Tag Archives: Airbus

Multi Role Tanker

Airbus has formally delivered the first of eight Airbus A330 Multi Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) aircraft ordered by the NATO Multinational MRTT Fleet (MMF) after a ceremony held at the Airbus Getafe site in Spain. The official acceptance of this first aircraft marks a decisive milestone towards the entry into service of this multinational unit formed by the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Norway, Germany, Belgium and the Czech Republic.

The above image shows the first A330 MRTT taking off during an industrial flight performed at Getafe, Spain

The aircraft will take off tomorrow towards its Main Operating Base located in Eindhoven, the Netherlands. The MMF fleet will also operate from a second location, the Forward Operating Base in Cologne, Germany.

Dirk Hoke, Chief Executive Officer of Airbus Defence and Space, said: «The NATO MMF programme perfectly represents the future of defence cooperation and shows the true success of the pooling and sharing concept. As a trusted partner for the armed forces, Airbus is extremely proud to see its A330 MRTT at the forefront and ready to secure decisive capabilities and interoperability for NATO partner nations».

Peter Dohmen, NATO Support and Procurement Agency (NSPA) General Manager, said: «The MMF programme is a prime example of excellent cooperation between nations, the EU and NATO and the strong collaboration between OCCAR and NSPA. This unique state-of-the-art capability will enable our participating nations to perform a wide range of operations in multiple domains. We thank the nations for their continued trust in NSPA as the system manager and wish them success in their future missions».

Matteo Bisceglia, Director of the Organisation for Joint Armament Cooperation (OCCAR), said: «The delivery of the first MMF aircraft marks a key milestone of the MMF ADS acquisition contract managed by OCCAR. OCCAR is proud to have delivered this aircraft to the customer on time without any shortfalls in performance or over cost. Key points for this success are the MMF Nations’ trust in the ability of NSPA and OCCAR to efficiently manage the Programme, the excellent cooperation with the EU and the willingness to succeed of the experienced MMF team».

The MMF programme is funded by the six nations which will have the exclusive right to operate the NATO-owned aircraft in a pooling arrangement. The aircraft will be configured for in-flight refuelling, the transport of passengers and cargo, and medical evacuation operations.

The European Defence Agency (EDA) initiated the MMF programme in 2012. OCCAR manages the MMF acquisition phase and the first two years of the Initial In-Service-Support as Contract Executing Agent on behalf of NSPA. Following the acquisition phase, NSPA will be responsible for the complete life-cycle management of the fleet.

The A330 MRTT combines the advanced technology of a new generation tanker with the operational experience recorded during more than 200,000 flight hours in service. The A330 MRTT is interoperable with receivers worldwide and delivers true multi-role capabilities as proven during the recent medical evacuation (MEDEVAC) and strategic transport missions related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Service Module

The European Space Agency (ESA) has signed a contract with Airbus for the construction of the third European Service Module (ESM) for Orion, the American crewed spacecraft. The contract is worth around €250 million.

Airbus wins ESA contract to construct third European Service Module for NASA’s Orion spacecraft

By ordering this additional service module, ESA ensures the necessary continuity in NASA’s Artemis programme. The third European Service Module (Artemis III Mission) will be used to fly astronauts to Earth’s neighbour in space in 2024 – the first to land on the Moon since Apollo 17 following a hiatus of more than 50 years.

«Our know-how and expertise will enable us to continue to facilitate future Moon missions through international partnerships», said Andreas Hammer, Head of Space Exloration at Airbus. «By working together with our customers ESA and NASA as well as our industrial partner Lockheed Martin, we now have a reliable planning basis for the first three lunar missions. This contract is an endorsement of the joint approach combining the best of European and American space technologies».

David Parker, ESA Director of Human and Robotic Exploration, said: «By entering into this agreement, we are again demonstrating that Europe is a strong and reliable partner in Artemis. The European Service Module represents a crucial contribution to this, allowing scientific research, development of key technologies and international cooperation – inspiring missions that expand humankind’s presence beyond Low Earth Orbit».

The first non-crewed Orion test flight with a European Service Module (Artemis I) will fly in 2021. It is as part of the following mission, Artemis II, that the first astronauts will then fly around the Moon and back to Earth.

The ESM will provide propulsion, power, air and water for the astronauts, as well as thermal control of NASA’s new spacecraft.

