The airplane with the moniker Solar Impulse left Moffett Field near San Francisco last Friday en route to Phoenix, Arizona. Will this be the first flight on a rapidly accelerating scientific adventure of solar powered aviation? Perhaps it will, but it is not very likely. This inaugural flight is the first leg of a planned cross country flight that will end up at Dulles International Airport after stops at DFW (Dallas-Fort Worth), STL (Lambert St. Louis International Airport), and thence on to Dulles. Each destination will provide a static display for those folks that want to witness this aviation anomaly, and identify themselves with this first-ever across-the-US, solar powered flight.
In interesting statistic relating to the inaugural flight from SFO to PHX is that the flight time was 19 hours (Its normal cuise speed is 40 miles per hour). Just a little shorter time frame than it took the enthusiastic soon-to-be gold digging pan handlers, also referred to as 49ers, to travel the same distance across the Rockies to San Francisco. It is believed that the Solar Impulse took a very circuitous route from SFO to PHX, and perhaps they took some time for a full viewing of the Grand Canyon. Based on the first flights total time it will take in the vicinity of 100 hours total flight time to get this monstrosity of an air machine all the way to Washington DC (Dulles).
If you have not seen it, the solar impulse has a wingspan of 208 feet, approximately that of Boeing 747. A Boeing 747 can carry as many as 500 people and the Solar Impulse can carry one person. Although the Solar Impulse will burn no fossil fuel during its flight, the ground handling functions to support it will likely burn a very large amount of gas or diesel fuel.
The lead character in this radical Odyssey is a Swiss psychiatrist and Aeronaut by the name of Bertrand Piccard. He has very aptly stated that the flights of the Solar Impulse will not pave the way for a future of solar powered flight. He states that he is hopeful it will provide more impetus and awareness of solar power for non-aviation purposes. Anyone who is not been living in a cave in recent decades is aware that greatly expanded use of solar power is an absolute must-do. Now we must convince the Luddite-like United States Senators and Congressmen that weaning ourselves from fossil fuels is critical for the future of our children and grandchildren’s survival.
This blog is written by a retired commercial pilot and aviation author, Ace Abbott. His books can be accessed at http://www.therogueaviator.com/ and his aviation talk show is available at http://webtalkradio.net/
Posted in Solar Powered Aviation
Tagged 49-ers, Bertrand Piccard, boeing 747, Congress, dfw, fossil fuels, grand canyon, Luddite-like, odyssey, Phoeniz, PHX, Rocky Mountains, Solar Impulse, St Louis lambert, STL, United States Senate, Washington Dulles airport Dallas
Sunday at the Masters results in a few billion dollars of corporate Jets parked at the Augusta, Georgia airports. Many of these “corporate tools” will be owned, leased or chartered by men who play golf and earn a large income doing so. Many of them will be owned, leased or chartered by men who enjoy golf, but will became hyper-wealthy the old-fashioned way— that would of course be very lucrative entrepreneurial activity. Some of these people will be referred to as “Banksters.”
The tarmacs at Augusta’s Bush Regional Airport and Daniel field will be congested with aircraft referred to by the corporate pilots as “big iron”. Phil Mickelson, for instance, enjoys his air travel in a Gulfstream V luxury jet that can have a price tag of 40 million dollars; Tiger Woods will be leaving today in his newer model Gulfstream 550, the same one that his ex-wife Elin used to ride in. Currently Lindsey Vonn is a favored passenger. It should be noted that she is “walking-the-ropes” at Augusta National golf course amongst the teaming masses of humanity.
Back to business! These mega-million airplanes are business tools and there are at least 10 other PGA pros that either have their own airplane or engage in the “fractional jet” practice of investing in a small percentage ownership for very restricted use. The wiser choice for most of the golfers is chartering from NetJets, Marquis Jets, and many of the other jet charter operators. Eli Flint of Flight Operations, LLC stated that they have doubled their flights from 2009 and their charters to Augusta for the masters have increased by 50% since 2010. As commercial air travel continues to deteriorate, the use of private Jets will proliferate.
