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MIRCE Science observed actions

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Category: General


25 July 2021: Russia replaces Pirs docking port with new space station module

For 19 years, 313 days, 9 hours, 50 minutes and 45 seconds Russia's Pirs docking compartment served as one of the primary ports for vehicles arriving and departing from the International Space Station. During that time more than 70 vehicles docked and undocked from Pirs (which means "pier" in Russian). In total, 39 Progress cargo vehicles and 32 Soyuz crewed spacecraft used Pirs to arrive or depart from the space station. It was  also used an airlock, supporting 53 spacewalks by pairs of cosmonauts and astronauts. It was undocked from the space station and was slowly pulled away by the last Progress cargo spacecraft to dock to it. The departure, from the nadir, or Earth-facing side of the Zvezda service module on the station's Russian segment, marked the first major component of the orbiting complex to be decommissioned and discarded. The 5 m long by 2.5 m diameter Pirs, linked to the Progress MS-16 (77P) spacecraft, backed away from the station under the control of the cargo craft's engines. The uncrewed freighter was scheduled to perform a deorbit burn, sending it and Pirs back to Earth to be destroyed on their destructive reentry over the Pacific Ocean about four hours after they left the station. The disposal came five days after Roscosmos, Russia's state space corporation, launched Pirs' replacement: the multipurpose laboratory module (MLM) named "Nauka" (the Russian word for "science"). Delayed by more than 13 years due to a series of technical issues and budget constraints, Nauka will serve as a research facility, docking port and spacewalk airlock. In addition to the soon-to-arrive Nauka, the Russian segment of the station has three other available docking ports: mini-research modules Rassvet ("First Light") and Poisk, as well as the aft port on the Zvezda service module.

21 July 2021: After engine fire UPS B747-8 returns to Hong Kong 

The 1.4 year old, a United Parcel Service (UPS),  Boeing 747-8 freighter, with registration N624UP and performing flight 5X003 from Hong Kong to Dubai (United Arab Emirates), returned to Hong Kong International airport, after an engine fire upon departure. The aircraft was climbing out of runway 07R when the crew received an indication that one of the engines (GEnx) was exceeding its limits; this occurred during the initial climb (400 feet) and then at 1500 feet the engine fire warning sounded. The crew discharged both fire bottles into the engine with the warning persisting. The Captain stopped the climb and returned the aircraft to Hong Kong for a safe overweight (about 426 ton, MTOW 442 ton, MLW 350 ton) landing on runway 07L and coming to a stop about 2500 meters down the runway, about 15 minutes after departure.

20 July 2021: Cabin Pressure Switches to be inspected more frequently on B737

A cabin altitude pressure switch, on transport-category aircraft, detects when the cabin pressure altitude exceeds a specified limit, which is 10,000 ft. in the case of B737, and send signals that trigger aural and visual warnings to pilots. Original design had one switch. In 2012, the FAA mandated the addition of a second switch for redundancy and because their failures are latent, with no warning or indication to pilots or maintenance personnel. Follow-up analysis found that “the failure rate of both switches is much higher than initially estimated,” the FAA said. In June, Boeing alerted operators, recommending the more frequent inspections. No in-service incidents have been linked to dual switch failures. In an immediately adopted airworthiness directive (AD) due out July 20, the agency will order affected operators to inspect both switches on each 737 every 2,000 flight hours (FH). The current interval is every 6,000 FH. The inspection-interval change comes based on Boeing’s recommendation following analysis of in-service switch reliability. Boeing acted based on an operator’s report that both switches failed on three different 737s during functional checks in September 2020.Aviation Week’s Fleet Discovery shows that the FAA directive affects 2,500 U.S.-registered 737s, and the 8,124 aircraft worldwide, including 877 in storage. 

14 July 2021: What Caused the British Airways B787 Gear Collapse Last Month

While on stand at London Heathrow Airport (18.06.2021) a British Airways B787 suffered a nose gear collapse. The sudden collapse resulted in damage to the aircraft’s lower forward fuselage and engine cowlings. The aircraft passenger cabin door was also separated as it struck mobile steps on the way down, causing a cargo loader to be injured. Today the UK’s Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) has issued a special bulletin regarding the accident, giving us additional insight into how this accident happened. The BAs 787-8 registered G-ZBJB was being loaded with cargo in preparation for a flight to Frankfurt. While being prepared for its journey, crews were performing a “Dispatch Deviation Guide” (DDG) procedure, a procedure that permits the operation of an aircraft, under specific conditions, with particular instruments or functions inoperative for a period of time, until rectification can be made. In this case, the AAIB states that the DDG procedure required the cockpit landing gear selection lever to be cycled with hydraulic power applied to the aircraft. It was at this time that human error caused the accident, with the AAIB stating the following: “To prevent the landing gear from retracting, the procedure required pins to be inserted in the nose and main landing gear downlocks. However, the NLG [nose landing gear] downlock pin was installed in the NLG downlock apex pin bore which was adjacent to the correct location to install the downlock pin. When the landing gear selector was cycled the NLG retracted.” In essence, a critical locking pin was inserted into the wrong hole. With the pin absent from the necessary location, the nose landing gear retracted once the landing gear selector was cycled. Interestingly, the AAIB states that in 2018, another Boeing 787 experienced a retraction of the nose landing gear while the aircraft was on the ground. The cause was found to be an incorrect insertion of the NLG downlock pin. As a result, Boeing published a service bulletin instructing operators to “install an insert into the NLG lock link apex pin inner bore.” Doing so would prevent the NLG downlock pin from being inserted into the apex pin bore instead of the adjacent NLG downlock pinhole. This procedure was mandated by an FAA Airworthiness Directive (AD) published on January 16th, 2020. However, it looks like authorities considered this to be less than urgent, providing a compliance time of 36 months (three years) from the publication date. In the case of G-ZBJB, an insert had not been installed.

13 July 2021: Hail damages Emirates Boeing 777 on departure from Milan

The B777-300ER was initiated Emirates flight EK205 from Milan Malpensa to New York JFK. Minutes after takeoff, the flight encountered severe hailstorm that caused substantial damage to the aircraft. The pilots quickly turned around for an emergency landing. However, the aircraft was in a holding pattern for nearly 90 minutes before landing in Milan once again, as a fully loaded 777 with fuel and passengers is not possible. Only once enough fuel had been burned did the aircraft land once again. The flight maintained a relatively low altitude during the hold, flying at 11,000ft and later at around 5,000ft. The aircraft landed safely, and no passengers or crew were injured. Flying into severe hail meant the plane took some substantial damage. Two pilot windscreens were shattered by the hail, while several parts of the fuselage saw their paint chipped off. The nose of the 777 also suffered damage, including a crack on the leading edge. Overall, the plane will require essential repairs before returning to the skies in the near future. 

