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Reaction Engines Preps For Proof-of-Concept Testing

reaction enginesby Chris Pocock

Reaction Engines is exhibiting at the Farnborough Airshow this year (Hall 4, Stand 4018) to update show visitors on progress toward testing its Synergetic Air-Breathing Rocket Engine (Sabre). It is one of the UK’s longest-running advanced technology projects and might eventually result in a lightweight reusable space launch vehicle that can operate from runways.

Reaction Engines was co-founded in 1989 by Alan Bond and two partners after the HOTOL (Horizontal Take Off and Landing) project foundered. The company refined its engine and launch vehicle designs over the following two decades, with support from private investors. The designs eventually gained technical endorsement from the European Space Agency (ESA) and the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL).

In 2013 the UK Space Agency agreed to provide a £61 million (US$80 million) grant of government money. In 2015, BAE Systems made a “strategic investment” of £21.6 million (US$28.4 million). Boeing, Rolls-Royce, and more private investors have since pitched in. Alan Bond retired last year, but the company’s headcount has grown from 30 to 200 in the past four years.

In a recent briefing, Robert Bond, the company’s head of propulsion, noted that launch vehicle technology had not changed much in more than 60 years. Rockets are still expensive and unreliable, he said. The new entrants—presumably a reference to Blue Origin and SpaceX—can achieve only moderate gains, he claimed.

Reaction Engines believes that the solution can found in Sabre, which operates in air-breathing mode from takeoff to Mach 5+, and then as a liquid-oxygen rocket to achieve orbital velocity of Mach 25+. Bond described this as “a breakthrough,” especially the lightweight heat exchanger that cools incoming air. The thrust-to-weight ratio of the Sabre engine is much greater than that of the ramjets and scramjets that have offered propulsion up to Mach 3.

Bond said that the core of Sabre is now being built, with testing expected to take place in 2020. The company began construction of an engine test facility at Westcott in the UK last year. In the meantime, it is running an old GE J79 jet engine at a test site in Colorado to verify the operation of the heat exchanger.

Bond showed various launch vehicle designs, with single- and two-stage-to-orbit options. The company’s own Skylon design was one, but with airframers BAE Systems and Boeing now being shareholders, the eventual spaceplane could look different.

The company’s ambition extends further than providing low-cost satellite launches. Bond noted that Sabre could enable level hypersonic flight at very high altitude–above 100 kilometers. That would permit a sensor-carrying airframe to perform reconnaissance missions over “denied areas” that can be legally imaged only from space today.

Dr. Robert Bond was speaking at the Defence Space Conference in London last May, organized by the MoD and the Air Power Association: www.airpower.org.uk.

Thar she blows! Airbus unveils first BelugaXL

By Nina ChamlouJune 29, 2018 Aircraft, News


Thar she blows! Airbus unveils first BelugaXLNina ChamlouJune 29, 2018 Aircraft, News Comments Off

If the nickname “Beluga” was not enough to conjure images of whales in the sky, employees at Airbus have made the connection even more obvious with the latest livery on its new A330-200F BelugaXL aircraft. The cetacean grin was favored by 40 percent of the Airbus employees in a company-wide contest to create a new look for the unique aircraft.

This week, Airbus rolled out this even larger version of its original great white whale, the Beluga A300-600ST, which was designed for inter-company use of oversized aircraft parts from factory-to-factory.

Airbus made the decision to upgrade its Beluga fleet in November 2017, citing a “ramp-up” in capacity requirements. The company said the BelugaXL recycles much of its predecessors’ existing components and equipment.

After undergoing ground testing in coming weeks, the first BelugaXL will lift-off this summer – although we’re not quite sure how such an ungainly thing is possible. We can also look forward to seeing four more lovable giants in the skies between this summer and 2019.

Flight Sim Expo 2018 Interview

Drunk mechanic stole US military plane from Cold War base

c130By Richard Wood/ courtesy of 9news.com.au

The mystery of the US Air Force mechanic who stole a military plane 49 years ago before crashing off the English coast is a step closer to being solved. On May 23, 1969, after a night of drinking, Sergeant Paul Meyer bluffed his way past ground crew at a US air base in eastern England and took off in a four-engined Hercules C-130. Less than two hours later Meyer died when the plane crashed into the English Channel.

Now a group of UK diving enthusiasts - a Deeper Dorset - hope by finding the Hercules’ remains they hope will unlock the Cold War mystery. The team has raised $11,000 through a Kickstarter campaign to begin an expedition, backed by the Meyer family. Deeper Dorset founder Grahame Knott told nine.com.au he hopes the wreck’s discovery can bring them closure. It may also establish whether the fleeing serviceman died through pilot error or was shot down.

“Our motivation is to find answers for the family who after 50 years do not know what happened. "They are accepting of the fact he was a danger and possibly was taken out but they would like to know that was the case.” The wreck hunters have already carried out sonar scans and plan more over the northern hemisphere spring and summer. “We are scanning the seabed with sidescan sonar and at this time we have covered around eight square miles [20 sqkms] out of an expected thirty. “And within that eight square miles area we have a couple of targets that require close investigation with cameras,” Mr Knott said.

Meyer – a Vietnam War veteran – had been stationed in the UK and had been due to return to his home in Virginia at the time of the incident. Suffering depression, Meyer requested early leave but was knocked back by superior officers. Then after a long drinking session on May 23, he hatched a daring escape plan. Masquerading as an officer, he ordered ground crew to refuel the giant Hercules aircraft.

While Meyer held a civilian pilot’s licence, he had no experience of flying the 60-tonne military transporter. Despite efforts to stop him after his ruse was blown, he took off in the early morning and plotted a course for Langley in Virginia. From the flight cabin he rung his wife Mary Anne Meyer at her home, reports the BBC. When she picked up the phone, the excited husband said: “Hi honey. Guess what I’m coming home.” She told him she was delighted but when she asked him how he’d scored the early leave, he replied: “I got a bird in the sky and I’m coming home.”

Meyer’s wife, Mary Ann Jane Goodson as she is now called, said they were some of the last words she spoke to him. After pleading with him to turn around, she said Meyer ended their talk by saying he had “got some trouble” and would call her back. He crashed the Hercules into the English Channel an hour and 45 minutes into his flight.
Over the past 49 years, speculation has been rife about Meyer’s escape bid including theories that it was shot down because it was a top-secret CIA aircraft.

The official US Air Force report stated an F-100 jet fighter was scrambled shortly after Meyer took off “in an effort to assist him”. But efforts to find out more from US and British authorities have been stonewalled, reports the BBC. Grahame Knott told nine.com.au finding the wreck at least offers a glimmer of hope to Paul Meyer’s family and friends.
“We do not know that finding the plane will tell us anything however lost at the bottom of the English Channel it will never tell us a thing.”

Australia’s first Boeing 787-10 flight touches down in Perth

singaporeMay 8, 2018 by australianaviation.com.au

Perth has welcomed the first scheduled Boeing 787-10 passenger service to Australia, with the arrival of Singapore Airlines flight SQ223 on Monday afternoon.
Operated by 787-10 9V-SCA, SQ223 touched down at Perth a little after 1430 local time, at the end of its five-hour journey from Singapore.
The aircraft was on the ground for about two and a half hours before taking off as SQ214 back to Singapore. Passengers booked on SQ214 were greeted at check-in with a West Australian Symphony Orchestra (WASO) string quartet, while there was a some complimentary food for all passengers at the gate lounge.

SIA regional vice president for South West Pacific Philip Goh said having Perth one of the first two destinations for SIA’s 787-10 was a testament to the airline’s longstanding connection to the city. “Perth was the very first destination we operated to in Australia more than 50 years ago,” Goh said. “Today we mark another fantastic milestone with the arrival of the 787-10 further emphasising our commitment to this wonderful city.”

Following the inaugural service, the 787-10 will be deployed on the SQ215/SQ216 rotation, which is an evening departure from Singapore arriving just before midnight, and an overnight service from Perth landing back in the city-state a little after 0630. The airline flies four times a day between Perth and Singapore. The other three daily flights are operated by Boeing 777-200 and Airbus A330-300 equipment. SIA plans to use the 787-10, which is configured with 36 business class seats and 301 economy class seats, on medium-haul routes of up to eight hours. The airline expected to have eight 787-10s in the fleet by March 2019. The type is replacing Airbus A330-300s and Boeing 777-200s.
Perth Airport chief executive Kevin Brown noted Singapore was Western Australia’s third largest international visitor market and the use of the larger 787-10 compared with the 777-200 and A330-300 represented an extra 38,000 seats on the route.

“It’s going to boost Perth’s profile in our region and build even more momentum for WA to be the destination of choice for tourists from Asia – a potential market of more than four billion people,” Brown said. Osaka Kansai was SIA’s first destination for the 787-10. The aircraft is also used on some flights to Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur to build up hours on the type for pilots and cabin crew.

