SEPTEMBER 11, 2001

September 11, 2018


Do you remember where you were this day seventeen years ago?

I was working for the Roper Corporation, a company owned by General Electric; sitting in the “cube farm” working on a project for the appliance group.  My “next-door” neighbor, Dwayne Lee, came over and told me he had just gotten a telephone call from his son.   A small private plane had flown into one of the twin towers in New York City.   My very first thought was possibly a pilot, maybe a student pilot, had gotten into to high winds, lost control, and impacted one of the towers.  As tragic as this seems, I honestly did not think we were under attack.  The wind patterns around high-rise buildings are very troublesome and even experienced pilots have difficulties when flying close to tall structures. Every pilot, according to FAA rules, is supposed to keep

A few minutes went by and I decided to call home to see if there were any updates to the story.  At that time, my son told me a second aircraft had flown into the second tower.  This never happens by accident.

At 8:46 a.m., American Flight 11 crashed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center.  At first, newscasters were not sure whether it was an accident or a deliberate attack.

At 9:03 a.m., United Flight 175 crashed into the South Tower, leaving no doubt this was an attack.  Some news channels captured the moment on live television.

At 9:40 a.m., American Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon. Five minutes later, for the first time in history, the FAA ordered all aircraft to land at the nearest airport.

At 10:03 a.m., hijacked flight United Flight 93 crashed into a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. The plane’s target was believed to be the US Capitol. The passengers on board tried to gain control of the flight and divert the hijackers after learning of the other attacks.

By this time the news at Roper had spread to the point where we all had to find a television to see just what was happening.  There was a TV in our test lab so we all hustled downstairs to find the set already on with coverage that lasted the entire day.  The day was shot as far as work so we all gathered around the TV huddled like cowboys in winter around a campfire.

About an hour after the second strike, three of our guys who were in the National Guard, were called and told to report to their duty station immediately.  They were not allowed to go home first—just report and do it now.  They left, came back the next day and waited for orders.  Those orders came fairly quickly and all three were shipped out within the month.

  • 2,753 people were killed in the New York attack.  That number includes 342 firefighters and paramedics and 60 police officers who rushed to help in the aftermath.
  • Another 40 people were killed in Pennsylvania
  • 184 people died in Washington, DC as a result of the strike on the Pentagon
  • Rescue efforts at Ground Zero continued until October 9, and the flames from the collapsed burned until December.
  • Over one thousand first responders have since died of cancer resulting from the rescue and cleanup efforts.

NEVER FORGET

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FLY ME

May 19, 2018


I really enjoy traveling, that is BEING THERE.  Getting there is another story.  In the Southeastern portion of the United States you generally have to go through Atlanta to reach your final destination.  It’s just a fact of life.   If we take a quick look at ATL for the month of January 2018, we see the following statistics:

Please remember, all passengers including crew must go through screening (TSA) before boarding their flight.  That means EVERYONE.   Kennedy, Chicago, LAX, Miami, etc. operates in a similar fashion.  I have waited in the TSA line at ATL for close to two (2) hours then, take off your shoes, belt, empty your pockets, remove your glasses, watch, put your laptop and cell phone face up on top of all luggage, etc. etc.   People who fly on a regular basis get use to it but it’s always a hassle.  There is another way, maybe expensive but more and more business travelers are discovering and using business aircraft.

BUSINESS AIRCRAFT:

The primary driver of business aircraft use today is scheduling flexibility and reduction in the complexities relative to travel. In fact, according to the most recent study of general aviation trends by the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA), passengers indicated, on average, that more than fifty percent (50%) of the business aircraft flights taken enable the business traveler to keep schedules they otherwise could not meet efficiently using scheduled commercial flights.

This past Friday, Aviation International News (AIN) published its annual Charter Market Report titled, “The industry is climbing.” It reported private charters in the U.S. increased ten percent (10%) in the number of flights (543,449 compared with 493,431) and twelve- point seven percent (12.7%) in flight hours (765,196 compared with 679,018) during the first half of 2017.

With that type of good news, perhaps it’s not surprising that companies such as Wheels Up, VistaJet, Victor, Stellar Aero Labs and JetSmarter, which all operate in that space, collectively announced nearly four hundred ($400) million in new investments just since the start of the summer. “People have business to do and you can’t-do it flying commercially,” says Kenny Dichter, the CEO and co-founder of Wheels Up, which uses the King Air 350i to help its customers get to those smaller airports that are hard to reach. At the other end of the charter and jet card and program membership spectrum, VistaJet has made its mark with luxury-laden long-range jets catering to Ultra High Net Worth families and global executives who hop between Continents like you and I cross the street.

