Below are significant news items collected from various civil aviation news sources in recent days:
1) The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), the U.S. Department of Transport, the European Union and the International Air Transport Association (IATA) have signed an agreement in Montreal today aimed at sharing more aviation safety and security information. The new multilateral initiative has been name the Global Safety Information Exchange.
2) Meanwhile, as expected in recent years, European Union member states are about to apply standard procedures and requirements, under the aegis of the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), for the prevention of civil aviation incidents/accidents, and for aviation incident/accident reporting and investigation.
News items 1) and 2) result from joint streamlining efforts by public authorities and the private industry to make commercial air transport safer yet and able to respond quickly and effectively to future potential security threats to civil aviation.
3) The jury is still out on what exactly caused the failure this month of a Boeing 787 engine being tested on a rig. The damage to the RR Trent engine and its test rig is substantial. One company official even suggested that testing procedures were at fault, not the newly designed engine for Boeing’s Dreamliner. Either way, there is renewed concern that the belated Dreamliner, already years behind in the production and delivery of the first units, might cause another commercial set-back to Boeing and its hopeful first customers. Whether or not Boeing will manage to deliver its first production B-787 to All Nippon Airways, as rescheduled for early 2011, remains to be seen.
4) Back in December 2009, I mentioned the high hopes of achieving suborbital space flight at a… shall we say ‘reasonable’ cost with a push and financial participation by Virgin Galactic and its major partners. Since that post, it has come to our attention that another similar venture is pursued in the U.K. under the Skylon Project name. This is not to say the two projects are competing head on; in fact, they perhaps supplement each other in their own niches. Virgin Galactic might, in the not too distant future, fill the void left by the demise of Concorde by offering continent-hopping suborbital flights to the travelling public, while the Skylon project, on the other hand, could fill another void now that NASA has retired its fleet of space shuttles from service.