May 20, 2013david
As a parent of three kids I am very familiar with kids movies, and I honestly don’t mind going to them as long as they are entertaining, which many of them are. But, there is a movie coming out that I would gladly see all by myself, as will most avgeeks out there.
Many people are familiar with Disney’s Cars featuring Lightning McQueen and the ever lovable Tow Mater. Planes is a similar idea, only it features airplanes instead of just cars. At one point there was word that it would only be released to DVD, but thankfully Disney saw how important it would be to view it on the big screen and is going for the full theatrical release. They will also be releasing it in 3D, but I think that is a waste of money so I will stick with the normal version.
Disney recently released a new trailer which can be found below, and it looks awesome. I can’t tell you how excited I am. I could keep going on, but I will let you enjoy the brilliance below instead. The film is set to be released on August 9.
Disney’s Planes Takes Flight on Disney Video
May 19, 2013david
I’m not sure if there is another industry that has started to nickel and dime its users more than aviation. Some of these charges have already been implemented, and others have simply been proposed. Airlines are now charging for food, checked baggage, and even for carry-ons in some cases. Recently most of the major airlines also increased their flight change fees to $200, which was the same amount I paid for my last round-trip ticket in the first place.
Despite all of these new fees, and the simultaneous reduction in service, the airlines are still doing quite well. Like many other industries, airlines will likely continue to increase fees and charges as much as the market will bear. With the debatable success of all of these fees it is reasonable to question if airports couldn’t benefit from increasing these fees themselves.
In the past airports have relied heavily on the Airport Improvement Program (AIP) in order to fund major improvements like new runways, taxiways, or terminals. However, as the cost of these improvements has increased there has not been a coinciding increase in funds. Airports are having to get creative with ways to fund the projects they need because this previous source just isn’t cutting it.
One of these income sources are Passenger Facility Charges (PFC). PFCs are currently capped by Congress at $4.50 but there is an increasing number of supporters trying to get that cap lifted. The airports themselves are one of the biggest supporters of lifting the cap, but groups like AAAE are also lobbying hard to make this a reality.
I don’t know if PFCs are necessarily the answer, but it is time to give airports more ability to support themselves. Congress has shown their complete ineptitude when it comes to pretty much anything, but especially when it comes to budgets and funding anything. They need to get out of the way of the people who know how to fix problems and take care of their needs.
Whether it is PFCs or some other source, it is clear that airports need more funding to support their needs, let alone their wants. What do you think, should Congress lift the cap on PFCs, or is there another way for airports to raise the money they need?Tags: AAAE • Airport Funding • Airport Improvement Program • Aviation User Fees • Passenger Facility Charges • PFC Cap
May 14, 2013david
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The Navy’s UCAS-D, X-47B, took another huge step forward in its development today and I had to at least mention it because it is a pretty pivotal day in the future of aviation. I have previously written about the X-47B performing simulated aerial refueling, as well as its first arrested landing on ground, but today it took a major step forward when it performed its very first catapult launch from the deck of an aircraft carrier.
Planes have been landing on ship decks for over 100 years, and today the USS George H.W. Bush was the first carrier to see a plane take off without a person actually in it. It really leaves me kind of speechless to think about that.
Aviation has always been a breeding ground for innovation, and the Navy has often been heavily involved with that. Personally I thought carriers were the one place we may never see a UAV, but I have definitely been proven wrong. It is interesting how my views on UAVs have changed in less than a year.
I wrote that first article about the refueling a little over a year ago, and I was relatively skeptical about where UAVs would actually go, but now I am willing to believe they can do just about anything. Next up on the agenda for the X-47B is to make an arrested landing on a moving carrier, which they are planning to attempt in the next few weeks.Tags: First UAV Catapult Launch • First UAV on Aircraft Carrier • Navy UCAS-D • USS George H. W. Bush • X-47B Catapult Launch • X-47B Images
Like most Avgeeks, I love seeing a new plane. It really doesn’t matter if it is big, small, fast, or slow, I just love planes. I came across a new plane from European manufacturer Tecnam that looks like an interesting combination of a couple of other planes. The P2010 by Tecnam is currently going through the certification process and is looking to gain certification from the FAA and EASA at the same time.