More than 20,000 parts and components are used in each ESM, from electrical equipment to engines, solar panels, fuel tanks and life support supplies for the astronauts, as well as approximately 12 kilometres/7.5 miles of cables. The first service module was delivered to NASA in November 2018 and has already been mated with the Crew Module. The fully integrated spacecraft already finished the thermal-vacuum testing at NASA’s facility in Ohio, USA, and returned to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, USA, while the second service module is now being integrated and tested by Airbus in Bremen, with delivery set for the first half of 2021.

During the development and construction of the ESM, Airbus has drawn on its experience as prime contractor for ESA’s Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV), which provided the crew on board the International Space Station with regular deliveries of test equipment, spare parts, food, air, water and fuel.

The ESM is cylindrical in shape and about four metres in diameter and height. It has four solar arrays (19 metres/62 feet across when unfurled) that generate enough energy to power two households. The service module’s 8.6 tonnes/18,960 lbs. of fuel can power one main engine and 32 smaller thrusters. The ESM weighs a total of just over 13 tonnes/28,660 lbs. In addition to its function as the main propulsion system for the Orion spacecraft, the ESM will be responsible for orbital manoeuvring and position control. It also provides the crew with the central elements of life support such as water and oxygen, and regulates thermal control while docked to the crew module.

Low Level Flight

The Airbus A400M new generation airlifter has achieved a new decisive milestone after the certification of its Automatic Low Level Flight capability, offering a unique in its class capability for a military transport aircraft.

Airbus A400M achieves Automatic Low Level Flight certification

The certification campaign, performed in April above the Pyrenees and central France, involved operations down to 500 feet/152 m, including transitions from low level flight to other operations like aerial delivery.

This first certification phase concerns operations with Visual Meteorological Conditions, meaning with crew visibility. There will be a second phase including Instrumental Meteorological Conditions, without visibility, to be certified in Q2 2021.

Inherent to the fighter aircraft world, and as a unique capability for a military transport aircraft, the Automatic Low Level Flights improves the A400M’s terrain masking and survivability, making the aircraft less detectable in hostile areas and less susceptible to threats when cruising towards key military operations like aerial delivery, air-to-air refuelling, logistic or other specific special operations.

 

Specifications

DIMENSIONS
Overall Length 45.10 m/148 feet
Overall Height 14.70 m/48 feet
Wing Span 42.40 m/139 feet
Cargo Hold Length (ramp excluded) 17.71 m/58 feet
Cargo Hold Height 3.85-4.00 m/12 feet 7 inch-13 feet
Cargo Hold Width 4.00 m/13 feet
Cargo Hold Volume 340 m3/12,000 feet3
WEIGHTS
Maximum Take Off Weight 141,000 kg/310,850 lbs
Maximum Landing Weight 123,000 kg/271,200 lbs
Internal Fuel Weight 50,500 kg/111,300 lbs
Maximum Payload 37,000 kg/81,600 lbs
ENGINE (×4)
EuroProp International TP400-D6 11,000 shp/8,200 kW
PERFORMANCE
Maximum Operating Altitude 12,200 m/40,000 feet
Maximum Cruise Speed (TAS) 300 knots/345 mph/555 km/h
Cruise Speed Range 0.68-0.72 M
RANGE
Range with Maximum Payload (37,000 kg/81,600 lbs) 1,780 NM/2,050 miles/3,300 km
Range with 30,000 kg/66,000 lbs Payload 2,450 NM/2,796 miles/4,500 km
Range with 20,000 kg/44,000 lbs Payload 3,450 NM/3,977 miles/6,400 km
Maximum Range (Ferry) 4,700 NM/5,406 miles/8,700 km

 

Automatic Refuelling

Airbus has achieved the first ever fully automatic Air-to-Air Refuelling (A3R) operation with a boom system. The flight test campaign, conducted earlier in the year over the Atlantic Ocean, involved an Airbus tanker test aircraft equipped with the Airbus A3R solution, with an F-16 Fighting Falcon fighter aircraft of the Portuguese Air Force acting as a receiver.

Airbus achieves world’s first fully automatic refuelling contacts

This milestone is part of the industrialisation phase of A3R systems ahead of its implementation in the A330 MRTT tanker development.

The campaign achieved a total of 45 flight test hours and 120 dry contacts with the A3R system, covering the whole aerial refuelling envelope, as the F-16 and MRTT consolidate the maturity and capabilities of the development at this stage. The certification phase will start in 2021.

