Archive for the ‘Aviation’ Category

Short memories for Indian Rafale deal

October 16, 2018

The Rafale deal was done in 2012 when Manmohan Singh was still Prime Minister. The bidding process actually began in 2007. All the “side deals” would have been well structured at this time. The current Modi Government could only have taken over the “tributary mechanisms” of money flows from what was already structured by the previous government. Of course these would have been embellished a great deal.

Rahul Gandhi, it would seem, is trying desperately to obliterate the personal Bofors stain.

I wrote this in January 2012: Indian MMRCA: Dassault’s Rafale dumps its price to beat the Eurofighter

Finally the winner of the Indian MMRCA competition has been announced (or at least the L1 bidder) and it seems that the French dumped their prices for the Rafale to beat the Eurofighter by $4-5 million per aircraft. The performance of the Rafale in the Libyan adventure was also to its benefit compared to the Eurofighter Typhoon. Normally in the procurement process, the L1 bidder is called for final discussions to settle the contract and some further price negotiations can be expected. The contract will not be settled till the next fiscal year (after April 2012) and it would be very unusual for the evaluated L1 bidder not to get the contract. This contract is particularly important for Dassault since not only did the Rafale need a boost but also because they are guaranteed a market with the Indian Air Force for at least the next 15 years.


Related:

https://ktwop.com/tag/dassault-rafale/


 

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Rolls Royce plagued by Trent 1000 compressor durability issues

June 14, 2018

Rolls Royce had a bunch of teething problems with the Trent 900 (for the Airbus 380) which seem to have been largely fixed though they spent at least $300 million to replace faulty engines. Maintenance costs are turning out much higher than anticipated.

The Trent 1000 for the Dreamliner however has been plagued by issues through its entire design and testing cycle (and a prototype engine even exploded on its test bed in 2010). Both the Dreamliner and the Trent 1000 took much longer to reach the production stage than anticipated and the development programmes were under severe pressure to fix problems as they occurred. Certainly some long-term issues would have been pushed back to be fixed at a later time (fingers crossed). Two years ago ANA replaced all 100 Rolls Royce Trent 1000 engines on its Dreamliners.  At that time it was cracking and corrosion of turbine blades. Now it seems to be “durability issues” in the IP compressor.

This Trent 1000 “fix” could be much more expensive for Rolls Royce than the Trent 900 fixes. According to the FT, “Existing issues will already cost the group some £750m up to 2019 and potentially a further £200m after that.”

AINOnline: 

Rolls-Royce has identified another durability issue in its Trent 1000 series engines, this time involving the intermediate pressure compressor in the Package B version. The variant has flown in service on Boeing 787s since 2012 and consists of 166 engines. The engine company said it has agreed with regulatory authorities to carry out a one-time inspection of the Package B fleet to “further inform” its understanding of the problem.

Rolls added that it expects the European Aviation Safety Agency to issue an airworthiness directive in “the coming days,” resulting in “limited impact” on customer operations.

“We are committed to eliminating this intermediate pressure compressor [IPC] durability issue from the Trent 1000 fleet and we have already successfully run a redesigned Package C IPC in a development engine,” said Rolls-Royce in a June 11 statement. “As a precautionary measure we have also launched a redesign of the relevant part in the Package B engine as well as in the Trent 1000 Ten engine, where, although currently a young fleet, we have not seen any examples of reduced IPC durability.” 

In April Rolls-Royce advised operators that its Trent 1000 Package C engine would require more inspections than previously planned to address premature wear of compressor blades, a problem that first came to light in 2016. The company reported that it had delivered 380 Package C engines, powering some 25 percent of all Boeing 787s in service. The majority passed inspection and therefore continues to fly, according to a Rolls-Royce spokesman who declined to enumerate “majority.”

The UK aero-engine company said in late May that it would accelerate the development of the permanent fix to the IPC rotor issue on Package C engines and that it had installed a revised compressor blade in an engine scheduled for testing this month. “We aim to have first parts available for engine overhaul in late 2018, rather than 2019 as originally planned,” Rolls-Royce civil aerospace president Chris Cholerton said.

Rolls also said it had begun speeding the development of the new blade and a dedicated facility in Derby to build engines on which it will test it. It also developed new on-wing inspection techniques to support airlines in meeting the requirements of the airworthiness directives “as quickly and efficiently as possible,” it said. 