And passengers in business class on its 787-10 will experience a new-design seat that offers direct aisle access for each passenger and converts to a 76in lie-flat bed. This represented a significant upgrade from the angled lie-flat business class seats in a 2-2-2 layout without direct aisle access on the A330-300 and 777-200.
The new business class seats, manufactured by Stelia Aerospace and customised by the airline’s product development team, were officially unveiled to the world in late March, when the delivery flight of the first SIA 787-10 landed at Changi Airport. SIA has said previously it was investing US$350 million in the new 787-10 cabin products.
That investment also extends to the economy class cabin, which features 301 seats arranged in a 3-3-3 configuration designed and built by Recaro and are similar to those on the airline’s reconfigured A380s that were first unveiled in October 2017.

And the 787-10 will also feature inflight internet wi-fi supplied by Panasonic’s Global Communication Services.

'Flying schools are closing down': Dick Smith's plea to save aviation industry

dicksmith'I see an industry being destroyed': Dick Smith calls for Australia's aviation protection

By Kimberley Caines

The Federal Government has destroyed the pilot training industry and led it into bankruptcy, says Dick Smith, former chairman of the Civil Aviation Safety Authority. In just five years, the aviation industry in Australia has seen pilot numbers decline by more than 30 percent. Flying schools are closing across the country or are being sold off to Chinese buyers.

The government is now importing foreign pilots on 457 visas to cover up Australia’s pilot shortage. Mr Smith says this is due to the government ignoring the cost of safety regulation and putting flight training out of reach for aspiring pilots in Australia. A commercial pilot’s licence costs about $100,000.

“Everything is more in Australia – the cost to set up a flying the school, the staff required, and the number of flying hours needed and exams to do to get a commercial licence. "I believe we have an incredibly safe aviation system but we don’t have enough pilots because the government has sent the flying school industry broke. “I’m concerned about this because I’m a proud Australian. None of this affects me. I have my own aircraft but I see an industry being destroyed.”

According to CASA’s 2013/14 annual report, there were 36,158 pilots employed in Australia. In the 2016/17 report, 31,110 pilots were recorded. Mr Smith is calling for the government to change the Civil Aviation Act 1988 to make it more affordable for Australian pilots to obtain their commercial licence. cadets“Everyone agrees we need safety but nobody wants to pay for it,” the renowned entrepreneur said. “There are tens of thousands of pilots from the USA, Canada, Europe, the UK, China and India, just waiting to come for free. “We may as well close down our universities and get all graduates from overseas for even greater savings. “Our flying schools are closing down everywhere.”

There are about 320 flying schools in Australia. However, flying schools including Aerospace and Sydney Flight Training Centre in Sydney, and Australis Aviation College, Airline Academy of Australia and Royal Queensland Aero Club in Brisbane have all closed down in recent years. It is understood a large number of flying schools are being sold to Chinese or foreign investors due to financial strain or are resorting to using light-sport or ultralight-type aircraft to reduce costs. The pilot training crisis is also creating a domino-effect, impacting maintenance companies as repair works are slowing down.

This VKB MCG Gunfighter review goes above and beyond

By ShamrockOneFive

VKB’s MCG (Modern Combat Grip) is now shipping along with their excellent Gunfighter base. This combination of joystick and base is highly anticipated by both flight sim and space sim pilots. Reviews are slowly coming out but I’ve never seen one like this before.

This joystick review by Maksim Savelev goes above and beyond. He’s a pilot as well as a flight sim enthusiast so this is someone who understands what flight sim pilots need and he brings real world experience that many of us lack.

This review is a pretty decent overview of the build quality, basic features, and overall feel of VKB’s MCG Gunfighter flight stick but its also an interesting indicator on just how close it is to behaving like a real flight stick in real aircraft.

This is worth a watch even if you aren’t in the market for a new stick!

Flight Simulator's DRM fighter nosedives into Chrome's cache

plane crashFlight Sim Labs tips a bucket of fresh aviation fuel onto malware flames
By Richard Speed

A Chrome password dump tool found in the latest update from Microsoft's Flight Simulator Add-On wrangler, Flight Sim Labs, has virtual pilots up in arms.
The download featured updates to the Airbus A320 model including improvements to the engine crank and flare mode logic and, er... a password harvester for Chrome.
Noted in a Reddit thread the A320X update file, FSLabs_A320X_P3D_v2.0.1.231.exe, contains a Chrome password dump tool which, since the installer typically runs with administrative rights, would be installed silently onto a user’s system to do its nefarious work.
Doubtless spurred on by the sound of lawyers sharpening knives, Flight Sim Labs rep Lefteris Kalamaras acted quickly by, er, pouring additional aviation fuel onto the flames with a post that first admitted the presence of the malware and then tried to justify it as a defence against piracy.
In an effort to track specific pirates, Flight Sim Labs decided to drop a harvesting tool into the installer that, upon detecting a specific combination of user, email, serial number and IP address, would slurp the user’s private information from Chrome’s cache and lob it in the direction of Flight Sim Labs.
The information could then be used to gain access to illicit web sites used by the game cracking community and be passed onto the authorities. Resulting, with luck, in a knock on the door by a member of the local constabulary.
Users of third party password managers, such as LastPass and its ilk, are unaffected since the harvesting tool in question only targets Chrome’s password cache.
Unfortunately for the Flight Sim Labs team, the only door likely to receive a knocking by the forces of law and order is their own. With UK and Greece-based team members, the company may find themselves at the sharp, pointy end of the UK Computer Misuse Act, which is pretty specific about unauthorised access to personal data as well as the impending EU-wide GDPR legislation, which is due to hit in May 2018.
Despite assurances by Flight Sim Labs that the password harvester would be automatically removed at the end of the setup and registration process, wannabe-pilots looking forward to taking a virtual commercial airliner out for a spin are understandably alarmed by the prospect of malware being stealthily installed on their machine.
Accordingly, refunds are now being requested.
The installer in question has since been removed in a bid to undo the undoubted damage caused to user trust.
Flight Sim Labs have proffered an apology for what they now regard as an “overly heavy-handed approach to our DRM installer efforts”.

The Register

A380 boom delivers Sydney Airport record

A380 sydBy Christian Edwards

A record 43.3 million passengers have passed through Sydney Airport's three terminals over the past year, as more international visitors on more of the giant A380s landed in Sydney than ever before. That number is up 3.6 per cent on 2016's 41.8 million passengers.

With Malaysia Airlines becoming the ninth carrier to use the maximum 838-seat A380 to service Sydney in 2017, Sydney International Airport has become the world's fastest growing A380 port.

That also helped the airport boost international traffic to 16 million passengers, up 7.2 per cent on 2016. Domestic traffic was also up, by 1.6 per cent, to 27.4 million people.

Chief executive Geoff Culbert said the significant increase in international traffic was driven by the growing capacity on Middle Eastern, Asian and US routes."The capacity additions have totalled well over one million new international seats for the second consecutive year and the pipeline of capacity announcements continues to be strong for the coming season," Mr Culbert said in a statement on Friday.

Mr Cuthbert said a concerted focus on connecting Sydney with China had played a part, with Chinese passenger volumes up by 17.3 per cent in 2017. "Sydney Airport now serves 17 mainland Chinese cities, representing 90 per cent of all travel on the China-Sydney route," Mr Culbert said.

Chinese travellers were one of the fastest growing foreign nationalities passing through the terminals, along with Indian, South Korean and American. Total passenger numbers lifted 3.5 per cent in December, with international traffic up 5.6 per cent and domestic passenger traffic lifting 2.1 per cent on December 2016.

The number of Australians heading overseas also rose, by 5.3 per cent, in December with "many Australians choosing to travel overseas during the Christmas holiday period", Mr Culbert said.

Ten secrets of the sky

Steve ParfittWhat I've learned from a lifetime flying planes
By Hugh Morris, Travel News Editor

After a lifetime in the air, Thomas Cook’s Steve Parfitt is finally hanging up his wings.

Captain Parfitt spent 25 years with the airline, after joining in 1992 from the Royal Air Force. Here, he shares his wisdom from the cockpit.

1. Flying runs in the family

On arrival into Manchester on his final flight, from Cancun, Steve was greeted by the surprising sight of his son, Dan, marshalling him to his gate. Dan had to undergo special training to be able to take part in the farewell treat, but is no stranger to the industry, being a Thomas Cook captain himself. “He’s grown up with his dad as a pilot,” said Steve, “and he’s seen the life and thought that’s the job for him.”

2. Pilots don’t consider it a job

“If you talk to most pilots, not many do it for a job,” says Steve. “Most guys that go flying have a passion for it. You just want to do it because it’s flying - you don’t think of it as work.”

3. Your BA pilot probably used to fly fighter jets

Steve joined Thomas Cook after 16 years flying with the RAF. “It was quite a common route at the time [from the air force into commercial airlines],” he says. “When I joined Thomas Cook in the Nineties, most of the guys leaving the RAF went to BA.”

4. Which was a little more exciting

“Flying is flying,” says Steve. “With the Air Force you take the planes a little more to the limits of their capabilities than your passengers would want you do, and it’s a bit more staid flying a commercial aircraft. There’s a different aim between the two, but in the end it’s still flying."

5. Leaving the clouds is incredible

“There’s something magical about flying out of the clouds,” says Steve. “Just as you break through the top layer you can feel an enormous sensation of speed and there’s this huge expanse of blue above you.”