11 July 2021: Wreckage Of Boeing 737-200 found in the Pacific Ocean

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) in the United States found the wreckage of the Boeing 737-200, which ditched in the water shortly after take-off from Honolulu, on July 2nd.  It was located on the seafloor in the Pacific Ocean by using sonar to survey the debris field. There was some floating debris that investigators were able to recover. However, the major components of the aircraft, such as the fuselage and engines, remain in the water. Rhoades Aviation, doing business as Transair, flight 810 took off from Honolulu’s Daniel K. Inouye International Airport (HNL) shortly after 01:30 local time. About ten minutes after take-off, the crew started to face engine issues and decided to turn back to Honolulu. Less than 30 minutes after take-off, the aircraft was ditched in the ocean. Both of the pilots onboard the aircraft survived. As a cargo flight, they were the only two people onboard the flight bound of Maui’s Kahului Airport (OGG). Both pilots had to go to hospitals, but they will be a key part of the investigation by being able to provide some first hand information on what happened in the cockpit. The aircraft involved in the incident was north of 45 years old. The engines were manufactured by Pratt & Whitney.

7 July 2021 Tropical Storm Elsa delays SpaceX Dragon cargo ship's return to Earth

Dragon CSR-22 arrived at the International Space Station on 5th June 5with 3,311 kilograms of water and food supplies and science experiments on board. Its return flight to Earth with a cargo of about 2,300 kg of material from the space station, was originally targeted for the 6th July splashdown in the Atlantic Ocean off Florida's coast, according to the NASA statement. However, the surge of the tropical Storm Elsa in Florida would make recovery after splashdown unsafe, so the Dragon will stay at the space station a bit longer. NASA said the ground teams continue monitoring the situation to ensure wave height and wind speeds are within safe limits during the retrieval operation.  

1 July 2021 Ethiopian Airlines 787 Exorcised By Voodoo Priest On Togo Layover

Ethiopian Airlines flight ET508 from Addis Ababa to Lomé-Tokoin International Airport in Togo on June 20th was on its final approach when it was struck by lightning.  The Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner was given an exorcism by Voodoo priests who were called in to “conduct a purification ceremony” to exorcise the plane from any evil spirits. The purification ceremony consisted of “splashing the plane with water and pouring liquor as an offering to appease the anger of Hiébiésso, the divinity of thunder.” Colonel Latta Gnama, director-general of the National Civil Aviation Agency (ANAC) attended the ceremony and said “The agency did everything it could to help the Voodoo priests to make their job easier and that authorities and airport management could not refuse the request.” Togbé Assiobo Nyagblondjor III, president of Togo’s traditional priest’s confederation, said, “When lightning strikes somewhere, it is our duty, for the safety of people, to identify and purify the place where it struck.” According to him, “The purpose of the praying was to appease the god Hiébiésso, because lightning indicates that he is angry. We pour liquor, as an offering, and we sprinkle the place with water, invoking the spirits. If the plane hadn’t been purified, everyone who used it could even be paralysed! Now that this is done, the plane, the passengers and the company will no longer have any problems!” Engineers also carried out the necessary repairs as the jet incurred slight damage after the lightning strike. Authorities in Togo also took more conventional measures to protect planes from lightning strikes, adding lightning rods around the airport. Lightning can still cause serious damage at airports.

28 June 2021: Backup computer of Hubble Space Telescope experiencing the same error  

The Hubble Space Telescope, which launched in 1990, halted operations on June 13, due to a problem with one of the telescope's computers. While the spacecraft has stopped collecting science data, its other hardware and science instruments remain in good health, according to a statement from NASA. After a failed attempt to restart the computer on June 14, the space agency made multiple attempts to switch over to one of the telescope's backup memory modules on June 16 and June 17. However, both those attempts to bring the backup memory module online were not successful. On June 22, the space agency shifted its focus to test the spacecraft's Standard Interface (STINT) hardware and the computer's Central Processing Module (CPM). Now, its backup computer appears to have the same issue, too. Hubble is equipped with two payload computers, both of which are located on the Science Instrument and Command and Data Handling (SI C&DH) unit. The computers were installed in 2009, but were built in the 1980s. One of the computers serves as a backup; that unit was turned on for the first time in space during tests performed on June 23 and 24. This latest attempt to revive the telescope revealed that both the primary and backup computers are experiencing the same error, which suggests the issue lies somewhere else, NASA said. Both computers are comprised of various pieces of hardware, which perform functions such as processing and storing operational commands, co-ordinating and controlling the telescope's science instruments, and supporting communications between different components of the spacecraft. As a result, engineers are now investigating other hardware that may be causing the issue. This includes the Command Unit/Science Data Formatter (CU/SDF), another module on the SI C&DH that is responsible for formatting and transmitting data and the power regulator, which provides a constant voltage supply to the computer's hardware. NASA is continuing tests to further isolate the problem and identify a potential solution. If needed, the telescope can switch over to using its backup CU/SDF module or backup power regulator, according to the statement. 

28 June 2021 SpaceX Rocket Explodes During Cargo Launch to Space Station

An unmanned SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon cargo spacecraft broke up shortly after lift-off. The craft disappeared behind a cloud of smoke and left behind bits of falling debris. This is the third failure of a resupply flight to the International Space Station in the past eight months. Dragon was carrying more than 4,000 lbs. (1,814 kilograms) of food, supplies and scientific experiments. The scientific gear included high-resolution cameras designed to observe and study meteors as they plow into Earth's atmosphere, as well as equipment that would have helped researchers better understand which microbes are present inside the space station, and how these organisms change and adapt over time.   According to SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk, "There was an overpressure event in the upper stage liquid oxygen tank. Data suggests counterintuitive cause. That's all we can say with confidence right now. Will have more to say following a thorough fault tree analysis." 

25 June 2021: Passenger Jumped out of  taxiing United Express plane

The United Express flight UA5365 Express, from Los Angeles to Salt Lake City left the gate at LAX on time at 18:55 and began the taxi towards the runway. One male passenger reportedly came to the front of the plane and attempted to breach the cockpit door. After failing to enter, he then successfully opened one of the cabin doors, deploying the emergency slide. In doing so, he left the aircraft at approximately 19:10 local time. However, during the exit, the passenger was injured and has been hospitalised with his condition currently unknown. Law enforcement moved quickly to arrest the passenger and then transfer him to the hospital. Meanwhile, the aircraft returned to the gate with its emergency slide deployed. Passengers were offloaded using a jet bridge. The airline confirmed that no other passengers were injured during the incident and the plane safely made it back to the terminal. The flight was then rescheduled as SkyWest found a replacement aircraft to carry the passengers.

