Ingenuity becomes the first aircraft to make a powered, controlled flight on another planet. Also, green aviation initiatives from IAG, Southwest Airlines, and Universal Hydrogen; the F-15EX gets a new name; a museum reopens and a major GA event is canceled; a recap of the 2021 Sun ‘n Fun Aerospace Expo; and a Lego story.
The NASA solar-powered Ingenuity Mars helicopter has become “the first aircraft in history to make a powered, controlled flight on another planet.” The first flight flew 3 meters above the Martian surface for 39 seconds. The second flight was 5 meters for 51.9 seconds. The third flight was also to 5 meters then Ingenuity flew downrange 50 meters reaching a top speed of 2 meters per second.
The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) has established official designations for Ingenuity and Wright Brothers Field where it operates from on Mars. The Ingenuity first flight has been given the IGY three-letter designator and the call sign INGENUITY. Wright Brothers Field is designated JZRO for Jezero Crater.
International Airlines Group (IAG) intends to purchase one million tons of sustainable jet fuel every year. This would lower annual emissions by two million tons by 2030. That’s the equivalent of taking one million European cars off the road each year. IAG encompasses British Airways, Iberia, Aer Lingus, Iberia Express, LEVEL, and Vueling. IAG plans to work with its suppliers so they can achieve net-zero emissions by 2050 for the products and services they provide to IAG. The company is investing US$400 million over the next 20 years and partnering with sustainable aviation fuel developers LanzaJet and Velocys.
Southwest Airlines Continues Its Support of Sustainable Aviation Fuel Research to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions
Southwest Airlines is supporting the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory. The NREL plans to utilize a biorefining process to develop low-carbon, low-cost, high-performance sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) created from wet waste, such as food. Southwest wants to be carbon neutral by 2050 and sees SAF as having an important role.
Universal Hydrogen secured $20.5m in new funding and is targeting 2025 for the first commercial regional aircraft flights. Investors include Fortescue Future Industries, Coatue, Global Founders Capital, Plug Power, Airbus Ventures, JetBlue Technology Ventures, Toyota AI Ventures, Sojitz Corporation, and Future Shape. Universal Hydrogen intends to build and test full-scale hardware for hydrogen commercial aircraft.
At a rollout and naming ceremony at Eglin Air Force Base, the F-15EX was named the Eagle II. The F-15C/D fleet is to be replaced by at least 144 F-15EXs. The older fleet has an average age of 37 years. Structural strain is becoming an issue.
The Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center will reopen on Wednesday, May 5 – the 60th anniversary of the first U.S. human spaceflight by Alan Shepard. Timed entry passes will be required for all visitors and face coverings will be required for all visitors ages two and older. Some artifacts will not be on view and other restrictions apply.
Aero Friedrichshafen canceled for the second year in a row.
The Air Force released its new mission statement: ‘To fly, fight, and win…airpower anytime, anywhere.” This change emphasizes the primary competitive advantage and capabilities airpower provides to the nation and joint operations.