A post on AirSpace, flightglobal.com's forum, has found a media report about the ousting of high profile Rocket and Space Corporation Energia president Nilokai Sevastiyanov. Famous for pushing his mini-shuttle Kliper idea and announcements about lunar tourism, his plans for the Soyuz and Progress spacecraft company were in direct conflict with the Russian government's own plans for its space programme. We blogged about his imminent departure not so long ago.
June 2007 Archives
Flightglobal.com has learned that a French fighter jet intercepted a small German tourist plane that failed to respond to air traffic controllers Thursday.
Toxic fumes on aircraft are poisoning pilots and making them unable to fly safely, say pilots, who are campaigning for "aerotoxic syndrome" to be recognised as a disease, according to The New Scientist.
After a hectic first three days of headline making, Paris must be slowing down, as Reuters took time out to interview actor, pilot and show visitor John Travolta, "looking relaxed and wearing sunglasses and trainers" (obviously not a journalist, then). He talks about flying the A380, which Reuters, ever the business newswire, uses as an opportunity to mention the A380 delays and EADS troubles. "I was the first non-test pilot to fly that and I'm telling you it's a very easy plane to fly, but technically complicated," he says. Travolta says he is due to fly Boeing's F/A-18F Super Hornet fighter at Paris on Saturday, but insists he is not at the show shopping for something to park next to the 707 on his private runway.
Day 3 here at the Paris air show and the intake of caffeine is frightening as the long days begin to catch up with us all.
Towards the end of every major airshow, my colleague Max Kingsley Jones totals up the sales announced by Airbus, Boeing and others and produces the definitive list of new orders placed at the show. With two days down I thought I would try to produce my own unscientific tally of orders announced at Paris (and reported by my colleagues on Air Transport Intelligence). In the spirit of show hype I included everything - orders, options, memoranda of understanding, letters of intent and "I'm sure saw them looking at the aircraft in the static park". As far as I can calculate, 550 firm orders and 40 options were announced in the first two days. That included 389 Airbuses, 109 Boeings, 45 Embraers and 47 miscellaneous. Okay so a lot of those were orders revealed before Paris and simply signed at the show, but they are still pretty impressive numbers, with more to come I am sure. I will now hand over to Max to come up with the definitive show total, in aircraft and in dollars, so watch this space...
Here's a piece of Paris news that might get lost in the deluge of Airbus and Boeing order annoucements, but has a key role to play in ensuring all those aircraft actually get delivered. Canada's CAE has signed agreements to develop and manage two training schools in India, which together will produce more than 400 new pilots a year to feed the country's rapidly growing airlines. CAE will manage and upgrade the Indian government's Indra Gandhi flight training academy and develop a new National Flying Training Institute in a joint venture with the Airport Authority of India. India needs 5,000 new pilots over the next five years, twice the number now active, so even the ability to train 400 a year domestically - 600-plus with the new MPL multi-crew pilot license, says CAE - leaves a big gap to be filled by foreign flight schools.
Day 2 at the shed and with multiple bacon sandwiches devoured the team are furiously trying to find out the latest from the Paris air show.
The weather seems to be holding at overcast, which is fantastic for us as there is a growing suspicion that our office has a leak in it.
What has been a god-send for all the journalists is a train-like carrier service, that circles the showground and enables the journalists to rest their weary legs as they try and make the next Boeing announcement.
Under the cover of a pseudonym, to protect my friends and family from repercussions and recriminations - okay, embarrassment - I participate in a forum for those like me who love cancelled and secret aircraft projects. It's www.secretprojects.co.uk, and it is a very cool site. They have just discovered Flight's online archive, which went live earlier today. The reaction? To quote one: "Wow! This is an incredible resource." And it is. Searchable and downloadable pdfs of hundreds of past issues of Flight. There are gaps, which are to be filled in over the coming weeks, but what is there is amazing.
I am not at Paris with my Flight colleagues, so I can review the day's events from the air-conditioned comfort of my Washington, DC office. Looks like things went much as expected: Airbus and Boeing squaring off in the orders battle as Rafale and Typhoon duked it out for flying display honours. A couple of things caught my eye. One was the comment by Boeing Commercial Airplanes' boss Scott Carson that the timeline for a 737 replacement is being paced by advances in engine technology. Not a surprising comment, but one that makes clear the engine makers are under the gun to produce improvements that will take the heat off airlines as they labour under disproportionate blame for global warning. The other was the agreement between the US FAA and European Commission aimed at reducing CO2 emissions on transatlantic flights through air traffic management measures. Carson says, and I agree, that ATM improvements offer "the quickest and greatest short-term gains in reducing emissions". While the engine manufacturers get on with the "hard" stuff, the air transport industry needs to move quickly to do the "easy" stuff and show the public it is taking global warming seriously.
