-Those Fantastic Flying Machines-


Man must rise above the Earth—to the top of the atmosphere and beyond—for only thus will he fully understand the world in which he lives.— Socrates


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Wednesday, June 30, 2010

  • Adviser: U.S. may need to think beyond F-35s as foes advance
    Potential American foes have acquired weapons systems that could diminish the effectiveness of the F-35 fighter jet in defending the country, and the Obama administration should consider other aircraft and missile systems for some situations, a top Pentagon adviser said on Tuesday. In light of the expanding air defenses of foes such as China, the Defense Department may need to consider buying fewer F-35s and use any savings to buy other aircraft and missiles. Defense News (6/29) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story

Terrafugia Transition 'flying car' gets go-ahead from US air authorities

The Terrafugia Transition, a light aircraft that can convert into a road-legal automobile, is to go into production after being given a special weight exemption by the US Federal Aviation Administration.

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The Terrafugia Transition. Terrafugia Transition 'flying car' gets
 go-ahead from US air authorities
The Terrafugia Transition takes off.
The Transition was designed as a "light sport" aircraft, the smallest kind of private aeroplane under FAA classification, with a maximum weight of 1,320lb. But the manufacturers found it impossible to fit the safety features - airbags, crumple zones and roll cage, for instance - that are required for road vehicles into that weight.
Uniquely, however, the FAA has granted the Transition an exemption - allowing it to be classified as a light sport aircraft despite being 120lb over the limit.
Light sport aircraft licences require just 20 hours' flying time, making them much easier to obtain than full private licences.
The two-seater Transition can use its front-wheel drive on roads at ordinary highway speeds, with wings folded, at a respectable 30 miles per gallon. Once it has arrived at a suitable take-off spot - an airport, or adequately sized piece of flat private land - it can fold down the wings, engage its rear-facing propellor, and take off. The folding wings are electrically powered.
Its cruising speed in the air is 115mph, it has a range of 460 miles, and it can carry 450lb. It requires a 1,700-foot (one-third of a mile) runway to take off and can fit in a standard garage.
Terrafugia says that one of the major advantages of the Transition over ordinary light aircraft is safety - in the event of inclement weather, it can simply drive home instead of either being grounded or flying in unsafe conditions.
The company says that 70 people have ordered the car, leaving a $10,000 (£6,650) deposit each. The car is expected to retail at $194,000 (£129,000). Deposits are held in escrow, meaning that should the company go bankrupt before delivery, the money will be refunded.
Story via The Register.

Monday, June 28, 2010

In memoriam of all the NYPD officers, who lost their lives on September, 11th, this aircraft is wearing a NYPD noseart. According to some local spotters this aircraft took part in the Leuchars Air Show and was on the way back to its home base, Barksdale AFB, 93rd BS, however, it couldn't receive fuel from the tankers so it had to divert to Mildenhall and consequently departed back to the US on the next morning.

In memoriam of all the NYPD officers, who lost their lives on September, 11th, this aircraft is wearing a NYPD noseart. According to some local spotters this aircraft took part in the Leuchars Air Show and was on the way back to its home base, Barksdale AFB, 93rd BS, however, it couldn't receive fuel from the tankers so it had to divert to Mildenhall and consequently departed back to the US on the next morning.

Ouch, that really hurts. Rest in peace and pieces, good old classic 747!

Ouch, that really hurts. Rest in peace and pieces, good old classic 747!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Supersonic Green Machine

Supersonic Green Machine

This future aircraft design concept for supersonic flight over land comes from the team led by the Lockheed Martin Corporation.

The team's simulation shows possibility for achieving overland flight by dramatically lowering the level of sonic booms through the use of an "inverted-V" engine-under wing configuration. Other revolutionary technologies help achieve range, payload and environmental goals.

This supersonic cruise concept is among the designs presented in April 2010 to the NASA Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate for its NASA Research Announcement-funded studies into advanced aircraft that could enter service in the 2030-2035 timeframe.

Image credit: NASA/Lockheed Martin Corporation

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Concerns about Boeing 767 cracks grow