DELTA IS READY WHEN YOUR ARE:

True but there are disadvantages to flying commercial.

  • The loss of time is a major issue on commercial flights. From the long lines, potential layovers and the often-longer trip to the airport as well as having to check in early. This can easily add up to losing hours upon hours of time that could have been spent more productively. In addition, security delays can not only be a huge hassle, they can cost more time as well.
  • Passengers have to find a flight that fits in with their schedule or can be forced to alter their calendar to fit in with the airlines.
  • With crowded seating, there is little space to conduct business and even less privacy. If you had hoped to conduct a meeting or negotiate a deal in private, other passengers and crew are likely to overhear those conversations.
  • Commercial airlines offer little in the way of amenities. Today, food and beverages options rarely include much more than a drink and a bag of pretzels. First class is better, but you still get what you get.
  • The risk of lost luggage with passengers separated from their bags is another issue when flying commercially.

ADVANTAGES OF PRIVATE BUSINESS TRAVEL:

  • You’ll avoid the inconvenience of the liquid bans that come with flying commercially.
  • You can travel with special belongings, business samples, sports gear, instruments or even bring your pet into the cabin if you so choose.
  • You’ll not only have more time to conduct business, you’ll have more time to spend with your family and friends by reducing the hours you spend traveling.
  • Flying on a private jet projects an image of success. You’ll be seen as an individual or organization that is well-run, efficient and can afford to fly privately.
  • A light commercial jet which can seat five to six (5- 6) people, will cost around $2,000 per hour, larger aircraft which can hold more people and fly further cost more.
  • With a private jet you can fly out of an airport that is much closer to your home or business location, allowing you to skip the traffic, bypass security lines and those frequent delays that commercial airlines often incur.
  • Once on your flight, you’ll find the ultimate in exceptional customer service with individualized attention and the treatment you deserve.
  • Private planes offer luxury furnishings and plenty of space to conduct private business. Order your preferred food and drinks ahead of time, and you can even enjoy your favorite meal on the flight if you desire.

CONCLUSIONS:

Most of us, myself included, cannot afford private travel, business or otherwise, but more and more businesses are investigating private business travel for very busy executives.  I do not mean leasing, I mean scheduling “a ride” from a company such as mentioned earlier in this post.  In Chattanooga, we have HESS Jet. The service area for HESS Jet may be seen as follows:

An example of the aircraft you can schedule is shown below.  It is a four-seat, twin engine small jet capable of servicing the eastern half of the United States.   If you need an aircraft with larger seating capacity, that can be arranged also.

Now take a look at the interior of the aircraft above.  Think you could get use to this?  Most business men and women would definitely say yes.

I know several people who charter business aircraft during SEC football season.  They, of course, split the costs and really travel in style.  This is becoming more and more common in our country today.  Maybe something to think about.

RETURN OF X-PLANES

April 22, 2017


In the April 2017 issue of “Machine Design” a fascinating article entitled “NASA’S Green Thumb for Green Aviation” was presented. This article was written by Carlos M. Gonzales and encouraged me to explore, at least through NASA’s web site, the status of their “X-Plane” program.  Aviation is definitely a growth industry. Millions upon millions of individuals travel each year for business, recreation, and tourism.  There is no doubt that aviation is the “Greyhound Bus” for the twenty-first century.

The aviation system is the high-speed transportation backbone of the United States and global economies. Global aviation is forecast to grow from today’s three point five (3.5) billion passenger trips per year to seven (7) billion passenger trips by the mid- 2030s, and to eleven (11) billion passenger trips by mid-century. Such growth brings with it the direct economic potential of trillions of dollars in the fields of manufacturing, operations and maintenance, and the high-quality jobs they support.

At the same time, international competition for leadership of this critical industry is growing, as more nations invest in developing their own aviation technology and industrial capabilities. Such massive growth also creates substantial operational and environmental challenges. For example, by mid-century the aviation industry will need to build and fly enough new aircraft to accommodate more than three times as many passenger trips while at the same time reducing total emissions by half from that new hardware. Moreover, large reductions in emissions and aircraft noise levels will be needed, if not mandated. To meet those demands, revolutionary levels of aircraft performance improvements – well beyond today’s technology – must be achieved. In terms of air traffic control and the National Airspace System, maintaining safe and efficient operations is a continuing and growing challenge as the system expands, and especially as new business and operational models – such as unmanned aerial systems – are introduced. Enabling aircraft (with pilots aboard or not) to fly optimized trajectories through high density airspace with real-time, systemwide safety assurance are among the most critical operational improvements that must be achieved.

