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U.S. Air Force Retires Last Open Skies Aircraft

Boeing OC-135Bs performed the Open Skies surveillance mission from 1993 until the U.S. withdrew from the treaty in 2020.

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On June 4 the 45th Reconnaissance Squadron of the 55th Wing at Offutt Air Force Base, near Lincoln in Nebraska, held a ceremony to officially retire the last of its Boeing OC-135Bs. Aircraft 61-2670 was due to fly into storage in the “boneyard” at Davis-Monthan AFB, Arizona, a few days later.

The tail 670 aircraft was delivered to the U.S. Air Force in April 1962 as a C-135B, flying with the 1501st Air Transportation Wing at Travis Air Force Base in California. After a short spell in the transport role, it was modified to WC-135B standard and reassigned to the 55th Weather Reconnaissance Squadron at nearby McClellan AFB. When this mission ended it was further converted to OC-135B for the Open Skies mission.

A total of three OC-135Bs was produced, beginning with a single aircraft in an interim fit, which entered service in October 1993. It was followed by two aircraft in the full mission configuration. Tail 670 was one of those aircraft and in May 1996 it began flying its peacetime reconnaissance and arms treaty verification flights on behalf of the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA), many of which were over Russia.

For the treaty monitoring mission, the OC-135Bs were modified with four cameras in the rear fuselage, comprising one vertical and two oblique KS-87E framing cameras used for low-altitude photography, and one KA-91C panoramic camera for high-altitude photography. They typically flew missions with 35 personnel, comprising flight crew, DTRA crew members, representatives from the host nation, and a maintenance crew. The latter was an integral element of the mission as the aircraft often operated for extended periods within the host nation. The OC-135Bs received the Pacer Crag avionics upgrade that ensured compliance with ICAO-mandated global air traffic management regulations.

As well as its Open Skies duties, the aircraft also performed some other survey and humanitarian work, notably in the wake of the earthquake that devastated Haiti in January 2010. By the time of its retirement, ’670 had amassed more than 36,500 flight hours during the course of more than 13,000 sorties. It was one of the last C-135s in U.S. service powered by the Pratt & Whitney TF33 low-bypass ratio turbofans with which it was delivered.

“Over the years [the OCs] have become beloved members of the 55th fleet, new in mission, but old and irritable in spirit,” said Colonel John Litecky, 55th Operations Group commander, who officiated at the ceremony. “They have developed a bit of a reputation as being cranky aircraft, and in their old age they have become notorious for having a higher than normal number of maintenance issues, and just a bear to deal with.”

Open Skies is a multinational treaty that was signed in 1992, covering most of the nations within NATO and the former Warsaw Pact, and effectively covering all of Europe and North America. Under its terms, member states could fly unarmed, dedicated reconnaissance aircraft over the territories of others on an annual maximum quota basis.

Relations between Russia and the U.S. concerning the treaty deteriorated in the late 2010s. On May 21, 2020, President Trump announced that the U.S. would be withdrawing from the treaty, citing alleged violations by Russia, and the official notification was issued on the following day. After the six-month notice period had been served the U.S. officially left the treaty on November 22, leaving the OC-135Bs without a mission. The original interim aircraft had been in inviolate storage for many years, leaving the 45th RS with two operational aircraft. The first of this pair—tail 672—was ferried into storage in mid-May.

As a postscript, Russia announced it would also withdraw from the treaty in January 2021. On June 7, three days after the retirement of ‘670, President Vladimir Putin signed a law that formalizes Russia’s withdrawal, having earlier hoped—in vain—that President Joe Biden would reverse his predecessor’s decision.

Source: https://www.ainonline.com/aviation-news/defense/2021-06-09/us-air-force-retires-last-open-skies-aircraft

Aerospace

Md. Octogenarian Takes Flight, Rekindles Love for Aviation

FREDERICK, Md. (AP) — Eighty-nine-year-old Merle Harrison still remembers the years she spent working as an aircraft riveter in Wichita, Kansas, to put herself through college. It was hard, physical work, but she found it exciting.

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By MARY GRACE KELLER, The Frederick News-Post

FREDERICK, Md. (AP) — Eighty-nine-year-old Merle Harrison still remembers the years she spent working as an aircraft riveter in Wichita, Kansas, to put herself through college. It was hard, physical work, but she found it exciting.

Her love for aviation continued to the U.S. Navy, where she served for six years and held the rank of lieutenant junior grade — a higher rank than her late husband Bruce, according to her daughter Kathy Loftin.

To this day, Harrison loves to recount the flights she took in little two-seater planes in her youth. That love for flight is why her daughter brought them to the Frederick Municipal Airport Tuesday.

