In a first, Airbus C295 demonstrator makes its maiden flight with a "semi-morphic" wing


31 Jan 2022

Conducted from Airbus Defence & Space’s San Pablo final assembly site in Seville, Spain, the airplane manufacturer has performed the first flight of a modified C295 military transport aircraft.

Airbus Media Centre

What is striking about this modified version is that the aircraft boasts of a new and innovative high-efficiency "semi-morphing wing” and “dynamic winglets”, coupled with the addition of a new flight control system.

The aircraft is to now start a flight campaign to test the new semi-morphing wing, the new affordable flight control system, as well as a SatCom antenna embedded within the aircraft’s fuselage.

The first flight of the C295 FTB2 is a key milestone that represents an important step forward in the programme, following the successful integration of the new aero structures, power-on and ground tests. A few years ago this programme was just a dream of a more sustainable future for aviation. Today we are at the final stage and we finally made it flysaid Francisco Javier Sánchez Segura, Executive Vice President Engineering Airbus Defence and Space

Taking forward the European Clean Sky 2 (CS2) and the EU Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme, the modified Airbus C295 flight test-bed is, what can be called an in-flight demonstrator of the aforementioned programme.

Tech and Specs

The Airbus C295 is a new-generation tactical airlifter in the light and medium segment, with multi-role capabilities ranging from air-to-air refuelling, VIP transport, emergency medical transport to functioning as a water bomber as well.

The Drive

This modified C295 features state-of-the-art technology fused with advanced features that enable it to achieve 70% NOx reductions and up to 43% CO2 reductions.

The main modifications in the aircraft are a new high-efficiency semi-morphing wing, new dynamic winglets and a flat panel SATCOM antenna integrated within the top of the fuselage.  In addition, innovative flight controls for primary control surfaces, including ailerons, flaps and flap tabs with improved aerodynamics, are capable of adjusting in-flight and contribute to a more efficient high lift system.

The Airbus C295 technology demonstrator of Clean Sky 2 makes its maiden flight | Youtube

The new flight control system leverages digital control systems to optimise the aerodynamic shape of the wing in flight, while a new multifunctional flap has been completely redesigned and includes flap tabs in the trailing edge controlled by electromechanical actuators.

Morphic wings- a brief history and why it could be the next gamechanger

Reportedly, commercial airlines spend about one-fourth of their operating expenses on fuel. Modern aircraft engines and aircraft design have already reached near-peak levels of efficiency, where could we focus to improve performance?

For over decades, aerospace engineers have been working on twistable aircraft wings that could be instantaneously and minutely adjusted to improve fuel efficiency. While this might sound something out of a sci-fi movie, the concept of a "morphic wing" has been around since the mid-1980s, when the U.S. Air Force tested Mission Adaptive Wings that were built by Boeing and installed on an F-111 aircraft. Although the technology was intended only for fighter jets, it soon faded away in the dark of the night.

F-111 Aardvark | Representative | Wikipedia

The flexible wing concept has advanced greatly from then to now. How does it work?

Technically, an aircraft’s wings are designed to produce minimum drag at only one particular flight condition. ''Morphic wings" with shape-changing control surfaces can minimize drag for a wide range of conditions—a feat that has never before been achieved in commercial flight.

Nanotube-based skins could make morphing wing technology soar | National Research Council Canada

The flexible surface adjusts the curvature of the wings’ trailing edges to deliver an optimal lift-to-drag ratio throughout the test flights, whereas flaps on today’s airplanes pivot to generate lift or drag only during takeoffs and landings. Additionally, an analysis by NASA has also shown that this surface could lead to quieter landings and possibly even less turbulent flights.

Did you know? India has formalised the acquisition of 56 Airbus C295 aircraft to replace the Indian Air Force (IAF) legacy AVRO fleet



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Vistara cancels and reschedules several flights in February

Radhika Bansal

31 Jan 2022

Vistara airline had cancelled several flights for February while many more were rescheduled due to low demand, sources in aviation disclosed on Sunday, January 30.

The cancellation and rescheduling of flights have led to several complaints from affected passengers. Taking to Twitter, a passenger also raised concern over the unavailability of Vistara's customer care.

"Dear Vistara airlines You have cancelled a ticket from New Delhi to Bhubaneswar on February 5. Your customer care number is a cheap gimmick I think. No one responds and It's been busy for 48 hours. Please refund the full amount ASAP," Shibashis Prusti, a scientist of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) tweeted.