In looking at global growth, we see the following:

These numbers would be very frightening without the aviation industry deciding to be pro-active relative to the sheer numbers of passenger miles anticipated over the next two decades.  That’s where NASA comes in.

NEW AVIATION HORIZONS:

In FY 2017, NASA plans to begin a major ten-year research effort to accelerate aviation energy efficiency, transform propulsion systems, and enable major improvements in air traffic mobility. The centerpiece of NASA’s ten-year acceleration for advanced technologies testing is called New Aviation Horizons, or NAH. It is an ambitious plan to build a series of five mostly large-scale experimental aircraft – X-planes – that will flight test new technologies, systems and novel aircraft and engine configurations. X-planes are a key piece of the “three-legged stool” that characterizes aviation research.

  • One leg represents computational capabilities – the high-speed super computers that can model the physics of air flowing over an object – be it a wing, a rudder or a full airplane.
  • A second leg represents experimental methods. This is where scientists put what is most often a scale model of an object or part of an object – be it a wing, a rudder or an airplane – in a wind tunnel to take measurements of air flowing over the object. These measurements help improve the computer model, and the computer model helps inform improvements to the airplane design, which can then be tested again in the wind tunnel.
  • The third leg of the stool is to actually fly the design. Whether it’s flying an X-plane or a full-scale prototype of a new aircraft, the data recorded in actual flight can be used to validate and improve the computational and experimental methods used to develop the design in the first place. This third leg makes it possible to lower the risk enough to completely trust what the numbers are saying.

With NAH, NASA will:

  • Demonstrate revolutionary advancements in aircraft and engine configurations that break the mold of traditional tube and wing designs.
  • Support accelerated delivery to the U.S. aviation community of advanced verified design and analysis tools that support new flight-validated concepts, systems and technologies.
  • Provide to appropriate organizations and agencies research results that inform their work to update domestic and international aviation standards and regulations.
  • Enable U.S. industry to put into service flight-proven transformative technology that will solve tomorrow’s global aviation challenges.
  • Inspire a new generation of aeronautical innovators and equip them to engineer future aviation systems. Of the five X-planes, NASA has determined that three subsonic aircraft will be enough to span the range of possible configurations necessary to demonstrate in flight the major enabling fuel, emissions and noise reducing technologies.

The graphic below indicates possible designs for aircraft of the future.  All of these craft are now on the drawing board with computational prototyping underway.

INDUSTRY:

U.S. industry plays an integral role in the NAH initiative, leading the design, development and building of all X-planes under contract to NASA. Industry will be a research partner in the ground test and analysis, as well as the flight tests of the X-planes. Industry also partners in the advancement of the physics-based design and analysis capabilities. Through the lead and partnering roles, U.S. industry will be fully capable of confidently taking the next steps in commercializing the transformational configurations and technologies. The Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company has already been awarded a preliminary design contract for the Quiet Supersonic Technology demonstrator. As indicated in a white paper published by the Aerospace Industries Association and the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, “The U.S. government must support robust, long-term Federal civil aeronautics research and technology initiatives funded at a level that will ensure U.S. leadership in aeronautics. Congress should support NASA’s ten-year Strategic Implementation Plan at least at the levels recommended in the fiscal year 2017 NASA Budget request to sustain a strong economy, maintain a skilled workforce, support national security, and drive a world-class educational system.”

UNIVERSITIES:

NASA has already launched the University Leadership Initiative, which provides U.S.-based universities the opportunity to take full independent leadership in defining and solving key technical challenges aligned with the NASA Aeronautics strategy. Solicitations and proposals are managed through the NASA Research Announcement process; the first round of awards will be made in Fall 2016. These awards could lead to new experiments that would fly onboard one or more X-planes. In addition, NASA is formulating new mechanisms for direct university and student participation in the X-plane design, development and flight test process. The objective is to ensure U.S. universities remain the leading global institutions for aviation research and education, and to ensure the next generation workforce has the vision and skills needed to lead aviation system transformation.

POSSIBLE CONFIGURATIONS:

As mentioned above, NASA, industry and universities have already begun looking at possible configurations.  The most promising on-going programs are given below.

As you can see, the designs are absolutely striking and “doable” relative to existing technology.  The key goals are to:

  • Produce environmentally sound or “GREEN” designs lessening air pollution.
  • Create better fuel usage and conservation.
  • Extend flight range
  • Structure designs so minimal airport alternations will be necessary
  • Improve passenger experience

Tall orders but keep in mind NASA got us to the moon and back.  Why do we feel they will not be able to meet the goals indicated?  As always, I welcome your comments.


