WHY IT RATES: One of the largest planes ever built was successfully tested, moving it closer to becoming a travel reality.—Donald Wood, Breaking News Senior Writer.
Stratolaunch Systems Corporation, founded by Paul G. Allen, successfully completed the first flight of the world’s largest all-composite aircraft, the Stratolaunch. With a dual fuselage design and wingspan greater than the length of an American football field, the Stratolaunch aircraft took flight at 06:58 AM PDT from the Mojave Air & Space Port.
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Achieving a maximum speed of 189 miles per hour, the plane flew for 2.5 hours over the Mojave Desert at altitudes up to 17,000 feet. As part of the initial flight, the pilots evaluated aircraft performance and handling qualities before landing successfully back at the Mojave Air and Space Port.
“What a fantastic first flight,” said Jean Floyd, CEO of Stratolaunch. “Today’s flight furthers our mission to provide a flexible alternative to ground launched systems. We are incredibly proud of the Stratolaunch team, today’s flight crew, our partners at Northrup Grumman’s Scaled Composites and the Mojave Air and Space Port.”
The test team conducted standard aircraft testing exercises. Initial results from today’s test points include:
—Performed a variety of flight control maneuvers to calibrate speed and test flight control systems, including roll doublets, yawing maneuvers, pushovers and pull-ups, and steady heading side slips.
—Conducted simulated landing approach exercises at a max altitude of 15,000 feet mean sea level.
The Stratolaunch aircraft is a mobile launch platform that will enable airline-style access to space that is convenient, affordable and routine. The reinforced center wing can support multiple launch vehicles, weighing up to a total of 500,000 pounds.
“We all know Paul would have been proud to witness today’s historic achievement,” said Jody Allen, Chair of Vulcan Inc. and Trustee of the Paul G. Allen Trust. “The aircraft is a remarkable engineering achievement and we congratulate everyone involved.”
For more information, reach out to your local travel agent.
SOURCE: Stratolaunch Systems Corporation press release.
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Delta Air Lines Upgrades Health, Safety Guidelines
As travel restrictions are lifted, Delta Air Lines has implemented a series of health protocols to keep passengers safe as they fly again during the coronavirus outbreak and moving forward.
From the time customers check-in for their flights until they collect their bags at the final destination, Delta officials claim the company’s main focus has shifted to the health and safety of passengers.
In the airport, travelers will notice check-in lobbies, self-service kiosks, gate counters and baggage claim are thoroughly wiped down throughout the day, while electrostatic spraying will take place in the planes and throughout terminals.
In addition, Delta continues to install plexiglass shields at check-in counters, in Delta Sky Clubs and at gate counters throughout the United States. Social distance markers will also be added at all of the airports served by the airline.
Hand sanitizer stations will also become easily accessible throughout the facilities.
“The (travel) experience is a very comfortable, a very safe experience, we have taken actions, even above and beyond what the CDC has recommended to ensure safety,” Delta Chief Customer Experience Officer Bill Lentsch said in a statement.
As for the actual onboard experience, Delta is now boarding passengers back to front and limiting it to 10 customers at a time to minimize your contact with others. The carrier is also blocking middle seats, adjusting capacity numbers and requiring face coverings.
Before passengers board the planes, cleaning crews complete an extensive checklist of procedures using high-grade disinfectant to wipe down personal and common areas of the cabin.
Delta also temporarily streamlined food and beverage offerings to reduce touchpoints, with snack bags given out during the first pass through the cabin by flight attendants.
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