Archive for the 'technology' Category

Boeing 747-8I First Flight

More than a year after the successful first flight of the Boeing 747-8 Freighter version, the passenger version of the updated JumboJet has taken to the skies for the first time as well.

On March 20, 2011, the latest version of the legendary Boeing 747 Jumbo Jet, the 747-8I (the “I” stand for “Intercontinental”) has taken off from Paine Field at 9:59 local time, to land at Boeing Field at 14:24 – after four and a half hours in the air. The plane was piloted by Boeing 747 Chief Pilot Mark Feuerstein and captain Paul Stemer. They told the media that the 747-8I systems as well as the four General Electric GEnx-2B engines performed as expected, as the plane reached 6096 meters altitude and 463 km/h (250 knots) speed.

Test plane RC001 in “Sunrise Orange” livery will be one of the test aircraft that are scheduled to complete a 600 hour flight test program in the coming months. This first flight took the plane out North first, then West above the Western Washington state area, and returned it back after a large circle around the Seattle area.

Somewhat similar to the 787 Dreamliner situation, the 747-8 program has also faced some delays, but not as bad as the Dreamliner. The 747-8 family is a major redesign of the famous Jumbo Jet designed to compete with the Airbus A380, using the engine and cockpit technology, as well as the larger overhead compartments and the Sky Interior of the Dreamliner, but keeps some of the original features of the plane, including the partial double-deck design – extended even a little bit more than the previous longest double-deck version, the 747-400.

The 76.3 meter long 747-8 will be powered by new generation GEnx engines, but this is not the only change, as the aircraft will be 5.6 ms longer than the current Boeing 747-400 version (4.1 ms before the wing on both decks and 1.5 meters after the wing only on the lower deck). This additional length provides a few more seats onboard for the passenger version that can fly up to 14.800 kms. The new 747-8 will have a maximum take off weight of 442.250 kgs, but will still have a 12% less maintenance costs. It consumes about 17% less fuel, as on top of the new engines types, some parts of the fuselage will be replaced by lighter materials than in the current version. This also means 16% lower (CO2) emissions and a 30% decrease in noise levels from that of the 747-400.

The first 747-8I will be delivered to launch customer Lufthansa, with delivery scheduled for the end of 2011. Lufthansa has ordered 20 of the type so far with 386 seats (the maximum density could be 467). Boeing has sold a combined 33 747-8Is (besides the 20 to German Lufthansa: 5 to Korean Air and 8 for unidentified VIP customers). Most recently Air China has indicated that it would purchase 5 pieces of the longest ever passenger jet, but that order is yet to be confirmed and approved by the Chinese Government. Boeing also has sold 76 of the cargo version of the 747-8, the 747-8F (freighter).

You can find more photos about the first flight and the test aircraft on airliners.net.

by balint01

Amazing Video – Commercial Air Traffic Simulation

According to a study written by Boeing in 2006, air traffic can double by 2025. The number of commercial aircrafts gliding through the sky each day is already way too high.

A few weeks ago the School of Engineering of Zurich, Switzerland released a video that simulates the commercial air traffic throughout a 24-hour period. It is interesting to see that air traffic is the highest in Europe and in North-America, especially during the day.In the simulation small yellow dots ilustrate each flight.

See the video here:

If you would like to see it in a higher resolution, you can download the video from the original website.

By Szafi

Aircraft Winglets

Many of us who fly regularly have most probably seen a so-called winglet or wingtip device at the end of the wing of an airliner at least once. It is showing up more and more often on more and more types of aircraft, thus we felt it’s time to give an overview to our readers about these sometimes funny, sometimes cool and stylish looking aircraft parts.

Winglet on Virgin Atlantic A340-600 - c by Dan Valentine on Airliners.net

Winglet on Virgin Atlantic A340-600 - c by Dan Valentine on Airliners.net

History, Reason and Benefits

The initial theoretical concept goes back to times before even the Wright Brothers first took to the skies in 1905, but it was picked up and developed by Richard T. Whitcomb of NASA after the 1973 oil crisis – in order to reduce fuel consumption. The first tests were carried out in 1979/80 in cooperation with the U.S. Air Force. At almost the same time, but independent of any U.S. military organization, a private jet producer, LearJet exhibited a prototype in 1977: the LearJet 28 that featured the first winglets on a jet and a production aircraft. Flight tests made with and without winglets showed that the winglets increased range by about 6.5 percent and also improved directional stability for the LearJet- these two factors are the major reasons behind using this facility at any fixed wing aircraft ever since.