Forty years ago I flew Jack Nicklaus to Augusta for the Masters in a chartered Learjet. In today’s two-tiered economy, if you have to ride around in a Learjet, you are looked upon as “FBO trash.” For nearly a decade of my aviation career I flew the rich and famous and it became very clear to me that if you can afford private jet travel, you will never go to the commercial terminal. Carbon footprint be damned, I’m going to take the jet!
This blog is prepared by aviation author Ace Abbott; http://www.therogueaviator.com, http://www.deadtiredpilots.com, will take you to his books. A visit to http://webtalkradio.net/ will allow you to listen to his aviation talk show.
Posted in corporate jets at the masters in augusta
Tagged ace abbott, Augusta national, Banksters, Bush regional Airport, Daniel field, Eli Flint, flight operations, Gulfstream 550, Gulfstream five, jack nicklaus, Learjet, Lindsay von, LLC, Marquis jets, net jets, PGA pros, Phil Mickelson's, private jets, the Masters golf tournament, Tiger Woods
ANOTHER TOO-SHORT LAY-OVER
On June 1, 2009 Air France Flight # 447, en route from Rio de Janeiro to Paris in airspace located approximately 400 miles north of the northwest corner of Brazil, inexplicably crashed in the ocean. It was somewhat inexplicable at the time, but eventually the cockpit voice recorder and the flight data recorder were recovered from the floor of the ocean. These two devices, when reviewed, analyzed, and evaluated presented a despicably ugly picture. It revealed a scenario that was very similar to the highly publicized and equally ugly Continental (Colgan Air) flight 3407 crash on approach into Buffalo, New York, killing all 49 people on board and one person on the ground
The commonalities in these two aircraft crashes are uncannily similar. The pilots of Continental Flight 3407 were extremely tired and in a state of advanced sleep deprivation. They were also relatively inexperienced and poorly trained. These factors resulted in a breaking of the chain of elements that result in a successful flight. The pilots of Air France flight 447 were equally handicapped. The initial information released by the BAE (A European aviation investigation organization) and Air France indicated a very minor abnormality on the flight deck that related to an iced pitot tube resulting in erroneous airspeed. Unfortunately, as is the case in all too many aviation accidents, this was a recurring problem that had been identified by both Airbus manufacturing the aircraft and Air France, the operator of aircraft. It had, however, not been given the priority that it shouldn’t been given.
The NTSB, after sifting through the ashes of Continental #3407, determined that improper manipulation of the flight controls, along with a counterproductive retraction of the flaps by the copilot, was the cause of this accident. They also cited poor or inadequate training. Flight crew experience, particularly in this new aircraft, the Bombardier Dash 8-Q400 also played a small role. Neither pilot of this aircraft had had adequate rest in the previous 30 hours. While this was, subjectively, but unquantifiable, the primary precursor, it was only mentioned as a contributing factor. A significant sidebar to this accident is the fact that the last six fatal domestic accidents with the US domestic air carriers involved regional carriers, or, as they are more commonly referred to, “commuters.” Four of these six accidents occurred when tired pilots in the cockpit were entrapped in an excessively long duty period.
Nearly five years after the Air France Flight 447 accident, it was just recently revealed that the pilots assigned to this flight were also extremely tired. The captain had stated that he had only one hour of sleep during the previous rest period and his relatively inexperienced copilots—this was an augmented crew with one extra pilot—also were extremely tired when they began their projected long duty period (13 hours). As was the case with Continental # 3407, the Air France pilots were relatively inexperienced, but more importantly, they had no experience flying the Airbus 330 at high-altitude. The two pilots on the flight deck severely over controlled the aircraft and it entered into a deep stall. The airplane plummeted tail first, with the nose high pitch attitude of 35°, and engines at full power. It plummeted 38,000 feet to the ocean surface in three minutes and 30 seconds. The aircraft splattered into the water and 216 passengers and 12 flight crew members were killed instantly. A sadder chapter is that the pilots, and most likely all of the passengers and cabin attendants, were fully aware that the airplane was out of control and would soon be crashing. That awareness that your life will be soon coming to a very abrupt end, will most certainly create an unparalleled state of horror and emotional turmoil.
