Sunday, May 30, 2010

X-51A Waverider set a record for hypersonic flight

X-51A WaveriderAn experimental aircraft has set a record for hypersonic flight, flying more than 3 minutes at Mach 6 – six times the speed of sound.

The X-51A Waverider was released from a B-52 Stratofortress off the southern California coast Wednesday morning, the Air Force reported on its website. Its scramjet engine accelerated the vehicle to Mach 6, and it flew autonomously for 200 seconds before losing acceleration. At that point the test was terminated.

The Air Force said the previous record for a hypersonic scramjet burn was 12 seconds.

"We are ecstatic to have accomplished many of the X-51A test points during its first hypersonic mission," said Charlie Brink, an X-51A program manager with the Air Force Research Laboratory at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio.

"We equate this leap in engine technology as equivalent to the post-World War II jump from propeller-driven aircraft to jet engines," Brink said.

The Waverider was built for the Air Force by Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne and Boeing Co.

Joe Vogel, Boeing's director of hypersonics, said, "This is a new world record and sets the foundation for several hypersonic applications, including access to space, reconnaissance, strike, global reach and commercial transportation."

Four X-51A cruisers have been built for the Air Force, and the remaining three will be tested this fall.

"No test is perfect," Brink said, "and I'm sure we will find anomalies that we will need to address before the next flight."

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Aircruise Airship

Design company Seymourpowell has unveiled a new transport concept, the Aircruise - a giant, vertical airship powered by natural energy and designed to carry travellers in style and luxury.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Bullet 580 Airship from E Green Technologies

The latest in aviation technology is from the distant past. Airships are back, in the shape of the huge Bullet 580. The 76-metre long Bullet is the world's largest airship, taking more than six hours to inflate, says manufacturer E Green Technologies.

Bullet 580 Airship

The airship can stay at high altitude for long periods, offering near-space experiences for scientists, and offering a remote communication and observation base, monitor military situations and keeping watch on oil spills, bushfires or even pirates.

E Green says its new airship "offers cost-efficient operations versus fixed-wing aircraft". It will cost $8 million, or can be rented for $500,000 a month.

The first test flight is due to take place later this year.

E-Green chairman Michael Lawson said the new airship wasn't your typical blimp.

"Airships have undergone surprisingly little evolution throughout their more than 150-year history," he said.

"Our airships are radically different designs that move beyond the performance limitations of traditional blimps or zeppelins by combining advanced technology with simple construction and the ability to fuel with algae, protecting our environment."

Mr Lawson told MSNBC that hard landings are a far more comfortable experience that than normal planes.

"If you hit a hard landing with any of our airships, it's just going to kind of bounce," he said.

Airships or blimps were widely used before the 1940s, which was followed by numerous accidents, including the 1937 Hindenburg explosion that killed 37 people.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Afriqiyah Airways Flight 8U771 in Tripoli, Libya

One person -- believed to be a 10-year-old boy -- survived a passenger plane crash in Libya that was feared to have killed more than 100 people, an official said Wednesday.

The boy was undergoing surgery at a hospital in the Libyan capital of Tripoli after the Afriqiyah Airways plane that left Johannesburg crashed as it neared the end of its flight.

The Dutch Foreign ministry said it had a representative at the hospital waiting to identify the boy, believed to be a Dutch national. He apparently suffered bone injuries.

The plane was carrying 93 passengers and 11 crew members when it crashed while trying to land at the Tripoli International Airport.

The president of the European Parliament said about 100 people perished, and Libya's state news agency said 96 bodies had been recovered.

Nicky Knapp, a representative of the Airports Company South Africa, provided the breakdown in the destinations of the passengers aboard: seven to London, 32 to Brussels, 42 to Dusseldorf, one to Paris, and 11 to Libya. She was speaking on behalf of Afriqiyah Airways.

The plane, an Airbus A330-200, was at the tail end of its nearly nine-hour-long flight when it crashed.

"We express our sincere regret and sadness on behalf of the airline. As well, we would like to express our condolences to the relatives and friends of those who had passengers on Flight 8U771 destined for Tripoli late last night, due to arrive around 6 o'clock this morning," she said.

Calling the incident a tragedy, Jerzy Buzek, the president of the European Parliament said "some 100 people have died no doubt from many countries around the world."

He said the child's survival "given this tragic event, is truly a miracle."

The Dutch Royal Touring Club said 61 of 62 Dutch passengers on the plane died.

A Dutch Foreign Affairs Ministry spokeswoman said the government was trying to get more information about those aboard.

The British Foreign Office said it was looking into whether British nationals were on board the flight.

At the crash site, workers with surgical masks combed through the smoldering wreckage that spilled over a large area. A wheel lay atop a pile of bags. Two green airline seats sat upright and intact amid burned parts of the aircraft.

Officials recovered the plane's flight data recorder, which investigators use to piece together a flight's last minutes.

The Tripoli-based Afriqiyah (Arabic for "African") operates flights to four continents. The planes in the fleet carry the logo 9.9.99 -- the date when the African Union was formed.

The Airbus that crashed is one of three Airbus 330-200s that the airline owns.

Recommended reading:
* Aero Union freight plane crashed in Monterrey, Mexico
* Indian Navy Jet crashed near Begumpet Airport in Hyderabad
* US Black Hawk helicopter crashed in Darmstadt, Germany
* Ethiopian Airline Flight 409 crashes off Beirut international airport