Airflow around the wingtip with or without a wingletA winglet is a (near) vertical extension of the wing tips. The upward angle of the winglet, its inward angle as well as its size and shape are critical for correct performance – this is why they can look quite different. Air rotating around the wing strikes the surface of the winglet that directs it in another direction – thus creating an extra force, basically converting otherwise wasted energy to thrust. This is a small contribution but can save a lot for an operator in an aircraft’s lifetime. Another potential benefit of winglets is that they reduce the strength of wingtip vortices, which trail behind the plane. When other aircraft pass through these vortices, the turbulent air can cause loss of control, possibly resulting in an accident.

Winglet Types

In general any wingtips that not end the wing simply horizontally are considered as some kind of a winglet. Even though in strictly technical terms Wingtip Fences are not real extensions of the wing, and Raked Wingtips do not have a vertical part, they are still widely considered as winglet variants.

WINGTIP FENCES are a special variant of winglets, that extend both upward and downward from the tip of the wing. Preferred by European plane-maker Airbus, it is featured on their full product range (except the A330/340 family and the future A350). The Airbus A300 was actually the first jet airliner to feature this kind of solution by default, but it was a very small version of the tool. Provided that most of the Airbus planes (including all A320 family jets) feature such wingtip fences, this may be the most seen and most produced winglet type. Even the new Airbus A380 double-decker features wingtip fences.

Airbus Winglets as seen from the outside

Airbus Winglets as seen from the outside

Airbus Winglets seen from onboard

Airbus Winglets as seen from onboard

BLENDED WINGLETS (the real “Winglets”) are the most popular winglet type, leveraged by Airbus, Boeing, Embraer, Bombardier but also by Russian Tupolev and Iljushin. Blended winglets were first introduced on the McDonnel Douglas MD-11 aircraft in 1990 with launch customer Finnair (it also features a smaller winglet at the bottom side of the wing). In contrast to Airbus who applies the wingtip fences by default on most of their aircraft (and the winglets on the A330/340 family), blended winglets are considered by Boeing for example as an optional extra feature on their products, except for the Boeing 747-400. For some of the older Boeing jets (737 and 757) such blended winglets have been offered as an aftermarket retrofit, these are the newer, tall designs and do not connect to the tip of the wing with a sharp angle, but with a curve instead. These winglets are popular among airlines that fly these aircraft on medium/long haul routes as most of the real fuel savings materialize while cruising. Longer flights mean longer cruising, thus larger fuel savings. And they also server as marketing surface for airline logos or web addresses usually.

Just recently the Boeing 767-300ER has received 3.4 m high (!) winglets produced by Aviation Partners Inc. with American Airlines as the launch-customer with Air New Zealand and Hawaiian Airlines following with orders of 5 and 8 aircrafts respectively. 141 shipsets have been pre-sold already as the forecasted fuel savings range around 4%-6% for medium/long-range flights. Airbus earlier tested similar blended winglets designed by Winglet Technology for the A320 series, but determined that their benefits did not warrant further development and they stayed with the wingtip fences instead. Aviation Partners Boeing claims that winglets on 737s and 757s have saved a collective 1.2 billion gal. of fuel since they were introduced and 11.5 million tonnes of CO2 while reducing those types’ noise footprint by 6.5%. It has sold winglets to 140 airlines and 95% of all 737NGs are fitted with them. It is working on four winglet concepts for the 777 and hopes to finalize a design for that aircraft type by December, 2008.

Blended Winglets on Several Aircraft Types

Blended Winglets on Several Aircraft Types

RAKED WINGTIPS are the most recent winglet variants (they are probably better classified as special wings, though), where the tip of the wing has a higher degree of sweep than the rest of the wing. They are widely referred to as winglets, but they are better described as integrated wingtip extensions as they are (horizontal) additions to the existing wing, rather than the previously described (near) vertical solutions. The stated purpose of this additional feature is to improve fuel economy, climb performance and to shorten takeoff field length. It does this in much the same way as “traditional” winglets do. In testing by Boeing and NASA, raked wingtips have been shown to reduce drag by as much as 5.5%, as opposed to improvements of 3.5% to 4.5% from conventional winglets. Airliners to use raked wingtips: Boeing 747-8, Boeing 767-400ER, Boeing 777(-200LR; -300ER; and freighter versions) plus the new Boeing 787 Dreamliner and the Airbus A350. The 747-8, the 787 and the A350 will have special, new kind of wings, which do not have a separate winglet, but have raked, and blended wingtips integrated – without a sharp angle between the wing and the winglet.

