Sunday, January 31, 2016

Helicopters of the future are shaping up - Charles D'Alberto

You don't want to go flying into the future in yesterday's helicopters.

That's the gist of several projects under way at the Pentagon, which is looking ahead several decades toward future fleets of helicopters -- or more broadly, rotorcraft -- and working now to lay the plans for getting there.

 It all starts with design. Most immediately, the Army has just awarded technology investment agreements with four aviation companies as an early step in the Defense Department's Future Vertical Lift initiative, which is meant to sketch out the route toward next-generation vertical-lift aircraft for all the branches of the US military for the next 25 to 40 years.

Starting now, those four companies -- the two better-known are Bell Helicopter (working with Lockheed Martin) and Sikorsky Aircraft (working with Boeing), the two lesser-known, AVX Aircraft and Karem Aircraft -- are cleared to start refining their initial designs, some shaping up more or less like traditional helicopters, some favoring tilt-rotor designs like the MV-22 Osprey. This stage, which is expected to take about nine months, is the risk-mitigating, drawing-board precursor to FVL known as the Joint Multi-Role Technology Demonstrator (JMR TD) program, Phase 1. (You probably already had a sense that bureaucracy would play a role here.)

If all goes well, the Army said in the first week of October, we could eventually see demonstrator aircraft built and flight-tested by late in the Pentagon's fiscal year 2017.

What could we see coming out of that effort? For sure, the aircraft will be fast -- the Sikorsky-Boeing team, for instance, is basing its design on Sikorsky's experimental X2 demonstrator helicopter, with its unconventional design of dual coaxial main rotors and a push propeller in the rear, which in 2010 flew at up to 250 knots, or roughly twice the average cruise speed of conventional helicopters. The other participants are aiming for similar feats of speed, along with other markers of high performance, carrying capacity, and fuel efficiency.

DARPA gets hypothetical about vertical-lift aircraft of the future.
DARPA While the Army is leading that charge, the always future-minded folks at DARPA have their own call out for cutting-edge designs for aircraft capable of vertical take-off and landing. DARPA's VTOL X-Plane program, expected to kick off in the coming weeks, is intended to inspire "innovative cross-pollination between the fixed-wing and rotary-wing worlds, with the goal of fostering radical improvements in VTOL flight."

The ambitious goals in the VTOL X-Plane program include top sustained flight speed of between 300 and 400 knots; hover efficiency of 75 percent (up from 60 percent); and the ability to carry a "useful load" of at least 40 percent of the aircraft's projected gross weight of 10,000 to 12,000 pounds. The program is expected to run through early 2018, followed by a first demonstration flight some 42 months after the initial award.

One early hopeful for VTOL X-Plane success is Boeing, which recently featured its subscale, ducted-fan-powered Phantom Swift demonstrator on its Web site -- as an example of rapid prototyping, done with DARPA's competition in mind.

And then there's the Army's Aviation 2050 Vision; a video posted to YouTube in July puts more of a sci-fi, video game spin on the rotorcraft of tomorrow. "Future vertical lift aircraft," the video intones, "will fly further, faster, and perform in a wider range of environmental conditions while carrying heavier payloads. Aircraft may be manned or unmanned. Flight operations will be automated, and the pilot will assume more of a mission commander role."

In this vision, battlefield networks will be wide-reaching and highly capable, and will bridge the gap between man and machine: "Data will be fed to the global information grid allowing real-time reassessment and replanning in response to changing tactical situations. This information allows for coordination between cyber and human systems."

Closing out the video, William Lewis, head of the aviation directorate at the US Army Aviation and Missile Research Development and Engineering Center, credits the imagined technologies to the minds of "those who currently develop the aviation fleet, including warfighters, engineers, and scientists. But," he says, his voice swelling, "I need aviation visionaries."