I do not know if you have a “bucket list” but as you get older you probably will.  At the tender age of seventy-four my list seems to grow and grow as the years go by.  One thing on that list is a visit to the bi-annual Farnborough International Airshow held in the United Kingdom. As you probably know, I’m a card-carrying aviation enthusiast.  I took my check ride when I was fifteen and had to wait one year to receive my pilot’s license.  I LOVE heavier-than-air-devices and make every effort to keep up with the technology both commercial and military.

This marvelous event is a week-long extravaganza that combines major trade exhibitions for the aerospace and defense industries with a public airshow. The event is held in mid-July in even-numbered years at Farnborough Airport in HampshireEngland. The first four days (Monday to Thursday) are dedicated exclusively to trade, with the final three days open to the public.

The airshow is an important event in the international aerospace and defense industry calendar, providing an opportunity to demonstrate civilian and military aircraft to potential customers and investors. The show is also used for the announcement of new developments and orders, and to attract media coverage.  It’s a great show that details potential mergers and acquisitions as well as rumors relative to pending developments in the aircraft industry, both commercial and military.  The UK show is organized by Farnborough International Limited, a wholly owned subsidiary of ADS Group Limited (ADS).

HISTORY:

The Farnborough Airshow has its origins in the annual RAF Airshow at Hendon from 1920 to 1937. On 27 June 1932, the Society of British Aircraft Constructors held an exhibition of thirty-five (35) aircraft by sixteen (16) companies as a showpiece for the British aircraft industry. After World War II, the show recommenced at Radlett (the site of Handley Page‘s airfield) in 1946 and was held there until 1948, when the show moved to its present location of Farnborough, Hampshire, home of the Royal Aircraft Establishment, about thirty (30) miles south-west of central London.

In 1952, thirty-one (31) people were killed (twenty nine spectators, one pilot and one navigator) when a DH.110 jet fighter disintegrated in flight and crashed into the crowd.

At the 1958 show, the Black Arrows executed a 22-plane formation loop which was a world record for the greatest number of aircraft looped in formation, and remains unbroken to this day.

Initially an annual event, the show has been biennial since 1962. It has become an international event that attracts exhibitors from all over the world — with the exception, during the Cold War, of countries behind the Iron Curtain.

From 1996 the show has had its own official radio station operated by the staff and students of nearby Farnborough College of Technology, although it did not operate in 2012.

2016 STATISTICS:

Let’s now take a very quick look at the “stats” for the air show this past July.

Airshow(1)

As you can see, there were a tremendous number of exhibitions for the air show representing fifty-two countries. Seventy-one (71%) of the exhibitors are international. $124 billion US dollars in aircraft ordered by various countries and companies.  This show was deemed a remarkable success just by the sheer numbers of orders taken.

Airshow(2)

Once again, the interest shown demonstrates how successful Farnborough was this past July.

Now, the great success was the number of individuals in attendance at the show.  These are people just like you and me, in other words, non-military or commercial.  Let’s now take a look at the fly-bys and the static demonstrations.

THE SITE

Farnborough Site

This is an aerial view of the Farnborough site itself.  You can see the demonstration aircraft parked by the airstrip.

Aircraft--Closer Look

This is a closer look at the aircraft and how they are aligned along the taxi ways of the airport.

THE AIRCRAFT ON DISPLAY—STATIC AND AIRBORNE:

F-22 RAPTOR

Everyone by now must recognize the F-22 Raptor.  One of the most remarkable air planes our country has ever designed and produced.

British Red Arrows Team

This is the British Red Arrows aerobatic team—equivalent to our Blue Angles or Air Force Thunderbird teams.

AIRBUS A 380

Airbus and the new A 380.  One of the largest commercial passenger planes ever built.  On display and looking good.

FRENCH

The country of France demonstrated their fighter aircraft as well.

GULFSTREAM

You might expect Gulfstream to have a major exhibit at Farnborough.

Chopper

There were several helicopters demonstrated at Farnborough also.

FUN

The entire event was about having fun and looking at the latest in aviation hardware.

CONCLUSIONS:

Hope you enjoyed this one.  I certainly hope to be at Farnborough two years from now to witness the latest in aviation.  As always, I love hearing from you.

