, 13 times worse than for its A320ceos, one source said. Engine issues were behind 78% of the additional ground time, the source noted. Lufthansa has made 14 unscheduled engine changes on the Neos due to a variety of reasons including the vibrations. The airline has only received half of the A320neos it was promised by now. And those only fly 50% of the block hours that would be typical for an A320ceo. The vibrations require extra maintenance and lead to accelerated engine wear and tear.  At Lufthansa, all in-service Neos are affected because the airline is moving engines around after maintenance checks to keep at least part of the fleet in the air. Although no details have emerged about the suspected source of the issue, engine vibration-monitoring sensors are typically mounted over bearings. In addition, accelerometers are traditionally located around potential high-vibration areas including the fan casing, compressor stages and combustion chambers. This new challenge for affected airlines will put more pressure on Pratt's production and spares resources. The PW1100G program has been plagued with various durability and operational issues since it entered service.

5 September 2018: Engine Failure on Delta Air Lines 757-200

Uncontained engine failure on a Delta Airlines Boeing 757-200 tool place on flight 1418 that had departed Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport bound for Orlando with 121 passengers and six crew aboard. According to flight tracking site FlightAware, the 757 flew to about 18,200 feet before leveling off and descending. The flight duration was 28 minutes. The pilots shut down the engine and safely returned to the airport. There were no injuries.The accident aircraft was manufactured in 1991 and powered by two Pratt & Whitney PW2037 turbofan engines, according to the FAA aircraft registry.

1 September 2018: NASA’s Rides to Space Station with Russian will end in April 2019

NASA pays about $81 million per seat on the Soyuz to fly astronauts to and from the station. NASA signed an agreement in early 2017 to acquire additional Soyuz seats into 2019. NASA has relied on Russia since retirement of the space shuttle in 2011 ended U.S.-controlled access to the space station. A Soyuz flight planned for April 2019 will complete the fulfilment of our obligations under a contract with NASA related to the delivery of U.S. astronauts to the ISS and their return from the station, according to the Energia Rocket and Space Corp. In September 2014, NASA awarded Boeing and Elon Musk’s Space Exploration Technologies Corp. a combined $6.8 billion to revive the U.S.’s ability to fly to the station. SpaceX plans to fly Demo-2, its first test flight with a crew, in April 2019, while Boeing’s Crew Test Flight is now slated for mid-2019, according to a new schedule that NASA released Aug. 2. Both dates are later than the companies had been targeting. The first Boeing and SpaceX test flights without a crew could occur later this year, according to NASA’s most recent flight schedule.

31 August 2018: Boeing 777 Production-line Wiring Inspections after In-flight Diversion

Chafing and arcing of incorrectly installed wire bundles caused in-flight diversion of a Boeing 777, in October 2017, during a flight from Abu Dhabi to Sydney. As the aircraft neared Adelaide, the flight crew "noticed a burning smell coming from an air vent." The issue soon triggered on-board warnings of a forward cargo fire. The crew performed its "non-normal" checklist, discharged forward-cargo fire bottles, and declared an emergency. The aircraft, carrying 349 passengers and 16 crew members, arrived "uneventfully" at Adelaide Airport about 50 minutes after the incident began. The aircraft involved was delivered in November 2013 and had 21,493 hours and 2,284 cycles at the time of the incident. A post-incident inspection found soot damage on the forward cargo compartment ceiling. A more detailed investigation traced the soot's source to heat damage and a chafed electrical wire in a bundle running between the cargo compartment ceiling and the cabin floor above. Boeing determined the entire wiring loom that contained the chafed wire, which that powered a re-circulation fan, was "incorrectly routed, likely during aircraft manufacture, and had not been installed as per the design drawings." Four years in service caused the miss-routed wire bundle to chafe on a nearby screw. This sent current "through the passenger floor carbon-fibber beam" at body station 508. The current generated enough heat to damage 14 ceiling brackets, and cause "several areas" of the beam to chafe and delaminate. Boeing late last year added a production-line inspection and issued recommendations to operators following an Etihad Airways Boeing 777-300 in-flight diversion caused by chafing and arcing of incorrectly installed wire bundles--the fifth incident linked to the faulty production process.

29 August 2018: Leak Discovered at International Space Station

The leak, which was detected Wednesday night by flight controllers as the Expedition 56 crew slept, resulted in a small loss of cabin pressure. Flight controllers determined there was no immediate danger to the crew overnight. Upon waking at their normal hour, the crew’s first task was to work with flight controllers at Mission Control in Houston and at the Russian Mission Control Center outside Moscow to locate the source of the leak. The leak has been isolated to a hole about two millimetres in diameter in the orbital compartment, or upper section, of the Soyuz MS-09 spacecraft attached to the Rassvet module of the Russian segment. This is a section of the Soyuz that does not return to Earth. The rate of the leak was slowed this morning through the temporary application of Kapton tape at the leak site. Flight controllers are working with the crew to develop a more comprehensive long-term repair. Once the patching is complete, additional leak checks will be performed. All station systems are stable, and the crew is in no danger as the work to develop a long-term repair continues.

