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Exhibit shows 100 years of Southland's aerospace industry

    

Troves of once-classified documents and never-seen-before photos showcasing Southern California’s aerospace industry are now on display at the Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens in San Marino.

The exhibition opened to the public last weekend.

Located in the west hall of the library, crowds can see how the aerospace industry evolved over the years: from the dare-devil barnstormers to Cold War spy planes to moonshot rocketry.

A story in Saturday’s Times gave a preview of the event and explained how it came to fruition.

For a sneak peek, take a look at the photo gallery here and in the the video above.

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Geek alert: Northrop releases music video for new drone

X47b

Aerospace fanboys and aviation geeks will be happy to know that Northrop Grumman Corp. has posted a second music video involving its bat-winged robotic jet, dubbed the X-47B.

Yes, it is the company's second rockin’ music video for the experimental drone. Check out the first one here.

The new video showcases the X-47B as it undergoes test flights at Edwards Air Force Base in the Mojave Desert.

The revolutionary aircraft is being developed to take off from an aircraft carrier, fly to a target point, and return back to safely land on the carrier -- controlled entirely by a computer. It's a big step up in technology because current combat drones, such as the Predator and Reaper, are controlled remotely by a human pilot.

Northrop, which recently moved its headquarters to Falls Church, Va., from Century City, has produced two X-47Bs for the Navy.

Currently, the drone has only operated above land, but the company plans on moving it to the Naval Air Station Patuxent River in Maryland by the end of the year to begin land-based carrier suitability.

The program aims on demonstrating X-47B aircraft carrier launches and recoveries by 2013.

 

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Photo: The X-47B takes flight at Edwards Air Force Base in February. Credit: Northrop Grumman Corp.

Military's first cargo-carrying drone aircraft is going to war

Kmax

The Marine Corps will deploy its first-ever cargo-lifting drone into a war zone when it sends the K-MAX helicopter to Afghanistan next month.

The heavy-lift drone chopper, made by Lockheed Martin Corp. and Kaman Aerospace Corp., recently wrapped up a five-day evaluation study in Arizona to prove its cargo-carrying capability in conditions similar to those it would be expected to encounter in Afghanistan.

K-MAX exceeded the Navy and Marines’ requirement to deliver 6,000 pounds of cargo per day. 

“K-MAX has the capability to quickly deliver cargo, thus getting troops off the roads and allowing them to focus on other missions," said Navy Rear Adm. Bill Shannon, division executive officer for unmanned aviation and strike weapons.

The K-MAX team of mission commanders and aircraft operators have been undergoing training and flight tests at a base in Twentynine Palms, according to a Lockheed release.

Lockheed and Kaman teamed in 2007 to transform Kaman’s manned power-lift helicopter into a drone capable of autonomous or remote-controlled cargo delivery. Kaman designed the airframe and Lockheed designed the helicopter’s mission management and control systems.

K-MAX is the latest robotic aircraft to join the military's expanding drone fleet, which include high-flying spy jets, small hand-launched planes and missile-firing hunter aircraft.

“We are extremely honored to have been selected for deployment by the Navy,” said Sal Bordonaro, division president at Kaman Helicopters. “We are committed to providing the Marine Corps with the life-saving unmanned capability of our proven airframe, reducing the risk to our forces by taking the cargo resupply mission from the ground to the air.”

 

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Photo: K-MAX successfully completed a five-day assessment recently in Arizona. Credit: Lockheed Martin Corp. via Flickr

SpaceX says it's developing the first fully reusable rocket

20110929-f9-landing-l

Space Exploration Technologies Corp., the Hawthorne commercial space venture known as SpaceX, announced another lofty objective Thursday at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.

The company says it is working on the first-ever reusable rocket, which would fly back to Earth after a trip into orbit.

SpaceX produced an animated video to show how the reusable rocket technology would work. You can take a look at that below.

A reusable rocket is an elusive holy grail for rocket makers because it would save them tens of millions of dollars in development costs. The closest example of a reusable launch system is the retired space shuttle fleet, which were only partially reused after a tedious months-long overhaul.

It is the latest goal for the young company started by Elon Musk, 40, who made a fortune when he sold online payment business PayPal Inc. in 2002. In recent months, Musk has announced:

  • Plans to build the world’s most powerful rocket since the mighty Saturn V rocket, which took man to the moon. 
  • Plans to be the first private company to send a capsule into space and dock with the International Space Station.
  • Plans to invest $30 million for launchpad and hangar at Vandenberg Air Force Base, northwest of Santa Barbara.

SpaceX is working on developing reusable rocket stages at its facility in McGregor, Texas.

 

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Image: An artist's rendering of SpaceX's first fully reusable launch vehicle. Credit: Space Exploration Technologies Corp.

http://www.spacex.com/npc-luncheon-elon-musk.php

Boeing delivers first 787 Dreamliner to All Nippon Airways

Boeing

The world’s first passenger-ready Boeing Co. 787 Dreamliner was delivered to Japanese carrier All Nippon Airways on a rainy and blustery day at Boeing’s facilities in Everett, Wash.

