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December 18, 2017

Northrop Grumman-Orbital ATK Merger

Last November, Orbital ATK's stockholders approved the acquisition of their company by Northrop Grumman. The transaction is expected to be completed in the first half of 2018, after regulatory approvals.

Meanwhile, according to Spaceflight Now, the launch of the Pegasus XL rocket carrying the ICON satellite has been postponed to a date yet to be defined, in early 2018:
Launch time: TBD
Launch site: L-1011, Kwajalein, Marshall Islands
An air-launched Orbital ATK Pegasus XL rocket will deploy NASA’s Ionospheric Connection Explorer (ICON) satellite into orbit. ICON will study the ionosphere, a region of Earth’s upper atmosphere where terrestrial weather meets space weather. Disturbances in the ionosphere triggered by solar storms or weather activity in the lower atmosphere can cause disturbances in GPS navigation and radio transmissions. Delayed from June 15, Nov. 14 and Dec. 8. [Nov. 13] takes this opportunity to wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

August 28, 2017

Delta flight 1080 incident

Delta L-1011 ad

During the take-off run, Delta ship 707 (N707DA) got its left elevator jammed in the up position imposing a continuous nose-up pitching moment after lift-off. The remaining pitch control authority of the stabilator was not enough to counteract that tendency. You keep losing speed and and you find yourself on the verge of an unrecoverable stall and you still don't know why you don't have full pitch authority - because in the L-1011 the sensors are coupled with the position of the entire stabilizer (which acts as an all flying tail) and you cannot detect the jamming of the left elevator.

Flying tail

What would you do in this situation? This is a descripton of an amazing airmanship story where everybody survived without a scratch because of a desperate and improbable last attempt to regain control of the aircraft while making use of the unusual engine #2 placement to create a nose-down pitching moment. Subsequent investigation found a broken bearing linked to the jammed elevator due to corrosion. Full description of this incident narrated by the Captain of this troubled flight can be found by following the link below:

August 15, 2017

Tempus Applied Solutions buys RAF TriStars

WILLIAMSBURG, Va., Aug. 14, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- Tempus Applied Solutions (TAS) announced today that the company has entered into a definitive purchase agreement for the acquisition of six Lockheed L-1011s formerly owned and operated by the Royal Air Force (RAF) of the United Kingdom.

TAS intends to operate only three of the six aircraft, with the remaining three serving as a source of spare parts:
  • msn 193V-1157 | N304CS
  • msn 193V-1164 | N405CS
  • msn 193V-1165 | N309CS
  • msn 193V-1174 | N705CS
  • msn 193Y-1186 | N507CS
  • msn 193Y-1188 | N703CS

July 25, 2017

Aéroports de Lyon - TriStar, a guided tour

Although this is not a recent video, it's always nice to learn more about the L-1011 that was written off in 2001, after flying through a hail storm near Lyon.

This aircraft was acquired from Air Transat by Aéroports de Lyon and remains preserved at Lyon-Saint Exupéry Airport to this date.

SN: 193M-1019
Type: -150
Regstr: C-FTNA
Owner: Aéreoports de Lyon
Status: Preserved

July 19, 2017

N910TE landed safely at KCI Airport

N910TE © Lee's Summit Tribune

The ferry flight was initially planned for last Friday (June 14) but a minor glitch in engine #2, detected after take-off, made the airplane return to Tucson International Airport.
Fortunately it seems the problem found was of easy repair and a second successful attempt was made the next day. During its cruise, the L-1011 reached a maximum altitude of 27.000 feet.

For such a complex aircraft that was in storage for over 15 years, we must give huge credit to TriStar Experience organization who made this possible.

Before landing at KCI - Kansas City Airport the L-1011 performed a beautiful low pass over the active runway.

Low pass:


Water canon salute:

I almost forgot how beautiful a L-1011 is while in flight... Kudos to TriStar Experience for acquiring and preserving this historic airplane!

On a different note, Orbital's Stargazer was also active last Thursday, flying out of Mojave. Pegasus XL's ICON mission is now planned for November 14, according to Spaceflight Now.

April 20, 2017

Star Jet's L-1011 scrapped at CDG Airport

In 2005, tail number A6-BSM, operating for Olympic Airlines, suffered a compressor stall short after take-off at Paris Charles de Gaulle.

A6-BSM compressor stall

Since then, Star Jet was banned from the European airspace and the L-1011 was left abandoned at CDG. Exposed to the elements, the airframe quickly became derelict. After so many years of storage, it was now finally scrapped.

Synopsis of the incident:
After difficulties during boarding, the airplane, operated by Star Jet and wetleased by Olympic Airlines, took off late. A short time after retracting the landing gear, the crew heard a series of thumps and noticed that engine 3 TGT was increasing. They applied the FIRE OR SEVERE DAMAGE procedure, performed an aerodrome circuit and landed.
The investigation showed that the engine had suffered from a serious sustained (pop) surge. This was caused by a combination of wear to the compressor blades, damage caused by an object passing through the intermediate and high-pressure compressor stages and the stresses induced by this phase of takeoff. The investigation also showed that the airplane was in bad overall condition and that the absence of a framework for documentation made it impossible for the operator to ensure appropriate follow-up of maintenance operations.
The investigation showed that, in general, there were numerous failings in the operation established by Star Jet. The safety inspections performed at several levels did not enable these failings to be corrected. Nor did they prevent the airplane from being flown in Europe.
SN: 193G-1222
Type: -500
Regstr: A6-BSM
Owner: Star Jet
Status: Scrapped

April 14, 2017

Stargazer airborne again

Yesterday, L-1011 Stargazer was seen airbone over the Mojave desert area.

N140SC flight pattern © Flightradar24 

Since next launch mission is only scheduled for August, perhaps this was a routine flight to keep the aircraft airworthy and/or the pilots current on the type.

February 26, 2017

Information on the relocation of N910TE

Last Thursday, TriStar Experience made the following announcement about the upcoming ferry flight of their L-1011 to Kansas City Intl:
TriStar Experience STEM Education has prepared the aircraft for flight, received a ferry permit from the FAA, and acquired the necessary fuel for its trip from Tuscon International (KTUS) to Kansas City International (KMCI); all indications that the flight is imminent.
[...] we will likely not be able to provide more than 5 days notice prior to the flight and we are not publicly announcing the date until we are certain the flight will occur as scheduled.