Check-in at Bengaluru and Varanasi airports using facial recognition technology on August 15

Radhika Bansal

20 Jul 2022

Phase one of the Digi Yatra project, which allows passengers to check in at the airport using facial recognition technology, will be kicked off at airports in Bengaluru and Varanasi on August 15, Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia said on Monday, July 18.

Under the Digi Yatra project, a passenger will pass through various checkpoints at the airport through paperless and contactless processing, using facial features to establish the identity which would be linked to the boarding pass.

In its second phase, the Digi Yatra project will be rolled out at five airports – Pune, Vijayawada, Delhi, Kolkata and Hyderabad — by March 2023.

Check-in at Bengaluru and Varanasi airports using facial recognition technology on August 15

Mr Scindia stated on Twitter that he chaired a meeting of his ministry's Consultative Committee, comprising members from various political parties, on this project.

"Discussed the workings of "Digi Yatra", our maiden project to digitalise processing of travellers at airports. Kicking off phase 1 at Bengaluru and Varanasi airports on Aug 15," he added. He said the privacy issues have been taken care of in this project.

In a statement, the civil aviation ministry said Digi Yatra provides a "decentralized mobile wallet-based identity management platform" which is cost-effective and addresses privacy and data protection issues.

ALSO READ - DGCA alters the Digi-Yatra program; enables self-registration for touchless travel

It said Digi Yatra Foundation (DYF) will be a pan-India entity and the custodian of the passenger ID validation process under this project.

DYF has been set up as a joint venture company in 2019 under Section 8 of the Companies Act, 2013, wherein the Airports Authority of India holds 26% shares while the private operators of airports in Bengaluru, Delhi, Hyderabad, Mumbai and Kochi will own the remaining 74% shares, it noted.

DYF will also develop a consensus amongst the aviation stakeholders in India regarding this project. The company would also define the criteria for compliance and guidelines for the local airport systems, it said.

Digi Yatra Foundation (DYF) will be a pan-India entity and the custodian of the passenger ID validation process under this project.

"The joint venture will conduct regular audits, of various compliances and guidelines (including guidelines on security, image quality, data privacy) defined by the Digi Yatra guidelines for the local Airport Biometric Boarding Systems (BBS)," it said.

The ministry said Digi Yatra will be launched at airports in Pune, Vijayawada, Kolkata, Delhi and Hyderabad by March next year. The AAI will identify the airports where Digi Yatra would be implemented in a phased manner.

ALSO READ - Parliamentary panel call for biometric screening methods at the airports to avoid long queues

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Delhi HC asks DGCA to review mask norms in flights

Radhika Bansal

19 Jul 2022

The Delhi High Court on Monday, July 18 asked the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) to carry out a periodic review of the COVID-19 situation to decide on the norms on wearing masks during air travel while complying with the instructions issued by the central government on account of the pandemic.

A bench headed by Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma, while dealing with an application favouring the relaxation of the mandate about wearing of masks on flights, said that although there are very few cases of the virus now, the court was not an expert body that can deal with such an issue.

The bench, also comprising Justice Subramonium Prasad, stated that the court can only ensure compliance with the existing rules framed by the expert bodies and recorded DGCA's statement that it has imposed fines on several people for violating COVID-19 norms.

Delhi HC asks DGCA to review mask norms in flights

The court was hearing an application by NGO 'Bridging The Gap Foundation', filed in a PIL which was registered following the experience of a sitting judge of the high court who travelled on a domestic flight during the pandemic.

The applicant, represented by advocate Somnath Bharti, said that norms concerning the mandatory wearing of masks have been updated all over the world and the mandate needs to be reviewed here also as on one hand, a passenger is asked to wear a mask on a flight but the other hand, he is permitted to remove it if he "keeps sipping coffee" throughout his journey.

"DGCA will look into it and pass orders...Things have changed. Now there is no covid. There are very few cases. The application is disposed of with a direction that DGCA shall carry out a periodic review and adhere to the instructions issued by the Government of India from time to time," the court said.

