-Those Fantastic Flying Machines-


Man must rise above the Earth—to the top of the atmosphere and beyond—for only thus will he fully understand the world in which he lives.— Socrates


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Saturday, December 31, 2011

Thai Airways Boeing 747-400 HS-TGH

Friday, December 30, 2011

Emirates Airlines Airbus A380 A6-EDT

Belgium - Air Force General Dynamics F-16A Fighting Falcon FA-110

Swissair McDonnell Douglas MD-81

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

De Havilland Canada DHC-2 Beaver Mk1

Delta Air Lines Airbus A330-300 N815NW

Sukhoi Su-27UB

Poland - Air Force Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-29UB 15

Fly Dubai Boeing 737-800 A6-FDW

The Flying Bulls Douglas DC-6B N996DM

Air Berlin de Havilland Canada DHC-8-400Q Dash 8 D-ABQA

Netherlands - Government Fokker 70 PH-KBX

Stars Away Aviation Douglas DC-8-62CF ZS-OSI

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Curtiss P-40E Warhawk N940AK

American Airlines Boeing 777-223/ER

Dreamliner unleashed: A closer look at the 787's record-setting trip (Video)


It was a Dreamliner trip for the record books as a 787 test plane did something no mid-size jet has ever done.
"It's really cool," said Mike Carriker, new airplane development chief pilot. "We took off from Seattle, turned left and flew around the world."
That around-the-world flight set records for speed and distance for the plane's weight class.
Two days before, Boeing's history-making team of 12 had packed its gear and saddled up for takeoff.
"Like a thoroughbred horse that's been trapped up in the barn, we're going to let this airplane run," said Carriker
They boarded the plane with an eye on weight, a focus on safety and a goal of testing the plane's state-of-the-art, aerodynamic capabilities.
"It's the most fuel-efficient plane in its class, almost 20-percent more fuel efficient than anything of its size," said Mike Sinnett, vice president and chief project engineer of the 787 program.
On Tuesday, Dec. 6th at 11:02 a.m., the 787 took off from Seattle's Boeing field. After crossing the Atlantic Ocean, the jet entered European airspace in Spain, went down the Mediterranean, across the Middle East and over India.
The airplane landed in Dhaka, Bangladesh, marking the Dreamliner's distance record of 10,337 nautical miles. Less than two hours after re-fueling, the team was in the air on the way back to Seattle.
Crew members spent their time in a sparse interior -- sleeping on the floor and eating prepared food. Engineers tested systems as six pilots took turns at the helm.
"It was incredible how everything was by-the-plan," said Capt. Rod Skaar. "The fuel burn was spot-on for the duration of the flight."
On Thursday, Dec. 8th at 5:29 a.m., the Dreamliner landed, securing its second world record -- this one for eastbound speed around the world.
It clocked in at 42 hours and 27 minutes. There was no previous record in this weight class.
The team tested the Dreamliner's high-performance capabilities, and now has two world records to show for it

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

McDonnell Douglas DC-9-31

Delta Boeing 737-832

Boeing 737-8BK

Fiat G-91R/3

Flight Design CT-SW

Antonov An-72

Aerotechnik L-13SE Vivat

New United - Single Operating Certificate

New United - Single Operating Certificate
Though their merger was completed on October 1, 2010, it wasn't until this morning that United and Continental became one operationally. Yesterday the FAA issued a single operating certificate for the merged company and later in the afternoon the final flight to use the Continental call sign, Continental 86 from Shanghai Pudong to Newark Liberty, reached the gate at 5:23 PM eastern standard time.

The two carriers' reservations systems have yet to be integrated, and many United planes are in previous liveries, while a small number of former Continental aircraft are still wearing the old titles, but the SOC marks a major milestone in the integration of the two airlines.

For belly cargo, integration of operations began almost immediately after the merger and by earlier this year most of the services had been harmonized under the brands GEN (general freight service) and EXP (Express/guaranteed service), though there remain separate sales lines and websites and in some places co-located operations - for now.

United is aiming for an April 1, 2012 implementation of a new technology management system called United Cargo 360°. This is an entirely new piece of technology, rather than anything either carrier previously had in place, and once fully implemented will be the capstone on single unit operations.

