Recently in Civvie Gob-shite Category
The DEW Line doesn't normally cover civilian aviation, but the certain issues are important enough to warrant special attention--such as recovering an aircraft from upset conditions. Upset conditions begin in a roughly defined "box" where the bank angles exceed 45˚ and attitudes exceed 25˚ nose-up and 10˚ nose-down for large jet aircraft.
Typically, civilian pilot training does not cover much more than 10% of the all-attitude environment - up to 30˚ of pitch and 60˚ of bank. The result is that most commercial pilots are not adequately trained to deal with upset conditions should they experience them.
And, with the exception of certain military aviators, certification test pilots and a few others, the vast majority of pilots only experience training with full aerodynamic stalls early in the training process.
Unfortunately, the result is that a when faced with those types of situations, most pilots will react incorrectly as the data shows. But, after the crash of Air France 447 over the Atlantic a few years ago, things are starting to change as more attention is being paid to the problem.
A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to fly with APS--a company that specializes in upset recovery training. Their instructor pilots are mostly former military aviators. The company president is a former Canadian Forces CF-18 Hornet pilot. The pilot I flew with, Clarke McNeace, is a former Navy pilot who also flew the Hornet.
You can read the full story here
Here are some excerpts from my flight--edited by my colleague Andrew Costerton in England.
The Boeing-built air superiority fighters were launched out of Portland, Oregon, under the auspices of the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) to intercept the airliner around 4:00 Pacific time 10 April.
"The Korean airliner was intercepted, diverted and the aircraft was shadowed until it landed at Canadian Forces Base Comox [British Columbia] at approximately 5:30," a Pentagon spokesman says.
The F-15s were likely part of the Oregon Air National Guard's 142nd Fighter Wing, which performs the air sovereignty mission for NORAD and its parent US Northern Command organization.
CFB Comox sometimes serves as a temporary forward base for Canadian Forces CF-18 Hornets, which are also built by Boeing, but is primarily used by search and rescue and maritime patrol aircraft. Given that US aircraft were used for the intercept, it is unlikely that a CF-18 detachment is currently present at the base.
NORAD itself is a joint Canadian and US command that was established in 1958 to defend North American airspace from intruders and provide warning of a nuclear attack. At the time, the threat was primarily from Soviet bombers and ICBMs, but after the events of September 11, 2001, NORAD took on an expanded role in policing the skies against similar terrorist threats.
Why does Boeing want to make it harder for 787 passengers to survive a plane crash?
That's the hugely loaded question that is being asked this week by a 46-year Boeing engineer, Vince Weldon, who went public with his concerns about the 787's crashworthiness on a Dan Rather-hosted TV special last night. Watch the show here.
Weldon believes Boeing is rushing the 787 into service before it knows for sure how the all-composite fuselage will behave in a crash landing scenario. Two key questions: Will composite structure absorb as much of the impact shock as an aluminum airframe? Does composite resist fire as well as metal?
I had my say about this issue during a live spot on the TV morning show Fox & Friends this morning, but -- in case you missed it -- here's the gist of what I said.
The bottom line is that Boeing will have to prove that the 787 meets at least the crashworthiness standard of aluminum structures. If there are unknowns or validated problems, the FAA will rightly refuse to certify the aircraft.
Weldon's real question, however, may be whether Boeing or the FAA knows enough composite structures to make a reasonable judgement.
This may be a philosophical clash more than anything else.
Weldon comes from a generation of venerated Boeing engineers who were famous for being hard-headed about safety and testing. This is a group that believed in physically validating almost any assumption.
But times have changed across the the industry. These days, more engineering assumptions are validated digitally in computer labs versus physically in flight test conditions.
I would not write Weldon off as a disgruntled employee grinding a composite ax. But nor would I write off the consensus opinion -- shared by every airframe manufacturer in the business -- that composites are a safer and more efficient alternative to metal.
I know this is primarily a defense industry blog, but I can't help it: this 787 vs A380 race is going to be a hoot, folks.
Yesterday, Singapore Airlines confirmed finally that it will operate the first flight of the A380 superjumbo on October 25.
The 787 first flight was supposed to be August, then September, and now will very likely be mid- tto late-October.
The question: can Boeing resolve it's issues with 787 production and beat Airbus into the sky before the A380's entry into service date? My money is on Boeing.
"Start your turbofans" (Source: Singapore Airlines)
P.S.: Singapore Airlines also announced offering a new suites section that is a "class beyond first".
Here is the original 7E7 artist's concept when Boeing launched the program on April 26, 2004:
And this is an image of Boeing's first actual 787-8 Dreamliner. Quite a difference, no?
Southwest Airlines, the only carrier that Wall Street analysts love to love (or LUV?), announced today that it is deferring deliveries of 15 Boeing 737-700s. This is bad news for airlines. Very bad. I've polled my colleagues, who actually know a thing or two about the air transport industry, and no one can remember a time when market conditions forced Southwest to defer aircraft deliveries.
But even worse is the simultaneous announcement by Southwest on two of the steps it is taking to boost revenue: does anybody believe launching a new advertising campaign and revamping the boarding and seating method are the keys to turning things around??
The way airlines buy aircraft today makes no sense. The current model doesn't work for the customers, the manufacturers nor the financiers. The system has to change.
Cheers to Fortune magazine for spotting one possible solution to this problem: hedge funds! (Really.)
Here's an excerpt, but check out the full article here:
Traditionally, airlines purchased most of their fleets, renting the rest from a few big leasing companies owned by firms like GE (Charts, Fortune 500) and AIG (Charts, Fortune 500), which could afford to ride out the industry's ups and downs. But hedgies spotted a flaw in the model: Aircraft were financed based on the creditworthiness of airlines rather than the value of the actual planes. And with global demand for travel trending up, the funds bet that the metal could be alchemized into flying gold.