24 June 2021: Pitot tube warning for aircraft returning to service by EASA

Following “an alarming trend in the number of reports of unreliable speed and altitude indications during the first flight(s) following the aircraft leaving storage, caused by contaminated air data systems, which has led to a number of Rejected Takeoff and In-flight Turn Back events”, European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has issued a new airworthiness directive (AD). It instructs airlines to carefully check external air data probes before returning aircraft to service after pandemic storage.  The accumulation of debris in aircraft sensors, such as insects or their nests, or simply a build-up of dirt, is a well-recognised danger in aircraft that have been on the ground for extended periods. Blocked pitot tubes, in particular, can lead to conflicting or erroneous airspeed readings for the pilots.The safety agency noted that both Airbus and EASA had previously alerted operators to “apply appropriate protection measures when an aeroplane is parked or stored (even for short periods of time), and to follow recognised manufacturer’s procedures to check the Air Data Probes prior to return to service after such parking/storage.” According to EASA, “Computational simulations identified that the occurrence of ‘consistent erroneous airspeed indications’ (which stands for 2 or 3 pitot probes delivering erroneous speed information within the same speed range) on A320neo family may affect the aeroplane’s response, in particular during the rotation phase.” The directive noted that the condition has not been encountered during operations.

18 June 2021: Nose gear collapsed on British Airways B787-8

A British Airways Boeing 787-8 (G-ZBJB), entered a service in 2013, suffered a nose gear collapse while parked on a remote stand at London Heathrow Airport. The nose gear of the aircraft was seen collapsing, leaving the front tip of the plane resting on the ground. The full extent of the damage is not known exactly, but images on social media show the plane tilting forward.  A spokesperson of a British Airways said “A freighter aircraft has been damaged while stationary on stand. As a freighter-only aircraft, there were no passengers on board".  The last flight of the aircraft was on 16 June from Moscow carrying a fright. 

13 June 2021: 1980s Computer problem shuts down Hubble Telescope 

The Hubble Space Telescope, which in 2020 marked its 30th year in orbit, halted operations after problems arose with one of the telescope's computers from the 1980s.  The telescope's main computer stopped receiving signals from the payload computer and sent an error message to the ground system back on Earth, which alerted the operations team that something was wrong, the team said. The analysis indicates the error is likely due to a degraded memory problem. Memory degrades over time due to years of exposure to radiation in space. As issues like this are expected, there are backup memory modules on the spacecraft.  The affected computer is a payload computer that controls the observatory's science instruments as part of the telescope's Science Instrument Control and Data Handling module. The module was last replaced during the last astronaut-servicing mission to the observatory in 2009. The payload computer is a NASA Standard Spacecraft Computer-1 (NSSC-1) system that was built in the 1980s. After the telescope shut down the main computer then automatically put all of its instruments into safe mode. When team members at NASA Goddard restarted the payload computer that caused the shutdown. However, after the restart, the computer ran into the same problems that caused the initial shutdown. It is expected that this problem will be corrected via one of the many options available to the operations team. However, according to NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland, "there is no definitive timeline yet as to when this will be completed, tested and brought back to operational status."

2 June 2021: Seven hour spacewalk of the decommission old ISS docking module 

Two Russian cosmonauts took a spacewalk outside the International Space Station, ISS, to prepare an old docking module for disposal.  They spent just over 7 hours working in the vacuum of space to decommission the Pirs docking compartment by disconnecting cables and telemetry equipment between Pirs and the Zvezda module, the main component of the Russian portion of the ISS. They also replaced a fluid flow regulator on the Zarya module, which was the first space station component ever launched and is mostly used as a cargo storage area nowadays. The cosmonauts tossed the old fluid flow regulator unit overboard, casting it adrift in space on a trajectory that will not endanger the space station, NASA officials said. The decommissioning work began in November 2020 with another pair of spacewalkers that completed a few maintenance tasks outside the station. Later this summer, Russia's Progress 77 cargo freighter will remove the nearly 20-year-old Pirs module from the orbiting laboratory, pulling it back to Earth. Both the cargo ship and Pirs will burn up safely in the atmosphere above the Pacific Ocean, according to NASA officials.  

2 June 2021: Space station robotic arm hit by orbital debris in 'lucky strike'

During a routine inspection on May 12 robotic operators noticed a hole in the station's Canadarm2 provided by the Canadian Space Agency. It has been in service in orbit since 2001. A piece of space junk smacked into the robotic arm on the International Space Station, but near-term operations should not be affected, according to the agencies involved. Officials called the hole a "lucky strike" given the relatively small size of the arm, which is 57.7 feet (17.6 meters) long and has a diameter of just 14 inches (35 cm). According to Canadian Space Administration, CSA, "Results of the ongoing analysis indicate that the arm's performance remains unaffected. The damage is limited to a small section of the arm boom and thermal blanket." Canadarm2 was scheduled soon to move a Canadian robotic hand, Dextre, into a spot to replace a faulty power switchbox called the Remote Power Control module, but CSA added that operation should not be affected whatsoever. Both Canadarm2 and Dextre are usually operated from CSA headquarters near Montreal, Quebec. Orbital debris is a growing concern in low Earth orbit due to the number of CubeSat launches arriving there in fleets for broadband service and other applications. Some of these orbits intersect with where the space station operates at an inclination of 52 degrees, roughly 200 miles (450 km) in altitude, but natural space dust and other objects are also a threat. "A number of tiny objects, ranging from rock or dust particles to flecks of paint from satellites, are … too small to be monitored," CSA said. The U.S. Space Surveillance Network keeps close track of at least 23,000 known softball-sized or larger pieces of space debris in orbit; if any get close to the ISS, the station can alter its position slightly or NASA can instruct its crews to take shelter, which last happened in September 2020. 

