The Anonymous Widower

Another Problem For The Boeing 737 MAX 8?

This article on the BBC is entitled Russia Bird Strike: Plane Crash-Lands After Hitting Gulls.

The aircraft involved in the accident was an Airbus A321-211, which was flying Ural Airlines Flight 178.

This model of Airbus 311 has CFM56 engines.

So what has that got to do with the Boeing 737 MAX 8?

|Especially as the Boeing aircraft is powered by the successor to the CFM56, the LEAP engine.

This engine is also offered on the latest baby Airbus; the A320neo.

As the Ural Airlines crash was the second bird strike that brought down a baby Airbus after US Airways Flight 1549, I wouldn’t be surprised to see see  certification authorities, making sure that this type of aircraft can land safely a double engine failure., providing the plane has enough height.

Airbus seems to have proven, that good airmanship can handle an Airbus A320, when it is flying as a glider.

Given the questioned  nature of the design of the computerised controls in a Boeing 737 MAX, the authorities might take a lot of convincing, that these aircraft can be handled safely in similar circumstances.

I think it should also be born in mind, that although the pilot of US Airways Flight 1549i; Chesley Sullenberger was very experienced, the two Russian pilots were much less so, but were still able to carry out a successful emergency landing without any fire and only comparatively minor injuries to those on board.

If you think I’m being alarmist about bird strikes, read the Wikipedia entry for bird strike.

This is a paragraph.

The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) reported 65,139 bird strikes for 2011–14, and the Federal Aviation Authority counted 177,269 wildlife strike reports on civil aircraft between 1990 and 2015, growing 38% in 7 years from 2009 to 2015. Birds accounted for 97%.

We must not get complacent!

I hope that ICAO, the FAA and other authorities are collecting the data on bird strikes in a comprehensive manner and thoroughly analysing it, so that airports with serious problems are identified, so that they can improve their countermeasures.

 

 

August 17, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

Climate Change ‘May Curb Growth In UK Flying’

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on the BBC.

This is an extract.

The advisory Committee on Climate Change (CCC) recently said the UK’s planned increase in aviation would need to be curbed to restrict CO2.

Now a senior civil servant has told a green group that means ministers may have to review aviation strategy.

The green group now feels that Parliament should reconsider Heathrow expansion.

It seems a compulsive argument.

My belief, is that if we restrict flying, that other countries like Chjina, India, Russia and the United States won’t so we’ll be the loser in terms of tourism and jobs making products for export, as we’ll be increasingly isolated.

But we must make the carbon footprint of flying as small as possible.

Things we should do include.

Make Airside At All Airports Carbon Free

Some airports are going this way by using electric vehicles on the air-side.

It is most certainly possible and even battery electric tugs, that can more the largest aircraft are becoming available.

I also believe that doing this will be in an advantage to an airport, as where travellers have a choice, they may be more likely to use a low-carbon airport.

Calculate And Publish Carbon Footprints For All Airports

Included would be the carbon-dioxide and other emissions, generated by the following.

  • Air-side vehicles
  • Travellers going to and from the airport
  • Workers going to and from the airport
  • Airport and aircraft supplies going to the airport
  • Waste coming from the airport.

I have not considered the aircraft deliberately.

Provide All Airports With A Rail Link

It is a scandal that some airports do not have a rail link to their nearest towns and cities, so travellers often have to drive.

The technology now exists to build a train, tram or tram-train link to most of those airports that lack a decent low-carbon link.

Complete High Speed Two

High Speed Two must be completed to Birmingham, Liverpool, Manchester, Nottingham, Sheffield and Leeds

Links to lines like the East and West Coast Main Lines must also be added, so that journey times are reduced and capacity is increased from London and Southern England to Northern England and Scotland.

Extend Crossrail To Ebbsfleet For Trains To And From Europe

Crossrail’s big design fault is that it doesn’t serve trains to and from Europe.

Extending Crossrail to Ebbsfleet will make it easier for those travelling between the Greater South-East of England and the Near Continent to use a direct train.

