Air Taxi of the Future
In August 2019, SpaceX announced a new, low-cost program, targeted at the launch of small satellites into sun-synchronous orbits. The program will adopt a rideshare approach, creating the opportunity for satellite manufacturers/owners to launch payloads weighing up to 150 kg at USD 2.25 million, and USD 4.5 million for payloads of up to 300 kg. The rocket to be used for these missions will be the Falcon 9. SpaceX plans to undertake these launches at regularly scheduled intervals.
The Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) has published a petition that Amazon Prime Air, a drone operating subsidiary of Amazon has requested an exemption to operate its customized MK27 drone for deliveries under the Part 35 air carrier certificate. The petition, if passed, will allow the company to operate a delivery system that will enable reaching packages to customers in 30 minutes or less, using unmanned aerial systems.
In July 2019, Tesla CEO Elon Musk discussed the potential of electric airplanes. According to Musk, these planes could be viable in about five years.
In June 2019, the Boeing Company and Kitty Hawk Corporation entered into a strategic partnership to work on futuristic urban air mobility.
On June 5, 2019, Amazon showcased the latest version of its Prime Air delivery drone—that is set to transform last mile package delivery—at the Mars Conference in Las Vegas, US. The Prime Air delivery drone is a hybrid aircraft equipped with optical, thermal, and ultrasonic sensors. Moreover, the drone is also capable of vertical takeoff and landing along with continuous forward flight.
Raytheon and United Technologies are joining hands to further expand their aerospace & defense segment, making it the second-largest company in the US in the aerospace & defense segment, after Boeing in terms of revenue.
Topics: Aerospace and Defence
The Indian Air Force (IAF) has once again sourced the highly advanced SPICE-2000 bomb from Israel to strengthen its arsenal. The SPICE-2000 bomb was earlier used in the Balakot airstrike conducted in February 2019, to neutralize Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) terrorists hiding in a building. The airstrike was a retaliation against a terror attack carried out by JeM in Jammu and Kashmir's Pulwama district on February 14, 2019, killing 40 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) soldiers. As part of a comprehensive defense strategy, the IAF awarded Israel’s Rafael Advanced Defense Systems a USD 40 million contract for the purchase of more than 100 SPICE-2000 bombs.
Airbus recently announced that the Maximum Take-off Weight (MTOW) of its A220 aircraft is set to increase by 2,268 kilograms from 2020, resulting in an increased range of 6,200 kilometers for its A220-300 aircraft and 6,290 kilometers for its A220-100 aircraft, almost 830 kilometers more than its previously advertised range. The company also reached a major milestone of 12,000 deliveries with the delivery of its 12th A220 to Delta Airlines (US); the operator has ordered a further 40 A220-100 aircraft and 50 A220-300 aircraft.
In April 2019, Google became the first drone operator to receive government approval as an airline, an important step that gives it the legal authority to begin delivering products to customers.
On April 13, 2019, Stratolaunch System Corporation has successfully completed the maiden flight of the world’s largest all-composite aircraft, the Stratolaunch. The Stratolaunch aircraft enables convenient, reliable, and affordable access to space in a manner similar to that of any other aircraft. The aircraft is a mobile launch platform, the central reinforce wing of which, can support multiple launch vehicles weighing up to 500,000 pounds. The aircraft is designed with dual fuselage and has a 385-feet wingspan, with the tail of the aircraft 50 feet above the ground.
On October 29, 2018, a Boeing 737 MAX 8 operated by the Indonesian airline Lion Air crashed, killing all 189 passengers and crew. Another Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft operated by Ethiopian Airlines crashed on March 10, 2019, killing all 157 passengers and crew. The main reason for both accidents was false data provided by faulty angle-of-attack aircraft sensors.
Over the last two decades, the US has continuously invested in technology development and deployment of layered missile defense systems for the protection of its homeland and its forces abroad. It faces threats from countries, such as North Korea, Iran, Russia, and China as these countries are deploying offensive missile systems. The US continues to make significant progress in the development and deployment of active missile defense capabilities. Some of the major missile defense systems deployed by the US include the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD), Aegis Sea-based Missile Defense, Aegis Ashore, and Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) systems.
The tragic loss of life due to the crashing of the Lion Air flight 610 in October 2018 and the Ethiopian Airlines flight 302 resulted in the global grounding of the Boeing 737 Max until the cause of the crash could be reliably identified. Globally, 371 of these aircraft have been grounded. The potential risk for Boeing could be the complete or partial cancellation of orders placed by global airlines, litigation for victims of the crashes, and compensation claims by airlines for lost revenue, presenting opportunities for rivals.
