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February 22 in Aviation History

Aviation Guy
February 22 in Aviation History

On this day in aviation history we celebrate the 30th anniversary of the first flight of what is now one of the most iconic airliners in aviation history.  On February 22, 1987, the Airbus A320 took to the skies for the very first time.  The A320 was developed as a direct competitor for the wildly successful Boeing 737 and McDonnel Douglas DC-9.  The plan from the very beginning was to have a multiple variant family of aircraft to challenge in this highly competitive market, which would be realized in the later development of the A321, A319, and A318.

The A320 was the first airliner to utilize fly-by-wire technology meaning the aircraft controls would be manipulated electronically rather than by cables, pulleys, or hydraulic systems.  It also utilizes a side joystick control as opposed to the traditional yoke seen on other aircraft.

In recent years, the A320 has found increased efficiency through the offering of a new engine option, or NEO, as well as blended winglets known as sharklets, which have also been retrofitted on older aircraft.

Apparently February 22 is a great day for an aircraft to take its first flight as the A320 shares the date of its maiden voyage with the McDonnell Douglas MD-90 in 1993, the Sukhoi Su-25 in 1975, the Convair R3Y Tradewind in 1954, and the de Havilland DH.60 Moth in 1925.  This was also the date of the launch of OPS 5111, a name you may not recognize but would now find it hard to live without.  OPS 5111, also known as NAVSTAR-1, was the first satellite launched as part of the Global Positioning System on February 22, 1978


February 21, 2018 I Written By

I'm Dave and I am a proud Avgeek. It goes way beyond liking airplanes. It is a passion that cannot be subdued.

Amazing New Technology in Aircraft Construction

Planes in and off themselves are amazing feats of technology, but today I saw a couple of different articles about some of the new technology going into the planes at Boeing and Airbus.

The new technology that Boeing is supporting is a new super-light metal that is also super strong.  Just look at the video below and tell me it is not awesome.

This metal is so light it can balance on top of a dandelion.

Posted by The Boeing Store on Friday, September 4, 2015


Airbus is continuing to innovate off of their A350 XWB in building their new A330neo.  They are utilizing materials technology from the innovative A350 XWB along with titanium to build lighter and stronger wing boxes and engine pylons.

It is pretty incredible all of the advancements that continue to be made in aviation.  What will be really fun to see is what the next majorly disruptive technology will be.  What do you think we may see in the near future? distant future?

September 7, 2015 I Written By

I'm Dave and I am a proud Avgeek. It goes way beyond liking airplanes. It is a passion that cannot be subdued.

Airbus A350: MinutePhysics Shows How it’s Made in 5 Minutes

If you are not familiar with MinutePhysics then I highly suggest you set aside an hour or two to enjoy some simplified science at its finest.  He does a great job of taking incredibly complex things and simplifying them for those people who want to be a little more educated, but not Sheldon from The Big Band Theory.

In this edition, Henry Reich takes a look at the brand spanking new Airbus A350 which had its first delivery today.  While five minutes is not near enough time to show everything I think he does a pretty fantastic job of describing the overall process.  Personally I am just incredibly jealous of the tours that he got.  I think most of us Avgeeks would give body parts to get the access he did.

Until that day comes enjoy the physics lesson.  The second video was released by Airbus and shows more of the tours themselves.



December 22, 2014 I Written By

I'm Dave and I am a proud Avgeek. It goes way beyond liking airplanes. It is a passion that cannot be subdued.

How Can Bionics Research Improve Aircraft Design?

When I was younger I was sure I would become an engineer just like my grandpa and my older brother.  I loved science and math, and did quite well which seemed like a perfect fit.  However, it just wasn’t meant to be, and the more stories I read like this one from Airbus just reaffirms to me that I made a wise choice in leaving the engineering to other people.

The article itself is about how Airbus has created a company wide network for their bionic projects to ensure that repetitive work isn’t being done and that the greatest minds are working together to create the best results.  Good for them.

The really cool part of the article is when they talk about some of the incredible technology they have already developed.  One project is working to copy the structure of a lily to make stronger support structures for aircraft parts.  I don’t think most of us look to plants for inspiration on building aircraft parts, but maybe that is why we aren’t engineers.

