Tag: airport

Is In-Flight Refueling Coming to Commercial Airlines?




Excerpt from space.com

This article was originally published on The Conversation. The publication contributed this article to Space.com's Expert Voices: Op-Ed & Insights.

There’s real pressure on the aviation industry to introduce faster, cheaper and greener aircraft, while maintaining the high safety standards demanded of airlines worldwide.

Airlines carry more than three billion passengers each year, which presents an enormous challenge not only for aircraft manufacturers but for the civil aviation infrastructure that makes this extraordinary annual mass-migration possible. Many international airports are close to or already at capacity. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has estimated that, without intervention, many global airports – including major hubs such as London Heathrow, Amsterdam Schiphol, Beijing and Dubai – will have run out of runway or terminal capacity by 2020. 


The obvious approach to tackling this problem is to extend and enlarge airport runways and terminals – such as the long-proposed third runway at London Heathrow. However there may be other less conventional alternatives, such as introducing in-flight refuelling for civil aircraft on key long-haul routes. Our project, Research on a Cruiser-Enabled Air Transport Environment (Recreate), began in 2011 to evaluate whether this was something that could prove a viable, and far cheaper, solution.

If in-flight refuelling seems implausible, it’s worth remembering that it was first trialed in the 1920s, and the military has continued to develop the technology ever since. The appeal is partly to reduce the aircraft’s weight on take-off, allowing it to carry additional payload, and partly to extend its flight range. Notably, during the Falklands War in 1982 RAF Vulcan bombers used in-flight refuelling to stage what was at the time the longest bombing mission ever, flying 8,000 miles non-stop from Ascension Island in the South Atlantic to the Falklands and back.

Reducing take-off weight could offer many benefits for civilian aircraft too. Without the need to carry so much fuel the aircraft can be smaller, which means less noise on take-off and landing and shorter runways. This opens up the network of smaller regional airports as new potential sites for long-haul routes, relieving pressure on the major hubs that are straining at the seams.

There are environmental benefits too, as a smaller, lighter aircraft requires less fuel to reach its destination. Our initial estimates from air traffic simulations demonstrate that it’s possible to reduce fuel burn by up to 11% over today’s technology by simply replacing existing global long-haul flight routes with specifically designed 250-seater aircraft with a range of 6,000nm after one refuelling – roughly the distance from London to Hong Kong. This saving could potentially grow to 23% with further efficiencies, all while carrying the same number of passengers the same distance as is possible with the current aircraft fleet, and despite the additional fuel burn of the tanker aircraft.

Tornado fighter jets in-flight refuel
Imagine if these Tornado fighter jets were 250-seater passenger aircraft and you’ve got the idea.

However, this is not the whole picture – in-flight refuelling will require the aerial equivalent of petrol stations in order to deliver keep passenger aircraft in the sky. With so much traffic it simply wouldn’t be possible to refuel any aircraft any time, anywhere it was needed. The location of these refuelling zones, coupled with the flight distance between the origin and destination airports can greatly affect the potential benefits achievable, possibly pulling flights away from their shortest route, and even making refuelling on some routes impossible – if for example the deviation to the nearest refuelling zone meant burning as much fuel as would have been saved.

Safety and automation

As with all new concepts – particularly those that involve bringing one aircraft packed with people and another full of fuel into close proximity during flight – it’s quite right to ask whether this is safe. To try and answer this question, the Dutch National Aerospace Laboratory and German Aerospace Centre used their flight simulators to test the automated in-flight refuelling flight control system developed as part of the Recreate project.

One simulator replicated the manoeuvre from the point of view of the tanker equipped with an in-flight refuelling boom, the other simulated the aircraft being refuelled mid-flight. Critical test situations such as engine failure, high air turbulence and gusts of wind were simulated with real flight crews to assess the potential danger to the operation. The results were encouraging, demonstrating that the manoeuvre doesn’t place an excessive workload on the pilots, and that the concept is viable from a human as well as a technical perspective.