More Cross-Channel Train Services

I have taken Eurostar to Amsterdam three times and the four-hour journey is a much more pleasant and less stressful experience, than the flight of a  shorter duration.

Currently, Eurostar are looking at services between London and Bordeaux, Geneva, Colgne and Frankfurt.

These are probably the only current services that would be viable, but if they are successful, I can see others added to the list.

Should Extra Platforms Be Built At Ebbsfleet?

St. Pancras International station has six International platforms and a departure hall that gets very crowded at times.

I believe that as more services are added between St. Pancras and the Continent, that there will come a time in the next ten years, where serious expansion will be needed.

Would it be easier to add extra capacity at Ebbsfleet?

Travellers would use an extended Crossrail for connecting journeys.

Build A Rail Bridge To Northern Ireland And Link It To The West Coast Main Line

After High Speed Two opens to Crewe, this would enable a rail journey between London and Belfast in four hours, with Dublin in five.

Turn-Up-And-Go Services On All High Speed Lines

At the present time, most rail journeys have to be planned in advance.

But we now live in an I-Want-It-Now society!

Say a client phones up from Burnley with a problem with your product that needs a visit, they would often expect you to get there as soon as possible.

At the present time you would drive.

But once High Speed Two is running to Preston from Euston, it would surely be quicker to use the train.

If trains were four trains per hour (tph) to Preston and ticketing was as simple as London’s current contactless system, you might drop everything and go immediately.

If this type of service were to be made available on High Speed Two, I can’t see any reason, why it should not be available on the UK’s other high speed routes.

  • London to York, Newcastle and Edinburgh on the East Coast Main Line.
  • London to Leeds on the East Coast Main Line.
  • London to Bristol and Cardiff on the Great Western Main Line.
  • London to Exeter, Plymouth and Penzance on the Great Western Main Line.
  • London to Leicester, Derby, Nottingham and Sheffield on the Midland Main Line
  • London to Paris and Brussels via the Channel Tunnel.
  • Liverpool to Manchester, Leeds, York and Newcastle on Northern Powerhouse Rail.
  • Liverpool to Manchester, Sheffield, Doncaster and Hull on Northern Powerhouse Rail.

I am using the definition that a high speed line is one capable of running st a speed of at least 125 mph for much of the time.

I also think that some other lines will be upgraded to 100 mph-plus lines and given four tph and higher operation speeds.

  • London to Exeter via Newbury.
  • London to Exeter via Basingstoke
  • London to Portsmouth on the Portsmouth Direct Line.
  • London to Southampton and Bournemiuth
  • London to Chester and Holyhead on the West Coast Main Line and the North Wales Main Line.
  • London to Banbury, Warwick and Birmingham on the Chiltern Main Line.
  • London to Kings Lynn on the East Coast Main Line.
  • London to Colchester, Ipswich and Norwich on the Great Eastern Main Line
  • Ashford to Brighton, Portsmouth, Southampton and Bournemouth on the East and West Coastways.
  • Peterborough to Lincoln and Doncaster on the Great Northern Great Eastern Joint Line

The drive to faster services will be enabled by the following.

  • The availability of affordable 125 mph bi-mode trains from manufacturers like Bombardier, Hitachi, Stadler,and others.
  • Trains capable of fast stops at stations.
  • Relaying of tracks for higher speeds.
  • Removal of historic bottlenecks.
  • Digital signalling throughout the country.

As an example, Greater Anglia expect their new Class 745 trains to go between London and Norwich in ninety minutes. I feel these trains could be capable of higher speed and I would expect ten minutes to be shaved off this route by running faster North of Colchester.

Step-Free Access At All Stations

This must encourage more travellers.

Intelligent Car Parking For Electric Cars

At a station car park, you would leave your electric car plugged in to the parking space.