31 July 2018: Lufthansa Technik Develops Waterless Engine Wash Product

Lufthansa Technik (LHT) has developed a new engine wash procedure that will allow waterless washing of aircraft engines in any type of weather.  Cyclean Dry Ice, which uses a mobile blasting system to shoot tiny dry ice pellets into an aircraft engine to dislodge dirt, can wash engines even in below-freezing weather. It is mounted on a height-adjustable scissor lift platform with wheels that can be driven in any desired direction. The system is able to quickly and thoroughly clean all engine types, regardless of size or height, without the need to fasten equipment to the engine. The dry ice pellets are a standard industry solution normally available near freight handling areas. They do not leave any residue since they transition completely to a gaseous state, so there is no need to perform a run-up after an engine has been washed. The new process will reduce the engine cleaning process to 30 minutes compared to conventional engine washes, which will result in quicker turnaround times at the gate.  Even further, the new system also provides environmental benefits, such as water savings and reduced emissions, since the carbon dioxide (CO2) used by the system is a by-product of the oil refinery and fertilizer industries, so no additional CO2 needs to be generated. Research and development on Cyclean Dry Ice began in 2014, followed by the testing of prototype and ending with several patent applications, so that is could be developed into a commercial product.  It is expected that Cyclean Dry Ice will go on the market in 2019 and be offered to customers on either a long-term lease basis or as a full service performed by LHT at specific service stations worldwide.

4 July 2018: The Toxic Side of the Moon

The dust that clung to the space suits of Apollo astronauts returned from the surface of the Moon,  caused their throats sore and their eyes water. The “lunar hay fever”, as NASA astronaut Harrison Schmitt described it during the Apollo 17 mission created symptoms in all 12 people who have stepped on the Moon. The Moon missions left an unanswered question of lunar exploration, which is: Can lunar dust jeopardise human health when they go to the Moon? As the answer is not known yet, an ambitious European Space Agency (ESA) is conducting a research programme that is addressing the issues related to moon dust. It is know that Lunar dust has silicate in it, a material common of planetary bodies with volcanic activity. On the Moon, the dust is so abrasive that it ate away layers of spacesuit boots and destroyed the vacuum seal of the Apollo sample containers. The low gravity of the Moon (one sixth of what we have on Earth) allows tiny particles to stay suspended for longer and so penetrate more deeply into the lung. Particles 50 times smaller than a human hair can hang around for months inside human lungs. The longer the particle stays, the greater the chance for toxic effects. Recent research shows that lunar soil simulants can destroy lung and brain cells in astronauts under long-term exposure. While on Earth, fine particles tend to smoothen over years of erosion by wind and water, lunar dust however is not round but sharp and spiky. As the Moon has no atmosphere and is constantly bombarded by radiation coming from the Sun, the radiation causes the lunar soil to become electrostatically charged. This charge can be so strong that the dust levitates above the lunar surface, making it even more likely to get inside equipment and people’s lungs. However, the lunar soil does have a bright side. It is possible to heat it to produce building bricks that can offer shelter for shield astronauts. Oxygen can be extracted from the soil to sustain human missions on the Moon, Source; ESA 4th July 2018.

30 June 2018: Second Failure of Japanese Rocket Start-up

After the failure of the first flight on July 30, 2017, (communication was lost and the engine shut down 66 sec. after liftoff, when the vehicle was at about 20 km altitude) Japanese start-up Interstellar Technologies suffered second the failure of its Momo suborbital sounding rocket, which blew up immediately after liftoff on its second flight at Taiki-cho on Hokkaido. The liquid-fuelled Momo-2 lost thrust 8 sec. after liftoff, reaching a maximum altitude of about 20 m before falling back to Earth about 5 m from the launch pad. The rocket burned for about 2 hr. after the impact, until the fire eventually extinguished itself. The flame was seen squirting from the top of the engine, immediately after liftoff. The crash set the booster and ground equipment on fire, and some parts were scattered beyond the concrete launch pad, but no one was injured, it says. Video of the launch shows a small flame emerging from the top of the engine barely 2 sec. after the vehicle leaves its support stand. The Momo-2 is out of sight when the rocket is heard losing thrust. Then the vehicle falls vertically back to Earth, motor still burning, and explodes in a fireball on impact. This is Japan’s first privately developed launch vehicle, with a length of 9.6 m and takeoff weight of 1,000 kg. Momo is fueled with pressure-fed ethanol and liquid oxygen. The single-stage rocket is designed to carry a 20-kg payload to 120 km and provide 260 sec. of microgravity flight.

28 June 2018: Fatigue Crack Led To BA Boeing 777 Engine Fire (2015)

The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) concluded that the fatigue crack in a turbine disk web and subsequent uncontained engine failure led to the Sept. 8, 2015 engine fire on a British Airways (BA) Boeing 777-236ER on takeoff from Las Vegas. The captain aborted the takeoff seconds after hearing a “bang” during the takeoff roll at Las Vegas McCarran International Airport. The flight’s destination was London Gatwick Airport; 157 passengers and 13 crewmembers on board evacuated via emergency slides. NTSB said it found a fatigue crack in the high-pressure compressor stage 8 disk web of the aircraft’s left GE AviationGE90-85BG11 engine. The web in a turbine engine rotor disk extends radially from the disk hub to its rim. The engine failure led to the detachment of the main fuel supply line and subsequent fire.

27 June 2018: Japan's Hayabusa2 spacecraft arrived at asteroid Asteroid 162173 Ryugu

After a 42-month journey, the spacecraft arrived at asteroid 162173 Ryugu, 300 million km from Earth. This remarkable achievement was confirmed when the spacecraft closed to just 20 km from the 1 km-diameter asteroid's surface, having entered a critical phase of this ambitious mission. Hayabusa2 aims to study Ryugu in detail, deposit a European and a series of Japanese landers on the surface and return a sample of ancient rock to Earth in 2020.  ESA's deep-space ground station at Malargüe, Argentina provided crucial communication support to the mission during, Hayabua2's cruise phase from Earth toward the asteroid.