Posted by Charles D'Alberto

Charles D'Alberto is a CEO of Perla Group International. Charles D'Alberto has vast expirience in bringing startups to successful companies. Charles D'Alberto is pioneer in the VSAT industry having introduced many new technologies to emerging markets. Charles D'Alberto was one of the first to introduce Auto Deploy antenna's to Middle East and Africa. Charles D'Alberto introduced the very first COTM systems to the Middle East and Africa. Charles D'Alberto is a helicopter pilot. Charles D'Alberto has succesfully listed 5 companies publicly in Australia and the USA capital markets. Charles D'Alberto established Perla Group International and took it public in 2010. Charles D'Alberto introduced the AK1/3 helicopter to the Middle East and US markets. Charles D'Alberto is consultant for companies looking to enter to equity markets.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Future US Army helicopter prototype bids chosen - Charles D'Alberto

 Posted by Charles D'Alberto

A trio of aerospace companies have been selected to build two prototypes of a multi-role vertical-lift aircraft to replace thousands of the US Army’s helicopters. A joint project between Boeing and Sikorsky Aircraft along with Textron's Bell Helicopter will compete for the programme, which will ultimately replace up to 4,000 medium class UH-60 Black Hawk utility helicopters built by Sikorsky and Boeing's Apache attack helicopters after 2030.

 Sikorsky, a unit of United Technologies, and Boeing said in January they were teaming up to submit a joint proposal in response to an army technology demonstration project to attract design plans for the new aircraft. Their prototype helicopter SB>1 Defiant will build on the design of Sikorsky’s X2 concept helicopter and the first flight is expected in 2017, the companies said in a statement yesterday. The helicopter will feature a coaxial rotor design with counter-rotating rigid main rotor blades for vertical and forward flight. This will be augmented by a pusher propeller at the rear of the aircraft for high-speed acceleration and deceleration.

Shelley Lavender, president of Boeing Military Aircraft, said: “As the original equipment manufacturers for both the Black Hawk and Apache helicopters, we bring tremendous technological breadth and depth to the customer. “I believe our technical capabilities and experience in development and flight testing of complex rotorcraft systems were a key factor in the customer’s decision.”

Bell said yesterday it would develop a prototype for the programme based on its Bell V-280 Valor helicopters, which features a tilt-rotor design similar to that used in the V-22 Osprey helicopter it built with Boeing, with first flight also expected in in 2017.

"The clean-sheet design of the Bell V-280 Valor creates the capability to fly twice the range at double the speed of any existing helicopter," said Bell's Keith Flail, director for the Valor program. Privately held Karem Aircraft and AVX Aircraft Co also bid for the programme, according to the US Army. The project, the precursor to the future vertical lift aircraft, could be worth upwards of $100bn (60bn), analysts said in February.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Six Wild Ideas That May Be the Future of Aviation - Charles d'Alberto

NASA may have just discovered the future of air transportation in a Shark Tank-style pitch meeting with its current employees—or they may not have. It’s too soon to tell, but definitely not too soon to dream BIG. Regardless of the eventual outcome, during a day-long pitch meeting in April, 17 teams comprising current NASA employees shared their creative ideas with the space agency’s managers. From that crop, six teams and their corresponding concepts were selected for further research and development. Funded under NASA’s Convergent Aeronautics Solutions Project, the studies will run about two years, with the option of further funding/exploration once concluded.

 The ideas—which include an electrically propelled airliner whose fuselage is the battery and an UAV programmed as a human pilot—had to answer one of NASA’s two strategic research goals for aeronautics:
Can we demonstrate an aviation system with maximum efficiency and minimal environmental impact? And can we demonstrate the feasibility for urgent medical transportation from the wilderness of Alaska to the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota without human interaction?
In answering the second question, NASA is not trying to design a specific aircraft to fly from Alaska to Minnesota, but rather develop the technology behind such a mission. It is NASA’s assumption that these technologies would then find other practical applications across the globe.
"The idea of the project is this is an investment process, where we're using almost venture capital-like principles. But instead of money, our return on investment is in knowledge and potential solutions to future challenges in aviation," said Doug Rohn, NASA's manager for the Transformative Aeronautics Concepts Program, in a press release.