Raked Wingtips on the new Boeing 787 and Airbus A350

Raked Wingtips on the new Boeing 787 and Airbus A350

As you can see, wingtips/winglets have developed and changed very much over the last 30 years, but are becoming the standard, which is not proven better by anything else than the wing designs of future aircraft by the largest airplane-makers that feature a built-in winglet at the tip of their new, revolutionary wings.

(Most of the winglet pictures in the montage images taken from airliners.net taken by several photographers.)

by balint01

Canadair Regional Jet CRJ 1000 Takes First Flight

With all the news about delayed airliner programmes such as the Airbus A380, the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, or even the Sukhoi Superjet, it is good news that a new aircraft type has taken to the skies for the first time yesterday, from Montreal Mirabel in Canada: Bombarider’s CRJ 1000. (To see clearly, we have to mention that this is not a completely new aircraft as those mentioned above, it is the extended version of the operational CRJ-900 regional jet.)

CRJ-1000 Next Gen Prototype - c by Justin Jones at airliners.net

CRJ-1000 Next Gen Prototype - c by Justin Jones at airliners.net

The prototype flew a 3 hr. 25 min. first flight, reaching a maximum speed of 260 kt. and an altitude of 30,000 ft.

We put the gear up, operated the flaps and slats and exercised our fly-by-wire rudder,” pilot Jacques Thibaudeau said. “The aircraft handled similarly to the smaller CRJ900 airliner so flight crews will not have a problem transitioning.

Bombardier launched the (86-)100-seat CRJ1000 program in early 2007 and has tallied 63 firm orders, with first delivery slated for the 2009 fourth quarter. The prototype will make a few more flights from Mirabel and then head to Wichita for further testing in preparation for review by Transport Canada, US FAA and EASA.

The 1000 is 3 m longer than the CRJ-900 with an Maximum Take Off Weight of 91,800 lb and a range of 1,610 nautical miles.

(based on ATW News)

by balint01

Sukhoi Superjet: First Flight

We have followed eariler developments around the Sukhoi Superjet for some time now, and there are good news following the on-time roll-out last year and the delay announced earlier in 2008. Yes, the Sukhoi Superjet has flown for the first time, more than a month ago by now, actually.

Sukhoi SuperJet landing after first flight - C by KNAAPO

Picture posted by EYKD on the Airliners.net forum.

It’s interesting to learn how many and what kind of stages of testing take place before the first flight. Sukhoi went through its first taxi and run tests of the new regional aircraft, where the run tests featured a gradual speed increase up to 162 kph, which is close the actual speed required for takeoff. Chief Test Pilot Alexander Yablontsev said the aircraft “is easy to control and very good in ergonomics.” The testing was performed at the Flight Test Center in Komsomolsk, where a series of ground tests of the main systems with running engines have been also conducted. Prior to the first flight, the aircraft also undergone shimmy tests, low and high speed taxi runs to test the landing gear stability and high-speed runs to check steering and brakes, with liftoff of the nose gear.

Sukhoi SuperJet during test taxi runs - C by TIKHV

Falling 6 months behind Sukhoi’s original plan to fly the SuperJet at the end of 2007, the new airplane finally took to the skies on 20MAY2008, for about 40 minutes, performing 4 circuits around the airfield at various altitudes, reaching up to 1,200 m.

The first flight should boost interest and marketing image for the aircraft but there are still no news about any new confirmed Western customers.

by balint01

Are You A Passenger Or A Criminal?

Cavity search, biometric data, pat-down, body screening. What is next? A regular passenger is checked more often than an average criminal in jail. Is it really necessary?

As CNN reported yesterday (April 16), two majos US airports – Los Angeles LAX and New York JFK – will start to use body screening machines. The machines had been tested in Phoenix, Arizona and apparently it proved to be useful as more passenegrs chose to go through the body screener than having a pat-down.

