Steve Fossett has asked Scaled Composites to retrofit a fuel-jettison system on to his GlobalFlyer aircraft in case his solo round-the-world record attempt has to be aborted at an early stage.

The unrefuelled turbofan-powered global circumnavigation flight is scheduled for after 4 January. Speaking after his third flight in the GlobalFlyer on 21 October from Mojave airport, California, Fossett said: "We're in the process of putting in a fuel-dump system."He adds that it would take up to 6h to offload a full load of fuel. Fossett's 21 October flight was the 16th in the test programme, set to be completed by early December.

Doug Shane, director of flight operations at Burt Rutan's Scaled Composites, which designed the GlobalFlyer, estimates another "six to seven, maybe 10" flights will be needed to complete the more than 125h test programme. The aircraft will fly with up to 85% of its 8,200kg (18,000lb) maximum fuel load during testing. Fossett says he will fly the aircraft another "five to 10" times, probably including a 12h overnight flight.

The 40,000km (21,600nm) global circumnavigation flight is set to take 80h, with the aircraft needing around 12h to reach its initial cruising altitude of 39,000ft (11,900m), before climbing to 51,000ft as its fuel load is reduced. The GlobalFlyer will take off and land in the USA.



Source: Flight International