Didier Plantecoste, Airbus Head of Tanker and Derivatives Programmes, said: «The achievement of this key milestone for the A3R programme highlights the A330 MRTT’s excellent capability roadmap development and once more confirms that our tanker is the world’s reference for present and future refuelling operations. Our special thanks go to the Portuguese Air Force for their continued support and help on this crucial development».

The A3R system requires no additional equipment on the receiver aircraft and is intended to reduce Air Refuelling Operator (ARO) workload, improve safety and optimise the rate of air-to-air refuelling transfer in operational conditions, helping maximise aerial superiority. The goal for the A3R system is to develop technologies that will reach fully autonomous capabilities.

Once the system is activated by the ARO, the A3R flies the boom automatically and keeps the alignment between the boom tip and the receiver receptacle with an accuracy of a couple of centimeters; the proper alignment and the receiver stability is checked in real-time to keep a safe distance between the boom and the receiver and also to determine the optimum moment to extend the telescopic beam to achieve the connection with the receiver. At this point, the fuel transfer is initiated to fill up the receiver aircraft and once completed and the disconnection is commanded, the boom is cleared away from the receiver by retracting the telescopic beam and flying the boom away to keep a safe separation distance. During this process, the ARO simply monitors the operation.

Maiden Flight

The Airbus A400M new-generation airlifter ordered by the Luxembourg Armed Forces has made its maiden flight, marking a key milestone towards its delivery. The aircraft, known as MSN104, took off from Seville (Spain), where the final assembly line is located, at 16:08 local time (CET) and landed back on site 5 hours later.

Luxembourg Armed Forces A400M makes its maiden flight

The Luxembourg aircraft will be operated by the armed forces of Belgium and Luxembourg within a binational unit based in Belgium. MSN104 is scheduled to be delivered in the second quarter of 2020.

The picture shows the Luxembourg aircraft landing at Seville airport, Spain.

 

Specifications

DIMENSIONS
Overall Length 45.10 m/148 feet
Overall Height 14.70 m/48 feet
Wing Span 42.40 m/139 feet
Cargo Hold Length (ramp excluded) 17.71 m/58 feet
Cargo Hold Height 3.85-4.00 m/12 feet 7 inch-13 feet
Cargo Hold Width 4.00 m/13 feet
Cargo Hold Volume 340 m3/12,000 feet3
WEIGHTS
Maximum Take Off Weight 141,000 kg/310,850 lbs
Maximum Landing Weight 123,000 kg/271,200 lbs
Internal Fuel Weight 50,500 kg/111,300 lbs
Maximum Payload 37,000 kg/81,600 lbs
ENGINE (×4)
EuroProp International TP400-D6 11,000 shp/8,200 kW
PERFORMANCE
Maximum Operating Altitude 12,200 m/40,000 feet
Maximum Cruise Speed (TAS) 300 knots/345 mph/555 km/h
Cruise Speed Range 0.68-0.72 M
RANGE
Range with Maximum Payload (37,000 kg/81,600 lbs) 1,780 NM/2,050 miles/3,300 km
Range with 30,000 kg/66,000 lbs Payload 2,450 NM/2,796 miles/4,500 km
Range with 20,000 kg/44,000 lbs Payload 3,450 NM/3,977 miles/6,400 km
Maximum Range (Ferry) 4,700 NM/5,406 miles/8,700 km
The Grand Duchy of Luxembourg has ordered a single A400M transport aircraft – its heaviest-ever military aircraft – which will be operated by the Belgian Air Force; it is seen here returning from its April 13 maiden flight at Seville (Airbus photo)

In Orbit Commissioning

Airbus has received confirmation from ESA of a successful end to the In Orbit Commissioning (IOC) of CHEOPS after the IOC review on 25 March 2020. This critical phase was performed by Airbus in Spain with the support of the Instrument Team (University of Bern), Mission Operation Centre (INTA), Science Operation Centre (University of Geneva) and ESA.

Airbus successfully completes In Orbit Commissioning of CHEOPS

The IOC phase started on 7th January and over the past two and a half months Airbus has conducted the operations to verify the performance of the satellite (platform and instrument), the ground segment and the science package. During this time the main goal was to consolidate the documentation, processes and procedures for use during the operational phase.

ESA recognised the great job done by the Airbus teams and stated there were no issues preventing routine operations from starting and confirmed hand-over of the mission operations from Airbus to INTA and the mission consortium.

Fernando Varela, Head of Space Systems in Spain, said: «The in-orbit delivery of the CHEOPS satellite is the culmination of the Airbus participation in the programme. It is the first European exoplanetary mission and the first ESA mission built by Airbus in Spain. The professionalism of the technical and engineering teams at Airbus was key to this success».