QUADCOPTERS

June 5, 2016


Several days ago I was walking my oldest grandson’s dog Atka. (I have no idea as to where the name came from.)  As we rounded the corner at the end of our street, I heard a buzzing sound; a very loud buzzing sound.   The sound was elevated and after looking upward I saw a quadcopter about one hundred feet in the air going through a series of maneuvers in a “Z” fashion.  It was being operated by a young man in our “hood”, a young man of nine years.  His name is Dillon; very inquisitive and always with the newest toys.  The control he was using was a joy-stick apparatus with two thumb wheels on either side.  Simple but effective for the flight paths he put the copter through.  The JPEG below will give you some idea as to the design.(NOTE:Dillon’s copter did not have a camera in the body.  He was not recording the subject matter the device flew over.)


QUAD COPTER(2)

A quadcopter, also called a quadrotor helicopter or quadrotor, is a multi-rotor helicopter, as you can see from above, lifted and propelled by four rotors. Rotor-craft  lift is generated by a set of rotors  or vertically oriented propellers.

Quadcopters generally use two pairs of identical fixed pitched propellers; two clockwise (CW) and two counter-clockwise (CCW). These use independent variation of the speed allowing each rotor to achieve the necessary control. By changing the speed of each rotor it is possible to specifically generate a desired total thrust and create a desired total torque, or turning force.

Quadcopters differ from conventional helicopters which use rotors capable of verifying their blades dynamically as they move around the rotor hub. In the early days of flight, quadcopters (then referred to as ‘quadrotors’) were seen as possible solutions to some of the persistent problems in vertical flight such as torque-induced control as well as efficiency issues originating from the tail rotor.  The tail rotor generates no useful lift and can possibly be eliminated by counter-rotation of other blades.  Also quadcopters are designed with relatively short blades  which are much easier to construct. A number of manned designs appeared in the 1920s and 1930s. These vehicles were among the first successful heavier-than-air vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL)vehicles.  Early prototypes suffered from poor performance  and later prototypes required too much pilot work load, due to poor stability and limited control.

In the late 2000s, advances in electronics allowed the production of cheap lightweight flight controllers, accelerometers (IMU), global positioning system and cameras. This resulted in a rapid proliferation of small, cheap consumer quadcopters along with other multi rotor designs. Quadcopter designs also became popular in unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV or drone) research. With their small size and maneuverability, these quadcopters can be flown indoors as well as outdoors. Low-cost motors and mass-produced propellers provide the power to keep them in the air while light weight and structural integrity from engineered plastics provides durability. Chip-based controllers, gyros, navigation, and cameras give them high-end capabilities and features at a low cost.  These aircraft are extremely useful for aerial photography.   Professional photographers, videographers and journalist are using them for  difficult, if not impossible, shots relative to standard means.  A complete set of hardware may be seen below.

QUADCOPTER & CONTROLS

One of the most pleasing versions of a camera-equipped quadcopter is given as follows:

QUAD COPTER

SAFETY:

As with any new technology, there can be issues of safety.  Here are just a few of the incidents causing a great deal of heartburn for the FAA.

  • At 8:51 a.m., a white drone startled the pilot of a JetBlue flight, appearing off the aircraft’s left wing moments before the jet landed at Los Angeles International Airport. Five hours later, a quadcopter drone whizzed beneath an Allegiant Air flight as it approached the same runway. Elsewhere in California, pilots of light aircraft reported narrowly dodging drones in San Jose and La Verne.
  • In Washington, a Cessna pilot reported a drone cruising at 1,500 feet in highly restricted airspace over the nation’s capital, forcing the U.S. military to scramble fighter jets as a precaution.
  • In Louisville, a silver and white drone almost collided with a training aircraft.
  • In Chicago, United Airlines Flight 970 reported seeing a drone pass by at an altitude of 3,500 feet.
  • All told, 12 episodes — including other incidents in New Mexico, Texas, Illinois, Florida and North Carolina — were recorded  one Sunday of small drones interfering with airplanes or coming too close to airports, according to previously undisclosed reports filed with the Federal Aviation Administration.
  • Pilots have reported a surge in close calls with drones: nearly 700 incidents so far this year, according to FAA statistics, about triple the number recorded for all of 2014. The agency has acknowledged growing concern about the problem and its inability to do much to tame it.
  • So far, the FAA has kept basic details of most of this year’s incidents under wraps, declining to release reports that are ordinarily public records and that would spotlight where and when the close calls occurred.
  • On March 29, the Secret Service reported that a rogue drone was hovering near a West Palm Beach, Fla., golf course where President Obama was hitting the links. Secret Service spokesman Brian Leary confirmed the incident. He declined to provide further details but said the Secret Service “has procedures and protocols in place to address these situations when they occur.”
  • Two weeks later, just after noon on April 13, authorities received a report of a white drone flying in the vicinity of the White House. Military aircraft scrambled to intercept the drone, which was last seen soaring over the Tidal Basin and heading toward Arlington, Va., according to the FAA reports.
  • On July 10, the pilot of an Air Force F-15 Strike Eagle said a small drone came within 50 feet of the fighter jet. Two weeks later, the pilot of a Navy T-45 Goshawk flying near Yuma, Ariz., reported that a drone buzzed 100 feet underneath.