Concerns about Boeing 767 cracks grow

by Dow Jones Newswires-Wall Street Journal | Posted yesterday at 6:11 a.m.
Structural cracks discovered recently on at least two American Airlines Boeing 767 jetliners, including one jet that air-safety regulators believe could easily have lost an engine, are prompting concerns that some of the problems may turn out to be more widespread.
Over the past two weeks, American, with oversight from the Federal Aviation Administration, has checked the bulk of its wide-body 767 fleet to look for possible cracks in critical components that attach engines to the wings. On Monday, the FAA said problems were found on three planes.
The agency said it was working with American and manufacturer Boeing Co. to “identify the source of the cracking” and was considering new industry-wide safety mandates. “We are considering additional action, including requiring more frequent inspections” of the suspect parts, called engine pylons, according to an FAA spokesman.
American spokesman Tim Wagner disputed the FAA’s tally of affected planes. He said the recent flurry of inspections found two planes with pylon-related cracks and the problems “were caught when they should have been.” He also said Monday that with metallurgical tests pending, “any speculation on the cause” of the cracks “isn’t based on science or technical findings.” Until the laboratory results are available, according to Mr. Wagner, definitive conclusions “would be a guess at best.”
Boeing, which has been working closely with the FAA to identify reasons for the cracks and assess their significance, didn’t have any immediate comment.
The size and type of some of the cracks discovered in the pylons surprised Boeing, which is now drafting a service bulletin that in the next few days is likely to recommend substantially stepped-up inspections by virtually all 767 operators, according to people familiar with the details. The FAA, which has authority to mandate the changes, is expected to adopt most of Boeing’s guidelines.
The issue is attracting high-level attention inside the FAA, Boeing and American partly because for years there have been relatively strict requirements to inspect certain parts of all 767 engine pylons after every 1,500 flights. Despite the frequent inspections, these people say, a routine check of one American jet for a different issue found a combination of cracks that hadn’t been seen before and was deemed by FAA officials to pose a significant hazard.
This aircraft, which had the most serious safety issues, had flown only about 500 trips since its last required structural inspection for pylons, according to FAA records.
Depending on the details, the anticipated FAA mandates could disrupt current maintenance timetables while increasing operating costs across the industry. Some safety experts said more-frequent inspections could conceivably result in minor schedule disruptions at some carriers.
Certain parts now under heightened scrutiny can’t be easily inspected and may require removing engine pylons from aircraft.
Both American and FAA officials agree the safety concerns aren’t the result of missed or botched inspections. Rather, the issues highlight that neither government nor industry experts expected to see the emergence of such structural problems in the wake of earlier risk analyses and ramped-up inspections.
American said it expected by early Tuesday to complete checks of the last two of the 56 Boeing 767s subject to the latest inspections. The twin-engine models are widely used by carriers across the globe, including on many trans-Atlantic flights and routes across the U.S.
Engine pylons, which attach the engines to the wings, are intended to flex as planes maneuver in the air, encounter turbulence and undergo other dynamic forces. Pylons have to withstand strong and sometimes rapidly changing stresses, including sudden changes in engine thrust and aircraft altitude.
In addition to analyzing the impact of structural loads during flight, FAA officials also are examining whether specific maintenance procedures used by American on the ground could have caused or worsened some of the cracking.
The FAA’s preliminary conclusion is that some of the cracks came from holes used to install certain bolts, an issue that has been recognized since the FAA issued its repetitive inspection rules five years ago.
On at least one American aircraft, however, FAA experts believe a number of cracks found on a part of the pylon near those bolts rendered certain fail-safe designs ineffective.
The FAA’s upcoming safety directive is expected to call for routinely inspecting more portions of the engine pylon than is currently required. The agency and Boeing have already agreed on the broad outlines of such a step, according to people familiar with the details.
The FAA’s action would directly affect about 360 Boeing 767s operated by U.S. carriers. Foreign regulators typically order their airlines to adhere to enhanced inspection standards developed by the FAA in conjunction with Boeing.
At this point, the FAA doesn’t appear to favor mandating immediate inspections of 767 jets operated by other U.S. airlines.
Separately, American and the FAA are examining another complex but unrelated structural issue that also has potentially significant safety implications for the airline’s Boeing 767 fleet. Engineering experts, according to people familiar with the matter, continue to assess whether large, upwardly curved panels attached to the wingtips of some American 767s have caused or contributed to certain cracks discovered in a section of the structural backbone of a few planes.
Called winglets and installed on many types of commercial and business jets, the additions are designed to increase fuel efficiency.

-By Andy Pasztor, The Wall Street Journal

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WWII B-17 bomber 'Swamp Ghost' returned to U.S.

Visitors peer into the cockpit of the Swamp Ghost, ...
Fri Jun 11, 6:04 PM ET

Visitors peer into cockpit

Visitors peer into the cockpit of the Swamp Ghost, a B-17E bomber which crashed in a Papua New Guinea swamp during World War II and was unveiled in Long Beach, Calif., on Friday, June 11, 2010, after recently being returned to the U.S and restored.« 

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Some pilots raise concerns about cockpit oxygen masks

  • Some pilots raise concerns about cockpit oxygen masks
    As the FAA looks into a possible fire hazard affecting hundreds of Boeing Co. jets, pilots are complaining that the current design of cockpit safety systems could make it impossible to respond to a windshield blaze. For nearly three years, pilots have complained that the hoses on their oxygen masks are too short, requiring them to remove the mask in order to access fire-safety equipment of 757 and 767 aircraft. The FAA says it is "looking into the issue" as part of its investigation into windshield heating elements known to have caused smoke or fire in 29 incidents worldwide from early 2001 through April 2008. Boeing had no immediate comment on the design of cockpit oxygen masks, but an FAA spokeswoman says modifying the system with longer hoses could cause a whole new set of safety concerns. The Wall Street Journal (6/20) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story

Monday, June 21, 2010

Boeing closing in on 787 certification goal

Boeing closing in on 787 certification goal
Just over six months since its maiden flight, the Boeing 787 has logged about 1,000 hours in the sky, and company officials are pushing hard to keep testing on track to allow first deliveries by year's end. Jim Albaugh, Boeing's president of commercial airplanes, estimates that each of the five test aircraft will need to log 90 hours of flight time per month in order to hit delivery goals. A sixth 787 is slated to join the test fleet later this month, and one of the test planes will fly over the North Pole in July, en route to the Farnborough International Air Show. The Herald (Everett, Wash.) (6/20) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story