So far we’ve demonstrated the potential aerial refuelling holds for civilian aviation, but putting it into practice would still pose challenges. Refuelling hubs would need to be established worldwide, shared between airlines. There would need to be fundamental changes to airline pilot training, alongside a wider public acceptance of this departure from traditional flight operations.

However, it does demonstrate that, in addition to all the high-tech work going into designing new aircraft, new materials, new engines and new fuels, the technology we already have offers solutions to the long-term problems of ferrying billions of passengers by air around the world.

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Virgin Galactic Opens LauncherOne Facility in Long Beach ~ Schedules March 7th Job Fair


 


Excerpt from spacenews.com
by Jeff Foust 

Virgin Galactic announced Feb. 12 that the company is opening a new facility in Long Beach, California, devoted to development of its small satellite launch vehicle.  Virgin Galactic said that it is leasing a 13,900-square-meter building at the Long Beach Airport that it will use for the design and manufacturing of LauncherOne.

The company did not disclose the terms of the lease.  “The technical progress our team has made designing and testing LauncherOne has enabled a move into a dedicated facility to produce the rocket at quantity,” Virgin Galactic chief executive George Whitesides said in a statement announcing the new facility. 

LauncherOne work has been based to date in Mojave, California.  LauncherOne is an air-launch system for satellites weighing up to 225 kilograms. The system will use the same aircraft, WhiteKnightTwo, as the company’s SpaceShipTwo suborbital vehicle, but replaces SpaceShipTwo with a two-stage launch vehicle using engines fueled by liquid oxygen and kerosene.  At the Federal Aviation Administration Commercial Space Transportation Conference Feb. 4, William Pomerantz, vice president of special projects for Virgin Galactic, said the company has already tested engines and other “core infrastructure” of LauncherOne. 

“We are a fairly vertically-integrated team,” he said. “We really do control a lot of the production in house.”  Pomerantz said that about 60 of the 450 employees of Virgin Galactic and its wholly-owned subsidiary, The Spaceship Company, are currently dedicated to the LauncherOne program.  Virgin Galactic said it will hold a job fair at its new Long Beach facility March 7, but did not disclose how many people it plans to hire there. The Virgin Galactic website lists approximately 20 job opening related to the LauncherOne program as of Feb. 12.  When Virgin Galactic announced the LauncherOne program in 2012, it said it had signed up several companies as initial customers, including Planetary Resources, GeoOptics, Spaceflight Inc., and Skybox Imaging, since acquired by Google.  

In January, the Virgin Group announced it was investing in OneWeb, a venture that plans a constellation of nearly 650 satellites in low Earth orbit to provide broadband communications, with at least some of those satellites to be launched by LauncherOne. 

Virgin Galactic Opens LauncherOne Facility in Long Beach

by — February 12, 2015
Virgin Galactic LauncherOne
Virgin Galactic’s LauncherOne. Credit: Virgin Galactic
WASHINGTON — Virgin Galactic announced Feb. 12 that the company is opening a new facility in Long Beach, California, devoted to development of its small satellite launch vehicle.
Virgin Galactic said that it is leasing a 13,900-square-meter building at the Long Beach Airport that it will use for the design and manufacturing of LauncherOne. The company did not disclose the terms of the lease.
“The technical progress our team has made designing and testing LauncherOne has enabled a move into a dedicated facility to produce the rocket at quantity,” Virgin Galactic chief executive George Whitesides said in a statement announcing the new facility. LauncherOne work has been based to date in Mojave, California.
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LauncherOne is an air-launch system for satellites weighing up to 225 kilograms. The system will use the same aircraft, WhiteKnightTwo, as the company’s SpaceShipTwo suborbital vehicle, but replaces SpaceShipTwo with a two-stage launch vehicle using engines fueled by liquid oxygen and kerosene.
At the Federal Aviation Administration Commercial Space Transportation Conference Feb. 4, William Pomerantz, vice president of special projects for Virgin Galactic, said the company has already tested engines and other “core infrastructure” of LauncherOne. “We are a fairly vertically-integrated team,” he said. “We really do control a lot of the production in house.”
Pomerantz said that about 60 of the 450 employees of Virgin Galactic and its wholly-owned subsidiary, The Spaceship Company, are currently dedicated to the LauncherOne program.
Virgin Galactic said it will hold a job fair at its new Long Beach facility March 7, but did not disclose how many people it plans to hire there. The Virgin Galactic website lists approximately 20 job opening related to the LauncherOne program as of Feb. 12.
When Virgin Galactic announced the LauncherOne program in 2012, it said it had signed up several companies as initial customers, including Planetary Resources, GeoOptics, Spaceflight Inc., and Skybox Imaging, since acquired by Google.
In January, the Virgin Group announced it was investing in OneWeb, a venture that plans a constellation of nearly 650 satellites in low Earth orbit to provide broadband communications, with at least some of those satellites to be launched by LauncherOne.
- See more at: http://spacenews.com/virgin-galactic-opens-launcherone-facility-in-long-beach/#sthash.sxcVmjTW.dpuf

