Boeing’s History Wall

While this isn’t directly related to flying a small general aviation aircraft, the Things with Wings blog recently posted about Boeing’s Wonder Wall of its contribution to aviation.

Not from Boeing's Wonder Wall, but a model of a 777. Courtesy CCImage of Elsie esq on flickr

“The finished products of any company form its outward face to the world, but it is the rarely seen unfinished designs which really tell the full story behind the evolution of that family. As one might expect, the development path of the combined Boeing and Douglas jetliner series is littered with ‘what if’ concepts that never saw the light of day. Many have been kept out of sight behind closed doors for years, tucked away in the depths of Boeing’s vast archive collection in Bellevue, Washington. But now the dust has been blown off the model collection and, thanks to an imaginative display, the design DNA of the combined Boeing and heritage Douglas line is now magnificently portrayed in the lobby of the company’s Product Development group offices in the Bomarc Building at Everett.”

Read the whole post and see pictures here.

True Airspeed for Fuel Management

Here’s an interesting post on Air Facts from a gentleman that studiously reviews his fuel requirements so he never comes up short:

“If you look in your POH, there should be a graph describing True Airspeed, Density Altitude and Engine Power. It takes so much power to push an airplane through the air at a given speed. The faster you cruise the more power it takes, and the power demand increases much more then the airspeed does. Engine Power produced is proportional to fuel flow, so if you know your speed, then you can also know the fuel flow for your type aircraft. The trick here is to know your TRUE airspeed, because the ASI lies to you as you go higher. This means you must correct your airspeed reading to true airspeed while you are flying the plane, and trim the airplane for the true airspeed desired to properly manage fuel flow.

For the first few years, we flew 86F with open wheels and cruised along at around 100 kts on our long trips. We nearly always burned 7.5 GPH on these trips, but even a slight headwind meant we would be stopping for fuel. At first we stopped anyway, just to be safe. Over time I was able to confidently extend our range safely, so we completed a 400 nm leg and landed with our desired 1-hour fuel reserve left in the tanks. The airplane’s performance was predictable and reliable.”

Read the whole post here.

747 turns 45!

Doesn't look a day older than 18! CCimage courtesy of smaedli on flickr

Is the end nigh for the 747? From the Things with Wings blog:

“Never before was a civil aircraft built that came even close to its size. It revolutionized air travel because of its superior economics and size, although it needed many years to gain traction in the latter half of the 1970s and 80s onwards.

Today, overlooking the apron at Changi airport, one realizes that the 747 era is over. Singapore Airlines has long replaced the aircraft with Airbus A380s and Boeing 777s. All Nippon Airways, formerly one of the most important 747 operators, just retired its last domestic version and many other airlines have pulled the jumbo from revenue service, too. Its economics do not work any more and the latest version, the 747-8, has failed to gain traction in the market….”

Read the rest of the article here.

Beer Delivery Drone Stopped by FAA

Now, this is innovation! There has been a lot of coverage of drones in the National Airspace, but none quite like this:

From CNN:

“Ice fishers in Minnesota are reeling from a recent FAA decision prohibiting beer delivery by drone.

Local brewery Lakemaid was testing a new drone delivery system to airlift frosty cases of beer to fishermen holed up in ice shacks on Mille Lacs Lake. After spotting a Lakemaid YouTube video that went up last week of one of the unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) on a test run, the Federal Aviation Administration contacted Lakemaid and told the company to stop.

Unfortunately for Lakemaid fans and anyone else dreading a walk to the corner store, it’s currently against the law to fly drones for commercial purposes or above 400 feet in the United States. The FAA is working on a comprehensive set of rules and regulations that will pave the way for commercial drone flight, but the legislation won’t be ready until at least 2015 and drones might not be in the skies until 2017.

Until then, thirsty fishermen must obtain their beverages through old-fashioned terrestrial delivery methods.”