6. But there’s a pressure that comes with being in the cockpit

“When you’re up there and it’s just you and the First Officer, you have to know your stuff,” says Steve, about the importance of continuing to learn new protocol and technologies over his career. “If you just let stuff pass you by, it can have more far-reaching effects as a pilot than if you were sat behind a desk.”

7. And flying is always changing

“One of the greatest changes is the shift to digital that meant that I no longer had to have these huge manuals in the cockpit,” says Steve. “Now it’s all on tablets and iPads.

“I’ve been flying the Airbus for the last 20 years, and their aircraft are quite advanced with its fly-by-wire technology, but there’s always new techniques and new technology. There’s still progress to be made.”

8. Challenging landings are the most fun

It may not feel it to passengers but Steve says landing a plane at some of the more tricky airports on the planet injects a little excitement into the job.

“The more difficult airports stand out,” Steve says, asked which he enjoys flying into the most. “Madeira is notorious among pilots, but then because it’s challenging it can be quite fun.

“Skiathos - a short and narrow runway - can be quite challenging, too.”

9. The secret to becoming a pilot

“Have an understanding bank manager,” says Steve. “Nowadays, flying is very expensive to get into, to do the training. I was very lucky that the Queen paid for my training in the Air Force, but even when my son Dan went through the costs were quite high, and are high now [it is around £80,000 to put yourself through flying school].

“But if you have a passion for it, you find a way to meet the costs.”

10. But a decent salary will help recoup costs

“Yes, they are well paid jobs,” confirms Steve. Pilots can earn up to £140,000 a year.

'Till Jet Do Us Part'

747 weddingGet married on a Boeing 747 party plane or in the control tower at Cotswold Airport
By Dan Elsom

BRITS will now have the chance to join a different kind of mile high club - thanks to the world's first licensed Boeing 747.

Based at the Cotswold Airport, near Gloucestershire, couples now have the chance to get married on a party plane after the operator was given a licence to perform civil wedding ceremonies and naming ceremonies. The airport also has legal rights to perform ceremonies in their operational control tower – the only such venues in the world.

The unique plane will allow brides to walk down a very different kind of aisle as they prepare to exchange vows in the huge commercial airliner. Fitting out the aircraft took seven months and it still has plenty of the original decor, including the seating numbers still being visible. The plane can be styled in lots of different ways just like a normal wedding venue though. Because of the vast space on-board, staff can also set up stages, makeup rooms and dressing rooms, all separate from the main area.

Couples can also choose to say "I do" in the airport's fully working control tower - with uninterrupted views of the runway. Guests can then continue to enjoy the sights and sounds of the airport with a wedding breakfast at a restaurant positioned right next to the live runway. Jo Welch, head of events at the privately-owned airport, said: "We are extremely excited about this new sector of our business." She continued: "We do have a Boeing 747 that is stripped out and used for events, so the idea came about to get it licensed for civil ceremonies. "As discussions went on, we also decided to licence the control tower. "Both are the only venues of their kind in the world licensed in this way."

Formerly known as RAF Kemble, Cotswold Airport was originally one of the main bases for the aircraft ferrying operations of the Air Transport Auxiliary in the British Isles.
The site then became home to the Red Arrows, the RAF's aerobatic display team, for many years before being bought privately by an entrepreneur and ex-RAF engineer 15 years ago. The airport now sees many celebrities and high-profile personalities fly in and out on luxury private jets and helicopters.

More images here

Australia’s first female fighter pilots graduate

opcon graduatesby australianaviation.com.au

Australia’s first female fighter pilots have completed their operational conversion course on the F/A-18 Hornet, Defence Minister Senator Marise Payne announced on Sunday.

“I congratulate the six graduates of our most recent Royal Australian Air Force fast jet pilot course – including the first two female pilots to graduate from this course,” Senator Payne said in a Facebook post on Sunday morning.

The six pilots successfully completed High Sierra, the three week intensive exercise that marks the culmination of 2OCU’s six-month long classic Hornet ‘opcon’.

“Air Force fighter pilot selection and training is comprehensive and rigorous, and only a select few ever graduate as qualified fighter pilots,” Senator Payne said.

“Years of dedication and hard work has brought these pilots to this point in their careers – and I wish to take this opportunity to thank them for providing such a fine example of the career opportunities and aspirations that can be realised in today’s Air Force.”

The RAAF’s first woman pilots were awarded their ‘Wings’ in 1988, while females have been able to apply for selection to fly fast jets since 1995. A small number of woman pilots have been selected for fast jets, commencing training on the Hawk lead-in fighter trainer, but until none have graduated as fast jet pilots.

easyJet aims for electric planes for short-haul flights

easyjetBritish budget airline easyJet could be flying electric passenger jets on short-haul routes within a decade in a push to cut plane pollution, the company said on Wednesday.
The airline said in March it would partner with US startup Wright Electric to develop electric passenger jets and is aiming for planes with a range of up to 335 miles (540 km), which could fly about 20 per cent of easyJet's routes.

EasyJet said its support for electric planes was part of a broader strategy to reduce carbon and nitrous oxide emissions in the aviation sector, following the lead taken by the rail and automotive industries.

"For the first time, our industry can envisage a future which isn't wholly reliant on jet fuel and its harmful CO2 and NOX emissions," CEO Carolyn McCall said in a statement.

The airline is already targeting a 10 percent cut in emissions per passenger per kilometre by 2022 by using more fuel-efficient jets, such as the new Airbus A320neo. The airline has two so far and 98 are on order for delivery by August 2022.

Airbus has been developing electric planes and flew its two-seater E-Fan across the channel in 2015, but it expects hybrid fuel systems to come in first for commercial jets - until the batteries needed for electric-only planes become lighter.

EasyJet also said it was partnering with French company Safran to trial a zero-emissions taxiing system for its aircraft, while electric tugs will be introduced at Gatwick.

British Airways said this week it was now using remote-controlled electric tugs to push its short-haul aircraft away from departure gates.


The five coolest buttons in a 747 cockpit, according to a BA pilot

747 Cockpit SWBy Mark Vanhoenacker

1. The EXECUTE (or EXEC) key

In flight, we follow a route that’s been carefully programmed into the flight computers. That’s true whether we’re flying the aeroplane manually or through the automatic pilot. The route in the computer is checked before take-off, of course.

But in flight, we often need to modify the route - perhaps we’ve been given a shortcut by air traffic control, or perhaps the landing runway at our destination has changed.

Naturally, we want to be able to prepare and check the modification to the route in the on-board computers before the plane actually starts to follow it. So, as we prepare the changes, a light on the Execute key illuminates.

When we’re satisfied with the changes we’ve prepared, we press the key to ‘execute’ our changes. The light goes out, the existing route is replaced by the modified one, which the plane will follow exactly.

2. The mode selectors for the Inertial Reference Systems

These are the switches for what’s probably the most remarkable bit of aerospace technology you’ve never heard of. GPS is an amazing innovation, to be sure, but to me inertial reference systems are far cooler. Once configured before each flight, they help us know where we are without any reference to the outside world.

Think of that - no GPS satellite signals are needed, no star sightings, nothing. Inside the black box, each of these three powerful digital brains just knows.

Some of this technology was developed in part for the Apollo programme, and it was one of the most revolutionary technologies on board the Boeing 747-100 when it first took flight in 1969. Modern inertial systems have a variety of important functions in addition to navigation. They can help us distinguish our own speed and direction from those of the wind that carries us. And they can sense gravity, which tell us which way is up, for example—particularly useful when flying in cloud.

There’s something else remarkable about inertial systems. Before flight, they require some time (typically a few minutes) at the gate when the aircraft is completely still.

Technically, they’re using this stillness to sense two important things. One is gravity, and the other is the earth’s rotation.

You could say that they’re using this quiet time to quite literally get their bearings. Or, since this process is called ‘alignment’, you might think of them as grabbing a moment of Zen, before they’re ready to help guide us across the heavens.

3. The START switches

In an environment as complex as an airliner cockpit, there’s a huge premium put on simplicity—on buttons that do just what ‘it says on the tin’. Visitors to the cockpit often ask how we start the engines, and it’s hard to answer without sounding as if we’re dumbing it down.

But it really is (almost) this simple. To start the engines, pull the start switch, and then move the master switch for each engine to RUN.

If everything else is correctly configured (and to be honest, there’s quite a lot that needs to be correctly configured) the selected engine or engines will soon start. On a plane like the 747, we typically start two engines at a time.

4. The MIC/INTERPHONE switch

Airliners are designed to be flown by two pilots, which means we spend a lot of time talking to each other. In flight, though, we typically wear pricey noise-cancelling headsets due to the sound of the engines and the airflow.

So, to speak to each other, and to do so without taking our hands off the controls, we can flip this switch to the interphone position and speak to each other normally.

We can even latch the interphone on - remembering, of course, to turn it off before we eat or drink, so our colleagues don’t have to listen to the high-fidelity details of our lunch.

Of course, while we talk a lot to each other, we also talk a lot to air traffic controllers. If we flip this switch the other way, to the MIC position, we can speak on the radio - again, without moving our hands from the wheel.

5. The External Power (EXT PWR) Control switches

One of the simplest but best questions that we’re asked - often by children - has to do with how an aircraft is powered while it’s parked at the gate. After all, if the engines are shut down, what’s keeping the lights on?