  • You will have told the car by means of an app or a voice recognition system, when you will be returning and how much charge you want in the car at that time.
  • Whilst you are away, your car’s battery will become part of the UK’s energy storage, just as it does at home during the night.
  • If the wind and sun are behaving, your car’s battery like millions of others will be used to store excess power.
  • In times of need, the grid will borrow your power, but still ensuring you have enough power for your next journey.

Get the system right and I believe that lending of your energy storage will reduce the cost of parking.

Integrated Rail, Road And Air Ticketing

Let’s say for an example you want to go from Chelmsford in England to Orleans in France. Currently, you have to look up rail and air journeys on separate web sites. But suppose a site said it would be xx pounds and yy hours by rail,road or air or a combination of any two and the journey would create cc kilos of carbon dioxide, it would surely be easiest to book what is best for you, your wallet and your ecological conscience.

Always Travel Like James Cameron

James Cameron, the illustrious BBC journalist, said that you should make two piles of the clothes you are taking on a trip, with half your trousers, shirts, jumpers etc in each pile. Then pack them in separate cases and leave one behind. He also said you should work out how much money you will need and double it.

These days, I travel very light and haven’t put anything in the hold of an aircraft for nearly ten years. My late wife; C was the same and on a week’s trip to say Italy we only needed one small case between us, that was below the Ryanair cabin baggage limit at the time.

I see people flying with cases, that are big enough for a small person to live in.

If I was in charge of the world, I would impose an excessive baggage tax.

Duty-Free Should Be Banned From Flights

I never buy anything from duty-free, except perhaps a very small present for my granddaughter, that fits in a jacket pocket.

If all passengers on a two hundred seat aircraft bought a litre bottle of gin on their return flight from Spain, that adds a fifth of a tonne to the payload.

  • How much extra carbon dioxide and other pollutants are produced by the pointless benefit of duty-free?
  • There are also other reasons that duty-free should be banned. For a start, if passengers have to be evacuated from an aircraft, they tend to create havoc by recovering their duty-free.
  • If there were no duty-free, the space saved could be used for more worthwhile purposes.

So let’s ban this silly practice!

It would be better to buy it on entry to a country!

An Interim Conclusion

We could do lots more things like this to reduce the carbon footprints of airports and travel to and from the airport. I will add more in the future.

My choice of actions are designed to do the following.

  • Persuade travellers to use rail instead of flying for shorter journeys.
  • Get to and from the airport in a low-carbon manner.
  • Reduce the cost of shorter distance travel and getting to and from the airport.
  • Nudge travellers to prepare themselves for flying, such that the planes use less fuel.

I obviously haven’t said anything about the actual flying.

Low-Carbon Flying

These are a few thoughts.

Electric Aircraft

To get any aircraft into the air needs a lot of power. People, who say that electric aircraft are possible, are probably living in a fantasy world, as the batteries will add more weight to the aircraft, that would mean more energy would be needed to get the plane into the air.

Airliners Must Be Well-Designed Lightweight Structures

All sailplanes are built out of lightweight plastic or carbon fibre, as flying without an engine is even more difficult.

This section called Design, is from the Wikipedia entry for the Airbus A320 aircraft.

The Airbus A320 family are narrow-body (single-aisle) aircraft with a retractable tricycle landing gear and are powered by two wing pylon-mounted turbofan engines. After the oil price rises of the 1970s, Airbus needed to minimise the trip fuel costs of the A320. To that end, it adopted composite primary structures, centre-of-gravity control using fuel, glass cockpit (EFIS) and a two-crew flight deck.

Airbus claimed the 737-300 burns 35% more fuel and has a 16% higher operating cost per seat than the V2500-powered A320.[87] A 150-seat A320 burns 11,608 kg (25,591 lb) of jet fuel over 2,151 nmi (3,984 km) (between Los Angeles and New York City), or 2.43 L/100 km (97 mpg‑US) per seat with a 0.8 kg/L fuel.[88] Its wing is long and thin, offering better aerodynamic efficiency because of the higher aspect ratio than the competing 737 and MD-80.

Note how much more fuel-efficient the early A320 was compared to the best 737 at the time.

