Category Archives: Aviation Headlines

Bad for the bone

A B-1B from Ellsworth Air Force Base, similar to the one that crashed on monday. This picture was shot in uly 1997 at Fairford airbase, UK. (Image © Dennis Spronk)
A B-1B from Ellsworth Air Force Base, similar to the one that crashed on monday. This picture was shot in July 1997 at Fairford airbase, UK. (Image © Elmer van Hest)

This monday was bad to the Bone, as a USAF B-1B bomber crashed in Montana after its four crewmembers ejected to safety. The Bone came down in an uninhabited area near Broadus and was totally destroyed. The aricraft belonged to the 28th Bomb Wing at Ellsworth AFB.

The two pilots and two weapon system officers were taken to hospitals but none of them were seriously injured. The cause of the crash has not been reported. Ellsworth airbase has temporarily shut down flights until maintenance and operations group commanders ensure that they can safely resume.

The cost of a B-1B bomber is $283 million. The aircraft that crashed was built in 1985. The last time a B-1B was destroyed in a crash was on 12 December 12. All crew survived that crash as well.

Source: USAF

Vueling orders 62 new Airbus A320s

The first Vueling Airbus A320 with so-called sharklets in March 2013 (Image H. Goussé / e*m company © Airbus)
The first Vueling Airbus A320 with so-called sharklets in March 2013 (Image H. Goussé / e*m company © Airbus)

Low-cost airline Vueling and its International Airlines Group (IAG) have signed an agreement to buy 62 Airbus A320s – 30 A320ceo and 32 A320neo – plus hold options for another 58 A320 aircraft.

The Barcelona-based Vueling is part of the IAG group which also comprises British Airways and Iberia. Today Vueling operates an all-Airbus fleet of 70 A320 aircraft on domestic and regional routes to Europe, North Africa and the southwestern Asia.

In March this year Vueling already took delivery of its first A320 aircraft equipped with so-called sharklets on the wingtips to save fuel.

Sharklets are newly designed wing-tip devices that improve the aircraft’s aerodynamics and significantly cut the airline’s fuel burn and emissions by four per cent on longer sectors.

Sharklets are an option on new-build A320 Family aircraft, and standard on all members of the Airbus Neo Family. They offer the flexibility to A320 operators of either adding around 100 nautical miles more range or allowing an increased payload capability of up to 450 kilograms.

To date, over 9,800 A320s have been ordered and more than 5,600 delivered to over 385 customers and operators.

Source: Airbus

Dutch kick-off joint air mobile training at Fort Hood

Not at Fort Hood, Texas, but a nice catch is this RNLAF AH-64A Apache display, taken during open days of Leeuwarden AB in 2011 (Image © Dennis Spronk)
Not at Fort Hood, Texas, but a nice catch anyway is this RNLAF AH-64A Apache display, taken during the open days of Leeuwarden AB in 2011 (Image © Dennis Spronk)

The Royal Netherlands Air Force kicked of its joint army and air force air mobile training operations at Fort Hood (Texas) on August 15, 2013.

To illustrate the start seven RNLAF Boeing AH-64A Apache and three RNLAF Boeing CH-47F Chinook helicopters took off for a formation fly-by of the US Army base (download via official site defensie.nl). The Joint Netherlands Training Detachment (JNTD) at Fort Hood has a permanent strength of 8 Apaches and 3 Chinooks to train the RNLAF aviators. Fort Hood has a vast training area unequaled to any of the possibilities in the Netherlands, for almost everything from number of flying hours, flying during daytime or night and the availability of space. Having aircraft of one’s own makes the use of all training possibilities even better, writes the Dutch Ministry of Defence in a press release.

The JNTD gets maintenance support, so-called opposing forces to train against and life-fire shooting ranges. Training in America also means reducing the noise in the skies over the fairly crowded Netherlands.

