The brand new 5th-generation fighterjet Shenyang J-31 – or F60, which would be nicknamed Gyrfalcon – took off on October 31, 2012. She thus performed a test flight – probably her maiden flight – on Wednesday.
This futuristic PLAAF (People’s Liberation Army Air Force) stealth multirole jetfighter looks like an F-35 Lightning II though the Gyrfalcon (or Falcon Eagle?) turns out to be a twin-engine a/c. She would be more maneuverable but smaller than the latest Chengdu J-20 Black Eagle stealth fighter. Her radar cross section (RCS) might be very small, and stealthier than recent 5th-generation fighter aircraft as the radome mounting looks as if it were – like the rest of the airframe – designed with reentrant shapes.
This fighter aircraft would not exceed Mach 2, and she features a DSI (Diverterless Supersonic Inlet) so that the airspeed can be reduced while entering the air intake, thus preventing the engine from breaking up.
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 This special fuel could drip and leak abundantly as the airframe made up of titanium was retracted while taxiing, and became airtight only when it got its operating shape while flying very fast and very high because of the air density, and surrounding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!
I guessed it might be a good idea to start a new aviation newspaper on the « Sound Barrier’s Day » if I may put it this way (October 14, 1947 ==> Chuck YEAGER, and maybe in a few minutes… October 14, 2012 ==> Felix BAUMGARTNER – Let us hope he will succeed in breaking both the sound barrier, and a new freefall record)
Come read my newspaper about AVIATION You are invited to discover my newspaper! I select and edit my favorite content daily, and Paper.li does the rest. It’s a great way to treat yourself to fresh news…
This is what the next Airbus aircraft should be in the 40 years to come. The new Airbus concept is to match the passengers’ demand.
According to a consultation with the customers, 96% of them want more environmentally sustainable aeroplanes. The aircraft of the future will have to be fully recyclable, more sustainable ie eco-efficient, and less stressful:
Now, the leading aircraft manufacturer is using the feedback to paint its vision of sustainable aviation in 2050.
There is a need among the passengers to reduce the time spent in airports. The new Airbus concept cabin will integrate an additional door for faster boarding, and exit. This airliner of the future will reduce its noise, and carbon emmissions. It will use the latest technologies – bionic structure, blended airframe, enhanced laminar flow and noise reduction; blended U-tail, biomorphing seats able to collect the passenger’s body energy, cutting-edge relaxation systems, human body thermal recycling, dramatic panoramic view, World Wide Web access, round of golf, etc. Watch the video:
Brazil is to spend up to 7 billion dollars (around 12 billion reals) for its Brazilian Air Force (FAB – Forca Aerea Brasileira) next procurement – fighter aircraft. There is no way to predict whether it will be Rafales, Gripens, or Super Hornets. Nobody knows much about what the tender outcome will be. We just know that India would advise Brazil in this competition. We will have to take another six months until Brazil makes a decision on this bid ie on December 31, 2012, or even later.
On the one hand, the French Dassault Rafale is deemed ahead thanks to its performance, the Swiss NAC tests, and thanks to a transfer of technology pledge. Moreover, the Rafale (carrier-capable) has won the Indian MMRCA tender among strong contenders – F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, MiG-35 Fulcrum F, Eurofighter/Typhoon, F-16IN Super Viper, JAS 39 NG Gripen. On the other hand, the U.S. Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet would be cheaper but the transfer of technology still depends on another aircraft sale.