Looking at the pictures on their website, I can’t help but notice how much it looks like a cross between a Cesna 172 and a Cirrus SR22. Either way I think it looks like a cool plane, and would love to fly one some day. Here is the description from the Tecnam website:
The Tecnam P Twenty-Ten brings together an advanced technology all carbon fibre fuselage with a metal wing to deliver a superlative single engined, 4 seat aeroplane, designed by Italy’s most innovative Aerospace design ‘guru’ Professor Luigi Pascale.
Powered by the well proven and reliable Lycoming IO-360-M1a (‘Lycoming Light’) engine, providing 180HP and 2700RPM. The Tecnam P Twenty-Ten has a high fuel capacity (240 litres). The fuel tanks are installed in the wing box, behind the main spar, to preserve their integrity in case of an accident. Of course carbon fibre equals a lighter and therefore more fuel efficient aeroplane.
Tecnam has always put the comfort for both pilots and passengers first. The Tecnam P Twenty-Ten with its spacious interior and its generous luggage compartment of 300 litres has been designed to be both a very enjoyable aeroplane to fly cross country as well as a robust trainer. The cabin width also allows for a large instrument panel, with its modular design specifically tailored to allow customers to fit either an analogue or digital instrumentation package.
It is interesting how rapidly the aviation industry is being taken over by carbon fiber. It is not surprising with all of its valuable properties, but I don’t think there has been another technology that has come on so rapidly in my memory.
The plane just looks sleek and sexy. It is obviously still a ways of way from actually reaching the market but I would not be surprised to see Tecnam become a more common name in the industry with more aircraft like this.Tags: EASA Certification • FAA Certification • IO-360-M1a • P2010 • P2010 Pictures • Tecnam
May 13, 2013david
About two months ago I wrote about a pretty cool challenge that Airbus was issuing to student innovators all over the world. The Fly Your Ideas Challenge asked these students to come up with eco-efficient ideas to help take the aviation industry into the 21st century a little bit cleaner. The top prize is €30,000 with the runners-up receiving €15,000.
Airbus announced the finalists today that will come to Airbus’ headquarters next month to present their ideas to a group of industry experts with the winners being announced in Paris on June 14th.
The official press release from Airbus gave the following short descriptions of the finalists:
- Australia – Team CLiMA, Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, for the development of aircraft fueled by a blend of sustainably produced liquefied biomethane and liquefied natural gas (Bio-LNG).
- Brazil – Team Levar, University of São Paulo, for a luggage loading and unloading system for airplane cargo compartments to reduce the workload of airport baggage handlers with an air cushion solution inspired by air hockey tables.
- India – Team AVAS, SRM University, for reduced propulsion noise thanks to jet exhaust shape modification using intelligent materials (shape memory alloys). These alloys are energized by harvested electricity generated by advanced thermoelectric materials using engine heat source.
- Italy – Team Flybrid, Technical University of Milan, for an electric/turboprop combination for hybrid propulsion in regional aircraft. This system uses batteries pre-charged on ground and not in-flight.
- Malaysia – Team Embarker, Universiti Putra Malaysia, for a self-sustaining aircraft cabin concept in which the excess body heat from seated passengers is used as an alternative source of energy to power small electronics in the cabin.
The team members include both men and women, students pursuing bachelors, masters, and PhDs, and students from nine different countries. I love to see such diversity working to make the future of aviation even brighter. Who knows, maybe one of these ideas will be what we are talking about a decade from now as the newest and best technology in the industry.
All images from the Airbus Press Release.