Quite frankly, the fifty-year-old design of the Boeing 737 is not fit for the modern world and all of these aircraft should be retired.

Boeing’s troubles with the 737 MAX 8 are a symptom of trying to stretch an obsolete design to match the lightweight engineering of Airbus.

In fact Boeing’s management must be totally stupid, as they have the success of the lightweight Boeing 787 staring them in the face.

Lighter Aircraft Mean Less Power And Less Fuel

There is a virtuous circle with aircraft.

  • Make an aircraft lighter and more aerodynamics and it needs less power to get it into the air and keep flying.
  • A less powerful aircraft will need less fuel to fly a given distance.
  • If a plane needs less fuel, it can carry more passengers or freight.

Airbus with their A320 and Boeing with their 787 seem to be going round this circle, and they will get better with each improvement.

Boeing need to get a modern design of smaller aircraft in this virtuous circle, so they can compete.

Old Inefficient Aircraft Must Be Phased Out

Airlines are flying a lot of aircraft like 737s and 747s, that probably make a lot of money, but in terms of carbon dioxide and other pollutants emitted for each passenger-mile are way above average.

All these inefficient aircraft should be retired and replaced as soon as possible.

New Engine Technology

When I was at University in the 1960s, one of the big stories was Rolls-Royce and their development of the RB-211 engine with its carbon-fibre fan blades.. The carbon-fibre fan blades are now history, but the design of the RB-211 lives on in the successful Trent engine.

Note that the Trent can power all versions of the Boeing 787.

Rolls-Royce have succeeded because they have been able to continuously develop their unique three-spool design, which offers a shorter and more efficient engine.

The Wikipedia entry of the Rolls-Royce Trent engine shows the company has developed engines to fit each new aircraft in turn.

There is also a section on Future Development, where this is said.

On 26 February 2014, Rolls-Royce detailed its Trent future developments. The Advance is the first design could be ready from the end of the 2010s and aim to offer at least 20% better fuel burn than the first generation of Trents. Next is the UltraFan, which could be ready for service from 2025, a geared turbofan with a variable pitch fan system, promising at least 25% improvement in fuel burn.

I doubt the rival companies to Rolls-Royce are sitting queitly, twiddling their thumbs. Although being American, they may be following Boeing’s lead on air-frames and hoping that the old technology is good enough.

In my view, if they don’t come up with new more efficient engines, they’ll go the way of the dinosaurs.

Carbon-Emissions Per Passenger-Mile Will Drop

As new and better aircraft are developed, the amount of carbon-emissions and other pollutants will drop per passenger-mile.

But all older polluting airlines will have to be properly retired and not passed on to those third rate carriers; Air Neck End and Air Suicide.

 

Aviation Fuel Should Be Taxed

Aircraft use a lot of jet fuel and it is not taxed on a world-wide basis.

Do Eurostar and LNER pay tax on the electricity they use?

  • So does this give airlines a cost advantage, when offering services on a route like London to Edinburgh, where trains and planes compete.
  • Looking at flying easyJet to Edinburgh tomorrow morning, the flight is about half the rail fare.
  • What would the difference be if easyJet and LNER had the same fuel tax regime?

The airline industry maintains that tax on fuel would make flying too expensive for a lot of travellers.

But they would say that wouldn’t they!

Government Help

In the UK, these routes are some shorter routes, where train and plane can compete.

  • London and Edinburgh
  • London and Glasgow
  • London and Newcastle
  • London and Cornwall

Government can help to create a level playing field.

  • It can create a fair and equal tax regime.
  • It can fund rail improvements, so there are sufficient paths for extra trains.
  • It can fund better links to airports from city centres.
  • It can allow airport expansion if needed.
  • It could make it compulsory for airlines to offer carbon offsetting, when buying a ticket.
  • Could we see Governments banning flights of under four hundred miles?

I suspect that the aviation industry might not like some decisions.

The Eurostar Effect On Shorter Flights

Eurostar have been very successful in attracting passengers on their original routes away from airlines.

