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Sir Richard Branson and Virgin Galactic win latest space race – “Welcome to the dawn of a new space age”

Sir Richard Branson experiencing weightlessness onboard SpaceShipTwo ©Virgin Galactic

Over recent years a sense of competitiveness has been building between three of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs and the commercialization of sub-orbital space flight. While Elon Musk has already successfully commercialized his company SpaceX having launched multiple payloads into space, it was Jeff Bezos who, until this Sunday, was the front-runner for being the first of the three who would travel into space with his company Blue Origin. However, at 8.30 a.m. MT on Sunday July 11, Sir Richard Branson took off from Spaceport in Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, onboard SpaceShipTwo with three Virgin Galactic employees and two pilots. At just after 9.15 a.m. SpaceShipTwo detached itself from the mother ship WhiteKinightTwo and a few seconds later all on board experienced 3Gs of force as the spacecraft accelerated into the Earth’s upper atmosphere.

At an altitude of approximately 50 miles (80 kilometers) SpaceShipTwo reached the top of its flight path and for approximately four minutes the four passengers were able to experience weightlessness while also enjoying spectacular views of space and the curvature of the earth. This was only the fourth test flight of SpaceShipTwo, taking place just nine days before Jeff Bezos was due to be launched into space onboard Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket, together with his brother Mark, and 82-year-old Mary Wallace Funk who, in the 1960s, underwent astronaut training but was denied the opportunity of flying into space because of her gender. The fourth passenger is an unknown gentleman who paid US$28 million at auction for a seat on board the spacecraft for its first passenger flight.

Virgin Galactic plans to conduct just one more test flight before it will begin flying paying customers. More than 600 people have so far reserved tickets priced at US$200,000 to US$250,000, including Justin Bieber and Leonardo DiCaprio.

It will be interesting to see what altitude New Shepard reaches as there is an element of confusion surrounding the altitude at which the earth’s atmosphere officially ends and space begins. The earth’s atmosphere doesn’t physically stop at a defined point, but instead becomes gradually thinner at greater altitudes. Physicist Theodore von Karman defines the edge of space as the highest point at which an aircraft could fly without reaching orbital velocity, a point he and the FAI agree is at an altitude of 100 kilometers. However, the U.S. Air Force and Sir Richard Branson both see the boundary as 80 kilometers. It may be that Jeff Bezos and New Shepard try to regain the ascendancy in the space race by targeting the higher altitude, though that may be a challenge as the flight is much shorter at ten minutes from launch to touch-down, including three minutes of weightlessness. The Virgin Galactic flight lasts for approximately one hour from start to finish.

Honeywell and Lufthansa Technik enhance collaboration on digital platform AVIATAR

Honeywell and Lufthansa Technik (LHT) are enhancing their collaboration on Lufthansa Technik’s digital platform AVIATAR to improve the customer experience in aviation analytics. Honeywell Connected Maintenance analytics are now being fully integrated into AVIATAR’s Predictive Health Analytics (PHA) suite, which will grow to more than 100 Predictors for multiple Airbus and Boeing aircraft types. Airline

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Delta Cargo reveals newest cooler at JFK International Airport

Delta Cargo has revealed its newest cooler at John F. Kennedy International Airport. From pharmaceuticals to flowers, perishable goods flying in and out of New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport will now receive even higher-touch handling.   The new, state-of-the-art facility is the largest of its kind at JFK and offers an upgraded experience for

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Etihad Airways returns to Kolkata, India

Etihad Airways, the national carrier of the UAE, touched down in Kolkata, India, on March 26, as the airline made its much-anticipated return to the city. With a total of seven-weekly nonstop services, the airline will once again connect India’s financial capital, Kolkata, with the world through Abu Dhabi. The first flight on the new

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Jet Aviation obtains FOCA approval for line maintenance in Zurich

Jet Aviation announced today that it has successfully obtained approval from the Swiss Federal Office of Civil Aviation (FOCA) for its line maintenance repair station in Zurich. The facility is authorised to perform line maintenance on a range of business aircraft. Jet Aviation launched line maintenance in Zurich in May 2022, under a temporary extension

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Brussels Airlines to welcome Dorothea von Boxberg as new CEO

Currently Chairperson of the Executive Board of Lufthansa Cargo AG, Dorothea von Boxberg will shortly become the new CEO of Brussels Airlines. The appointment is subject to a pending resolution by the Board of Directors of SN Airholding. She is due to take up her new position on April 15 this year and will also

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Airbus delivers first A321neo from FAL Tianjin

Airbus has delivered the first A321neo aircraft assembled at its final assembly line Asia (FAL Tianjin) to China’s Juneyao Air in Tianjin, China. The aircraft is powered by Pratt & Whitney GTF  engines and features 207 comfortable seats, eight in Business and 199 in Economy Class. Its delivery flight is to use a ten percent

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VTOL orders driving strong growth in aircraft industry

Aircraft orders surged by 40% last year and are set to continue to expand this year with hybrid and electric vertical take off and landing (VTOL) aircraft driving growth, new research* from industry experts Revolution.Aero shows. Its data reveals aircraft orders rose to 2,876 last year from 2,056 in 2021 with hybrid and electric VTOL

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LYTE Aviation reveals 40-seat Hybrid eVTOL – SkyBus and SkyTruck 

LYTE Aviation, the newest advanced air mobility innovator, addressing advanced urban mobility and connectivity, has revealed its 40-seat (hybrid) eVTOL SkyBus and SkyTruck programme on March 23. Its LA-44 SkyBus and complementary SkyTruck cargo variant, designed around a 4.5 tonne payload, is the accumulation of three years’ R&D. The result is a game-changing, vertical take-off and landing

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Bombardier updates 2025 strategic objectives 

Bombardier has updated its 2025 objectives. The company is now targeting more than US$9 billion in annual revenue by 2025, with an adjusted EBITDA of more than US$1,625 million and a healthy adjusted EBITDA margin of approximately 18%. Bombardier also expects to generate significant free cash flow in the coming years, to the tune of more than US$900

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Magnetic Group rebrands Direct Maintenance as Magnetic Line

Magnetic Group, a fast-growing aviation company, has released that Direct Maintenance has been rebranded as Magnetic Line. This rebranding is part of Magnetic Group’s overarching strategy to unify all its businesses under a single brand – Magnetic – and streamline its products and services under one easily recognisable name. Direct Maintenance has been an integral

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Avianca – Viva Air merger gets Columbian CAA approval

Columbian flag-carrying airline Avianca and Viva Air have received merger approval from the Columbian civil aviation authority. The merger was originally proposed back in April 2022 with the intention to keep the branding and strategies separate. One of the merger conditions is that Viva Air reimburse all passengers who have been affected by flight cancellations

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Lufthansa to resume regular flight operations with Airbus A380

From June 1, Lufthansa will resume its regular flight operations with the popular Airbus A380 after a three-year interruption. Daily flights from Munich to Boston will be operated by LH424. Commencing July 4, 2023 and just in time for Independence Day, the U.S. national holiday, an A380 with flight number LH410 will take off daily

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