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.
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:
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:
Some pilots experienced very difficult conditions at Bilbao Airport a few days ago as strong crosswinds – up to 60 miles per hour – swept the runway from starboard (in French: tribord) ie from their right handside, forcing several of them to go around (in French: remettre les gaz):
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. 😉
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