“I remember flying out of naval airports and being able to go up in the plane and go wherever I wanted to go,” Harrison recalled. She said she flew over the ocean and to states such as Colorado and California.

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This week, Harrison took to the skies again but this time over Frederick County. She moved to Frederick about five years ago to be closer to Loftin, who resides in the Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, area.

Aboard a Cessna 172, Harrison joined Bravo Flight Training owner and instructor Brenda Tibbs in the cockpit for a flight lesson. Harrison’s aide, Lolo Mowoe, and Loftin took the two remaining seats in the rear.

Harrison reached her hands forward and clutched the yoke, facing an array of buttons, knobs, meters and dials. She seemed at home.

Tibbs ran through the safety protocols before hopping in beside her co-pilot. With a dual control system, Tibbs can ensure the passengers are safe while her students steer the aircraft.

“What a great experience for her,” Tibbs said, “She wouldn’t normally be able to do this.”

With the doors shut, the propeller began to whir. Lights on the tips of the wings flashed. The plane taxied down the runway and faded into the distance behind a bend in the landscape before reappearing and taking off into the blue sky. It flew west toward Brunswick and Harpers Ferry.

About 30 minutes later, they landed safely back at the Frederick Municipal Airport.

“She did most of the flying,” Tibbs said of her co-pilot. “I just took off and landed.”

“It was great,” Harrison said afterward, smiling, still sitting in the cockpit.

On deck to help Harrison in and out of the plane was Bravo maintenance mechanic Robert E. McCaleb III. Wearing a dark green jumpsuit and a United States Marine Corps ball cap, McCaleb knelt down by the plane’s wheel to face Harrison, who uses a wheelchair.

“Thank you for your service ma’am,” McCaleb told her. “I wouldn’t have been able to serve if it weren’t for you.”

He stuck out his hand, and she grasped it. McCaleb is retired from the Marine Corps, and he heard the woman taking a lesson that day served in the Navy. He pointed out the Marine Corps is a department of the Navy, so he has a connection to Harrison.

“She’s my sister,” McCaleb said.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Source: https://www.usnews.com/news/best-states/maryland/articles/2021-06-05/md-octogenarian-takes-flight-rekindles-love-for-aviation

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Aerospace Plastics Market: COVID-19 Focused Report | Evolving Opportunities with DuPont de Nemours Inc. and Ensinger GmbH | Technavio

/PRNewswire/ — The global aerospace plastics market is expected to grow by USD 125.67 million, according to Technavio. This marks a significant market slow…

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NEW YORK, May 17, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — The global aerospace plastics market is expected to grow by USD 125.67 million, according to Technavio. This marks a significant market slow down due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in the first half of 2020. However, healthy growth is expected to continue throughout the forecast period, and the market is expected to grow at a CAGR of almost 4%.

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Technavio has announced its latest market research report titled Aerospace Plastics Market by End-user, Application, and Geography - Forecast and Analysis 2021-2025

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The aerospace plastics market is driven by the increasing use of lightweight materials. In addition, the growth of engineering plastics is expected to boost the growth of the Aerospace Plastics Market.

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Major Five Aerospace Plastics Companies:

  • BASF SE
  • Compagnie de Saint-Gobain SA
  • DuPont de Nemours Inc.
  • Ensinger GmbH
  • Hexcel Corp.

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Aerospace Plastics Market End-user Outlook (Revenue, USD mn, 2020-2025)

  • Commercial and freighter aircraft – size and forecast 2020-2025
  • General aviation – size and forecast 2020-2025
  • Others – size and forecast 2020-2025

Aerospace Plastics Market Application Outlook (Revenue, USD mn, 2020-2025)

  • Exterior – size and forecast 2020-2025
  • Interior – size and forecast 2020-2025

Aerospace Plastics Market Geography Outlook (Revenue, USD mn, 2020-2025)

  • Europe – size and forecast 2020-2025
  • North America – size and forecast 2020-2025
  • APAC – size and forecast 2020-2025
  • MEA – size and forecast 2020-2025
  • South America – size and forecast 2020-2025

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Nanosilica Market by Type, Application, and Geography – Forecast and Analysis 2020-2024: The nanosilica market size has the potential to grow by USD 1.63 billion during 2020-2024, and the market’s growth momentum will accelerate during the forecast period. To get extensive research insights: Download Our Exclusive Sample Report

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Source: https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/aerospace-plastics-market-covid-19-focused-report–evolving-opportunities-with-dupont-de-nemours-inc-and-ensinger-gmbh–technavio-301292961.html

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Global Aviation Safety Campaign Targets ‘Bunch of Garbage’ to Ease Pilot Overload

When it came time to land at San Francisco on July 7, 2017, the pilots of an Air Canada jet could not recall a critical piece of information buried on

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When it came time to land at San Francisco on July 7, 2017, the pilots of an Air Canada jet could not recall a critical piece of information buried on page eight of a 27-page briefing package: the closure of one of the airport’s two runways.

