Straight & Level 21 May

What a drag: Sir Richard Branson in AirAsia garb serves a meal to airline owner Tony Fernandes. The Virgin boss lost a bet over whose Formula 1 team would have the best season

PHOTO2.jpegThe Spitfire that did the splits

Sometimes the painstaking air crash inquiry process is mercifully short, as in the case of the Supermarine Spitfire which suddenly collapsed on to the ground while taxiing at East Midlands airport in January.

“The pilot stated that he had intended to retract the flaps,” says the UK Air Accidents Investigation Branch, “but inadvertently selected the undercarriage to ‘up’.”

Case closed, and no injuries except perhaps to the pilot’s pride. At least Ian McShane

and Edward Fox weren’t sitting on the side suggesting: “You

can teach monkeys to fly better than that.”

Electric dreams

Reinhard Lernbeiss writes from Vienna to remind us that this October will mark the 40th anniversary of the first flight of a manned electric airplane.

As recorded in Flight International at the time, Heino Brditschka flew his MB-E1 for 9min 5sec from Linz in Austria, winning a place in the record books.

The topic of electric flight, says Dr Lernbeiss, “couldn’t be more interesting today”.

Artless?

Hard to think of worse possible taste? This poster of Air France flight 4590 seconds after take-off from Paris Charles de Gaulle on 25 July 2000 is currently for sale on e-Bay.

Bad taste Conc.jpgOwner-flyer

Serge Dassault is a not only patriarch of an eponymous aircraft company, he is also a loyal customer. Dassault, the firm, delivered the first production Falcon 7X to its boss in mid-2007.

Six years is a lifetime in the fickle private jet trade, and the time has come for Dassault, the person, to seek a replacement.

On 7 May, the No 4 Falcon 7X carried Dassault from Paris to the company’s completion centre in Little Rock, Arkansas, says Jean Rosanvallon, president of Dassault Falcon Jet. Dassault lingered for about 4h, long enough to formally receive the No 194 7X. That evening, he flew home in his acquisition, leaving No. 4 behind. Such an event raises an uncomfortable question: What kind of special treatment does the company’s current leader and son of the founder receive on an aircraft assembly line?

Rosanvallon replies quickly: “I would lie if I would not tell you that we make sure he receives a good plane, but I’m also politically correct to say that every customer gets the same treatment.”

Rosanvallon, ever the salesman, also says he now has for sale a moderately-used Falcon 7X that, he insists, has well-maintained upholstery, a traditional floor plan and a very exclusive pedigree.

rexfeatures Serge Dassault_661778e.jpg

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