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Category 3 Hurricane Gonzalo Aims for Bermuda


This image provided by NOAA Wednesday Oct. 15, 2014 shows Hurricane Gonzalo, lower right, which forecasters said could become a powerful category 4 storm Wednesday as it heads toward Bermuda. The storm had top sustained winds of 125 mph (205 kph) and was centered about 665 miles (1,075 kilometers) south of Bermuda early Wednesday, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said. It was moving northwest at 13 mph (20 kph). Photo: NOAA, AP / NOAA
Photo By NOAA/AP 
This image provided by NOAA Wednesday Oct. 15, 2014 shows Hurricane Gonzalo, lower right, which forecasters said could become a powerful category 4 storm Wednesday as it heads toward Bermuda. The storm had top sustained winds of 125 mph (205 kph) and was centered about 665 miles (1,075 kilometers) south of Bermuda early Wednesday, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said. It was moving northwest at 13 mph (20 kph).

HAMILTON, Bermuda (AP) — People on this small British territory are hurrying to batten down for Hurricane Gonzalo, which is churning toward them as a major Category 3 storm just days after a tropical storm damaged homes and knocked down trees and power lines in Bermuda.
Dennis Feltgen, a meteorologist at the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami, said it was too early to tell whether the hurricane would actually hit Bermuda sometime Friday, but he warned residents to be prepared for severe weather.
"The eye of the hurricane does not have to go over Bermuda for them not to experience severe conditions," he said in a phone interview Wednesday.
Gonzalo had top sustained winds of 120 mph (195 kph) late Wednesday and it was centered about 580 miles (935 kilometers) south-southwest of Bermuda. It was moving north at 9 mph (15 kph), the hurricane center said. Gonzalo grew into a powerful Category 4 storm at one point Wednesday, but weakened a bit later in the day.
A hurricane warning was in effect for Bermuda, and forecasters said a dangerous storm surge could cause significant flooding on the island, which has some 64 miles (103 kilometers) of shoreline and has an area about one-third the size of Washington, D.C. Some 3 to 6 inches (8 to 15 centimeters) of rain was predicted.
The government said it would close the island's international airport Thursday night, when tropical storm conditions were first expected. Several airlines increased the number of flights departing Bermuda ahead of the storm.

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BBC: Churchill ordered UFO cover-up, National Archives show


Winston Churchill

bbc.com/news/uk


The government took the threat of UFOs so seriously in the 1950s that UK intelligence chiefs met to discuss the issue, newly-released files show.
Ministers even went on to commission weekly reports on UFO sightings from a committee of intelligence experts.
The papers also include a wartime account claiming prime minister Winston Churchill ordered a UFO sighting be kept secret to prevent "mass panic".
Drawing of UFO sighting
 Spotters often drew what they saw and sent pictures to the MoD

