Thursday November 8, 2012 – Two Iranian Sukhoi Su-25s (Su-25K Frogfoot-A? or Su-25UBK Frogfoot-B?) would have fired at a U.S. drone last week on November 1, at 04.50 am (Eastern Time) as it was flying above international waters – 16 miles off the Kuwaiti coast, according to the Pentagon.
The General Atomics MQ-1 Predator unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) was not above Iranian territory when it was intercepted by Frogfoots which engaged the drone. However, the Predator was not shot down, and returned to its base.
George E. Little, Press secretary of the U.S. DoD (Department of Defense) stated: “We have a wide range of options from diplomatic to military.”
Reminder: an American RQ-170 Sentinel UAV had been captured in Iran on December 13, 2011.
As you may have heard, the mythical Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird was a strategic reconnaissance aircraft able to fly at more than Mach 3 – Mach 3.3 ie around 3,500 km/h; or 1,900 kts; and at a maximum flight level of… FL 850 or 26 kilometers high!
The Blackbird indeed had a unique flight envelope with a particular doghouse plot (since she could not exceed 3.5 G), and an exceptionnal coffin corner limited by her CIT – Compressor Inlet Temperature of 427°C maximum.
This aircraft was also unique for her engines were two J58 ramjets fuelled by JP-7 especially refined for extreme flying purpose. This special fuel could drip and leak abundantly as the airframe made up of titanium was retracted while taxiing, and became airtight only when it got its operating shape while flying very fast and very high because of the air density, and surrounding pressure plus the heating caused by the air friction at such speeds. In short, the whole structure considerably expanded when airborne.
The irony – I heard it on the grapevine, or read it somewhere on the web – that titanium which turned into dark blue while flying (SR-71s probably deserved those unofficial other nicknames “Bluebird”, or “Habu” viper) was “imported” from… USSR!
Pilots must have taken significant risks inherent in flying such an aircraft as mentioned in this previous post. These pilots used to fly over the USSR to take strategic reconnaissance photographs during the Cold war. They wore pressurized spacesuits so that their blood could not boil in case of decompression or ejection at such altitudes.
The Blackbird travelled faster than a rifle bullet, and the air friction could have melt aluminum-skinned aircraft. At Mach 3.2, fuel cycled behind the chine surface in order to cool the aircraft! The inner windshield temperature could reach 120°C even though a heavy-duty cooling system was on a full function. On landing, the outside temperature of the canopy could reach 300°C, and it must have been far beyond on the fuselage, and wing surfaces while flying at high speeds. The pilot could feel the heat behind his protective gloves!
Felix Baumgartner, the famous Austrian skydiver, is still waiting for better meteorological conditions to make a new attempt in the Red Bull Stratos project to break the sound barrier while freefalling. This new feat might happen within the next few days as it has already been scheduled on October 14.
According to the video below, Felix BAUMGARTNER’s top 5 jumps are:
Wingsuit Channel Crossing
Taipei 101 BASE Jump
Petronas Towers BASE Jump
Seating of the Spirits Cave Jump
Man vs. Plane
Felix BAUMGARTNER was to jump on the 9th of October 2012. However, this jump which could have become the highest skydive in the aerospace history has been put off due to gusty winds.
In this new record attempt Felix BAUMGARTNER will be so high up – 120,000 ft, or 36.6 km – that if his suit leaks, his blood will boil. When he jumps, he will fall so fast that he will break the sound barrier as explained in this video:
A 3-hour ascent is expected to reach such an altitude, and it could take him more than a quarter of an hour to fall down back to the earth, and land… And now the animation on how it could unfold from the stratosphere right over Roswell, New Mexico, USA: (Click on the link below – MUST SEE!)
NASA Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia – New energy-efficient airplanes could be designed. Researchers work on designs for viable commercial aircraft which could leave a low to zero carbon footprint.
In order to save jet fuel, they look at new concepts, processes, and designs that could be lighter. They try to reduce drag, and they try to increase the propulsive efficiency. For this purpose, they try to get rid of metallic airframes, and parts as often as possible.
For instance NASA has a newer composite 10 percent lighter than carbon fiber composite. This advanced material is called “Pultruded rod stitched efficient unitized structure” or PRSEUS.