There are a couple of good answers to this. Most aircraft have what’s called an APU, or Auxiliary Power Unit.

It’s a little jet engine in the tail of the aircraft that can power the aircraft on the ground, and sometimes serve as a backup power source in flight. (Next time you look at the back of an aircraft, note the APU’s little exhaust hole, under the tail fin).

But an airliner can also be plugged directly into the airport’s electrical power supply, which saves fuel and reduces emissions and noise. A plane like the 747 has two such ‘outlets’, under the nose. Two cockpit buttons select these power supplies. Next time you’re at the gate, look for the two thick cables that run up into the area around the nosewheel.

In the cabin, you may hear a click or notice a brief flicker of the lights just before departure. That’s the pilots turning on the APU and deselecting the external power—an auspicious signal that your jet is at last unplugged from the world, and your journey across it is about to begin.

Mark Vanhoenacker is a Senior First Officer for British Airways and the bestselling author of Skyfaring. His latest book, How to Land a Plane, was published September 21

MH370 captain's simulation of Indian Ocean route


The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) has published details about data gleaned from the personal flight simulator of MH370 captain Zaharie Shah.

"Six weeks before the accident flight the [pilot-in-command] had used his simulator to fly a route, initially similar to part of the route flown by MH370 up the Straits of Malacca, with a left-hand turn and track into the southern Indian Ocean. There were enough similarities to the flight path of MH370 for the ATSB to carefully consider the possible implications for the underwater search area."

In the weeks after the 8 March 2014 disappearance of the Boeing 777-200ER with 239 on-board, unsourced media reports emerged stated that Shah had used his home flight simulator to simulate a course resembling that taken by MH370.

In was only in August 2016, over two years after the jet's disappearance, that news of Shah's simulator activity was confirmed by Malaysia's transport minister Low Tiong Lai. This was in response to widespread media reports that the US Federal Bureau of Invesitagation had recovered allegedly deleted home simulator data from one of Shah's hard drives.

At that time, Liow downplayed the data, saying that the simulator had contained "thousands of simulations to many destinations."

The ATSB, for its part, says it received the simulator data on 19 April 2014, five weeks after the aircraft's disappearance.

"The simulator data was a partial reconstruction of a flight simulator session from 2 February 2014," says ATSB.

"It comprised four complete and two partial data captures of various aircraft and simulator parameters at discrete points during the simulation. The aircraft simulated was a 777-200LR."

The initial data point shows the simulated aircraft at Kuala Lumpur International airport. No useful location data was available from the second data point.

The next two data points show that the aircraft had flown north up the Straits of Malacca. By the fourth data point the simulated aircraft had reached 40,000ft, was in a 20° left bank, 4° nose down, and had a southwest heading of 255°.

Data points five and six were in the far reaches of the Indian Ocean, 820nm southwest of Australia's, Cape Leeuwin, with the simulated aircraft having exhausted its fuel.

Data point five has the simulated 777 at 37,651ft, at an 11° right bank, and almost due south heading of 178°.

The sixth, and final, data point was incomplete. "It was 2.5nm from the previous data point and the aircraft right bank had reduced to 3°.The aircraft was pitched nose down 5° and was on a heading of 193°. At this time there was also a user input of an altitude of 4,000ft."

"By the last data point the aircraft had flown approximately 4,200nm," says ATSB. "This was further than was possible with the fuel loaded on board the aircraft for flight MH370. Similarly, the simulated aircraft track was not consistent with the aircraft tracks modelled using the MH370 satellite communications metadata."

The simulator revelations are part of the ATSB's 440-page final report into the disaster, which claimed the lives of all on-board.

The ATSB adds that until the wreckage is located, it is impossible to ascertain the cause of the MH370 disaster.

Dream Chaser spaceplane

dream chaser captive carry 12The current design is unmanned but allows for a future variant to include a crew of up to seven (Credit: NASA)

After years of development and numerous iterations, the latest Dream Chaser spaceplane has successfully completed its first captive carry flight test over the Mojave Desert. Hoisted up by a Chinook helicopter, the Dream Chaser will undertake one more captive carry test flight in the near future before embarking upon its first free flight later in the year.

n early 2016, NASA awarded three private companies contracts to deliver cargo to the International Space Station (ISS) over the coming years. Alongside Orbital ATK's Cygnus and SpaceX's Dragon, the Dream Chaser signed up to execute a minimum of six missions to the ISS between 2019 and 2024. As well as delivering supplies, the missions need to be able to return cargo safely back to Earth.

The Dream Chaser project stands apart from the other two, capsule-based programs in that it is the only craft of the three capable of a runway landing and its particular design gives it the ability to land on any large-scale commercial airport runway in the world. This feature has proved of great interest to other space organizations around the globe, with the UN also showing interest in the Dream Chaser project.

It has been a rocky road to this day for the Dream Chaser project after initially losing a NASA contract aimed at ferrying crew from Earth to the ISS. The Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) subsequently redesigned the craft, creating a new unmanned version tailored to the transportation of cargo.

This current Dream Chaser design is capable of carrying both pressurized and unpressurized cargo, it features foldable wings, and is "launcher-agnostic," meaning it will be compatible with a variety of rocket platforms. SNC also suggests the Dream Chaser is easily modified into a manned variant that could support future crew transportation missions.

Pilotless Planes


Remote controlled aircraft are coming soon - but not everyone is on board

Passenger planes could be flown without a pilot in the next decade, according to a new study.

The research was conducted by investment bank UBS, which found that new technology is being developed that would make remotely flying an aircraft feasible in the near future.

Pilotless planes could save airlines £27 billion and slash fares for passengers, who could see prices drop by over 10 per cent. The report said: “The average percentage of total cost and average benefit that could be passed onto passengers in price reduction for the US airlines is 11 per cent.” Savings on European flights would be less at an average of 4 per cent.

The biggest savings will come from reducing the cost of employing pilots. UBS estimated that pilots cost the industry £24 billion a year. The study predicts flights will be safer as the potential for pilot error will be removed.

Air passengers, however, seem nervous about travelling in a remote controlled plane. More than half of the 8,000 people surveyed by UBS (54 per cent) said they would refuse to fly in a plane with no pilot, even if the flight cost less.

Respondents between 18 and 34 and those who had a university degree were more willing to fly without a pilot. The report said: “This bodes well for the technology as the population ages.”

UBS suggested that initially the traditional two pilot set-up will be reduced to one on board pilot and one pilot on the ground. Commercial jets already use computers for many functions including take-off, cruise and landing.

The basic technology to fly planes without pilots already exists. Military drones are operated remotely and the study says this technology could be adapted to control commercial aircraft.

Boeing is set to test pilotless planes next year and the company's vice president of product development, Mike Sinnett, said: “The basic building blocks of the technology clearly are available.”

However, not everyone is so convinced by these technological developments. Steve Landells, BALPA flight safety specialist and former pilot, said: “We have concerns that in the excitement of this futuristic idea, some may be forgetting the reality of pilotless air travel.

“Automation in the cockpit is not a new thing – it already supports operations. However, every single day pilots have to intervene when the automatics don’t do what they’re supposed to.

“Computers can fail, and often do, and someone is still going to be needed to work that computer. Most of us own some sort of electronic device that can do amazing things – however, a human is still required to operate it.

“Our members tell us that pilot intervention will always be necessary, and because that requires direct contact with the situation, we don’t believe ‘pilotless flight’ will ever be a reality – what is more likely to happen is that the pilots are moved to the ground rather than being on board.

“We would question the safety of this, due to diminished responsibility and operational decision-making."


HondaJet is Most Delivered Light Jet of 2017’s First Half


The revolutionary aircraft is racking up accolades and sales. The HondaJet shipped to 24 customers in the first half of 2017, making it the most delivered aircraft of its class.

As if winning the inaugural Flying Innovation Award at AirVenture 2017 wasn’t already a noteworthy accomplishment, HondaJet hasn’t left the spotlight just yet. Honda Aircraft Co. announced this week that the HondaJet was the most delivered light jet of the first half of 2017, with 24 airplanes were shipped out to buyers in North America and Europe.
“Our customers are extremely pleased with the performance, comfort and superior fit and finish of the HondaJet,” Honda Aircraft President and CEO Michimasa Fujino said. “The HondaJet is very high tech, sporty aircraft and it is like a flying, high-precision sports car. We want to create new value in business aviation and I hope to see many more HondaJets flying all over the world.”

Honda’s Greensboro, North Carolina, facility is producing four HondaJets per month to fulfill that vision and meet current customer demand.
The company shouldn’t put the party hats away yet, though, because the HondaJet is on a roll with more good news. Last week, Brazil’s National Civil Aviation Agency (ANAC) awarded type certification for the HondaJet, which the company announced at the Latin American Business Aviation Conference and Exhibition in Sao Paulo.
“We are eager to respond to customer interest in one of the largest business jet markets in the world,” Fujino said at the event. The HondaJet is currently being showcased throughout Central and Latin America.

Britain Running Out Of Airspace

ukairAir traffic controllers say Britain's skies are running out of room for planes

Photo: A composite photo captures planes taking off from Heathrow Airport. As many as 42 planes take off from Heathrow every hour. (Getty Images)

Air traffic controllers in the United Kingdom has warned that there are so many planes in the air that the country's skies are quickly running out of room.