Furnishing a reply on the same, Vistara Spokesperson on Monday, January 31 informed that they are offering a waiver of change fee for one-time rescheduling on all direct bookings with travel until March 31.

"After a sharp decline in demand for air travel, due to the surge in COVID-19 numbers and restrictions imposed by various state governments, we are observing a marginal increase in traffic in February compared to the previous month.However, because of volatility, we continue to closely monitor the situation and adjust capacity to demand. To minimise inconvenience to customers, we're offering a waiver of change fee for one-time rescheduling on all direct bookings with travel until 31 March."Spokesperson, Vistara

The airline further mentioned that they expect a marginal increase in traffic in February compared to January after a sharp decline in air travel given the surge in COVID-19 cases and restrictions imposed by state governments. The airline also said they will continue to closely monitor the coronavirus situation and will adjust passenger capacity to demand.

Vistara also said that they will be assisting the impacted customers with rescheduling, refunds etc., as applicable. Due to a surge in Covid Omicron cases, the demand for air travel was slashed, forcing airlines to rework their domestic schedules - and even cancel flights.

Recently, the country's largest airline IndiGo had announced the withdrawal of 20% of its scheduled flights due to low demand.

ALSO READ - IndiGo waives rescheduling fees and may slash flights by 20% due to Omicron

Full-service carrier Vistara had said it is adjusting capacity with changing demand, and, an Air India official said that some flights on routes with multiple daily services are being merged based on load factor.

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How nanotechnology might be the future of the aerospace industry


30 Jan 2022

Air travel and tourism are key drivers and an important link in world economics. That said, aviation and aerospace are significantly one of the heaviest industries worldwide. Technological advancements are key to remaining competitive in this industry where cut-throat competition is the norm. And this couldn't be further from the truth, especially at a time when the whole world is ravaged by the viral pandemic and its consequences. Nevertheless, aviation will always make a comeback, and this time, much stronger-we have a knack for that.

Aviation has had its share of ups and downs throughout these times as we've seen the unfortunate disappearance of mighty jets like the Airbus A380 and Boeing B747. Operators now prefer to use the much smaller, more fuel-efficient narrow-bodies like the B737 and A320 family, which does make sense now. And it might be some time before the jumbos make a come-back.


To drive more profits, the focus has been on producing more economical engines and hence more research has been directed towards lighter structural materials, even more so than the ones in place currently. The goal now is to control fuel consumption and carbon emissions connected with air travel and transportation as awareness of climate change has advocated the need for higher fuel efficiency.

Representative | Open Access Government

Use(s) of nanotechnology

Nanotechnology, an ever-evolving discipline, finds several uses within the aerospace industry.

Now, nanotechnology, more precisely nanomaterials, allows creating almost perfect material. As an example, improvised steel enhances performance and passenger safety while saving notable money. These materials exhibit considerably enhanced properties matched to their counterparts with microscale or larger grain structures.

Nanomaterials are engineered particles made to have remarkably small dimensions to take advantage of unique physical and chemical properties that exist at the nanoscale.


With dimensions between approximately 1 and 100 nanometers – about the size of a virus -nanomaterials have unusual physical, chemical and biological properties that can differ significantly from the properties of bulk materials, including single atoms or molecules. These differences enable the aerospace industry to do several things including engineering aircraft structures that are flexible and adaptive, developing innovative energy generation and storage systems for air travel and manufacturing sensors that monitor virtually every element of air travel.

Developments so far

Smart Intelligent Aircraft Structures (SARISTU)

 An EU-funded project is concerned with the challenges posed by the physical integration of smart intelligent structural concepts. Basically, It addresses aircraft weight and operational cost reductions as well as an improvement in the flight profile specific aerodynamic performance. It focuses on material concepts enabling a conformal, controlled distortion of aerodynamically important surfaces, material concepts enabling an active or passive status assessment of specific airframe areas for shape and potential damages and material concepts enabling further functionalities which to date have been unrealizable.

A "morphing wing" design which could revolutionize future air travel | Representative | Inhabitat

Reduction in drag, meaning that less fuel is needed to complete a flight. New aerodynamic designs are also lighter and generate less noise. This will help reduce the impact of overhead aircraft on neighbourhoods near airports.

Project ReSiSTant | Horizon 2020 EU NMBP-Pilot Project

ReSiSTant, an acronym for Large Riblet Surface with Super Hardness, Mechanical and Temperature Resistance by neofunctionalization, is focussed on developing new nanofunctionalized and optimised riblets’ surfaces to be applied in two real demonstrators related to aircraft turbofan engines and industrial compressors.