May 12, 2013david
Going to an airport at any time is an enjoyable experience for me. I have spent countless hours just watching planes take off and land. I am even cool with just sitting at home watching videos, looking at pictures, and even reading about planes. In fact, just tonight instead of storytime with my son before bed, we watched videos of the F-35, F-16, and AC-130. A much better use of time in my opinion.
But, when the opportunity does arise for a special event at an airport, it is important to take advantage of it. One such event will be taking place this coming Saturday at Paine Field in Everett, WA.
The Paine Field Aviation Day will be taking place May 18th from 9am-5pm. Paine Field is best known for being the home of the Boeing factory where they build 747, 767, 777, and 787 aircraft, but this Saturday the focus will be on the general aviation side of the house. Here is a list of what to expect from the Paine Field Aviation Day Website:
- All day Family Friendly Event
- Average number of attendees 5,000 – 8,000
- Annual Spring event has been occurring for over seventeen years in May
- Aircraft from both the Flying Heritage Collection and Historic Flight Foundation fly throughout the day
- Access to hundreds of vintage, warbirds, and new aircraft on display
- Local Food and Beverage Vendors
- Firefighters’ Fly Day 5k Run
- Burn Center Charity Pancake Breakfast at the Paine Field Fire Department
- Free Young Eagles introductory flights for kids ages 8-17 (seating limited)
- Car collection and fire engine displays
- Local non-profit organizations information booths
- Access to the Flying Heritage Collection and Historic Flight Foundation collections
- Free parking and shuttles
- Seattle Seafair Pirates and Moby Duck
- Kid Zone with bouncy houses, face painting, games and more
- Take a flight, meet the pilots, see one-of-a kind aircraft, talk with the flight schools, enjoy some great food, and watch the thrilling flying demonstrations – all this and more!
From what I gather this is not just a typical airshow, but is really designed to get people excited about aviation. I don’t know if you noticed in the list of events there, but it mentioned free introductory flights for kids ages 8-17. That is exactly the kind of opportunity that can spark a long career in aviation.
Admission is only $10 for adults, and is free for anyone under 17, which is hard to beat. There will be all kinds of displays and booths for adults and kids. Even if you aren’t a hardcore aviation nut like me, there will be lots of science stuff for kids, and it should just be an all around amazing event.
If you are able to go, leave a comment below and let me know how you enjoyed it. You never know when something like this may turn into your new favorite hobby.Tags: B-25 Bomber • Firefighter's Fly Day 5k Run • Flying Heritage Collection • Free Intro Flight • Historic Flight Foundation • Paine Field Aviation Day • Seattle Seafair Pirates • Young Eagles
May 11, 2013david
This last week there has been an awesome series of blog posts from incredible writers who shared their stories about how they got into flying. It has been an inspiring series of posts that only further deepens my love of aviation. You would think that after hearing stories from all different people over and over it would get old, but hearing about other people’s passion never gets old, especially when you share that passion.
I don’t have near the story that these amazing people do, but reading their story gets me excited about where my story will go. None of them had any idea where flying would take them, but it has been an adventure for every single one of them. Flying is one of those unique areas that gives you experiences and adventures that you just won’t have anywhere else.
No one talks about going down to the hospital to watch a doctor give physicals, or down to the courthouse to watch a trial, but almost everyone has a memory of going to an airshow, or of the very first time they flew somewhere in a plane. Nothing can quite compare to the thrill of flying in any type of aircraft.
I strongly encourage you to go and check out each of the posts from these people as they will fan the aviation flame inside of you. Even if you aren’t an avgeek, it is hard not to be inspired by each of their stories. Click on each of their names to read their story.
Karlene Petitt (@KarlenePetitt) is an airline pilot that was motivated to pursue flying because she was told that she couldn’t. Her’s is an inspiring story of overcoming the odds when everyone else says it is impossible.
Eric Auxier (@capnaux) is also an airline pilot flying the Airbus A320. His flying started with a hang glider and eventually moved on to bush flying before he got to the airlines. I love how he refers to having a long-term love affair to “Fifi”, the Airbus A320.
