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Israel Tested An Airborne Laser To Shoot Down Drones

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Israel Airborne Laser
The airborne laser installed at the cargo door of the Cessna 208B testbed. In the box: a target drone while being hit by the laser. (Photo: Israeli Ministry of Defense)

The Israeli airborne laser prototype achieved a 100% success rate against target drones over the sea at different altitudes and ranges above one kilometer.

The Israeli Ministry of Defense announced on June 21, 2021 that its Weapons Development and Technology Infrastructure Administration (MAFAT in Hebrew) unit, together with the Israeli Air Force and Elbit Systems, tested a new airborne High-Power Laser system to intercept and destroy several drones at various altitudes and at varying ranges. The first-of-its-kind test was defined as a major technological breakthrough by Defense Minister Benjamin “Benny” Gantz.

Very few details were disclosed, with the Haaretz Newspaper mentioning that the system uses an electrical laser, instead of chemical lasers used during similar tests in the past, and it was able to intercept and shoot down the drones at a range of over one kilometer. However, the work on the prototype is still going on and it is expected to be completed in about three or four years, with the range increased to the tens of kilometers and eventually, by the end of the decade, to the hundreds of kilometers.

Regarding the platform for the laser, the photos published by the Ministry of Defense show that the system was installed at the cargo door of a Cessna 208B Grand Caravan, registered as 4X-CZE and visible on ADS-B tracking websites, which operated over the sea South-West of Tel Aviv last week. Should the system become operational, the goal is to install the laser on transport aircraft at first, and then make the system compact enough to be installed on other smaller platform such as UAVs.

The plan is to use this laser to intercept small drones, rockets and mortar shells while complementing the other Israeli systems, such as Iron Dome, with many advantages. One of the more relevant advantages is the cost, as a laser intercept would cost just few dollars instead of the 100,000 dollars of one of Iron Dome’s Tamir missiles.

As you may already know, commercially available drones cost few hundred dollars and have been widely used by militants for attacks mainly in the Middle East (but also in South America), prompting many countries to heavily invest in anti-UAV defenses. However, some of the solutions involve an expense of thousands of dollars just to destroy a drone that costs a tenth of that money, which sounds a little disproportionate. The laser employment should even the economic balance between these low-cost threats and the systems used to counter them.

Laser technologies for the defense against rockets and mortars have already been in development in the 1990s in Israel and in the USA, both as joint and independent projects. While the United States went on with the development of these systems, Israel abandoned the idea in the early 2000s to focus on a missile solution, leading to the birth of Iron Dome. Then, two years ago, a technological breakthrough allowed Israel to resume working on the laser, this time the electric laser instead of the chemical laser. A land-based laser defense system is also in the works.

Israeli Airborne Laser
The Cessna 208B testbed takes off for a test of the laser. In the boxes: the laser system, the ADS-B track of one of the test flights and a drone as viewed by the laser’s targeting system. (Photo: Israeli Ministry of Defense)

The electric laser, also known as electrolaser, is a directed energy weapon that employs the laser to create an electrically conductive laser-induced plasma channel, which is then used to send down to the target a powerful electric current to kill it. The whole system is powered only by electric current, unlike the chemical laser which uses the energy generated by chemical reactions to reach megawatt power levels.

Similar laser C-UAS (Counter Unmanned Aerial System) and C-RAM (Counter Rocket, Artillery and Mortar) defenses are being developed also in other countries (mainly the USA), but as we already posted here at The Aviationist, airborne lasers are also in development both for offensive and defensive roles.

Stefano D’Urso is a contributor for TheAviationist based in Lecce, Italy. He’s a full-time engineering student and aspiring pilot. In his spare time he’s also an amateur aviation photographer and flight simulation enthusiast.

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Source: https://theaviationist.com/2021/06/24/israel-airborne-laser-for-drones/

Aviation

Alitalia Cargo lifts 1 million vaccine doses from Italy to El Salvador

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Alitalia Boeing 777 cargo flight landed in San Salvador, El Salvador at 1:55 pm on July 26, 2021 with one million doses of COVID-19 vaccine from China.

