Launching X-37B miniature spaceplane

SpaceX fought hard for the right to launch Air Force projects and it has landed a pretty prestigious one. The X-37B miniature spaceplane will be launched into orbit with the Falcon 9, taking over from the reliable Atlas V built by United Launch Alliance, according to Reuters. And here's the kicker: It will launch the space shuttle-like drone in just two months, meaning it will be SpaceX's first mission for the Air Force.

Drone race in Sanford

About 20 pilots, including from the Triangle and Fayetteville, gathered at Devil’s Ridge Motocross in Sanford to race their quadcopters, or unmanned drones with four rotors Saturday, May 27. A live feed comes from the camera of a drone, allowing pilots to steer the aircraft using joysticks through hurdles, make hairpin turns and race other pilots while trying not to crash into anything at 60 miles per hour or more. Whether it’s like flying in “Top Gun” or pod racing in “Star Wars,” it’s that feeling that is bringing together gamers and adrenaline enthusiasts alike to race drones. And the Triangle has its own set of fliers.

Rocket launched by New Zealand

New Zealand have entered the space market — launching a rocket partly made of carbon fibre, with engines made from a 3D printer, into space. American-New Zealand company Rocket Lab, which was behind the launch, want to take a slice of the booming market for getting small satellites into orbit. Despite the spacecraft falling short of its goal to reach orbit, they were counting the launch as a success.

UAVs to be used for military purpose

SMi reports: Military leaders from US, Canada and German Armed Forces to discuss UAV's roles from an operational perspective and explore current and future challenges. In order to resolve common security concerns and enhance situation awareness, Central and Eastern European nations are actively acquiring and upgrading their UAV capabilities. The Czech Armed Forces, Slovenian MoD and Macedonian Armed Forces are looking to learn from players who are already experts in the fields. Speaking at SMi's UAV Technology Central & Eastern Europe 2017, military leaders from the US, Canada and German Armed Forces will discuss UAV's roles from an operational perspective and explore current and future challenges.

Drone light show in Ontario

While major redevelopment of the Ontario Place site continues, the waterfront park will be partially open this Victoria Day long weekend to accommodate the Culinary Ontario Festival. Rather than looking up for fireworks, festival goers will be treated to a drone light show. Some 30 drones will dance and glow through the night sky to moves programmed in advance by Toronto startup Arrowonics. Touted as an environmentally-friendly fireworks alternative, the drone show will be one of the first presented to a large public audience in Toronto. While it won’t be as grand as some shows that have been staged elsewhere in the world incorporating hundreds of drones, Arrowonics says it will give a taste of things to come.

Drones used to check fields

Dutch farmers in Limburg had decided to check their crop for cannabis using drones. Farmers started taking action because cutbacks meant police would no longer continue their so-called helicopter ‘weed flights’. The use of maize fields to grow cannabis ‘for free’ is a popular among criminals. Some farmers’ fields are invaded more than once. One farmer who wanted to remain anonymous for fear of repercussions, told the paper that this year he found cannabis among the sweet corn for the third time. ‘I was harvesting and suddenly I saw cannabis plants everywhere. The drones will be flying in the first week of September when the corn is harvested and will cover five hundred fields.

A Delta plane had to return back to the airport

A Delta flight headed to Seoul, South Korea, had to dump fuel and return to Detroit Metropolitan Airport on Saturday after a light in the cockpit indicated there possibly was an open maintenance panel on the outside of the aircraft, a spokesman for the airline said. Flight 159 took off from Detroit at 4:48 p.m. ET, and about 30 minutes later the indicator light came on, Delta spokesman Trebor Banstetter said. The plane, which had 375 passengers on board, circled Lake Michigan, dumping fuel for about an hour in order to help ensure a safe landing, which it did shortly before 7 p.m.

No more FAA's drone registration

U.S. consumers who buy a drone for fun will no longer have to register it with the FAA. A Washington, D.C. court ruled Friday that the FAA drone registration rule violates the FAA Modernization and Reform Act, which Congress passed in 2012. Hobbyist John Taylor argued successfully that he should not have to register because the act states that the FAA "may not promulgate any rule or regulation regarding a model aircraft." Since December 2015, hobbyists with drones weighing between 0.55 pounds and 55 pounds have had to register drones with the FAA. More than 820,000 operators have registered since then. The process can be completed online, and there is a $5 application fee. The FAA said in a statement that it launched registration to ensure drones are operated safely and don't pose security or privacy threats. The FAA also said it is considering its options and response.


Federal Appeals Court voids FAA registration rule for model aircraft

In a stunning David versus Goliath case, John A. Taylor, a model aircraft enthusiast and insurance lawyer, beat the Federal Aviation Administration and Department of Justice in a case challenging the legality of a December 2015 FAA rule requiring model aircraft to register like manned aircraft.   The Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled that the FAA's registration rule, as it applies to model aircraft, "directly violates [a] clear statutory prohibition."

More work for drones

Industries have long sought data from above, generally through satellites or planes, but drones are better “sensors in the sky” than both. But like the smartphone and other examples of the “commercialization of enterprise” before them, drones are now being outfitted with business-grade software and becoming serious data-collection platforms — hardware as open and extensible as a smartphone, with virtually limitless app potential. As in any app economy, surprising and ingenious uses will emerge that we haven’t even thought of yet; and predictable and powerful apps will improve over time.

