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The recent Ethiopian Airlines crash has once again put the Boeing MAX 8 aircraft in the spotlight. Just five months ago, another MAX 8 being operated by Lion Air crashed, taking the total toll to 346. Aviation is statistically the safest mode of transport, and two crashes within such a short period are alarming. Following the crash, more than 40 countries have grounded the aircraft until further investigations are carried out and changes are made. India's DGCA has also grounded the aircraft and currently Spicejet and Jet Airways operate the plane. With more than 400 aircrafts on order from Indian carriers, the MAX 8 plays a pivotal role in boosting India's aviation market. © Utkarsh Thakkar / @vimanspotter Boeing's MAX series is the successor of 737 Next Generation family (737-700/800/900), and the company is relying on it to churn out profits. Even Boeing has been making aircraft for decades, and its expertise is often unmatched. So, the only question that arises is, how can a modern airliner be this unsafe? The MAX series was Boeing's response to Airbus's A320 NEO family. NEO stands for New Engine Option and while the fuselage remains unchanged, the engines are completely revamped to offer better-operating efficiency. Regional airlines worldwide require planes that are cheaper to operate, especially when aviation fuel is extremely dynamic globally. To compete with the NEO, Boeing started the MAX series and offered up to 14 percent more efficient engines along with increased cabin comfort. But, this came with a small challenge. © Boeing The Ethiopian crash investigation will take months to conclude, but initial data suggest striking similarity between the two crashes. The preliminary report on Lion Air crash is out, and we'll be relying on it to understand MAX 8's major flaw. The MAX 8 is powered by CFM's Leap 1B engines and they are significantly bigger than the previous CFM 56 engines (used in the 737 NG). Adding to this, the 737 was designed decades back and has an exceedingly low ground clearance when compared to the A320. To perfectly fit the new heavier and bigger engines, Boeing had to make minor changes in the design ranging from lengthening the landing gear to moving the engine slightly forward. © Aviation International News It was found that the bigger engine meant the plane handled certain situations differently and there was also a slight shift in the centre of gravity. The relocation and new engine design created an upward movement, nudging the plane's nose upwards. If the nose is lifted sharply, the plane will continue gaining altitude and could also stall mid-air. A stall is when an aeroplane cannot generate enough lift to continue flying. To compensate this upward movement, Boeing added a new system called MCAS (Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System) that prevented the plane from raising its noise to extreme levels. The system would automatically adjust the horizontal stabilizer and bring down the nose. To make these adjustments, MCAS relies on data from the Angle of Attack sensors. © Wikimedia (AoA sensor for reference) These sensors are located on the nose of the aircraft and calculate the angle at which the plane is climbing or descending in comparison to the oncoming air. In the case of Lion Air, faulty sensors triggered the MCAS and automatically the system tried to bring the nose down. According to the flight data recorder, automated MCAS repeatedly pushed the plane's nose down following take-off. The most surprising part of the MCAS though is Boeing hasn't mentioned the addition of this system during pilot training or manuals. This meant the pilot were unaware that a programmed system is trying to bring down the nose. Even if the pilots tried to takeover manual controls, MCAS cannot be simply stopped by moving the yoke. They need to manually trim the aircraft to gain control, but how will they know this procedure when the existence of MCAS is unknown to them? © Reuters The Lion Air pilot had more than 5,000 hours of experience and the Ethiopian pilot had more than 8,000 hours. Preliminary reports do not point towards any kind of crew error. Reports say pilots have in the past complained about a similar nose-down anomaly in FAA's database (US regulator) as well. Following the Lion Air crash, Boeing issued a bulletin to airlines operating the 737 MAX 8 advising pilots how to override the MCAS system. This week, the plane maker also announced it's working on a long-term plan to rejig the system and update shall be applied in the coming months. © Reuters We'll have to wait for the Ethiopian crash report to clear the air whether it was the same MCAS issue that caused the incident, or are there any other flaws in the airliner. Boeing has described the MAX series as its fastest-selling family of planes, with more than 5,000 orders placed to date from about 100 customers. The last time an aircraft suffered successive fatal incidents was the McDonnell Douglas DC-10 in the 70s. With inputs from preliminary report of Indonesian National Transportation Safety Committee and FlightRadar24
