Boeing 787

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As the Boeing 787 Dreamliner took to the air from the Boeing Field in southern Seattle for its maiden flight on December 15, 2009, no doubt there was a collective sigh of relief from all those who have been involved in the development of this mid-size, twin-engine jet airliner, which is anticipated to be the company’s most fuel-efficient airliner yet. Making use of composite materials for most of its construction, the Dreamliner was a collaborative project involving numerous suppliers around the globe, and by the time the airplane made its appearance at a roll-out ceremony on July 8, 2007, the anticipation was so great that Boeing had reportedly secured close to 600 orders.

Unfortunately, a series of unforeseen problems and delays resulted in the scheduled date of delivery being altered several times, with the original date of May 2008 becoming a distant memory and the anticipated date being pushed forward to the fourth quarter of 2010. It would seem that the delays were primarily due to the collaboration of suppliers, with some not being able to meet their commitments in time. Despite the delays, Boeing is confident that the innovative features of the 787 Dreamliner will be well worth waiting for.

These features include an airframe that is 80 percent composite by volume, resulting in lighter weight and improved fuel efficiency. With a cruising airspeed of Mach 0.85, the 787 can cover a distance of between 8,000 and 8,500 nautical miles, allowing non-stop flying between Los Angeles and Bangkok, or Taipei and New York City, to give just two examples. Flight systems feature Avionics Full-Duplex Switched Ethernet, to transmit data between the Dreamliner’s flight deck and aircraft systems. The flight deck itself boasts LCD multi-function displays using a GUI widget toolkit with two head-up displays and a yoke.

The Dreamliner has the capacity to seat between 210 to 330 passengers, depending on the variant and seating plan. To enable passengers to maintain a view of the horizon, cabin windows have been made larger with a higher eye level. Moreover, windows make use of “smart glass” technology facilitating a reduction in glare while retaining transparency for viewing. Another feature that has been developed with passenger comfort in mind is the adjustment of cabin pressure from the average equivalent of 8,000 feet to the equivalent of 6,000 feet. The increase in cabin pressure is made possible partly because of the superior properties of composite materials.

There are three variants of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, with the 787-8 slated to enter service in 2010, followed by the 787-9 in 2013 and an, as yet, undetermined date for the 787-3.

787-3 Dreamliner

Cruise speed: Mach 0.85
Range: 2,500 to 3,050 nautical miles
Ceiling: 43,000′
Length: 186′
Wingspan: 170′
Configuration: Twin aisle
Height: 56′
Maximum weight: 364,000 pounds
Engine(s): Choice of two Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 or General Electric GEnx engines
Crew: Two
Passengers: 290 to 330

Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner

Cruise speed: Mach 0.85
Range: 7,650 to 8,200 nautical miles
Ceiling: 43,000′
Length: 186′
Wingspan: 197′
Configuration: Twin aisle
Height: 56′
Maximum weight: 484,000 pounds
Engine(s): Choice of two Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 or General Electric GEnx engines
Crew: Two
Passengers: 210 to 250

Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner

Cruise speed: Mach 0.85
Range: 8,000 to 8,500 nautical miles
Ceiling: 43,000′
Length: 206′
Wingspan: 203′
Configuration: Twin aisle
Height: 56′
Maximum weight: 540,000 pounds
Engine(s): Choice of two Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 or General Electric GEnx engines
Crew: Two
Passengers: 250 to 290

Douglas DC-3

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The Douglas DC-3 quickly became a fixture in the aviation world after it was introduced on December 17, 1935. Within two years, the DC-3 was carrying 90 percent of the world’s commercial airline passengers. In addition to ferrying people around the country, the DC-3 also transported mail for the United States Postal Service. In 1944, 4,853 DC-3s were produced, a sizeable number of aircraft for that time.