27 June 2018: Sterilising an Antenna for Mars

By international planetary protection agreement, space agencies are legally required to prevent terrestrial microbes hitchhiking to other planets and moons in our Solar System where past or present alien life is a possibility. As a part of the preparation of the mission to Mars, a ground penetrating radar antenna for ESA’s ExoMars 2020 rover has been pre-cleaned in an ultra-cleanroom environment in preparation for its sterilisation process, in an effort to prevent terrestrial microbes coming along for the ride to the neighbouring planet.  It was done at the clean-room in the Agency’s Life, Physical Sciences and Life Support Laboratory based in its Netherlands technical centre, ’ cleanroom is one of the cleanest places in Europe. It is equipped with a dry heat steriliser used to reduce the microbial ‘bioburden’ on equipment destined for alien worlds. After pre-cleaning and then the taking of sample swabs, the antenna was placed into our dry heat steriliser, to target the required 99.9% bioburden reduction to meet ExoMars 2020’s cleanliness requirements.  To check the effectiveness of this process, the swabs are subjected to a comparable heat shock and then cultivated for 72 hours, to analyse the number of spores and bacteria able to survive. The viable bioburden is then calculated for the surface area of the WISDOM antenna. If this level is below the mission’s maximum then it is cleared for delivery. The chamber’s cleanliness is such that it contains less than 10 particles smaller than a thousandth of a millimetre per cubic metre. A comparable sample of the outside air could well contain millions. Copyright: ESA–A. Dowson, Source; http://m.esa.int/spaceinimages/Images/2018/06/Sterilising_an_antenna_for_Mars

28 May 2018: Serge Dassault Dies Aged 93

Serge Dassault, chairman and CEO of the parent company of iconic French business aircraft and fighter jet manufacturer Dassault Aviation, died after suffering heart failure at his office in Paris.
The son of company founder Marcel Dassault, was for decades a leading figure in French aviation. Though he had long ago turned over leadership of Dassault Aviation he continued to lead parent company Groupe Dassault, which also owns CATIA software powerhouse Dassault Systemes. He joined the company’s design department in 1951 as a freshly trained engineer from the French schools Ecole Polytechnique and Sup’Aero. He then worked on development of the Mystere IV N fighter and, in 1954, was named chief of flight tests. At the time, the company was solely focused on military aviation. Serge spent nearly 35 years at Dassault Aviation before finally taking the helm in 1986 following his father’s death. During his career, Serge Dassault was president of the GIFAS French aerospace industries association, president of the CIDEF French defense industries association, president of the AECMA European aerospace industries association, and longtime commissioner general of the Paris Air Show. He was also co-founder of the European Foundation for Quality Management and formed an organization to promote nationwide innovative profit-sharing rules applicable to companies’ total workforce. He was awarded the Aviation Week Laureate for aeronautics/propulsion in 1999. 

21 May 2018: Boeing Showed No Initiative To Fix F/A-18 Hypoxia Concluded NASA

Despite more than 450 physiological episodes (PE) on Boeing’s F/A-18 strike fighter fleet, the aerospace giant has over the years depended “almost entirely” on the Navy to identify and correct the problem, according to the NASA report dated September 2017. It suggests is that Boeing, the manufacturer of the F/A-18 with a long history of PE episodes, has shown a very limited effort on its own initiative to describe a problem with their product to their customer, and no initiative to actually correct the problem. During the comprehensive NASA investigation, Boeing and the Navy’s F/A-18 and EA-18G program office jointly provided NASA a list of 49 initiatives the team undertook to address the PEs dating back to 2000.  However, most of the items were done by the Navy for reasons other than solving this particular problem, like as revising manuals, improving aircrew emergency procedures and redesigning or improving some components for non-PE reasons, according to the report. Boeing’s F/A-18 and EA-18G program office stated that they have been proactive partners with the Navy for the duration of the program specially with their role in improving the Onboard Oxygen Generation System (OBOGS) sieve material and maintenance practices for that system a few years back.  Boeing is executing on a variety of contracts with the Navy as part of the PE effort, in addition to using internal funds to “jump-start and/or self-fund PE activities.

18 May 2018: In Cuba Over 100 Died in B737 Crash Shortly After Takeoff

1979 built Boeing 737 airliner veered back towards the airport less than a minute after takeoff from Havana’s Jose Martí international airport and became ensnared in electricity cables before crashing down. Out of 104 passengers and 6 crew members only 3 survived with life changing injuries. The plane was on a domestic flight, heading for the city of eastern city of Holguín, and most of the passengers were Cuban, according to local media. The 737 was operated by the state-run airline Cubana de Aviación but had been leased from a small Mexican charter company called Damojh Aerolíneas, which also operates as Global Air Mexico. Cubana has placed many of its planes out of service because of maintenance problems in recent months.

16 May 2018: SpaceX Eyeing 300 Missions for Next Five Years

According to the CEO of SpaceX, Elon Musk, SpaceX aims to execute 300 missions over the next five years. It is ready to set up about 30 to 40 rockets in pretty quick succession, while the Big Falcon Rocket come into the place to replace the current  version of the Falcon 9. The main aim of Big Falcon Rocket is to take anyone into space, moon, mars and the even outer planet. The Block 5 booster is designed in such a way that a way that it will be capable of 10 or even more flights with a minimum maintenance and it is capable of making 100 or more such flight with some minor refurbishments or renovations. SpaceX has the intention to reuse its rockets with a high level of efficiency and high level of reliability. The latest version of the Falcon 9 is supposed to bring the NASA astronauts to the International Space Station in the coming days. To ensure the safety of such astronauts a lot of amendments’ in the design have been made for the rocket. Such changes will help the engineers to refurbish its first stages so that more light can take off cost-effectively. The helium tanks of the missile have been rectified which got ruptured in the pre-launch test in the year of September 2016 leading to an explosion.

