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To learn that General Electric is using technologies developed with US military money for its half of the CFM International Leap turbofan is no great surprise. Nor is it a surprise, really, to find that GE reckons that the Air Force cash behind projects like ADVENT (advanced versatile engine technology) will drive commercial engine development beyond Leap.
Indeed, it's worth remembering that Leap's predecessor, the hugely-successful CFM-56, was designed using a high-pressure turbine based on the GE F101 engine developed for the North American B-1A bomber and now powering the Boeing B-1B Lancer (Snecma, GE's partner in CFM, provided the low-pressure section).
The reason it's all no surprise is that this is how aerospace has been operating for a century.
So, what remains eternally surprising is how Boeing can so doggedly pursue its bald-men-fighting-over-a-comb subsidies dispute against Airbus in the World Trade Organisation. While Airbus's product development people wallow in European cash largesse, Boeing insists (technically, the US government insists), it has to make do with what little it can scrape together from its hard-pressed investors and mean-spirited "commercial" lenders.
Apparently, unlike their counterparts at GE, Boeing's civil aircraft people learn nothing much from all that work the defence side of the company does under a waterfall of government money.
Just to cite one example, Boeing, along with Northrop and Vought, developed the exotic composite B-2 stealth bomber. Word on the street is some 787 customers believe that, along with nifty interior lighting and big windows, they are getting a bit of stealth bomber technology. Boeing would never imply that, of course, but one can kind of see how the idea gets stuck in people's heads.
Video footage emerged showing an Air France Airbus A380 colliding with a Comair Bombardier CRJ700 during taxiing at New York JFK back in April. The A380 "clipped the tail fin" of the parked Comair jet, causing only "material damage".
The video clips below show a TU-154 departing from an air base in Moscow before it appears to encounter problems in lateral and longitudinal control.
It eventually returns to the airfield to land.
3.Sendai airport deluged as earthquake strikes
Japanese investigators have detailed the extraordinary in-flight upset involving an All Nippon Airways Boeing 737-700 which resulted in the aircraft banking to a near-inverted attitude.
Flight NH140 from Naha had been cruising at 41,000ft, en route to Tokyo on 6 September, and had been some 43km south of Hamamatsu when the incident occurred.
All Nippon Airways has unveiled the long-awaited configuration of the first 787 to enter service, outfitting its first 787s with 264 seats for regional and domestic operations, with later regionally-configured aircraft to have 222 seats as the carrier ramps up its initial pilot and cabin crew training.
The aircraft, painted in bespoke white and blue colours highlighting Boeing's Dreamliner brand and ANA's service goals - innovation, uniqueness and the inspiration of Japan - is the eighth 787 built. It is also known as ZA101 and has been registered JA801A.
With the beginning of at-sea trials for the Lockheed Martin F-35B, the short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL) variant had entered the most critical phase in a year-long campaign to overcome probation and be spared cancellation.
Video evidence of an aircraft crash in Pointe-Noire, Republic of Congo in March identified the type as an Antonov An-12 freighter, and showed it rolling inverted moments before impact.
Images of the aircraft's last seconds show it diving steeply and rolling to starboard, crashing inverted.
Airbus believes that a viable all-new single-aisle airliner will not arrive before 2030, due to the timing of the necessary advances in powerplant technology.
John Leahy, Airbus' chief operating officer, spoke to Flightglobal on video.
Boeing underwent a crucial phase in the 747-8 flight-test effort as it prepares to start trials of the -8I passenger variant including maximum-brake-energy demonstration on the freighter version, plus an analysis of back-to-back wake vortex testing to determine whether the stretched 747 will be approved in the same separation category as the smaller 747-400. Four 747-8Fs were engaged in the flight-test programme, which began in February 2010.
Pilots in Russia extracted an Alrosa Tupolev Tu-154 from a remote military airfield, six months after an in-flight power loss and emergency landing left the aircraft stranded.
The landing damaged the trijet, when it overran the 1,300m runway at Izhma in the Komi republic, and the short field meant that it could not easily be flown out again.
Your correspondent back in October joined Boeing for a tour of European 787 suppliers, and was treated to a memorable presentation by Dassault Systemes chief executive Bernard Charles. Making the point that modern 3D digital design software has transformed our concept of reality, Charles observed that if Chinese counterfeiters were to buy a 787 and attempt to copy it, they would never succeed - but if they got ahold of the digital plans, they could do it.
That remark left one programme insider none too bemused; working from digital plans would clearly be miles better than trying to measure up all the parts with a pair of calipers, but still doesn't take into account the fact that the machine's measurements are only one aspect of its true essence, which arguably resides in its 18 million lines of computer code as much as its shape and size.
The incident brought to mind a real example of Chinese reverse engineering, which followed president Nixon's opening of the door to "Red China" back in 1972. One early goodwill gesture, Flight is told, was the sale to Beijing of three Boeing 727s. On a subsequent visit, Boeing legend Joe "father of the 747" Sutter was shown a fourth aircraft, which certainly looked like a 727.
But, on inspecting the machine, Sutter found such incongruities as a control yoke that would have taken the strength of three gorillas to move and urged the Chinese not to attempt a flight. Thankfully they heeded his advice.
From Dassault Systemes chief executive Bernard Charles, we get a fascinating look behind the scenes of the computerisation industrial revolution. Going back to 1988, DS and Boeing - already long-term partners and having already moved from 2D drawings to 3D design - decided to create the 777 airliner with no physical mock-up. This all-digital process did away with that time-consuming, costly stage.
That project was followed by the advent of Dassault 3D techniques for visualising the assembly, maintenance, operation and eventual disposal of an aircraft - so-called 3D product lifecycle management.