The DC-3 is recognized as one of the single greatest influences in developing commercial air travel, in addition to its heavy use by the American military for transport operations during the Second World War. The Australian Defense Force also used DC-3s for wartime missions. Approximately 10,000 of the Douglas DC-3s were pressed into military service around the world. Military versions of the DC-3 include the Dakota, R4D, C-47, and the C-53. The DC-3 has also been used for transporting cargo, skydiving, and aerial spraying. Altogether, Douglas built 13,000 DC-3s.

Douglas had developed the DC-3 as a successor to the DC-2. Some of the primary changes with the newer aircraft were larger, reinforced wings that provided additional lift and enabled it to carry a heavier payload. More space was also provided for fuel tanks, giving the DC-3 a much longer range than the DC-2.

The DC-3 answered customers’ needs for an aircraft that was capable of covering longer distances and traversing the United States easier and faster than airplanes currently in service. When World War II concluded, the thousands of existing military DC-3 aircraft were converted for civilian use and were purchased by most major airlines. Sleeping berths were standard in early versions of the DC-3 and many passengers chose to travel by air rather than by train, which was much slower and took days instead of hours to cross the country.

A retired Canadian Pacific DC-3 is permanently mounted on display at Whitehorse International Airport in the Yukon Territory. The DC-3 swivels into the wind and is affectionately called “The World’s Largest Weather Vane.”

Maximum speed: 237 mph
Cruise speed: 170 mph
Range: 1,025 miles
Ceiling: 24,000′
Length: 64′ 5″
Wingspan: 95′
Height: 16′ 11″
Maximum weight: 28,000 pounds
Empty weight: 18,300 pounds
Engine(s): Two 1,200 HP Pratt & Whitney Twin Wasp S1C3G 14-cylinder engines
Rate of climb: 1,130′ per minute
Crew: Two
Passengers: 21-32

Gulfstream 3

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Grumman Aerospace developed the C-20D Gulfstream III primarily as a business jet, though the airplane has also fulfilled many other roles, including those on behalf of the United States military and NASA. The C-20D Gulfstream III’s all-weather capability, combined with its speed and extensive range have made it very popular for businesses and government agencies that have mission-critical requirements.

The C-20D Gulfstream III prototype completed its first flight on February 12, 1979. Four years later, the final version entered production. Depending on how the interior compartments are arranged, the C-20D Gulfstream III can carry up to eight passengers.

In 2003, NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center needed an aerial research platform for testing and research, one that was capable of performing subsonic flight. They found their solution in a modified C-20A Gulfstream III which was supplied to them by the United States Air Force. All Gulfstream III aircraft sold to the military received the C-20A designation. Those used for transporting important government officials or special air missions were designated C-20B. The C-20B versions of the Gulfstream III came standard with high-tech communications equipment.

In case of nuclear war or other national catastrophe, the military keeps a fleet of Gulfstream III aircraft on hand, designated as C-20C Gulfstream IIIs. The United States Army and Navy versions of the Gulfstream III transport are the C-20D and C-20E. The C-20B Gulfstream III has been used extensively by American forces during both wars in Iraq and the Middle East.

Maximum speed: Mach 0.85
Cruise speed: 459 knots
Range: 3,767 nm
Ceiling: 45,000
Length: 88 ft 4
Wingspan: 77 ft 10
Height: 24 ft 6
Maximum weight: 69,700
Empty weight: 38,000 lb
Engine(s): Two SPEY-MK511-8 Turbofan engines with 11,400 pounds of thrust each
Rate of climb: 4,049′ per minute
Crew: Three, including pilot, first officer, and crew chief.
Passengers: Up to 12

Though Gulfstream no longer manufactures the C-20 Gulfstream III or any of its variations, the Grumman continues to produce mid-size business jets, some of which are based on the technology developed for the Gulfstream III. Many of the original C-20 Gulfstream III jets remain in service both in the corporate and military sectors.