Wikipedia says this about their market share in 2007.

n 2007, it achieved record market shares of 71% for London–Paris and 65% for London–Brussels routes.

But I can see a time, when many passengers on flights of about 400 miles or less, will use high speed rail.

In Trains Ordered For 2021 Launch Of ‘High-Quality, Low Fare’ London – Edinburgh Service, I talked about FirstGroup’s new London-Edinburgh service.

  • London to Edinburgh is 400 miles.
  • The service will be run by new trains.
  • The new service will also serve Morpeth, Newcastle and Stevenage.
  • The time between city centres are probably comparable.
  • FirstGroup have said they are targetting low cost airlines.

It will be interesting to see how the low-cost airlines react and perform!

London-Edinburgh And Berlin-Munich Compared

I am comparing these two routes because they are both within a smidgen of four hundred miles.

  • The fastest trains on both routes take around four hours.
  • The UK route has a directnine-car  train every half-hour and this frequency will get higher.
  • The German route has a directsix-car  train every few hours.

In From Berlin To Munich In Four Hours By Train, I describe a trip on the German route.

In the next few years, many countries will follow the lead set by China, France, Italy, Japan and Spain and develop high speed lines between cities a few hundred miles apart.

Even the USA is getting in on the act, although Trump doesn’t give any support. I wonder, if he’s ever been on a train!

What Passengers Will Do!

I say will do, but some are already doing these things.

Take The Train On Shorter Journeys

I have noted that some of my friends, who used to always fly from London to Brussels, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Paris are increasingly taking the train.

As more and more city-pairs have a direct and convenient rail service, passengers will look seriously at it, as an alternative.

But it has to be convenient! I have gone three times to Amsterdam on Eurostar, but I’ve always come back by another route, as customs are not convenient, when returning from the Netherlands.

Fly Direct From Your Local Airport

Several respected web sites say that if you fly direct, rather than change, this is a more environmentally-friendly way to fly.

Passengers Will Choose Their Aircraft Carefully

\safety will be the main reason and I doubt, I would ever fly in a Boeing 737 MAX.

But if say I was flying between London and Boston, I would choose a Boeing 787 over a Boeing 747, as I suspect the older aircraft has a bigger carbon footprint.

Use An Airport With Good Public Transport Connections

Why spend a fortune to park your car at the airport, when you could get there in the same time using a train from a local station?

Carbon Offseting Your Journey

All ways of booking airline tickets must be mandated to offer carbon offsetting for any flights booked.

I would also make it illegal to give frequent flyer points to travellers, who didn’t add carbon offsetting!

I’ve met so many travellers, who consider their frequent flyer points are more important than anything else when they fly.

Conclusion

The aviation industry won’t like it, but with some clever worldwide legislation, flying can be made a lot more environmentally friendly.

 

 

 

 

May 12, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | Leave a comment

737 MAX, Airbus And Aventra

I think that there are parallels between these plains and trains.

The 737 MAX is a conventional fifty-year-old design of aircraft, that has been updated with modern technology through the years.

When Airbus designed their fly-by-wire systems about thirty years ago, they were duplicated with two independent systems, programmed by separate teams. I think that the plane could fly on one system, if the other failed. Ittook time to develop, but no-one questions its reliability today.

The design and some of the things it gets up to, like moving fuel around to balance the aircraft help to increase the efficiency of the aircraft.

Efficiency and low pilot workloads help to sell aircraft.

Boeing is now trying desperately to catch up, but doing this in an ageing design appears to be difficult.

One thing I wonder is that is misloading of cargo a problem in the two 737 MAX crashes.

Supposing there was an imbalance of cargo on an Airbus! Would the plane’s computer realise this and move fuel to conpensate? Boeing must rely on a conventional approach using the flying controls.

Boeing are obviously worried as they have installed a special anti-stall conputer system called MCAS.

So what has this got to do with Bombardier’s Aventra train, that is suffering from software problems causing delays.