Each NASA research team had to form on its own, include employees from a variety of technical disciplines, and have members from more than one of the company’s aeronautics centers in Virginia, California and Ohio. According to a NASA press release, here are their six winning ideas:

Multifunctional Structures with Energy Storage

A challenge with electric propulsion is the mass of the batteries that must be carried inside the aircraft. But what if the aircraft structure itself could serve as the battery? Advances in materials, chemistry and nanotechnology might make this possible.

Autonomy Operating System for UAVs

A concern about UAV’s is how their internal logic/software might respond to unforeseen situations— such as a sudden worsening of weather or another aircraft flying too close—that would prompt the need for a sudden change in its programmed course and behavior. The question is: can advances in programming and artificial intelligence make it possible for a UAV to respond to those situations on its own, without remote human interaction? And can a UAV do it in a way that is as sure and predictable as a certified human pilot?

Mission Adaptive Digital Composite Aerostructure Technologies

In recent years there have been advances in making and using composite materials in aircraft structures. There are also been advances in designing future aircraft that can adapt to changing flight conditions by, for example, changing the shape of their wings. The question is, what if those technologies could be combined so that super-strong, lightweight composite structures are also flexible and can change their shapes as needed during a flight?

High Voltage Hybrid Electric Propulsion

A challenge in implementing electric propulsion on airliners (where electricity drives the engine fan to produce thrust, rather than petroleum-based fuel being burned in a traditional jet engine) is how to make the whole power distribution system as efficient and lightweight as possible.

A potential solution may be found in advances in high-voltage, variable frequency drives now used on the ground, which significantly reduce the size and weight of the required equipment. At the same time, researchers will investigate the use of "self-healing" insulation in the power distribution system. The idea is that if any deterioration in a high-voltage electrical line begins, the resulting exposure of the electricity to chemicals bonded in the insulation would automatically repair the line—reducing in-flight problems and costly ground maintenance.

Learn to Fly

Historically, the process for designing, building, testing and certifying new aircraft for flight can take years and cost a lot of money. The question is, are we advanced enough in our understanding of flight and the use of computer tools where we can safely enable new airplane designs to be more rapidly flown by skipping ground-based testing?

Digital Twin

The question here is can a computer model be built that accurately simulates and predicts how an aircraft or its individual components are affected by aging and ongoing operations, such that a "digital twin" of a particular airplane can be created? This could help predict when problems might arise in an attempt to prevent them from developing in the first place.

Airbus patents designs for convertible plane - Charles D'Alberto


After two years of scrupulous research, the United States Patent and Trademark Office accepted a patent for one of the strangest designs we've seen for a plane. Airbus's 'convertible' plane designs show a detachable cabin, which would allow passengers to board quickly before being attached to the rest of the aircraft.
In a business that's all about timing, the newly patented designs could allow airlines to cut turn around times considerably. The detachable cabin would be removed from the roof with the help of a specialized crane, allowing boarding and disembarkment to happen in record time. The cabin full of arriving passengers would be extracted and replaced by another, already full of people going in the other direction. Speedy.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Commission proposes compromise in Apache helicopter dispute - Charles D'Alberto

A new proposal that recommends keeping some Apache helicopter battalions in the U.S. Army National Guard could end a long-running dispute between the Guard and the active-duty Army. Skip Robinson Photo

The United States Army National Guard should retain four Apache helicopter battalions, the National Commission on the Future of the Army (NCFA) has recommended.

In a report released on Jan. 28, the NCFA outlined a compromise between a U.S. Army restructuring plan — which would eliminate all Boeing AH-64 Apache helicopters from the National Guard — and a more expensive National Guard proposal, which would retain six Apache helicopter battalions in the Guard.

