Category Archives: Aircraft

The glorious history of the best plane Boeing has ever built

This week in 1994, the Boeing 777 airliner made its first flight – kicking off a career that would revolutionize the airline industry.

Once every few decades, an airplane comes along and simply redefines what a modern airliner is capable of delivering for airlines and its passengers. In 1957, Boeing changed the game with its first jet-powered airliner, the 707. In 1969, Boeing turned the airline industry upside down with the introduction of the 747 jumbo jet. In 1994, Boeing did it again with the 777.

In the two decades since its first flight, the 777 has become the trusty long-haul workhorse for the world’s international airlines. Through May of 2017, Boeing has sold a whopping 1,911 777s – making it the best wide-body airliner in company history.

Here’s a closer look at the history of the Boeing 777.

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With more than two decades of service under its belt, the 777 is getting ready for a major makeover, In 2019, Boeing will introduce the next generation 777X. As expected, half of the 777X pre-orders have come from the Dubai’s Emirates.

With more than two decades of service under its belt, the 777 is getting ready for a major makeover, In 2019, Boeing will introduce the next generation 777X. As expected, half of the 777X pre-orders have come from the Dubai's Emirates.

In fact, Emirates has accounted for 15% of all 777s ever sold.

In fact, Emirates has accounted for 15% of all 777s ever sold.

Over the next two decades, Emirates would become a global aviation powerhouse. In the process, the airline would operate a fleet of more than 120 777s — the largest in the world.

Over the next two decades, Emirates would become a global aviation powerhouse. In the process, the airline would operate a fleet of more than 120 777s — the largest in the world.

However, the 777 has no greater customer than Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum. In 1996, the Sheikh’s small Dubai-based airline received its first 777-200.

However, the 777 has no greater customer than Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum.  In 1996, the Sheikh's small Dubai-based airline received its first 777-200.

… Turkish Airlines.

... Turkish Airlines.

… Air New Zealand and,…

... Air New Zealand and,...

… Air Canada,…

... Air Canada,...

… Air China,…

... Air China,...

… Air France,…

... Air France,...

… Etihad,…

... Etihad,...

… Qatar,…

... Qatar,...

… Singapore,…

... Singapore,...

… United,…

... United,...

…. Delta,…

.... Delta,...

Today, the Boeing 777 is one of the most popular long-haul airliners in the world. It’s in service many of the world’s most prominent airlines including American,…

Today, the Boeing 777 is one of the most popular long-haul airliners in the world. It's in service many of the world's most prominent airlines including American,...

Also known as the WorldLiner, the 200LR can carry 301 passengers nearly 11,000 miles.

Also known as the WorldLiner, the 200LR can carry 301 passengers nearly 11,000 miles.

In 2006, Boeing introduced ultra-long-range 777-200LR.

In 2006, Boeing introduced ultra-long-range 777-200LR.

In 2002, Boeing rolled out the extended range version of the Dash 300 called the 777-300ER. With more than 800 sold, the 300ER is by far the most popular version of the 777.

In 2002, Boeing rolled out the extended range version of the Dash 300 called the 777-300ER. With more than 800 sold, the 300ER is by far the most popular version of the 777.

In 1998, Boeing’s stretched the 777 to create the 550-seat 777-300.

In 1998, Boeing's stretched the 777 to create the 550-seat 777-300.

In 1996, Boeing rolled out a more potent version of the 777 with an even greater range called the 777-200IGW. It would later be renamed the 777-200ER for extended range.

In 1996, Boeing rolled out a more potent version of the 777 with an even greater range called the 777-200IGW. It would later be renamed the 777-200ER for extended range.

… The state-of-the-art Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental could not stop the success of the 777.

... The state-of-the-art Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental could not stop the success of the 777.

Even the record-breaking Airbus A380 superjumbo and the…

Even the record-breaking Airbus A380 superjumbo and the...

Along with the twin-engine Airbus A330, the Boeing 777 has decimated four-engine jumbo jet sales.

Along with the twin-engine Airbus A330, the Boeing 777 has decimated four-engine jumbo jet sales.

The rule change rendered modern three-engine airliners like the McDonnell-Douglas MD-11 obsolete overnight. They simply couldn’t match the four-engine jumbo jets’ people carrying ability. Nor could they match the twin-engine jets’ lower cost and increased efficiency.