The Aventra is a radical design, that rewrites the rules, just like Airbus did. It relies heavily on a sophisticated computer system to control everything and bring a higher level of efficiency.

It will take time to get right, but just as Airbus did all those years ago, I believe they will.

The Aventra will change train design by as much as Airbus have changed airliner design.

March 13, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , | Leave a comment

The Great Electric Air Race Has Begun

The title of this post is the first sentence of this article in The Independent, which is entitled Electric Planes: Could You Be Flying On A Battery-Powered Aircraft By 2027?.

This is the full first paragraph in an article by respected travel writer; Simon Calder.

The great electric air race has begun. Three European industry heavyweights have teamed up against a US startup and Britain’s biggest budget airline to develop the first commercial electric aircraft.

So is such an aircraft feasible?

When you consider that the three European heavyweights are Airbus, Rolls-Royce and Siemens, I suspect that the proposed project is serious.

It should also be said that the companies are not aiming for an all-electric aircraft, but a hybrid plane with a very efficient on-board generator and a two-tonne battery.

The key to success will probably include.

  • Batteries with a very high energy density.
  • A highly-efficient and quiet gas turbine, that generates a lot of energy.
  • Radical air-frame design to take advantage of the technology.

In my view, the batteries will be the key, but making more efficient batteries with high charge densities will also do the following.

  • Improve the range and performance of battery and hybrid road vehicles like buses, cars and trucks.
  • Improve the range and performance of trains and trams.
  • Transform energy storage, so wind and solar power can be stored and used in times of high demand.
  • Allow every house, apartment or office to have its own affordable energy storage.

In all of these applications, the weight of the battery will be less of a problem.

This leads me to the conclusion, that we may see smaller electric plasnes in a few years, but the technology that will make it possible, may well improve other modes of transport so much, that electric planes are never an economic proposition.

It’ll be interesting to see what happens!

I think most travellers and members of the oublic will benefit in some ways.

 

December 3, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

How To Buy Airliners

I found this article entitled Ryanair Orders 175 Boeings, but CEO Wants More Seats, Less Baggage, whilst looking for an article about baggage.

It really does show how Boeing and Airbus are not providing airlines with what they want.

I wonder how long it will be before we are all weighed with our baggage before we go on an airliner. I wouldn’t object, but it would probably make flying just that little bit cheaper.

June 29, 2013 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Do We Sometimes Push Technology Too Far?

I like proven technology, as often some of the things done fifty years or so ago, may not have been very good at the time, but somehow over time they have proved themselves to be reliable and economic.

The classioc is the Inter City 125 train, introduced as a stop-gap in 1976. But it is only one of a number of classic designs, that just never get replaced.

A personal old idea that affects me is Warfarin, which I take every day to thin my blood and stop myself having another stroke. There are more modern drugs, but I’ve heard cardilogists say that now is not the time to change, as we don’t know enough about the side effects of new drugs yet.

And that is the crux of the matter!  When anything has been used for years, we have a vast knowledge base to make sure, that it doesn’t bite us or even worse.

So I was rather pleased to see this report that says the new Airbus A350 will use more traditional batteries than the Boeing 787. Before you use new technology in something as critical as an airliner, you must prove it as thoroughly as possible.

The problem with proving aircraft parts as compared to that of says cars, buses or trains, is that the aircraft leaves the ground and does other things land-based machines don’t.

I remember, my next door neighbour in London, when I was a child, a Mr. Gibbon, saying that if Ford wanted to test a new truck axle, they’d fit a few in trucks and give them to a contractor, who was known to break anything.  If he couldn’t break any,then it was probably a better axle. But you can’t give aircraft to bad airlines and let them do the testing!

What worries me about these plane batteries, is how many other new ideas are incorporated, that haven’t been completely tested?  Aviation is littered with mistakes, where new designs have failed.

On the other hand, look at this wing of the baby Airbus 319/320/321, on which I flew to Stockholm.

