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.
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. 😉
The British Harriers were to be replaced by the F-35Cs. Do you remember? You may have learnt from the recent news that the carrier variant of the Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Joint Strike Fighter – CV JSF (Carrier Vessel variant’s Joint Strike Fighter) – F-35C was unable to catch the wire onboard the aircraft carrier during the latest landing tests.
Strange as it may seem, the F-35C’s designers may have not forecast what would unfold during a test flight while landing on an aircraft carrier:
The arresting hook (tailhook) never engaged the arresting wire as the clearance between the tail hook and the main landing gear’s tyre tread is too short for such a speed. An F-35C Lightning II missing her carrier landing has been reported even though some U.S. officials would have dismissed such information which might result from simulated tests.
Added to that is a software bug which had grounded the CV JSF for 6 days a few month earlier for the fifth-generation fighter aircraft might have encountered wing-folding input while flying!
As a result, the British Ministry of Defence might find a Plan-B solution as these design flaws, and some others which date back to November 2011 are deemed unacceptable for such an expensive fighter aircraft – $139.5 million for the F-35C (CATOBAR – Catapult Assisted Take Off But Arrested Recovery), and $150 million for the F-35B (STOVL – Short Take-Off and Vertical Landing). The latter can land on carriers but she is more expensive, and the JSF program costs have already increased several times.
Moreover, the JSF would not be able to fire AMRAAM air-to-air missiles as reported in this video:
And there’s even more: according to a Pentagon study team report, 13 areas of concern that remained to be addressed in the F-35 would have been identified. For instance, the Helmet Mounted Display System (HMDS) would not work properly…
The British MoD is therefore considering the purchase of either F/A-18E Super Hornets or RAFALEs for the RAF. The French Dassault which has already lost the Swiss NAC tender due to replace the Swiss Air Force’s F-5s, would be proposing a new offer with 18 RAFALEs at a cost deemed lower than the 22 SAAB Gripens’ one according to the Swiss press.
The RAFALE is still in competition with the Eurofighter in the Indian MMRCA tender. the Indian officials are expected to make a decision this week. To be continued… ==> We have just learnt (on January 31, 2012) that the RAFALE has won the MMRCA tender… 🙂
According to the comments of His Highness General Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, the French Dassault RAFALE multirole fighter aircraft might be rejected as he was paying a visit to the 12th Dubai International Airshow.
About the Rafale deal, he said that Dassault seemed unaware that all the diplomatic and political will in the world could not overcome uncompetitive and unworkable commercial terms.
Dassault was deemed to race ahead in this $10-billion sale to the United Arab Emirates. The contest has taken a dramatic turn as EADS Eurofighter/Typhoon seems to receive a decisive momentum, and the Boeing F-15 and F-18 programmes would be back on track in this competition.
The Rafale performances in Libya were thought to have outclassed the other allied fighter aircraft, and it clearly headed above the competition indeed. However, some commercial negotiations would have failed. To be continued…
The Canadian International Air Show took place in Toronto last month.
The CIAS line-up featured the RCAF (Royal Canadian Air Force) Snowbirds; CF-18 Hornets; US Marine tilt-rotor MV-22 Osprey; USAF A-10 Thunderbolt; the American team Heavy Metal, and its L-39 Albatross & a T-33 Shooting Star; a Pitts Special S-1-11B SS or Model 11 “Super Stinker”; an Avro Lancaster; the CFB Trenton SkyHawks – the Canadian Forces Parachute Demonstration Team; a Zivko Edge 540 flown by Pete McLeod; the Misty Blues all woman skydiving team; a Sukhoi SU-26M flown by Rick Volker; an H-101 Salto sailplane flown by Manfred Radius; and the Royal Canadian Air Cadets on the Bellanca 8GCBC Scout tow plane and the Schweizer SGS 2-33A Glider.