Drones Banned From Flying While Obama Visits London

People love drones, from their ability to race around the skies to capturing the most picture perfect moments you just don’t feel safe taking yourself. Sadly if you were looking at grabbing a quick picture of President Obama during his visit to London in a couple of week’s you will have to shelve your drone thanks to plans to ban drones from flying around London during the president’s visit.

The bulletin was released by the National Air Traffic Service (NATS) and the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and will restrict all types of aircraft on Thursday, April 21st (The Queens birthday) and Sunday, April 24th. The restrictions will be in place on all aircraft, including drones like the one that crashed at the muses content, banning any craft from flying below 762 metres (2,500 feet).

The restrictions are in place over three separate areas, with each area having specific times and dates, with the most restrictive being in Area 2 who find a lack of air traffic all the way from 8PM on the 21st till 9.30AM on the 24th.

With this becoming a common measure for high-profile events, you should be weary of flying your drones when big events are happening as you can often end up with large fines and a ban on using any type of drone.

FAA Rule It a Federal Crime to Shoot Down a Drone

Almost a year ago now William H Meredith noticed a drone flying above his property, so with his shotgun, he removed it from the sky. This raised an interesting legal debate, given the drone was above his property at the time it was shot down, was it wrong of him to shoot it down or was the drone user invading his privacy? The FAA have now revealed the answer, saying it is a federal crime to shoot down a drone.

Meredith defended his actions saying that not only was the drone invading his privacy but that of his two daughters in his garden. David Boggs, the drones owner, however, states that he was flying the drone to take pictures of a friend’s house and even sued Meredith for the cost of the drone and then some.

Due to the FAA’s latest drone registry scheme, drones are deemed as aircraft, the same as any manned aircraft in the air. As a result, the FAA responded to a question confirming that shooting down a drone is a federal crime, citing 18 U.S.C. 32 titled Aircraft Sabotage. This escalates to the point where if you are deemed to be interfering with someone who is “engaged in the authorised operation of such aircraft” you could find yourself facing anywhere between five and twenty years in prison.

While no one has yet to be charged for this act, many drones have been shut down and people are now wondering where can you draw the line? Given that specialist task forces are being formed to deal with the threat of drones, both on people and on manned aircraft, is it ever justified to defend yourself from the threat of a drone?

Who Wants a Real Hoverboard That Can Actually Fly?

When we hear about hoverboards these days we think of those handleless Segways that people ride around the place rather than walking, even when you can’t use them legally in public in the UK. Why not look at something a little different then? Like the original idea of a hoverboard, one that can actually fly!

Typically real hoverboards that actually float use magnetism to propel themselves off the ground, with the Lexus Slide being a prime example. If you followed French Jet Ski champion, Franky Zapata, though you would know that there is something completely different available now, let us introduce you to the Flyboard!

Designed as a single person hoverboard, the device is untethered and is powered solely by jet thrust created by a miniature jet turbine engine. Demonstrating the device with speeds of up to 55 kilometers per hour (that’s 34 miles an hour!) and a height of up to 30 meters the Flyboard has enough petrol is its user’s backpack for 10 minutes of continuous flight!

While it may seem like a dream, and until more details are revealed that’s all the device is; the device could be seen as the next step for single person aerial transport. While this isn’t the first time someone’s created a device that lets them fly, famously inventor and aviator David Mayman flew around the Statue of Liberty while using his JB-9 jetpack, the race is surely on with Mayman even challenging Zapata and his hoverboard to a race!

World’s Largest Aircraft Set For UK Test Flight

Every few years we hear about something being bigger, faster, crazier, and the Airlander 10 is no exception to this. Clocking into the world of aviation as the world’s largest aircraft, the Airlander 10 is preparing to take its first test flight in the UK in just a few weeks time.

It’s no normal craft either. It generates its lift aerostatically since it’s filled with Helium, but also aerodynamically thanks to its wing-like shape. It’s a hybrid of a lot of technologies overall, blending plane, helicopter and airship into one and that all plays no small part in allowing it to be as big as it is.

Created by Hybrid Air Vehicles in Bedford, UK, the Airlander 10 is expected to be deployed for use in leisure cruises, airborne research and cargo transport due to its less demanding landing and take-off abilities. It’s capable of carrying up to 10-tons, or fitted to carry 48 passengers for a very impressive five days at a cruising speed of around 80 Knots (92mph); there’s also a 50-ton version in the planning stages.