The National Air Traffic Control Service (NATS) expected Friday to be the busiest day of the year with a record 8,800 flights criss-crossing British airspace.

"We will soon reach the limits of what can be managed without delays rising significantly," said Jamie Hutchison, the director of NATS.

Over the course of the northern summer, air traffic controllers in the UK will manage 770,000 flights, which is 40,000 more than last year.

The reason for the uptick, according to NATS, is to do with British travellers shunning more politically volatile destinations such as Egypt, Turkey and Tunisia in favour of the US, Spain and Italy.

NATS said that shift had "resulted in major changes in the flows of traffic, and with many schools now breaking up the demand for flying is expected to reach new levels."

Mr Hutchison said that the way planes are guided across British airspace needed modernisation.

"The UK's airspace was designed decades ago and doesn't allow us to take advantage of the technology on board modern aircraft that would raise capacity, and also reduce emissions and noise for communities on the ground," he said.

After a lengthy review, the British government decided last year that it wants Heathrow Airport – Europe's busiest – to get a third runway. However, if it gets final approval it won't be built for at least a decade and faces opposition from local residents who could see their homes compulsorily acquired for the development against their wishes.

It's not clear if an expanded Heathrow would ease or further burden British airspace.

Still, Britain's Department for Transport said if the way airspace is managed doesn't change, by 2030 there will be 3,100 days' worth of flight delays each year. That's 50 times more than in 2015. As many as 8000 flights would be cancelled annually.


Iran Air Appoints First Female CEO in its History

IranChiefThe new CEO, Farzaneh Sharafbafi, previously led Iran Air’s research and development wing as a member of the company board, state-owned Iranian broadcasting network Press TV reported. According to the Tehran Times, she was also the first woman in Iran to earn a PhD in aerospace, and will replace outgoing CEO Farhad Parvaresh, who is stepping down to represent Iran at the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) in Montreal.

Sharafbafi, 44, will oversee a fleet-wide update for Iran’s national flag carrier, whose aging fleet has an average age of over 20 years, according to data collected by Planespotters.net. Iran Air moved to replace its aircraft earlier this year when it agreed to buy 80 commercial airliners from Boeing and more than 100 from Airbus.

Qantas Dreamliner fleet names revealed

quokka Qantas customers will take to the skies on Waltzing Matilda, Boomerang and Quokka as the airline today revealed the names for its fleet of eight Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners.

More than 60,000 suggestions were put forward and 45,000 votes cast in selecting the names of the aircraft that will fly routes including Perth to London and Melbourne to Los Angeles.

Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce said the public response to the challenge of naming the aircraft after things that captured the spirit of Australia was fantastic. “We had so many worthwhile entries, we could have probably renamed our entire fleet of 208 aircraft,” Mr Joyce said. “There were some clear favourites and it’s given us a good mix of names for our eight Dreamliners, from landmarks to native animals, literature and Indigenous heritage. “We know people get a real sense of home when they see the flying kangaroo at airports around the world, and hopefully they’ll enjoy seeing these uniquely Australian names as well,” added Mr Joyce.

The final names (in no particular order): Great Barrier Reef, Boomerang, Skippy, Waltzing Matilda, Uluru, Great Southern Land, Quokka & Dreamtime.

The names will be painted beneath the cockpit window on each aircraft. The sequencing of names will be revealed as the aircraft are delivered, with the first to arrive in October this year. (Source = Qantas)

Paris Air Show

paris a sIn a happy turn of events, orders for new aircraft, while not flooding in, brightened the outlook at the 2017 International Paris Air Show to the tune of billions of dollars of commitments gladly received by the likes of Airbus, ATR, Bell Helicopter, Boeing, Bombardier, Boom, Embraer, Leonardo, Lockheed Martin and more. Lockheed Martin even advanced its hybrid airship program with a letter of intent for up to 12 such ships from startup company Hybrid Air Freighters.

The almost extreme heat that warmed the Le Bourget Airport ramps during the first four days of the show seemed not to diminish the crowds. One side benefit of the heat was far more crowded exhibit halls and chalets, where grateful visitors cooled off in the air-conditioning and spent more time at the exhibits and in hopefully fruitful meetings.
Outside, the 130 aircraft on static display provided plenty of hardware for ogling until the flying displays started. Then every shady spot at the Paris Salon was filled with eager crowds watching the graceful balletic dance of the A380 or the air-ripping conversion of jet fuel to pure power as the F35A’s afterburners kicked in with a burst of orange flames. (See AIN’s YouTube channel for plenty of eye-popping videos from the show, including the F35A’s display, the Mitsubishi MRJ’s Paris debut and many other spectacular fliers.)

The Paris Air Show remains one of the most significant events on the airshow circuit, and despite the heat and the long lines at security and show restaurants, this year’s event will undoubtedly be one to remember.

Learjet Turns 3,000 with the 100th Model 75 Delivery

learjet 3000by Kerry Lynch

Bombardier celebrated the 3,000th Learjet delivery and delivery of the 100th Learjet 75 on June 2.

Bombardier’s ceremonial handover of a Learjet 75 to Leggett & Platt on Friday commemorated two major milestones: the 3,000th Learjet manufactured and the 100th Learjet 75 delivery. The milestone comes more than 50 years after Bill Lear helped pioneer the business aviation industry with the introduction of the Lear Jet 23, which it claims as the first purpose-built business jet to enter production. The nascent Lear Jet company, which had established a home in Wichita, handed over the first Model 23 to Chemical and Industrial Corporation of Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1964, about a year after first flight, according to the U.S. Centennial of Flight Commission. Originally known as Lear Jet (two words), the company built a little more than 100 of the $540,000 model 23s before moving to the 24 in 1966, followed by a succession of later models. Along the way, its corporate brand changed to one word, Learjet.
Bombardier bought the storied manufacturer in 1990 and in 1997 introduced the Learjet 75 predecessor, the Learjet 45. The 75, with its Mach 0.81 speed and 2,000-nm range, offered a number of enhancements over its predecessor, including new canted winglets and other aerodynamic improvements; and the Garmin G5000 touchscreen-controlled avionics suite, the first implementation of this system in a Part 25 jet. The first of the 75s was delivered in late 2013.
Leggett & Platt, the recipient of the 100th Learjet 75, is a repeat customer for Bombardier; this 75 is its second. Founded in 1883, the company also is a pioneer, but in sleep technology. Leggett & Platt introduced its first bedspring nearly 125 years ago and now is a diversified manufacturer of products found in homes, automobiles and offices. It operates out of 130 facilities in 19 countries.
“The Learjet 75 offers an indispensable productivity tool to help us keep pace with the complexity and cadence of our operations,” said Jeffrey Presslor, director of aviation for Leggett & Platt, of the company’s new airplane.
Along with Presslor, other Leggett & Platt executives, Bombardier officials, Kansas Governor Sam Brownback, Rep. Ron Estes (R-Kan.) and local Wichita and Sedgwick county officials were on hand for the celebration.
“This is an impressive milestone that required the contributions of generations of Learjet workers and reflects the resilience of a location that not only manufactures Learjet aircraft, but also performs flight testing for new aircraft as well as aftermarket services for aircraft post-delivery,” Brownback said.
“Today is an exciting day in Bombardier Learjet history,” added David Coleal, president of Bombardier Business Aircraft.

Stratos 714 Single Engine Jet Makes Strides Toward Certification

stratos testTest pilots complete first flight test phase with positive results.
By Pia Bergqvist

Cirrus Aircraft is soon going to have some competition for its recently certified SF50 Vision Jet as Stratos Aircraft announced it has completed the first flight test phase for its Stratos 714 single-engine jet.

Since the first flight in November of last year, the test pilots have logged 52 hours during 33 flights, topping out at 320 KTAS and 17,000 feet. The Stratos 714 performed as expected, being tested to a max weight of 8,300 pounds at various CG positions. “We are extremely pleased with the progress we’ve made up to this point,” said Michael Lemaire, CEO of Stratos Aircraft. “We haven’t encountered anything that would require a major change in the design.”

The targeted max cruise speed for the Stratos 714, which is powered by a Pratt & Whitney Canada JT15D-5 engine, is 400 KTAS with a range of 1,500 nm. Pilots will enjoy lots of legroom as the airplane is controlled with a sidestick. The 714 is configured for four, but multiple seating configurations are planned with as many as six seats.

Based on the results of the first phase of flight testing, the FAA has approved more rigorous flight testing profiles as well as marketing survey flights. The airplane is now going in for paint and upholstery and is expected to be on display at the Boeing Plaza during EAA’s AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, from July 24 through 30. Phase two of the flight test program is scheduled to begin after AirVenture.

FAA Drone Registration Rule Shot Down by Appeals Court

drone USThe agency is currently reviewing the decision and weighing its options.
By Ashley Burn

On Friday, a Washington D.C. court ruled that the FAA’s 2015 small unmanned aircraft (UAS) registration rule violates the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012. Under the rule, owners of drones weighing between .55 and 55 pounds were required to register their aircraft, because, as then-U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in the original statement, “unmanned aircraft enthusiast are aviators, and with that title comes a great deal of responsibility.”