ADMIN posted a blog entry in FDF Online NewsFor someone who moved from Pakistan to Down Under at a young age, Usman Khawaja has undeniably come a long way to become a vital cog in the Australian set-up. Ever since becoming the first Muslim to play for the Aussies in the Sydney Test during 2011 Ashes series, the left-hander has managed to cement his position in the Australian side on the back of consistent performances. When it comes to his batting, the Australian batsman thrives on the composure and patience he has developed over the years to build his innings. And, that is not derived from the countless hours spent in the nets. In fact, Khawaja mastered the art of discipline - something that's a must for any sportsperson - through his stint at the University of New South Wales - School of Aviation. Yep, you read that right. The Australian cricketer is also a qualified pilot after getting both his degree and licence to fly airplanes. And, he put his flying skills to test by taking control of Airbus A380 - the world's largest passenger aircraft - recently. Watch as qualified pilot Usman Khawaja puts his flying skills to the test, taking control of the largest passenger aircraft in the world!@Uz_Khawaja | @Qantas pic.twitter.com/gg8MerqebM — cricket.com.au (@cricketcomau) February 20, 2019 In a video shared on Twitter, the 32-year-old was seen handling himself quite expertly in the cockpit, his only blemish being a slightly rough landing. Confessing his love for flying, Khawaja said: "I travelled a lot as a kid. My dad worked in Saudi Arabia for about 5-6 years, so I use to travel back and forth to see them and then come back here to play cricket". guess this means they cant drop him for ashes because hes the one flying them over? — Blake Robinson (@Robbo_1990) February 20, 2019 "I just grew a fascination with planes. As I was coming towards the end, year 11-12, I thought 'what about flying'. I found UNSW (University of New South Wales - School of Aviation), which offered both a degree to make my mother happy and get my licence to get my wings," Khawaja said. Talking about how flying helped him in his cricketing endeavours, Khawaja revealed: "I think flying helped me a lot in terms of cricket. Probably the biggest way was discipline and keeping up with the learning, making sure you are on top of any changes that has happened. There are a lot of things that go hand in hand between flying and especially playing Test cricket. The discipline part of flying and discipline of being a sportsman, especially being a cricketer and being a batsman, I think there are a lot of similarities". Till flying simulator is fine but please don't give him real aircraft with passenger else be ready for Australian version of 9/11. — Abhishek Tripathi (@abhishekt2009) February 20, 2019 While many sportspersons are clueless about their choices post retirement, the Australian batsman seems to have that area covered pretty well. After acing the flying test, Khawaja will now have to back it up on the cricket field when Australia lock horns with India in two Twenty20 Internationals (T20Is) and five One-Day Internationals (ODIs), slated to begin from 24th February.
ADMIN posted a blog entry in FDF Online NewsIt's 1955. The Cold War is in full swing. Thriller writers are having the time of their life. As for the rest of us, the threat of nuclear armageddon hangs over us, like, well, a mushroom cloud. In the middle of all this, the USAF's B-52 Stratofortresses keep making sorties, flying out of bases in the UK, going up to the Soviet Union's border. Just in case… via GIPHY Fast forward to 2018. The world's changed unimaginably. The President of the United States argues with people on something we call 'Twitter'. But the B-52 is still soldiering on, flying missions in the South China Sea, reminding the PRC that the United States is still around, even if it's bogged down with fights over silly walls and whether the President had an affair! The Mean Machine - Boeing's B-52 Stratofortress The Boeing B-52 Stratofortress is a legendary war machine - it's been around for longer than most of us, and thanks to constant upgrades, it's still on the frontlines. © Tech. Sgt. Nathan Lipscomb for US DoD The Balkans, the Gulf War(s), Afghanistan. It's been there, bringing a reign of destruction on people Uncle Sam doesn't like. And it's gonna be around for many years to come... The B-52 project started in 1946 - just after the Second World War ended. The Cold