A crowd of about 500 people, made up of employees, local politicians and aviation industry insiders gathered for a ceremony on a wet tarmac to see Boeing hand over the keys to All Nippon.

The entire event was webcast on Boeing’s website starting at 9 a.m. PDT.

The 787 Dreamliner is an all-new commercial jetliner that Boeing says is the most advanced, fuel-stingy passenger jet ever made. It features a suite of new technologies, such as the industry's largest windows, and an extensive use of strong, lightweight carbon composites.

"This will be an airplane that will define flight for years to come," Jim Albaugh, chief executive of Boeing commercial airplanes, told the crowd.

The aircraft was once expected by May 2008, and has seen its delivery date pushed back several times due to design problems and supplier issues. The effect of the delays has been far-reaching, hurting 787 suppliers stretching from Southern California to Russia, Japan and Italy. There are about 50 suppliers in California alone.

"Every obstacle became a challenge," Albaugh said.

The 787, which will seat 210 to 290 passengers, is the first new class of aircraft launched by Boeing since the 777 in 1995. There are 821 orders for the plane from airlines and aircraft leasing firms around the world.

Shinichiro Ito, All Nippon’s chief executive, said at the ceremony: "I cannot wait to see the day when the skies of the world are filled with 787s."

 

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Photo: In this July 13 file photo, the Boeing 787 Dreamliner taxis on the runway at the Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi. Credit: Associated Press

Boeing to webcast first delivery of 787 Dreamliner

K65398-01_med

At long last, Boeing Co.’s first 787 Dreamliner is set to be delivered to Japanese carrier All Nippon Airways on Monday ending the anticipation among aviation enthusiasts who thought this day may never come.

Once expected by May 2008, delivery has been delayed several times, and passenger-ready planes are now expected on the runway by fall. It will be the first new class of aircraft launched by Boeing since the 777 in 1995.

The 787 Dreamliner is an all-new commercial jetliner that Boeing says is the most advanced, fuel-stingy passenger jet ever made. It features a suite of new technologies such as the industry's largest windows, a more electric architecture and an extensive use of strong, lightweight carbon composites.

Boeing will broadcast a live celebration of the first delivery of the Dreamliner to All Nippon on its website starting at 9 a.m. PDT.

The webcast and live satellite feed will include special activities at the Boeing Everett, Wash., site with Boeing and All Nippon’s employees and executives.

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Photo: Boeing employees painted a special livery on All Nippon's first 787 Dreamliner in a paint hangar in Everett, Wash. Credit: Boeing Co.

Sea Launch bumps back rocket launch a day

Rocket_transfer_01

Less than a year out of bankruptcy, rocket venture Sea Launch is set to send a 10,141-pound telecommunications satellite into orbit from the middle of the Pacific Ocean on Saturday for Paris-based communications giant Eutelsat. 

The company will webcast the launch live on its website here beginning around 1 p.m. PDT. The launch is scheduled for 1:18 p.m.

Sea Launch had planned on launching Friday, but had to push it back a day because it took longer than expected to reach its launch site in the middle of the Pacific.

The company uses a floating ocean platform near the equator to lift satellites into space. It's located about 3,300 miles southwest of Long Beach and 1,400 miles south of the Hawaiian Islands. The site allows rockets to reach orbit faster while burning less fuel as they use the Earth's rotation for momentum.

When the company isn’t blasting off 20-story rockets, it docks its specially designed ship and a launch platform, made from a modified oil rig, in the Port of Long Beach.

It is the company’s first launch since it emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection late last year. For a more in-depth look at Sea Launch and its history, take a look here at a story that ran in Thursday’s Times.

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Photo: Sea Launch transfers rocket to launch platform. Credit: Sea Launch

Air France-KLM agrees to buy $12 billion worth of new jets

AirFrance

Air France-KLM, the largest European airline, has agreed to purchase 50 fuel-efficient long-range jets at a book value of $12 billion from the world’s two largest makers of commercial aircraft.

The airline will purchase 25 of Chicago-based Boeing Co.’s 787 Dreamliners and 25 Toulouse, France-based Airbus A-350s. In a press release, Air France-KLM said it had an option to buy up to 60 more.

Both planes have yet to enter service.

The first 787 is set to be delivered to Japanese carrier All Nippon Airways next week, and Airbus hopes to have the A-350 ready by mid-decade.

The planes are made of composite materials (carbon fibers meshed together with epoxy) instead of aluminum sheets, which the jet makers say will require less maintenance than the current generation of aircraft because it will involve fewer parts and sustain less corrosion.

Also, the planes’ newly developed engines promise to burn less fuel than jetliners of similar size, both of which seat between 200 and 350 people.

“These new aircraft will reduce fuel consumption by over 15% and will give rise to a significant reduction in noise and gas emissions,” Air France-KLM said in a statement.

Peter Hartman, president and chief executive KLM, added: “Their integration into the fleet will enable the group to continue to operate one of the youngest and most modern fleets in the world.”