Cholerton admitted Rolls-Royce expects the number of aircraft affected “to rise in the short term, as the deadline for the completion of initial inspections approaches,” though it remains tight-lipped on the actual numbers. “We are not confirming number of aircraft grounded,” the spokesman said.

slide – Rolls Royce


 

MH370 search ends – not pilot suicide but the most successful state hijacking ever

May 29, 2018

So the “official” private search has ended.

A privately funded search for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 has drawn to a close. US-based company Ocean Infinity had been using a deep-sea vessel to conduct a 90-day survey of a vast area of the southern Indian Ocean.

But it found nothing and Malaysia’s government says it has no plans to begin any new searches. The plane disappeared on 8 March 2014 while flying from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 239 people on board. There are still fierce debates over how the flight ended.

The hunt for the missing plane formed one of the largest surface and underwater searches in aviation history, covering more than 120,000 sq km (46,300 miles) of the Indian Ocean.

A few weeks ago the disinformation machine tried to pin the blame on a suicidal pilot – but it was all speculation and fairly idle speculation at that. The most credible explanation – which is still fairly incredulous remains the one I posted on April 13th, 2014 about 5 weeks after the event – that this was the most successful state-sponsored hijacking event ever.

MH370: The most successful, state-sponsored hijacking ever?

…….

This was no accident!

The most parsimonious explanation is that this vanishing trick was the deliberate and intended result of an operation which was spectacularly and successfully implemented.

Who then and why?

There were 20 Chinese software experts on board. They had been working for Freescale Technology in Texas on technology which could convert ordinary aircraft into “stealth” aircraft. Patents had been applied for but have not yet been granted. MH 370 was carrying a “large” package as a Chinese diplomatic package and was therefore not subject to any search or security procedures. The speculative, uncorroborated but plausible and most parsimonious explanation becomes:

  1. The Chinese software engineers “stole” technology on behalf of the Chinese government from Freescale.
  2. Freescale was slow in picking up the theft and alerting the authorities.
  3. US intelligence and security agencies were unable to prevent the engineers and their package from reaching Malaysia.
  4. They were also unable to prevent the engineers boarding MH370 bound for Beijing or the precious cargo from being loaded as diplomatic cargo.
  5. The operational arm of a US Security Agency took the decision – without recourse to their political masters – to prevent the engineers and their cargo from reaching Beijing, at any cost.
  6. Since collateral damage would be high it was imperative that all evidence be obliterated.
  7. With the probable assistance of Boeing, and soon after take-off, the in-flight computer was remotely re-programmed.
  8. The auto-pilot was remotely put into uninterruptible mode.
  9. The Malaysian military was “persuaded” – without the knowledge of their political masters – to ignore the plane’s turn-back and flight westwards over Malaysia for a few critical hours.
  10. The passengers and crew were all “executed” by the excursion up to 45,000 feet implemented by the autopilot.
  11. The remainder of the flight path was to get the plane and it’s cargo into an as inaccessible a location as possible.
  12. The aircraft was allowed to run out of fuel such that the auto-pilot made as soft a  ditching as possible in as remote a place as possible. This increased the probability of the plane sinking intact with little or no debris.
  13. The location was deliberately chosen to be over deep ocean so that any black-box evidence would be almost impossible to come by.


 

 

Four years since MH370 vanished

March 8, 2018

It is almost inconceivable that a commercial airliner with 239 passengers and crew just vanished off the face of the earth. But that is what happened 4 years ago today.

Somebody knows what happened.

Nothing much more is known since one year after the most perplexing incident of modern aviation.

MH370: One year on and those who know still aren’t telling

Some few do know what happened to MH370 a year ago.

My post from April 13th last year speculating that this was a state sponsored and highly successful hijacking, is just as valid or invalid as it was then. There has been much speculation since but no new, certain, evidence has appeared. In fact even the “handshake” tracking which places the plane in the Southern Indian Ocean turns out to be fairly speculative in itself.

Whatever happened to MH370 was no accident. In one year there has been no evidence to alter my belief that this was the most successful hijacking and “disappearing” of a commercial airline and its 239 passengers and crew. And the objective – which was clearly achieved – was to prevent some passengers or cargo or both from reaching Beijing.

