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Volume 26, Number 21c
May 24, 2019
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Praetor 600 Certificated
Kate O'Connor

Embraer’s Praetor 600 business jet has received type certificates from the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and the U.S Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the company announced on Monday at the European Business Aviation Conference and Exhibition (EBACE) in Geneva, Switzerland. As previously reported by AVweb, the aircraft was introduced at the National Business Aviation Association convention in October 2018.

“Just over six months since its launch and debut, the Praetor 600 has already been outperforming its certification goals, raising expectations of the ideal super-midsize,” said Embraer Executive Jets CEO Michael Amalfitano. According to Amalfitano, Embraer hopes to begin deliveries in the second quarter of 2019.

The Praetor 600 is powered by two Honeywell HTF 7500E turbofan engines and can seat up to 12 passengers. It has a top cruise speed of 466 KTAS, a maximum operating altitude of 45,000 feet and a range of 4,018 NM at long-range cruise with four passengers. Features include the Collins Aerospace Pro Line Fusion flight deck, full fly-by-wire technology, active turbulence reduction and a 5,800-foot cabin altitude. The aircraft received its type certificate from Brazil’s Civil Aviation Authority (ANAC—Ag�ncia Nacional de Avia��o Civil) in April.

Pipistrel's Electric Future
Paul Bertorelli

Because it's just not practical to call multirotor flying machines “those multirotor thingies” we’ve come up with two terms to describe them, one for the machine itself and one for the market we imagine they will serve, such that we can imagine anything accurately in the midst of what’s clearly a revolution in aviation.

The machine label is EVTOL for electric vertical takeoff and landing, and the aspirational market segment is called, generically, urban mobility. This defines that imaginary world in which half the population of a city can potentially be whisked from one corner of the metro area to another in an autonomous, battery operated vehicle that’s quiet, cheap, free of emissions and actually exists. I’d say pick two because you can’t have all four, but it’s accurate to say you can’t have any at all for the time being.

The existing part is getting there, though, and this week I’ve been visiting Pipistrel, the creative Slovenian aircraft company that’s as far out front with this technology as anyone. They recently stood up a new division called Pipistrel Vertical Solutions and moved into a glitzy glass building in Ajdovscina, a charming little town in the Vipava valley about 16 kilometers east of the Italian border.

As we’ve reported, Pipistrel is one of several companies Uber Elevate has engaged to develop the vehicles that will fulfill the company’s vision of easily accessible, inexpensive three-dimensional urban transportation. Uber has in mind cityscape structures called Vertiports that would accommodate rooftop landings of EVTOLs, with elevators transporting passengers to the street level and perhaps to an Uber electric ride-share to the destination.

Pipistrel has a dog in this fight in the form of a proposed concept vehicle. It won’t be revealed until June 11 at Uber's Elevate conference in Washington, so I can’t reveal even the minimal detail Pipistrel showed me during my visit. Four other companies are in the running for Uber’s business, including Aurora Flight Sciences, Bell, Embraer and Karem, an aerospace company that emerged from the drone segment, specifically the Predator. Of the five, Pipistrel has, by far, the most electric aircraft experience since it’s the only company delivering commercially viable manned electric flying machines. With its helicopter history, Bell is clearly out in front with vertical flight experience, although Embraer recently partnered with an Italian company to build and market its own business helicopters.

Uber wants to start flying demonstrations with these vehicles next year, with limited commercial service by 2023. There’s reason to doubt that timeline and further reason to doubt the validity of the underlying flight-based ride hailing concept, but, curiously, not the vehicles themselves. The technology in the form of batteries, reliable and powerful electric motors and autonomous control systems are right on the cusp of economic viability, says Pipistrel founder Ivo Boscarol.

Stipulating that the ride-share economics can be made to work, the largest barrier may not be the technology nor even FAA/EASA certification but what Pipistrel’s Tine Tomazic calls the related ecosystem, to include the infrastructure to support what Uber envisions as swarms of these vehicles. Tomazic said he was at a recent conference in which a city official poignantly observed that the entire urban mobility idea turns on what cities will allow these things to operate. Safety is an issue, of course, but in Europe and the U.S., noise may be the major driver. That alone has kept helicopters from gaining a useful foothold in intracity air taxi. If you’ve ever heard a multirotor drone fly, multiply that sound times five or 10 to imagine what a people-carrying version might sound like.