New drone racing at Covington

Drone racing is now a thing. Some have taken to calling it “the NASCAR of the future,” except that the future is now. There are now drone-racing national championships and world championships- and, of course, lots of local and regional races to lead up to those. One of those will be later this week in and around Covington. The Flying Circus FPV Circus runs Thursday through Sunday. This is the second year the event has been there. Last year’s race was very much on the down low. The Alleghany Highlands Economic Development Corporation, which helped bring the event to town, had trouble finding an insurance company willing to insure the event until the last minute, so there intentionally wasn’t much publicity.

Drones used to research Guatemala's Volcano

Drones are helping volcanologists get closer than ever before to Guatemala’s Volcan de Fuego, near some 60,000 people who are at risk from its frequent eruptions. During a 10-day research trip, the team carried out several flights at the summits of both Volcan de Fuego and Volcan de Pacaya, which is also in Guatemala. Using lightweight modern sensors they measured temperature, humidity and thermal data within the volcanic clouds and took images of multiple eruptions in real-time. This is one of the first times drones have been used to gather data from volcanoes such as Fuego, where the lack of close access has retarded research. The drones were flown at distances of up to 8 km away and a height of over 3 km above the launch site.

Drone government applications

Drone government applications. Jason Wayne Huddleston, a wanted felon, fled into a cornfield last August when authorities were looking for him in Florence Township, Mich. Michigan State Police Sgt. Matt Rogers said such a situation would normally be handled with a K9 unit. A couple of them were on the scene already, he recalled -- but the police also had a drone. The Michigan State Police has since bought and fielded one more drone with another trained pilot. A third is being prepared for deployment, and there are plans for even more. It’s a welcome development for Rogers, who had been the lone drone operator.

Intelligent Energy - PINC deal for air-cooled fuel cell systems

Intelligent Energy has signed a deal with PINC to supply its air-cooled fuel cell systems for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), marking Intelligent Energy’s first sale of fuel cell systems for UAVs as the company moves forward with the commercialization of its technology. PINC uses UAVs to identify and orchestrate hard-to-reach inventory and assets in the global supply chain and is the leading provider of yard management, finished vehicle logistics, and inventory robotics solutions to the world’s largest manufacturers, retailers, and contract logistics providers. PINC has defined the UAV market in the supply chain with an innovative inventory approach that transcends the delivery use case.

High Performance Spaceflight Computing Processor for NASA

Boeing wins $26.6 million NASA contract to develop a prototype High Performance Spaceflight Computing Processor. An aircraft that will help sustain Wichita’s importance in America’s military capability for decades to come could, once again, be arriving in town later than expected. The U.S. Government Accountability Office on Friday warned that the KC-46A Pegasus tanker built by the Boeing Co. could face additional delivery delays.

New trend for drones

Lady Gaga’s use of drones for a spectacular Super Bowl halftime show — granted in a special waiver — signals one of the trends for more commercial uses of remote-controlled aircraft. The analysis of AUVSI shows the variety and popularity of uses for drones ranging from inspecting infrastructure to surveying crops. But he said the industry and the economy would benefit from expanding drone regulations to routinely allow flights at night, over people and farther than the pilot can see, which the industry calls beyond the line of sight.

Drone competition in Netherlands

DroneClash is a competition to be held on December 4th in a hangar at Valkenburg airfield in the Netherlands. Teams try to destroy each others’ quadcopters, navigate through a “Hallway of Doom, Death, and Destruction”, and finally enter a final phase of the game where they try to defend their queen drone while taking out those of their opponents. It’s being sponsored by the Technical University of Delft’s Micro Air Vehicle (MAV) lab. The goal is to enable a future of responsible drone use by having the ability to take them out if necessary.

Drones in Visual Journalism

Drones in Visual Journalism. The New York Times staff photographer Josh Haner was an early adopter of drone photography. His earliest forays were with a $60 gadget that he maneuvered around his living room. Since then, he has aimed ever higher, making videos and stills high above the Gobi Desert and the Marshall Islands. He has embraced the technology in ways that add a stunning dimension to his storytelling, while at the same time presenting unforeseen challenges. His conversation with James Estrin has been edited for length and clarity.

AOP celebrates women in aviation

AOPA is a strong supporter of Women in Aviation International, and was actively engaged in many conference activities, highlighted by a keynote address by AOPA President Mark Baker; sponsoring a New Member Social; awarding a $3,000 Flight Training scholarship to a young woman pilot; hosting a You Can Fly Back to Your Roots seminar, and maintaining an AOPA booth in the exhibit hall.

Enthusiasts seek safe place for drone races

Drone racing enthusiasts have called for help from the authorities and landowners to assist them in finding a safe place for them to practice and race. The sport is enjoying rapid growth in Ireland, but as more people start taking part it is becoming harder to find suitable locations for it. Racers wear first person view goggles, which transmit footage from a live camera on the front of the drone to two small video screens in front of their eyes.