War was starting, and the US wanted something to maintain its dominance. Designed to carry massive nuclear (and thermonuclear) weapons, the B-52 first took to the air in 1952, entering service in 1955. The B-52 Was A Harbinger Of Doom Even though the B-52 was later used with conventional weapons - it was responsible for carrying out several 'carpet bombing' missions in the Vietnam war - it was really meant for World War Three - carrying hydrogen bombs to attack the Soviet Union if the 'balloon ever went up'. via GIPHY One of the bombs the B-52 carried was the B61- which had a yield of nearly half a megaton. Another was the Mark 39 - which, hang on to your hats, had a yield of nearly 4 megatons! For reference, the bomb that levelled Hiroshima was just 20 kilotons. Always Ready As part of Operation Chrome Dome, B-52 bombers were kept constantly airborne - the reasoning being that even if the Soviet Union managed to 'take out' the US's ICBMs on their launchpads with a first strike, the B-52s (and the US Navy's missile submarines) would be around for retaliation. Even better, they could dissuade the Soviet Union from even trying to start a nuclear war. © Senior Airman Malcolm Mayfield for US DoD All That Flying With Nukes Was Risky Did you know that we nearly faced nuclear armageddon in 1961? The US and Soviet Union weren't about to attack each other (though they came close on several occasions in the sixties). What happened was that a B-52 carrying two Mark 39 bombs broke up in mid-air, and the crew eventually bailed out. As it turns out, the two bombs fell out of the aircraft, and one of them got activated - with only one final switch preventing it from going off! The B-52 Even Shot Down A Fighter Jet! You wouldn't imagine a big, lumbering bomber to be able to shoot down one of the most legendary fighter jets ever, but that's exactly what happened in Vietnam back in 1972 - the tail gunner in a B-52 managed to shoot down the newest, deadliest jet fighter of the time - the MiG-21. A one-off? Heck, no! Another crew in another B-52 repeated this feat some days later! Pretty impressive, isn't it? © Staff Sgt. Michael Battles for US DoD This Massive Bomber Might Be In Service For Another 50 Years The B-52, like every other piece of military equipment, has been getting upgrades throughout its life - the last major version first flew in 1961, with production stopping a year later. Of course, it's been given a lot of nips and tucks over the years, with fancy new electronics being retrofitted. © Senior Airman Jonathan McElderry for US DoD That means that even the youngest B-52 is well over 50 years old - but what's even more surprising is that the USAF might keep on flying these aircraft for another half-century. That's right, the B-1 Lancer (a gorgeous machine for sure), the F-117 stealth fighter, and the B-2 stealth bomber came much later, but nothing has managed to replace the B-52! © NASA There's a new upgrade programme on its way, with new engines, and new avionics, and who knows, the next generation might grow up marvelling at this 'Big Ugly Fat F@#er' (the nickname given to it by US troops in Vietnam) which has managed to outlast every other machine!
ADMIN posted a blog entry in FDF Online NewsAn Air India flight suffered multiple system failure, had almost no fuel and faced severe weather conditions while trying to land at the John F Kennedy Airport in New York. The pilot managed to save the life of 370 passengers on board by manually landing the plane on the runway. © Air India Air India 101 was flying direct from New Delhi to New York and faced one of the worst situations any pilot would never want to face in their career. The plane experienced multiple system failure and was extremely low on fuel. The pilot immediately reported the situation to the Air Traffic Control (ATC) as the flight also witnessed other failures such as the malfunctioning of the Instrument Landing System (ILS) receivers. Despite all the problems, the pilot managed to land the plane at a different airport in Newark. The landing instrument that malfunctioned allows a pilot to approach a runway blindly. © Star Alliance According to reports, the B777 aircraft has flown over 36,985 hours and has been in service for almost 9 years. While the incident was transpiring, there was panic among passengers as the aircraft managed to land. A pilot can fly an aircraft without the onboard navigation system, however, the accuracy often suffers. Today, most Airports in the world have different Required Navigation Performance (RNP) parameters. Airports have different separation parameters between aircraft which are in turn defined by the RNP. As the LNAV and VNAV were malfunctioning on the Air India flight, it would have been difficult for the pilot to follow the separation indicated by ATC.