REGULATIONS:

For public safety, the FAA has promulgated regulations that MUST be adhered to by those owning drones such as quadcopters.   Anyone owning a quadcopter or drone weighing more than 0.55 pounds must register it with the Federal Aviation Administration if they intend to fly outdoors.   It will cost those owners $5.00.  If the copter tips the scales at over fifty-five (55) pounds, including any extra equipment or cameras attached, the FAA no longer considers it a model aircraft or a recreational Unmanned Aircraft System and a very long list of additional regulations apply.  Model aircraft also cannot be used for commercial purposes or for payment.    They can only be used for hobby and recreational uses.   A few FAA guidelines are given as follows:

  • Quadcopters or any unmanned recreational aircraft cannot be flown above four hundred (400 ) feet.
  • They must remain in site of the operator.
  • Quadcopters cannot fly within five (5) miles of any airport without written approval of the FAA.
  • Quadcopters cannot fly over military bases, national parks, or the Washington D.C. area and other sensitive government buildings; i.e. CIA, NSA, Pentagon, etc.
  • The FAA has extended the ban on planes flying over open-air stadiums with 30,000 or more people in attendance.

PRIVACY:

Privacy concerns can lead to hot tempers. Last year, a Kentucky man used a shotgun to blast a drone out of the air above his home. A New Jersey man did the same thing in 2014, and a woman in Seattle called the police when she feared a drone was peeping into her apartment. (The drone belonged to a company conducting an architectural survey.) And in November, repeated night-time over-flights by a drone prompted calls to Albuquerque police complaining of trespassing—the police concluded that the flyer wasn’t breaking any laws.

State laws already on the books offer some privacy protections, especially if a drone is shooting photos or video. Erin E. Rhinehart, an attorney in Dayton, Ohio, who studies the issue, says that existing nuisance and invasion-of-privacy statutes would apply to drone owners. If you could prove you were being harassed by a drone flying over your house, or even that one was spying on you from afar, you might have a case against the drone operator. But proof is difficult to obtain, she says, and not everyone agrees on how to define harassment.

Some states are trying to strengthen their protections. In California, nervous celebrities may benefit from a law signed by Governor Jerry Brown this past fall. The meat of the legislation reads, “A person is liable for physical invasion of privacy when the person knowingly enters onto the land or into the airspace above the land of another person without permission…in order to capture any type of visual image, sound recording, or other physical impression of the plaintiff.” And a similar privacy law in Wisconsin makes it illegal to photograph a “nude or partially nude person” using a drone. (Dozens of states have passed or are considering drone-related laws.) The point being, people do NOT like being the subject of peeping-toms.  We can’t, for the most part, stand it and that includes nosey neighbors.  The laws, both local, state and Federal are coming and drone users just as well need to get over it.

AERION

February 27, 2016


Aerospace Defense and Technology, February 2016 publication, presented a fascinating article on joint engineering efforts provided by Aerion and the Airbus Group relative to a new supersonic business jet. This team has dedicated design and production planning since 2014, which has definitely been productive with a mid-November announcement from Flexjet ordering twenty (20) aircraft.  Aviation Week made the announcement as follows:

“Flexjet has placed a firm order valued at $2.4 billion for 20 Aerion AS2 supersonic jets, with delivery to begin in 2023. First flight is expected in 2021.

Flexjet CEO Kenn Ricci said the company will use the supersonic jet for overseas flights and also in China, which does not have restrictions on sonic booms.

Customers are already excited about the jet, he said. They immediately began citing city pairs where they would like to fly. But no one wants to fly it sub-sonically, Ricci said. The AS2 can fly sub-sonically over land in the U.S., Europe and areas where the boom is restricted. But it won’t be cost-effective to do so.