However, recreational drone hobbyist John Taylor argued that drones qualify as “model aircraft,” which are protected from the FAA’s regulations by the 2012 act. The appeals court agreed, as circuit judge Brett Kavanaugh wrote: "Taylor does not think that the FAA had the statutory authority to issue the Registration Rule and require him to register. Taylor is right."

The emphasis of the 2015 registration rule was on education and awareness for recreational drone pilots, and giving the FAA “an opportunity to work with these users to operate their unmanned aircraft safely.” The agency rolled out a website for quick and easy registration, and more than 800,000 drones have been registered with a $5 application fee since that day.

Taylor told MarketWatch last week that he believes enforcement and education for responsible drone use is necessary, but the registration process as an educational tool for recreational drone users was ultimately “bogus,” because it’s too quick.

In response to the decision, the FAA released the following statement:

We are carefully reviewing the U.S. Court of Appeals decision as it relates to drone registrations. The FAA put registration and operational regulations in place to ensure that drones are operated in a way that is safe and does not pose security and privacy threats. We are in the process of considering our options and response to the decision.

“This opinion suggests the FAA is precluded from regulating in any way the operation of drones used for recreational purposes,” said Patrick Byrnes, a partner in the Locke Lord law firm’s litigation department and member of the Aviation and Defense Group. “Separate and apart from this decision, there are potential further constitutional challenges to the FAA’s regulatory authority over the commercial use of drones below 500 ft. and, in particular, on private property.”

While the FAA's response is uncertain, the agency can appeal to the judges, or it can appeal to congress, which has already vowed to become more involved in unmanned aircraft regulations.

Boom! Supersonic Passenger Jet Coming by 2020

BoomBy Kacey Deamer

Richard Branson of Virgin Galactic has just partnered with startup Boom Technology to build a supersonic aircraft, Boom Technology announced. The plane would zip through the skies faster than the Concorde jet or any other commercial aircraft today, Boom Technology said.

Aircraft that fly faster than the speed of sound were first developed in the mid-20th century. But regulations and technical challenges halted innovation and expansion of the concept, said Boom Technology, which has headquarters in Denver. The aviation startup said it aims to change that by developing a modern, supersonic passenger jet that travels at Mach 2.2. That's twice the speed of sound, or 1,451 mph (2,335 km/h). The Concorde, a now-retired supersonic passenger jet, flew at speeds of up to about 1,350 mph (2,180 km/h).

Boom recently raised $33 million in new funding to develop the startup's first supersonic passenger jet. The company will first build the "Baby Boom," a prototype of the eventual full-size Boom aircraft, Air Transport World (ATW) reported.

China's first big passenger plane takes off for maiden flight

(BBC)China's first large domestically made passenger aircraft has taken off for its maiden flight, mounting a major challenge to Boeing and Airbus. State TV showed what appeared to be a normal take off from Pudong airport in Shanghai. The plane is a key symbol of Beijing's soaring ambitions to enter the global aviation market.

The jet by state-owned firm Comac has been planned since 2008 but the flight was repeatedly pushed back. For its maiden flight, the plane carried only its skeleton crew of five pilots and engineers and took off in front of a crown of thousands of dignitaries, aviation workers and enthusiasts. Ahead of the flight, state television said the plane would fly at an altitude of only 3,000 metres (9,800 feet), some 7,000 metres lower than a regular trip, and reach a speed of around 300 kilometres (186 miles) per hour.

The C919 is designed to be a direct competitor to Boeing's 737 and the Airbus A320. It is a single-aisle twin-engine plane with a capacity to seat up to 168 passengers with a range of between 4,075 and 5,555km (2,532 - 3,452 miles). According to Chinese media, it will cost around $50m, less than half of a Boeing 737 or Airbus A320. It's estimated that the global aviation market will be worth $2tn (£1.55tn) over the next 20 years. Orders have already been placed for more than 500 of the planes, with commitments from 23 customers, say officials, mainly Chinese airlines. The main customer is China Eastern Airlines.

The plane still relies on a wide array of imported technology though, it is for instance powered by engines from French-US supplier CFM International.

Aviation safety regulators have started the certification process for the C919 - a crucial step for the aircraft to be successful on the international market. 

This U.S. Army Helicopter Drone used for Casavac's

Heli droneBy Kyle Mizokami

The DP-14 Hawk can carry an injured soldier hundreds of miles.

Military drones aren't just for attack or surveillance. If the U.S. Army has its way, its medics could soon call on unmanned helicopters to evacuate the wounded to nearby aid stations.

The U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command is looking at the Dragonfly Pictures, Inc. DP-14 Hawk as a possible alternative to traditional helicopters for casualty evacuation. The DP-14 Hawk is a twin-rotor helicopter that looks like a miniature CH-47 Chinook. Small enough to fit in a utility van, it can be assembled and ready to fly in just thirty minutes.

Once operational, the Hawk has a cruise speed of about 82 miles an hour and can carry payloads of up to 430 pounds for up to 2.4 hours. Hawk can complete a mission autonomously, relying on internal navigation systems to get from one point to another—even without GPS.

The Hawk has an internal payload bay of 23 cubic feet, which translates to an area just over six feet by 20 inches. This man-sized area could be ideal for ferrying an injured soldier from the front line to a nearby aid station. DPI also says the drone could be used for "precision agriculture, farming, wildfire life & safety, search and rescue, survey and expedition resupply, (and) marine operations." Hawk can also carry slung loads under the drone, or even team up with a second drone to share carrying an even larger slung load.

Read more at Defensetech

Carbon nanotube 'stitches' make stronger, lighter composites

Carbon nanotubeMassachusetts Institute of Technology

The newest Airbus and Boeing passenger jets flying today are made primarily from advanced composite materials such as carbon fiber reinforced plastic -- extremely light, durable materials that reduce the overall weight of the plane by as much as 20 percent compared to aluminum-bodied planes. Such lightweight airframes translate directly to fuel savings, which is a major point in advanced composites' favor.

But composite materials are also surprisingly vulnerable: While aluminum can withstand relatively large impacts before cracking, the many layers in composites can break apart due to relatively small impacts -- a drawback that is considered the material's Achilles' heel.

Now MIT aerospace engineers have found a way to bond composite layers in such a way that the resulting material is substantially stronger and more resistant to damage than other advanced composites. Their results are published this week in the journal Composites Science and Technology.

The researchers fastened the layers of composite materials together using carbon nanotubes -- atom-thin rolls of carbon that, despite their microscopic stature, are incredibly strong. They embedded tiny "forests" of carbon nanotubes within a glue-like polymer matrix, then pressed the matrix between layers of carbon fiber composites. The nanotubes, resembling tiny, vertically-aligned stitches, worked themselves within the crevices of each composite layer, serving as a scaffold to hold the layers together.

In experiments to test the material's strength, the team found that, compared with existing composite materials, the stitched composites were 30 percent stronger, withstanding greater forces before breaking apart.

Qantas Unveils New Logo

Qantas newlogoQantas has divided the nation with a new "flying kangaroo" logo to coincide with the launch of its 787 Dreamliner.

The new Boeing aircraft, which will arrive next year, is promising more space, better entertainment, technology and comfort.

"The Dreamliner is an aircraft built for comfort. The windows are bigger, it helps reduce jet lag, it's extremely quiet and there's a system that smooths out turbulence. Customers are going to love it," Qantas CEO Alan Joyce said.

Qantas is looking towards the future and using new technology to update everything they do, and that included the logo.

"This is the symbol that has been on every Qantas aircraft since the Second World War. The flying kangaroo represents the spirit of Australia, for overseas visitors it represents the first taste of Australia, for Australians living overseas it is a reminder of home."

The updated logo was overseen by industrial designer Marc Newson in partnership with Australian design agency Houston Group.

"This new brand is more streamlined and the shading behind the kangaroo gives a better sense of movement and depth. A silver band now extends from the tail to the rear of the fuselage, to give a more premium feel," Mr Newson said in a statement.

But many people were quick to point out something was missing. "They say it's streamlining, but it looks like Qantas's flying Kangaroo has lost it's paws!"


The Jet Engines with "digital twins"

BBC - 14 February 2017

Engine1Jet engines are some of the most complex technologies on the planet. They’re so difficult to make, in fact, the companies that build aircraft don’t make their own engines. They outsource the job to just a few businesses worldwide — mostly US-based General Electric and Pratt & Whitney, and UK-based Rolls-Royce Holdings. Inside their R&D labs, jet engine engineers are working to take the age-old science that makes a jet engine work and build designs that are more lightweight, more fuel efficient, and longer lasting.

Anthony Dean, head of combustion systems General Electric’s Global Research Center, in Niskayuna, New York, gave the BBC a rundown of how the company is re-imagining a technology that hasn’t had an upgrade in the basic science it’s based on for the last 50 years. And that includes keeping records of a "digital twin" of each jet engine GE makes, so that they can keep tabs on its performance on the ground — while it's in the air.

How a jet engine works

Jet engines — the oblong objects that hang off of a plane’s wing and provide it with power and propulsion — only need three basic elements to work: air, fuel, and a spark. Of course, it’s a lot more complicated than that. Especially when modern developments (like environmental regulations and sound ordinances) require each engine to be as small as possible, as quiet as possible, and as fuel efficient as possible. It’s easy to build a huge loud engine. But building it to the specifics of modern requirements is where the challenge comes in.