27 May 2021: Bat In Business Class Forces Air India Newark Flight To Return To Delhi

Air India flight AI105 departed New Delhi at 02:28 AM local time for the 15-hour journey to the to Newark, US. However, roughly 20 minutes into the flight, passengers and crew in business class noticing the bat flying through the aircraft (in clear defiance of safety rules during takeoff may we add). The crew quickly informed the pilots. As is the procedure, the flight turned back around to Delhi to remove the bat as soon as possible. However, landing a Boeing 777-300ER filled with fuel for a 15-hour flight is not simple, as it seems. Due to the aircraft’s weight, the plane had to first circle over Delhi Airport to reach the maximum landing weight permitted. Landing without burning fuel can result in a hard landing, possibly structurally damaging the aircraft. This meant the terrified travellers onboard were forced to spend nearly one and a half hours with the free-riding passenger. The aircraft landed safely in Delhi at 04:20 AM local time, a full two hours after first taking off. Upon landing, the passengers promptly disembarked and a fumigation team was sent onboard to deal with the bat. The remains of the bat were removed from seat row 8 a while later, bringing the situation end. Due to the incident, the original aircraft (registration VT-ALM) was grounded, and a new plane was called in. The remaining passengers to Newark were accommodated on another 777-300ER, registration VT-ALU, which departed Delhi at 06:37 AM local time, arriving in the US just under four hours late. According to an initial report from Air India’s engineering team, the bat possibly entered during the food loading process. While the door was opening for the catering vehicle, the animal seems to have sneaked in. However, we will know once a full investigation has been completed.

12 May 2021: Antonov AN-124 overran runway as Sao Paulo

Antonov Airlines Antonov AN-124, registration UR-82007 landed on Sao Paulo's runway 09L at 04:49L (07:49Z) where it overran the end of the runway and came to a stop with the nose gear on soft ground. It was performing flight ADB-3829 from Paramaribo (Suriname) to Sao Paulo Guarulhos (Brazil) with 60 tons of personal protective equipment to combat Corona for Brazil's Ministry of Health. There were no injuries and the aircraft did not seem to sustain any damage. The crew requested a push back to return them to the runway. The runway was closed for about 2 hours until the aircraft could be moved back onto the paved surface and off the runway.

11 May 2021 Virgin Galactic Return To Flight Faces New Delay

Virgin Galactic’s last attempt to make the first sub-orbital space flight from its Spaceport America base in New Mexico was derailed on Dec. 12, 2020 by an electromagnetic interference (EMI) issue, which stalled sub-orbital tests of its SpaceShipTwo Unity. The vehicle’s hybrid rocket motor shut down prematurely shortly after release from the carrier aircraft. Investigations later revealed that it was electromagnetic interference from the two flight control computers and associated wiring for the upgraded stabiliser actuation system that interrupted connections to the rocket control system. This triggered a false fail-safe abort signal that shut down the motor around 1 sec. after ignition. To correct the issue, Virgin Galactic has added hardware filters to suppress the EMI being generated within the flight control computers; improved the shielding around the wire harnesses; and added components to suppress conductivity. These changes were made to the wires that carry power, as well as the signal wires to transmit measurement data back to the flight control computer. As of today, the final installation of the flight hardware is complete, and in end-to-end checkouts we were able to compare the current EMI to previous levels. The test conducted has shown the significantly reduced the EMI on the order of 10 to 20 dB, or to a level that is over 90% lower than it was before. The latest hold up to the company’s protracted test effort is a “potential wear-and-tear issue” that had been discovered last week on the carrier aircraft during the build-up campaign to the next spaceflight attempt, provisionally targeted for later in May. Although the specific issue has not been identified, it is related to the part that was originally scheduled for attention in the aircraft’s next maintenance schedule later this year. However, following this last post-flight inspection, an item was identified that needs further study to determine whether it needs an action now, instead of the autumn. 

8 May 2021: Huge Chinese rocket booster falls to Earth over Arabian Peninsula

The Long March 5B rocket launches Tianhe, launched the core module for China's new space station on April 28. Instead of ditching safely into the ocean when its work was done, however, the rocket's first stage reached orbit, becoming a piece of space junk just waiting to crash down on its home planet after feeling enough atmospheric drag. The 23-ton core stage of a Long March 5B booster fell back to Earth uncontrolled somewhere over the Arabian Peninsula ending 10 controversial days aloft that captured the attention of the world and started a wider conversation about orbital debris and responsible space-faring.


7 May 2021: FAA Draft Mandate Targets Boeing 787 Shimming Issue

A published draft airworthiness directive (AD) of the Federal Aviation Administration, FAA, proposes mandating Boeing instructions sent to operators in September 2020. The mandate would cover an unspecified number of aircraft, detailed in the Boeing alert-requirements bulletins. Affected aircraft would need repetitive high-frequency eddy-current inspections, the draft AD said. The proposed AD was prompted by reports that shimming requirements were not met during the assembly of certain structural joints, which can result in reduced fatigue thresholds and cracking of the affected structural joints. Not meeting the shimming requirements during assembly of the affected structure results in excessive pull-up forces, fastener shanking, excessive burr heights in metallic members and the presence of metallic chips (foreign object debris) in fastened interfaces, which all degrade fatigue performance of any affected structural joints. The issue affects joints in the aft wheel-well bulkhead, a large composite structure running transversely across the lower section of the fuselage close to the junction of the wing trailing edge. The cracking problem is focused on the forward edge of the bulkhead’s side fitting at Station 1290 on both sides of the fuselage, the side fitting outer chord and fail-safe strap areas, as well as the body chord itself, the draft AD said. The issue also affects the fastener heads and vertical beam clips common to the horizontal flange around the forward edge of the bulkhead body chord. The wheel-well issue is the latest in a series of shim-related non-conformities linked to the 787 program. This part is made by Korean Air and Kawasaki Heavy Industries (KHI), and provides support at a highly loaded part of the fuselage structure. It also is designed to protect the surrounding airframe and systems from the high temperatures produced by the brakes and wheel friction of the main landing gear.

3 May 2021 Morocco Seeks Bids For A New Aircraft Boneyard

Morocco has a fast-growing industry supplying parts and services to the aircraft builders and the wider airline industry. Now the country is looking to add end-of-life facilities to its portfolio of aircraft-related services. Plans are underway to construct an aircraft boneyard outside Oujda in north-eastern Morocco. Angad Airport is around 12 km north  of Oujda and 600 km northeast of better-known Casablanca. Domestic airline Royal Air Maroc and Air Arabia Maroc are the airport’s biggest users. A variety of mostly low-cost European airlines also jet in, several on a seasonal basis only. Oujda’s two sealed runways are 3,000 meters in length, meaning the biggest planes destined for the boneyard can safely touch down. Oujda ticks a few of the aircraft storage business boxes with its proximity to Europe and aircraft-friendly dry low-humidity climate. Whether Oujda becomes a parking facility as distinct from a true boneyard is less distinct. There are many unwanted widebody planes around these days, but the market for second-hand widebodies is small. Most unwanted Boeing 767s and Airbus A340s from Europe are unlikely to find a second life flying for another carrier. 