So all five companies, including Pipistrel, are hard are work developing ways to mitigate the racket. Interestingly, some of these, if all not all of them, may require something these vehicles don’t have an abundance of: power. Continuing energy density limitations of lithium ion batteries mean that the pure electric EVTOLs need all the amps they can get just to fly the basic mission, never mind schemes that might soak up more power to reduce the noise signature.

This has prompted more discussion about the hybrid or range-extender solution. In the EVTOL context, a hybrid is likely to be a serial design, in which an internal combustion engine drives a generator that can run the electric motors directly while also charging a smaller battery array than a pure electric aircraft would have. The tradeoff is weight against payload, complexity and reliability and emissions. Tomazic reminds us that combustion engines require fuel and cities with increasingly strict environmental regulations might not want liquid fuel hanging around the top of a five-story landing port in the middle of the downtown area. Maybe hydrogen? Maybe another discussion.

Pipistrel sees a dichotomy in the potential EVOTL market. A hybrid with a 300-mile-plus range for intercity transportation, possibly including cargo, and essentially the identical vehicle as a pure electric for the air taxi role. Right now, the range of such a thing pencils out to about 40 miles between charges, 60 at a stretch, but that taxes the all-important battery cycle life and the economics look less attractive if the batteries have to be replaced too often. Practical battery energy density now hovers at about 200 wH per kg and although it’s improving at the rate of 5% a year, it’s a long way from reaching capacities that would allow an EVTOL to fly all day and charge overnight.

Uber is leaning toward the pure-electric solution, but it’s hard to imagine they’ll stick with that. Given the range limitations, a mix of vehicles is likely. In addition to the weight penalty of the hybrid solution, there’s the challenge of what the hydrocarbon powerplant might be. Hydrogen isn’t on the table at the moment, but piston engines are and so are small turbines of the sort used for APUs now. These aren’t necessarily ideal because of the duty cycle is different and Tomazic says the foreseeable demand for potential hybrid aircraft is too small to ignite investment in new, purpose-made small turbines. It’s impossible to say when that disruption will occur, but it’s likely to eventually.

What’s the timeline likely to be here? No one knows that, either. Tomazic’s guess is that by 2028—about a decade from now—enough of these vehicles will be fielded to begin to notice them. But it’s doubtful that the role will be solely air taxi, if that market even potentiates at all.

While I was here, we toured Pipistrel’s new factory across the border in Gorizia, Italy, where I got my hands on a factory fresh Alpha Electro trainer, the only commercially viable such aircraft available. These airplanes are trickling down to the line at the rate of three to five a month, which is more than Ivo Boscarol thought the company would sell. The market is still a niche, but robust enough that Pipistrel is investing in a certified version with improved batteries. Global regulations have made it difficult to use the Electro for training, yet Pipistrel has sold about 60 nonetheless. Some flight schools are finding ways to employ them usefully.

The current version is much refined from the prototype I flew here in 2015. It’s much smoother, seems quieter and is generally just further down the developmental path. The battery monitoring system is prominent on the panel and there’s just no chance you’d miss knowing how much endurance remains. Right now, the Electro is reliably a 50-minute airplane with 20-minute reserve. Inside the cockpit, it’s not the quiet hum you might imagine from an electric motor because there is prop and slipstream noise. But no exhaust note, so with headsets off, you can converse normally. Its performance is virtually identical the Rotax-powered version, with the exception of the short endurance.

On the drive back to the offices in Slovenia, Ivo Boscarol told me one of those if-we-only-knew stories. He said when the Electro was first launched, the company had little idea how far they had to go to give it a strong commercial presence. While it’s not there yet, Pipistrel can at least say it’s further along than anyone else. Watch for a video on my factory visit in a couple of weeks.

Note to Readers: Our commenting section will be back to normal by, well, soon. Promise. We apologize for the inconvenience, but the site will be better for it. In the meantime, if you have a comment, email us and we'll append it to the blog.

JP International 'Checklist for JPI
Taquan Air Suspends Flights (UPDATED)
Marc Cook

Alaskan airline and tour company Taquan Air has suspended all flying activities after a fatal crash just a week after another of its De Havilland Beaver seaplanes was involved in a midair collision on May 14 that killed a total of six people. On Monday, a Taquan Air Beaver was involved in a second fatal accident, this time in Metlakatla Harbor. Witnesses say the Beaver flipped over on landing and came to rest inverted.