Hawker Siddeley 748

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The Hawker Siddeley HS-748 was originally manufactured by Avro in the 1950’s, as the successor to the popular Douglas DC-3. The maiden flight of the Hawker Siddeley HS-748 was conducted on June 24, 1960, and the plane went into production at the end of August a year later. By the time production ended in 1988, 382 of the HS-748 airplanes had been delivered to customers all over the world. Some of those planes were constructed in India as well as in the United Kingdom. In India, production of the Hawker HS-748 was overseen by Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. in Kanpur, India on behalf of the Indian government. Many Hawker Siddeley HS-748 airplanes remain in service for regional airlines in northern Canada, Europe, and other locations for hauling freight as well as for carrying passengers.

In 1935, the plane was renamed from the Avro to the Hawker-Siddeley when the company acquired several aviation companies based in the United Kingdom. Later, because of the Aircraft and Shipbuilding Industries Act of 1977, Hawker-Siddeley merged with British Aerospace, though production of the HS-748 continued under the designation British Aerospace 748, or Bae748.

During its production life, the Hawker Siddeley HS-748 included Series 1, Series 2, Series 2A, and Series 2B. Each had successively more powerful engines and improved performance over earlier versions. Larger load capacity was gained, as was extended flying ranges.

While Series 1 aircraft were powered by 1600 HP Rolls Royce Dart 514 engines. Series 2 planes were shipped with 1910 HP Dart 531 engines. Series 2A, available in 1967, were powered by Rolls Royce Dart 532 engines.

Original Hawker Siddeley HS-748 specifications:

Cruise speed: 243 knots
Range: 904 miles
Length: 67′
Wingspan: 102′ 5″
Height: 24′ 10″
Maximum weight: 46,500 pounds
Empty weight: 38,500 pounds
Engine(s): Two Rolls Royce Dart RDa.7 Mk 552-2 turboprop engines
Rate of climb: 1,420′ per minute
Runway requirement: 3,720′
Crew: Two
Passenger: Up to 58

The final version of the Hawker Siddeley HS-748, the Series 2B, was powered by Dart 536-2 engines. The Hawker Siddeley 748 was developed separately as a military version of the plane and included a kneeling undercarriage as well as a rear loading ramp.

Learjet 60

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The Bombardier Learjet 60 XR, as with all Learjets, is synonymous with luxury and class. The Learjet 60 XR is a mid-size jet that requires a crew of two and can cruise at an altitude of 41,000′. The eight-passenger airplane has a cabin large enough to stand up in and an aisle that runs for the plane’s length between seats.

Standard with every Learjet 60 XR are dual anti-skid brakes and dual wheels for the main landing gear. The braking system is an improvement over previous braking systems used in older Learjets. Refueling of the aircraft can be completed in about ten minutes.

In flight, the crew is not required to do any serious fuel management, even on long-distance trips. Bombardier engineers designed the Learjet 60 XR to use a bleed air anti-ice system instead of the more common liquid de-icing systems or de-icing boots. For its avionics system, the jet uses the Rockwell Collins Pro Line 21. The main instrument panel’s Radio Tuning Unit will generate essential EFIS displays on emergency battery power in the event of a power failure.

Several option packages are available with the Learjet 60 XR. One is the Enhanced Weather Detection Package. It includes the Rockwell Collins TWR-850 Enhanced Weather Radar that warns the crew of embedded turbulence in any nearby rain cells. Pilots can also receive advance warnings about icing conditions and thunderstorms.

Maximum speed: Mach 0.81
Cruise speed: Mach 0.79
Range: 2,451 nautical miles
Ceiling: 51,000′
Cruise altitude: 41,000′
Length: 58.69′
Wingspan: 43.79′
Height: 14.56′
Maximum weight: 23,500′
Empty weight: 14,985 pounds
Engine(s): Two Pratt & Whitney Canada PW305A turbofans for 4,600 pounds of thrust
Rate of climb: 2,158′ per minute
Take off distance: 5,450′
Crew: Two
Passengers: Up to eight

Another option for Learjet buyers is the Enhanced Situational Awareness Package. This equipment package is designed to enhance a pilot’s situational awareness outside the airplane, even in poor visibility due to bad weather or darkness. Flight plans are displayed in 3D maps with real-time progress of the Learjet 60 XR. Maps include detailed information such as restricted airspace and national boundaries. The XM Graphical Weather System can be programmed to only show weather and other information specific to the United States.