Ron Rapp (@RonRapp1) didn’t get bit by the aviation bug until he was a little older, but after he got started, he never really slowed down. He has quite the diverse list of aircraft that he has flown which comes as a result of his total commitment to something he loves.
Dan Pimentel (@Av8rdan) was another late bloomer in the aviation world, but he is making up for it now. I have followed Dan on Twitter for awhile, and I am always impressed with his passion for aviation. He is also the organizer of OshBash13 which looks to be quite the event for anyone attending EAA Airventure Oskosh.
Andrew Hartley (@smrtflighttrain) bounced back from tragedy in his life to become a CFI where he helps to train future avgeeks. He shared my favorite quote of the series so far: “… if you love something, it is always worth the risk. Minimize it, manage it, be aware of it; but you can’t give up something you enjoy just because it might kill you. Life is guaranteed to kill you anyway – so enjoy it by doing what you love, what you are passionate about, what your life would be empty for the lack of it. Fly.” Just beautiful.
Brent Owens (@iflyblog) has been flying since he was 15 in a whole assortment of different planes including his RV-8 that he built himself. He has amassed over 10,000 hours, and was the brains behind this blogging in formation idea. His story reminds me that if you really love aviation then it almost doesn’t matter where you end up because all that matters is being in the air.Tags: Andrew Hartley • Blogging in Formation • Brent Owens • Dan Pimentel • Eric Auxier • Karlene Petitt • OshBash13 • Pilot Stories • Ron Rapp
May 6, 2013david
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There are a few things that I have become completely obsessed with recently in aviation. One of the biggest ones is the development of UAVs. There are so many amazing new technologies and new applications that we haven’t even considered yet. How about using them on aircraft carriers?
It is hard enough for a pilot in the seat to land on a carrier, so how good will a computer do? Only time will tell, but the Navy is getting one step closer.
Northrop Grumman has been working with the Navy on developing the X-47B, an Unmanned Carrier Air System Demonstration (UCAS-D). The first flight took place a little over two years ago on land, and then over this last weekend it performed its first arrested landing, also on land. According to NavalDrones.com this is leading up to carrier flight tests that are scheduled to start later this month on the USS George H. W. Bush.
NavalDrones.com has a great collection of videos of the X-47B that follow its development from the beginning.
It will be interesting to continue to follow the development of this and other carrier-borne systems.Tags: Navy Drones • Northrop Grumman • UAS • UAV • UAV Carrier Landing • UAV Videos • UCAS-D • Unmanned Carrier Air System Demonstration • USS George H. W. Bush • X-47B • X-47B Arrested Landing Video
May 5, 2013david
We avgeeks are a funny group of people. We take great pleasure in seeing, or even talking about planes. They don’t have to be rare planes, though that is fun. They just have to have wings, an engine, and a cockpit. Come to think about it, they don’t have to have any of that, they just have to fly in some way shape or form, or at least used to fly, or were intended to fly. According to my wife, it is crazy to sit around for five hours in cold, drizzly, Seattle weather, just to see a plane take off, but that is just the price of admission for an avgeek.
When I was planning my trip to Paine Field I had only two aircraft that I was really dying to see fly, the 787, and the Dreamlifter. Trouble was, when I left home the 787 was grounded, which meant the factory had slowed a little and the Dreamlifters didn’t need to be quite as busy. But even if I didn’t see those, I would be happy just relaxing and checking out some planes.
When I got to the field on my first day I saw a Dreamlifter for the very first time in person, parked on the ramp in all of its hugeness. For those unfamiliar with the Dreamlifter, it is a retrofitted 747 that was designed to carry parts for the 787. It kind of looks like a 747 marshmallow that got put in a microwave and blown up throughout the fuselage. It looks weird and awesome all at the same time.