The rule change rendered modern three-engine airliners like the McDonnell-Douglas MD-11 obsolete overnight. They simply couldn't match the four-engine jumbo jets' people carrying ability. Nor could they match the twin-engine jets' lower cost and increased efficiency.

With the 777, Boeing was able to convince the government to give the plane an ETOPS 180 rating.

With the 777, Boeing was able to convince the government to give the plane an ETOPS 180 rating.

In 1985, the Federal Aviation Administration softened its restrictions on the routes twin-engine jets can fly by giving the 767 an ETOPS 120 rating. That allowed the 767 to operate routes up to 120 minutes of single-engine flying time away from the nearest airport. This rule change allowed the 767 to cross the Atlantic: opening up a host of new opportunities for its operators.

In 1985, the Federal Aviation Administration softened its restrictions on the routes twin-engine jets can fly by giving the 767 an ETOPS 120 rating. That allowed the 767 to operate routes up to 120 minutes of single-engine flying time away from the nearest airport. This rule change allowed the 767 to cross the Atlantic: opening up a host of new opportunities for its operators.

At the same, early twin-engine wide-body jets such as the Airbus A300B2 were relegated to medium-haul routes.

At the same, early twin-engine wide-body jets such as the Airbus A300B2 were relegated to medium-haul routes.

…. The Lockheed L-1011 Tristar became en vogue.

.... The Lockheed L-1011 Tristar became en vogue.

As turbofan technology improved, smaller three-engine airliners such as the McDonnell-Douglas DC-10 and …

As turbofan technology improved, smaller three-engine airliners such as the McDonnell-Douglas DC-10 and ...

… Later the Boeing 747 all had multiple engines. After all, if one engine fails, there are three more to keep the plane in the air.

... Later the Boeing 747 all had multiple engines. After all, if one engine fails, there are three more to keep the plane in the air.

… Douglas DC-8, and…

... Douglas DC-8, and...

Traditionally, the prevailing logic in long haul flying has been that there’s safety in the number of engines a plane has. As a result, planes such as the four-engined Boeing 707,…

Traditionally, the prevailing logic in long haul flying has been that there's safety in the number of engines a plane has. As a result, planes such as the four-engined Boeing 707,...

In June 1995, the 777-200 entered service with United Airlines— marking the start of the plane’s game-changing career.

In June 1995, the 777-200 entered service with United Airlines— marking the start of the plane's game-changing career.

The resulting aircraft could carry 305 to 440 passengers up to 8,270 miles. The Dash 200 could cruise at 615 mph and fly at 37,900 ft.

The resulting aircraft could carry 305 to 440 passengers up to 8,270 miles. The Dash 200 could cruise at 615 mph and fly at 37,900 ft.

On June 12, 1994, all of Boeing’s hard work came to fruition with the first flight of the Boeing 777-200.

On June 12, 1994, all of Boeing's hard work came to fruition with the first flight of the Boeing 777-200.

In the back, passengers are treated to a more comfortable and quiet ride with greater in-flight entertainment options.

In the back, passengers are treated to a more comfortable and quiet ride with greater in-flight entertainment options.

Premium cabin passengers were treated to lie-flat seating.

Premium cabin passengers were treated to lie-flat seating.

The 777-200 featured a state-of-the-art two-person digital cockpit.

The 777-200 featured a state-of-the-art two-person digital cockpit.

Here is one of the 777’s signature triple axle main landing gears.

Here is one of the 777's signature triple axle main landing gears.

The jet’s high bypass turbofan engines built by Rolls-Royce, Pratt & Whitney, and GE are the largest engines ever installed on an airliner.

The jet's high bypass turbofan engines built by Rolls-Royce, Pratt & Whitney, and GE are the largest engines ever installed on an airliner.

Even though the 777-200 was smaller than the 747, it is still a massive airplane at 209 feet long with a 191-foot wingspan. The airplane weighed 506,000 lbs.

Even though the 777-200 was smaller than the 747, it is still a massive airplane at 209 feet long with a 191-foot wingspan. The airplane weighed 506,000 lbs.

To produce the 777, Boeing selected its Everett, Washington production facility.

To produce the 777, Boeing selected its Everett, Washington production facility.

Using 3D computer graphics, Boeing was able to digitally pre-assemble the 777, foregoing the need for costly and time-consuming clay models.