15 May 2018: New Method for Carbon Fibber Health Monitoring

Composites are used in many transport vehicles today. To evaluate the quality and durability of a material, the value of the internal tensile stresses of the structure — during both manufacturing and in use must be identified. In some composites, the value of internal tensile stresses after manufacturing can reach up to 95 percent of the ultimate tensile strength, which means, a slight increase in pressure will result in failure. Predicting and preventing component failures before they occur is a key theme of modern aircraft and engine maintenance, but many parts of an aircraft remain isolated from health monitoring systems. Carbon fibber, for instance, increasingly is being used on modern airframes, but there is often no way to detect cracks before they occur using non-contact methods such as acoustic and ultrasonic inspections. Those methods can spot flaws, but they don’t provide any information about stresses that build up in parts from operational loads such as vibration, temperature and impact. Currently stresses can be assessed using adhesive film sensors, as examined by research conducted by the FAA more than a decade ago. In those tests, resonance sensors were glued to composite panels to assess damage progression after a flaw was introduced. Scientists at Center of Composite Materials of the National University of Science and Technology in Moscow, have recently come up with a new non-contact method for stress monitoring in polymer composites, which provides a way to not only identify but to predict the emergence of defects. This method proposes using soft magnetic circuits only 10-60 microns in diameter to measure stresses in carbon fibber, which would have the micro-wires laid in a grid between plies. The tensile stresses in the composite material surrounding the microwares affect the way the wire material reacts to an external magnetic field. This means stress levels can be measured without direct contact, without a sensitive element: it requires no physical contact because it was embedded in the material at the required depth during manufacturing. Unlike other popular stress testing methods that require placing sensors on both sides of a part to be monitored, the new method requires a single sensor. Hence, the process of stress monitoring of composite materials becomes much easier, faster and more efficient, allowing it to not only detect, but also predict the emergence of defects without direct contact.

12 May 2018: Lesson From Cold Weather Operations

On the first trip through Anchorage, the pilot learned the value of proper equipment when operating in extreme temperature conditions. He arrived in the middle of the night, in the middle of a snowstorm, and basically just drained the water, closed the plane up and went to the hotel. At 10 a.m., two days later, it was time to leave and the plane looked like a white Popsicle under about 3 in. of snow. Usually the temperatures in Anchorage are relatively mild compared to other locations in Alaska. That day the temperature was  -9F. After de-icing the GII and going through all the pre-flight checks he made the cabin ready for departure. All was set and when the passengers showed, he loaded, closed, started and taxied in a crystal clear, but frigid, day. After takeoff and at an altitude of about 100 ft., when he  went to trim, the switch failed to move the trim at all. Reaching for the manual wheel revealed that it was indeed completely frozen. He circled the field to get the landing weight down and kept the speed at that which was comfortable for the takeoff trim that was set. Landing was uneventful. Back at the ramp, he offloaded the passengers and a huge Herman Nelson heat generator was brought over, started, and the exhaust hose placed upward in the rear compartment. It actually took about half an hour for the trim to break free. It was a relatively easy fix, as the correct equipment was available. In other locations when warmth is needed in frigid conditions, the only solution is to put the plane in a hangar and wait . . . for a long time, really long time ! Source: Article in the June 2018 issue of Business & Commercial Aviation with the title “Frozen.” It is a part of the “Cold, Dark and Lonely” feature.

5 May 2018: Airbus 319 Safely Landed After Windscreen Burst

A Sichuan Airlines A319-100, en route from Chongqing to Lhasa, in China, experienced a windscreen burst in the cockpit May 14 and diverted to Chengdu, where it landed safely. The crew noticed that a crack had appeared in the inner right windscreen At this time, the electronic centralized aircraft monitor (ECAM) issued an ice warning for the right windscreen. The crew immediately requested permission to descend and return. The windscreen blowout began with a crack appearing while the aircraft was flying at 9,800 m (32,000 ft.) at Mach 0.74–0.75. When the window burst, the pilot in the right seat, near the broken window, was slightly injured. A cabin attendant was slightly hurt during the descent, according to the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC). The aircraft was flying from Chongqing in south-western China to Lhasa in the western province Tibet. CAAC has strong qualifications for flight crews operating services to high-altitude locations such as Tibet. The crew, handling the situation according to procedures, immediately descended reduced speed and donned oxygen masks. Radio contact was impossible, because of noise, so the crew adjusted the transponder to 7700 [the emergency code]. At the same time, oxygen masks deployed in the cabin and cabin attendants made announcements and handled the situation. After a check for an overweight landing, the aircraft landed safely. The aircraft entered service on July 26, 2011 and up to May 14, 2018 had flown 19,912.25 hr. and 12,920 cycles, Sichuan Airlines said. As to maintenance, its most recent A check was done on April 4 and most recent C check on March 9, 2017.

6 May 2018 Inspection on CFM56 Probe Targets Blade Fatigue Cracks and Damage Pattern

National Transportation Safety Board (NSTB) investigators revealed in a May 3 investigative update that the engine failure, on April 17, caused a large piece of fan cowl to strike the fuselage and break a window, was contained. Two pieces of the fractured fan blade, in position No. 13, found between the other 23 blades and the outlet guide vanes. It also matched up a recovered piece of fan cowl and latching mechanism with witness marks on the fuselage beneath the broken window. The NTSB revealed earlier that recovered parts of the blade exhibited cracking. Why the blade cracked, how a contained engine failure could cause the damage exhibited on the Southwest Airlines Boeing 737-700, and how the accident relates to a similar one involving another Southwest 737-700 in August 2016 are likely to be central to the NTSB’s continuing investigation. Both accidents resulted from single fan-blade failures in No. 1 engines. Part of each blade remained attached to the fan hub, and fatigue cracks were found within each blade’s root. Debris caused significant wing and fuselage damage, and each cabin lost pressure. In the 2016 accident, the aircraft suffered a 5 X 16-in. hole in the fuselage above the wing, though the passenger cabin was not penetrated. One passenger aboard the April accident flight was killed, and the broken window is believed to have been a key factor. The fan blades on the engine that failed in April had accumulated “more than 32,000 cycles,” the NTSB said in its latest update. They were last overhauled in 2012, 10,700 cycles before the accident. The overhaul process included fluorescent penetrant inspections. The blades were lubricated and visually inspected six times between the overhaul and the accident as part of routine maintenance. The NTSB materials group is working to estimate the number of cycles associated with fatigue crack initiation and propagation in the No. 13 fan blade and to evaluate the effectiveness of inspection methods used to detect these cracks.