DGCA, in its action taken report, said that it has issued the necessary orders for strict compliance with COVID-19 protocol at the airports and inside aircraft

ALSO READ - DGCA mandates masks in flights and airports as Covid-19 cases surge

On June 3, a high court called for strict action against those found violating masking and hand hygiene norms at airports and in aircraft, observing that the COVID-19 pandemic has not abated and keeps springing up its ugly head.

ALSO READ - Delhi HC advises DGCA to strictly enforce COVID-19 regulations at airports and in aircraft

DGCA, in its action taken report, said that it has issued the necessary orders for strict compliance with COVID-19 protocol at the airports and inside aircraft by all stakeholders and appropriate action has been initiated against passengers who did not wear masks despite repeated reminders and were subsequently "handed over the security staff on arrival".

The court had said a situation when the country is seeing a resurgence of COVID-2019 cases after they had shown signs of ebbing, is completely unconscionable.

"Pan India inspections are being carried on along with awareness, and exercises have been advised... The action taken report received from Delhi airport indicates that serious action is taken," the report said.

The high court had earlier taken strong note of an "alarming situation" of passengers not properly wearing masks on flights and issued guidelines to all domestic airlines and DGCA for strict compliance, including penal action for offenders and periodical checks of the aircraft.

The court had said a situation when the country is seeing a resurgence of COVID-2019 cases after they had shown signs of ebbing, is completely unconscionable.

The high court had earlier taken strong note of an "alarming situation" of passengers not properly wearing masks on flights

"Passengers in a flight are in a closed air-conditioned environment, and, even if one of the passengers suffers from COVID-19, the effect on other passengers could be cataclysmic. It is a matter of common knowledge that being within arm's length distance of a COVID-19 carrier, even if he is asymptomatic and is merely speaking, is more than sufficient to transmit the virus," it had said.

If despite being reminded, he or she refuses to follow the protocol, action should be taken against the passenger by the guidelines issued by the DGCA or Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, including placing him or her on a 'no-fly' regimen, either permanently or for a stipulated, sufficiently long period.

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Airbus and CFM collaborate to launch a flight test demonstrator for "open-fan" engine architecture


20 Jul 2022

Airbus and CFM, a joint venture between GE and Safran, are teaming up to flight test CFM's cutting-edge open-fan engine architecture.

Aviation International News

The open fan architecture is a key component of the engine maker’s “Revolutionary Innovation for Sustainable Engines” (RISE) technology development programme – which aims to demonstrate and mature a range of new technologies for future engines that could enter service by the mid-2030s.

As per a press release by Airbus, the open fan technology will also be the focus of a major Airbus flight demonstration campaign to be performed in collaboration with CFM in the second half of this decade.

CFM "Open-Fan" demonstrator | aviationweek

The joint demonstration programme will see CFM performing engine ground tests, along with flight test validation at GE Aviation’s Flight Test Operations centre in Victorville, California, USA, while the second phase of flight tests will be performed from the Airbus flight test facility in Toulouse, France, in the second half of the decade.

Apparently, the collaboration has extensive objectives which include:

evaluation of open fan propulsive efficiency and performance on an aircraftacceleration and maturity of technologies through ground testingassessment of aircraft/engine integration and aerodynamics (thrust, drag, loads) evaluation of internal and external noise levels, andfind the right design that meets both-the fuel efficiency and the acoustic targets (for the communities around airports and also for passengers inside the cabin)

However, the road to the final demonstration would involve an intensive phase of Engineering preparatory work.

We will first need to determine the flight physics constraints, design and assessments for the flight-test demonstration FTD engine installation. These will include: definition of the pylon ‘aero-lines’, assessment of loads, handling qualities and performance and preparation of modeling to support flight-test analysisPascal Arrouy, Airbus’ Open Fan Architect in the “Propulsion of Tomorrow” R&T programme explains

For these tests, the open fan engine will be mounted under the wing of a specially configured and instrumented A380 testbed aircraft. Various aircraft systems will also need to be modified and preparatory tests performed to ensure that the behaviour of the A380 flight test aircraft with an open fan engine installed can be well understood for flight clearance and data validity.