Using 3D computer graphics, Boeing was able to digitally pre-assemble the 777, foregoing the need for costly and time-consuming clay models.

From the start, Boeing knew the 777 would be special. It was the first airliner to be designed completely using a computer.

From the start, Boeing knew the 777 would be special. It was the first airliner to be designed completely using a computer.

During his eight years in charge of Ford, Mulally successfully guided the company through the dark days of the financial crisis without the need of a government bailout. The former 777 project manager is generally considered the best CEO in Ford history not named Henry Ford.

During his eight years in charge of Ford, Mulally successfully guided the company through the dark days of the financial crisis without the need of a government bailout. The former 777 project manager is generally considered the best CEO in Ford history not named Henry Ford.

Leading the 777 program was its general manager Alan Mulally. In 2006, Mulally left Boeing to become the CEO of the Ford Motor Company.

Leading the 777 program was its general manager Alan Mulally. In 2006, Mulally left Boeing to become the CEO of the Ford Motor Company.

… But smaller than the iconic 747 jumbo jet.

... But smaller than the iconic 747 jumbo jet.

The Boeing 777’s journey began in October of 1990 with an order from United Airlines for a twin-engine wide-body airliner larger than Boeing’s 767…

Forget Supersonic. Hypersonic Is the U.S. Military’s New Speed

In the future, military dominance will depend partly on how fast you can fly and how quickly you can get into space. That’s one of the guiding principles behind an advanced Pentagon project to build a spacecraft able to launch smaller payloads into low-earth orbit on short notice, and at lower cost.

Boeing Co.’s XS-1 (Experimental Spaceplane), which the company dubs “Phantom Express,” got a green light this week by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or Darpa. The XS-1 is designed to quickly lift satellites as heavy as 3,000 pounds into orbit for $5 million or less, launching from the ground, deploying a small upper-stage module, and then landing like a traditional airplane—the key to reuse and lower operating expense. Darpa also has a separate program aimed at launching 100-pound satellites for less than $1 million per launch, using conventional aircraft.

“The XS-1 would be neither a traditional airplane nor a conventional launch vehicle but rather a combination of the two, with the goal of lowering launch costs by a factor of ten and replacing today’s frustratingly long wait time with launch on demand,” Jess Spoonable, a Darpa program manager, said in a May 24 statement.

The Phantom Express will be powered with an Aerojet Rocketdyne Holdings Inc. AR-22 engine, a newer version of the main engine trio that served on NASA’s Space Shuttle. Boeing will design and build the aircraft through 2019, including 10 engine ground firings over 10 days, followed by 12-15 flight tests in 2020. A Boeing spokeswoman declined to comment on the project’s cost.

This Is A Bathroom On An Airplane

Let’s have a bit of fun and compare my bathroom to the one on a Boeing Business Jet, which the company has been showing off at the European Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition, or EBACE, in Geneva to make us all feel bad about ourselves.

In an effort to give into Boeing’s clear attempt to make me feel like a good-for-nothing “poor,” I just compared my own bathroom (which is built in the proper habitat for bathrooms—on land) to Boeing’s water closet in the sky.

As you can see, the Boeing bathroom—which is just a temporary restroom for occasional bowel movements during business travel—has a nice wide sink counter probably made of elephants’ tusks, tons of shelving and closets probably made out of the middle class’s hopes and dreams, a big wide mirror probably made of diamond, and a fantastic faucet that pours out tears from suckers known as taxpayers.

Plus, unless Boeing found a shrunken bar of soap and a bunch of smurf-sized bottles of shampoo, that bathroom looks enormous. By contrast, my bathroom—which isn’t temporary, and in which I have no choice but to have the vast majority of my bowel movements—is so small, the only way I could get the whole thing in the frame was to take this photo through the doorway. Look at this pathetic thing:

And what you see through the doorway is pretty much all there is. There’s a sink, a toilet and a shower, all far too close in proximity to one another. That means when I sit down to engage in human weight savings, my feet are right up against the sink, and when I get out of the shower, I’ve got to somehow squeeze between the sink and the sliding pane of glass—a move that has sent me on my ass a number of times.

That’s not even mentioning the disaster that lies behind those no-longer-transparent sliding glass panes—it’s bad. I should probably clean it. Plus, just look at the “tiles.” My walls are literally held up by screws:

So to Boeing, I say: I get it. Your little jet bathroom is better than mine (and frankly, my entire house) in every way, and I’m a worthless little poor.