These two accidents when evaluated by the NTSB, the FAA, and the BAE in the many pilots who have read and reviewed the accident information leave those aviation oriented folks in a state of disgust. Why had the Air France pilots never been trained to fly their aircraft and cruise altitude? Like Capt. Marvin Renslow of Colgan air infamy, the two pilots on the flight deck of AF 447 flew the airplane into a deep stall and maintained that catastrophe-inducing pitch attitude. In the AF 447 flight the captain arose from his designated nap, rushed to the cockpit—actually there was a significant delay—and stood on the flight deck repeating the mantra from the two seated copilots, “What’s going on here; what’s happening.” Continental # 3407 had two tired, poorly trained, inexperienced pilots in the cockpit. AF # 447 had three pilots in the cockpit. They were somewhat more experienced and perhaps better trained, but they all experienced the common thread of diminished performance capability as a result of sleep deprivation.
For additional information relating to the problem of tired pilots in the cockpit, you can listen to my recent interview at http://webtalkradio.net/ by clicking on HOST and Ace Abbott’s Aviation Affair. The book, Dead Tired: Pilot Fatigue- Aviation’s Insidious Killer is available at http://www.deadtiredpilots.com/
This blog is prepared by Allen Morris, a.k.a. Ace Abbott, author of The Rogue Aviator: In the Back Alleys of Aviation (http://www.therogueaviator.com/) and the above mentioned “Dead Tired”
Posted in Uncategorized
Tagged Air France flight 447, Airbus 330, BAE, Bombardier Dash 8-Q400, Brazil, Buffalo, Colgan air 3407, continental flight 3407, dead tired, deep stall, FAA, Marvin Renslow, New York, NTSB, Paris, pilot fatigue aviation's insidious killer, pitot tube iced, sleep deprivation
The drones shall soon dominate life on planet Earth. Disregard the concern about extraterrestrial aliens taking over. The man-made sci-fi device, commonly referred to as a drone, but more accurately described as an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), will be playing a bigger role in our lives at a rapidly expanding pace. Currently a front-and-center news media issue, that is already fraught with controversy, the issue of drone usage and the resulting consequences will potentially create very seriously heated debate on an issue that is a classic example of the “double-edged sword.”
Just recently, the pilots of an Alitalia Airlines commercial aircraft on approach at JFK International Airport in New York reported seeing a drone. The description of the drone was consistent with that of the very popular drone device called a quad copter. These quad copter critters can be purchased and used by anyone. They are designed to be a toy, but they are already proving to be a menace. It will certainly be a menace to more than commercial aircraft as their potential for wreaking havoc has no limits.
These high-tech toys are often equipped with a small, but technologically advanced camera that can provide illegal surveillance, particularly by men who are afflicted with the voyeur syndrome. For those folks that enjoy nude sunbathing, too many of them will discover that they are the stars in a highly provocative YouTube video that reveals, pimples, scars, and sagging tissue, along with very private nooks and crannies, and perhaps tattoos that were not meant to be shown to the general public. Considering man’s natural inclination to lust after women with youthful attractive bodies we may see numerous midair collisions of these snooping quad copters. And this just represents one small arena of the potential abuse of unregulated civilian drones.
On the bright side, drones can be used for certain rescue missions, a variety of functions that will assist farmers, the oversight of pipelines and electrical wires, the transport of needed supplies or medicine to a remote location, monitoring of traffic flow, and most importantly, the rescue of little kittens who are trapped high up in their trees. Law enforcement will be greatly enabled with drone use and we can hopefully eliminate the high speed and frequently counterproductive high-speed car chase. Drones are already being used very effectively to monitor the Mexican-American border to reduce the flow of illegal immigrants and drugs. As drone technology continues to improve we will find an endless variety of functions for these remote-controlled UAVs.