The three-engine jet will burn a high amount of fuel, roughly 1,000 gal. Per hr., and its long length will restrict its use at some airports, Ricci said. “It’s still going to be an expensive plane to operate,” he said. Still, with the aircraft traveling at Mach 1.2, its boom will not touch the ground, Ricci said. Because of that, regulators may be able to be convinced to allow the jet to fly supersonically across the country, he said. Even so, the aircraft can be placed at points on the Atlantic and Pacific for international travel.”

The digital photograph below indicates the basic airframe and shows the three engines designed into the fuselage.

Aeron AS2

Kelly Johnson, leader of the famous Lockheed “Skunk Works” stated years ago; “If it looks like it will fly, it will fly.  Well, this one looks like it will fly.

This biz jet will hold eight to twelve passengers and will have an intercontinental-capable range of 4,750 nautical miles at supersonic speeds.  At these speeds, three hours will be cut from traveling across the Atlantic and more than six hours on longer trans-Pacific routes.  It could get you from London to New York in 4 hours and 24 minutes. It takes a normal jet about seven hours to make that trip. The typical flight time from Los Angeles to Sydney, Australia is about 15 hours and 30 minutes. On the Aerion AS2, the flight time would be just ten hours.

The AS2 will fly at a speed of Mach 1.5, using supersonic laminar flow technology.  The wing design will allow for lighter fuel consumption and increased travel ranges by reducing aerodynamic drag by twenty percent (20%).  NASA has issued a contract to model supersonic boom at ground level to ensure no issues result from supersonic flight.   New noise regulations coming in 2020 caused Aerion to change design from two to three engines to meet upcoming noise specifications.

The three-engine jet will make its first flight in 2021 and enter service in 2023.

As you can see from the digital below, the design is definitely cutting edge.  Other specifics are as follows:

 General characteristics

  • Crew: 2
  • Capacity: 8–12 passengers
  • Length: 170 feet (51.8 m)
  • Wingspan: 61 feet (18.6 m)
  • Height: 22 feet (6.7 m)
  • Wing area: 1,350 ft² (125 m²)
  • Empty weight: 49,800 lb (22,588 kg)
  • Max. takeoff weight: 121,000 lb (54,884 kg)
  • Powerplant: 3 × turbofans (low bypass ratio), 16,000 lb s.t.
  • Cabin size: 30 feet long, 6’2″ high, 7’3″ wide (9.1 * 1.9 * 2.2 m)

Performance

  • Maximum speed: Mach 1.5 (1140 mph) 1837 km/h
  • Cruise speed: Mach 1.4
    • Mach 0.95 at lower altitudes to minimize noise
    • Mach 1.1–1.2
  • Range: 4750 nautical miles  to 5300 nautical miles (8797 km to 9816 km)
  • Controls: Fly-by-wire flight controls
  • Structure: Ten (10) spar carbon fiber wing structure, fuselage and empennage structures.
  • Landing Gear: Articulating main landing gear system that minimizes space requirements when stowed.
  • Fuel System: A fuel system that is integrated with the digital fly-by-wire control system for control of center of gravity

Aerion and Airbus are presently working to specify the engines for the AS2 while keeping in mind the upcoming noise requirements.  Their goal is to provide acceptable fuel usage just below MACH 1.

Specifics

The interior is an absolute dream, as you can see from the next two JPEGs.  Talk about first class.

Interior

Interior (2)

This aircraft “ain’t “cheap but will serve a very specific function and is targeting a very small clientele.  Of course, there are no figures on how much this mean ride will cost relative to operating expense or maintenance but payback will have to result or there will be issues with cash flow and continued operation.  This one will be fun to watch.

“CONNIE”

November 21, 2015


One of the most gifted engineers in our nation’s history was Mr. Bill Lear.  Lear was born in Hannibal, Missouri on 26 June 1902 and over a forty-six (46) year time period produced one hundred and twenty (120) patents.  He founded the LearJet Corporation.  The Lear jet is without doubt one of the most beautiful aircraft ever conceived.  From one memorable life came one memorable quote, as follows:

“If an airplane looks like it will fly—it will fly”.

He was talking about profile, lines, curvature while imagining the “slip-stream” created by the leading edges and the flight surfaces.  One other airplane that fits that description is the Lockheed Constellation or “Connie” as the design came to be known.  A remarkably beautiful aircraft.

My very first flight was in 1969. My father, sister and I departed Lovell Field in Chattanooga, Tennessee heading to Atlanta.  We flew to Atlanta in a DC-3, twin engine propeller-driven aircraft.  (I’m sure after death I will have to change planes in Atlanta before arriving in heaven.  Some things never change.)  Moving from arrival gate to departure gate during the very early years of commercial aviation took a minimal amount of time.   The Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport was not the city within a city that exists today.  Upon arriving at our departure gate, I saw for the very first time a marvelous aircraft meeting all of the descriptive points Mr. Lear had in mind. Let’s take a look.