When I read this part of the article, I was really surprised. I am not pleased by a pat-down, still I would prefer it to a body screening machine, where all bits of my body could be seen for a complete stranger. May be it just my “feminist aggression” that says: no, I have the right to decide who can see my body.

Then I kept on reading and I understood it:

Travelers will continuously and randomly be selected to go through the machine. While signs will inform them of the pat-down option, screeners will not announce that choice. But passengers electing not to go through the millimeter wave machine will be given the option of the pat-down.

You have the right, you just won’t be informed about it. Now that is nice, isn’t it? Bad news for passengers departing from the US is that TSA is planning to buy 30 more machines. Once a business is blossoming…

Body screeningI understand it, that they just want to protect us, regular travellers from being blown up on a passenger jet and I agree that airline safety is first priority for them, but is it really necessary? Is there anything on earth that this wil show on a human body and those beeping gates do not filter out? Is it still about safety?

Basically it has become a nightmare to fly in or out of the US. Hours of queues at the immigration when travelling in including fingerprint and eye check and now body screening when travelling out. Why is it much more simple in the EU?

(photo by USA Today)
By Szafi

Sukhoi Superjet Also Delayed

It seems like no new aircraft in the 21st century can be developed according to the first announced schedules. Following the almost 2 year delay of the Airbus A380 superjumbo which had wiring problems and the Boeing 787 Dreamliner which is facing a still growing delay due to supply chain problems in the production of the composite airframe (originally it was planned to be delivered in about two months to its launch customer – but still has not ever taken off…) here are the latest news about the Russian Sukhoi Superjet being delayed…

Sukhoi Superjet Revealed - by Reuters

As we reported earlier, the Sukhoi Superjet was revealed on 26SEP2007, when they claimed the rolled out aircraft was basically ready to fly about two months later. Back then on the ceremony it was announced that “the first flight will take place before the year end,” and they have also pointed out that they are on schedule, unlike the above mentioned A380 or the 787… Then came the news yesterday, that the Russian manufacturer announced: “Technical problems will postpone delivery of the first Sukhoi Superjet indefinitely.”

First deliveries to launch customer Aeroflot originally were slated to begin by late 2008. Aeroflot has already removed the Tupolev Tu-134 aircraft from service to make room for the first SSJ’s to arrive which are due to replace the aging mid-sized airplane. “The airplane is currently in the final testing stages and it will make its first flight within a month,” Alexei Fyodorov, CEO of United Aircraft Building Corp., told RIA Novosti. “Our specialists are working round the clock to meet our obligations to contractors.” We can only hope that this “within a month” will now be real, as it is crucial for the SSJ to show a positive image to the World Market, that it plans to conquer. Airbus and Boeing are stronger and larger players to manage such delays, but for Sukhoi being a new entrant, it is very important to show professionalism to its (future) customers. To date, the 78 and 98 seat version aircraft has collected 73 firm orders and 46 options, mostly from Russian customers.

If we think about it a little more, these delays even sound understandable, as the aircraft market today sells planes for deliveries in 5-6 or even more years down the road. All manufacturers are therefore pressured to announce a new plane as soon as possible with as soon delivery dates as possible, in order to not lose possible customers. If you announce a certain date and then are forced to pay a penalty, it’s still better than losing the whole business to another plane which is already on the market, or has promised an even earlier delivery date… This way at least you do have the business. Tough competition and not normal market conditions have led to this stage, but it’s the airline customers that go into a more and more uncertain future with such an emerging tendency. They need to plan fleet strategies, networks and even schedules ahead – when counting with the new airplanes which are then delivered only a few years late…

It will be interesting to follow the developments of the new Chinese Regional Jet, the Japanese Mitsubishi Regional Jet as well as the new Bombardier C-Ceries – will they be on schedule with their new programs or can we make a new rule: “New Aircraft development projects in the 21st century are always behind schedule”?

by balint01

Supersonic Business Jet Plans

When talking about supersonic commercial aviation, we all think about the Concorde which is out of operation by now, but a small, supersonic aircraft is being currently developed by a private firm in the US. Even though they will not be able to use such a name as “Concordino” (as it has been unofficially taken by a small turboprop airliner by Swedish aircraft manufacturer Saab), the US Firm, Aerion (Advanced Aeronautical Engineering Organization taking on the name of the Greek heroic horse of Adrastus) is planning to roll out a new generation business jet: a small, supersonic plane carrying 8-12 passengers.