Alitalia flight number AZ9460 operated by Boeing 777-243ER EI-DDH. It returned as AZ9461 the following day to Milan Malpensa.

A few weeks ago Alitalia Cargo operated a similar cargo flight from Milan Malpensa to Port of Spain for delivery vaccines to citizens of Trinidad and Tobago.

Marco Finelli reporting from Italy.

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Source: https://worldairlinenews.com/2021/07/29/alitalia-cargo-lifts-1-million-vaccine-doses-from-italy-to-el-salvador/

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ITA – Italia Trasporto Aereo Shareholders’ meeting approves capital increase of €700 million

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The Shareholders’ Meeting of ITA, which met on July 28, approved a capital increase of €700 million, as proposed by the Board of Directors of the company.

This resolution follows the approval, by the Board of Directors on July 15th, of the 2021-2025 Business Plan lines and the completion of the ongoing approval process by the European Commission on the basis of the “Comfort Letter” issued by the Commission on the same July 15th.

The Chairman of ITA, Alfredo Altavilla, said: “Today is another important milestone in the process that will see the start of operations of the new airline on October 15th. With the just approved capital increase, the public shareholder confirms the solidity of the project from a private investor’s point of view. The following step will be the immediate beginning of negotiations with Alitalia under Extraordinary Administration for the acquisition of the “Aviation” sector, pending the tender for the sale of the Alitalia brand that we hope will take place as soon as possible.

More on the new airline:

ITA (Italia Trasporto Aereo) will be operational from October 15, 2021, flying a fleet of 52 aircraft that will grow to 105 by the end of 2025, as envisaged in the 2021-2025 business plan approved by the Board of Directors of the newly established company destined to take over from Alitalia. The plan also provides for the ‘discontinuity’ requested by the European Commission during negotiations with the Italian Government over the past few months. ITA will be able to acquire, through direct negotiation with Alitalia, the assets to manage the flight sector, the so-called ‘aviation’ branch. The Alitalia brand will be sold through a public tender, issued and managed by Alitalia, in which ITA itself will participate, as it believes that the brand is an essential element for the plan. ‘Ground Handling’ and ‘Maintenance’ activities will also be contracted through a public tender.

ITA will initially operate with a fleet of 52 aircraft. By 2022, it will grow to 78 aircraft and, from 2022 onwards, new-generation aircraft will be gradually added to the fleet. By the end of 2025, the number of aircraft will rise to 105. Over the plan period, ITA plans to rely on a single strategic partner for aircraft, and discussions are underway with the main partners. All employees will be hired under a new employment contract. The ‘Aviation’ branch is expected to employ 2.750-2.950 people, rising to 5.550-5.700 by 2025. In the event that ITA is awarded contracts for the ‘Ground Handling’ and ‘Maintenance’ activities, 2.650-2.700 and 1.100-1.250 staff are expected to be employed respectively.

ITA’s plan has been approved, forecasting a turnover that will reach  3.329 million euros in 2025, with an economic result of 209 million euros and an operational break-even to be reached by third quarter 2023.

At first, the airline will fly to 45 destinations with 61 routes, growing to 74 destinations and 89 routes by 2025. As for long-haul routes, ITA will initially provide connections to New York, Tokyo, Boston and Miami, but new routes to São Paulo, Buenos Aires, Washington and Los Angeles are expected to be added in the summer 2022. From Fiumicino (Rome) and Linate (Milan) airports there will be connections to the main EU destinations. During the shareholders’ meeting scheduled for July, it will be decided on an initial capital increase of 700 million euros.

ITA’s executive chairman Alfredo Altavilla stated: “The approval of ITA’s business plan by the European Commission and the confirmation of compliance with the MEOP, which certifies the soundness of the project in terms of private investment by the public shareholder, is an important result that paves the way for the launch of ITA. Now, within 90 days, we should complete the transition leading to the take-off of the first aircraft on 15 October. I would like to express my heartfelt thanks to the Italian Government and our representatives in Brussels for the teamwork that made it possible to achieve this important result after months of negotiations, and which we trust will continue in the months to come”.