LOCKHEED CONSTELLATION:

Lockheel Constellation

The Lockheed Constellation (“Connie”) was a propeller-driven, four-engine airliner built by the Lockheed Corporation between 1943 and 1958 at the Burbank, California Lockheed facilities. The Constellation’s fuselage is shaped like an airfoil to add lift.   It curves upward at the rear to raise the triple tail out of the prop wash and slightly downward at the front so the nose-gear strut did not have to be impossibly long. Lockheed decided that the airplane’s admittedly large propellers needed even more ground clearance than did Douglas or Boeing on their competing transports, which resulted in the Connie’s long, spindly gear legs.

It was known as “the world’s best tri-motor” because it had so many engine failures it often flew on three.  There were large numbers of engine fires during the Constellation’s early development, but many airline pilots flew it for years without ever feathering an engine.

The Constellation was one of the first pressurized airliners with the Boeing 307 Stratoliner being the very first.  Cabin pressurization was absolutely required to improve the service ceiling of commercial aircraft and make flying above the “weather” a very welcome reality.  During WWII it was discovered that flying about 10,000 feet required oxygen to preclude issues with dizziness.  It was no different for commercial flying.

Lockheed built 856 aircraft using numerous model configurations—all with the same triple-tail design and dolphin-shaped fuselage. Most were powered by four 18-cylinder Wright R-3350s. The Constellation was used as a civil airliner and as a military and civil air transport, seeing service in the Berlin Airlift . It was also the presidential aircraft for Dwight D. Eisenhower.   At the present time President Eisenhower’s Air Force One is resting in a field at Marana Regional Airport.   Dubbed Columbine II in honor of the state flower of first lady Mamie Eisenhower’s native Colorado, the plane was state-of-the-art in its time.  It’s a real shame this early version of Air Force One is not on display.

The Constellation’s wing design was close to that of the P-38 Lightning, differing obviously in size.  The triple tail kept the aircraft’s height low enough to fit in existing hangars, while features included hydraulically boosted controls and a de-icing system used on wing and tail leading edges.  The aircraft had a maximum speed of over 375 mph (600 km/h), faster than that of a Japanese Zero fighter, a cruise speed of 340 mph (550 km/h), and a service ceiling of 24,000 ft (7,300 m).  At the time the service ceiling was a significant breakthrough in aviation technology.

According to Anthony Sampson in Empires of the Sky, Lockheed’s Skunk Factory and Kelly Johnson may have undertaken the intricate design, but Howard Hughes’ intercession in the design process drove the concept, shape, capabilities, appearance, and ethos.   These rumors were discredited by Kelly Johnson. Howard Hughes and Jack Frye confirmed that the rumors were not true in a letter in November 1941.

After World War II the Constellation came into its own as a very fast civil airliner. Aircraft already in production for the USAAF as C-69 transports were finished as civil airliners, with TWA receiving the first on 1 October 1945. TWA’s first transatlantic proving flight departed Washington, DC, on December 3, 1945, arriving in Paris on December 4 via Gander, Nova Scotia and Shannon, Ireland.

Trans World Airlines transatlantic service started on February 6, 1946 with a New York-Paris flight in a Constellation. On June 17, 1947 Pan American World Airways opened the first ever scheduled round-the-world service with their L-749 Clipper America. The famous flight “Pan Am 1” operated until 1982.

As the first pressurized airliner in widespread use, the Constellation helped to usher in affordable and comfortable air travel. Operators of Constellations included the following airlines:

CABIN:

For its time, the cabin represented the ultimate in luxury with comfort and room to spare.

Cabin

Cabin (2)

Maybe someone can comment on a statement I have heard more than once.  In the early days of commercial aviation, all of the cabin crew had to be registered nurses.  Do you know if that is a fact?

COCKPIT:

Notice from the digital below, all of the flight systems were analogue. No digital in those days.  Also notice, the aircraft was meant to be managed by a three-man flight crew; i.e. pilot-in-command, co-pilot and flight engineer or navigator.  The right side of the cockpit was designed for a navigator.

Cockpit

Two fairly large fans, one left and one right, kept the flight crew reasonably comfortable.

Times have certainly changed from my first flight in 1969.  No more analogue or two-man flight crew and now air travel is the “new” Greyhound.  It’s affordable, at least to some degree.

As always, I welcome your comments.

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