2 May 2018: Boeing 737-700 Safely Landed After Window Cracks In-flight

Southwest Flight 957 was en route from Chicago Midway International Airport to Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey with 76 passengers aboard when
a window cracked in-flight. The pilots of a Boeing 737-700 diverted to Cleveland Hopkins International Airport and landed safely, less than an hour into the flight.
Due to multiple layers of panes in each window the aircraft maintained pressurization, and no emergency landing was requested. The carrier removed the aircraft from service for “maintenance review”.

27 April 2018: No Fleet-Wide Issues Found as CFM56 Inspections Progressing

After the completion of about 60% of mandatory inspections done, nothing pointing to a pressing CFM56-7B fleet-safety issue linked to fan-blade failure has turned up, the engine manufacturer reports. GE and Safran are joint-venture partners in CFM56 manufacturer CFM International stated that technicians are overall very pleased with how the fan blades have been maintained by the airlines. Blades are being removed during the checks—in some cases simply to replace older parts that will soon need refurbishment. If an ultrasonic check detects a concern, the blade is removed and put through a second non-destructive test. Any blade still exhibiting possible cracks will be torn apart and analysed, meaning details on any findings could take months. The inspection orders, issued by FAA and the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) April 20, give operators until May 10 to perform ultrasonic inspections on fan blades on engines with more than 30,000 total cycles. The affected population is about 600 engines. The next stage of checks, on engines with at least 20,000 cycles, covers about 2,500 engines and must be done before September. CFM also recommends initial inspections for all other CFM56-7Bs when they reach 20,000 cycles.

23 April 2018: Emergency Airworthiness Directive for CFM56-7B Inspections

The emergency Airworthiness Directive  (Ads) from he European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and the FAA  comes three days after a CFM56-7B-powered Southwest Airlines 737-700 carrying 144 passengers and five crew made an emergency landing at Philadelphia International Airport after experiencing an apparent left-engine explosion. It follows a service bulletin (SB) engine manufacturer CFM International also issued April 20, recommending that fleet operators perform ultrasonic fan-blade inspections “within the next 20 days” on high-time CFM56-7B turbofans. The SB recommends inspections at different thresholds for all blades, with the highest-time blades—those with 30,000 or more cycles—needing inspections immediately. CFM also recommends repetitive inspections. The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) initially found one of the 24 titanium fan blades in the engine in the April 17 Southwest incident had separated from the fan hub, where there was evidence of fatigue cracking. CFM, the GE Aviation/Safran Aircraft Engines joint venture, said there are roughly 14,000 CFM56-7B engines in service. The fan-blade inspections recommended within 20 days would be for engines with more than 30,000 cycles since delivered new—each cycle consisting of an engine start, takeoff and landing, and full shut down. That affects about 681 engines worldwide, of which 150 have already been inspected, CFM said. Some 352 engines would be affected in the U.S

19 April 2018: Delta Airlines Reduction in Cancelled Flights

In 2017 Delta Air Lines cancelled 78 flights because of maintenance issues, which is a notable improvement over 2016’s figure of 123. Comparable figures several years ago were measured in thousands (in 2010 there were over 5000 cancellations). While the airline credits a combination of factors for the steady improvement, data-driven maintenance prognostics is playing a major role. Delta’s story may be the most compelling in a growing collection of case studies through which data scientists are working with mechanics and engineers and turning them into useful information that indicates imminent failures on the most troublesome parts on its fleets. Not just the ones that fail most often, but the parts that fail with costly consequences—no-go items, for instance. It then began pulling parts when those signatures were present, triggering alerts. Since the parts have not failed, there may not be a fault code or anything else detectable by anyone but the analytics team. The parts are tested, and often show no problems. But Delta tears them down anyway and records what it finds. Often, it is damage to something within the component—such as a seal—that, left unchecked would trigger a failure. When Delta started out, it had 40% confidence in its prognostic process, meaning pulling a part was the wrong move six out of 10 times. Now, the figure is 95%. While Delta cannot say with certainty how much of a role prognostic plays in its dwindling maintenance cancellations, the carrier knows it is significant. In the 12-month period through March 31, early intervention (pulling parts before they failed) prevented more than 1,200 delays cancelations or operational interruptions.