The files show reports of UFOs peaked in 1996 - when The X Files was popular.
The Joint Intelligence Committee is better known for providing briefings to the government on matters relating to security, defence and foreign affairs.
But the latest batch of UFO files released from the Ministry of Defence to the National Archives shows that, in 1957, the committee received reports detailing an average of one UFO sighting a week.
The files also include an account of a wartime meeting attended by Winston Churchill in which, it is claimed, the prime minister was so concerned about a reported encounter between a UFO and RAF bombers, that he ordered it be kept secret for at least 50 years to prevent "mass panic".
X Files
Nick Pope, who used to investigate UFO sightings for the MoD, said: "The interesting thing is that most of the UFO files from that period have been destroyed.
"But what happened is that a scientist whose grandfather was one of his [Churchill's] bodyguards, said look, Churchill and Eisenhower got together to cover up this phenomenal UFO sighting, that was witnessed by an RAF crew on their way back from a bombing raid.
"The reason apparently was because Churchill believed it would cause mass panic and it would shatter people's religious views."
Reports of sightings of UFOs peaked in 1996 in the UK - when science fiction drama The X Files was popular.
According to the files, there were more than 600 reports in 1996, compared with an average of 240 in the previous five years.

“Start Quote

UFOs have become the third-most popular subject for people to write to the ministry of defence saying please could you release this file”
Dr David Clarke National Archives UFO consultant

The figures for 1996 show 609 reported sightings of unidentified flying objects, 343 letters from the public to the MoD's UFO desk and 22 enquiries and questions from MPs.
But by 2009, the MoD's UFO inquiry desk -Sec(AS)2 - had been closed down.
The 18 files released on Thursday are the latest to come out as part of a three-year project between the MoD and the National Archives.
Dr David Clarke, a UFO consultant to the National Archives, explained why the papers are being made public now.
Dr Clarke told the BBC: "Since the Freedom of Information Act arrived in 2005, this subject - UFOs - have become the third-most popular subject for people to write to the Ministry of Defence saying 'please could you release this file, or papers that you hold on this particular case'.
"What they've decided to do is to be totally open and to say, 'look we're not holding any secrets back about this subject we've got all these files and we're going to make them available to the public'."
One includes details on "aerial phenomena" prepared for a meeting of the Cabinet Office's Joint Intelligence Committee in April 1957.
According to a note included in the Red Book, the weekly intelligence survey, four incidents involving UFOs tracked by RAF radars were "unexplained".
'Spaceman' The documents also include reports of a famous incident dubbed the "Welsh Roswell" in 1974, where members of the public reported seeing lights in the sky and feeling a tremor in the ground.
Other cases included in the files are:

  • A near-miss with an "unidentified object" reported by the captain and first officer of a 737 plane approaching Manchester Airport in 1995.
  • A mountain rescue team called to investigate a "crashed UFO" in the Berwyn Mountains in Wales in 1974.
  • Attempted break-ins at RAF Rudloe Manor in Wiltshire - sometimes referred to as Britain's "Area 51" - the US's secretive desert military base.
  • The Western Isles incident, when a loud explosion was reported in the sky over the Atlantic in the Outer Hebrides.
  • The 14-minutes of "missing" film relating to the Blue Streak missile test launch in 1964, believed by some to show a "spaceman".
  • A gambler from Leeds who held a 100-1 bet on alien life being discovered before the end of the 20th Century, and who approached the government for evidence to support his claim after the bookmakers refused to pay out. The MoD said it was open-minded about extra-terrestrial life but had no evidence of its existence.
The files come from more than 5,000 pages of UFO reports and letters and drawings from members of the public, as well as questions raised by MPs in Parliament.

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Breaking: U.S. plane with 2 people aboard goes down in Bermuda Triangle after unresponsive flight ~ September 5th, 2014

Flight path of the plane after leaving Rochester, New Yorkusatoday.comA plane belonging to a New York state developer with (two) people aboard has crashed in the ocean north of Jamaica after flying unresponsive for hours and being escorted by U.S. fi...

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TAP and Sao Paulo International Airport – a tribute cosmopolitan

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TAP Portugal and Infraero performed over an unprecedented on January 25 in honor of 456 years of cultural diversity of the most cosmopolitan city in South America and the anniversary of the International Airport of Guarulhos.

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