Under the NCFA’s proposed alternative, the active-duty Army would maintain 20 Apache helicopter battalions equipped with 24 aircraft each, while the Guard would keep four battalions, each with 18 aircraft. The Army would commit to using National Guard battalions regularly, mobilizing and deploying them in peacetime.

The NCFA said this option would offer more wartime capacity than either the Army’s or the National Guard’s approach, while also contributing to “a key commission goal of achieving one Army that works and trains together in peacetime and, if necessary, fights together in war.”

The NCFA was established by the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2015 to assess the size and force structure of the Army’s active and reserve components.

It was specifically tasked with examining the transfer of Army National Guard AH-64 Apache attack helicopters from the National Guard to the regular Army, after the Army’s proposed Aviation Restructure Initiative prompted bitter protests from states and Guard units.

Among other things, the initiative calls for retiring the Bell OH-58 Kiowa Warrior from the Army, and using a combination of Apaches and unmanned aircraft for the Kiowa’s reconnaissance and scouting role. (The Army originally sought to replace the Kiowa through the Armed Aerial Scout program, but budget pressures forced it to place that program on indefinite hold.)

In exchange for Apaches, the Aviation Restructure Initiative would provide the Guard with Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters. When fully implemented, the initiative would result in a net reduction of 798 rotary-wing aircraft across the Army, Army National Guard, and Army Reserve.

Army National Guard leaders have argued that eliminating Apaches would leave the Guard without full-spectrum combat capability. Guard units are also a way of retaining expertise when experienced Apache crews and maintainers leave active duty. Skip Robinson Photo

The NCFA described the Aviation Restructure Initiative as “a well-crafted plan that holds down costs while maintaining a reasonable level of wartime capacity.” However, the commission noted that it provides no wartime surge capacity for Apache aircraft, and leaves no reserve component backup in case of peacetime problems.

Moreover, the commission said, it would “further reduce the ‘connective tissue’ that binds the regular Army and Army National Guard together,” as Apaches would become an area where Army and National Guard units could no longer “work closely together as one Army.”

In response to the Aviation Restructure Initiative, the Guard proposed its own plan, which would keep six Apache helicopter battalions in the Guard, two of those in multicomponent aviation brigades that would have one Apache battalion from the regular Army and one from the Guard.

The Guard’s plan would provide significant wartime surge capacity, but it would also be expensive, as a recent Government Accountability Office report pointed out. And the NCFA noted that the Guard’s alternative provides less wartime capacity than the Aviation Restructure Initiative, with greater shortfalls early in conflict.

The NCFA’s recommended third alternative would also add to costs, with operating costs increasing by a net of about $165 million a year, in addition to one-time costs of about $420 million to remanufacture 24 Apache helicopters from D to E models.

However, the commission said that “these added operating and procurement costs are small compared to the total defense budget.” And it suggested several ways in which those costs might be offset, such as through a modest slowdown in the procurement program for Black Hawk helicopters.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Airbus Helicopters' second H160 prototype takes off - Charles D'Alberto

Airbus Helicopters’ second H160 prototype is the first H160 to fly
with the Turbomeca Arrano engines. Airbus Helicopters Photo

The H160’s second prototype recently took off in Marignane, kicking off a busy 2016 for the H160 as it pursues its flight test program with two prototypes.

The second prototype is the first H160 to fly with the Turbomeca Arrano engines. PT1 had accumulated more than 75 hours of flight testing by the end of 2015, allowing the aircraft to open the flight envelope and validating some of the helicopter’s excellent features and outstanding handling qualities right from the start.

“After a very busy year 2015 in terms of flight activities, introducing PT2 is an important step in the H160 development as we will launch performance testing with the Turbomeca Arrano engines,” said Bernard Fujarski, head of the H160 Program. “The development program will benefit from five development aircraft; two helicopter zeros and three flying prototypes will be paving the way to entry into service in 2018,” he added.