3 May 2021 Ingenuity helicopter fails to take off with clock ticking to complete research goals

NASA’s pioneering helicopter, which has so far completed three successful flights on Mars, failed to take off for what was to be its most ambitious mission yet. In the planned flight attempt, NASA had hoped to push the helicopter’s performance on the Red Planet, increasing the time it spent airborne to 117 seconds from the 80s it spent flying in its previous attempt. NASA had also planned to increase the max airspeed of Ingenuity to 3.5 m/s from its previous successful attempt of 2 m/s, and also more than double the total range it covered compared to its last flight. While helicopters on Earth spin close to 400-600 rotations per minute (rpm), Ingenuity’s blades need at least 2500 rpm to achieve lift. The failure was the transition to “flight mode”, the same software glitch that also delayed the chopper’s maiden voyage on Mars (14 April 2021). That time the 1.8kg helicopter would not transition from “pre-flight” to “flight” mode. The US space agency hopes the setback will only be temporary. However, NASA engineers have just one week left to complete two more flights expected to push Ingenuity to its limits, which is related to its fifth and final flight. It is planned that the helicopter will fly as far and as fast as it can before crashing into the surface of the planet and sending data about the journey back to Earth.

30 April 2021: Bad weather delays SpaceX Crew-1 astronauts' return to Earth 

SpaceX's Crew-1 Dragon capsule and its crew of four were scheduled to undock from the station today (April 30) and splashdown just before midday on Saturday (May 1). Their departure had already been delayed from Wednesday (April 28) due to weather. NASA and SpaceX mission teams have not yet agreed on a new return date. There are 11 astronauts are currently on the space station, the highest number since the space shuttle era when up to 13 astronauts had to cohabit inside the orbital outpost, about the size of a five-bedroom home, during crew hand-overs. The crew members keep themselves busy inside the overcrowded space station with scientific experiments, lab maintenance and emergency gear training, NASA said in the statement. On Thursday, the crew collected urine samples and conducted experiments to study how space affects grip and movement. They also swapped fuel bottles supporting combustion experiments and installed new hardware to activate a high-performance space computer study. NASA said some of the astronauts have had to find alternative sleeping arrangements as the space station currently only has seven proper crew quarters, or personal spaces for astronauts to sleep: four inside the U.S. Harmony Module, one in the European Columbus module, and two in the Russian module Zvezda.  

27 April 2021 Airbus Retires the World’s First Beluga

As Airbus introduces more of the modern A330-based Beluga XL to its fleet, the original five are set to leave. The first to take retirement was Beluga number two, F-GSTB, which last flew on October 6th, 2020, from Airbus’ Toulouse home to Bordeaux for storage. The first-ever Airbus Beluga transport aircraft, F-GSTA, has left Broughton (UK) for the last time. Beluga number one departed the Airbus factory in North Wales on its way to Hamburg for storage. It’s the second of the original fleet of five A300-600ST transporters to be placed in storage. Beluga number one, took to the skies on behalf of Airbus Transport International, in October 1995. During the 26.6 years of service  it had been fairly busy for Airbus. In the last 12 months, she’d flown some 458 flights, with an average monthly utilisation of 57.1 flight hours. Airbus has its own facilities in Hamburg to remove useful parts or otherwise do some decommissioning work with the aircraft. 

27 April 2021: Weather has delayed NASA, SpaceX return to Earth for Crew-1 astronauts

NASA's four Crew-1 astronauts were scheduled to return to Earth on Wednesday, April 28, on their SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule, making a splashdown in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Florida. However, high winds have forced NASA and SpaceX to delay the landing to Saturday (May 1). Splashdown is targeted for 11:36 a.m. EDT (1536 GMT).  However, NASA stated “Teams will continue to monitor weather conditions for splashdown ahead of Friday's planned undocking." SpaceX's Crew-1 mission for NASA launched on Nov. 15 to mark the first operational crewed flight on a commercial Crew Dragon spacecraft. It arrived at the station a day later to ferry NASA astronauts Victor Glover, Mike Hopkins, Shannon Walker and Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Soichi Noguchi to the orbiting laboratory. SpaceX's Crew Dragon Resilience is expected to splashdown in one of seven sites off the Atlantic coast of Florida or in the Gulf of Mexico, the exact site is dependent on weather, when it returns the Crew-1 astronauts to Earth. 

23 April 2021: Jetbridge Damaged Brand New KLM Boeing 777 During Pushback

The Boeing 777-300ER  aircraft, PH-BVV, , was delivered to KLM in March 2021. However, it was damaged while pushing back at Amsterdam Schiphol airport. The aircraft was struck by a jetbridge that was in too low a position due to a malfunction. This caused minor damage to the wing of the aircraft. It’s reported that the aircraft sustained minor damage. 

21 April 2021: Major damage of  SriLanakan Airlines A320neo in ground vehicle collision

The 4-year-old A SriLankan Airlines Airbus A320neo, 4R-ANB, was parked on the tarmac at Male Velana International Airport, Maldives, after performing flight UL115 from Colombo, Sri Lanka arriving at 13:13 local time after a one hour flight. It was scheduled to operate the return flight UL116 departing at 15:05, when sustained major damage to its left horizontal stabiliser, after being hit by a ground vehicle. According to Airlines, the SriLankan Engineering team based in Malé is working to replace the affected parts and return the aircraft to service.

20 April 2021 Suspected pilot’s stroke prompts ANA Boeing 787 diversion

An All Nippon Airways (ANA) Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner was operating flight NH216 from Paris Charles de Gaulle (France) through to Tokyo Haneda (Japan). After flying north-east over Germany and the Baltic Sea, the aircraft crossed into Russia for the long flight east. The aircraft (JA814A) spent the majority of the flight cruising between 11,500 meters and 12,500 meters. Eight hours into the flight, the plane was just west of the Yenisei River, around 660 kilometres north-east of Novosibirsk when the Captain “showed indications of a stroke with sudden headache and facial asymmetry.” The First Officer declared an emergency and decided to divert to the nearest airport with a runway capable of handling the Dreamliner. There were no passengers onboard the flight; just seven crew on a ferry flight. The B787 turned towards Novosibirsk, where the Dreamliner landed safely. A specialist neurological resuscitation team met the flight, and the ANA Captain was conveyed to hospital. After 23 hours on the ground, JA814A departed Novosibirsk and was tracking east towards Japan. As yet, All Nippon Airways made no available an information regarding the Captain’s wellbeing. 