March 7, 2019 - Airbus Helicopters (France) concluded the Heli-Expo 2019 with 43 new orders for its major civil product range, namely the H125, H130, H135, H145, H160, H175, and H225 aircraft across the globe. Of the 43 helicopters, 49% orders were from its longstanding customer, Air Medical Group Holdings (AMGH) (US), for a mix of single-engine H125s and twin-engine H135s. Airbus also launched a new version of its H145 helicopter at the expo, resulting in orders for 10 units and 9 retrofits.
Boeing introduced the Boeing Airpower Teaming System, a new unmanned system which will be designed and developed by Boeing Australia with investment from the Australian Department of Defence. The unmanned aircraft model was introduced at the Australian International Airshow by the Australian Minister of Defence, Mr. Christopher Pyne. Boeing (US) and the Australian government will manufacture and demonstrate the concept aircraft. The prototype aircraft will offer major findings and insights for the development and production of Boeing Airpower Teaming System. The prototype, named Loyal Wingman, is Boeing’s biggest investment in new unmanned aircraft program outside of the US. According to Boeing, the aircraft will be integrated with advanced sensors to perform electronic warfare, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance missions. The aircraft will be enabled with artificial intelligence capability to fly alongside piloted aircraft during missions.
Boeing NeXt, which leads Boeing’s urban air mobility division, worked together with Boeing subsidiary Aurora Flight Sciences to design and develop the electric Vertical Takeoff and Landing (eVTOL) aircraft. The company successfully tested the aircraft’s autonomous functions and ground control systems of its autonomous Passenger Air Vehicle (PAV) on 22nd January, 2019.
MarketsandMarkets™ View Point:
The test involved vertical lift off, hover, and landing operations. Boeing has progressed from the design concept to the first flight test within one year and it will be interesting to see how the company progresses to the next stages of flight testing. The next stages will be crucial as they will test the transition from hover to forward flight. The company has a long way to begin, however, this test is a stepping stone towards establishing and commercializing the concept of urban air mobility. Boeing being one of the market leaders in the aviation industry, with its extensive experience and resources, the company is a strong prospect to turn this vision into reality.
According to Vaibhav Dixit - Associate Vice President : Aerospace & Defense, at MarketsandMarkets™, The passenger air vehicle is suitable for urban city commute. The all electric engine will help in reducing the carbon footprint and the VTOL technology will support the take-off and landing almost anywhere with greater flexibility. Assuming the favorable regulatory framework, infrastructure development, technology advancements in terms of battery capability and power to weight ratio, and social acceptance, the autonomous passenger air vehicle is expected to be commercialized by 2023.
Impact on Market
In Jan 2019, FADEC Alliance signed a 25-year agreement with Lufthansa Technik to provide Full Authority Digital Engine Controls (FADEC) availability services for LEAP engines globally. LEAP engines are high by-pass turbofan engines which are highly reliable and high performance, enabling 15% lower fuel consumption as well as life cycle maintenance costs in comparison to the best CFM56 engines.
In a move that could change the way aircraft fly, Rolls-Royce, in January 2019, announced the development of the world’s fastest zero-emission all-electric aircraft by 2020. This green aircraft will be developed under the initiative “Accelerating the Electrification of Flight (ACCEL),” which involves players, such as Rolls-Royce, the Aerospace Technology Institute, YASA, an electric motor manufacturer, and Electroflight, an aviation start-up, and is partially supported by the UK government. Rolls-Royce, in its ambitious project, is aiming to reach 300+ mph and is expected to break the record of 210 mph among all-electric airplanes set by the Siemens airplane in 2017.
The Middle East is the world’s dynamic region when it comes to the rapid development of its resources, infrastructure, and growing its demand to the world. Once entirely dependent on the oil & gas sector, it is now home for the world’s third busiest airport with no signs of slowing down. As per IATA, the Middle East is expected to experience robust growth at 5% with an increase in 322 million passengers a year on routes to, from, and within the region by 2036. To cater this exponential demand, the Middle East needs to overcome the fragmented airspace structure and with efficient infrastructure.
Boeing is expected to further expand its business aviation segment with the strategic joint venture with Embraer - one of the major business jets and light jets manufacturers.