As aviation technology continues to develop at breakneck speed, the goal of producing aircraft with vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) capabilities, that can fly as fast as a fixed-wing airplane may soon become a reality. This has been achieved to some degree with the tiltrotor technology of the Bell-Boeing V-22 Osprey, where lift and propulsion are generated by proprotors mounted on engine pods at the ends of a fixed wing. Take off is facilitated by the rotors being angled horizontally as a helicopter rotor works, but as the aircraft gains speed, the rotors tilt forward until they are vertical, allowing the aircraft to reach higher speeds than a conventional helicopter. An Australian company recently announced that it is developing an aircraft which can transition between VTOL and fixed-wing modes with what it calls StopRotor Technology.
The company’s new RotorWing design reportedly aligns the airflow with rotation axis of the rotor while the aircraft is in flight, thereby creating a stable flight profile allowing the smooth transition from one mode of flight to the other. In a statement announcing the new concept, the company noted that the it is a “paradigm shift involving flight well beyond the limitations of conventional fixed and rotary wing flight”, going on to say that it “requires a new way of thinking”.
A patent application has been lodged for the new StopRotor, and the company is currently using flying models and computer simulations to test the concept, which was inspired by the VTOL X-Plane program announced in February by the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). The DARPA VTOL X-Plane project is dedicated to developing VTOL aircraft with greater hover and cruise efficiency, larger payload capacity, and higher speeds than current aircraft – the performance standard being set at greater than 300 knots, which is almost double the speed of the fastest helicopter today. Project leader Ashish Bagai noted that it was hoped that the project would “spark a paradigm shift”. DARPA is putting $150 million into developing the X-Plane which would prove valuable in search and rescue missions, surveillance, transportation of troops and other difficult to reach situations requiring swift response time.
With technology constantly being upgraded, and environmental issues taking center stage, aircraft are becoming ever more sophisticated. Have you ever wondered where old and outdated airplanes go when they’re retired from service? In 2010 Google Earth pictures revealed a 2600-acre patch of desert in Tucson, Arizona, reportedly referred to as “The Boneyard”, which is home to an estimated US$35 billion worth of outdated planes. Some of these come in handy when spare parts are required for in-service planes at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, and others may be dismantled with parts being recycled and sold off. Entire planes are sold, reportedly sometimes to the military of foreign countries. With its rust-free climate, the Boneyard has been a military storage facility for 60 years and has featured in some Hollywood blockbusters, including the Transformers.
While dismantling and reusing parts of airplanes is being done in various locations and to varying degrees, with the growth and technological advances in the aviation industry, Airbus has revealed that around 9,000 of their airplanes will be withdrawn from service over the next twenty years – and that is just one manufacturer. French company Tarmac Aerosave, based in an area known as “Aerospace Valley” near the town of Tarbes in France, has been dismantling aircraft since 2009. With its primary business being aircraft storage, the aerospace company has branched out into aircraft dismantling, and so far has completely stripped twelve planes. Parts salvaged during the dismantling of planes are tested and repackaged for sale. Old cockpits have been turned into flight simulators, and whatever can’t be sold as reusable parts is sold as recyclable scrap.
In addition to salvaging parts that can be sold, rather than lying unused in storage, the dismantling of airplanes allows engineers to inspect parts for wear and tear, using the information to design and produce more efficient parts for future aircraft. In anticipation of the influx of retired airplanes, a subsidiary of Tarmac Aerosave in Spain is preparing a new site which will have the capacity to store 200 planes, with up to forty models being stripped every year. Project director of business development and change at Airbus notes that there will be no more “from cradle to grave” for aircraft, but they will rather go “from cradle to cradle” as they are stripped and repurposed. This is in keeping with the worldwide push to Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle.
It has been one century since the first aircraft took off in Canada. A number of exciting initiatives have already been planned across the country to mark this exciting milestone. One of the first is the opening of a new exhibition at the Canada Aviation Museum located in Ottawa. The exhibition is entitled “Canadian Wings: A Remarkable Century of Flight.”
A team of researchers from the University of York’s Department of Electronics have won a European grant to help aerospace companies try to produce safer aircraft whilst at the same time reducing costs involved. The team will specifically be attempting to tackle the problem of trying to test aircraft equipment against electromagnetic interference during the manufacture process.
Boeing has already made numerous public statements relating to its goals of becoming a more environmentally-friendly company and now it seems the company is putting its money where its mouth is. Boeing is working hard to ensure that all its major manufacturing facilities are ISO 14001 certified by the end of 2008.
Northrop Grumman, Raytheon and ITT were all recognized with industry Safety Awards this week. Northrop Grumman took home two of the awards, making them the biggest winners of the evening. The third annual AIA Worker Safety Awards were presented in Phoenix on Tuesday, November 18, 2008.
Sales at China’s biennial air show skyrocketed this year with the show closing with total sales valued at around US$4 billion. There were concerns that the global financial crisis would affect the show negatively. Now, it seems, those concerns were completely unfounded since there was around a US$1 billion increase in total sales compared to the last show.
Airbus has teamed up with Pratt & Whitney to conduct a series of flight tests designed to evaluate the PW1000G technology demonstrator engine. The engine features Pratt & Whitney’s patented Geared Turbofan (GTF). This is one of a number of tests that will be conducted by Airbus along with various major engine manufacturers.
Aircraft manufacturer Gulfstream took advantage of the NBAA in Orlando to launch their brand new G250 on October 5, 2008. The successor to the G200, which has been in use since 2000, the G250 looks set to be bigger and better in every conceivable way and it should dominate the super mid-size sector from 2011 when it becomes commercially available.
The India Aviation 2008 is an exciting event for the country, as well as the aviation industry in India. In recent years India has seen a growth in the aviation industry, with the two main airlines operating in the country, Air Sahara and Jet Airways, gaining competition with the introduction of various other airlines into the market, including Indigo, Air Deccan, Kingfisher Airlines and SpiceJet. With the increase of private airlines, the industry has opened up doors to give way to business ventures and opportunities in regard to maintenance and repair of aircrafts, aircraft manufacturing, development of infrastructures and various employment prospects in the airline service field.