Middle East Business Aviation 2014

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Taking place on 8-10 December 2014, MEBA is the leading business aviation event in the Middle East. More than 400 exhibitors will be attending the event, including Boeing, Gulfstream, Bell Helicopter and Pratt & Whitney. For more information visit www.meba.aero

Middle East Business Aviation
Date: 8 to 10 December 2014
Location: Dubai World Central
Country: UAE

Boeing Backs Biofuel Derived From Tobacco

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The aviation industry continues to strive to be in the forefront of industries with regard to managing carbon emissions. To this end the industry aims to attain carbon-neutral growth by the year 2020 as laid out in a resolution dubbed “CNG2020”, as well as working toward cutting emission by up to 50% by 2050 in comparison with 2005. Biofuels are expected to play a significant role in meeting these goals as research and development continues to turn up new biofuel options, and Boeing recently announced that it is partnering with South African Airways (SAA) and SkyNRG to produce biofuel for aviation from the seeds of a new tobacco plant hybrid.

The new hybrid, named Solaris, is virtually nicotine-free and has a high seed yield. At this time the biofuel will be made from the seed only, but it is anticipated that with the development of new manufacturing processes, at a future date the entire plant may be used to produce biofuel. In a press release from SAA’s Group Environmental Affairs Specialist, Ian Cruickshank, it was noted that using hybrid tobacco allows the project to draw on the knowledge of South Africa‘s tobacco farmers, while giving them the alternative of growing a product the doesn’t encourage smoking. It is anticipated that the new biofuel will be in use in the next few years.

While it’s been proven that biofuels are workable, many onlookers have noted that price is likely to be an issue in implementing them on a large scale. Nobody is likely to take issue with existing tobacco fields being turned into biofuel producing areas, as is the case with food crops, but the question remains whether tobacco farms will be as economically viable producing biofuel crops. Also, various regions will need to find the biofuel crop that works best for them, for example Saudi Arabia is experimenting with a plant that can be grown in the desert and watered with sea water, while other options are algae-based biofuel, or biofuel generated from discarded cooking oil and other waste. Nevertheless, the focus on biofuel is encouraging as it raises awareness of the need to find viable alternatives to fossil fuels.

Streamlining Air Traffic Management with GBAS

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With the aim of simplifying air traffic management and making the airport more efficient, Australia’s Sydney Airport recently unveiled its ground-based augmentation system (GBAS) manufactured and marketed by Honeywell as the SmartPath® Precision Landing System. As a joint project of Qantas and Airservices, the GBAS has been tested on more than 750 Airbus A380 and Boeing 737-800 approaches since December 2012, leading up to the launch of the system which was attended by Australia’s Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss, Airservices acting CEO Mark Rodwell, Quantas chief financial officer Gareth Evans, Honeywell Aerospace representative Brian Davis and Sydney Airport CEO Kerrie Mather.

Evans noted that the system would be beneficial to Quantas, which was the first airline to take delivery of a GBAS-enabled aircraft in 2005. With Sydney Airport receiving international and domestic Quantas flights around the clock, it is anticipated that, over time, the fuel savings to the carrier will be significant. As the system is installed in other airports around Australia, these savings will become even more meaningful.

Using a ground-based transmitter, the GBAS provides GPS positioning data to the GBAS-enabled flight management system of approaching aircraft, allowing for precision approach and landing, within a meter of the runway center line. One GBAS has the capability of facilitating up to 26 instrument approaches simultaneously within a radius of 42 km. Also, the GBAS is not prone to noise signal interference, with maintenance being less expensive than the current instrument landing system (ILS). The use of this state-of-the-art technology promises increased airport capacity, a reduction in weather-related delays and a decrease in air traffic noise, all of which translates into reducing costs for the aviation industry.

In the United States, the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) is working with the International GBAS Working Group (IGWG), as are numerous other countries, in standardizing certification and procedures for the use of GBAS around the world.

Airplanes vs Cars on Energy Efficiency

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According to a recent report by the International Air Transport Association, the number of airplane passengers is likely to grow by a third in the next four years, to 3.9 billion. As more and more people travel greater distances, often as a matter of routine, the issue of energy efficiency of different modes of transport has been investigated by the University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute, with some interesting results. While people tend to think that driving a car is easier on the environment that flying in an airplane, the advanced technology of new airplanes is making them increasingly fuel-efficient.

To match the fuel-efficiency of some newer airplanes, cars would need to be able to get 33.8 miles per gallon, or carry more than one passenger. Current average fuel consumption is 23.8 miles per gallon, meaning that fuel-efficiency must improve by as much as 57 percent to challenge the performance of commercial airline flights. Also, current number of people per car is 1.38, which should be increased to at least 2.3 people to improve fuel-efficiency data for cars. While car-pooling is a concept long embraced by environmentally (and cost conscious) people, there are still a large percentage of cars that travel with only the driver in them, whereas airplanes are generally crammed to the limit with passengers.

Due to huge price increases over the past decade or so, fuel remains the single largest expense for airlines. Associated Press reports that in 2013, US airlines spent up to $50 billion on fuel. In the past five years airlines have been replacing older airplanes with the latest model airplanes from aircraft manufacturers Airbus and Boeing, designed to be 15 percent more fuel-efficient than before. In fact, the purchase of new aircraft has been at a higher rate than ever before, with 8,200 being ordered in the past five years. Currently up to 24 planes are manufactured each week, an impressive increase over the 11 per week of a decade ago.

While increased fuel efficiency, reliability and extended range are all motivating factors in the recent airplane buying spree, there are other reasons airlines are upgrading their fleets. Some of the old planes still have ashtrays in the arms of the seats, which clearly are redundant now, plus passengers expect the modern amenities such as power outlets and USB ports that older airplanes don’t have.