2016 will be an equally active year for the H160 with the beginning of its commercialization and many other milestones in helicopter development, industrialization and preparation of support activities in order to bring a fully mature helicopter to the market.

Charles D'Alberto

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Slew of military helicopter deaths raises question of whether budget cuts endanger troops - Charles D'Alberto

WASHINGTON — A threefold increase in helicopter crash deaths last year is raising questions about whether budget cuts are endangering troops by forcing deep cuts in maintenance and training.
Twelve helicopter crashes in 2015 killed 30 servicemembers — three times as many deaths as in 2014. Twelve more died Jan. 14 when two U.S. Marine CH-53 Super Stallions collided off the coast of Oahu in Hawaii during a night training flight.
Marine commanders including Lt. Gen. Jon Davis, deputy Marine commandant for aviation, and Gen. Robert Neller, commandant of the Marine Corps, are looking at why so many helicopters are crashing, according to a senior defense official familiar with the discussions.
Almost all the deaths, including those on Jan. 14, occurred during home-station training missions.
Nondeployed units at their homes stations have dealt with reduced flight training opportunities for years. The continued high pace of wartime operations meant units deploying to conflict areas got priority for training.
Cuts by Congress and the White House to funds used by the Marines and other services to pay for flight time and helicopter repairs means that there may not be enough air-worthy aircraft available for nondeployed units to train safely.
For the Marines, for example, almost one-fifth of their helicopters aren’t available due to maintenance requirements.
During testimony at the Senate Armed Services Committee in March, Davis said the Marine Corps is “having a difficult time, you know, getting our ready bench, which [Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Marine] General [Joseph] Dunford calls a ‘ready bench,’ ready to deploy,” he said. “We do a great job getting the guys out the door … with assets and training, but it’s training that next group that’s ready to go” that is more difficult, he said.
In addition, because nondeploying units spend less time in the air, their training opportunities become even more dangerous, former Marine Corps and Navy pilots say.
“It’s not a direct one-for-one correlation, but once you go below 15 hours (a month) per pilot, that’s when you see real degradation in performance,” said retired Maj. Carl Forsling, who has piloted CH-46 Sea Knights and MV-22B Ospreys for the Marines.
In the Marines’ 2015 aviation plan the service noted “we need to increase the amount of time our aviators spend in the air,” and set new training hour requirements based on each type of aircraft. Two of its most heavily used aircraft — the Super Stallion and the Osprey — were assigned 16.5 flight hours a month and 16.8 flight hours a month per pilot, respectively.
Requirements are “just above the bare minimums for safety ... there’s not a lot of wiggle room,” Forsling said.
Retired Cmdr. Chris Harmer, who flew SH-60F Sea Hawk helicopters for the Navy, and who now is a defense analyst at the Institute for the Study of War, said there is a direct tie.
“There is no doubt whatsoever that reduced flying hours equal increased [accidents] and fatalities,” he said.
“The reality is flying is a perishable skill,” he said. The type of flying that the helicopter units train for, such as close formation flying during nighttime operations “is highly calibrated and coordinated. If you lose currency it is extremely difficult and dangerous to regain it.”
In late 2015, a string of Army helicopter crashes led the Army to order all helicopter units to stand down for several days in December. About 1,000 Army helicopters not deployed or assigned to critical needs were grounded to force their squadrons to look closely at whether there were problems in maintenance, flight training, crew coordination and operations procedures.
What the Army found was that while the cluster of crashes was concerning, the number of incidents was still consistent with past years, and the primary cause was pilot error.
Harmer acknowledged the role of pilot error “but a lack of flying causes pilot error,” he said. Fewer hours in the air makes the pilot less able to safely respond to unforeseen weather or contingencies, he said.
In May 2014 the Navy took a similar type of stand down. After a month where the service saw three crashes, Vice Adm. David Buss, then commander of Naval Air Forces, ordered a “tactical pause for safety,” said Navy spokeswoman Cmdr. Jeannie Groeneveld.
In that review Buss directed each commanding officer to look at the accidents that had happened that year “and find factors relative to their squadrons,” Groeneveld said.
One of the Navy’s helicopter wings modified its training as a result, Groeneveld said.
Capt. Sarah Burns, a Marine Corps spokeswoman, said the service hasn’t decided whether to take a similar action.
“The decision to hold aviation safety stand downs are enacted at the discretion of the commanding officer,” Burns said.
Reductions to training and maintenance budgets are a result of several years of cuts in Congress, said Mackenzie Eaglen, a senior defense fellow with the American Enterprise Institute, a nonpartisan policy group in Washington.
“The U.S. military has suffered a roughly 30 percent decrease in operations and maintenance funding from fiscal year 2012 through fiscal year 2016,” Eaglen said. “The Army has taken a hard hit with a nearly 40 percent decrease” to those same training and maintenance funds, she said.
The cuts have meant “reduced funding and training, along with deferred maintenance, for years now across military aviation platforms,” said Eaglen, who has analyzed the impact that 15 years of nonstop wartime operations has had on the services.
Larry Korb, a former assistant secretary of defense for President Ronald Reagan and now a senior defense fellow at the Center for American Progress, said it was tempting to go after operations and maintenance accounts as budget cuts were needed due to sequestration.
Unlike cutting a weapon system, readiness doesn’t have specific members of Congress or lobbyists protecting it, he said.
“It’s always easy to cut readiness because then I don’t have to worry about a contract or something I have to carry out,” Korb said.
Army Maj. Gen. Michael D. Lundy, commanding general of Fort Rucker, Ala., which conducts the Army’s aviation accident investigations, told an audience recently that the Army is trying to find ways to increase home-station training within budget constraints.
“We need to be training at a much higher level,” he said, according to a news release from the Association of the United States Army.
Now the Marines are looking inward, though it’s not clear whether the discussions will lead to a similar type of stand-down like the Army had last fall.
“These conversations are not just specific” to the most recent Oahu crashes, but look at readiness overall, Burns said.
“The Marine Corps is committed to ensuring our aircraft are safe, and that the pilots and aircrew who fly them are thoroughly trained,” she said.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Latest Airplanes Unveiled 2015 - Charles D'Alberto