The other huge technology that is making news not only in the aviation industry but in all kinds of industries is the use of 3-D printing to save weight and reduce costs in manufacturing.  This technology makes it possible to manufacture parts in ways that simply were not possible in the past.  We truly are in an exciting period for aircraft design and manufacturing.

All of these technologies are really starting to come together and complement each other in the development of safer and more efficient aircraft.  As sad as it is to see aircraft like the 747 start to fall in favor, it is pretty exciting to think about what the future may hold.  In reality, most of us probably have no idea what the not to distant future may hold when it comes to new aircraft development.

November 22, 2014 I Written By

I'm Dave and I am a proud Avgeek. It goes way beyond liking airplanes. It is a passion that cannot be subdued.

Airbus’ Fly Your Ideas Competition Inspiring Young Minds

Fly your ideasThis is not the first time that I have written about the Fly Your Ideas competition put on by Airbus, but I feel that it bears repeating as many times as they put forward such an inspiring competition.

We live in a world where innovation is happening at all times, and some of the greatest innovators are young people.  With any luck, one of these ideas may be the next disruptive technology in aviation.

In Round 1, during which teams submit their ideas, Airbus will continue accepting registrations until 1 December.

You can take a look at previous entries in some of my previous posts, including a winner or two.  Suffice it to say that I am a huge supporter of any innovation, especially ones that are inspired by young minds that will carry us into the future.

Fly Your Ideas Competition Finalists

Airbus Changing the Future of Aviation

Full contest information can be found at:

Here are images of the finalists from the last competition:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

November 13, 2014 I Written By

I'm Dave and I am a proud Avgeek. It goes way beyond liking airplanes. It is a passion that cannot be subdued.

Changing the Stereotypes of Aviation

Stereotypes are the simple reality of life.  While they often have a negative connotation, that is not necessarily the case.  There are good and bad stereotypes and there is also a certain level of truth to all stereotypes whether they are positive or not.

One of the biggest things that is killing the aviation industry as a whole are the stereotypes that many people associate with the world of flying.  One of the most common stereotypes that gets talked about regularly is that you have to be a rich person to fly on anything other than an airliner.  While money can be restrictive to the aspiring aviator, there are some great references out there, most notably to me being Brent Owens, the Fixed Wing Buddha, for ways to fly as inexpensively as possible.

Personally, I think there are two much bigger stereotypes that we must change if we want to see a resurgence in the industry.

The first is that aviation is only for boys.  While there was a time that women in aviation were either flight attendants or travel agents, that just isn’t the case anymore.  I am well aware of the fact that there are substantially more men in aviation than women, but there are some serious powerhouses out there that are doing their part to change that.

One of the biggest voices, and more important examples, is Karlene Petitt.  I don’t have the space to list all of her accolades, but the short list includes being type rated in just about any aircraft that starts with B7xx, incredible author (you should check out her books), grandma, and just because she had too much spare time, doctoral student.  We need more incredible women like this that have not only made it to the top of the industry, but are actively promoting it.

We also need more of the major players in the industry to actively pursue and encourage women like Airbus recently did with their “Girls for the Future of Aeronautics” event at their Toulouse factory.  Not only do events like this actively encourage women to pursue careers in aviation, it shows them how many different careers there are in aviation which is the second major stereotype that we must change.

Tell someone that you work in aviation, and 99 times out of 100 their next question will be, “Are you a pilot?”  Not that there is anything wrong with that, I am trying to become a pilot myself, but pilots make up only a small percentage of the world of aviation.  Even in the Air Force there are tons of jobs that are not done by pilots.

There are lots of different jobs with airlines which are relatively well-known, but there are also tons of opportunities at FBOs that are relatively easily attained.  There are tons of jobs at airports that get entirely overlooked by the vast majority of the flying public.  There are jobs for aeronautical engineers, mechanical engineers, public relations, social media, and even a few jobs left for navigators.  However, we are a dying breed, which really just makes us more special.

The point I am trying to make is that aviation used to be an exciting environment that attracted the best of the best and that almost everyone dreamed about in some way, but somewhere along the way aviation lost some of that appeal.  We need to start attracting those people who don’t want to be pilots but would love to work around airplanes.

