Briefing: November 2021


Rolls-Royce Flies Electric Prototype

Rolls-Royce says the successful first flight of its sporty-looking electric aircraft prototype will launch a series of test flights, some of which will potentially push the plane to 300 mph or faster. The plane, which bears resemblance to the Relentless unlimited racer at the Reno Air Races, took off from the RAF’s facility at Boscombe Down in September and flew for 15 minutes on the first hop. The plane has a 400-kilowatt drivetrain with what Rolls-Royce says is “the most power-dense battery pack ever assembled for an aircraft.” Rolls-Royce is involved with other electric aircraft initiatives, including a short hop airliner in Norway but the speedy prototype could be the basis of a new military trainer.

Bombardier Announces Challenger 3500

Bombardier announced an update to one of its most popular business jets. The new 3500 will apply technological advances and creature comforts from its new Global series aircraft to the Challenger 350, one of its most popular designs. “We are thrilled to launch a business jet that features all the best-selling elements of the Challenger platform—impressive performance, consistent reliability, exceptional smooth ride—while elevating the cabin experience for our customers,” said Bombardier CEO Éric Martel. The 3500 will have a range of 3400 NM, 3400-pound payload, and a cruising speed of 0.84 Mach. It will seat up to 10 passengers and be available in 2022.

100LL Ban Sought

Environmental groups have launched a fresh attempt to get 100LL banned. Friends of the Earth is being joined by the Alaska Community Action on Toxics, Center for Environmental Health, Montgomery-Gibbs Environmental Coalition, Oregon Aviation Watch, and Santa Clara County in the action. The groups are asking the EPA to issue an “endangerment finding” on leaded avgas which is the critical first step in getting it taken off the market. The new effort is being fueled by the results of a study done by Santa Clara County in California that showed slightly elevated lead levels in the blood of children that live near a GA airport. The lead levels were within variables for kids in the rest of the state, however. Officials in San Jose are using the study to partly justify closure of Reid-Hillview Airport.

eVTOL Noise Mapped

Among myriad challenges facing eVTOL developers is the noise from multi-rotor aircraft in densely populated areas. Joby and NASA are will conduct a two-week experiment to map the sound energy produced by the aircraft. NASA’s Mobile Acoustics Facility will deploy more than 50 pressure ground-plate microphones in a grid array that will take multidirectional readings of the aircraft’s acoustic footprint. That will provide the raw data to plot the acoustic signature of Joby’s aircraft, which could be in service in three years. The study is being done to “promote public confidence in emerging aviation markets, such as passenger air taxis, through flight testing in realistic scenarios and data analysis that will inform the development of regulatory standards for emerging aviation platforms,” Joby said in a statement.

Collins Buys FlightAware

Raytheon subsidiary Collins Aerospace has acquired online aircraft tracking service FlightAware and will add it to the information management arm of Collins. FlightAware was started by a group of friends in Texas and has grown to employ 130 people that oversee multiple data streams that essentially monitor virtually every flight in the world largely through a system of ground monitoring stations hosted by volunteers in more than 200 countries and territories.


United Airlines said its employee COVID vaccination mandate caused less than 10 resignations … FAA suspended Virgin Galactic flights after a course deviation in the July publicity flight … The FAA has developed software to track and predict laser strikes … Eurocontrol says climate change will become increasingly costly for aviation … A secret Air Force spy drone has been captured in at least two photos … United 737-900 tipped on its tail in ramp incident … See for breaking news in general aviation.


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