17th April 2018: Rolls-Royce Powered Boeing 787 Operators Brace for Disruption

Significantly reduced extended-range, twin-engine operations (ETOPS) performance limits, plus a new set of mandatory inspections for operators of Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 Package C-powered Boeing 787s, are set to cause further disruption to a fleet already under strain from earlier problems and replacements.In addition, pressures on Rolls-Royce’s test and overhaul capacity caused by tackling the wider woes of the earlier generation Trent 1000 family have already indirectly triggered delays to deliveries of new aircraft powered by the newer Trent 1000 TEN variant.The latest problems, which follow long-running issues with inspections and replacement of corrosion-prone turbine blades in the Trent 1000 C series, are focused on the occurrence of cracks in the intermediate pressure (IP) compressor blades. This time, however, new analysis by Rolls-Royce indicates cracking can occur much earlier than previously thought, forcing regulators to slash ETOPS clearance for aircraft with engines with as little as 300 flight cycles to 140 minutes. This compares to the previous limit of 330 minutes and dramatically reduces the aircraft’s operational flexibility.In addition, because of the extra strain imposed on Rolls-Royce’s engine test capacity, the knock-on effect of the inspections and resulting re-work is also beginning to delay deliveries to Boeing of new Trent 1000 TEN engines—even though these are unaffected by any of the reliability issues. Several new 787s for operators, such as British Airways, Ethiopian Airlines, Royal Brunei and LOT have recently been rolled out onto Boeing’s delivery ramp at Everett without their Rolls-Royce engines. The Trent 1000 TEN variant is now the standard engine for all new-build 787s but, having a new compressor derived from the Trent XWB design, is not impacted by the same issues plaguing the Package C version. Apart from fatigue issues with the Package C’s turbine blades, which Rolls-Royce has been battling since 2016, the engine maker has been tackling a long-running problem of cracking in the IPC seal, stage 1 and 2 rotor blades and the dovetail posts that secure the blades to the rotor assembly on the IPC shaft. Further analysis of the problems initially led to the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) issuing an airworthiness directive (AD) calling for inspections of all engines over 2,000 cycles with a repeat inspection every 200 cycles thereafter.Ssubsequently EASA determined “that repetitive borescope inspections are necessary on all engines to ensure fleet-wide continued safe operation.” The updated action calls for fleet inspection for all C package engines with between 300-2,000 cycles, greatly extending the affected population to around 380 engines on almost 200 aircraft. These therefore included a larger group of mostly younger engines that Rolls-Royce had not previously intended to inspect until they accumulated 2,000 cycles. To correct the problem, Rolls-Royce is pursuing two main tracks: development of a more robust blade design and changes to the digital engine control software that will avoid the operating conditions under which the resonance occurs. However, the new blade is not expected to become available until early next year, meaning the near-term priority is expected to focus on development of the revised software as an interim means of mitigating the issue.

17 April 2018:  Boeing 737-700 Engine Exploded on Southwest 1380 Flight

Boeing 737-700, with 149 people on board, which was bound to Dallas from New York, made an emergency landing in Philadelphia, as the engine on the plane’s left side threw off shrapnel when it blew apart, shattering a window and causing rapid cabin depressurization killing 43 year old passenger and nearly sucking another out of a shattered window.  Preliminary investigation by NTSB found an engine fan blade missing, having apparently broken off, and that there was metal fatigue at the point where it normally attached. The engine’s cowling was found in Bernville, Pennsylvania, about 70 miles from the Philadelphia airport.  According to Southwest the plane had been inspected as recently as Sunday.  In 2017 the Federal Aviation Administration issued a proposed airworthiness directive on the engine after an uncontained engine failure on a Southwest flight in August 2016. Southwest Airlines said it was accelerating its existing engine inspection program and conducting ultrasonic inspections of fan blades of the CFM56 engines on all of its the 737 jets.

10 April 2018: Airbus Develop Drone for Inspecting Aircraft in Hangars

Airbus has developed the drone-based inspection system for inspecting aircraft inside a hangar. The drone system is designed to cut the time required for typical aircraft inspections, often performed visually, from one day to three hours. The drone system includes: an integral camera, obstacle detection sensor, flight planning software and Airbus’ inspection analysis software, It is ideally suited for inspecting the top of fuselages, which typically require a platform to access this hard-to-reach area. It is expected to be available to the industry in the fourth quarter of this year, pending European Aviation Safety Agency’s approval of the process. Airbus developed the drone with its Testia subsidiary that specializes in non-destructive testing.

9 April 2018: Potencial Link between Long Term Heart Health and Galactic Cosmic Radiation

Concerns over a potential link between long-term heart health and exposure to galactic cosmic radiation are established a two year ago when NASA-supported study revealed a mortality rate from cardiovascular problems among Apollo astronauts who ventured to the Moon that is much greater than colleagues who have never flown beyond the radiation shielding afforded by the Earth’s magnetic field, including those who have never launched at all. On Feb. 20, NASA’s Human Heath and Space Biology programs selected nine of 47 research proposals for studies focused on the astronaut health response to the deep space environment, with a special focus on cosmic radiation and the cardiovascular system. The three- to four-year effort was funded by NASA at $17.7 million overall and is lead by Michael Delp, a Florida State University researcher who also led the Apollo assessment, the results of which were published in Scientific Reports, a publication of the journal Nature. Although the Apollo sample size was small, 24, the past findings raised a flag that even relatively small radiation exposures could lead to what was characterised as long-term cardiovascular harm, especially to the heart and brain. The nine three-man Apollo missions that travelled to the lunar environs spanned from six to 12 days. The latest study will use lab rats who will be subjected in a series of experiments to simulate the radiation levels that astronauts can expect to encounter in deep space and well beyond the magnetic field that shields International Space Station crews.

25 March 2018: Plastic Sandwich Bag Caused Retirement of Williams F1 Car in Melbourne

Brake failures in F1 are rare, especially early in a race, but Sergey Sirotkin’s F1 debut in Australia was just five laps old when he ran out of brakes and rolled to a stop up the escape road at Turn 13.  Understandably the Williams Teen was keen to find out what had happened. The result was “a plastic sandwich bag that went into the rear-right brake duct. That caused massive overheating, which caused massive temperature spikes destroying the brakes and total loss of the brake pedal.  After the “forensics analysis” the residue of what looks like a melted plastic bag was found that completely blocked the brake duct on the right rear with all the temperatures going through the roof, eventually catching fire, and then the actual catastrophic failure. All the sensors were lost, progressively as they got burned and eventually the seal has probably gone on the calliper because there's a fluid leak and the pedal went to the floor.