The new sleeker designs look like large wings without any traditional tube-shaped fuselage in the central part since it is blended with the wings. These futuristic designs are more fuel efficient as the more lift the plane has, the less it consumes fuel.
The researchers also look at new energy sources as it is showed in this video, and in the end there is further information about the NextGen project which could save fuel too, thanks to this new form of air traffic management:
Excerpts of President Franklin Delano ROOSEVELT’s address on D-Day:
My fellow Americans,
Last night, when I spoke with you about the fall of Rome, I knew at that moment that troops of the United States and our allies were crossing the Channel in another and greater operation. It has come to pass with success thus far, and so, in this poignant hour, I ask you to join with me in prayer.
Almighty God, our sons, pride of our nation, this day have set upon a mighty endeavor, a struggle to preserve our republic, our religion, and our civilization, and to set free a suffering humanity. Lead them straight, and true. Give strength to their arms, stoutness to their hearts, steadfastness in their faith.
They will need thy blessings. Their road will be long and hard for the enemy is strong. He may hurl back our forces. Success may not come with rushing speed, but we shall return again and again, and we know that by thy grace, and by the righteousness of our cause, our sons will triumph.
They will be sore tried by night, and by day, without rest until the victory is won. The darkness will be rent by noise and flame. Men’s souls will be shaken with the violences of war, for these men are lately drawn from the ways of peace. They fight not for the lust of conquest. They fight to end conquest. They fight to liberate. They fight to let justice arise, and tolerance and goodwill among all thy people. They yearn but for the end of battle, for their return to the haven of home. With thy blessing, we shall prevail… Over the unholy forces of our enemy.
Help us to conquer the apostles of greed and racial arrogances. Lead us to the saving of our country, and with our sister nations into a world unity that will spell a sure peace – a peace invulnerable to the schemings of unworthy men. And a peace that will let all of men live in freedom, reaping the just rewards of their honest toil. Thy will be done, Almighty God.
When you pull your suitcase off the baggage carousel, you cannot see those who took care of it. They sort out a tremendous amount of bags and packs every day.
They drive tugs or pushback tractors, performing aircraft towings, and push-backs thanks to a tow bar. They load bulk cargo, and passenger baggage thanks to belt loaders, and they load ULD (Unit Load Device) pallets as well.
Maybe you wonder who these people are. Let us listen to one of these ramp agents also called “Fleet service clerks“; “Fleet service agents“; or “Baggage handlers“.
The Lockheed Martin / Boeing F-22 Raptor 5th-generation fighter aircraft is a supermaneuverable, or rather a HiMAT – Highly Maneuverable Aircraft Technology – fighterjet which can shoot the enemy before they even see it thanks to its cutting-edge stealth technology:
Foreign Object Damage (FOD) can be caused by Foreign Object Debris (called FOD too). FOD can also mean “Foreign Object Detection“. Watch the video, and read its transcript below:
Our Air Force has the most technically advanced aircraft in the world – deadly fighters, and bombers, mighty cargo and tanker workhorses, our many helicopters, and a variety of specialty aircraft.
But they can all be easily grounded by FOD.
Foreign objects cause damage to our aircraft in many ways. For example, cut tires, and jammed flight or engine controls. FOD has caused at least six fighter aircraft to crash over the last twelve years! Some of the items that caused these mishaps were:
Safety wire pliers;
A piece of aluminum foil;
A one-inch piece of safety wire;
Even a small washer!
These incidents show that poor housekeeping, and work practices are still the two major contributors to preventable FOD. We can eliminate FOD. To do so, we must make these six commonsense steps, part of our every job, every step, every day.
The first step – be aware that you can make a difference, and that FOD is a constant problem. Every time you sign out a tool box, work a job, or just step out to help someone, keep your eyes open for tools, rocks, and other debris. And when you see something, stop, and pick it up. Occasionally, you may need a sweeper to clean up an area. MAC usually coordinate with base OPS. MAC (Military Airlift Command) usually coordinates this support with base OPS.
The second step – keep your work area clean. Check your shoes for foreign objects, and empty your pockets of keys, change, pencils, and trash. Place these items into a FOD bag before entering the cockpit, intake, other confined areas, or before working on top of the aircraft. Are you covering all of those lines, houses, cannon plugs, and ducts during extended maintenance? The ACES II ejection seat is the most reliable, and safest seat in the world, as long as nothing gets in the way. Somebody did not report losing this pencil tip. It then migrated in flight to the sequence start switch which activates the seat computer as it departs the aircraft. It was discovered during a visual inspection of the seat when it was removed for other maintenance. Because of the protective shield over the switch, and the tight clearance in the cockpit, it normally would never have been found. How do you think the pilots felt when they heard about it? Do you check the area one more time before you leave? It is possible the person before you left something behind.