19 April 2021: The threat of decompression panels disengaging on B787 checks registered 

Decompression panels separate the cargo area from the passenger area. They can open to act as pressure relief vents and allow a larger quantity of airflow into the cargo compartment. The concern is a leak in the bilge area could result in insufficient Halon  (a liquefied, compressed gas that stops the spread of fire by chemically disrupting combustion) concentrations to adequately control any fire in the aircraft’s cargo area. In March 2021 the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued its first airworthiness directive concerning the 787’s decompression panels. That directive mandated repetitive visual inspection of the bilge barriers located in the forward and aft cargo compartments to look for disengaged or damaged decompression panels. Any disengaged panels were to be reinstalled. Damaged panels were to be replaced.  This first directive targeted around 220 Dreamliners. The FAA estimated that each inspection cycle would cost US$56,610. Since then, the FAA has received fresh information that more 787 aircraft may have problems with their decompression panels. With this latest airworthiness directive, the FAA expands to inspections from a certain number of 787 Dreamliners to all 787 Dreamliners registered in the United States. Boeing notes no imminent safety threat posed, welcomes FAA directive Boeing notes the flagged potential problems with the decompression panels do not pose an immediate safety hazard.

14 April 2021: Failure of flight control software postpones the first flight of  NASA's Mars helicopter Ingenuity 

The main task of Ingenuity helicopter to demonstrate that powered flight on Mars is possible, potentially opening up a new mode of exploration on the Red Planet. If Ingenuity's month-long flight campaign is successful, future Mars missions could commonly include helicopters as scouts for rovers or as data gatherers in their own right. NASA had originally aimed to conduct its first Red Planet flight, the first-ever powered flight on a world beyond Earth, on 11 April. After powering up, Ingenuity began going through a series of pre-flight checkouts. The chopper sailed through all of these tests except the final one, which aimed to get Ingenuity's two rotors up to 2,400 revolutions per minute, the same rotational speed they'll reach during flight. However, during the test, "the command sequence controlling the test ended early due to a 'watchdog' timer expiration. This occurred as it was trying to transition the flight computer from 'Pre-Flight' to 'Flight' mode. The analysis shown that "that minor modification and reinstallation of Ingenuity’s flight control software is necessary, according to NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Southern California, which manages Ingenuity's technology-demonstrating mission. Validating the software change and beaming it to the helicopter, via NASA's Perseverance rover, will take some time. Ingenuity remains healthy and stable, and its vital systems such as power and communications are working properly. Perseverance and Ingenuity landed together inside Mars' 28-mile-wide Jezero Crater on Feb. 18. On April 3, the solar-powered helicopter deployed from the rover's belly. Perseverance is supporting Ingenuity's test campaign, the mission team must route communications to and from the helicopter through the rover, and will attempt to capture high-resolution imagery of its flights as well. 

10 April 2021: Electrical flaw grounds selected 737 MAX jets 

Carriers including Southwest, American Airlines, Alaska Airlines and United scrambled to organise replacement aircraft on Friday; a combined 67 of their aircraft were grounded, to allow for verification that a sufficient ground path exists for a component of the electrical power system. Boeing has grounded selected 737 MAX jets over electrical issues, just months after their return to the skies. The manufacturer has advised 16 airlines to address a potential electrical issue in a specific group of 737 MAXs, prior to further operations. Boeing could not provide an estimate regarding the length of disruption. The FAA stated that the issue “could affect the operation of a backup power control unit.

24 March 2021: SpaceX launches 60 new Starlink internet satellites, nails latest rocket landing at sea

The Falcon 9 rocket blasted off from Space Launch Complex 40 here at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida at 4:28 a.m. EDT (0828 GMT). Approximately nine minutes later, the reusable rocket's first stage returned to Earth for its sixth successful landing. SpaceX's drone ship "Of Course I Still Love You" was stationed out in the Atlantic Ocean, standing by for the catch. A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying 60 Starlink internet satellites. This flight was the fourth Starlink mission this month for SpaceX  that is inching closer to filling its initial internet constellation of 1,440 strong. Eventually that constellation could be tens of thousands of satellites strong as SpaceX has permission to launch as many as 30,000, with an option for even more. This was the first rocket that the U.S. military allowed SpaceX to recover, a switch from its previous military launches where the company would discard the booster after it delivered its payload. NASA recently followed suit, permitting SpaceX to reuse its rockets on crew missions. Having a fleet of flight-proven rockets at its disposal, allows SpaceX to keep up with its rapid launch cadence. However company officials have stressed that while booster recovery is a bonus, the main objective is to deliver whatever payload the rocket is carrying to space. 

24 March 2021 Tire Damage Departing on B777 while departing Doha

The Boeing 777-300, registered as A7-BAE, had been assigned to operate flight QR832 between Doha’s Hamad Airport and Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport. During the take-off the pilots heard a noise “similar to the impact onto the lower fuselage when departing.” The pilots thought it might be a bird strike or a nose wheel tire bursting.  As there was no abnormal tire pressure indicators showed up, the pilots decided to keep flying. However, during a runway inspection, that tire debris was discovered. When the pilots were notified the plane had crossed into India and cruising at 37,000 feet just north of the Gulf of Kutch. The Boeing 777-300 had been in the air for nearly two and a half-hours, covering over 2,000 km. The pilots decided to head back to Doha.  This incident was the first recorded incident among the 233 strong Qatar Airways fleet this year

22 March 2021: First fully commercial mission of Russian Soyuz rocket 

A Russian Soyuz rocket sent 38 satellites into space. This was the first time the company sent a fully commercial space mission aloft, according to media reports. The rocket lifted off from Russia's Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 2:07 a.m. EDT (0607 GMT or 11:07 local time). It was painted blue and white in honour of the cosmodrome's long history of sending people into space (60th anniversary of the first-ever human spaceflight that sent Gagarin into space on 12 April 1961). The launch had been delayed two days due to a detected problem in the upper Fregat stage of the rocket, according to Space News. Eighteen countries participated in the rideshare. The Fregat upper stage was expected to send the various satellites into three sun-synchronous orbits, which gives consistent lighting conditions of each satellites' viewpoint of Earth. The company confirmed all satellites were deployed on Twitter on Monday, and said it is "awaiting confirmation from customers about establishing contact with the spacecraft." Each customer will then take over operations of its own spacecraft. The largest satellite of the bunch was the CAS500-1 remote sensing spacecraft from the Republic of Korea. The various other satellites have mandates such as scientific experiments, technology demonstrations, Earth observations and solar observations. Notably, the Italian-led Unisat-7 mission will release six nano-satellites, largely for technology, educational and research purposes. (source: space.com)

21 March 2021: Gear collapses on Trigana Air B737-400 in Indonesia

A Trigana Air Boeing 737-400 freighter, PK-YSF, was conducting a cargo operation between the Indonesian cities of Jakarta and Makassar today when it faced gear problems. The plane was climbing out of Jakarta’s Halim Perdanakusuma International Airport’s when the crew stopped the climb at approximately 3,000 feet amid issues with its right-hand main gear. When landing back at the departing airport, the plane skidded, and all of its gear collapsed. It had four crew members on board the aircraft. When they noticed the issue while climbing, they entered a hold while attempting to sort it out and returned. However, as the jet touched down, it skidded on the runway on its left main gear, nose gear, and right engine pod. Subsequently, in the final periods of the rollout, it skidded off the runway before coming to a stop. Notably, all of the gear collapsed in the process. No injuries have been reported from those on board. 