There was a time when the first day of a Paris show would be marked by the unveiling of new airliners, business jets and fighters. Not so much these days. Except in the unmanned sector. According to the latest issue of Peter La Franchi's Flight Unmanned newsletter, Italy's Alenia Aeronautica has taken the wraps off its Sky-Y and Israel's Elbit Systems has unveiled its Hermes 900 - both medium-altitude long-endurance UAVs - at Le Bourget. And a trek through the halls and displays will probably uncover others. This begs the question, what does the future hold? UAVs have already flown at one or two shows and there are now special air shows just for UAVs. I suspect more than few people leaving the show tonight through Paris traffic would welcome the prospect of a totally unmanned air show - unmanned exhibits, unmanned chalets, unmanned police checkpoints...
The afternoon has begun with a showcase of a multitude of different aircraft; from the Airbus A380 (which was noticeable for its surprising quietness despite its impressive size) to the Eurofighter Typhoon (which was fast and unsurprisingly loud)
The variation in aircraft has been matched by the eclectic selection of music. Sitting in the editorial office, we have been treated to the Top Gun instrumental, Land of Hope and Glory and everybody's favourite Country and Western anthem, Sweet Home Alabama.
What's going to come next, who knows?
There was a time a year or two back when you would often hear aerospace companies bemoaning the fact that there were too many air shows, and that they no longer had the resources or inclination to go to all of them.
Judging by this morning's frantic activity on the opening day of the 2007 Paris air show, nothing could be further from people's minds.
Exhibitors have been falling over themselves today to grab a share of the limelight and our reporting team is bravely attempting to keep pace. Although we can usually hazard a pretty good guess about what might be announced, there have already been a few surprises.
The Paris air show week begins today and already there is a frenzied excitement as all the journalists scurry around to find out the latest news.
Ostrich Street, Belgrade, and my first encounter with Balkan wit goes something like this: 'Serbian forces today shot down a NATO stealth fighter and two Tomahawk cruise missiles over Kosovo. The Pentagon has denied the claim in a statement saying that all three had returned safely to base.'
Side-splitting, I'm sure, if you like your humour as dark as the Turkish coffee which is readily on tap here. ('Ostrich Street' incidentally is also a Belgrade in-joke; it's officially Strahinjica Bana but its cafés are a favourite haunt for gaggles of single girls with expensive tastes who optimistically crane their necks at each passing top-of-the-range car.)
Serbia's civil carrier Jat Airways turns 80 today but it's the political tinderbox of Kosovo which is still dominating the headlines. There's no ignoring the military aviation angle in a city which experienced the last hostile air campaign in Europe and, since my host is a Kosovo-born Serb, it looks like I'm going to have to mention the war. Either that or mention the Eurovision Song Contest.
The stealth fighter gag is an echo from the 1999 conflict and, in particular, the 78 days during which NATO bombed Yugoslavia and its capital city. Belgrade has several monuments to the attacks, some of them - such as the barely-standing pile of red bricks on Ulica Nemanjina, once the Yugoslav Army headquarters - imposed involuntarily with the aid of high explosives.
My host is a former television presenter who, fortunately, was working for a different channel the night NATO took out the Radio Television of Serbia offices and, as an encore, laid into the 200m TV tower on the summit of Avala. Belgrade's tallest structure was suddenly its longest and the Serbs are still sore about it.
"They went fundraising and collected a lot of money. So they're building a new one," she says. And then, pointedly: "Taller."
Relics from the unpleasant recent past of former Yugoslavia are part of the history housed in and around a mushroom-shaped concrete-and-glass structure on the perimeter of Nikola Tesla Airport. Wingtip-to-wingtip on the unkempt grass, behind a forlorn and grime-laden Jugoslovenski Aerotransport Caravelle, are parked enough Soko G-2s, MiG-21s and other combat aircraft to start a small war - exactly the reason, of course, why they've been put out here to gather moss.
Crammed inside the circular arena are dozens more aircraft and helicopters; the centrepiece is a polished example of the Bosnian-built Soko J-22 Orao ground-attack jet. Among the other exhibits are the bizarre Ikarus 451 in which the pilot lay horizontally, a Spitfire, Hurricane and Me109, all in Yugoslav air force colours, and various light utility aircraft from the Utva plant at Pancevo, east of Belgrade, which still bears the heavy damage sustained by NATO air strikes. The museum also claims to be restoring the sole surviving Fiat G50.