MH370: Emirates CEO suggests plane’s flight was controlled, October 11, 2014

MH370: Further indications of a deliberate event to prevent technology reaching Beijing, June 22, 2014

MH370: Very short preliminary report issued – could have been “laundered”, May 2, 2014

MH370: The most successful, state-sponsored hijacking ever?, April 13, 2014

MH370: The altitude excursion which could have rendered most unconscious, April 1, 2014

A deliberate excursion?

The calculations leading to the search area are speculative


 

MH370: Too mysterious a disappearance to be accidental

October 3, 2017

I wrote quite a few posts about the MH370 vanishing when it happened almost three and a half years ago.

Australia has now ended its search and  Australian investigators “have delivered their final report into missing Malaysia Airlines flight 370, saying it is “almost inconceivable” the aircraft has not been found”.

BBC: 

“It is almost inconceivable and certainly societally unacceptable in the modern aviation era with 10 million passengers boarding commercial aircraft every day, for a large commercial aircraft to be missing and for the world not to know with certainty what became of the aircraft and those on board,” the Australian Transport Safety Bureau said on Tuesday.

“Despite the extraordinary efforts of hundreds of people involved in the search from around the world, the aircraft has not been located.”

Their final report reiterated estimates from December and April that the Boeing 777 was most likely located 25,000 sq km (9,700 sq miles) to the north of the earlier search zone in the southern Indian Ocean.

But some people somewhere know what happened, but they are not telling. The aircraft and its 239 passengers and crew just vanished in March 2014.

Little has changed since I wrote this:

MH370: One year on and those who know still aren’t telling

March 8, 2015

Some few do know what happened to MH370 a year ago.

My post from April 13th last year speculating that this was a state sponsored and highly successful hijacking, is just as valid or invalid as it was then. There has been much speculation since but no new, certain, evidence has appeared. In fact even the “handshake” tracking which places the plane in the Southern Indian Ocean turns out to be fairly speculative in itself.

Whatever happened to MH370 was no accident. In one year there has been no evidence to alter my belief that this was the most successful hijacking and “disappearing” of a commercial airline and its 239 passengers and crew. And the objective – which was clearly achieved – was to prevent some passengers or cargo or both from reaching Beijing.

MH370: Emirates CEO suggests plane’s flight was controlled, October 11, 2014

MH370: Further indications of a deliberate event to prevent technology reaching Beijing, June 22, 2014

MH370: Very short preliminary report issued – could have been “laundered”, May 2, 2014

MH370: The most successful, state-sponsored hijacking ever?, April 13, 2014

MH370: The altitude excursion which could have rendered most unconscious, April 1, 2014

A deliberate excursion?


EngineAlliance GP7200 engine fails on Air France Airbus380

October 1, 2017

This time it wasn’t a Rolls Royce engine. It was an Engine Alliance (GE/Pratt & Whitney) GP7200 on an Air France Airbus A380-861 (registration F-HPJE).

Fortunately this was one engine on a 4-engine plane. Even two-engine planes (B777 for example) are supposed to be capable of making a controlled descent with just one engine, but losing one in four is a lot less chancy than one in two.

AviationSafety:

An Air France Airbus A380, operating flight AF66 from Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport, France, to Los Angeles International Airport, California, USA, diverted to Goose Bay, Canada following an en route engine malfunction (Engine Alliance GP7200). 
The aircraft lost the no.4 engine inlet cowling. A decision was made to divert to Goose Bay where a safe landing was carried out on runway 26 at at 15:42 UTC. 
After landing, ARFF reporting damage to the leading edge of the wing above the no. 4 engine. Additionally, the no.4 engine cowling had disintegrated. 
Photos from the incident seem to show that the entire fan is missing from the engine. 

EngineAlliance is an American aircraft engine manufacturer based in East Hartford, Connecticut. The company is a 50/50 joint venture between GE Aviation, a subsidiary of General Electric, and Pratt & Whitney, a subsidiary of United Technologies.

The GP7200 is a twin spool axial flow turbofan that delivers 70,000 pounds of thrust for the Airbus A380. The GP7200 is derived from two of the most successful wide body engine programs in aviation history—the PW4000 and GE90 families. The engine benefits from each programs’ latest proven technologies and incorporates lessons learned from more than 25 million flight hours of safe operation on both engines. The GP7200 entered service in 2008 with the world’s largest A380 fleet, Emirates. The first GP7200-powered A380 was delivered to Air France in 2009. 