20 March 2021: Volga-Dnepr Flies IL-76s Successfully To Antarctica

Volga-Dnepr Airlines was tasked with operating charter flights from Cape Town (South Africa) to Novolazarevskaya runway in Antarctica. and delivered a total of 200 tons of general cargo to the research stations on the continent. It has successfully flown five IL-76 flights to Antarctica as part of the Dronning Maud Land Air Network Project (DROMLAN). This project is a co-operative agreement for transportation between eleven nations that have research stations in East Antarctica. According to the International Polar Foundation regardless of where researchers come from, all team members fly into Cape Town, South Africa. It is here that they gather for the latest briefings and fine-tunings before heading off to Antarctica. Flights delivering general cargo cover a distance of over 4,200 kilometres. Volga-Dnepr’s expertise, experience, aligned procedures and capable fleet of five IL-76TD-90VD freighters, the company was able to accomplish landing and take-off on a glacial blue ice runway that requires great skill and competence from the crew members. The airline has been participating in these missions since 2015 and reports that it has accomplished over 150 charter flights to/from Antarctica. To date, it has delivered over 1,700 tons of general and special cargo.

20 March 2021: Volcanic eruption disrupted Iceland Air Travel 

Following weeks of increased seismic activity, a volcanic eruption has begun disrupting travel to the North Atlantic island nation of Iceland. All flights into or out of Keflavik International Airport (KEF) were cancelled on Friday following the eruption of the Fagradalsfjall volcano located on the Reykjanes Peninsula, 25 miles from the capital Reykjavik. Scientists first warned of a possible eruption on March 3 after seeing an uptake in seismic activity in the area. Since last weekend, the tremors kept increasing, leading experts to warn that an eruption was imminent. On Friday, the Icelandic Meteorological Office (IMO) announced that an eruption had occurred at 21:10 local time and that people should avoid the area. It was an effusive eruption, unlike the explosive eruption of Eyjafjallajökull in 2010 that caused air traffic havoc all over Europe due to the massive amount of volcanic ash, effusive eruptions produce a steady flow of lava. For an effusive eruption to occur, the magma must have a low, low ascent velocity (Reynolds Number), a dimensionless number in fluid dynamics. When the magma ascent rate is higher, an explosive eruption occurs, spewing ash clouds high into the sky. There are presently no reports of ashfall, although tephra and gas emissions are to be expected. Given the nature of the Fagradalsfjall eruption being effusive rather than explosive, it is not expect Keflavik International Airport to remain closed for too long. 

18 March 2021: Front landing gear Failure on Viva Aerobus A320 

A Viva Aerobus A320, registration XA-VAZ, suffered an incident while lined up to depart to depart from Puerto Vallarta, en route to Monterrey, in Mexico. This was the first time Viva Aerobus suffered a landing gear failure in its history. The 127 people onboard exited the aircraft safely, and currently, Puerto Vallarta’s airport is closed due to the incident. The airline immediately activated all safety protocols, and no one was injured. The aircraft is 15 years old and arrived with Viva Aerobus back in 2016. Previously, it flew with Kingfisher Airlines, ZestAir, and AirAsia Zest.  As of February 2021, it was averaging 4.8 flight hours per day and operated 40 flights in the month. 

16 March 2021: Laser attack forces Virgin Atlantic B787 Dreamliner Emergency landing

A Virgin flight, VS453 from London Heathrow to Tel Aviv Ben Gurion, Israel had departed as planned at 21:30 GMT. However, the cockpit of the B787-9 Dream Liner, G-VDIA, was hit by a laser beam causing a distraction to the pilots and a danger to the flight.. The captain was becoming ‘increasingly challenged’ following the attack. Out of caution, the pilots decided to head back to London. The flight declared a ‘pan-pan’ to ATC and turned about over Paris to return to its origin. All passengers were offered overnight accommodation, and all steps were taken to ensure that they are able to continue their journeys as soon as possible. As is standard procedure for a laser incident, Virgin swiftly notified the police and remain in close contact with them and the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).

15 March 2021: Flight attendant injured on American Airlines B777 Flight

American Airlines flight AA1601, from Cancun, Mexico to Dallas, Texas, was cruising on the altitude of 38,000 feet, at the beginning of the two-and-a-half-hour journey. Then the aircraft encountered strong turbulence prompting the slightly increased of its speed and increase altitude to 40,000ft, when flight attendant reportedly suffered serious injuries due to turbulence. The flight continued on a straight course for Dallas and landed safely.  The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) described the incident as “aircraft encountered turbulence on final, Dallas, TX.” This means it is unclear if the altitude increase earlier in the flight was due to turbulence and when exactly the accident occurred. The serious nature of the flight attendant’s injuries means the FAA has classified the event as an “accident”. While turbulence does not usually cause severe structural flaws to the aircraft (though it can affect wear), it can impact those inside the cabin. If a crewmember or passenger is not wearing their seatbelt when the flight encounters turbulence, the risk of injury can be extremely high. Cabin crew is also at a higher risk of injuries from turbulence since they are usually working around the cabin rather than being seated for most of the flight. Depending on the category of turbulence severity, the impact is likely to be higher on those inside the cabin.

11 March 2021 2.9-ton of space junk jettison from International Space Station

"Exposed Pallet 9," (EP9) is a 2.9-ton (2.6 metric tons) pallet of used batteries on the International Space Station (ISS). It came to the station last year on a Japanese H-II Transfer Vehicle (HTV), as part of the effort to replace the orbiting lab's old nickel-hydrogen batteries with new lithium-ion ones, an extended process that has required a number of spacewalks over the past five years. The orbiting lab jettisons the pallet, the most massive object it has ever discarded, by 57.7-foot-long (17.6 meters) robotic arm. The space junk is expected to fall back to Earth in two to four years, by burning up "harmlessly in the atmosphere".  However, Tiangong-1 was China's first prototype space station, 7500 kg [kilograms], which hosted astronaut crews in 2012 and 2013. The school-bus-sized craft ended up crashing back to Earth over the southern Pacific Ocean in April 2018. Previously, the old batteries were packed into the disposable HTV, which carried them down to their doom in Earth's atmosphere. But the October 2018 launch failure of a Soyuz rocket carrying NASA astronaut Nick Hague and cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin disrupted this pattern. The  EP9 came up on the ninth and final HTV, meaning it was left without a doomsday ride. According to the European Space Agency, researchers estimate that Earth orbit is cluttered with about 34,000 debris objects at least 4 inches (10 centimetres) wide and 128 million pieces that are 1 millimetre across or larger.