Boeing takes sides in the Super Bowl

Credit: FlightAware

From USA Today:

“As for the test flight, it took about five hours with the cabin crew of the 747-8F piloting the jet over a swath of eastern Washington that spanned roughly 100 miles east and west as well as north and south.

So, how did it all come together?

The inspiration, of course, came from the Seahawks – who were set to square off just three days after the “12” test flight against the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII in New Jersey on Sunday (Feb. 2). The National Football League squad is based in Seattle, where Boeing remains one of the region’s largest employers.

Boeing had flight testing it wanted to do with the aircraft, and the company’s flight test team got creative in combining a regular test flight with some of the Super Bowl hype sweeping over Washington state.”

Ditching Certification

From the miracle on the Hudson. Ccimage courtesy of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

J. Mac McClellan takes us for a tour of what it takes to make an airplane ready to ditch:

“Did you know that most transport category airplanes are approved for ditching?

The idea that a normal landplane could be certified for a water landing had never crossed my mind. On the surface—pun intended—it sounds both impossible and ridiculous.

I became aware of the rather new aspect of the certification standards about 25 years ago when a couple of newly approved business jets had little flip-up panels at the bottom of the cabin entry door. After closing the door you raised the panel. When I asked what the heck that thing was for I was told that it would keep the water out to meet the ditching approval requirements….”

Read the whole post here.

3-D Printing Comes to Aviation

3-D printed model; ccimage courtesy of uair01 on flickr
The Things with Wings Blog has the story:

“Additive manufacturing, or 3-D printing, is slowly but surely beginning to make its mark in the aviation business. While some envision wholesale changes in the way parts are manufactured, the practical applications are, so far at least, tied to specific needs or opportunities….

So BAE Systems turned to its military colleagues, who have printed some parts for use on a flight test aircraft. Working with a third-party additive manufacturer, they developed a workable and cost-effective solution, cutting lead time by several months and saving $23,000 in tooling costs.”

Read the whole article here.

Only a washer

AOPA’s Pilot Blog recently posted this about a missing washer on a China Airlines 737:

“The FAA prepared an analysis of what happened to a China Airlines Boeing 737-800 on August 20, 2007, after landing at Naha Airport on Okinawa, Japan. Watch these two short videos. The first is an animation that explains what happened. Then, watch the second video, which shows the consequences of one missing washer.

That’s about a $90.5 million washer, based on average 2013 Boeing list prices. The 165 people on board were evacuated with no casualties, even though it appears to take about three and a half minutes for fire trucks to arrive. Thanks to my friend Bob Punch for calling this to my attention.”

Check out those videos!

Here’s the original blog.

Mach 1.4

Spaceship 2; Ccimage courtesy of irishfireside on flickr

Virgin Galactic is moving ahead with its space program. From AVweb:

“SpaceShipTwo went higher and faster than it’s been before on Friday and Virgin Group President Sir Richard Branson is predicting it will reach space sometime in 2014. Branson had hoped the reusable passenger-carrying rocket would have slipped out of the atmosphere by the end of 2013 but Friday’s flight showed progress toward the ultimate goal. The spacecraft hit Mach 1.4 and 71,000 feet (from a starting atltitude of 46,000) in flight, which was captured from multiple angles by video cameras on the mothership Eve and the spacecraft itself….”

Read the whole story here.

And there are some fantastic images here.

Windowless Cockpits on the Horizon

But what the view? From J. Mac McClellan:

“The benefit would be to save the weight and structural complexity of a windshield. You have to heat a windshield and also make it strong enough to withstand large bird impact at high speed. Windshields also craze, crack and in other ways require replacement.

But the really big savings from a windowless cockpit would be to optimize the shape of the forward fuselage. To be useful a windshield needs to be close to vertical and that distorts the shape of the nose. The abrupt upslope of the windshield forces the airflow to accelerate quickly and that adds drag. At typical jet cruise speeds airflow over the windshield area–called the canopy–is often transonic which is really draggy. Even in slower airplanes the forward fuselage shape is not optimum because of the windshield.”

Read the whole article here.