Talk about an office with a view. Maybe this is what becomes of kids who really, really like to swing from ropes tied to trees in their youth. Happy Friday
John Croft: March 2010 Archives
Lawsuits are flying in Minnesota it seems.
Last September, L-3 filed a lawsuit against Cirrus claming the company failed to pay it more than $20 million fees related to a high performanace avionics suite called SmartDeck (pictured left) that Cirrus had contracted L-3 to build. Cirrus countersued for several reasons.
Then just last week, Cirrus sues L-3 clamining that L-3 has been badmouthing the company to its suppliers as part of a bizarre plot to drive the company out of buiness..
Below are both lawsuits so you can read and judge for yourself (L-3 first then Cirrus) If you want the Reader's Digest version, click here for a story I wrote on FlightGlobal.com
Here's the L-3 suit, filed last year:
Here's the Garmin suit:
A US patent application (No. 20100065677)submitted by Eurocopter last March and published last week hints at some of the radical new concepts the top rotorcraft manufacturer as been tinkering with in its labs as part of what company CEO Lutz Bertling says is a drive to "extend the domain" of the helicopter.
It's not clear whether the hybrid concept, which features a canard stabilizer and swept wings with dual pusher props for anti-torque and forward thrust, is related to ongoing X3 and X4 technology programs within the company.
X3 was briefly (and mistakenly) mentioned by Rolls-Royce at the 2009 Heli Expo show in relation to Rolls providing an RTM322 turboshaft engine for the project. Eurocopter has revealed that the X4 is being designed as an update of the Dauphin line of helicopters. Bertling said at this year's Heli Expo that Eurocopter will perform first flights of two new or upgraded models in the third quarter of 2010, bringing both rotorcraft to the 2011 Heli-Expo show.
The design in the patent application, described as a "hybrid helicopter that is fast and has long range", features elements that would make a helicopter safer and quieter, but by my reading, not faster. Bertling has said safety and noise achievements will be hallmarks of the X4, particularly if the company is successful in getting a requested stimulus package from the French government this spring. "The company is prepared to take much higher risk in using new technologies if we get the aid," Bertling told me at the 2010 Heli-Expo in Houston.
Design features that add to passenger comfort include getting rid of the "tail shake" effect caused by downward wake from the main rotor on a tail boom, and for which present day helicopters counter with active devices that are "expensive and heavy", says Eurocopter in the application.
By placing the canard stablizer at the front of the aircraft, ahead of the rotor, Eurocopter says this hybrid does not have the traditional "attitude hump" phenomena that causes attitude disturbances during acceleration and deceleration events.
Wing-mounted pusher propellers, which have variable pitch mechanisms, are driven through a fixed-ratio rotating shaft system from the main rotor and engine(s).
Missing from the application is any mention of why this particular configuration would be faster than a traditional helicopter, which is hindered by the retreating blade stall and other issues at speeds beyond about 160kt (300km/h).
The Navy Times is reporting that two F/A-18 pilots have been assigned to desk jobs following a Navy-sanctioned low-pass of the Bobby Dodd football stadium before the start of a Georgia Tech game on 7 November.
Though commissioned by the Navy to make the pass, the Navy Times article notes that the pilots, both graduates of the school, were apparently not to descend below 1,000ft, the minimum altitude for which pilots can overfly a crowd per FAA regulations.
Several links to the fly-over have been posted, showing the aircraft at an estimated 300ft or so of altitude. While that's a bit low, it doesn't seem out of the ordinary for a flyover.
In the movie Thunderball, James Bond shows us how to look cool (except for the dorky helmet) flying the most unlikely of anti-gravity machines - the Rocketbelt.
The Rocket Man protege below, who I discovered on YouTube a few days ago, needs a bit more practice to be cool.
For a good video history of rocketbelts, including the guy who flew one for the Bond movie, check out this History channel clip.
Just when things probably seemed like they couldn't get any worse for the owners of the Dulles Jet Centre, (an "FBO" that suffered a catastrophic roof failure in a DC blizzard on 6 February and is now closed for reconstruction, things DID get worse.
On 17 March, a US district court told Dulles Jet Centre (DJC) owner Landow Aviation, founded by prominent DC builder Nathan Landow, that its got to stop pretending to be an FBO.