CHEOPS will be controlled by INTA and the mission consortium (University of Geneva and University of Bern). Nevertheless, Airbus is also ready to assist during the operational phase for the whole mission life.

CHEOPS marks the first time that Airbus in Spain has been the prime contractor for the whole mission, from satellite development, through launch, to LEOP and IOC. The entire mission development was completed in record time without delays and met the very tight budget. To do this, Airbus managed a team of 24 companies from 11 European countries, seven of them Spanish, confirming Airbus as the driving force behind the space industry in Spain.

As a reminder, CHEOPS is the first in ESA’s FAST TRACK missions programme whose main characteristics are low cost and a challenging budget. CHEOPS will characterise exoplanets orbiting nearby stars, observing known planets in the size range between Earth and Neptune and precisely measuring their radii to determine their density and understand what they are made of.

Orion Spacecraft

The Orion spacecraft for NASA’s Artemis I mission has successfully completed several months of simulated space environment System level testing in the NASA-owned thermal vacuum chamber at Plum Brook Station in Ohio. The tests were conducted in two phases; a 47 day thermal vacuum test and a 14 day electromagnetic compatibility and interference test in ambient conditions which both simulate the conditions the spacecraft will encounter during its voyage to the Moon and back to Earth.

Orion spacecraft for Artemis I mission successfully completes major testing

Andreas Hammer, Head of Space Exploration at Airbus, said: «Today marked an important milestone for the Artemis I mission to the Moon. We proved to our customers ESA and NASA that the European Service Module, designed and built by our engineers in Bremen – supported by companies in 10 European countries – meets the requirements to withstand the harsh conditions in space. The Artemis programme will land the first woman and next man on the Moon and bring them back safely to Earth, we are proud to contribute to this endeavour with all our know-how, expertise and passion».

The engineering teams from Airbus, the European Space Agency (ESA), Lockheed Martin and NASA are pleased with the results of this crucial test, which proves that the spacecraft is suitable to navigate safely through the extreme conditions that it will experience in space.

Orion will be transported back to the Kennedy Space Center to undergo further testing and prepare the spacecraft for integration with the Space Launch System rocket, beginning the next era of exploration.

ESA’s European Service Module built by Airbus under an ESA contract, will provide propulsion, power, air and water for the astronauts, as well as thermal control of the entire spacecraft. Artemis I will travel around the Moon and back to Earth. Airbus in Bremen is already building the second Orion Service Module for Artemis II, where astronauts will fly to the Moon and back to Earth for the first time.

 

About the European Service Module (ESM)

More than 20,000 parts and components will be installed in the ESM, from electrical equipment to engines, solar panels, fuel tanks and life support materials for the astronauts, as well as approximately 12 kilometres/7.46 miles of cables. The first service module, which just finished the thermal-vacuum testing, was delivered to NASA in November 2018. The second service module is currently being integrated and tested by Airbus in Bremen.

During the development and construction of the ESM, Airbus has drawn on its experience as prime contractor for ESA’s Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV), which provided the crew on board the International Space Station with regular deliveries of test equipment, spare parts, food, air, water and fuel.

The ESM is cylindrical in shape and about four meters in diameter and height. It has four solar arrays (19 metres/62.34 feet across when unfurled) that generate enough energy to power two households. The service module’s 8.6 tonnes/18,960 lbs. of fuel can power one main engine and 32 smaller thrusters. The ESM weighs a total of just over 13 tonnes/28,660 lbs. In addition to its function as the main propulsion system for the Orion spacecraft, the ESM will be responsible for orbital manoeuvring and position control. It also provides the crew with the central elements of life support such as water and oxygen, and regulates thermal control while it is docked to the crew module. Furthermore, the service module can be used to carry additional payload(s).

Demonstrator phase

The governments of France and Germany have awarded Dassault Aviation, Airbus, together with their partners MTU Aero Engines, Safran, MBDA and Thales, the initial framework contract (Phase 1A), which launches the demonstrator phase for the Future Combat Air System (FCAS).

Demonstrator phase launched: Future Combat Air System takes major step forward

This framework contract covers a first period of 18 months and initiates work on developing the demonstrators and maturing cutting-edge technologies, with the ambition to begin flight tests as soon as 2026.

Since early 2019, the industrial partners have been working on the future architecture as part of the programme’s so called Joint Concept Study. Now, the FCAS programme enters into another decisive phase with the launch of the demonstrator phase.

