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FAA / DOT lays out NextGen plan details

by GlobalAir.com 27. May 2010 11:20
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The Transportation Department today issued its guidelines to manufacturers for NextGen implementation.

“Today's regulations set clear performance requirements for the electronics that will allow aircraft to be tracked with greater precision and accuracy. And by 2020, all aircraft flying over the United States will be broadcasting an ADS-B signal,” states an announcement on Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood’s departmental blog.  “ADS-B will allow pilots to get the same information as air traffic controllers and see the same things on their screens. Pilots will know where aircraft are located and how close one plane is to another. They'll have a clearer picture of what’s happening in the air or on the ground--even in low visibility.”

Read the blog entry here.

Or check out the entire implementation plan in PDF form here.

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Michigan company unveils engine for UAVs

by GlobalAir.com 26. May 2010 10:30
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Michigan company Ricardo recently announced it will launch a new engine for unmanned aircraft that will have military and private uses.

A press release says the Wolverine 3 engine will be tested this summer.

According to the release:

The first engine in the family – the Ricardo Wolverine 3 – is designed to power lightweight aircraft and use military-spec heavy fuels. It is a 3.1-horsepower, two-cylinder, two-stroke, air-cooled engine with spark ignition, direct fuel injection and 500 watts of on-board power, thanks to an integrated starter-generator. Ricardo is studying plans to develop Wolverine engines to power UAVs with heavier payload and greater range and endurance requirements.

Read more here.

 

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The tightrope of security and spending

by Josh 24. May 2010 18:09
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Courtesy of the Defense Department

Certainly, a large part of aviation innovation, and of the aviation industry itself, derives from the American military. Anyone enjoy that GPS stuff lately?

An editorial in the USA Today last week echoes what has become a growing sentiment of Defense Secretary Robert Gates, a holdover from the Bush administration largely credited for righting the ship in Iraq, to limit military spending and to cut into rank-and-file bureaucracy.

Gates has pushed in recent years for cuts in parts of the Defense budget, something rarely seen from a Pentagon leader during active conflict.  His reasoning is often this: The military strength held by the United States overshadows that any other nation, and in the case of the next-largest armies, many belong to allies.

Fighting the global war on terror does not always necessitate billion-dollar machinery, his logic says.

Gates has railed to trim fat from various branches that squabble for slices of the hundreds of billions of dollars available each year in the Defense budget, the second largest expenditure behind Social Security.

Often, a general of one military branch lobbies for the same money as another. For instance, when the Army insisted upon up-armored Humvees so more soldiers could survive IED blasts in Afghanistan and Iraq, similar requests came from the Air Force for UAVs and expanding fighter jet programs.

The Pentagon, at Gates’ urging, capped production of the F-22 last year. However, another recent request of his to curtail a similar program went unheard by lawmakers.

The House Armed Services Committee passed legislation to award GE a contract to compete with Pratt & Whitney building engines for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (pictured above), which is expected to cost $113 million per plane.

The USA Today notes that the most ardent in Congress who backed the plan without approval from the Defense Secretary came from districts home to GE facilities. At home, such a vote for a Congress member means creating or saving jobs, regardless of the true defense needs.

"Does the number of warships we have and are building really put America at risk when the U.S. battle fleet is larger than the next 13 navies combined, 11 of which belong to allies and partners? Gates asked in a recent speech. "Is it a dire threat that by 2020, the United States will have only 20 times more advanced stealth fighters than China?"

In today’s times, there is a difficult balance for politicians and the non-partisan civil service workers who carry out the laws they pass. That balance spans between creating jobs, leashing government spending and defending our country. Each is important, but drawing lines is hard.

Many times, the simple solution is not the smart solution, but one can just as easily say that the other way around, too.  Weigh in below and let us know what you think.

Thanks to our friends at CFM Jet for tweeting the editorial.

 

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Aviation News Rundown: India crash update, near-miss incidents scrutinized further

by GlobalAir.com 24. May 2010 09:39
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The Associated Press reports this morning that Saturday’s Air India crash at an airport in Mangalore may have been caused by pilot error. A Boeing 737 overran a runway and slid into a ravine, killing 158 of 166 crewmembers and passengers.

The NTSB sent a team of investigators to cooperate in determining the cause of the India crash, deadliest in that country in more than a decade. A report from an Indian news agency says ‘nothing was wrong’ with the airport, which has a tabletop runway. Airport officials said pilots certified to fly into Mangalore are well aware of its conditions. Weather reportedly was clear and calm.

The Wall Street Journal reports that federal regulators are stepping up investigation efforts following a recent spike of near misses. The FAA has looked into more than a half-dozen incidents in the past half year, according to the WSJ article.