12 March 2018: At least 49 Dead in Nepal after Plane Crashes on Landing

The 78-seat airplane, belonging to  the US-Bangla Airlines, caught fire after crash-landing around 2:20 p.m. Monday, near Kathmandu’s international airport and breaking into large pieces. The twin-propeller Bombardier Dash 8 aircraft was carrying 67 passengers and four crew members. A police spokesman, Manoj Neupane, said that 49 people died and that 22 injured were being treated at three hospitals. The aircraft had taken off from Dhaka with: 32 Bangladeshi nationals, 33 Nepalis, 1 Chinese national and 1 Maldivian citizen were among the 71 people aboard.  Operator said that the nearly two-hour flight from Bangladesh’s capital was uneventful until the plane began to wobble on its descent into Kathmandu, hitting a field near the airport and catching fire. General manager of Tribhuvan International Airport, said at a news conference that there was a “problem” with the landing alignment of the aircraft and that when air traffic control ordered the plane not to land, “there was no response from the pilot.” The plane narrowly missed hitting a parked aircraft and crashed in the airport compound on the eastern side, he said. However, the chief executive of US-Bangla Airlines told reporters in Dhaka, Bangladesh’s capital, that a review of the conversation between the pilot and air traffic control during the plane’s last moments aloft tells a different story.“A three-minute conversation between the pilot and the air traffic control before the landing indicated that they sent wrong signal to the pilot,” CEO Imran Asif said, according to the news website bdnews24.com.

9 March 2018: 10,00th Boeing 737 Produced

The Boeing Corporation today rolled out its 10,000th aircraft of the Boeing 737, short- to medium-haul workhorse type. The rollout is the huge e accomplishment for  its engineering and design teams that have shaped the 737 across more than 10 different versions, over the span of some 50 years. Over the decades, Boeing has revisited, revamped and re-energized the 737 program, introducing better fuel economics, state-of-the-art cockpit avionics and a (mostly) improved passenger experience. The 10,000th plane, 737 MAX 8, is destined for Southwest, a fitting customer for this achievement. Southwest, founded in 1967 (the same year the original 737-100 flew its first flight), operates the largest fleet of 737s of any carrier in the world. In fact, the airline has never purchased any other aircraft besides this trusty narrow-body. Southwest was even the launch customer of the 737NG — Boeing’s 1993 revamp of the 737 program, when it introduced the 737-600/700/800/900 types, complete with glass cockpits and modernized onboard equipment (like digital screens instead of analog indicators). Since taking delivery of its first 737 MAX last year, Southwest has more than a dozen in its fleet and plans to use the type on its highly anticipated routes to Hawaii.

6 March 2018: Second ex Singapore Airlines A380 Stored

Second Airbus A380, 9V-SKB, owned by Singapore Airlines, has been received by Tarmac Aerosave, a company specializing in aircraft storage, maintenance and dismantling, at its Tarbes, France facility for storage. The aircraft bears serial number MSN005. It entered service early in 2008 with Singapore Airlines, which has just returned it to its owner, German-based lessor Dr. Peters, on February 9.  It is being stored “in flight-ready condition,” while waiting for a new operator. Storage in flight-ready condition enables a return to service in two or three days but the aircraft will receive a new livery and a new cabin interior before it flies with a different airline.

18 February 2018: First Commercial Astronaut Training Program

Starfighters corporation  is attempting to create the first commercial astronaut training program for space tourists who hope to catch a ride to space in the future. For now, it offers a high performance training program that teaches pilots how to fly F-104 fighter jets. The company hopes to one day be part of a more comprehensive astronaut training program, and to play a central role in creating federal regulations for commercial astronaut training programs in the US. Currently SpaceX, Virgin Galactic, and Blue Origin declared ro rake tourists to space, but so far none of these companies has developed a real training program for their future clients beyond some rough outlines. NASA’s astronaut training program, on the other hand, takes years to complete and is limited to a handful of carefully selected astronaut candidates. Starfighters wants to make astronaut training available to any prospective space tourist who can pay. Originally developed by the US Air Force in the 50s and used into the late 1990s, the F-104 was the first aircraft able to sustain Mach 2 flight (twice the speed of sound, or around 1,500 miles per hour). It is also able to pull off the runway straight into a 90-degree turn, and can fly to altitudes of around 100,000 feet—about one-third of the way to space proper—making it ideal to simulate launch conditions on a rocket. For around $20,000 per flight, entrants into Starfighters’ program get a taste of what it will be like to ride on top of a SpaceX or Blue Origin rocket, such as the extreme G-forces and rapid acceleration of a rocket at takeoff, and even microgravity when the plane nose dives.

16 February 2018: Space Radiation on Earth

The constant flow of radiation in space includes cosmic rays, which, despite the name ‘ray’, comprises highly energetic particles arriving from beyond the Solar System. These rays are considered the main health hazard for astronauts conducting future exploration missions to the Moon, Mars and beyond. This phenomenon can also impact the functionability performance of sensitive spacecraft electronics, corrupting data, damaging circuits and degrading microchips. There are many different kinds of cosmic rays, and they can have very different effects on spacecraft and their occupants, depending on the types of particles, the particles’ energies and the duration of the exposure. A new international accelerator, the Facility for Antiproton and Ion Research (FAIR), now under construction near Darmstadt, Germany, at the existing GSI Helmholtz Centre for Heavy Ion Research (GSI), will provide particle beams like the ones that exist in space and make them available to scientists for studies that will be used to increase the functionability of spacecraft by making them more robust and help humans survive the rigours of spaceflight. The researchers will be able to investigate how cells and human DNA are altered or damaged by exposure to cosmic radiation and how well microchips stand up to the extreme conditions in space. Source: The Universe in the Laboratory: ESA and FAIR form partnership for researching cosmic radiation