“It’s not an airship. It’s a mix between an aeroplane, an airship with a bit of helicopter thrown in. It uses the latest materials, it’s got the latest fly-by-night technology, avionics and computer software. It’s very much an aircraft for the 21st century.” said company spokesman Chris Daniels.

Obviously, it remains to be tested and it’s questionable how much demand there will be for such a craft, but that doesn’t make it any less cool. Would you take a trip on an air-cruise aboard something like this, or do you prefer the speedy alternative of a jet to fly you to your next holiday destination?

“We are not talking about a mass market products here. We’re talking about something highly specialist. It will be very useful for those who need it. But the number of companies and organizations that are going to need something as specialist as this is not large in number.” added Aviation Expert David Learmount.

Another Near Miss as Drone Flies Close to Jet at Heathrow

Drones are a wonderful piece of technology and the more we advance them the more we can do. I mean, they have created a drone that works both in the air and even underwater. How can we not find uses for drones that can be deployed at sea, both above and below the sea line? The problem being is that a select few are ruining the experience for everybody, with drones being used and damaging everything from the Empire State building to cutting out power for residents in LA.  The most recent in a long stream of incidents is a near encounter when a drone flew within 30 feet of a jet that was landing at Heathrow.

The Airbus A319 was landing at Heathrow Airport in September while it was on approach to land. The pilot reported that it went so close as 25 yards left of the cockpit and only 20 feet above. The incident was reported to the police and classed as a meeting risk category A, the highest risk that two objects meet short of actually colliding. The worrying part is that the drone was flying at 500 feet, while the legal limit for drones in the UK is 400 feet, with anything beyond that being considered controlled airspace.

This isn’t the first time that a drone has almost collided with an airplane, and given the risk to both the crew and passengers of the craft and those on the ground, drone pilots performing these kind of stunts, putting others at risk, are the reason that the FAA has pushed for drone registration in the USA.

US Air Force Reveal New B-21 Bomber

Much of America’s air power has been in service for many years, most notably the venerable B-52. Now, they plan to bring a new craft to the fleet. Christened the B-21, and the result of Northrop Grumman’s work on the US Air Force’s Long Range Strike Bomber (LRS-B) project, looks very reminiscent of a previous US bomber, the B-2, which was the last bomber bought from Northrop Grumman in the 80s and 90s.

Revealed as part of a presentation by Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James at the Air Force Association’s Air Warfare Symposium in Orlando, the initial concept design of the aircraft as well as it’s B-21 designation were announced. The official name of the bomber is yet to be decided, with the Air Force currently taking suggestions from service members as to what it should be, but the B-21 designation was in recognition of its position as the first bomber of the 21st century.

“This aircraft represents the future for our Airmen,” James said. “The Airman who submits the selected name will help me announce it at the conference this fall (the Air & Space Conference in September).”

While the B-21 may make many think of the old B-2 spirit, the B-21 represents many different decisions in its design. The B-2 was considered a “moonshot” project at the time, which resulted in a high cost and low production, meanwhile the B-21 looks similar to the B-2 because it is built on existing and mature designs and technology. Despite this, the initial development budget for the project is $21 billion, including designs and prototypes, with 100 aircraft planned as part of the production, each costing as much as $550 million.

The B-21 is expected to enter operation sometime in the 2020s, to be part of the US Air Force fleet going into the future. The budget proposals that account for the B-21’s production even plan for a lowered purchase of the flagging F-35 fighters over the next decade, to allow for the purchase of additional bombers. Exactly what the B-21 will bring to aerial warfare in the near future remains to be seen, but hopefully, it should deliver far more than the B-2 did in its time.

Drone Enters Flightpath of Passenger Airplane

Drones, the enthusiast way to get your videos taken from a perspective only caught by hanging off a tall object or sending a camera into space on a weather balloon. It was only a matter of time before someone decided to toy with its much larger cousin, a commercial aircraft.

On Friday, a keen enthusiast looking for the perfect shot, took to the Dallas Love Field with their trusty quadcopter. Once in the air, it isn’t clear whether they were going for a scenery shot or a unique look at a landing aircraft; either way it was too close for comfort and some airspace laws.

As a Southwest flight began its descent, the pilot called into air traffic control to report the sighting of a quadcopter within “a few hundred feet”.

“It was close enough to Love Field that the air traffic controller was able to see it from the tower,” Lynn Lunsford, a Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman told a local newspaper.