Between now and 2035, Airbus’ R&T is focused on testing various technologies to reduce aircraft emissions including alternative fuels with 100% SAF compatibility before 2030, hydrogen technologies and hybridization.

New propulsion technologies will play an important role in achieving aviation’s net-zero objectives, along with new aircraft designs and sustainable energy sources. By evaluating, maturing and validating open fan engine architecture using a dedicated flight test demonstrator, we are collaboratively making yet another significant contribution to the advancement of technology bricks that will enable us to reach our industry-wide decarbonisation targets said Sabine Klauke, Airbus Chief Technical Officer

Furthermore, Airbus is also committed to meeting the Paris Agreement targets and leading the decarbonisation of the aviation sector in full collaboration with all stakeholders – including engine manufacturers.


COVER: Flight Global

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Pratt & Whitney to launch India Engineering Center in Bengaluru

Radhika Bansal

19 Jul 2022

Aircraft engine maker Pratt & Whitney will set up a new facility in Bengaluru, which will focus on providing contract engineering services. The India Engineering Center (IEC) in Bengaluru is slated to commence operation in January next year, Pratt & Whitney (P&W) said in a statement.

The centre, which will be its first facility in the Asia Pacific and fifth globally, will enable the firm to offer engineering services on contract to its domestic and international customers.

“Pratt & Whitney’s India Engineering Center will be the first-of-its-kind investment for our company in India. The IEC will help Pratt & Whitney leverage the engineering skills our future Indian workforce will deliver, as Pratt & Whitney continues to advance the world’s only fielded geared turbofan and develop sustainable propulsion for the next generation of propulsion.”Geoff Hunt, Senior Vice President, Engineering, Pratt & Whitney

IEC will be co-located in Yelahanka, Bengaluru, with the existing Pratt & Whitney India Capability Centre (ICC) and will work closely with centres in the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico and Poland.

The IEC, which is expected to employ 500 engineers and professionals when fully staffed, has begun recruiting its first tranche of engineers and professionals, P&W said.

The company further said that DJ Dalal and Rema Ravindran have been named as Pratt and Whitney's North American project director and general manager of the IEC, respectively.

Pratt & Whitney to launch India Engineering Center in Bengaluru

Established this year as part of United Technologies Corporation India Pvt Ltd (UTCIPL), the ICC at Yelahanka is a global supply chain support and operations center, employing around 200 workforces, as per the company.

Paul Weedon, executive director, Engineering, Pratt & Whitney Canada, has also welcomed the announcement and said that the IEC will allow them to synergize with existing Pratt & Whitney Operations' capabilities in India.

"Pratt & Whitney's growth in the country represents our strong ties and deep respect for the skills India offers, skills needed for the future of aviation," said Ashmita Sethi, managing director of UTCIPL.

Pratt & Whitney has had a long-standing presence in India for almost seven decades.

The company said it has made significant investments in India, which include investment in the company's India Customer Training Center in Hyderabad; the R&D collaboration with the Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru; as well as the ICC.

Pratt & Whitney has had a long-standing presence in India for almost seven decades. Its association with the country goes back to 1960 when Air India received delivery of its first Boeing 707 powered by Pratt & Whitney's JT3D engines.

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Jet Airways nearing a deal to buy 50 A220 jets from Airbus

Radhika Bansal

19 Jul 2022

Jet Airways is near a deal to buy 50 A220 jets from Airbus, two people familiar with the matter said. The airline's board was expected to meet to finalise the deal.

"We are in an advanced stage of discussions with lessors and OEMs (manufacturers) for aircraft, and we will announce our aircraft choice and fleet plans as we make our decisions," a spokesperson for Jet Airways said.

"As we have said before, we are studying all possibilities to find the one that works best for us."Airbus declined to comment.