Airplanes are powered fixed-wing aircraft that are propelled forward by thrust from a jet engine or a propeller. In recent years many aircraft manufacturer have unveiled some awesome futuristic jets. These amazing aircrafts are marvels of technology.

Here are some awesome flying machines that were revealed in 2015.

Pilatus PC-24

Pilatus PC-24 is offered by Pilatus Aircraft, a Swiss company with decades of experience in the manufacturing of turboprop airplanes. The Pilatus PC-24 is the company’s first jet powered flying machine. The aircraft can reach a top speed of 787 kmph and has a range of 2,245 miles.


HondaJet is a product of Japanese company Honda, a well-known name in the automotive industry. The aircraft is packed with innovative features like the light, yet durable carbon fiber composite fuselage and the over-the-wing engine mount design.

Gulfstream G600

 Gulfstream Aerospace is an acclaimed aircraft manufacturer. Its Gulfstream G600 aircraft offers large windows and comfortable seats. The aircraft’s state-of-the-art cockpit and advanced communication system are getting many positive reviews.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

This Is How The Pentagon Knows Its Combat Aircraft Can Withstand A Blizzard - Charles D'Alberto

While the East Coast turns into a less-than-wonderful winter wonderland, the Department of Defense can rest assured that even their most advanced and finicky aircraft left out in the cold will be just fine. This piece of mind comes from testing done at the U.S. Air Force’s one-of-a-kind torture chamber: the McKinley Climatic Lab.
This huge testing facility was built in 1947 as part of a World War II-era initiative to take cold-weather aircraft testing away from the control of mother nature in Alaska and into a scientifically controlled environment. Oddly enough, the facility was built in one of America’s warmest climates at Eglin Air Force Base near the beach city of Destin, Florida. The facility is named after the person who proposed building it, Colonel Ashley McKinley.