The CEO and managing director of ITA, Fabio Lazzerini, said: “I am particularly satisfied with the acknowledgement of the industrial and financial solidity underlying the approval of the Plan. A plan which, starting from the customer and its needs, will place ITA among the best companies in Europe in terms of economic, social and environmental sustainability, while guaranteeing connectivity to businesses, tourists and citizens. I would like to express my sincere thanks to the ITA team for the enthusiastic and total commitment with which they have worked during these challenging months, and to the institutions and stakeholders in the sector (ENAC, ENAV, the airport system) for the openness and trust they are showing us. Now we face the great challenge of launching a successful airline in three months. A challenge to which we will devote all our energy.”

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Source: https://worldairlinenews.com/2021/07/29/ita-italia-trasporto-aereo-shareholders-meeting-approves-capital-increase-of-e700-million/

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Etihad rolls out IATA Travel Pass to seven cities following successful trials

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Etihad Airways has issued this statement:

Following successful trials, Etihad Airways has expanded IATA Travel Pass on flights between Abu Dhabi and seven destinations across its network as it continues to implement digital solutions to simplify the travel experience in the wake of the pandemic.

IATA Travel Pass is available for guests on all Etihad flights between Abu Dhabi and Bangkok, Barcelona, Geneva, Madrid, Milan, New York and Singapore and offers the convenience of a one-stop platform for managing COVID-19 documentation.

Mohammad Al Bulooki, Chief Operating Officer at Etihad Aviation Group, said: “The feedback from the IATA Travel Pass trial has been positive, with Etihad’s guests appreciating its ease-of-use and data security. Etihad is pleased to now make IATA Travel Pass available on flights to and from seven major global cities, providing more guests with the option of simplifying their journey and airport experience.”

Nick Careen, IATA’s Senior Vice President for Operations, Safety and Security, said: “Etihad’s decision to expand IATA Travel Pass based on positive customer feedback is a strong endorsement of the solution. IATA Travel pass was designed to provide a one-stop-shop solution for travelers to safely and efficiently manage their COVID-19 documentation and generate an ‘OK to Travel’ which airlines can trust. It’s great to see the app in use facilitating the restart of international travel.”

Etihad Airways was one of the first airlines globally to begin testing IATA Travel Pass in April 2021 in support of a global, standardized solution for travelers to validate their documents and navigate COVID-19 travel requirements.

To access the IATA Travel Pass, guests simply need to download the IATA Travel Pass app for Android or iOS, where they can add their Etihad Airways travel itinerary, view their travel requirements and securely share their PCR test results.

The IATA Travel Pass app also includes functionality to upload vaccination certificates, opening up opportunities for travel where vaccination is a requirement. Currently the app is able to accept EU Digital Covid Certificates issued by all 27 member states of the European Union plus Switzerland, Iceland, Norway, and Lichtenstein as well as vaccine certificates from Singapore and Qatar. As vaccines continue to roll out globally, more and more travelers around the world will be able to upload their government issued COVID vaccine certificates to facilitate seamless travel.

The airline is continuing to work closely with IATA to progressively roll out the digital travel pass to more cities across its route network.

More information including the installation instructions and list of participating IATA Travel Pass clinics in the UAE and worldwide can be found on etihad.com/iatatravelpass.

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Source: https://worldairlinenews.com/2021/07/29/etihad-rolls-out-iata-travel-pass-to-seven-cities-following-successful-trials/

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Contour Airlines to expand in Indianapolis, Milwaukee and Pittsburgh

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Contour Airlines has announced it will launch service to Milwaukee from Indianapolis and Pittsburgh starting on October 12.

Additionally the carrier will launch flights from Indianapolis to both Pittsburgh and Nashville.

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Source: https://worldairlinenews.com/2021/07/29/contour-airlines-to-expand-in-indianapolis-milwaukee-and-pittsburgh/

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