Could this become the Hyundai or Kia of the sky?  Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) expects to complete its first KC-100 light piston aircraft by the end of the year with deliveries beginning in 2013. The company hopes to receive certification in the U.S. and Europe for the four-seater.

Finally, it was a rough weekend for two pilots in two parts of the country in separate incidents.

Police arrested an Arkansas pilot after landing on a beach near Savanna, Ga. What began as a pleasure trip for Mark Jensen and his mother ended with his arrest. He now faces charges of reckless conduct and operating a motorized craft on the beach.

In Centennial, Colo., pilot Richard Steinmeir could not get the engine on his Cessna 182 started, so he attempted to start the prop manually. It fired up sure enough. The Skylane became a runaway plane on the airfield. Steinmeir suffered minor injuries attempting to stop it. The Cessna flipped over after traveling about 1,000 feet. The aircraft was a total loss.    

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Louisville's Seaplanes: History of a landlocked city and its naval aircraft (part 1)

by GlobalAir.com 21. May 2010 17:21
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The following is by Louisville historian R. David Schooling. Images are used with implied permission. Part 2 will be posted next week.

 
Piper J-3 Float Plane, photo courtesy Gary J. Nokes co-author of "Wings over the Falls"

 

During the years following World War II, just in the east shadow of the Second Street Bridge, stood the fully operational Ohio River Seaplane Base, with several aircraft making their fascinating water skimming takeoffs and landings.

The owner-operator was St. Matthews resident W.C. Thompson, nicknamed "Tommy.” Much of the following details are from interviews with William Happel, founder of Haps Aerial Services and Haps Airport in Sellersburg, Ind.

During and prior to the war years, Mr. Thompson was happily providing flying "hops" and flying instructions at Bowman Field (LOU). At the time, he owned a Piper J-5 Cruiser, which was a souped-up version of the Piper J-3 aircraft shown above in the floatplane configuration.

In 1942, U.S. Army air forces took over Bowman Field and converted it to Bowman Army Air Base. The biggest assignment for the field was the training of air-combat glider pilots and combat-air evacuation nurses.

This instantly made Bowman one of the busiest airports in the nation. It was suddenly overcrowded, and its new mission of nonstop training activities practically squeezed out civilian operators who had been using the field for some number of years. This issue led to the total destruction of Thompson’s aircraft.

One of the glider pilot trainees managed to crash his glider into Thompson’s Piper, which ended up destroying both aircraft.   

Mr. Thompson’s government reimbursement was to be stretched out for a long time. He did not receive his payout until sometime after World War II.   

It was during this timeframe that Thompson decided to open his "Seaport" on the Ohio River. At one time, he had at least three water-based planes operating: the yellow Piper J-3 floatplane in the bridge picture and two unique and attractive "Seabee" aircraft, shown below skimming along on a water takeoff.

 


Courtesy of the Seabee Owners Club


The excitement of water takeoff and landing was a novelty for sure and a big attraction, especially as far inland as Louisville. The business prospered for several years with only one slight mishap.

While landing one of his Seabee’s, Thompson’s aircraft sputtered, gasped and nearly ran out of fuel. He was forced into an emergency downriver flight over the dam and onto narrow turbulent waters. The unexpected ditch landing did some damage to the aircraft, but it is recollected as being minor.

Least you are thinking, "Hey wait a minute. There is something very familiar about that plane." You are correct. You probably remember seeing the same aircraft in the James Bond movie, The Man with the Golden Gun.

The widespread appeal of this aircraft proved long lasting, not only in the 1940s but years later, as an exciting transport gadget for Mr. Bond. At least after his over-the-dam ditch landing, a dwarf manservant serving up bottle of Dom Perignon didn’t greet Mr. Thompson.

This author's recent discovery that Thompson at one time owned other flying boats such as a Grumman Widgeon and even a second "Seabee" amphibian was a quiet unexpected turn. Most of these were stored at local airports rather that at the river location for logistics reasons.  

Aside from the pier and floating dock, the Louisville Seaport also had a small onshore building used for parts storage and maintenance items. It was nothing elaborate, perhaps one of the Municipal Wharves smaller, unused buildings. The municipal wharves complex, however, was quiet elaborate at one time. William Happel of Haps Aerial recalls buying a propeller at this location from Thompson.

 


W.C. Thompson’s Republic RC3 "Seabee" amphibian in the Ohio River

R. David Schooling is a freelance author and historian based near Louisville, Ky., with deep interests in little-known aspects of the area's history. He has written numerous articles and has been published widely, in local and regional publications, especially urban-affairs issues.
An Air Force veteran who served in Japan and Europe, he eventually was assigned and detached to the Royal Air Forces in Germany. Now retired and living just across the Ohio River in Clarksville, Ind., he is working on his latest endeavor, historic electric railways. Inter-urbans, elevated’s and rapid transit were all abundant in Louisville years ago.

 

 

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