In some other United operations, such as passenger reservations, the carrier is relying on the legacy systems of one prior carrier (in this case, the carrier will convert over to Continental's existing reservations system, SHARES).

This United 777-200ER (N792UA, msn: 26934) is seen departing to Narita from Seattle in the carriers' merged livery.

Photographer: Alex Kwanten

Southwest orders the 737MAX

Southwest orders the 737MAX
For the third time in a month, Boeing has confirmed a massive order for new aircraft. November saw a huge 777 order from Emirates and a massive 737 (NG and MAX) order from Lion Air of Indonesia. This time, it is Southwest Airlines that has signed on the dotted line - for 150 737MAX and 58 737NGs. The deal also includes options for 150 additional MAXs. With this order, Southwest will also become the official "launch customer" for the 737MAX, though other airlines have already committed to it. Southwest will be the first to receive a 737MAX.

Aside from a handful of 727s operated in the 1970s and early 1980s, Southwest has been an all-737 airline since its formation - though it has historically operated only four of the nine 737 types, the -200, -300, -500, and -700. Southwest was also instrumental in the changes that modernized the 737 in 1984 (the -300) and again in 1998 (the -700/NG). It currently operates a massive 565-strong fleet of 737s, not counting the 52 737s operated by newly-purchased AirTran. Earlier this year Southwest announced that it would expand to the 737-800, allowing it more flexibility at slot-restricted airports such as La Guardia. Boeing's first teaser picture of a Southwest 737MAX has two over-wing exits, indicating a 737MAX-8.

That in mind, Boeing's Jim Albaugh commented on the relationship between Boeing and the airline in the official announcement:

"Southwest is a special Boeing customer and has been a true partner in the evolution of the 737. Throughout our 40-year relationship, our two companies have collaborated to launch the 737-300, 737-500 and the Next-Generation 737-700 – affirming the 737 as the world's preferred single-aisle airplane. As launch customer for the 737 MAX, Southwest, Boeing and the 737 continue that legacy."

As the 737MAX deliveries come online, three types will exit Southwest's fleet - the aging 737-500, of which the carrier maintains only a small sub-fleet of 25, the 737-300, and the 717-200s inherited from AirTran, which will likely not have an ongoing role in the combined carrier.

Seen here is a brand-new 737-700 (N957WN, msn: 48158) returning to BFI on a test flight. Delivered in May, Southwest has taken delivery of 17 737-700s in 2011, through November, with two more likely to deliver this calendar year.

Photographer: Alex Kwanten

747-8 Intercontinental Earns Certification

747-8 Intercontinental Earns Certification
On Wednesday, December 14th, the FAA granted Boeing an amended type certificate for the 747-8 intercontinental. The 467-seat aircraft is now ready for sale and has also gained EASA approval. This is the third aircraft that Boeing has certified in 2011 and brings to a conclusion two years of test flying and modification. Seen here is the third 747-8i (msn: 37500) departing on a test flight in November. Testing concluded on October 31, but flights for the FAA continued after that. This aircraft will eventually be delivered to Abu Dhabi Amiri Flight in VIP configuration.

Lufthansa is the primary customer for the 747-8i, with twenty orders. Korean Air will receive five (as well as a couple of 747-8Fs, making it thus far the only customer for both variants). Nigeria's Arik Air has placed an order for two more. Boeing is also believed to have commitments for up to twenty-four additional Intercontinentals, 15 possibly from Hong Kong Airlines, five from Air China, and four from Russian carrier Transaero. Several intercontinentals are on the flight line at Paine field and deliveries are expected to begin in the first quarter of 2012.