The rest of the jet is pretty nice, too.

The Next Big Boeing-Airbus Battle Comes Into Focus

Boeing and Airbus seem to have very different notions of what a “middle-of-the-market” jet should look like.

For the past quarter-century, Boeing (NYSE:BA) and Airbus (NASDAQOTH:EADSY) have competed viciously in all of the biggest segments of the jet market.

The Airbus A320 family squares off against Boeing’s 737 family (and previously, its 757 family) in the market for single-aisle jets that mainly fly short-haul routes. Meanwhile, Boeing’s 767, 777, and 787 widebody families have faced Airbus’ A330 and A350 families (and in prior years, the A300 and A310) in the market for jets with intercontinental range.

Their next big battle looks like it will cover a market segment that barely even exists today. Boeing and Airbus are looking to bridge the gap between single-aisle jets and widebodies in order to capture the “middle of the market.” So far, they seem to have very different ideas of how to attack this new “MoM” segment.

Airbus is starting with an advantage

In recent years, the middle of Boeing’s product lineup has been a big weak spot. Its largest single-aisle jet (the 737 MAX 9) and smallest widebodies (the 767-300ER and 787-8) have fallen out of favor — or never became popular in the first place. Meanwhile, Airbus’ A321 and A321neo have become extremely popular with airlines.

A Delta Air Lines Airbus A321

AIRBUS’ A321 HAS BECOME INCREASINGLY DOMINANT IN ITS MARKET SEGMENT. IMAGE SOURCE: DELTA AIR LINES.

In recent years, Airbus has moved to extend this advantage by offering a longer-range variant of the A321, known as the A321LR. The A321LR, which will be available starting in 2019, is expected to have enough range to fly from the Northeast to many of the major cities in Western Europe.

Boeing plans to introduce a slightly larger single-aisle model (tentatively called the 737 MAX 10X) next month, in an attempt to compete more effectively with the A321neo. But the A321LR is still virtually unopposed for airlines that want to operate transatlantic flights without stepping up to a full-blown widebody. (The 737 MAX 8 can only fly the shortest transatlantic routes.)

Boeing mulls a new plane; how will Airbus respond?

While Boeing hasn’t committed to anything yet, it seems increasingly likely that it will launch a new “797” MoM aircraft in the next year or two.

The 797 would be a twin-aisle plane but would have a smaller cargo hold than a typical widebody, thus reducing weight and boosting fuel efficiency. Two different versions would seat 220-260 passengers in a standard multi-class configuration and have a stated range of up to 5,000 nautical miles. (Effective range is typically lower in reality.)

Unfortunately for Boeing, it could easily cost $15 billion to develop the 797 family. Meanwhile, airlines are demanding low acquisition costs, making the business case shaky.

By contrast, Airbus’ most likely plan for the MoM segment is to stretch the A321LR to boost its passenger capacity and equip it with a new wing to give it more range. This “A322” would be relatively cheap to design and build, allowing Airbus to undercut Boeing on price by a wide margin. It would probably be almost as large as the smaller 797 variant, but might be limited to 4,500 nautical miles of stated range.

These concepts will appeal to different airlines

One of the most interesting aspects of this looming middle-of-the-market battle is that Boeing and Airbus are approaching it in very different ways. Boeing is leaning toward an all-new twin-aisle design; Airbus is thinking about a single-aisle derivative. As a result, the 797 and A322 could end up appealing to different groups of airlines.

The 797 is likely to be significantly more popular among legacy carriers. Indeed, executives from both Delta Air Lines (NYSE:DAL) and United Continental (NYSE:UAL) have spoken favorably about the concept, despite initial hesitations.

One potentially large advantage for the 797 is extra range. Carriers like Delta and United are perfectly happy with their current options for domestic routes. They want a plane that can replace 767s — and, to a lesser extent, 757s — on as many international routes as possible, while potentially making new routes viable by reducing trip costs.

A Delta Air Lines Boeing 767

DELTA AND UNITED ARE LOOKING FOR A PLANE TO REPLACE THEIR AGING 767S. IMAGE SOURCE: DELTA AIR LINES.

The difference between 4,500 nautical miles of stated range and 5,000 nautical miles of stated range is significant in terms of the number of routes that would be feasible. (This factor could also convince some low-cost carriers to opt for the 797.)