No injuries, no fatalities.

The GP7200 competes with the Rolls Royce Trent 900 for the A380. It has always struck me that with only two suppliers available, this is a strange competition where neither can afford the other to fail. In fact the plane manufacturers and the airlines both need that neither fails. Markets don’t like monopoly situations. History shows that monopoly situations can lead to the death of a product or even a technology. It may take time but alternative technologies do appear.

As I wrote some 7 years ago:

Trent 900 vs. GP7200: Competitive pressures getting too hot? 

…… It follows that for the airlines and the airplane manufacturers that the market (in this case the number of A 380s) be split between the two suppliers such that:

  1. neither supplier gains a dominant market position such that it can dictate the engine price,
  2. each supplier has a large enough market share and sufficient earnings such that their continuation in the market is not jeopardised (for the sake of spares, service, development of new engines and, above all, to avoid a monopoly situation arising by the exit of one supplier).

If either engine supplier has an uncompetitive product – whether for price or for performance – the monopoly becomes inevitable and immediately jeopardises the continuation of the market itself. So if only one engine supplier was available, the A 380 itself becomes non-viable.


 

ANA to replace all 100 Rolls Royce Trent 1000 engines on its Dreamliners

September 1, 2016

An in-flight, uncontained, engine failure not only trashes that particular engine, but can also send shrapnel into potentially vulnerable areas of the aircraft (wing fuel tanks for example). The aircraft may still be able to fly without that engine but the effects of shrapnel are potentially lethal.

Rolls Royce had its share of teething problems with its Trent 900 engine for the Airbus A380 (Trent 900 failures) and had to spend at least $300 million to replace faulty engines. There are only two engines from two manufacturers available for the A380 (Trent 900 from Rolls Royce and the GP7200 from the Engine Alliance – a 50/50 JV between GE and Pratt & Whitney), and competition is limited. Whereas the A380 has 4 turbofan engines, Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner has only two. Again competition is limited between Rolls Royce’s Trent 1000 and GE’s GenX.

But the Trent 1000 is having erosion/corrosion problems which are causing blades to crack. Blade failure is particularly nasty since the entire engine downstream of the failure can be easily wiped out. Worse, a broken blade or its fragments travel at high speed and can be ejected through the engine casing creating the “uncontained failure”. Vibration induced failures usually show up relatively quickly but corrosion/erosion induced failures can take a few thousand hours of operation to show up. In any event, the Japanese airline ANA has five affected engines but is replacing all 100 engines on its 50 aircraft.

The Guardian:The Japanese airline ANA has said it will replace all 100 Rolls-Royce engines on its fleet of Boeing 787 Dreamliners after three engine failures in 2016 caused by corrosion and cracking of turbine blades.

The world’s largest 787 operator said all 50 of its 787s would receive engines fitted with new blades, a process that could take up to three years.

ANA had five engines that currently needed repairs “but we will replace all the 100 engines for enhanced safety measures”, the company said, adding that it had already repaired three engines.

A flying boat or a swimming aircraft? China rolls out the AG600

July 25, 2016

China unveils AG600 – Peoples Daily

AVIC TA-600, Flying boat
The AVIC TA-600, also known as AG-600, is a large amphibious flying boat that is being designed and built in China by the Aviation Industry Corporation of China.  
Top speed: 570 km/h, Wingspan: 40 m, Length: 40 m Maximum take-off weight 51.5 t.
Manufacturer: Aviation Industry Corporation of China Wikipedia
AG600 - AVIC
China has just rolled out the world’s largest amphibious plane, AVIC’s TA600 designated the AG600.  The AG600 is intended
to fight forest fires and be used for maritime search and rescue (SAR) operations. Being able to land on water means that they can quickly pump in tons of water to fight forest fires. For SAR purposes, the ability of large seaplanes like the TA-600 to land directly near survivors means more rapid rescue responses compared to slower helicopters, which will be attractive to Chinese maritime enforcement agencies. Perhaps most important to current regional tensions, the TA-600 may also offer a new scale and means to rapidly deploy or resupply any current or new remote island garrisons in the South China Sea. A number of islets and reefs are too small to have runways to accommodate conventional transport planes like the Y-8, but sited so as to have strategic value.
It is not as large as the eight-engined Howard Hughes H-4 “Spruce Goose”, the largest seaplane ever built, which weighed 180 tons in full and had a wingspan of 97 meters. But the Spruce Goose only flew a short distance on its maiden flight in 1947 and never lifted again.
But more to the point, the AG 600 can carry 50 passengers whether people being rescued, or troops on the move to a South China Sea island. Certainly the AG600 adds significant strategic capability to the Chinese claims in the South China Sea.
Nov. 2, 1947: The Hughes Aircraft H-4 Hercules "Spruce Goose" during short flight in the Long Beach-Los Angeles Harbor. This photo was published in the Nov. 3, 1947 LA Times.