Photographer: Alex Kwanten



Analysis by Jesse Emspak 
Mon Dec 19, 2011 03:07 PM ET 
(1) Comments | Leave a Comment
The Iranian government says it has downed a “stealth” drone, not by shooting at it but by fooling it's GPS system into thinking it was landing at its home base. The story appeared in the Christian Science Monitor, which featured an interview with an Iranian engineer, explaining how they did it.
Senior U.S. officials deny it, but in principle, fooling a GPS signal isn’t that complicated. Global Positioning System signals aren’t very strong -- local television can interfere with them sometimes. According to the Iranian source, if a drone's signal were jammed, the drone would go on autopilot. At that point, the Iranian military could “spoof” the GPS signal, essentially fooling the drone into thinking it was in a different location than it actually was.
There are two GPS signals that go out to drones. One is a military-grade signal that is heavily encrypted. The other is the civilian one that isn’t as secure. By fooling the drone, the Iranians saved themselves the trouble of actually trying to break the encryption on the telemetry from the drone’s base.
The captured drone, called an RQ-170 sentinel, was designed with stealth in mind, which is why it looks rather like a B-2 bomber. It also contains some of the most advanced electronics the military uses.
While this is in principle a simple operation, the devil is in the details. It isn’t clear that the Iranian military could have fooled the drone with enough precision to land it without crashing, and the drone that appears in the Iranian news services’ footage looks to be in remarkably good shape. So there are skeptics out there who think the Iranian government is shooting for a propaganda victory and hasn’t actually managed to take over the drone.
That said, it's also true that drones’ signals aren’t as secure as they might be. In 2009, Iraqi insurgents were able to download the video feeds from U.S. military drones with inexpensive hardware and software.
And on top of that, there’s the possibility of hacking in the other direction. In August, two security researchers demonstrated that a drone built for a few thousand dollars from surplus parts could hack into phone systems and Wi-Fi networks.
The U.S. Air Force has been working on a navigation system that doesn’t depend on GPS for the last two years, so it's certainly aware of the problem.
More than a military setback for the United States, however, this incident might have diplomatic repercussions. The United States was using the drone to monitor Iran’s uranium-enrichment program, which the Iranians say is for energy; the United States has condemned the program as an attempt to build a nuclear weapon. Iran has taken its case to the United Nations, with Iranian television calling the overflights an act of war. If Iran can convince other nations that the United States has acted unlawfully, nations may find it difficult to support additional sanctions.
Via: Christian Science Monitor

Image: Wikimedia Commons

Friday, December 16, 2011

Discovery's historic cargo bay goes dark

Discovery's historic cargo bay goes dark


Posted: December 16, 2011

After deploying 21 satellites from expansive confines, including the Hubble Space Telescope, commercial spacecraft and military eavesdroppers, hosting scientific platforms and hauling key pieces of the International Space Station, the payload bay of space shuttle Discovery was closed and locked as the spacecraft was powered off for the final time Friday.

With commands sent from the firing room in the nearby Launch Control Center, the port door swung shut first, followed by the starboard door. Then the orbiter was powered down forever.

The decommissioned ship is getting ready to sail from her Florida spaceport one last time in April. But instead of thundering into orbit she will be departing piggyback atop a 747 carrier jet headed for public display at the Smithsonian.

Technicians at the Kennedy Space Center shut the 60-foot-long, clam-shell doors inside Orbiter Processing Facility bay 1 as the "transition and retirement" process winds down on the most-flown shuttle.

Discovery's rich history of service featured 39 spaceflights, spanning 148,221,675 miles and 5,830 orbits of Earth.

Discovery carried out both shuttle return-to-flight missions in 1988 and 2005 to help America's space program rebound after tragedies, performed daring satellite repair missions in the early 1980's, deployed the Hubble Space Telescope and the Ulysses solar probe during launches in 1990, did the first rendezvous with the Russian space station Mir in 1995 and final joint shuttle docking in 1998, and played an integral role in building the International Space Station.

Construction of Discovery began in August 1979 and the spacecraft was rolled out of the Palmdale factory in October 1983. It became NASA's third operational space shuttle with its maiden voyage in August 1984.

As the payload bay goes dark a final time, we remember the remarkable spacewalks that took place in that cargo hold to retrieve a pair of broken spacecraft by Joe Allen and Dale Gardner in November 1984 and successful work to fix a wayward Navy communications satellite by Ox Van Hoften and Bill Fisher in August 1985, Hubble being hoisted out by the robotic arm in April 1990 to open a new window on the Universe or two subsequent return visits to service the observatory by spacewalkers in 1997 and 1999, Mark Lee and Carl Meade floating untethered above the bay in September 1994 to test new emergency jet-powered backpacks, and massive sections of the International Space Station like the Harmony node and Japanese laboratory riding up to the outpost aboard Discovery.

It's a bygone era not to be seen again in the foreseeable future.

Photo credit: Justin Ray/Spaceflight Now