7 February 2018: MRJ Flight Testing Retires Main Risks

Two redesign efforts were required after the company realized in 2016 that vulnerability to under floor water ingress and to bomb damage could imperil the Mitsubishi Regional Jet’s ( MRJ’s) airworthiness certification. One change was a reshuffling of avionics in and between the forward and aft avionics bays, the design of which was completed in 2017. The other was changing wiring harnesses. For that, the architecture-level design is complete but detail design is not, the company says. Recently completed Flight Tests that include the extremes of weights and centre-of-gravity positions, buffet boundaries and performance in stalls “have shown that no flutter has been encountered when reaching design speeds”, Mitsubishi Aircraft reported. The company plans to add two aircraft to the flight-testing program to verify design changes prompted by a reassessment of certification requirements in late 2016. This will bring the flight-test fleet to the unusual total of seven aircraft, but the two additional units will be good candidates for later sales to customers. Four MRJs are flying, all at Moses Lake, Washington. They have been built to the design of the MRJ90 version, which is intended to seat 88 passengers in an all-economy configuration. Since mid-2017, the flight-test fleet has been used to verify performance with various weight loads and distributions, the points at which buffet is experienced and how the aircraft behaves in a stall. Other tests have evaluated the operation of the direct mode of the fly-by-wire system and specific fuel consumption of the Pratt & Whitney PW1200 engines, which has been as expected. When launched in 2008, the MRJ was due for delivery in late 2013. It has since been repeatedly delayed, usually because of some difficulty in complying with certification requirements.

6 February 2018:  Successful SpaceX Falcon Debut Test Flight

A long-awaited first test flight of a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket started at from Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39, to validate the design of the triple-core first stage, side booster separations and an extended, six-hour coast of the second stage through the Van Allen radiation belts to deposit a simulated payload, Elon Musk’s sports car, into a heliospheric orbit. After 2 min. and 33 sec., the side boosters separated, leaving SpaceX mission control in much more familiar terrain, with a single-stick Falcon that burned for another 31 sec. These side boosters, which had been used on previous Falcon 9 missions, flipped around and headed back to landing pads at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, touching down in unison accompanied by a quartet of sonic booms. Meanwhile, the structurally reinforced center core separated from the upper stage and attempted to touch down on a drone ship floating about 300 mi. off of Florida’s east coast. The booster ran short of propellant however and was unable to restart its engines for a braking burn in the lower atmosphere. Instead, it hit  the ocean at a speed of 300 mph, narrowly missing the drone ship. The impact damaged two of the ship’s thrusters. The mission continued into the night, with the second stage completing a pair of engine burns and then coasting for six hours in a highly radioactive regime before restarting for a third time. The prolonged coast of the second stage was designed to dispatch SpaceX’s red Tesla roadster on a whimsical voyage around the Sun that reaches as far as Mars, company’s long-term goal.

6 February 2018: Boeing 777X Engine Flight Test Facing Delay

After the late discovery of a minor design issue with the new turbofan as well as maintenance-related problems with the CF6 engines powering the company’s 747-400 flying testbed, General Electric Aviation has been forced to delay first flight of the GE9X engine for Boeing’s 777X flagship program. The GE9X issue is related to the lever arms that actuate the rows of variable stator vanes (VSV) that modulate flow through the 11-stage high-pressure compressor (HPC). After analyzing the engine data, obtained during a demonstrator engine test late last year, the team decided that the lever arms for the VSVs need to be changed. Although no further details of the specific problem with the VSV arms have emerged, they are believed to be associated with the discovery of excessive loads on part of the design.  Being an external mechanism of the HPC case, it means GE is faced with developing a mechanical fix rather than far more serious issues concerning flows inside the engine. Also, some  maintenance issues with the CF6-80C2 were discovered during a routine A Check, which all 747-400s undergo every 600 hr. The findings are related to fan-case corrosion and limits on the HP turbine airfoils. The GE9X on the flying testbed is the fourth engine in the test program. The VSV arm issue came to light during runs of the second engine, which was used to demonstrate the performance conditions required to pass the official FAA 150-hr. block test later in 2018. During this intensive test, the engine was run at triple red-line conditions (maximum fan speed, maximum core speed and maximum exhaust gas temperature) to evaluate the engine at its operational limits. The third test engine is meanwhile undergoing crosswind evaluations at GE’s Peebles facility in Ohio. The fifth engine in the series (designated Engine 007), has been mounted in the company’s icing test facility in Winnipeg, Manitoba, where it is waiting for appropriate weather conditions to begin icing tests. Engines 005, 006 and 008 are currently under assembly. The initial flight-test engines for the first 777X will be shipped to Boeing later in 2018

29 January 2018: Putting Everyday Computer Parts to Cpace Radiation Test

There’s an increasing push to use more off-the-shelf parts in orbit because they are theoretically cheaper and more capable than space-designed parts, but there are question marks over their reliability. Hence, the ESA’s next mission, the miniature GomX-4B, includes a piggyback experiment to test how well everyday commercial computer memories perform in the radiation-soaked environment of space. It was built from six standard 10 cm CubeSat units by GomSpace in Denmark. The main goal is to test radio links between satellites and micro-propulsion, but GomX-4B also carryies a small, low cost secondary experiment: a single 10x10cm electronics board with 12 computer flash memories, made up of three examples of four different types, each purchased for a few Euros. Known as Chimera, this experiment will test how such ‘commercial-off-the-shelf’ parts cope with bombardments of high-energy electrically charged atomic particles from the Sun and deep space. A specially space-qualified monitoring chip will record the performance of the dozen memories. Charged particles c