Nov. 2, 1947: The Hughes Aircraft H-4 Hercules “Spruce Goose” during short flight in the Long Beach-Los Angeles Harbor. This photo was published in the Nov. 3, 1947 LA Times.


 

Hot air balloon does in 11 days and 6 hours what Solar Impulse 2 may do in 17 months

July 23, 2016

Solar Impulse 2 set off on its journey around the world on 9th March 2015. Tomorrow it sets off on its last leg from Cairo to Abu Dhabi and it should complete its journey in just under 17 months.

In the meantime, it is reported that Steve Fossett’s record of 13 days and 8 hours to circumnavigate the world in a hot air balloon, set in 2002 has been broken. A Russian balloonist has completed the journey in 11 days and 6 hours. Fedor Konyukhov has been using a Cameron balloon and set off on 12th July.

Flyer: Russian adventurer Fedor Konyukhov has set off on a solo round-the-world flight in a balloon, aiming to beat Steve Fossett’s 14-year-old record for the 33,000 kilometre trip.

Konyukhov set off from Northam, Western Australia yesterday – the same place Steve Fossett set off from in July 2002. The record stands at 13 days 8 hours 33 minutes. Konyukhov is hoping to beat the record by a substantial amount using up-to-date technologies. He is, however, using a very similar balloon – a Roziere 550 built by British company Cameron Balloons.

“Nobody in the world makes better balloons that the Brits,” said Konyukhov, “so our balloon is being made by Cameron Balloons and it will fly on Russian helium.”

balloon australia

Fox News:

An official says a Russian balloonist has claimed a new 11-day round the world record. Support crew member Steve Griffin says Fedor Konyukhov’s balloon on Saturday passed directly over the airfield at the Australian town of Northam where he began his journey on July 12.

American Steve Fossett also started from Northam to set a record of 13 days and eight hours for his 33,000-kilometer (21,000-mile) journey in 2002.

Konyukhov has taken roughly 11 days and six hours. …… Konyukhov is expected to land later Saturday.

Cameron balloon

Structure of the Cameron balloon image via Flyer.co.uk


 

JAS Gripen 39E – A “6th generation” stealth fighter with anti-stealth radar

May 15, 2016

Saab’s JAS Gripen Next Generation (NG or E/F) has been called the “planet’s best stealth fighter and a step improved from Lockheed Martin’s F-35. 

The reason that the JAS 39E may earn “sixth generation” tag is that it has been designed with these issues in mind. Software comes first: the new hardware runs the latest Mission System 21 software, the latest roughly-biennial release in the series that started with the earlier, A and B models of the aircraft. 

Long life requires adaptability, both across missions and through-life. The Gripen was designed as a small aircraft with a relatively large payload. And by porting most of the software to the new version, the idea is that all of the C and D models’ weapons and capabilities, and then some, are ready to go on the E. 

The Swedes have invested in state-of-the-art sensors, including what may be the first in-service electronic warfare system using gallium nitride technology. It’s significant that a lot of space is devoted to the system used to pick out friendly from hostile aircraft; a good IFF (“identification friend-or-foe”) system is most important in a confused situation where civilian, friendly, neutral, questionable and hostile actors are sharing the same airspace.

The first Gripen E is to be unveiled in the coming week on May 18th.

It’s supposed to have “anti-stealth” radar (of course if anti-stealth radar becomes standard it makes “stealth” obsolete). Which means that “deep stealth” will have to be developed next and when that can be detected, the defence industry – like physicists – will have to go looking for “dark stealth”.

But it looks good.

JAS Gripen 39NG test aircraft - image Saab

JAS Gripen 39NG test aircraft – image Saab


 


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