There is a growing community of avgeeks brought together by the wonder of social media, but these people would work in aviation for free.  We need to find the closet avgeeks and bring them into the fold where their passion can infect others and bring aviation into the next generation.

We are on the precipice of a major change in aviation, I can just feel it.  We really just need each member of the aviation community to bring along a friend and the industry will be changed forever.  Who knows, that friend you bring along may be the next Wright, Earhart, Lindbergh, or Armstrong.  Or they may just be a guy with a PPL and a Piper Cub, either way we will be one step closer to changing the stereotypes that are holding us back from incredible growth.

October 19, 2014 I Written By

I'm Dave and I am a proud Avgeek. It goes way beyond liking airplanes. It is a passion that cannot be subdued.

Airbus and MIT Teaming Up to Make Aircraft Construction Lighter and Cheaper

It has been a pretty exciting couple of days for me.  Despite not flying, which is always sad, I have been having some amazing discussions with friends, both online and offline about helping to boost the pilot population, and making that dream more attainable for everyone.  If you haven’t been following the comments on my post about Becoming a Pilot on a Budget, I would highly encourage you to do so because it has gotten me even more excited about flying than usual.  Some people just have amazing ideas.

One of the predominant topics of discussion these last few days has been about the cost of aircraft as that leads to many of the high costs of flying.  One of the great suggestions in the comments from the post above has been about restoring an older aircraft which is one of the things I am so excited about.  However, that may not be an option for a lot of people who either don’t have the time, talents, or desire to do something like that.

For other people maybe a light sport aircraft would be a solution as they are significantly cheaper than their larger counterparts.  There are some pretty sweet aircraft out there if you do a little searching.  Even if you don’t want to, I intend to do more in the coming weeks and share what I find.  The downside with many of these is they are quite small and go relatively slow.

This is a small example of digital material technology.

This is a small example of digital material technology.

So what does any of this have to do with Airbus and MIT, because if you can’t afford a Cessna 172 you probably can’t afford a tire off of an A380.  Airbus and MIT are teaming up to explore the use of digital material technology in aircraft.  In short, digital material technology is based on the idea that a complex structure can be built utilizing a number of simpler components.

In the press release they describe this method as something akin to playing with Legos.  Not only is the structure easier to assemble and disassemble, but it is also extremely durable and lightweight.  All of these attributes could lead to changes in the way that aircraft big and small are manufactured.

So not only would aircraft be lighter, meaning they need less fuel, but they could be manufactured more inexpensively.  A lower initial cost means more people would be able to afford it as well as lower insurance rates.

Now don’t get me wrong, I am not under the delusion that all of a sudden we will be able to buy a single-engine four-seat aircraft for $50,000 that only burns two gallons per hour, but any reduction in cost is a step in the right direction.  Help from the manufacturers is useful, but if we are really going to change the aviation industry and get more people flying, it will have to come from each of us.  Expect to see a lot of posts on this topic in the coming weeks and months.

December 5, 2013 I Written By

I'm Dave and I am a proud Avgeek. It goes way beyond liking airplanes. It is a passion that cannot be subdued.

Airbus Encouraging Aviation Innovation with Their Fly Your Ideas Challenge Finalists

The five Airbus finalists.

The five Airbus finalists.

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 13, 2013 I Written By

I'm Dave and I am a proud Avgeek. It goes way beyond liking airplanes. It is a passion that cannot be subdued.

Asia-Pacific Region to Lead the Way in Aircraft Marketplace Future

The Asia-Pacific region is the fastest growing region in the world when it comes to aviation.  Considering that it contains about half of the world’s population that is likely not much of a surprise to anyone.  Airbus recently released a statement outlining what their projections are for the next 20 years, and the numbers are somewhat staggering.

Airbus estimates 10,000 new aircraft including 3,800 widebodies over the next 20 years.  Those are just incredible numbers, that quite simply blow me away.  Airbus and Boeing will clearly be the major players in these markets, but with that many aircraft to be built and sold other companies will likely fill in the gaps.

The above statement talked a lot about larger aircraft, but as time progresses and the region matures I think the regional type aircraft will become increasingly important.  Much the way the regional carriers have become essential parts of air service in the US, these will become essential to really ingraining flying into the culture of these rapidly developing countries.