MD 80

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The McDonnell Douglas MD-80 airplane completed its first flight on October 18, 1979. It entered the market in 1980 as a mid-size, medium-range airliner designed to succeed the DC-9 as well as compete against Boeing‘s popular 737-400. The airplane’s interior accommodated a row of five passengers each in coach seating, and could carry up to 172 passengers in total, depending on how the seats were arranged and the version of the MD-80.

At first, McDonnell Douglas marketed the plane as the DC-9-80, or DC-9 Super 80, however, the designation was eventually changed to the shorter “MD-80.” Though production of the plane ended in 2000, the MD-80 remains in service today on behalf of several major commercial airlines, including a number based in Europe, China, Mexico, Korea, and the United States.

From 1979 to 1999, McDonnell Douglas built 1,159 of the MD-80 aircraft at the Long Beach Division of Boeing Commercial Airplanes. A second version of the MD-80 was soon introduced, and 117 of both aircraft types were manufactured between 1995 and 2000. The MD-80 versions included MD-81/82/83/88 and the MD-87 which had a shorter fuselage than the others in the series.

During their production life, all MD-80 variants received upgrades that included avionics, several cockpit improvements, and aerodynamic streamlining. Operation of the MD-80 series was eased with the replacement of the original Pratt & Whitney engines with the JT8D-200 engines. The newer engines have created a quieter ride and are much more fuel-efficient than the older and smaller engines. The Pratt & Whitney JT8D-200 engines have also extended the MD-80’s range. This has made the airplane popular for regional as well as national commercial airlines.

Another significant change for the plane in later years was the extension of the MD-80’s fuselage. That permitted the MD-80 to carry additional passengers and freight, which increased the plane’s value for cost-conscious carriers.

Maximum speed: 546 mph
Range: 1,600 miles
Length: 147′ 9″
Wingspan: 107′ 8″
Height: 30′ 5″
Empty weight: 140,000 pounds
Engine(s): Two 18,500-pound-thrust Pratt & Whitney JT8D-209 engines
Crew: Three, including the pilot, first officer, and flight engineer
Passengers: 155 passengers


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This section of will discuss a range of different types of aircraft, including cargo aircraft which are used by the military and commercially. We also discuss military surplus aircraft, which can be found for sale on the internet. Another fascinating aspect of aviation are the many museums housing aircraft that are considered to be antique and collectable, and we look at this in further detail. Antique and collectable aircraft memorabilia can also be found at antique stores and for sale online.

The need to land aircraft in remote areas has given rise to the invention of the float plane which lands on and takes off from bodies of water. The history and functioning of float planes will be discussed further.

Commuter airplanes have made a significant contribution in making the world a global village, and we investigate this further. Homebuilt aircraft is an interesting hobby to pursue and many different kits are available as well as regulating authorities to ensure your homebuilt aircraft is air-worthy. Helicopters are unique aircraft due to their ability to hover and change direction easily, and we peer closer into the design of helicopters. So join us for a closer look at the wonders of aviation.

  • Aircraft: Antiques and Collectibles
  • Aircraft: Cargo
  • Aircraft: Civilian
  • Aircraft: Commuter
  • Aircraft: Float Planes
  • Aircraft: Helicopters
  • Aircraft: Homebuilt
  • Aircraft: Military
  • Aircraft: Military Surplus
  • Commuter

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    Heading off on vacation or going on an important business trip? You will likely be flying on a commuter aircraft. Commuter airplanes vary in size from those which seat just a few passengers to those which seat over 100. All commuter planes have a cargo hold in which baggage and other goods are stored during flight.

    Commuter aircraft are fitted to ensure the comfort of commuters over both short distance flights (nationally) and long distance flights (internationally). Commuter planes have developed to the point where refuelling on certain long journeys is unnecessary thus making such flights quicker and more convenient.