Jet Airways nearing a deal to buy 50 A220 jets from Airbus

ALSO READ – Jet Airways places Airbus in the lead for USD 5.5 billion aircraft order

The A320 and A220 jets seem to be winning the race to woo Jet at the moment, but reports suggest that a final decision has not been taken. For the longest time, it was assumed that Jet would continue with the 737 family of aircraft as it did in its first stint.

Jet Airways, formerly a significant player in the Indian aviation industry, has not operated since April 17, 2019, although it is being revived under the control of the Jalan-Kalrock consortium. The DGCA, the accrediting body for aviation safety, renewed its air operator licence earlier this year.

Currently, the airline has six jets in its inventory – two Airbus A330-200s, three Boeing 737-800, and one 737-900

ALSO READ - Jet Airways to lease 6-8 aircraft by December; in talks with aircraft manufacturers and lessors

Currently, the airline has six jets in its inventory – two Airbus A330-200, three Boeing 737-800, and one 737-900, with an average fleet age of 16 years; though an extensive expansion is required if it plans to rebuild its previous network.

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Is China teasing the US with its "undercover" Stealth Bomber?


19 Jul 2022

America’s Northrop Grumman B-2 Spirit is the only operational stealth bomber in the world today after having entered operational service in 1997. Well, if reports are to be believed, China too, is working on a new stealth strategic bomber, details of which aren't known much due to its classified nature.

Reportedly, China’s first intercontinental deep strike bomber, the Xian H-20, is nearing its first flight and if true, would be the world’s first publicly disclosed non-American stealth bomber ever to fly.

The Xian H-20 is touted to be nuclear-capable and may be armed with conventional, nuclear-tipped or hypersonic stealth cruise missiles, thereby sending a strong message to the United States and its Pacific allies in an era of rising geostrategic tensions.

Business Insider

Stealth fighters like the F-35, F-22, J-20, or Su-57 are all limited by the physical requirements for aerobatic fighter performance, forcing the inclusion of design elements like vertical tail surfaces that can render them detectable against low-frequency radar arrays. What's special about a stealth bomber is that it may fly over you and you may not even realize it.

Will China's H-20 be the one to kill America's monopoly on heavy-payload, deep-penetration, stealth-bomber technology or is this just another rip-off from America’s low-observable past?

According to photos released by China North Industries Corporation- Norinco, in its Modern Weaponry monthly magazine show that the fighter has a flying wing design, a weapons bay, two adjustable tail wings and a frontal airborne radar. Additionally, it also features stealth air intakes on both sides and is covered in dark grey radar-absorbent material.

Representative | Science Techniz

Reportedly, it will have a maximum takeoff weight of 200 tons, a payload of 45 tons and fly at high subsonic speeds with a claimed range of 7,500 miles without the need for aerial refuelling.

According to Warrior Maven's Kris Osborn, it could be compared to a B-2 clone.

Northrop Grumman B-2 Spirit | Wikipedia

It features a similar rounded upper fuselage, blended wing body, curved upper air inlets and essentially no vertical structures. There appears to be a fair amount of evidence, simply available to the naked eye, to demonstrate China’s overt ‘copycat’ maneuverOsborn wrote

According to Defence Website 1945, China aims to have the H-20 at operational capability by the end of the decade, which also happens to be pretty close to the US’ timeline for its B-21 Raider- the successor to the B-2 Spirit stealth bomber.

Interestingly, this concept of stealth bomber can also be compared to the Tupolev PAK DA of a similar role, configuration and era.

Tupolev PAK DA |

In 2018 China seemingly confirmed that its forthcoming H-20 stealth bomber would leverage a flying wing design reminiscent of America’s own B-2 Spirit.

Northrop’s B-21 teaser top, China’s H-20 teaser bottom |

Reportedly, The Pentagon believes the H-20’s range is “at least” 5,281 miles, as compared to the B-2’s nearly 7,000. The mainland United States is more than 7,200 miles from Chinese shores and the presence of refuelling tankers over the Pacific could potentially tip American defences off about an impending strike.

Although China has made rapid progress modernizing its military apparatus, it does not appear to have demonstrated the same capacity that the United States has for fielding extremely low observable platforms.


COVER: The Week