Step three – we have to keep our vehicles clean. We know foreign objects get around, and many times are, vehicles carry them out to the flight line. Tire checks – are you constantly doing them every time you went to the flight line? How about after you drove out of the taxiway to let the jet pass? How clean is your vehicle? Is there safety wire, trash, or fasteners on the floor? Is the FOD can overflowing before you empty it? If you have a vehicle magnet installed, are you checking it daily?
Step four – Thorough FOD walks. Are you looking, or are you out there just stretching your legs? Pay special attention to the grounding points, and cement grooves, and cracks. These areas are always filling up with trash, rocks, and hardware. A good daily FOD walk helps us keep up with all the debris that still manages to get onto the ramp. A FOD walk should have found this bolt. Instead, it was sucked up, off of the ramp by a B-1. Three first-stage compressor blades, and one inlet guide vane were damaged. It cost us 56 man-hours, and over $ 35,000 to remove and fix this engine.
Step five – good tool and hardware control is a must. Remember the last time you lost a tool, or a nut? How long did you look for it? Did you find it? When was the last tool report started? Remember – tool control starts when you receive a toolbox. Before you sign for it, make sure all missing tools are written up, and check the box for pieces of safety wire, and other trash. Woe, slow down, and look. Is that a tool, or the tool cutout? If you find a tool missing, don’t accept the box, and make sure a last tool report, and investigation is started. Also, never leave tools in hardware in or on the aircraft. Do a good inventory of your toolbox, and TOs* after every job. This alone will narrow the search area, and greatly increase your chances of finding a last tool. Think about it, what would you rather check? One aircraft, or three? When you do find a tool missing, start looking for it immediately. If you can find it after a short search, report it immediately to the expediter, or dock chief, and get some extra help to look for the missing tool or hardware. For tight or inaccessible areas, you can also use a borescope** or X-ray equipment to locate lost items. How would you tell the pilot if the jet has just taxied? What if it is flying? A file about this size was left behind after blending two engine blades on a C-5, possibly fallen behind a nacelle blocker door*** during the job. Four people then signed for the box over the next several days before someone finally noticed, and reported the last tool. The file was not located, and then came loose in flight the next day. This incident caused over 550 men-hours of work, and $ 66,000 in damage to the engine. Hardware control is simply taking only what you need, and counting how many nuts, bolts, or other hardware you take from bench stock. After the job, make sure you account for all the hardware. If you don’t complete the job, annotate the screw bag with the quantity, the type of hardware, and your name. This will help the person who finishes the job track down any missing hardware. Here is what a misplaced ¼ inch nut did to a C-130 engine. Over 30 blades were damaged beyond repair, not counting depot costs – the damages have already taken 64 man-hours, and exceeded $ 38,000 in damages. Sometimes, we accidentally leave items inside the intake danger area, or in the intake before an engine start. These have included VTR tapes, flashlights, cleaning bottles, and aircraft forms. Are you paying attention? Or have you just been lucky?
Step six – follow the T.O.. For tight or inaccessible access areas, you can also use a borescope, or X-ray equipment to locate lost items. How would you tell the pilot if the jet has just taxied? What if it is flying? A file about this size was left behind after blending two engine blades on a C-5, possibly fallen behind a nacelle blocker door*** during the job. Four people then signed for the box over the next several days before someone finally noticed, and reported the last tool. The file was not located, and then came loose in flight the next day. This incident caused over 550 men-hours of work, and $ 66,000 in damage to the engine. Hardware control is simply taking only what you need, and counting how many nuts, bolts, or other hardware you take from bench stock. After the job, make sure you account for all the hardware. If you don’t complete the job, annotate the screw bag with the quantity, the type of hardware, and your name. This will help the person who finishes the job track down any missing hardware. Here is what a misplaced ¼ inch nut did to a C-130 engine. Over 30 blades were damaged beyond repair, not counting depot costs – the damages have already taken 64 man-hours, and exceeded $ 38,000 in damages. Sometimes, we accidentally leave items inside the intake danger area, or in the intake before an engine start. These have included VTR tapes, flashlights, cleaning bottles, and aircraft forms. Are you paying attention? Or have you just been lucky?