The use of military drones has been in effect for more than 20 years and now dominates the United States warfare activity in the Middle East. Unfortunately, it is extremely controversial, and justifiably so. Several international organizations have published figures that indicate far more innocent people are being killed by drone strikes, primarily with Hellfire missiles, than the US government would like to admit. The concept of “collateral damage” is a very sticky wicket. Although the US military-might remains dominant there are now nearly 50 countries that have drone technology and perhaps as many as 10, including Iran, that have operational drones that can be used for military purposes. The UAV technology is relatively simple and the proliferation of drones operated by nongovernment agencies as well as military organizations has opened a Pandora’s Box. We have just seen the tip of the iceberg. A US predator drone operated by Homeland security was recently hacked by a University of Texas college professor. Iran has captured an American Predator drone. Its computers were most assuredly hacked as it landed in Iranian territory without being damaged.
A discussion of the intended use of UAVs as commercial passenger-carrying aircraft is too lengthy to be covered in this blog. An interview with author and web talk radio host Ace Abbott will provide the listener with some interesting insights and information on this topic. To access this interview go to: http://webtalkradio.net/ and select Ace Abbott’s Aviation Affair.
This blog is prepared by retired commercial pilot and aviation author, Allen Morris, aka Ace Abbott (pen name). His books can be accessed at http://www.therogueaviator.com
Posted in The Drone dilemma Intensifies
Tagged Alitalia Airlines, drones, hellfire missiles, homeland security, Iran, JFK international Airport, law enforcement agencies, predators, quad copter, sci-fi, UAV, University of Texas
ANOTHER TOO-SHORT LAY-OVER
The ongoing problem of tired pilots in the cockpits of airplanes continues to undermine the safety of commercial aviation. In the United States, the FAA has finally stepped forward and made an effort to mitigate the problem of pilot fatigue. The changes were well thought out and based on significant analysis and study of sleep deprivation research. They will be very effective in reducing the number of accidents and incidents that result from pilot error in which sleep deprivation was a precursor. Unfortunately, there are two small caveats relating to this legislation: 1.The revised rules do not go into effect until January 14, 2014; Caveat number two: they do not apply to commercial pilots who fly cargo. This malfeasance was precipitated by allowing the profit factor to trump the safety factor. The lobbyists once again kneed the pilot force in the groin for the financial enhancement of their masters.
The highly publicized Continental flight 3407 accident in Buffalo, New York on February 12, 2009 was a great wake-up call that forced the FAA, after nearly 50 years of inaction, to finally act proactively regarding the problem. Amazingly enough, the pilots who fly for Canadian airlines and any of the EASA (European Aviation Safety Agency) airlines are now dealing with overzealous controlling agencies that want to increase the workload of commercial pilots. A recent survey amongst pilots from Austria, Sweden, Germany and Denmark revealed that fatigue is “common, dangerous and underreported.” The EASA is calling for regulations that will allow for 22 hour duty days for flight crews. This might be somewhat of an improvement, since 50% of surveyed pilots have reported being on duty after having been awake for 23 hours or more.
The Continental Flight 3407 (Operated by Colgan Air) that crashed in Buffalo on February 12 2009, provided the impetus to totally revise the FAA’s rules regarding flight and duty times. The two pilots in the cockpit of this airplane were severely fatigued and the NTSB did indicate that their state of fatigue was a precursor to the accident. After several years of in-depth studies of sleep deprivation and pilot fatigue instances and incidents, the FAA produced a science-based, airline safety enhancing set of revised regulations that will be finally implemented on January 14, 2014. The previous mentioned caveat: cargo pilots are exempt from the new more restrictive ruling has resulted in a lot of justifiable backlash from the pilot community.