This phase will, in a first step, focus on the main technological challenges per domains:

  • Next Generation Fighter (NGF), with Dassault Aviation as prime contractor and Airbus as main partner, to be the core element of Future Combat Air System;
  • Unmanned systems Remote Carrier (RC) with Airbus as prime contractor and MBDA as main partner;
  • Combat Cloud (CC) with Airbus as prime contractor and Thales as main partner;
  • Engine with Safran and MTU as main partner.

A Simulation Environment will be jointly developed between the involved companies to ensure the consistency between demonstrators.

The launch of the Demonstrator Phase underlines the political confidence and determination of the FCAS partner nations and the associated industry to move forward and cooperate in a fair and balanced manner. The increased momentum enables industry to deploy the necessary resources and best capabilities to develop this decisive European defence project. FCAS will be the cornerstone project guaranteeing Europe’s future operational, industrial and technological sovereignty.

The next important step in the FCAS programme will be the onboarding of Spain and the involvement of additional suppliers from Phase 1B onwards, which will succeed Phase 1A after its successful conclusion.

Model Aircraft

Airbus has revealed MAVERIC (Model Aircraft for Validation and Experimentation of Robust Innovative Controls) its «blended wing body» scale model technological demonstrator.

Airbus reveals its blended wing aircraft demonstrator

At 2 metres/6.56 feet long and 3.2 metres/10.5 feet wide, with a surface area of about 2.25 m²/24.2 square feet, MAVERIC features a disruptive aircraft design, that has the potential to reduce fuel consumption by up-to 20 percent compared to current single-aisle aircraft. The «blended wing body» configuration also opens up new possibilities for propulsion systems type and integration, as well as a versatile cabin for a totally new on-board passenger experience.

Launched in 2017, MAVERIC first took to the skies in June 2019. Since then the flight-test campaign has been on-going and will continue until the end of Q2 2020.

«Airbus is leveraging emerging technologies to pioneer the future of flight. By testing disruptive aircraft configurations, Airbus is able to evaluate their potential as viable future products», said Jean-Brice Dumont, EVP Engineering Airbus. «Although there is no specific time line for entry-into-service, this technological demonstrator could be instrumental in bringing about change in commercial aircraft architectures for an environmentally sustainable future for the aviation industry».

Airbus is using its core strengths and capabilities of engineering and manufacturing, in close collaboration with an extended innovation ecosystem, to accelerate traditional research and development cycles. By doing this Airbus is able to achieve proof of concepts, at a convincing scale and speed, thereby driving forward maturity and increasing their value.

Through AirbusUpNext, a research programme, Airbus is currently working on a number of demonstrator projects in parallel; E-FAN X (hybrid-electric propulsion), fello’fly (v-shaped «formation» flight) and ATTOL (Autonomous Taxi Take-Off & Landing).

An innovative shape for improved performance & an enhanced passenger experience

Eurofighter ECR

At the International Fighter Conference in Berlin Airbus and its partners introduced for the first time concrete details of the new Eurofighter Electronic Combat Role (ECR) concept. This role will enlarge Eurofighter’s multi-role capabilities and further increase the survivability of coalition forces in hostile environments.

Airbus and its partners unveil details of new Eurofighter ECR concept

Collaborative electronic warfare capabilities are essential for future combined air operations.

Initial Eurofighter ECR capability is expected to be available by 2026, followed by further development steps and full integration into the Future Combat Air System (FCAS) ecosystems.

Eurofighter ECR will be able to provide passive emitter location as well as active jamming of threats, and will offer a variety of modular configurations for Electronic Attack (EA) and Suppression/Destruction of Enemy Air Defence (SEAD/DEAD). Latest national escort jammer technology will ensure national control over features such as mission data and data analysis. The concept also features a new twin-seat cockpit configuration with a multi-function panoramic touch display and a dedicated mission cockpit for the rear-seat.

The concept is driven by the leading aerospace companies Airbus, Hensoldt, MBDA, MTU, Premium Aerotec, Rolls-Royce and supported by the German national industry bodies BDSV and BDLI. It specifically targets the German Air Force requirements for an airborne electronic attack capability. Furthermore, it is the single opportunity to deliver such capabilities on the basis of national sovereignty, whilst also securing key military technologies within Germany.

Eurofighter is the backbone of German air defence. With more than 600 aircraft under contract and a workforce of 100.000 it is the largest collaborative defence programme in Europe to date.