Within its first 50 years, the McKinley Climate Lab—which is the largest insulated hangar in the world—had tested 300 different aircraft from the B-29 to the F-22, as well as 2,000 other pieces of equipment, munitions and vehicles. Next year the facility will celebrate its 70th year, and it is in as high demand as ever.
Foreign military customers have also tested their aircraft designs at the McKinley Climatic Lab, and so have some commercial and private aircraft companies. In the last decade, the 787 Dreamliner and the Airbus A350 have been put through climatic torture tests there.
F-22 undergoing climatic testing:

F-35 undergoing climatic testing:

The Airbus A350 undergoing climatic testing:

The 55,000-square foot insulated main chamber has an array of cooling and heating components available including mechanical cooling towers, large heading arrays and a steam plant. All types of conditions can be tested, from deep freezing to blowing rain to high humidity conditions to dust storms.
Also, different aircraft operations can be performed there, like running the aircraft under extreme thermal loads to test environmental control systems and cooling capacities. In all, the facility can provide testing environments with temperatures ranging from -70 to +180 degrees Fahrenheit.

As part of the six chamber facility, there are also a large engine test cells and smaller climatic chambers that the main hangar that are often used to test vehicles like tanks and trucks, as well as munitions, and components of larger systems in extreme climatic conditions.

Even big auto companies like Ford book the facility for testing events:

The McKinley Climate Lab is just one more star in a constellation of elaborate and often massive facilities that allow the U.S. to remain the producer of the most capable weapon systems in the world, ones that can operate in a wide range of environments reliably.

So the next time you land at an airport where an Air National Guard wing is located, or drive by a Air Force Base and see the aircraft sitting outside on a wintry or rain-soaked evening, remember that the Pentagon knows from testing at the McKinley Lab that they can withstand horrible conditions and live to fight another day.

Charles D'Alberto

Saturday, January 23, 2016

JFK Airport. ‪#‎snowmaggedon2016‬

The Concorde made its first supersonic passenger flight 40 years ago — By Charles D'Alberto

On the morning of January 21, 1976, two Concordes — one each from British Airways and Air France — took off simultaneously on what would be the aircraft's first commercial supersonic flights with fare-paying passengers.
The British Airways jet took off from London's Heathrow Airport bound for Bahrain, while the Air France flight left Paris Orly Airport headed for Brazil with a stop in Senegal.
Later that year, Air France and British Airways put the cutting-edge jet into service — making daily flights from Europe to the US. The jet was retired from service nearly 30 years later.
A decade after the retirement of the jet, we remember the awesome experience that was flying on the Concorde.
As soon as Chuck Yeager crossed the sound barrier in 1947, commercial aviation companies began planning to take passengers past Mach 1.

On November 29, 1962, the governments of France and Great Britain signed a concord agreement to build a supersonic jet liner, hence the name of the plane that resulted: Concorde.

The Concorde was operated by a crew of three: two pilots and a flight engineer.

In total, 20 Concordes were produced. Six were prototype test planes.

In the 1990s, the Concorde welcomed the world's biggest stars, such as supermodels Cindy Crawford and Claudia Schiffer, along with tennis star Andre Agassi.

That all changed on July 25, 2000, when an Air France Concorde burst into flames and crashed shortly after taking off. The plane caught fire after a blown tire ruptured the Concorde's fuel tanks, and 113 people died in the crash.

By summer 2003, Air France and British Airways announced the permanent retirement of the Concorde fleet.

In 27 years of service, British Airways' fleet of Concordes made 50,000 flights and carried more than 2.5 million passengers.

By Charles D'Alberto