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March 14, 2016

COMMERCIAL AVIATION

Too Many Airlines?

SPACE

Upper-Stage Angst

TECHNOLOGY

Vertical Vision

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COMMERCIAL AVIATION

Too Many Airlines?

Los Angeles You might call Republic Airways Holdings a casualty of U.S. airline consolidation. The Indianapolis-based company, which owns Republic Airlines and Shuttle America, had a robust business model in much of the early 2000s, flying smaller regional jets into major airline hubs and taking a relatively modest fee for doing so.

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SPACE

Upper-Stage Angst

Washington Technical uncertainty over a crucial piece of upper-stage hardware and election-year uncertainty over budgets are dimming NASA’s desire to attach a small habitat—possibly based on the Orbital ATK Cygnus or other pressurized commercial module—to the first human mission with an Orion crew capsule riding on a heavy-lift Space Launch System (SLS).

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TECHNOLOGY

Vertical Vision

Washington Combining vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) with fast forward flight is challenging. Dozens of concepts have flown over the decades, but only a handful have entered service. Now another call to deliver both hover and speed has prompted an unconventional answer.

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DEFENSE

Not So Fast

Beijing Growth in Chinese military spending will fall markedly below economic expansion this year, official figures suggest, while the country separately undertakes reforms to its forces intended to overcome some of their most deep-seated problems. Improving intelligence capabilities is emphasized in a draft of the national five-year plan prepared for the meetings of the Chinese rubber-stamp legislature this month, which is also the platform for announcing the budget.

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SPACE

Lifting the Veil

Kent, Washington Jeff Bezos, billionaire founder of Amazon and his spacehardware sideline Blue Origin, wants humans to go to space in a big way, turning Earth into a residential planet and moving heavy industry beyond the atmosphere it is polluting. Meanwhile, though, he sees the company he has spent more than $500 million to get off the ground as a way to lower the cost of entry to space for all kinds of entrepreneurs in the next decade, using suborbital tourist flights to practice more ambitious applications of reusable rocketry and recoup his investment.

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COMMERCIAL AVIATION

Route Awakening

San Francisco That U.S. carriers are interested in flying to Cuba is an understatement—applications for routes have far exceeded slots made available by the bilateral air service agreement the countries formally signed in February. The reasons appear to be more strategic than meeting a shortterm requirement.

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Who Bought the Ticket?

Brussels Passengers enjoy strong protection under European Union (EU) law. Along with standard care and refund, passengers are entitled to financial compensation of up to €600 ($660) when flights are canceled or delayed more than 3 hr.— even when this is due to unforeseen technical problems.

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COMMERCIAL AVIATION

Bigger Bite

Sao Jose dos Campos, Brazil Embraer is signaling ambitions to take a bigger slice of the 70130-seat passenger market with its new-generation E2-family airliners. The initial member, the E190-E2, is being readied for preflight ground tests.

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COMMERCIAL AVIATION

Tianjin Tempo

Beijing and Tianjin, China Final assembly accounts for about 5% of the value of building an airliner and maybe 95% of the prestige, as Airbus well knew when it agreed in 2006 to build a final assembly line for the A320 family in Tianjin. Strong orders for its narrowbody aircraft from an appreciative China duly followed.

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COMMERCIAL AVIATION

Pulse Please

Melbourne, Australia Boeing’s advanced aerostructures factory in Australia is meeting rising production rates without additional labor by applying process improvements first to 737 work and now to the 787. A key change has been the introduction of a pulse production line at the Melbourne plant, in which parts are moved from station to station without leaving their jigs.

FEBRUARY 29-MARCH 13 MRO Edition2016 MARCH 14-27 Defense Technology International2016