A second major advantage for the 797 — from a legacy carrier perspective — is that it would probably offer a much better customer experience. In recent years, offering flat-bed seats with direct aisle access has become an absolute must for international business class. Delta Air Lines has met this standard for its entire international widebody fleet since 2014. United Continental is on the way there.

However, it’s hard to offer direct aisle access for every business class seat on a single-aisle plane (at least without wasting a lot of space). That’s a big point in favor of a twin-aisle design like the 797. Economy class passengers would benefit, too. A twin-aisle 797 would have more window and aisle seats, and the cabin would have a roomier feel than a hypothetical A322.

On the other hand, Boeing will never be able to match Airbus on pricing for a 797 vs. A322 battle. Additionally, Airbus would be able to offer commonality with its hugely popular A320 aircraft family. This would make the A322 a sure winner with low-cost carriers, especially as many of them already fly A320-family planes. Legacy carriers also might adopt the A322 for 3,000-4,000 mile routes with light demand and fewer business travelers.

Boeing and Airbus seem to have quite different ideas of what a MoM plane should look like. It will be interesting to see whether either of these concepts becomes a clear winner with airlines, or if Boeing and Airbus fight to a draw in the middle-of-the-market segment.

[via fool]

German air force jets intercepting Jet Airways 777

VT-JEX, one of the Boeing 777-300ER planes of Jet Airways, had a loss of communications over the German airspace near Cologne earlier this week while operating as 9W 118 from Mumbai to London. This lead to the German Air Force scrambling two Eurofighter Typhoon jets. It is usual protocol to scramble jets to check in on the cockpit in case someone stops responding to the radio, to be able to visually communicate with the aircraft pilots and in case something is wrong in the plane, take further steps according to instructions from the ground.

A British Airways plane, operating on BA 2042, was trailing this flight and the pilot managed to capture the footage on his mobile camera. Someone even managed to click the entire chase from the ground.

The first video posted shows the planes catch up with 9W118, and second one shows them disengaging and flying away. It’s good to watch them in succession with audio on! The pilots on the British Airways plane are chatting in a very calm manner as they see this unfold in front of them, and that itself indicates that this is not an out of the ordinary situation.

The second part of the video has a lot of chatter and eventually the fighter jets go away and it ends with a view of the cockpit.

Tail-strike after bounced landing damaged Jet2 737

Portuguese investigators have detailed a bounced landing at Funchal in which a Jet2 Boeing 737-800 was substantially damaged by a tail-strike.

The inquiry states that an “excessive” nose-up input on the control column after the bounce – during which the aircraft travelled about 300m at a height of 8ft – resulted in a sharp nose-up attitude of 9.15°.

Portuguese investigation authority GPIAA adds that the manual deployment of speedbrakes caused a loss of lift.

It states that the aircraft subsequently struck the runway with a force of 2.15g, at a pitch attitude sufficient to scrape its tail. Inspection revealed damage to the 737’s aft fuselage including bent struts, cracks in stringers, and deformation from frictional abrasion.

Funchal airport is subjected to turbulent winds, and the aircraft (G-GDFC) had been conducting an approach to runway 05 in such conditions on 17 February 2014.

GPIAA says the approach was flown manually from around 1,200ft, but that it deviated from the glidepath, and was below it some 15s before touchdown.

During the last few moments of the final approach the aircraft encountered varying tailwind and crosswind components, and its descent rate reduced and increased with commanded thrust. It experienced oscillations as the control column was turned up to 50° right and 65° left.

GPIAA says nose-down inputs caused the descent rate to increase to 1,000ft/min before a nose-up input reduced this to 150ft/min. But then a nose-down input lasting some 4s, combined with a thrust reduction and a downdraft of 10ft/s resulted in the descent rate rising to 1,500ft/min as the jet passed 220ft.

This was initially limited to 750ft/min with nose-up input, but a subsequent variation in headwind and more nose-down input caused the descent rate to reach 1,100ft/min at 35ft.

After flaring, the aircraft touched down at a sink rate of 350ft/min with a 1.86g impact, and a pitch of about 6°.

Cockpit-voice recorder information reveals that the normal landing checklist had not been carried out during the approach. The speedbrakes were not armed, as required by this checklist, and did not deploy after the initial runway contact.

The aircraft consequently bounced and, once in the air, its speedbrakes were deployed manually, while nose-up column input was increased.