Rescue crews were unable to save the passenger, identified as Sarah Luna, and the pilot, Ron Rash. The NTSB’s Clint Johnson elaborated, saying, “Witnesses watched the airplane landing to the west and there was a wind, about 10 knots, and sometime during the touchdown, a float got caught. The aircraft then cartwheeled and landed inverted. It eventually came to rest upside down. The folks who saw the incident are shaken up.”

Taquan Air posted this message on its website: ”As you can imagine the past 24 hours have been incredibly overwhelming and we are reeling from not only the incident yesterday, but also from last week. It’s been a really heavy and heartbreaking time for us. Our priority has been our passengers and their families and our internal staff, and pilots. We have voluntarily suspended all of our operations until further notice. We are grateful for your patience and the outpouring of community support and we will update you as soon as we have more information to share.”

The NTSB has published the prelimiary investigation of the May 14 crash.

According to the NTSB, the airplanes collided about 3,350 feet MSL near the west side of the George Inlet, east of Mahoney Lake. "The DHC-3 [Taquan turbine Otter] pilot stated the flight from the Misty Fjords area had proceeded normally, and he had descended and was maneuvering the airplane to show passengers a waterfall near Mahoney Lake when the collision occurred. He had not observed any potential conflicting traffic on his flight display that included Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) system data. He last recalled looking at his ADS-B display when he was flying over Carroll Inlet.

"Just prior to the collision, he saw a flash from his left side, and experienced a large, loud impact. According to the pilot, the DHC-3 airplane then rolled right and pitched about 40 degrees nose down toward the water in George Inlet. He stated that he was able to maintain some control and flare the airplane prior to impact. The pilot estimated that the airplane impacted the water about five seconds after the collision." One passenger died aboard the Otter, nine had serious injuries, and one had minor injuries.

All four passengers and the pilot aboard the other aircraft, a De Havilland Beaver, were killed when it broke up after the collision. According to the NTSB report, "Examination of the DHC-2 [Beaver] wreckage showed the right wing had several mechanical cuts from the right aileron inboard to the wing root. Each successive cut penetrated further inboard and forward into the wing structure. Each cut had distinct downward deformation of the upper and lower wing skins, consistent with impacts from propeller blades."

The NTSB is investigating the most recent landing crash now.

The Pilot's Lounge #146: Your First Line of Insurance Defense
Rick Durden

I happened to run into Armando during my last visit to the pilot’s lounge at the virtual airport. He’s been around the aviation insurance world for some years, is a CFI and has a common-sense approach to the world. We had some of the lounge’s lousy coffee as we chatted and watched takeoffs and landings through the picture windows.

We talked insurance and what happens after a pilot has the misfortune to bend an airplane and make a claim with the insurance company. He commented that he’d observed that most of the aviation insurers try and make the claims process as painless as possible because most of the claims people are pilots and they have some understanding of the unpleasantness of the aftermath of an accident. We exchanged stories of friends who had had minor mishaps—that didn’t even involve insurance claims—and how they, as with most pilots, second-guessed themselves over the event, what caused it, the role they played in it and what they’d done, or hadn’t done, to prevent it. They second-guessed themselves for years.

It may be self-selection for the types of people who become pilots, but Armando and I commented that most every pilot we know obviously gives a damn about flying and those who have had an incident or accident are usually terribly upset by it.

As our conversation continued, Armando commented that he’s been glad to see that most pilots and aircraft owners have recognized and acted on one of the harsh truisms of aviation—if you have a risk, you buy insurance to cover it. I laughed and mentioned that I was pleased that I hadn’t recently heard anybody making oddball claims about magic ways to avoiding liability for a crash so that it wasn’t necessary to buy insurance. The “just put your airplane into a corporation and you can’t be sued following an accident” yahoos fortunately seem to have gone silent. Maybe they followed their own advice and discovered that because it was their grubby palms on the yoke when they rolled the airplane up into a ball that they were personally liable for damages even though the airplane was owned by a corporation.

Armando was quiet for a moment. Then he said, “You’ve got insurance, I’ve got insurance, all of the pilots I know have insurance, but it seems to me that our first line of defense—with insurance in place as a backup—is our willingness to fly precisely, to be in the habit of always flying as if precision matters, so that we cut the risk of tearing up an airplane and having to make use of our insurance."