I kept watching Flight Aware throughout the week hoping to see one actually land or take off, but to no avail. On my last day there I looked at the schedule before leaving home and there was one on the schedule for that afternoon. I didn’t really get my hopes up as there had been many on the schedule, none of which I had actually seen fly. I went anyways, as it was my last day and I just wanted to see planes.
As it turned out there wasn’t much of anything flying that day other than a few little GA aircraft, but it was still nice to be at the airport and just read my book. Right as I was about to leave my new friend from earlier in the week showed up so I decided to stay for a little while and chat with him. While chatting we were joined by another avgeek who can also be found on Twitter: @pilot_ngb. Once again it was awesome to meet someone who loved planes as much as me.
Just as I was about to leave, again, the lights on the Dreamlifter came on. Was I actually going to see it fly right before I was going to leave. Sure enough the tug pushed the plane back and it started to taxi out. Our new friend pulled out his radio and we heard that they would be taxiing down to the other end to take off. Once we saw the plane make the turn South on the taxiway we jumped in our cars and sped off to the windsock to get a better view.
We made it just in time to watch the Dreamlifter taxi by, and then line up on the runway. Then I finally got to see this:
I got to fly on a 747 once about 12 years ago, and it was incredible. However, standing next to the runway about 200 feet away from it taking off was even more incredible. I honestly don’t think I can put into words how much I loved it. It was the perfect ending to my week, and well worth the five-hour wait.
There are a few big things that I took away from my week at Paine Field.
- I need to get a better camera so I can take better pictures.
- It doesn’t matter if planes are old or young, I love them all.
- As awesome as the planes are, and as much as I love the airport, the people are what truly make aviation special. It is a unique bond that you can’t find in many places.
I am so grateful for the people who I met on my trip, and I look forward to having even more such experiences in the years ahead. If we ever happen to be in the same neighborhood, hit me up and I would love to talk planes while watching them, or waiting for them to show up.
May 4, 2013david
EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif., May 3, 2013 – A Boeing [NYSE: BA] X-51A WaveRider unmanned hypersonic vehicle achieved the longest air-breathing, scramjet-powered hypersonic flight in history May 1, flying for three and a half minutes on scramjet power at a top speed of Mach 5.1. The vehicle flew for a total time of more than six minutes.
“This demonstration of a practical hypersonic scramjet engine is a historic achievement that has been years in the making,” said Darryl Davis, president, Boeing Phantom Works. “This test proves the technology has matured to the point that it opens the door to practical applications, such as advanced defense systems and more cost-effective access to space.”
A U.S. Air Force B-52H Stratofortress from Edwards Air Force Base released the X-51A from 50,000 feet above the Point Mugu Naval Air Warfare Center Sea Range at 10:55 a.m. Pacific time. After the B-52 released the X-51A, a solid rocket booster accelerated the vehicle to about Mach 4.8 before the booster and a connecting interstage were jettisoned. The vehicle reached Mach 5.1 powered by its supersonic combustion scramjet engine, which burned all its JP-7 jet fuel. The X-51A made a controlled dive into the Pacific Ocean at the conclusion of its mission. The test fulfilled all mission objectives.
The flight was the fourth X-51A test flight completed for the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory. It exceeded the previous record set by the program in 2010.
The X-51A program is a collaborative effort of the Air Force Research Laboratory and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, with industry partners Boeing and Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne. Boeing performed program management, design and integration in Huntington Beach, Calif.
A unit of The Boeing Company, Boeing Defense, Space & Security is one of the world’s largest defense, space and security businesses specializing in innovative and capabilities-driven customer solutions, and the world’s largest and most versatile manufacturer of military aircraft. Headquartered in St. Louis, Boeing Defense, Space & Security is a $33 billion business with 59,000 employees worldwide. Follow us on Twitter: @BoeingDefense.Tags: Boeing Phantom Works • Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency • Hypersonic Flight • Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne • Supersonic Combustion Scramjet • Unmanned Hyoersonic Vehicle • US Air Force Research Laboratory • X-51A WaveRider