The first week after the kick-off the JNTD will make several training sorties, followed by the first big Air Assault on Monday August 19th. ,,This is the most intensive and complex co-operation of air and ground forces”, writes a press spokesperson. ,,From the beginning till the end the action of the various units has to be fine-tuned. Because of the speed, the element of surprise and the low impact of the terrain on the operations an air assault offers forces to operate unpredictably. This has proven its value during Dutch operations in the Uruzgan province of Afghanistan in the past.”

After the training the Apaches will be transferred to manufacturer Boeing for upgrading to the so-called Block 2 standard.

Source: Ministerie van Defensie

Check out the Royal Netherlands Air Force Orbat at Scramble.nl

Cessna’s newest business jet rolls out

The new Cessna Citation M2 business jet at the production facility in Indepence, Kansas, July 2013 (Image © Cessna)
The new Cessna Citation M2 business jet at the production facility in Indepence, Kansas, July 2013 (Image © Cessna)

The first of the newest Cessna business jet model, the Citation M2, exited the company’s production line in Independence, Kansas at the end of July 2013. Deliveries are already expected before the end of the year.

The Citation M2 is an addition to the Cessna line-up. It can accommodate up to six passengers on a 1,300-nautical-mile flight. The flight deck features Garmin G3000 avionics, involving a high-resolution multifunction display with split-screen capability and touchscreen interactivity.

Two Williams FJ44 engines bring the jet up to a cruising speed of max 400 knots (460 mph). It can fly non-stop from Houston to New York, from Buenos Aires to Rio de Janerio, or from Amsterdam to Moscow. The M2 can climb to a flight level of 41,000 feet in 24 minutes, is single-pilot certified and has a useful load of 3,809 lbs.

Nearly 500 full-time Cessna employees work at the 500,000-square-foot facility in Kansas. The facility handles assembly, paint and interiors for the Citation M2, as well as for the Citation Mustang and the company’s single-engine piston products. The Independence facility has manufactured over 10,000 aircraft since opening in 1995.

Source: Cessna

Defensive US stealth bomber squadron nuclear certified

During early morning operations, 131st Bomb Wing Missouri Air National Guard maintainers service a B-2 Spirit at Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri. (Image Master Sgt. Robert Trubia © US Air National Guard)
During early morning operations, 131st Bomb Wing Missouri Air National Guard maintainers service a B-2 Spirit at Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri. (Image Master Sgt. Robert Trubia © US Air National Guard)

It sounds like a big contradiction: stealth bombers with nuclear weapons not to attack the enemy, but to defend the territory of the United States. But that is what they more or less have become since the first and only Air National Guard (ANG) wing flying with the B-2 Spirit is now certified to conduct nuclear missions.

The 131st Bomb Wing at Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri, concluded a six year transition from an F-15 Eagle fighter unit to a B-2 strategic bomber outfit with a nuclear consent in the first week of August 2013. It marked the first time in history of the Guard that a bomb wing has been certified in the delivery of nuclear weapons. That goes all the way back to 1636 when regional home militias of the young United States were organised in what is officially since 1903 the National Guard, with the ANG being the air component of the United States’ homeland defences.

In 2008, the wing had fewer than 60 members stationed at Whiteman AFB, when they conducted the first all-Guard B-2 sortie, which included both the launch and operation of the aircraft. Today, nearly all 800 members are based at Whiteman AFB, with completely integrated maintenance crews and almost three times the number of qualified pilots. The 131st Bomb Wing is associated with the active US Air Force 509th Bomb Wing, thereby sharing expensive resources such as the B-2 bombers themselves.

The first so-called ‘combat total force integration mission’ the wings conducted came in March 2011, when three B-2s flew over Libya, dropping 45 joint direct attack munitions to destroy hardened aircraft shelters and thereby according to a press release “crippling Muammar Gaddafi’s air forces and helping enforce the United Nations’ no-fly zone”. The six aircrew members who flew that mission included both active duty and Guard pilots, demonstrating the first real-world combat mission the B-2 conducted since Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003.

© 2013 AIRheads’ Marcel Burger with source information of the US Air National Guard