Armando has a way of cutting through the fog. It’d be stupid to own an airplane and fly it without insurance—anyone who can afford ownership probably has some assets she or he wants to protect. But, the smart thing to do is to fly as if we didn’t have insurance—as if the only thing that separates us from the bankruptcy is our skill with the airplane.

I suddenly thought about what Richard Bach did in the mid-1960s—before his stunning ability to write was recognized by the world—when he decided to see if he could make a living giving rides as a barnstormer in a pretty beat-up 1929 Detroit-Parks biplane. As he prepared, he contacted his insurance agent to get coverage for what he wanted to do—land in farm fields and give rides to whomever showed up with five bucks in cash. After a couple of weeks, he was told by the agent that he could find no company that would write a policy to cover barnstorming.

Bach thought about things for a while and decided that his protection would be his intimate knowledge of his airplane and his ability to fly it precisely. He already could take its Wright engine apart and put it back together, and knew its strengths and weaknesses, so he set out to make sure he could get out of the airplane every bit of performance that was built in. He practiced until he knew precisely how much altitude he had to have to return and land on a field if the engine quit on takeoff; he worked on his skills until he was confident that he could pull the power to idle at 1000 feet and touch down within a few feet of a selected point as well as safely use a runway that was only a couple of feet wider than his landing gear. On top of that, he got to such a level of proficiency with his airplane that he could pick up a handkerchief from the ground with a wingtip—yes, while in flight.

Bach’s determination paid off—he successfully barnstormed off and on for some years, writing about it in the classic, Nothing by Chance.

After Armando washed out his coffee cup, put it on the drying rack and headed out of the lounge, I kept thinking about what he said. If you don’t bend an airplane, you never have to worry about filing an insurance claim or waking up at two in the morning agonizing, asking “Why? Why? Why?” without an answer. It seemed to me that a pilot that follows a combination of what Armando said and what Richard Bach did will establish an effective first line of defense and go a long way toward having a bent-airplane-free life.

OK, the theory sounds great, but how do you make it work?

Because It May Really Matter

I thought about the flying I do most of the time—from runways at least 75 feet wide and over 3000 feet long. That kind of real estate will tolerate all sorts of sloppiness. Unless I’m in a tailwheel airplane, the chances are that the airplane won’t try to swap ends if I touch down yawed slightly. If I carry 20 extra knots on final and float 1000 feet down the runway, I’ll still be able to get stopped by the end. That’s real life.

Yet real life in aviation has a way of knocking pilots upside the head when they least expect it. There’s the crosswind that is a little stronger than forecast; there’s the departure from the resort airstrip with trees at the end that got delayed until the heat of the afternoon and two of your passengers bought souvenirs that they just had to have and weighed 30 pounds, so now there’s a question of clearing the trees on takeoff; there’s the airplane that blows a tire and blocks the sole runway at your destination as you’re on downwind with 45 minutes of fuel on board—it’s going to take an hour to move the disabled airplane and your alternatives are landing on the narrow taxiway parallel to the runway or diverting to a 2500-foot grass strip 90 degrees to the existing wind . . .

The problem is that we don’t know when having instilled a habit of flying precisely is going to make the difference between a landing that keeps you on the edge of—but inside—your skill level and one where you lose it on rollout and have to make an insurance claim.

We spend most of our aeronautical lives tolerating big altitude deviations in cruise, letting headings wander 20 degrees one way or another as we wander down the magenta line and tack on 10-20 extra knots down final because the airplane “feels” better—and we almost always get away with it. Almost.

The reality is that we can’t spend every second flying in hyper-alert mode dodging unknown and unnamed dangers coming at us in full stealth mode so that we avoid any risk of an accident. What we can do is decide that flying precisely and knowing our airplane is a point of pride as a pilot. If we didn’t think we were pretty good pilots, we wouldn’t be flying. We take pride in the landing where it’s simply not possible to identify the moment that the wheels started to roll on touchdown. We take pride in that crosswind takeoff where we hold the ailerons into the wind so that the airplane lifts off and makes an immediate, coordinated turn into the wind, setting up the correct angle of crab, and we climb out right over the centerline of the runway. We take pride in those events because they are an embodiment, a demonstration of the skill level we’ve worked so very hard to achieve.

