Your views about the aerospace industry and our reporting
Whatever the unstated – and unwise – source for W D Barbut’s suggestion that Boeing “had once been promised that it would be the only airframe manufacturer for civil aircraft in the western world” (Flight International, May 2021), there is no sudden or recent cause for “quiet rage that Boeing not only has a competitor now, but one that is even assembling some of its aircraft within the USA”.
Why the “now”?
Competition from Airbus has been around for nearly 50 years – for part, at least, of which time Boeing has been playing catch-up to the Europeans’ technological lead.
The correspondent also points out that there is established Airbus final assembly in the USA, a provision that nicely overcomes any innate tendency that the Americans (rather like the French) may have to resist anything “not made here”.
Who now remembers (or even noticed) the irony of former president Trump’s “America first” speech (“our goal as a nation must be to rely less on imports and more on products made right here in the USA”) at the roll-out of the Boeing 787-10 – a design comprising major sub-assemblies manufactured in half a dozen or more other countries?
As Flight International asked more than 30 years ago: “What’s American for ‘Fait a l’Etranger’?”.
It is also worth remembering that the A300 – the world’s first twin-aisle, twin-jet airliner – entered service with US carrier Eastern Air Lines in 1977. So European competition is not a recent phenomenon and did not end “suddenly” – or simultaneously – with the Vickers Super VC10 and BAC One-Eleven: production of the latter ceased in the early 1980s, more than 10 years after that of its larger sibling.
Nor has the UK given up aircraft manufacture: Airbus is the country’s largest commercial aerospace activity.
Cranleigh, Surrey, UK
Your article on information and NOTAM overload (Flight International, May 2021) struck a chord with me.
I stopped flying as a private pilot a couple of years ago, but I remember similar instances of completely irrelevant information for my short flights from my local airport in southern England.
I always used the NATS AIS website to obtain my pre-flight briefing information but, despite requesting information relevant only to a circle of 50 miles surrounding the airport, I was invariably provided with NOTAMs covering other parts of the London flight information region (FIR) as well, together with the Scottish FIR and also details of hazardous airspace in places such as Afghanistan, Ukraine and other foreign locations.
Even at my modest level of operation it took a good few minutes for me to filter out the one or two pieces of information that I actually needed.
The system then was clearly not fit for purpose and it appears that nothing has changed.
The interesting article ‘Fresson takes new direction’ in the May issue had an illustration of an Islander with large hydrogen storage tanks under each wing.
If increased storage volume for the fuel is the main driver for adding these, then why not make the tanks wing-shaped?
Britten-Norman expects that the development of a green “next-generation Islander” will be an “iterative process” – maybe it could end up as a ‘Bislander’?
It would be interesting for someone who knows to educate us on the impact on the Islander if it were to become a biplane.
Don’t laugh at the suggestion: the Russians are developing the TVS-2DTS, a modern biplane replacement for the Antonov An-2.
Prestwick, South Ayrshire, Scotland
I read the letter ‘An impossible dream’ (Flight International, April 2021) with interest.
The difficulty in recruiting women into certain trades and professions is well known.
In the case of aviation, particularly the flightdeck, I expect many women are unwilling to invest in flying training for one simple reason – within around five years of graduation, they will be looking to start a family. An occupation involving nights away on a regular basis will be difficult to reconcile unless she has a very co-operative husband and grandparents.
Short-haul flying would make life easier, but the rewards in pilotage are in long-haul, heavy jet flying.
I can see why other occupations would be more attractive.
Lytham St Annes, Lancashire, UK
Your very interesting article with Sir Stephen Hillier (Flight International, May 2021) about the UK Civil Aviation Authority raises some important questions.
Recognising essential quality and safety issues – as well as the ability to embrace future innovations – all costs money, and one has to ask whether or not the UK government has fully committed to the changes and sustainability that will be required here.
Dealing with individual EU member states seems an expensive retrograde step, with all the mountains of implied duplicated bureaucracy that involves, when the European Union Aviation Safety Agency still lives – albeit with the UK (the best of the bunch?) now on the outside.
Burbage, Leicestershire, UK