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 This special fuel could drip and leak abundantly as the airframe made up of titanium was retracted while taxiing, and became airtight only when it got its operating shape while flying very fast and very high because of the air density, and surrounding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!
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:
The USAF RQ-170 Sentinel – ISR (Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance) + Ground-attack stealth drone – recently captured in Iran should remain indefinitely according to the latest news:
“No one returns the symbol of aggression to the party that sought secret and vital intelligence related to the national security of a country,” Iranian General Hossein Salami said.
Nothing more was revealed but the U.S. Air Force admitted that the UAV would have had a malfunction on its course to Iran after leaving Afghanistan. The pictures of the fuselage cannot show evidence of shooting down, and nothing proves what the Iranian officials suggested about EW (Electronic Warfare) means which might have brought down the drone to the ground perhaps by jamming.
Airbus has just unveiled a revolutionary concept through images of a transparent airliner design.
This aircraft of the future will use the latest technology – bionic structure; blended airframe; enhanced laminar flow and noise reduction; blended V-tail; biomorphing seats; leading-edge relaxation systems; human body thermal recycling; dramatic panoramic view; round of golf; etc.
Airbus will showcase their project called Concept Cabin during the Paris Air Show, at Le Bourget Airport. A movie – Airbus Future of Flight – will also be shown in a 360° planetarium at the Musee de l’Air et de l’Espace from 20 to 26 June 2011. Watch what travelling by plane could be… 40 years ahead:
Special thanks to Thierry HERMAS – Aeronautical English teacher at the French Air Force Academy (EOAA, Salon de Provence) – who passed the video link on. Thank you very much indeed.