So, why not take things one step further? Why not make precision flight and intimate knowledge of one’s airplane twin roots of the pride we take in flying? Why not double-check the weight and balance data for the airplane we routinely fly, memorize how much weight we can carry in the cabin with full fuel and how we’ll have to distribute the load? It’ll make that go/no go hot summer day takeoff decision nearly automatic.

While you’ve got the POH in your hand, why not sit in the left seat and run through all of the emergency procedures, touching each switch or control as you do so? On your last flight review you may have done some of the emergencies outlined, but I’m willing to bet you didn’t do all of them.

This training time doesn’t cost anything and it’s in the airplane you fly, so what you practice will carry over directly to what might happen in the real world. If you have an engine fire, should the cabin air vents be open or closed? It varies between airplanes. Do you know for sure? Is there a way to block the doors open before you land after an engine stoppage? Check and see—on Cessna singles it’s easy to open the doors (in flight they will streamline open about an inch) and you can then rotate the door handle to the locked position, which extends the locking pin so far aft that the door will not close during the rollout after landing. That way, you aren’t delayed getting out of the airplane by a stuck door.

On other airplanes you may have to stick something between the door and the frame that will stay in place. While you’re in the airplane, why not look around and figure out what you can use for that task?

Why not use the POH and put together a V-speed card? List the speeds that really matter to you: VX, VY, VA and the speed to hold on final for a short-field landing. Stick it someplace where you can find it fast. If it is a warm day and a short field, knowing VX for the airplane’s weight just might matter.

Some time ago you became a member of the tiny fraction of our population who has learned how to operate a flying machine. You are one of fewer than one-tenth of one percent of the population of the U.S. who possesses such a skill and knowledge set. I hope that you’re proud of what you’ve accomplished—you deserve to be. I’ve come to think that a pilot should not tarnish what she or he has accomplished by giving less than a full effort to fly precisely each time there is the opportunity to rise up off of the ground—away from the mundane—and go fly. It seems to me that it’s worthwhile to strive to fly as perfectly as we can every time we strap in—if for no other reason than because we know that the better we do something, the more fun it is. And, yes, when it comes down to whatever end-of-the-day cliche you prefer, we fly because it is fun.

For sheer enjoyment and because we are proud of what we can do, shouldn’t we establish a habit of flying our airplanes to the best of our abilities? Shouldn’t we seek to nail climb speeds and cruise altitudes and land exactly on centerline, within a few feet of a spot we’ve selected? After all, if we get into the habit of thinking about our airplanes and flying them with elan, it seems to me that we’ll enjoy our flying much more and when Murphy’s Law kicks in and things start going down the tubes, the odds are that we’ll put the airplane on the ground under our terms, where we want it, under control and won’t bend it.

That’s when we’ll demonstrate that our determination to fly at the highest level, all of the time, is really our first line of insurance defense when something goes wrong.

Rick Durden is a CFII, holds an ATP with type ratings in the Douglas DC-3 and Cessna Citation and is the author of The Thinking Pilot’s Flight Manual or, How to Survive Flying Little Airplanes and Have a Ball Doing it, Vols. 1 & 2.

Denali Prototype Nears Completion
Kate O'Connor

Textron Aviation has announced that it is getting close to completing its Cessna Denali prototype as well as the first two flight and three ground test articles for the clean-sheet, high-performance, single-engine turboprop. According to Textron, the prototype and the first two production conforming aircraft will be used in the flight test program, while the three ground test articles will be used for airframe static and fatigue tests, along with cabin interior development and testing. The company expects the flight test program to begin later this year.

“The result of the work we are doing now in design, production and testing is going to provide a mature configuration that will help us move through certification and flight testing, ultimately bringing a proven aircraft to the market,” said Senior Vice President of Engineering at Textron Aviation Chris Hearne. Textron says it has also completed component integration for the Denali iron bird, a simulator test rig which “incorporates the design of the aircraft’s avionics, electrical and engine control systems, then positions them in a framework that makes the systems easy to access during testing.”

The Denali is designed to seat up to nine passengers and convert easily between passenger and cargo configurations. It will be powered by the new 1300-SHP GE Catalyst engine, which completed initial altitude chamber testing this month. The aircraft is expected to have a maximum cruise speed of 285 KTAS, service ceiling of 31,000 feet, full fuel payload of 1100 pounds and range of up to 1,600 NM.