6. Step six (again and further) – Follow the T.O.. Several times we have had equipment, and panels come off during an engine run, or in flight, causing serious damage. On the last job before a three-day weekend, an experienced crew chief and his assistant were preparing an F-16 for an engine run. He skipped the warning, and the step to check the run screen safety pin for security. During the engine run, one pin came out, and after whipping around in the intake for a few seconds, the lanyard broke. The pin destroyed over 426 blades. Total cost – $ 69,000 and 366 man-hours. What was the cost of the crew chief? How do you think he felt? Think of what he went through. The de-certification, the investigation, the waiting. Was the two or three seconds saved worth it? Sometimes, confusing or incomplete TOs are part of the problem. Improper installation caused by poor tech aide, and inexperience created a stress crack in the upper anti collision light lens in a KC-10.
* T.O.: Technical Order
** (or boroscope)
*** Thrust reverser (pelle d’inverseur de poussée)
According to the CBS news video report below, F-22 pilots would have stopped flying 5th-generation F-22 Raptor for they would have reported HH (Health Hazards) incidents onboard the most advanced fighter aircraft in the U.S. Air Force, and the most expensive ever.
“The F-22 has been plagued by a mysterious flaw that causes its pilots to become disoriented while at the controls, from a lack of oxygen.”
Thanks to this interview, we now know that a pilot would have touched a tree while flying an F-22 as he may have been suffering from hypoxia (oxygen deficiency in body tissue). Some other pilots reported dizziness, vertigo, and coughing spell.
“The Air Force launched an investigation that focused on the plane’s On-Board Oxygen Generating System, or OBOGS which takes air from outside the jet, passes through the engine, and through a chemical process to produce a concentrated oxygen that the pilot breathes – Watch the video:
Panic onboard – That is what happened on a JetBlue aircraft last week. The captain dashed to the bathroom’s door which was locked, got jittery, then running along the aisle, he hollered out insane things such as “They’re going to take us down!”. The passengers wrestled the pilot down, tied him up with seat belts, and he was handed over to the police after landing.
An incident of this kind had already been reported two weeks before. An American Airlines flight attendant had been giving the safety instructions just before takeoff. She suddenly ranted about mechanical issues which were immediately refuted by the other cabin crew members. She kept speaking incoherently about Al-Qaeda, and the 9/11 attacks, about her fears of crashing, etc. A few people managed to wrestle her down, and the passengers were startled and scared as they could hear her blood-curdling screams when she was being handcuffed by the police.
According to these reports, these insane behaviors are believed to be air-rage cases but the flight attendant who got temporarily mad would be deemed bipolar by doctors, and her condition could explain her behavior. As far as the JetBlue pilot is concerned, his neighbors cannot understand as they would see him as a kind person.
Another scary situations occurred in flight this week on Monday April 2, 2012. 80-year-old Helen Collins landed the Cessna 414 twin-engine aircraft in which the pilot – her husband – died a few minutes before at the controls!
Thanks to the video/audio tape hereafter, we can imagine now what was going through her mind as it was the first time she had flown an aeroplane: (video with transcripts – click on the link below)
Outstanding Helen Collins hurt her back, and cracked a rib but she managed to bring the plane to a safe stop at Door County Cherryland Airport, near Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin.
Last but not least, HATS OFF to Braden Blennerhassett, an Australian pilot who never panicked last Tuesday as a SNAKE popped out from the dashboard; slithered down his leg while he was landing! Read the SCRIPT and listen to the video link about this story below:
Here is how this brave pilot kept his cool on his aircraft (interview):
Another interesting video with the air traffic controller about the emergency message she received:
These recent stories – not to mention the latest crash of an F/A-18D Hornet from Naval Air Station Oceana, Virginia, on Friday in which the pilots managed to bail out safely before the fighter aircraft crashed into an apartment building fortunately left with no death toll – remind us of this well-worn saying: Flying is simply hours of boredom punctuated by moments of stark terror.
Special thanks to Xavier Cotton – Passion pour l’aviation‘s webmaster – for his help and support, and for passing these video links on to me. Thank you very much indeed. 😉