The court's opinion -- complete with lots of juicy details on the nature of Mr. Landow's way of doing business -- upholds neighbouring FBO Signature Aviation's complaint that DJC broke its 2004 contract with Signature (DJC built on 19ac of land held by Signature, but was not supposed to compete with Signature by bringing in most transient traffic). Turns out DJC did in fact compete with Signature, and according to the opinion, was pretty bold about the whole affair!
Lockheed Martin/Kaman has released a very slick video showing the latest testing of its autonomous cargo-delivery unmanned aircraft systems (UAS). Based on the Kaman K-MAX helicopter, the UAS is a potential winner in an upcoming US Marine Corps purchase for lift in Afghanistan. Competitors include Boeing with the A160 Hummingbird and Northrop Grumman with the MQ-8B Firescout.
The scientists and engineers at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Centre -- the locale that brought the world wonders like the upgraded Hubble Space Telescope, the Cosmic Background Explorer (whose lead scientist won a Nobel Prize for the satellite's discoveries), and the upcoming James Webb space telescope post-2014 -- might need a lesson from Jim Belushi...
Posted in the space flight center's electronic news for today was this little jewel:
THE ART OF THE APOLOGY TRAINING: Come join instructor Nina Meierding for a highly interactive and engaging class, The Art of the Apology. This course will be offered on Monday, March 22, from 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m., in the Bldg. 1 Training Facility. Objectives for the course include providing Goddard employees with understanding about apologies in general; learning multiple types of apology and their delivery, timing, and sincerity and effectiveness; learning about research as to the impact of apologies on negotiation outcomes and relationships; and understanding how men and women use apology differently.
By my calculations, if just 50 government employees sign up, and say they have an average yearly income of about $100,000 (which is not at all unusual), that's at least $20,000 spent by us taxpayers for this "day at the office", and that's not even including overhead.
Snap out of it, guys! For about $10 in temporary tattoos, your problems are solved.
The FAA plans to select a contractor to develop a web-based service difficulty report(SDR) system that could be used by pilots flying small general aviation aircraft in clubs.
"The primary objectives are to assist type clubs(user/owner of various models of Beech, Cessna and Piper airplanes), and other interested general aviation organizations in collecting a more complete history of service difficulties, and to provide a database to deposit and store information for and safety effects analysis," the FAA writes in the 12 March pre-solicitation.
The usefulness of such a database, a requirement for the air carrier (Part 121) and air taxi industry (Part 135) sectors, is increasingly a hot topic for safety watchdogs, particularly as new technologies like glass cockpits make their way into lower end GA aircraft.
I know it probably isn't a joking matter, but I couldn't help but think of Inspector Clouseau when hearing about Eurocopter's quandary.
According to an EASA safety bulletin issued today, the helicopter manufacturer reported that "a number of parts" for main gearboxes for its AS350, AS355, EC130 B4, AS332 and EC225 LP helicopter models were stolen "from a facility of one of its subcontractors in Marseille, France.
Along with being plundered, the parts had also not received final quality control inspection. "These parts are considered as not approved and should not be installed...", says EASA.
France's most famous detective would no doubt accept the "shah-lange" of the case.
NASA on Wednesday dropped a perfectly good MD-500 helicopter from 35ft in the air. The jarring conclusion to the test highlights the quite different outcome of the same drop in December. Only in the December case, the helicopter was equipped with a Kevlar honeycomb protector on its underside.
More details on my story on Flightglobal.com, but videos here -
Pilots of a Cessna Skyhawk on a recent flight near Malibu, California, apparently got more than they bargained for when playing an innocent trick on their back-seat passengers.
WARNING: Turn down your volume before playing
The quirky blade on this Eurocopter EC155 isn't a visual fluke with the jpeg I used - it's a double-swept rotor design that the worldwide helicopter marketshare leader is developing to make its machines quieter.
At this year's Heli-Expo exposition in Houston, Eurocopter opened the usually closed door on several of its research projects, including Blue Blade. The passive noise reduction technique could very well show up on future models or upgrades, two of which the company promised to reveal later this year.
The video below, provided by Eurocopter, demonstrates the effect of the new blade design.