Mistaking the runway they were cleared to land on for the one that was closed, the fatigued pilots chose the wrong reference point and lined up to land on a parallel taxiway instead. They came within seconds of colliding with four planes.

More than three years later, a global campaign has been launched to improve aviation safety by reducing the kind of information overload experienced by the pilots of Air Canada 759.

The reform of the more than century-old system of Notices to Airmen (NOTAMs) – originally modeled after Notices to Mariners – is part of a wider push to make aviation simpler, particularly in the wake of two Boeing 737 MAX crashes.

For long-haul flights, there can be up to 200 pages of NOTAMs for pilots to review on paper or an iPad, many of them as irrelevant as general bird hazard warnings, grass-cutting at airports or low-altitude construction obstacles relevant only to helicopters and light planes.

For decades, such standardized bulletins issued by national air navigation authorities – part of a global safety regime managed by countries through the United Nations’ aviation agency – have helped to keep aviation safe.

But the industry has grown so large that the noise created by redundant warnings is increasingly seen as a hazard.

Displayed in unpredictable order and written in a telegraphic code conceived decades ago, the upper-case notices are riddled with byzantine abbreviations that can pose problems even for experienced pilots when they are overworked, particularly for non-native English speakers.

A warning that a navigation aid will be unavailable at Hong Kong International Airport for less than two hours in late May, for example, appears as:

A0290/21 NOTAMN Q) VHHK/QNMAU/IV/NBO/AE/000/999/2219N11355E005 A) VHHH B) 2105252130 C) 2105252329 E) SIU MO TO DVOR/DME ‘SMT’ 114.80 MHZ/CH95X NOT AVBL DUE MAINT.

In the United States, investigators have warned for years that the torrent of data could either overwhelm pilots or just be ignored.

Many are issued to avoid legal liability rather than improve safety, say experts.

“(NOTAMs) are just a bunch of garbage that nobody pays any attention to,” U.S. National Transportation Safety Board Chairman Robert Sumwalt said at a 2018 hearing on the Air Canada incident, which helped spur the global campaign for change.

Baby Steps

Now, the U.N. International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) is leading efforts to overhaul the system.

Its first step is to get rid of outdated NOTAMs. Officially, the warnings are supposed to expire after 90 days. But 20% of the more than 36,000 active globally notices are older than that, according to ICAO.

“You can imagine how incredibly frustrating it is for crews because basically what we’re saying is, ‘Here’s 200 pages of junk. In there is one NOTAM that could potentially end your career, or place your aircraft and passengers in danger, and it’s up to you to find it,’” said Mark Zee, the founder of flight operations advisory firm OPSGROUP, who has played a key role in lobbying for change.

The next step, which Zee said was slated for 2022, will prioritize the most important warnings at the top of the briefing package and allow airlines to filter out those not relevant for their crews.

A final step – long overdue, according to pilots – would be to change the format of NOTAMs to make them more reader-friendly.

Airspace NOTAMs, for example, are often given as a set of latitudes and longitudes that are meaningless unless pilots have time to chart them – and they do not, Australian Federation of Air Pilots Safety and Technical Director Stuart Beveridge said.

“So we’ve actually suggested they move into the 21st century and look at upper and lower case, punctuation, plain standardized language, time formats that are not just strings of numbers, and where possible, graphical information,” he said.

While the campaign is promising, it demonstrates the glacial pace of change in global aviation, safety experts say, adding it could take years more before all countries put changes into effect.

In Albania, for example, there is an active NOTAM issued in 2000 that provides pilots with a telephone number to call should they have a Y2K-related communications problem.

“So I’m basically reading about Y2K thinking they can’t possibly mean that thing from 20 years ago that never happened,” Zee said.

“And right at the bottom there’s one that says, for example, no jet fuel available for two weeks. I’ve missed it. Now I’ve flown in and I can’t get fuel to get back out again.”

(Reporting by Jamie Freed in Sydney; additional reporting by Allison Lampert in Montreal; Editing by Tim Hepher and Richard Pullin)

Topics Aviation

For long-haul flights, there can be up to 200 pages of NOTAMs for pilots to review on paper or an iPad, many of them as irrelevant as general bird hazard warnings, grass-cutting at airports or low-altitude construction obstacles relevant only to helicopters and light planes.

Source: https://www.insurancejournal.com/news/international/2021/04/29/611926.htm

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