I recently saw a comment saying that the aviation industry was being attacked by China and India, but I completely disagree.  I think it is awesome for the industry that these countries are becoming larger players.  There is just so much potential and opportunity there that to think that it could possibly be a bad thing makes no sense to me.  We should all want the industry to grow and develop.

The US has long been the world leader in aviation, and will remain such for the foreseeable future.  That being said, we need to embrace that role, and do our part to improve aviation globally.  We need to be the leader in new ATC technology.  We need to not get so bogged down in regulations and red tape that we lose the wonder that has always made aviation so amazing.  We need to bring the wonder of flight to as many people as we possibly can.

I am curious what other people think about the aviation boom in the Asia-Pacific Region.  What do you see as the benefits of this growth?  What are some of the challenges or difficulties that it will present?  Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.

February 25, 2013 I Written By

I'm Dave and I am a proud Avgeek. It goes way beyond liking airplanes. It is a passion that cannot be subdued.

Airbus Building the Aviation Industry Through Education at the Airbus Lycée

Education is a huge part of my life.  It was ingrained into my head at a very early age that getting a good education is essential to success in life.  As I have grown older I have come  to learn that education has way more faces than just going to school where a teacher stands in front of a class and gives lessons.

One of my favorite recent lessons comes from Mark Cuban.  Admittedly, I have become enthralled by the things he says and writes since seeing him on the ABC show Shark Tank because he is always very real.  There are two blog pasts that he did in particular that struck a chord with me.  The first is entitled How to Get Rich, and the second is SharkTank & Success & Motivation.  What stuck out to me in these posts was the role that education played in his success.

He started out like many people with a Bachelor’s degree, but ultimately most of his education came from sources other than a traditional school.  He spent countless hours reading manuals, and books, and essentially anything that he could find that would help him better understand the things he was doing.  He saw every job he had as being paid to learn as opposed to paying to go to school.  He continues to value information as the thing that sets people apart.  The fact is that the information is out there, it is just a matter of whether or not we are willing to pursue it.

So what does any of this have to do with aviation, Airbus, and the Airbus Lycée?  Let me explain.

For over 60 years now the Airbus Lycée has been a Company Technical College, and is apparently one of the few such establishments that still exist in France.  Their program has four different focuses: Industrial Metalwork Technician; Machining Technician; Avionics Mechanic; Airframe Systems Mechanic.  This degree program would appear to be similar to many other aeronautical programs, but there is a distinct difference that I think is largely missing with most schools, especially in the US.

The first two years of this three year program are academic like most schools, but the third year is done under an apprentice status allowing the students to gain more practical knowledge as opposed to just book knowledge.  This apprentice year is invaluable when it comes to applying knowledge in a real world environment.  Experience is one of the biggest hurdles for students coming out of college, but this program provides both an education and experience.

Perhaps even more valuable is that the program takes place in the Airbus Saint-Eloi plant.  This allows students to interact with professionals from day one, gaining precious understanding of how the concepts they are learning are actually being used.  By sharing the same facilities, they are also able to gain an understanding of the corporate culture, and how they fit into it.

We need more education like this.  It is important to have a baseline understanding built from academics, but is is even more important to understand how those concepts are applied.  Reading about how a turbine engine works is a nice start, but actually opening up an engine and seeing how the parts fit together to make a device that is capable of creating enough thrust to lift a massive plane into the sky is an even higher level of understanding.

Airbus is doing themselves, and the industry as a whole, a great service by preparing these students for a career in aviation.  They are providing not only the book knowledge but the practical knowledge that can be so much harder to obtain.  It is this practical knowledge that truly sets people like Mark Cuban apart.  For those who are willing to go the extra mile and pursue this type of education, the rewards will be dramatically greater than for those who are simply pursuing a piece of paper after four years and tens of thousands of dollars.

For those fortunate enough to benefit from the Airbus Lycée they are holding their annual Open Day February 16th to explain their program and what they have to offer.

February 10, 2013 I Written By

I'm Dave and I am a proud Avgeek. It goes way beyond liking airplanes. It is a passion that cannot be subdued.