The basic design for every jet engine goes like this: There are four modules in a row. In the first module a fan generates a stream of air, which is split in two. One stream moves into a second module. A second stream bypasses the interior of the engine and shoots out the back where it helps push the engine forward. In the second module an air compressor air in and puts it under high pressure, which shrinks the volume of the air and allows the engine to be smaller (because compressed air takes up less space). The third module is where combustion takes place. A jet of fuel combines with compressed air and ignites with a spark to create heat (essentially lighting a match in a tornado), which greatly expands the compressed air. The heated air, which has now expanded by a factor of 3, is then forced out into the fourth module, which contains a turbine. The fast moving air spins the turbine, which is connected by a shaft to the fan in the first module, thus completing a circuit that makes the engine power itself. The fast moving, expanded air that has spun the turbine shoots out of the back of the engine also helping to propel it forward.

Preserving parts at 3,000F- 1,650C

One of the most difficult pieces of jet engine design is figuring out how to keep all the parts functioning, despite the fact that they’re being exposed to extreme high temperatures. Many of the rotating blades throughout the engine, for example, that spin to keep the air moving, can be exposed to burning gas at temperatures as high as 3,000 degrees F. It’s especially challenging because most metals melt at around 2,000 to 2,500F (1,100 - 1,375C)
“I have a gas stream that’s something much hotter than the melting point of the metal,” says Dean. One solution that his team employs is to coat each of the parts with a specially-designed ceramic that can withstand much higher temperatures than metal. But, says Dean, ceramics are brittle. So if you have a coffee cup that can withstand high temperatures, “The coffee cup won’t melt but if I drop it, it breaks,” he says. And the parts inside a jet engine aren’t just exposed to high temperatures — they’re also under extreme strain and stress as they move at high speeds. So GE materials scientists developed Ceramic Matrix Composites (CMC), with a structure similar to fibreglass, that are just as strong as metal but lighter and better able to stand up to high temperatures.

To give the turbine blades even more ability to withstand high temperatures and last as long as possible, the engineers also re-imagined their design. They’re not simply flat, smooth blades. Instead, they are covered in a series of tiny holes. When the engine starts up, air is forced through each of the holes and creates a blanket that covers blade. The air pocket around the turbine blades is cooler than the air inside the engine, which protects them from extreme hot temperatures and gives them a much longer lifespan. “It’s something that everybody in the business does now,” Dean says. “That’s one of the things that makes each company different in terms of their secret sauce. How do you get a good engine? You do a good job on the cooling and materials.”

Sensors, sensors, and more sensors

But even though each of these moving parts is carefully protected from the heat and motion they must endure, that doesn’t mean theyEngine1 will last forever. So GE recently introduced a new method to monitor their engines once they are in use and attempt to predict how and when they will need repair. The first part of the new system is to create what they call a “digital twin” of every engine they build. During the design and manufacturing phase of the engine, engineers compile thousands of data points specific to each engine, which they use to build a digital model. This allows them to know exactly how hot that engine should be in specific each of its modules, what the pressure should be, and how fast the airflow should be moving. In other words, each of the company's jet engines has a digital twin that lets the team back at the research center monitor its condition over time.

As the engine is built, it is equipped with about 100 sensors that measure its essential parts. For example, “The pressure and temperature at the exit of the compressor is a key indicator of the health of the compressor,” says Dean. They also keep an eye on the exhaust temperature, the speed at which the turbines are spinning, and how far the fuel valve opens. Because his team also acts at the mechanics for each of the engines they build, they can then compare the data gathered by the sensors to the engine’s digital twin (which can be put through the same paces that the engine experiences as it takes off, flies through different types of weather, and undergoes regular wear and tear). If the two data sets don’t match up, then the engine needs servicing because something undesirable is going on.

One of the most useful parts of the digital twin is that it measures a huge number of factors that the engine faces throughout its lifetime -- some flights have more people on them then others (that will put more strain on the engine), some cities (like Abu Dhabi) have a lot of sand in their air, and some pilots push their engines harder than others. “With the twin...I can learn that the pilot is a cowboy and pushes the engine. The fuel burn we see will be different with different pilot. The digital twin remembers every one of those events. You can start to separate the fleet. Each engine has a different life experience,” he says. And that overall understanding of how each different engine lives out its life helps them tweak and change future engine designs. “It’s like personalized medicine. You can start to classify and see what works best for an engine that has a similar life. We’re beginning to use this to inform how we build new engines.”

Looking to the future

Jet engine design will face changes in the future. Right now, the company is beginning to 3D print some of the parts that go into its engine (they’ve recently acquired two 3D printing companies to assist with this). They’re also moving into research and development of hybrid electric engines, which will make jet engines smaller and more efficient. But there’s a limit to how efficient an engine can get when its basic design remains unchanged. So one way that the company is looking at improving the engine is by investing in research that completely rethinks how a jet engine works.

One new potential science, which several companies and research institutions are currently studying, is called the Rotating Detonation Engine. Essentially, this works by creating a series of small detonations and using the supersonic wave that a detonation generates to keep combustion going continuously. Theoretically, if the system works, it would require significantly less fuel to get the engine moving and keep it moving. And even with less fuel the engine would also theoretically produce significantly more energy. “The trick of the engine is containing [the detonation], making it stable, and having it operate at conditions you want,” says Dean. “Will it operate well, will it be durable, can it have low emissions, and what fuel can I burn with such an engine? We’re in the middle of the science phase.”

According to Dean it will be another two to three years before they can answer all of those questions and decide if this complete re-imagining of engine design can become an actual, working product. Until then, jet engine engineers will continue pushing their designs to be more and more efficient. “People talk about rocket science and how hard rockets are,” he says. “We’re running at similar conditions in temperature and pressure that the first Saturn V rocket burned for 3 minutes. We now have to have engines that [do that] for thousands of hours. We have to do rocket science plus.” In other words, it’s not as hard as rocket science. He says it’s “as hard as jet engine design.”

Keeping Drones Separated from Manned Aircraft

uavionix adsb tranceiverNew technology, the size of a contact lens, could help keep drones separated from manned aircraft.
By Rob Mark

Palo Alto-based uAvionix has announced the creation of an ADS-B transceiver not much larger than a contact lens — and weighing in at just 1 gram — aimed at the drone market’s yet unresolved problem of identifying themselves to other aircraft and drones while operating in the national airspace system.
uAvionix CEO Paul Beard said the genesis of the tiny UAT was to demonstrate what could be developed in light of a recent Mitre study that imagines a world of high-density drone operations all trying to keep themselves separated from each other. The Mitre study concluded that an ADS-B transceiver with a transmitter power of less that 0.1 watt might be just the solution the industry will need.

The tiny UAT’s transmitter power can vary between 0.01-0.25 watt. That translates into a drone capable of identifying itself to other aircraft equipped with ADS-B In technology as far away as 10 miles. The unit’s size also makes it small enough to integrate directly into professional- and consumer-level drones.

Beard said, “While it’s not yet legal to transmit at these low power outputs, we aim to lead the discussion and development of those standards.” uAvionix is working with the FAA and other partners under a collaborative research and development agreement to test the tiny UAT and other uAvionix products.

New president and CEO for Boeing

boeingBoeing Chairman, President and CEO Dennis Muilenburg today named Kevin G. McAllister president and CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes, succeeding company Vice Chairman Ray Conner in that role. Muilenburg also appointed Stanley A. Deal president and CEO of Boeing Global Services, a new business unit to be formed from the customer services groups within the company’s existing commercial airplanes and defense, space and security business units. McAllister joins Boeing from GE Aviation. Deal is a veteran Boeing executive.

Conner, 61, will continue to serve as Boeing vice chairman through 2017. He will work closely with McAllister in the months ahead on a purposeful hand-off of customer, supplier, and community and government relationships, and to ensure continuity of operations and customer support. Conner also will provide strategic oversight and guidance for the company’s transition to a single integrated services business and remain involved in ongoing product development strategy at Commercial Airplanes.

“With Ray Conner’s retirement timeline in sight and an expanding global services market to pursue, these moves will further strengthen and grow Boeing and better serve our customers, employees, shareholders and other partners in the years ahead,” said Muilenburg. “We are immensely grateful to Ray for his leadership and contributions to Boeing over nearly four decades, and we will continue to rely on his vast experience and keen insights in supporting the leadership and business transitions underway.”

McAllister, 53, joins Boeing after 27 years with GE Aviation, where he served since 2014 as president and CEO of GE Aviation Services. Before that, as vice president and general manager of global sales and marketing since 2008, he was credited with delivering record backlog growth for the nearly $25 billion GE business.

Garmin introduces VIRB aviation bundle

VIRB UltraGarmin has introduced an aviation-specific addition to the VIRB Ultra 30 action camera family, offering several new accessories tailored to capturing high definition footage in-flight.

VIRB Ultra 30 is a waterproof action camera with the power to shoot Ultra HD footage at 4K/30fps.

The VIRB Ultra 30 contains a suite of new features, including voice control, an intuitive LCD color touchscreen and one-touch live streaming.It also features built-in 3-axis stabilization and enhanced connectivity with a variety of Garmin products.