ALPA to the rescue! An ALPA study has revealed that the FAA study relating to the projected cost savings of allowing the cargo pilots to utilize the antiquated and less restrictive limitations was an error. The FAA “cooked the books,” to indicate that pilot fatigue played a small role in cargo airline accidents. In actuality, during the last 20 years cargo airline accidents have been infinitely more prevalent than passenger operations. Captain Lee Moak and his ALPA colleagues have recently been making a very strong stance in Washington DC, regarding this issue. Hopefully, the ALPA lobbying will overcome the efforts of the spokesman for the cargo airline management operatives who do not want to have to hire additional pilots to fly their airplanes. There have already been too many “dead-tired” cargo pilots who have bought the farm.
For more information relating to pilot fatigue, consider reading Ace Abbott’s book, Dead Tired: Pilot Fatigue- Aviation’s Insidious Killer. (www.deadtiredpilots.com)
This blog is prepared by retired commercial pilot and aviation author Ace Abbott; (www.therogueaviator.com
Posted in TIRED PILOTS-A WORLDWIDE PROBLEM
Tagged ALPA, Austria, Canada, Capt. Lee Moak, cargo airline accidents, cargo pilots, continental flight 3407, Denmark, EASA, FAA, flight and duty time limitations, Germany, lobbyist, NTSB, pilot error, pilot fatigue, sleep deprivation, Sweden
If you are a queen bee it’s great to have a drone hanging around. When that big mama bee needs a little male companionship she simply summons her drone. However, if you live anywhere near northern Pakistan, drones are dreaded and draconian. After NBC’S Michael Isikoff’s very important investigative journalism relating to the US governments drone program, the newsrooms are a beehive of activity as the buzz relating to the drone dilemma intensifies. The political ramifications are numerous and complex; unfortunately, the biggest complications relates to a concept initially coined by the CIA, and referred to as “blowback.” Chalmers Johnson has written an entire book that elaborates on blowback and its potential very harmful effect on the well-being of the United States of America and its citizens as hordes of angry people suffer from the consequences of drone attacks
But then, here at home, we also have to learn to deal with the drone. The always precarious fourth amendment rights are now out on the edge of a slippery slope as the likelihood of camera equipped drones will soon be creating a vision in the sky that might be compared to Alfred Hitchcock’s scene from his movie The Birds. As drones rapidly accelerate to the ubiquitous state, and high-tech cameras can be easily attached to a drone we can forget about the concept of privacy. Those who sunbathe in the nude might have every nook and cranny, wrinkle and scar, available for the whole world to see. Monaco, Nice, LeTouque and all of the any many other nude beaches on the French Riviera will have to face the reality that their tan lines and all of the sagging body tissues will be viewed by everyone who has a computer.
The ramifications of our law enforcement folks utilizing camera-carrying-drones will cure many of us from going over to the tree to take a pee. Many community coffers will be filled by men who have to pay a misdemeanor fine for their public indecent exposure. That could be just the tip of the iceberg. The fellas who wrote Brave New World and 1984 were very prescient. Fasten your seatbelt and hang on tight; this new world of drones is already conceptualized to wrangle its way into commercial aviation. There will be no more miraculous, heroic pilot-saves such as Denzel Washington exhibited in his movie Flight.
This blog is prepared by Allen Morris/a.k.a. Ace Abbott, author of The Rogue Aviator: In the Back Alleys of Aviation (www.therogueaviator.com) and Dead Tired: Pilot Fatigue Aviation’s Insidious Killer; www.deadtiredpilots.com
Posted in DRONES (UAVs) DOMINATE, Uncategorized
Tagged 1984, ace abbott, alfred hitchcock, blowback, brave New World, Chalmers Johnson, CIA, dead tired, denzell Washington, drones, fourth amendment, Letouque, Michael Isikoff, Monaco, Nice, Pakistan, pilot fatigue aviation's insidious killer, the birds, The Rogue Aviator, United States of America