Other industries, such as automotive, have adopted these techniques for optimising design and product performance. The result is that many of the improvements in ease-of-use, environmental performance, low-cost manufacturing, etc that we take for granted in many of the products we use would not have come about without 3D technology. Indeed, Boeing believes it is simply no longer possible to design an aircraft without 3D product lifecycle management.
But now, as the 787 enters service, Charles sees 3D technology as having achieved an altogether greater degree of pervasiveness. If Chinese counterfeiters were to buy a 787 and attempt to copy it, they would never succeed, he says - but if they got ahold of the digital plans, they could do it: "For the first time in humanity, the digital understanding has surpassed the realisation."
AgustaWestland is the latest UK defence contractor to announce big job cuts, with up to 375 people to be laid off, largely from its Yeovil factory, in response to reduced helicopter purchases by the UK Ministry of Defence as well as slowing export sales. The exact number of redundancies is yet to be determined, and the company has launched a voluntary scheme to minimise the number of compulsory cuts it will have to make.
The final number will be known in early 2012, following a 90-day consulting period, but could be in excess of 10% of the company's UK workforce of 3,600, including 3,400 at Yeovil.
The move follows BAE Systems' end-September announcement that it was cutting nearly 3,000 UK jobs in response to spending cuts in programmes ranging from the Eurofighter Typhoon fighter to Hawk trainers and Tornado attack jets.
The Finmeccanica division hopes to shift reliance away from defence business with the introduction of its AW169 multi-purpose civil helicopter, which is being readied for delivery from 2015. AW expects to sell 1,000 of the 10-seat models over 25 years, to transport and offshore operators and for law enforcement and surveillance duties.
The AW169 will make its first flight next year, and one of four prototypes will be based at Yeovil, which is focussing its attention on main and tail rotor and transmission development. But the company readily admits that in the short term the Yeovil plant, which assembles the AW101, Super Lynx and AW159 models, will increasingly have to make do with ongoing support activity for the UK armed forces.
And, it has yet to be decided how Yeovil will fit into the AW169 programme once it moves from development into production, and there is no guarantee that the plant will be a mainline production centre. The AW139, for example, is assembled in Italy and the USA, with a third plant soon to come online in Russia.
Managing director Ray Edwards said: "These steps together - the increased civil aircraft work-flow, the launch of the AW169 and the streamlining of the workforce - will place our UK operation on a strong footing and enable us to keep the skills needed for the UK to retain a viable helicopter capability.
"Our military business remains central to our success. This said, extending our capabilities in civil production and competing for export programmes, both areas where the government has shown considerable support, are the keys to AgustaWestland's future."
Ultimately, AgustaWestland should have plenty of room to grow in civil markets - assuming its product can match the appeal of Eurocopter, which is increasingly a runaway market leader. As the table clearly shows, AW is a solid number two in the UK civil market, and growth appears to be coming at Bell's expense. Globally, AW is the clear number three; again a flagging Bell looks to be providing opportunity to gain ground - but that means grabbing sales from Eurocopter.
Engineers like the phrase "design spiral", to refer to a development process characterised by a series of iterative improvements and additions, particularly where they may be needed to meet evolving requirements. The term comes from software design, and is seen as a dramatic improvement on the linear design process which usually characterises more traditional manufactured products.
What makes the spiral attractive is the potential to continuously renew a system so that it always incorporates the latest technologies and meets the latest needs. In a linear design process, specified requirements would be followed by design, prototyping, testing and manufacturing. Each step is completed before work flows over to the next stage, and hence the process is sometimes referred as the "waterfall" design method.
Big aircraft programmes which begin with a request for proposals that lead to carefully detailed performance specifications are good examples of the waterfall approach. Given the enormous investment in tooling and materials required to make such a complex physical (as opposed to software) system, this linear approach seems unavoidable. However, because it's easy to fall off a waterfall but very difficult to go back up, adding new technologies or changing components is very expensive once an aircraft is in production.
To cite a specific and very current example, one of the factors contributing to Boeing's travails with its much-delayed 787 airliner programme is arguably what amounted to an attempt at highly compressed spiral design, by carrying out the prototyping, testing and manufacturing phases simultaneously. Looked at from that perspective, the 787 would illustrate why in popular language the word "spiral" is so often associated with the phrase "out of control".
But the language made a small spiral forward this week at the DSEi defence equipment exhibition in London. Gianfranco Terrando, senior vice president for unmanned air systems at Finmeccanica's Selex Galileo unit, referred to a flight test planned for later this year on a General Atomics Predator B of a new open architecture concept in payload integration as "spiral zero".
The concept is to create a family of options for packaging sensors and data management software so that customers can, ultimately, combine any sensors and data handling techniques with whatever airframe they like. A spiral development process makes such a concept possible - if each new requirement demanded that engineers go back to stage one and devise a system from scratch, the cost and time involved would, clearly be prohibitive.
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This post was written by Abbie Ridge, work experience student currently working with Flightglobal
How to enjoy aircraft: Pore over old aircraft photographs, revisit the news and features written at the time by Flight since 1909, wander around aircraft museums admiring aircraft restorations.
But perhaps the most fulfilling way, for the aviation-minded, is to experience them still gracing the skies.
An experience many would describe as bringing tears to their eyes, goosebumps and tingling of the hairs at the back of the neck as they watch these iconic engineering feats grace the skies once more and often on the air show circuit.
In the UK, the RAF's Battle of Britain Memorial Flight and the Shuttleworth Collection restore vintage aircraft so that thousands of spectators can still enjoy them in all their flying glory.
The Battle of Britain Memorial Flight performs flypasts at notable events, such as the recent wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, with its old warbirds; the Lancaster, Hurricane and Spitfires. Continue reading ...
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