    Airbus 380

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    The Airbus A380 is the world’s largest passenger airplane. The first flight of the Airbus A380 took place in France in April 2005, and its first commercial flight was made by Singapore Airlines on 25 October 2007, from Singapore to Australia. Because of the airplane’s enormous wingspan, before it could go into commercial service, some airports needed to undertake renovations to safely accommodate the Airbus A380, particularly during taxiing maneuvers.

    The Airbus A380 can carry up to 555 people when seating is arranged in three classes. When the plane is configured for only economy class, the maximum number of passengers increases to 853. The passenger version of the Airbus is designated A380-800, whereas the freight-only version is A380-800F.
    The Antonov An-225 is the only freight-carrying airplane larger than the A380-800F. The closest competitor to the Airbus A380-800 is Boeing’s 747-8.

    Some of the features of the Airbus A380 are fly-by-wire flight controls which pilots will direct with the use of side sticks, similar to arrangements in modern jet fighter aircraft. Also borrowed from military technology are some of the avionics systems incorporated in the glass cockpit. Cutting-edge navigational systems come standard, including an engine parameter display, and multi-functional displays that will provide the crew with relevant flight management information.

    Anticipated A380-800 Specifications:

    Maximum speed: 0.89 Mach
    Cruise speed: 0.85 Mach
    Range: 8,000 nm
    Length: 239′ 6″
    Wingspan: 261′ 10″
    Height: 79′ 1″
    Maximum weight: 1,235,000 pounds
    Empty weight: 610,200 pounds
    Engine(s): Four GP7270 Trent 970 engines
    Crew: Two
    Passengers: 555

    Due to the Airbus A380’s expansive interior, it will be possible to install many luxury amenities and EADS hopes that they will be a big customer drawcard. They may include duty-free shops, beauty salons, bars, and lounges. Some customers, Virgin Atlantic among them, have discussed the possibility of installing showers, sleeping berths, casinos, and workout equipment on board their own Airbus A380s.

    Boeing 707

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    On July 15, 1954 Boeing’s 707 (367-80) prototype completed its inaugural flight. It marked a new era for commercial air travel and set a standard for jetliners that continues today. On every flight, the 707 prototype established new speed records.

    On October 26, 1958, Pan American World Airways began a regular service between New York and Paris with its 707 jets. Pratt & Whitney turbojet engines powered the first 707s, and their range was only just enough to get them across the Atlantic Ocean. It wasn’t until Boeing released the 707-320 Intercontinental jets that that airplanes could easily span the oceans. The 320 version had much greater fuel capacity, larger wings, and much more powerful engines.

    In the early 1960s, the 707 received another upgrade with Pratt & Whitney JT3D turbofan engines. These further increased the airplane’s range, allowing them to travel a distance of around 6,000 miles. Fuel consumption was lower for these engines and operation was much quieter.

    Boeing built several military versions of the 707 aircraft on behalf of the United States Air Force. The KC/C-135 air tanker was originally designated the 717 though it was based on the 707 prototype. Boeing produced 820 of the KC-135 tankers. A modified 707 airplane, designated the VC-127, was used by President Kennedy for official air transportation. (Eventually, any airplane used by the President would be known as Air Force One.) Several other 707 airplanes – the 120 and 320B versions – were used to transport other important government officials.

    Some features of the Boeing 707 include:

    Advanced 707-320B

    Wingspan: 145′ 9″
    Length: 152′ 11″
    Gross Weight: 336,000 pounds
    Cruising Speed: 607 mph
    Range: 6,160 miles
    Ceiling: 36,000′
    Engines: Four Pratt & Whitney JT3D turbofans of 18,000 pounds thrust each< Passenger Cabin: 141 passengers mixed class or 189 passengers in all economy seating

    Before being retired and turned over to the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum 18 years later, the “Dash 80” 707 prototype was used by Boeing and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) for extensive testing in the development of even newer and more improved aircraft. In May of 1991, after selling 1,010 of all types of 707s, Boeing ceased production of the aircraft.

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