8 March 2021: Lightning Strike impacted Sao Paulo runway 

Sao Paulo’s runway 09R/27L was closed after a lightning strike impacted the asphalt, at around 15:38 local time. The lightning strike left a hole in the runway. It’s unusual, but it is not the first time something like this has happened worldwide.


Batik Air Airbus A320-200, with registration PK-LUT, was performing flight ID-6803 from Jambi to Jakarta (Indonesia), during the climb at 3000 feet the pilot decided to return to the airport of departure (return to base / RTB) because there is an indicator in the cockpit (which notifies or shows), that there may be a technical problem (technical reason) problems with the nose gear. The aircraft returned to Jambi and landed 25 minutes after departure, it came to a stop on the runway with the damaged nose gear turned 90 degrees sideways. Witnesses confirmed that there was a  fire, sparks and smoke all coming from the nose gear. The 117 passengers and 6 crew disembarked safely onto the runway via stairs. As result of this incident, 3 flights were cancelled. 

4 March 2021: Satellite Based Condition Monitoring of Gas Pipelines’ Leaks

Development of satellite technology enabled condition monitoring of the leaks of gas production pipelines from the space. Methane is one of the most potent greenhouse gases, second only to carbon dioxide in its overall contribution to climate change. The energy sector is one of the largest sources of methane emissions.  Thanks to powerful technologies, such as high-resolution satellite data, scientists are now able to underline the impact of frequent and intentional methane releases, also known as ‘venting.’ Scientists, using satellite data from the European Space Agency Copernicus Sentinel missions, are now able to detect individual methane plumes leaking from natural gas pipelines around the world. By combining data from the Copernicus Sentinel-5P and Sentinel-2 missions, along with artificial intelligence algorithms, Kayrros scientists detected 13 methane emission events, with rates up to 164 tonnes per hour in 2019/20, along the Yamal-Europe pipeline (a 4196 km pipeline running across Russia, Belarus, Poland and Germany). Another 33 emission events, with rates up to 291 tonnes per hour, were detected over the same period on the shorter, Brotherhood pipeline. When contacted, operators confirmed that these events were related to planned maintenance and have been duly reported to the relevant authorities. Kayrros has two satellites equipped with Synthetic Aperture Radars that revisits the same location on its orbit every 12 days. However, if both satellites are tasked to acquire an image for a given location, the revisit time is reduced to 6 days.  Ability to detect methane hotspots in real-time is not only a major technical achievement but is hugely beneficial for the management of planet.  Source: https://www.esa.int/Applications/Observing_the_Earth/Copernicus/Sentinel-5P/Monitoring_methane_emissions_from_gas_pipelines (accessed 04.03.2021)

3 March 2021: SpaceX’s SN10 Starship prototype explodes 8 minutes after landing

SpaceX is developing Starship to get people and payloads to the moon, Mars and other distant destinations. It consists of two elements: a 165-foot-tall (50 meters) spacecraft called Starship and a giant rocket known as Super Heavy, both of which are designed to be fully and rapidly reusable. The final Starship will be brawny enough to get itself off the moon and Mars, but it will need Super Heavy's help to get off our much more massive Earth. After launching Starship to Earth orbit, the huge booster will come back down to Earth for a vertical landing, as Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy first stages already do. The big stainless-steel SN10 (short for "Serial No. 10") launched from SpaceX's South Texas site at 6:15 p.m. EST (2315 GMT), rose 6.2 miles (10 kilometers) into the sky and then came back to Earth for a smooth touchdown 6 minutes and 20 seconds after lift-off. It was the third high-altitude test flight for a Starship vehicle but the first to feature a successful landing. SN10's two immediate predecessors, SN8 and SN9, flew well during their jaunts, on Dec. 9, 2020 and Feb. 2 of this year, respectively, but both hit the ground hard and ended up in pieces. However, the vehicle didn't manage to hold itself together, exploding about eight minutes after landing. Some flames were visible near SN10's base shortly after landing, and that was a sign of things to come: the vehicle exploded on the landing pad at about 6:30 p.m. EST (2330 GMT), rising up and crashing down again in a huge fireball.

1 March 2021: Boeing’s Commercial Operation pays heavy penalties For Ongoing Non-compliance

Boeing failed to meet its obligations in five of 12 areas specified in a 2015 agreement with the Federal Aviation Authorities (FAA) that required various safety and quality-control improvements in its Commercial Airplanes division and will pay $5.4 million in new penalties. It also will pay $1.2 million to settle two separate but related enforcement cases that involved putting undue pressure on employees. The FAA faulted the manufacturer for missing some “improvement targets” linked to the agreement, “and because some company managers did not sufficiently prioritise compliance with FAA regulations”. The 2015 agreement stemmed from two issues FAA investigated Boeing’s use of non-compliant fasteners and not meeting deadlines on providing instructions for installing fuel tank inerting systems. The agreement called for Boeing to pay $12 million in fines and make a series of process improvements in 12 general areas or face additional penalties. The manufacturer is dealing with a series of quality and non-conformance problems on the 787 program within its facilities and supply chain. The issues led to post-production inspections and re-work that have kept Boeing from delivering any 787s for more than four months. Also, Boeing had several problems with the 737 MAX unrelated to the recent, 21-month grounding, including installing unairworthy slat tracks despite knowing that the parts being supplied did not meet its specifications.

1 March 2021: Ryanair Continues to Operate Ghost Flights

Ryanair is continuing to operate ghost flights to cope with the impact of COVID-19 schedules. Such flights see the airline’s planes flying with no passengers, often landing back from where they departed. The airline has been operating such flights in order to ensure our aircraft are serviceable for both passenger repatriation flights and essential flights for the transportation of urgent medical supplies, some of our crew and aircraft must remain available and serviceable in line with Boeing requirements and EASA regulations. Ghost flights are nothing new. Many airlines have operated such flights to protect precious slots during quieter months or to move an aircraft between A and B. However, the COVID-19 crisis has led to a new type of ghost flight. They are keeping both aircraft and pilots current. Airlines can’t leave aircraft to gather dust at the side of an airport. They must be prepared for storage if the carrier won’t fly them. This meant that many airlines were wrapping their aircraft engines in plastic. However, Ryanair saw a different solution. If it doesn’t stop flying its planes, it doesn’t need to store them. This is behind the airline’s ghost flights to nowhere. Ho