But it's arguably the scattered fragments from the battle for Kosovo which are the most fascinating. Like a morbid trophy collection, a Tomahawk missile lies in pieces alongside the J-22; nearby are the remnants of a German CL-289 unmanned aerial vehicle and a Predator from the USAF's 11th Reconnaissance Squadron.
Perhaps unsurprisingly there's no sign of any damaged Yugoslav equipment - with the exception of an empennage from a G-4 Super Galeb, which remained airborne despite a Stinger missile hit over Croatia in September 1991. The accompanying placard says: "The occurrence proves that the G-4 aircraft, of Yugoslav origin, is very resilient to hits from surface-to-air rockets."
More resilient, one might be led to conclude, than your average NATO jet, judging by the adjacent display. It's the vertical fin from the Aviano-based 555th 'Triple Nickel' Squadron F-16 hit by anti-aircraft fire over Kosovo in May 1999. The blurb simply claims it was shot down, which is a little unsporting when you learn that its pilot nursed the crippled aircraft through Serbian airspace before being forced to eject.
But the propaganda prize undoubtedly goes to the angular black item kept locked inside a nearby glass case: nothing less than the jagged cockpit canopy of the only F-117 stealth fighter ever to be lost in combat, its downing - like that of the F-16 - credited to an SA-3 fired by the 250th Yugoslavian rocket division. Lucky hit or not, it was all rather embarrassing for the USAF given that the F-117's main selling point is that you're not supposed to know it's coming until it goes dark and all your windows disappear.
Not much of the jet is on show because the rest was boxed up in crates by gleeful Russians. And there's no-one on duty at the gift shop so I can't check out the rumour that it once sold small chippings as souvenirs. But apparently, if you know where to look, you can still buy T-shirts with a picture of the F-117 in all its glory, alongside the slogan: 'Sorry NATO - we didn't know it was invisible.' Oh, stop. You guys are cracking me up.
Bored? Got that Friday feeling?Then why not try throwing a paper plane out of a window?
By using your mouse alone, you can attempt to throw the airplane as far as possible, causing the competitive souls within Flight to argue over the best throwing "technique".
Our current champion is Online Editor Michael Targett, who threw an impressive (but i still call lucky) throw of 38.9 Meters. He wanted to round it up to 40 but as everybody knows, in life, every bit of length counts.
Let us know how far you can get?
Mechanics at the Jat Tehnika maintenance base have their own private pet-name by which they refer to this barely-recognisable Boeing 737 perched in a Belgrade hangar.
"We call it the 'submarine'," says one of the engineers, giving me a brief tour around the tail-less, engine-less, windowless, wheel-less, bare-metal fuselage.
For reasons which have yet to become abundantly clear, the 737 - apparently connected to Aerovista in the United Arab Emirates - is undergoing an overhaul so extensive that there's hardly a part which won't be replaced. It's hard not to feel that this is aviation's equivalent of the legendary broom which lasted 50 years, and only needed two new heads and three handles.
"I suppose it might be cheaper to find a newer one," admits the engineer with a philosophical shrug. "But it's their money. We'll do whatever they want."
So there you go. If you know any more about the 'submarine', then feel free to email me. Say it's undergoing a 'sea' check, and you'll be first in the wastebasket, wise-guy.
Mark Wagner - Aviation Images©
Someone once said that behind every great man is a great woman and as a morale booster for RAF fighter pilots (assuming they are men) these women come painted on the noses of warplanes wearing killer heels and, increasingly, not much else.
The Daily Mail reported on Wednesday (6th June) how the "risque images" of these cartoon women with their "deadly charm", that have decorated warplanes since the First World War are to be scrubbed out.
The operatic voice, chapel interior and idiosyncratic sound of the accordion made the beginning of the laboriously entitled meeting, third Italian space agency (ASI), European Space Agency (ESA) international cooperation for sustainable exploration workshop, something else entirely compared to 99% of the conferences I go to in this job.
Usually the trips involve very similar interiors of the metal tubes known as planes and the almost identical décor of conference centres.
At times, whether it is Florida, Canberra or Paris, it can all look very much alike and you wonder if when you board the plane you really are actually going anywhere.
Perhaps secretly there are scene shifters moving the landscape around as you doze in front of a small seat back screen.
But ASI and ESA had made a refreshing choice with an 11th century Abbey as the location for its third cooperation meeting, albeit in the middle of the countryside that provided for a fun, if not tense, number of junctions where a wrong turn in the hire car (that's car rental for you Americans) could lead to toll road terror.