Archive for the ‘News’ Category

Medicine on the Move

April 15, 2011 1 comment

‘The Calling’ is a documentary about how aviation is being used to transform people’s lives in Ghana.

Check this :

Thanks to Flightglobal for the headsup.

Categories: Aviation, News

Redefine a jolt

April 13, 2011 1 comment

In a bizarre incident, an Air France A380 swats a Comair CRJ out the way at JFK. It is amazing to see how the CRJ is spun around by the impact. Wow.


Categories: Aviation, News

Japan radiation problem and UAVs

March 17, 2011 1 comment

It is so depressing to see the difficulties that Japan is going through now. First the earthquake, then the tsunami and now the even more dire-looking nuclear radiation situation.

Footage of attempts to cool the reactors by having military helicopters dump sea water on the reactors has emerged on Youtube :

While the military personnel and the plant workers are performing heroic deeds by risking their own lives,  it seems that there is a possible way to keep up a continuous supply of water to cool the nuclear plants. Why can’t we just use some Unmanned Aerial Vehicles(UAVs) to continuously pump water from the ocean to the plants till the cooling systems are operative? This seems like the exact situation where UAVs could be used to do ‘dirty & dangerous’  jobs without risking human lives. Also, using heli-UAVs in this situation would mean that you can basically hover over the plant and continuously dump seawater. Surely, UAVs like Boeing’s Hummingbird or Northrop Grumman’s FireScout would be able to to do this. Hopefully Boeing/Northrop Grumman/EADS/Lockheed Martin/IAI would volunteer and help the Japanese in these difficult times.

P.S. – I just wrote a quick post on Randy’s blog about this and hopefully he can pass it on to people better informed to make a judgement.

If this solution is workable, the other issue would be the disposal of the UAVs heavily impacted by radiation. Probably, there are ways to take care of that, but this would be far far better than risking human lives.

Something to think about..

P.S. – Just found this news article : [Article] The people working at the nuclear plant, many of them volunteers, are real heroes. Everything must be done to help them

Categories: Aviation, Boeing, News, UAV

The limits of small

March 2, 2011 Leave a comment

It is fairly clear that Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) are the wave of the present and are going to be well into the future. The size of UAVs spans an entire spectrum ranging from the really small (Micro Air Vehicles / MAVs like these) or the really large (High Altitude Long Endurance / HALE vehicles like these). Improving the capabilities of such vehicles, in terms of flight time, range and useful payload is an active area of research at both ends of the size scale.

However, as we progress to the extremes (especially the lower end),  it becomes clear that there is much we can learn from nature. Hummingbirds are fabulous examples of extreme flight demonstrating incredible stability, agility and maneuverability at small scales. Recently, AeroVironment, on a DARPA contract, demonstrated autonomous flight of a so-called Nano Air Vehicle (NAV) – the ‘Hummingbird’ . The vehicle is a replica of the hummingbird and looks so real that it would difficult to distinguish it from a real one if they were to appear together.

(Credit : Guy Norris, Aviation Week & Space Technology)

The demonstration is amazing for a couple of reasons :

– Ability to successfully demonstrate flapping flight as such small scales.

– Ability to maintain control in flapping flight at such small scales.

Presumably, aircraft like AeroVironment’s  ‘Hummingbird’ are to be used for surveillance purposes and this is bound to throw up a question the next time you see a hummingbird – is it looking for nectar in the flowers or is it pretending to look for nectar but actually spying on you?

Categories: Aviation, News, UAV

KC-46A it is…

February 25, 2011 1 comment

After years of delays, fierce debates, a re-bidding and intense public relations battles, the KC-135 tanker replacement contract was awarded to Boeing’s KC-767 tanker which was up against the EADS North America KC-30.

Valued at over $30 Billion, this competition was witness to many twists and turns that put the spotlight on the many different players involved. What was an evaluation of aircraft proposals quickly turned into debates on illegal state subsidies, WTO rulings, patriotism, outsourcing, jobs and Mobile, Alabama vs Everett, Washington.

With Boeing opening a second 787 line in Charleston, South Carolina, there was a general feeling that Boeing’s traditional workforce in Washington was being undermined. With the KC-46A expected to be built in Everett, Washington, this win would give Boeing’s workforce in Washington a big morale boost.

More details here :

Flightglobal AirlineReporter

Here’s the announcement (at the very end!) : Link (Credit : Flightglobal)

Thanks to Flightglobal and AirlineReporter.

Categories: Aviation, Boeing, EADS, News

A new life for the 747

February 14, 2011 Leave a comment

Boeing unveiled the passenger version of the 747-8, the 747-8I (Intercontinental) in a ceremony yesterday on Feb 13, 2011. What was totally unexpected was the new Boeing livery on the 747-8I. Called the ‘Sunrise’ livery, it features a dark Orange-Grey paint job and is a big change from Boeing’s usual Blue-White scheme. Although Boeing did give some clues for a few weeks before the unveiling by having the 747-8I depicted, presumably during dawn, in most of the ads in various aviation forums, the secret was very well kept.

Here is the video of the ceremony (Credit to the owner of the video) :

Watching Mr Joe Sutter, the chief designer of the original 747 (over 4 decades ago!) leading the crowd for having a look at the 747-8I was a nice moment.  🙂

Personally, I like the tail colours more with the lighter shade of orange and yellow, but overall, the huge 747-8I looks majestic in the new livery.

AirlineReporter has an article on this here. (Don’t miss the photos of the unveiling at the end of the article).

Categories: Aviation, Boeing, News Tags:

EU enacts new air safety law

September 25, 2010 Leave a comment

On September 21, the EU passed a new law aimed at improving air accident investigation by securing independence of air accident investigators.

Points to note (most are quoted, with minor edits):

  1. Safety investigation into an accident is to be conducted free of pressure from regulatory or other authorities.
  2. Any statements taken from individuals by a safety investigator, as well as voice and image recordings inside cockpits and air traffic control units, will be used only for safety investigation, unless there is an overriding reason for disclosure to the judiciary, to ensure people can testify without fear to the safety investigators.
  3. The safety investigation authority will be obliged to make public the final accident report in the shortest possible time and if possible within twelve months of the date of the accident or serious incident.
  4. Each Member State must set up a civil aviation accident emergency plan and ensure that all airlines based on its territory have a plan to assist victims of accidents and their relatives.
  5. EU airlines, as well as non-EU airlines departing from an EU airport, will be obliged to produce a list of all those on board an aircraft as soon as possible, and at the latest within two hours of the notification of the occurrence of an accident to the aircraft, and their names can only be made public after the families or close relatives of the passengers have been informed by the authorities and only if they do not object.
  6. A list of any dangerous goods on board the aircraft will have to be released by the airline immediately after the accident.
  7. Airlines to provide passengers with the means to indicate a contact person in case of an accident.
  8. Setting up of European Network of Civil Aviation Safety Investigation Authorities to advise EU institutions, make Europe-wide air safety recommendations, promote best investigation practices and strengthen national safety investigation authorities.
  9. The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) will have access to the safety occurrence reports produced by Member States and may be invited to advise in accident investigations.

The newly passed law is important because it separates the regulatory body (EASA) from its investigation arm, as is done with the FAA and NTSB. Having both functions in a single organization would invariably lead to conflict of interests as the investigative arm tries to correct the regulatory one. The result being,  air accident investigations end up covered in hazy conclusions and little clarity. India’s DGCA is in a similar situation and we would do well to take a leaf from the EU in this regard.

Link here.

Thanks to Flightglobal  for the heads up .