As a result of the loss of lift from the speedbrakes, the aircraft landed heavily – about 5s after the initial contact – at a pitch attitude high enough to allow the tail to strike the runway, causing minor injuries to two members of the cabin crew, before the 737 rolled out.

GPIAA points out that the aircraft had deviated from the stabilised approach profile, and indicates that the crew ought to have executed a go-around, and that a go-around should have been considered after the initial bounce.

Oman Air adds new B737-800 to its fleet

Muscat –

Oman Air, the national carrier of the sultanate, has announced that a new Boeing B737-800 aircraft has joined its fleet as of 24 January.

This new aircraft will be used on short and medium haul routes and has a capacity of 162 seats, with 12 Business class seats with seat pitch 46 inches and 150 Economy class seats with seat pitch 30 inches. Each seat is equipped with an LCD screen, back-mounted 10.6 inches.

Oman Air has operated B737s for many years and the aircraft provides the backbone of the airline’s long and medium haul fleet, with 23 currently in operation. The new aircraft will be deployed soon on its arrival for commercial flights.

Abdulaziz Alraisi, executive vice president, Products and Brand Development, said, “In keeping up with the expansion programme, Oman Air is adding a new aircraft to its fast-growing fleet. Known for its energy efficient systems and combined with Oman Air’s superb maintenance staff and facilities, this is an ideal acquisition as we spread our wings to further afield.”

With the addition of the new Boeing 737-800, Oman Air’s fleet stands at 48. Currently, Oman Air’s fleet consists of four Boeing 787 Dreamliners, six Airbus 330-300s, four Airbus 330-200s, five Boeing 737-900s, 23 Boeing 737-800, one Boeing 737-700 and four Embraer 175s.

A second new B737-800 will be joining Oman Air’s fleet on February 16, followed by a Dreamliner B787-9 on February 23. The delivery of the new aircraft is part of Oman Air’s ambitious and dynamic programme of fleet and network expansion. The airline continues to be recognised for its award winning on-board experience, winning many industry awards in 2016 to add to its growing collection. Oman Air’s latest aircraft addition consolidates its position in 2017 as the airline continues its progress to becoming a successful company of the highest quality.

 

How Many Cars Fit into a Boeing 747?

The first Boeing 747 joined the KLM fleet in 1971. Everyone knew this was the biggest passenger aircraft in the world at that time, but just how big was it? The best way to make this clear was by placing it side by side with something familiar, something that illustrated the proportions. KLM came up with a smart solution in January 1969.

The outline of a 747 was painted, full-scale, on the platform near the old Schiphol terminal, now Schiphol East. The contour line was painted 40 cm wide, and 100 kilos of white paint were used to complete the 375-metre-long outline of the silhouette. Two painters did the job.

cars boeing 747

46 DAF cars

And then the smart solution arrived in the form of six trailers carrying a total of 46 cars. These came from Van Doorne’s Automobiel Fabrieken in Eindhoven, better known as DAF. These little cars are a national treasure in the Netherlands. All models were equipped with a so-called “variomatic” – an automatic gearbox with a ‘smart shift’ whose sole purpose was to put the car in reverse. This gave the DAF another unique feature: you could drive it backwards just as fast as you could drive it forwards. In 1969, DAF was the last Dutch manufacturer still producing its own brand of cars, and business was booming. So it was hardly surprising that DAF was keen to play a part in KLM’s photo shoot.

cars boeing 747

When the paintwork was completed and all the cars had been parked in place, it was time to take the photo. But that was no easy task. The view from the old air traffic control tower wasn’t good enough, and a cherry-picker platform also proved to be unsuitable. And so a helicopter was chartered to capture this remarkable image.

Great PR stunt

KLM’s Public Relations department sent the photo out to the press and it was promptly published by almost every Dutch newspaper (and there were a lot more of those back in the day). The clippings saved in the archive reflect just how much the 747 appealed to the imagination, partly because the DAF was such a powerful icon in the Netherlands. In short, this KLM initiative was a great PR stunt for both transport sectors.

[via KLM]

 

Ever Wonder Why Airplanes Still Have Ashtrays in the Bathrooms? Here’s the Answer.

this-why-airplanes-ashtrays-bathroomSmoking is strictly prohibited—except for some people.