CAF AirPower Expo 2013

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Grab this opportunity to take a ride in a B-29 Superfortress (FiFi); a B-24 Liberator (Diamond Lil); a B-17 Flying Fortress (Sentimental Journey0; a B-25 Mitchell (Devil Dog); P-51 Mustang (Gunfighter); a SB2C Hell Diver; a C-45 Expediter (Bucket of Bolts); T-6 Texan; Boeing Stearman; Travel Air Biplane; or OH-13D Sioux Helicopter – along with a whole lot of other activities. For more information visit the CAF AirPower Expo Website.

Dates: 4-6 October 2013
Venue: Collin County Regional Airport
City: McKinney
State: Texas
Country: United States

Carbon Fiber Composites in Aviation

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As the aviation industry attempts to reduce fuel costs by reducing the weight of aircraft, lightweight composite materials with extraordinary strength continue to be developed and improved. Carbon-fiber composites have been created that can match the strength of titanium and aluminum, while being much lighter in weight, to the extent that aircraft using these composites materials can weigh of up 20 percent less than they would otherwise. Both the Boeing 787 and Airbus A380 contain carbon-fiber composites.

Researchers looking at creating even stronger and lighter materials are working with carbon fibers that are coated with carbon nanotubes. When arranged in specific configurations, these tiny tubes of crystalline carbon are hundreds of times stronger than steel while being only around one-sixth of the weight of steel. Until recently scientists faced the problem that when growing carbon nanotubes on carbon fibers the underlying fibers have lost some of their strength. The root cause of this fiber degradation has been identified by a team of researchers from MIT, and techniques have been devised to preserve the strength of these fibers.

Associate professor of aeronautics and astronautics at MIT, Brian Wardle, notes that up until now one part of the material was being improved at the expense of the underlying fiber, but the new technique does away with this trade-off situation, with both the carbon nanotubes and carbon fibers maintaining their integrity.

Upon visiting carbon-fiber production plants in Germany, Japan and Tennessee, researchers found that the manufacture process required fibers to be stretched close to breaking point and heated to high temperatures, which had not been replicated in laboratory conditions. Upon replicating these conditions in the laboratory and carrying out a series of experiments it was discovered that the main cause of fiber degradation was a mechanochemical reaction resulting from a lack of tension when heating carbon fibers at a high temperature.

Having identified the problem, researchers coated the carbon fiber with a layer of alumina ceramic to ensure the iron catalyst would stick to the fiber but not degrade it. However, the alumina kept flaking off. Undaunted, the research team developed a polymer coating with both hydrophilic and hydrophobic components and coated the fibers with it, allowing them to grow nanotubes without damaging the fiber. Further experiments resulted in growing nanotubes at lower temperatures, thereby avoiding damage to the underlying fiber. Patents have been filed for the nanotube growing techniques and hopes are high that these new composite materials will have a wide range of applications in the aerospace industry.

VTOL X-Plane Development Challenge

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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.

Explore California’s Castle Air Museum

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Located in Atwater, California, the Castle Air Museum originated with the closure of the Castle Air Force Base in 1994. A group of aviation enthusiasts in the area decided to take steps toward preserving the collection of aircraft at the base, and the non-profit organization, Castle Air Museum Foundation, Inc. was formed. The goal behind assuming custody of the aircraft was to restore them and make them available to the public to view. Through the dedicated efforts of volunteers and assisted by the United States Air Force’s Heritage Program, the dream of a museum became a reality and has become a popular attraction in this charming area of California.

The more than 120 different aircraft on display have been carefully restored and meticulously maintained so that current and future generations can view them and imagine what it must have been like to pilot them in battle situations. While noting that there is nothing glamorous about war, the Museum’s website states that its majestic warbirds nevertheless serve as a reminder of how fragile our freedom is, and how men and women stepped up when that freedom was threatened, providing a lesson that should not be forgotten. While all the airplanes are worthy of attention, some stand out as exceptional, such as the massive Boeing KC-135A Stratotanker; the Boeing B-17G Flying Fortress; the Curtiss C-46D Commando; the Fairchild C-119C Flying Boxcar; the Douglas C-47A Skytrain; the Lockheed ST-71 Blackbird; the Republic F-105B Thunderchief; and the Northrop T-38 Talon. On a smaller scale are the Vultee BT-13 Valiant; the Cessna U-3A Blue Canoe; and the Cessna O-2A Super Skymaster. Current restoration projects include a Vietnam-era Douglas RA-3B Skywarrior which had been used by Raytheon and the navy for missile testing. Long-term plans for the museum include sourcing and restoring a P-51 Mustang, P-38 Lightning and P-47 Thunderbolt to add to the collection.

Named in honor of Brigadier General Frederick W. Castle, the Castle Air Museum is a fascinating memorial to the brave pilots and crews of World War II, the Vietnam Conflict and the Korean War and is well worth a visit by aviation enthusiasts.

Stuart Air Show 2012

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Taking place on the weekend of November 10-11, the Stuart Air Show presents a program jam-packed with excitement. Military acts include USAF Glider Demonstration, US Navy’s F18 Demonstration Team, A-10 and P-51 Heritage Flight, Navy Legacy Flight and the Navy Leap Frogs. Static displays include the Sikorsky CH-148 Cyclone, Sikorsky S-61 and Sikorsky UH-60 tactical transport helicopters, as well as A-10 Thunderbolt II, AS-350 Light Enforcement Helicopter, Boeing AH-64 Apache, and C-17 Globemaster III to mention just a few. For more information visit www.stuartairshow.com

Dates: 10-11 November 2012
Venue: Witham Field
City: Stuart
State: Florida
Country: United States

Airplane Dismantling – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

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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.

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