EBACE News: Pegasus VTOL Bizjet
Marc Cook

The Pegasus VTOL business jet made an appearance at EBACE this year, albeit as a scale model. Based in Pretoria, South Africa, Pegasus Universal Aerospace is working toward a VTOL, twin-engine jet capable of either vertical liftoff or rolling takeoff, and a cruise speed of 430 knots.

While even a full-scale cabin mock-up is still in the future, the Pegasus One promises a lot of high technology wrapped around a six- to eight-seat cabin. Using a pair of GE CT7-8 turboshaft engines capable of 2300 SHP each, the Pegasus One will employ four vertical-lift fans in the thick center section of the wing as well as two aft-facing thrust fans driven by those same engines through a collection of computer-controlled gearboxes. When not needed, the lift fans are louvered over to reduce drag.

Planned maximum gross weight is under 12,600 pounds, according to the company, while its range will be heavily dependent on the type of takeoff required: It would be almost 2400 NM with a rolling takeoff but just under 1200 NM when departing vertically.

“We are working hard to build a full-scale cabin mock-up of Pegasus One, which we plan to bring to London to start a demonstration tour of Europe in 2020 to drum up interest,” said Reza Mia, the Pegasus “founding chairman and visionary.” “We look forward to meeting forward-thinking investors and, of course, potential operators during the tour.” According to reports, Pegasus believes it will take $400 million to certify the design.

The company hopes the Pegasus One will open up a "a new era of point-to-point travel, with the capability to land in a built-up area, helipad, yacht and on any surface, including grass or gravel.”

New Air Force Secretary Nominee Announced
Kate O'Connor

President Trump announced via Twitter on Tuesday that he will be nominating Barbara Barrett as the 25th Secretary of the United States Air Force. Barrett has served as Chairman of the Board of The Aerospace Corporation—a federally funded research and development center that is “committed exclusively to the space enterprise”—FAA deputy administrator, vice chairman of the now-closed U.S. Civil Aeronautics Board, and U.S. ambassador to Finland. In addition to having trained as an astronaut, she is an instrument-rated pilot and is credited with being the first civilian woman to land on an aircraft carrier in an F/A-18 Hornet.

“Ambassador Barrett is a force to be reckoned with and has the leadership, experience and knowledge to lead our Air Force into the future during a time of increased global threats,” said former U.S. Air Force pilot and current Senator Martha McSally, R-Ariz., who represents Barrett’s home state of Arizona. “I have confidence that Ambassador Barrett will lead the way in maintaining air and space dominance and continue to build upon the initiatives, leadership and example set forth by Secretary Heather Wilson.” Before taking up the role of Secretary of the Air Force, Barrett will need to be confirmed by the U.S. Senate. Confirmation hearings have not yet been scheduled.

Current Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson will be stepping down on May 31. Wilson was confirmed as Secretary of the Air Force in May 2017. She announced her resignation last March and has accepted a position as president of the University of Texas at El Paso.

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NASA Awards Lunar Gateway Power And Propulsion Contract
Kate O'Connor

NASA announced on Thursday that it has selected Colorado-based Maxar Technologies to develop and demonstrate power, propulsion and communications capabilities for its Lunar Gateway project. The contract begins with a 12-month base period followed by a 26-month option, a 14-month option and two 12-month options. During the base period, Maxar will be expected to design a 50-kilowatt solar electric propulsion spacecraft as the power and propulsion component of the Gateway. The options will be used for development, launch and in-space flight demonstration of the spacecraft if NASA chooses to continue with the design. The maximum total value of the contract is $375 million.

“The power and propulsion element is the foundation of Gateway and a fine example of how partnerships with U.S. companies can help expedite NASA’s return to the Moon with the first woman and next man by 2024,” said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. “It will be the key component upon which we will build our lunar Gateway outpost, the cornerstone of NASA’s sustainable and reusable Artemis exploration architecture on and around the Moon.”

According to NASA, the Gateway concept involves placing a small spacecraft in orbit around the Moon to provide access to the lunar surface along with living quarters for astronauts, a science and research lab, and ports for visiting spacecraft.

Picture of the Week, May 23, 2019
We got this Schweizer 2-33 delivered from Watertown, SD, to its home base, Brookings, SD, just in time for the sunset deadline. Taken with an iPhone from the back seat of the T-41C (retired Air Force C-172) tow plane. Photo by Trevor Paris.

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