The VIRB Ultra 30 aviation in-cockpit bundle includes a stereo headset audio cable, so pilot-to-pilot communications and air traffic control transmissions can be embedded in the video.

A prop filter is also provided to eliminate propeller distortion created while filming video in-flight or capturing high quality still photos.The bundle also includes a cage mount, which is the smallest and lightest way to mount VIRB Ultra inside the cockpit.

With G-Metrix, VIRB Ultra utilizes internal sensors such as the high-sensitivity GPS, accelerometer and gyroscope to capture even more performance data. For example, pilots can review in-flight footage to see how many G’s were recorded during a flight maneuver and overlay the data overtop the video.

In addition to G-Metrix data, VIRB Ultra is Connext-capable so aviation-specific data such as aircraft pitch, roll, lateral acceleration, turn rate and more can also be received from the G3X Touch flight display or Flight Stream 110/210/510 and overlaid within the video.

The camera is compatible with D2 Bravo, D2 Bravo Titanium, Garmin Pilot and the aera 660 aviation portable. It also features the ability to connect to the GMA 350c and GMA 245 series audio panels via Bluetooth, which can embed audio overtop rich, high definition video, without the need for a headset cable.

The VIRB Ultra 30 also features Sensory TrulyHandsfree voice control so customers can speak several straightforward commands to the camera – even when utilizing the headset audio cable in the cockpit. Commands such as “OK Garmin, start recording,” or “Ok Garmin, remember that,” tag specific moments within the video.

Once video is recorded, customers can take advantage of the free VIRB Mobile app, which can live-stream video footage and allow pilots to view, edit and share videos that highlight the best moments in-flight.

When connected, one-touch live streaming allows customers to easily share high-definition videos in real-time by streaming live to YouTube.

VIRB Edit desktop software is an easy-to-use editing program that allows customers to auto-create videos, add music, trim video clips and incorporate transitions to perfect in-flight video.

The VIRB Ultra 30 aviation in-cockpit bundle is priced at $499.99

World's Best Business Jets Fly Into The MEBAA Show

mebaaWith the MEBAA Show fast approaching, aircraft confirmations for the event are coming thick and fast with up to 50 business jets expected to be on display at the static park from 6-8 December at DWC, Airshow Site. Among those flying in from around the world will be several game-changing aircraft and a representation of industry favourites.

Exhibitors and visitors to the event can expect to see several Dassault Falcon 7X, from companies including Saudi Private Aviation and Jetcraft Corporation, while Qatar Executive will be displaying its flagship Gulfstream 650ER.

The display will also feature several Boeing Business Jets, including Boeing’s own 737-700IGW, 757-200s from AvJet and Honeywell and a 757-200ER from Comlux. Airbus Corporate Jets will be showing an ACJ319 and Embraer Executive Jets plan to exhibit two Legacy aircraft – a Legacy 500 and a Legacy 650. Also on display from Diamond Aircraft will be a DA42-VI, a DA62 and a DA40 NG.

“The MEBAA Show has a well deserved reputation for being the place where the decision makers come together,” says Ali Ahmed Alnaqbi, Founding Chairman of the Middle East and North Africa Business Aviation Association (MEBAA). “With so many of the right people in one place, exhibitors know it is an opportunity to display their most impressive business jets. The aircraft that will be on the static display at the event demonstrate that this is the place to be.”

In addition to those aircraft already announced, many more will be on display when the MEBAA Show takes place at DWC, Airshow Site from 6-8 December 2016. More aircraft are regularly being added to the display list, for this and further information, please visit www.mebaa.aero.

First woman to fly China's J-10 fighter killed in crash

fighterBy AFP

The first woman to fly China's J-10 fighter plane has been killed in a crash during an aerobatics training exercise, state-run media have reported.

Yu Xu, 30, a member of the Chinese air force's "August 1st" aerobatic display team, ejected from her aircraft during a training exercise in the northern province of Hebei at the weekend, the China Daily newspaper said.

She hit the wing of another jet and was killed, it said, although her male co-pilot ejected safely and survived.

"As one of only four female pilots in the country capable of flying domestically made fighter jets, her death comes as a tremendous loss to the Chinese air force," the Global Times newspaper said.

Yu, from Chongzhou in the southwestern province of Sichuan, joined the People's Liberation Army (PLA) Air Force in 2005, reports said.

She graduated from training four years later, and become one of the first 16 Chinese women pilots qualified to fly fighter jets, the China Daily said.

In July 2012, she became the first woman to fly the J-10. Fans dubbed her the "golden peafowl", it added.

Yu was seen as a pioneering trailblazer in a country that enshrines women's rights, but where traditional values are still widespread.

Users on the Twitter-like Weibo social media service posted pictures of candles in her memory, with thousands mourning her death.

"We praise her not as an individual, but for the spirit she transmitted to us, becoming the ideal vehicle for everyone's hopes," one user wrote.

Others raised questions about the crash.

"Rather than stirring up emotion, the most important thing is to investigate why this accident occurred, was it a problem with the design problem in the fighter, or in the rules of operation, or in inadequate training," one user wrote.

"Only by ascertaining the causes can we ensure it doesn't happen again."

Yu rose to become a flight squadron leader, and according to the Global Times, dreamed of becoming an astronaut.

She was one of two female members of the August 1 team - named for the date of the founding of the PLA - pictured at China's premier air show in Zhuhai two years ago.

The pair strode to their fighter planes in lock-step with male pilots, all wearing identical green jumpsuits and sunglasses.

At the time, the China Daily quoted Wang Yan'an, deputy editor of Aerospace Knowledge magazine, as saying: "Female pilots have learned to fly cutting-edge fighter jets in the Chinese air force".

"It means the air force has diversified its pilot pool and can recruit more female pilots."

Yu appeared again at this year's show earlier this month, according to reports.

The official news agency Xinhua quoted Air Force spokesman Shen Jinke saying all its personnel were "deeply regretful and mournful" at her "unfortunate death".

The J-10 is a workhorse of the Chinese air force. Two of the fighters conducted what the Pentagon called an "unsafe" intercept of a US spy plane over the East China Sea in June.

An estimated 400 of the jets have been built, most for Chinese use, according to defence analysts IHS Janes. It said in December reports had emerged of three crashes in the previous three months.


Futuristic X-planes are coming soon to an airport near you

MW EL315 XplaneDo you think commercial airplane technology hits its apogee with the Dreamliner?

The Boeing BA, -0.15% jet, which can top $300 million apiece, is certainly amazing. But NASA’s aeronautical innovators are once again preparing to push the envelope of aircraft design with an array of new, experimental models dubbed X-planes.

Many of the planes will burn half the fuel and generate 75% less pollution than current counterparts. They’ll also be less loud.

All of this is part of the “New Aviation Horizons” initiative, announced this February as part of President Obama’s budget request for the new fiscal year starting Oct. 1. The initiative outlines a 10-year plan during which NASA Aeronautics will design, build and finally launch a number of experimental planes.

By doing so, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration hopes to reduce the time needed for private industry to adopt the new technology and apply it to commercial models.

The upgrades are substantial, from the materials used to create aircraft structures and advanced fan design that can reduce noise and improve propulsion, to special coatings that prevent bug buildup on the wings.

Let’s take a look at a few potential models:

Heineken Beer on Tap at FL300

heineken beerby David Flynn

High flyers can finally enjoy real espresso coffee mid-flight, and now there's authentic draught beer too.

KLM's beer trolley trundles down the business class aisles of selected European flights serving Heineken on tap, after years of experimenting with keg designs to produce a perfect pub-style schooner at high altitude.

It's quite a challenge, you see.

Aircraft are pressurised at 6,000 to 8,000 feet above sea level, an altitude at which a beer tap will "only dispense a huge amount of foam" explains Heineken's Edwin Griffioen.

"We do have dispensers that work on air pressure, but these were too big to fit in a plane," while CO2 cartridges used in home tap systems are banned from aircraft.

Another challenge: getting all the necessary kit into a cabin-friendly size, specifically a standard-sized airline trolley.

"It was one big jigsaw puzzle," Griffioen recalls. "The keg of beer, the cooling system and the air pressure compressor all had to fit in an airline catering trolley."

"In the end we had to leave out one of those pieces to make it all fit, so with pain in our hearts we had to leave the cooling behind."

Hang on – does this mean that the Dutch airline is serving warm Brit-style beer?

Not quite: four ice-cold kegs of beer are loaded onto each flight at Amsterdam Airport, with the trolley – created using a 3D printer – resembling "a giant Thermos flask" in which an insulated container keeps the suds under 5° C for a cold, crisp pour.

KLM's draught beer trolley is pressurised to compensate for the 'negative pressure' on board, so as to generate sufficient tap pressure for serving a refreshing beer rather than a glass of foamy head.

“We managed to set the diameter of the tap and the air pressure to exactly the right combination, which delivers at 36,000 feet (11,000m) exactly the same beer as you would get on the ground," Heineken's Griffioen beams. The cost of creating this high-tech trolley means that, for now, there's only one in the entire KLM fleet, with the airline intending to roll it out "as much as possible for special flights and events."

Airbus - Family Day Out



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