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Photo: Air France Airbus A-319. Credit: Air France

Defense contractors launch campaign to end military spending cuts

Blakey

Seeking to whip up public support for what’s expected to be a hard-fought budget battle in Congress, a group of defense contractors launched a lobbying campaign urging an end to cuts in military spending.

The campaign, named Second to None, was introduced by the Aerospace Industries Assn. trade group Wednesday at the National Press Club in Washington. The group, which represents manufacturers and suppliers of aircraft, space systems and engines, warned of potential job losses and national security risks.

“While we do have a fancy logo, this campaign will not be your typical, glitzy, short term inside the Beltway blitz of advertising followed by deafening silence after one piece of legislation or another is finalized,” said Marion Blakey, chief executive of the association. “This will be a sustained effort, in states, cities and towns, as well as in Washington, to caution the American people and our leaders of risks associated with cutting defense further.”

According to the association, aerospace and defense supports 1 million direct jobs in the U.S. and affects another 2.9 million indirect jobs.

In the face of staggering federal deficits, Congress is in the process of examining deep cuts in the Pentagon budget on top of more than $350 billion in cuts slated over the next decade.

“Our position is: no more,” Blakey said. “Defense has been cut to the bone.”

The Aerospace Industries Assn. website says that the aerospace industry in 2011 is expected to hit record sales of $219.2 billion that reflect federal military spending, NASA outlays, foreign military sales and commercial sales.

But after a decade of heady growth amid one of the biggest military buildups in decades following Sept. 11, 2001, contractors expect a long stretch of cuts in weapons purchases and have been laying off employees in waves.

“This involves all AIA members big and small –- from the largest prime contractors to the smallest suppliers, all AIA members will have a voice in the campaign,” Blakey said.

The campaign's website is at SecondToNone.org.

 

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Photo: Marion Blakey, chief executive of the Aerospace Industries Assn., takes part in the Reuters Aerospace and Defense Summit in Washington last week. Credit: Molly Riley / Reuters

Television news, political talk to stream live on flights

Row44

Westlake Village-based Row 44 Inc., an in-flight broadband Internet provider, said it signed a deal with an array of television news and political talk stations to deliver live streaming video to onboard passengers.

Under the deal, passengers will be able to watch Fox News, MSNBC and BBC World News; live business news from CNBC, Fox Business Network and Bloomberg Television; and sports on NBC Sports Network.

It is the second major announcement for the firm in a week.

Last week, Row 44 inked a deal with Major League Baseball to stream live games to passengers’ smartphones, laptops, tablets and other Wi-Fi enabled devices.

Row 44, named after the last row on a DC-10 commercial jet, uses a network of telecommunications satellites belonging to Hughes Network Systems. By tapping into Hughes' network, Row 44 has the potential to provide worldwide Internet access.

The company has more than 40 employees spread across offices in Westlake Village, Las Vegas and Lombard, Ill.

Southwest Airlines is currently in the process of wiring its entire fleet with Row 44’s in-flight broadband system. The carrier is offering the service for $5.

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Photo: Row 44 Chief Executive John Guidon, left, and President Gregg Fialcowitz stand on the wings of the company's 1950 Grumman Albatross Seaplane that it uses for equipment testing. Credit: Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times

Mini-drone maker AeroVironment swings to quarterly profit

  UAS_Raven_Field_Launch

AeroVironment Inc., the Monrovia company that makes small hand-held drones for the Pentagon and charging systems for electric vehicles, swung to a profit in its first quarter, bolstered by a 62% increase in sales.

The company Wednesday posted earnings for the quarter ended July 30 of $326,000, or 1 cent a share, compared with a loss of $3.4 million, or 16 cents, a year earlier. Analysts on average had forecast a profit of 1 cent a share.

AeroVironment is the Pentagon's top supplier of small drones, which include the Raven, Wasp and Puma models. The technology enables troops on the ground to see what lies over a hill or down the road.

In a conference call, AeroVironment Chief Executive Timothy E. Conver said the company’s drones are still in demand despite expectations of cuts in Pentagon spending. Drone sales for the quarter increased 56% to $52 million from $33 million a year earlier.

But to expand business in the future the company, known as AV, “will have to go beyond military applications,” Carver said.

The company’s family of small drones will be well positioned to address the “largely untapped potential” of flying drones in commercial airspace for tasks like monitoring public safety, Conver said. “This market is likely to develop in the next few years and be both global and large once it emerges.”

AeroVironment’s total revenue was up 62% to $62 million.

Sales of the company’s charging systems for electric vehicles rose 105% to $9.8 million.

AeroVironment rolled out its residential charging stations for the Nissan Leaf this year and struck a key deal with Nissan Canada to expand the program internationally. German automaker BMW also contracted with the company to build and install home charging systems for its ActiveE all electric vehicle.

“EV charging infrastructure is seen by many as a huge new market opportunity and it has attracted global competition,” Conver said.

The results were reported after the close of regular trading. AeroVironment shares closed up $1.75, or 6.2%, at $29.99.


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Photo: Soldier demonstrates AeroVironment's hand-launched Raven drone. Credit: AeroVironment Inc.

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