The four-year project ReSiSTant, launched in 2018, is optimising the performance of aircraft turbofan engines and industrial compressors while reducing environmental impact.

Representative | Live Science

ReSiSTant demonstrators are led by relevant industrial companies in aircraft and industrial compressors sectors, thus project improvements will notably impact Europe. It will be translated into environmental benefits thanks to the reduction in fuel consumption and carbon emissions as well as into economic growth.

Nanoparticles in aviation fuel

According to researchers in Canada, the simple addition of nanoparticles to a hydrocarbon fuel can drastically alter the characteristics of its combustion, into what is touted to boost aircraft efficiency.

Representative | NC State University

According to  Sepehr Mosadegh and colleagues at the University of British Columbia Okanagan Campus and Zentek in Thunder Bay Ontario, mixing liquid ethanol with tiny particles of graphene oxide under varying conditions could boost the breakdown of the fuel into tiny liquid droplets, which could one day, perhaps, lead to enhanced fuels for aircraft engines – making them both greener and more powerful.

If achieved on a commercial scale, this innovation could be a crucial step forward in urgently needed efforts to reduce carbon-dioxide emissions by the aviation industry.

The warming effect of aeroplane contrails on Earth’s climate could increase threefold by 2050according to new research done by Lisa Bock and Ulrike Burkhardt at the German Aerospace Centre in Oberpfaffenhofen

Physics World

Hence it becomes imperative that better, more efficient combinations of fuel are used to mitigate carbon emissions from aircraft.

To summarize, the benefits of adopting nanotechnology in aviation has immense benefits with much of its potential yet to be tapped into.  The reduction of the total weight of the aircraft translates to a significant reduction in fuel consumption, which in turn leads to a reduction in costs-Profits being a major factor driving this industry.


COVER: Air Liquide Advanced Technologies

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IndiGo and SpiceJet shares experience turbulence as ATF price rises


29 Jan 2022

Benchmark Brent crude oil prices have surpassed INR 6,750 per barrel on account of growing tensions between Russia and Ukraine as the former is one of the world’s largest oil exporters. If the situation aggravates further, there is a risk of oil prices inching up even more.

This is worrisome for investors in airline stocks as Aviation Turbine Fuel (ATF) forms a significant portion of the operating expenses. This situation is creating a huge rift in Indian aviation stocks, InterGlobe Aviation Ltd and SpiceJet Ltd has become tougher.

Further, expectations from the upcoming Union Budget are running low, too. According to an analyst, who spoke under the condition of anonymity, “Reduction in value-added-tax (VAT) on ATF and decrease in customs duties on repairs are among the few wishes of the airline operators. However, these are not expected to be quenched by the government in the forthcoming budget as it continues to prioritize other more drastically affected sectors.”

One consistent expectation of airlines has been to bring ATF under the ambit of the goods and service tax (GST). Such a decision could provide relief in way of an input tax credit.

Going ahead, demand revival and operating at full capacity will remain a primary catalyst for airline stocks. Here, the pace of recovery has slowed down in the domestic market lately.

In a report on January 24, ICICI Securities Ltd said, “The number of weekly average daily fliers stood at 168k in the week ended (W.E) January 22, 2022, versus 192k in the W.E. January 15, 2022.”

Because of the looming threat of the third covid-19 wave, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has extended the suspension of scheduled international commercial passenger services till the end of February 2022.

Of course, it helps that the restriction will not apply to international all-cargo operations, which have been a lifesaver for airlines amidst the pandemic. Robust e-commerce growth due to pandemic led restrictions and higher demand for medicines and vaccines prompted big airlines to utilize the idle passenger aircraft to transport cargo thereby compensating the subdued passenger demand to an extent.

Even so, both IndiGo and SpiceJet have incurred losses owing to the pandemic. After incurring massive losses in FY21, IndiGo and SpiceJet’s net loss for the half-year ended September stood at about INR 4,600 crore and INR 1,300 crore, respectively. As of September 30, both airlines had negative net-worth.

As such, the December quarter is expected to be better. In a report on January 14, HSBC analysts said, “We forecast INR 310 crore net loss at IndiGo and INR 170 crore loss at SpiceJet; so, on a sequential basis the numbers should be much better.”

In 2020, shares of IndiGo have increased by 18% vis-à-vis around 20% drop in SpiceJet’s shares. Investors believe IndiGo’s stronger balance sheet holds it in good stead.