 Supersonic Business Jet - copyright by Aerion Corp.

The Reno, Nevada based manufacturer that was established in 2002, based their business plan on the research that foresaw the sales of around 8300 business jets between 2004 and 2014. Their idea is to get at least part of this potential market of around 131 billion USD, with a break-through, light, special, supersonic jet. The team of Aerion includes former top management figures of LearJet and Bombardier for example, which shows that the program is taken seriously and is not just some sci-fi style research.

The project that will include construction of 5 SBJ (Supersonic Business Jet) prototypes (2 to be used for tests on the ground, 3 in the air) has been financed by a Texas Billionaire who deeply believes in the success of this project. Even though some larger aircraft manufacturers turned their backs on the offer for a partnership for now, he has continued to finance the progress that included a few successful, high altitude, high speed tests with smaller models of the plane with the radical new design for the wings.

The tests included flights at 2.5 Mach, even though the planned supersonic cruising speed of the SBJ would be 1.6 Mach. As traveling at supersonic speed is not allowed at most parts of the world (except for above the oceans, and a few areas above Siberia, Canada and some parts of Australia), the aircraft will have to travel between 0.99 – 1.1 Mach above the mainland and can only increase its speed to 1.5 Mach once it reaches the Ocean. According to the manufacturer, the new wing design allows for a boomless cruise of 1.1 Mach. The radical new design of the wings also brings much lower noise emmissions, and according to the manufacturer, the plane will deliver within the most strict noise limitations. The engines are to be provided by Pratt & Whitney based on an existing engine specification.

Supersonic Business Jet Interior - copyright by Aerion Corp.

In reality the new plane would be able to fly as far as 7400 km’s, thus the New York – Paris flight would be reduced to 4.25 hours, and New York – Tokyo for example would be 9.5 including a one hour refueling stop in Anchorage, but even the flight between New York and Miami could be reduced by almost one hour. A possible route between Chicago and London would be flown at 5 hour 42 mins, including the 2 hour Atlantic crossing at high altitude (flight level 510) and at supersonic speed. The guests on board can have lunch, take a nap, send/receive emails, or talk on the phone – just like in any business jet currently existing. The cabin would feature a restroom, a kitchen and could carry a lie-flat bed or a four seat sofa or even a shower if required. It can seat a maximum of 12 people, with an internal cabin height of 1.88 m. The designer claims that the operating costs will be comparable to today’s larger business jets, thus they will not be supersonic, regardless of the possible speed. Possible routes, ranges and times can be found on the manufacturer’s site.

Aerion at the Dubai Air Show 2007 

As the latest chapter in the story of Aerion SJB, at last year’s Dubai Air Show, ExecuJet Aviation (based in Switzerland) received unique sales rights for the the world outside of the US, and just days later the first potential customer, Sheik Rashid Bin Humaid Al Noaimi has signed a letter of intent and even provided a USD 250.000 deposit for the first of the USD 80 million private jet, which is now planned to be delivered in 2014.

by balint01

Friday Fun – Flying Wing Experiment

I have recently found this video on YouTube. It’s not really a joke, more of an interesting experimental flight from more than 10 years ago. I just thought I’d share it with you as it looks kind of funny that a wing can fly on its own! 🙂

by balint01

No Booking At Ryanair For 3 Days

Ryanair is temporarily closing down both its online and call center booking office between 10 pm on 22 February and 11 pm on 25 February. This painful step is necessary, because the airline migrates to a new booking engine that will comply with EU’s regulation to include all taxes and extra fees into the ticket price.

As AirlineWorld wrote about it earlier, the European Commission decided to be very strict about airlines communiating prices that do not include taxes or other extra fees. Although the initiation may sound good for the customer, there are several circumstances that makes it impossible to intorduce such a business model in the aviation industry. See our earlier article about the topic.

According to Ryanair’s spokesperson, the airline has already missed a January 31 deadline, but got an extension of the deadline until the end of February.

I am personally doubtful if Ryanair will be able to make it – not the upgrade, but to include all taxes and extra fares into the prices – because to fully comply with the regulation the low-cost airline will need to change their policy about the extra charge in checked in baggage and so on. Once the new software will be up and running, we will definately test it.

By Szafi 

Blog calendar

July 2020
M T W T F S S
 12345
6789101112
13141516171819
20212223242526
2728293031  

Archives