Look up from your seat on almost any commercial aircraft and you’ll see an illuminated no-smoking sign. So why is there an ashtray in the bathroom on an airplane (likely also outfitted with a no-smoking sticker of its own)?

It might seem like the feature is a relic of times gone by—maybe the plane is old, or no one’s updated the lavatory’s design yet. But that’s not the case—inflight smoking was fully banned in 2000 and most planes built before then have since been retired.

It turns out the real reason is simple: Some passengers just don’t follow the rules. And when that happens—and the misconduct takes place at 36,000 feet—there’s got to be safety measures in place. So whether it seems like a reward for disobedience or not, ashtrays are a must.

“If somebody did decide to light up and then put their cigarette in the trash, well, the trash is all paper products, so the ashes could start a fire,” Debbie, an American Airlines flight attendant, told businessinsider.com.

Whether it seems like a reward for disobedience or not, ashtrays are a must.

In fact, ashtrays in bathrooms are required in order for the plane to leave the runway. As per the Code of Federal Regulations for airworthiness:

“Regardless of whether smoking is allowed in any other part of the airplane, lavatories must have self-contained, removable ashtrays located conspicuously on or near the entry side of each lavatory door, except that one ashtray may serve more than one lavatory door if the ashtray can be seen readily from the cabin side of each lavatory served.”

And this isn’t a case of unnecessary worry. Rogue inflight smoking has been known to happen—and even to take down planes. In 1973, a flight from Rio de Janeiro crashed after a cigarette thrown in a trash receptacle started a fire. All 123 passengers on the Boeing 707 died.

Other wayward passengers have tried. In 2010, a Qatari diplomat was arrested upon arrival at Denver International Airport for smoking on board, as well as making threats to the airline staff. In 2013, a family of four caused a flight to make an emergency landing in Bermuda after the entire group was accused of smoking.

So you see, whether smoking is banned or not, lavatory ashtrays will be a constant. We hope you never use them.

Why do Russian aerospace engineers favor 90 degree vertical stabilizers vs. American designs with V-shaped tails?

By Rajan Bhavnani – A small number earlier American fighters used “canted” (though not quite “V-shaped”) tails. However, the fact that all new American fighters are (and likely will continue to be) designed with more “V-shaped” tails is a (relatively) new feature. It exists for a very specific reason.

It’s not so much that American engineers favor V-shaped tails; they add a significant level of complexity to the aircraft. Instead, V-shaped tails make it much easier for engineers to meet a key American requirement; low radar observability.

As you can see from the diagram, objects at right angles act together to reflect radio waves (like radar) directly back to their source. This means, a vertical tail stabilizer can be a significant part of an aircraft’s radar signature.

Prior to learning how to shape an airframe to minimize its radar cross section, American fighters mostly used the same 90 degree vertical stabilizers you see on Russian aircraft.

Here’s a quick timeline to visualize the change over time (organized by “first flight” year).

1970 – F-14 Tomcat: 90-degree vertical stabilizer

1972 – F-15 Eagle: 90-degree vertical stabilizer

1974 – F-16 Falcon: 90-degree vertical stabilizer

1978 – F-18 Hornet: Here we see “canted” vertical stabilizers. It’s not 90-degrees, but it’s also not an aggressive “V-shape.” That’s because it was done to give the F-18 an extremely high max angle of attack; not to achieve a lower radar cross section.

1981 – F-117 Nighthawk: Here we have truly “V-shaped” vertical stabilizers. Though calling anything about this aircraft “stable” is a bit of a misnomer since it would be completely unflyable without a very sophisticated fly by wire system that has to constantly make adjustments just to maintain stable flight.

1997 – F-22 Raptor: Somewhere between the F-18’s aerodynamic advantage from using a canted tail and the F-117’s advantage from a V-shaped one.

2006 – F-35 Lightning: This one is more toward the F-18’s canted tail than a true V-shape, and that makes sense when you consider that the F-35 was always designed for export (the F-22 was not). It has a significantly less “stealthy” design in terms of radar cross section because the US does not want to export its most sophisticated “stealth” designs.

As an interesting side note, the Sukhoi T-50 PAK-FA (first flight was in 2010) is a new fighter being jointly designed by Russia and India. The angle of its vertical stabilizers looks somewhat similar to that of the F-22…

So in the future, you may see fewer Russian aircraft with 90 degree vertical stabilizers as well.