But, a challenging operating environment and the potential rise in competitive intensity with new entrants such as Akasa Air are key near-term worries for airline stocks, which may well keep investor sentiments low.

(With Inputs from Live Mint)

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China Airlines B747 engine sustains damage after a collision with a baggage cart

Radhika Bansal

29 Jan 2022

A China Airlines Boeing 747-400F suffered damage to its engine number 2 after colliding with a baggage cart while taxiing at Chicago O'Hare International Airport on Friday, January 28 morning (ORD). The Chicago Department of Aviation reports that there were no injuries as a result of the incident, which occurred around 6:30 a.m.

The plane involved in the incident, according to local reports, was a Boeing 747-400F with the registration B-18715. The jumbo plane's engine number 2 was damaged after colliding with a baggage cart while taxiing at O'Hare. The engine was severely damaged, as evidenced by images shared on social media.

(Image Courtesy - Twitter - JACDEC)

After operating flight CI5240 between Taipei and Chicago via Anchorage, the Boeing 747-400F landed. The flight left Taipei at 10:30 a.m. local time on January 27, 2022, according to data provided by

It arrived in Anchorage at 22:25 before departing for Chicago, where the incident occurred. According to the Chicago Department of Aviation, no injuries were reported as a result of the incident. The plane has been on the ground since the incident.

(Image Courtesy - Worldakkam)

China Airlines is a Taiwanese airline that was founded in 1959 and is based at Taipei Taoyuan International Airport (TPE). According to data provided by ch-aviation, it serves 27 countries with 84 destinations and 128 routes.

The airline currently operates a fleet of 88 aircraft, including 18 Boeing 747-400 freighters. Aside from B-18715, which was involved in the Chicago incident today, B-18723, another China Airlines B747, is currently undergoing maintenance. All of the remaining planes are flying.

(Image Courtesy - Wikimedia Commons)

B-18715 was a plane first ordered by China Airlines on November 28, 2002. One year later, in August 2003, it had its first flight, and Boeing delivered it to the carrier. China Airlines has confirmed it will retire the aircraft in 2027.

As of November 2021, B-18715 had 77,862 total hours and 14,244 flight cycles. In 2021, the aircraft totalled 4,588.06 hours and 923 cycles, a 9% and 12.3% increase compared to the use it had in 2019, before the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the last 15 days, China Airlines Boeing 747-400, registered as B-18715, has had two unrelated incidents. The first happened on January 16, as the aircraft was taking off as flight CI5240 from Taipei.

According to The Aviation Herald, the jumbo freighter experienced problems on its outboard right-hand engine as it was climbing from Taipei’s runway 05L.

The crew stop the climb at 7,000 feet and shut the engine down after hearing a series of bangs and streaks of flames coming from the engine. Following that, the crew dumped fuel and returned to Taipei safely. The Boeing 747-400 only spent 36 hours on the ground and quickly re-entered service following this incident.

(With Inputs from Simple Flying)

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Air India attempts to settle USD 1.2 billion lawsuit in the US, referencing a new owner

Radhika Bansal

29 Jan 2022

Air India Ltd. is seeking to end a case filed by Devas Multimedia Pvt. in a U.S. court, arguing a recent change in ownership of the carrier prevents demands over recovery of arbitration awards.

Devas demands USD 1.2 billion from the Indian government after winning three international arbitration awards over a scrapped telecommunications deal with a state-run firm.

Air India attempts to settle USD 1.2 billion lawsuits in the US, referencing a new owner

The company is seeking to seize overseas assets of the formerly government-owned flag carrier, which was handed over to Indian conglomerate Tata Sons Pvt. on Thursday, January 27 saying the national carrier is an alter ego of the Indian government.

Air India’s filing in a U.S. court came on Thursday, January 27, the same day new management took over, ending years of taxpayer-funded bailouts for the airline, and helping Prime Minister Narendra Modi successfully execute the first major privatization in nearly two decades. Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said last week the nation will begin the process of winding up Devas.

The district court in New York can dismiss and dispose of Devas’ case entirely based on Air India’s request, or it can identify remaining issues in the case if the demand is denied, according to a filing by the airline.

In an interview before Air India’s latest filing, Devas’ lawyers said they will continue their efforts to recover the arbitration award money from assets of the Indian government in several countries. Matthew McGill, counsel for shareholders of Devas, said the company will initiate a new arbitration against the Indian government.

(With Inputs from Bloomberg)