Airbus Perlan Mission II soared to 52,172ft above the Patagonia region of Argentina on Sept. 3, 2017, sending an engineless aircraft to the edge of space and setting a new world altitude record for gliding.

“We are celebrating an amazing victory for aerospace innovation and scientific discovery today, and we’re so thankful to all the volunteers and sponsors whose years of tireless dedication have made this achievement possible,” says Ed Warnock, CEO of the Perlan project. The project is supported by Airbus and more than 35 aerospace sponsors, equipment, service, and institutional donors.

“With every Airbus Perlan Mission II milestone, we continue to learn more about how we can fly higher, faster, and cleaner. But we also learn that aviation still has the power to surprise us, thrill us, and motivate us to find new frontiers of endeavor,” says Airbus CEO Tom Enders.

Chief pilot Jim Payne and co-pilot Morgan Sandercock surpassed the previous 50,727ft world record for glider altitude set in 2006 in the unpressurized Perlan 1 by project founder Einar Enevoldson and lead project sponsor Steve Fossett.

The Perlan initiative ( uses rising air currents in the Andes Mountains to reach the stratosphere. Ultimately, Perlan Project team members hope to reach 90,000ft, a world altitude record for any wing-supported flight, with or without an engine.

Replacement presidential helicopter makes first flight

A Sikorsky VH-92A configured engineering development test aircraft completed its first flight in support of the U.S. Marine Corps’ presidential helicopter replacement program. The July 28, 2017, flight starts the 250-hour flight test program at Lockheed Martin facilities in Owego, New York. A second flight at Sikorsky Aircraft in Stratford, Connecticut, included hover control checks, low speed flight, and a pass of the airfield.

The VH-92A is powered by GE Aviation’s CT7-86A engine, built in Lynn, Massachusetts.

“Having independently tested the aircraft’s components and subsystems, we are now moving forward to begin full aircraft system qualification via the flight test program,” says Spencer Elani, director VH-92A program at Sikorsky.

The VH-92A, based on the S-92A commercial aircraft, recently surpassed 1 million flight hours. Assembled in Coatesville, Pennsylvania, it is being modified to include integration of government-defined mission systems and an executive interior.

The $1.24 billion engineering and manufacturing development contract awarded in 2014 will produce two test and four production aircraft, with plans for the helicopter to enter service in 2020 transporting the U.S. president, vice president, and other officials.;

Stronghold Coatings doubles facility size

Thermal spray coating products manufacturer Stronghold Coating Systems has opened a 5,000ft2 facility to produce its MM1018 load bearing repair product. U.S. Congressman Warren Davidson (R-Troy, Ohio) helped to christen the Franklin, Ohio, facility with a ribbon-cutting. Doubling the custom polymeric products and process development company’s size, the facility will house production, engineering, research and development, shipping and receiving, and corporate offices.

“With the added room, our production team can manufacture and ship product without impeding on the space that our technical team requires as they work to solve complex wear or corrosion problems,” says Larry Grimenstein, Stronghold Coating Systems’ president.

Stronghold thermal coatings for arc, plasma, and high velocity oxygen fuel (HVOF) applications are used in commercial, aviation, and military projects.

A-Punkt Automation has new owner

The Handtmann Group has sold Handtmann A-Punkt Automation GmbH and its foreign companies in the U.S., Russia, and China to Managing Director Armin Walther.

Walther, who was named managing director of Handtmann A-Punkt Automation in June, says the buyout gives the new company, A-Punkt Automation GmbH, more agility to operate in an intensely competitive and changing market.

Walther has served in managerial roles with global surface finishing and machine tool companies for 20 years – 13 years as a managing director.

Heidenhain hires controls business development manager

Gisbert Ledvon has been hired as business development manager in North America for Heidenhain Corp.’s TNC (CNC) controls. With more than 20 years of corporate industrial machine business experience including managerial positions with GF Machining Solutions (formerly AgieCharmilles), Ledvon will lead a team of 5-axis machining, programming, and technology specialists in Schaumburg, Illinois.