Airbus A320 Wing

Airbus A320 Wing

Go back twenty years or so and the design of a wing would be similar, but you can see developments like the wing-tips, that make the wings more efficient, have now become commonplace.

June 16, 2013 Posted by | Transport, World | , , , , | Leave a comment

Don’t be Conventional!

On the BBC tonight, they had a program about a pilot who in the Second World War used to insert and extract agents of the SOE into German-occupied territories. One of the aircraft they used was the remarkable Westland Lysander, which although it wasn’t too good at its original job of Army Co-operation, was a superb aircraft to sneak in and out under the noses of the Germans, due to its slow speed and superb STOL performance.

But then the Second World War had its fair share of what could be described as unconventional aircraft.

The Mosquito didn’t look unconventional, but who’d have thought that an unarmed bomber built out of wood, would have been so successful. It was just that because it was light, aerodynamically efficient and could carry the same bomb-load as a B17, it could get to its targets fast and return.  In fact Mosquitos often bombed Germany twice in one day. 

But the theory of the heavily-armed four-engined bomber prevailed and we lost 250,000 aircrew bombing the Nazis, as did the Americans. Mosquitos incidentally had a much higher return rate and it could also be argued that because they were so much more agile and fast, they could have hit strategic targets, like ball-bearing factories, morning, noon and night. So there was also a moral case for using de Havilland’s wooden wonder.

The Mosquito is probably the only Second World War aircraft, that has a legacy in modern designs.  Bombers these days are not armed and British ones haven’t been for some decades.  This is because de Havilland’s fast unarmed concept was shown to be so superior, to any armed one. But the biggest legacy is in the wings of Airbuses, which like the Mosquito are glued together, rather than riveted.  You can trace the technology back through Tridents and Comets to the Mosquito and before that to the Albatross.

Supermarine is well-known for the Spitfire, but another of its products was the distinctly unconventional Walrus, designed like the Spitfire by R. J. Mitchell. It was an amphibious aircraft that could be lauched and recovered from naval ships like cruisers and battleships, but it found its major use in picking up downed airmen out of the sea. This maritime-rescue role has been taken over  by helicopters, but perhaps the role could be handled better, by a modern fixed-wing aircraft of unconventional design. The Americans have experimented with using Lockheed Hercules and pick-up systems, but nothing sensible has emerged.

The Americans too had an unconventional amphibian, the Consolidated Catalina. Like the Mosquito, the Cat seemed to revel in every task thrown at it. But unlike the Mosquito, you can still see a few examples flying.

And then there is the Swordfish or Stringbag.  This aircraft was probably obselete when the war started, but  went on to sink large amounts of Axis shipping. The Swordfish also destroyed a large part of the Italian fleet at the Battle of Taranto.  Was this battle the blueprint for Pearl Harbor? The Japanese certainly gave what the Fleet Air Arm did with a handful of obselete bi-planes more than a cursory glance!

I have always thought unconventionally!  It has never done me any harm! Although it’s got me into a few scrapes.

November 8, 2010 Posted by | World | , , , | Leave a comment

The Rivetted Wing

This picture of the wing of the 747 shows the rivets that hold it together.

747 Wing

By the way, the upturned end of the wing is an aerodynamic device to increase efficiency.

If you are on Airbus as opposed to a Boeing, you’ll see differences. 

For a start the Airbus uses a different end to a wing in that they have more of a sideways delta at the end.

But the main difference is that Airbus glue their wings, whilst Boeing use rivets.

Glue?  You  might ask.

But they have doing it for years.  In fact the technology was first started by de Havilland and was applied very successfully to the Mosquito of World War II fame.  They then applied it to the Comet and Trident airliners before using it on all Airbus wings.

The advantage is that glue carries the loads between the parts of the wing continuously, whereas with rivets the stresses are carried only at points, which have been weakened by the rivet holes.  This means that it should be possible to have a lighter wing for the same strength with glue.

Some technologies may seem strange, but don’t know them if they work.

May 13, 2010 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 1 Comment