“Our pilots on the flight deck of Flight 28 observed a traffic conflict as they approached Dallas Love Field,” stated Alyssa Eliasen, a Southwest spokeswoman. “The flight landed safely and our crew filed a report with appropriate agencies. The Safety of our customers and employees is our top priority and our pilots take this responsibility very seriously.”

“We’re concerned because these are easily purchased devices, and they have pretty amazing capabilities,” Mark Duebner, the city’s director of aviation, told the Dallas Morning News. “But I don’t think the average person understands the airspace limits around the airport because they wouldn’t have reason to know them… We need to do some campaigns to raise public awareness, though because we don’t need these anywhere near the airport.”

Local police forces on ground and air were deployed very quickly after the incident, but couldn’t recover the drone nor the operator. With the easy access to drones, should they be controlled in a similar way to which model RC craft can only operate in certain areas as not to cause conflict with flight paths? Let us know in the comments.

Thank you to ArsTechnica for providing us with this information.

Android Tablet Delivers Air-Strike in Just Four Minutes

Up until now, American Joint Terminal Attack Controllers have been faced with calling in airstrikes using radios and paper maps. During that time, they required to coordinate and monitor positions of inbound aircrews to avoid friendly fire, while also being in the middle of a firefight. Now, thanks to DARPA and their new Android tablet, it takes less time to do that.

DARPA’s Persistent Close Air Support works by having it run on the tablet named Kinetic Integrated Low-cost SoftWare Integrated Tactical Combat Handheld, or KILSWITCH for short. The tech was used before in tactical and navigational applications, but this is the first time the military integrated it into air support.

The PCAS is also integrated directly into a plane’s tactical system and acts as well as the older radio-map method did, but in only four minutes. It has been designed to give real-time situational awareness data sharing between ground forces and overhead aircraft.

The system relies on live satellite, intelligence, and surveillance feeds to ensure that both parties are aware of each other up until the bombing commences. This would also allow the military to use fewer smart munitions. DARPA has tested the new tech in TALON REACH, an US Marine Corps infantry/aviation training exercise held in New Mexico.

“I am very pleased with the successful PCAS demonstration that we had during TALON REACH,” Lt. Gen. Jon M. Davis, the Marine Corps’ deputy commandant for aviation, said in a statement. “I have emphasized to my team that we will network every one of our aircraft.”

With more and more technological advancements, it seems that the modern battlefield is drastically changing its façade. It seems that the latest involves bombing in less time than it takes for a pizza to arrive at your doorstep.

Thank you Endgadget for providing us with this information

US Navy Testing Electromagnetic Catapults to Help Launch Aircraft from Carriers

Aircraft carriers have been equipped with steam-powered catapults from the very start in order to help launch fighters and bombers and get them airborne quick. However, this old-fashioned technology seems to be a bit too old for the Navy to use it on newer multi-million aircraft.

As an alternative, the US Navy is now looking to replace its technology with an Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS). The technology is currently being tested aboard the USS Gerald R. Ford and uses bursts of electromagnetic energy to launch planes much more smoothly and efficiently compared to the steam catapults.

While aircraft carriers are one of the biggest ships found on the sea, they are still not big enough for aircraft to generate enough lift before they reach the end of the ship. This is why they required some auxiliary help, such as the steam catapults, to generate that extra lift force to get them into the air.

However, steam catapults come with some drawbacks. The old technology is said to take up a lot of space and weigh in at 1,300 lbs. The systems are said to take a long time to recharge and after each launch, the launch itself is said to be abrupt. This means that there is no smooth acceleration for a steam piston, putting a lot of wear on the aircraft each time it launches.

Steam catapults are also said to use more power than the EMALS system, which is rather surprising. The switch to EMALS is said to bring smoother acceleration, improved reliability and a more efficient design.

Thank you Geek for providing us with this information

Russia Wants to Build Supersonic Transport Plane

It is usually North Korea that is in the headlines when we hear some ridiculous news, like flying to the sun and back in one night. This time it is Russia that is trying to grab the world’s most ridiculous headline with their proposed new super airplane. The Kremlin propaganda outfit RT cites design specifications from Russia’s Military-Industrial Commission, the new PAKTA transport plane will have the ability to fly at supersonic speed while carrying massive amounts of cargo. While this would be really cool, and maybe possible if the best heads in the world got together, it’s highly unlikely that Russia can pull something like this off.

Russia wants to upgrade their air fleet that mostly consists of Soviet-era aircrafts and dedicated $130 billion through 2020 for this. The PAKTA is part of this and the next-generation carrier is touted as being able to travel at supersonic speeds, carry up to 200 tons of cargo, and have a range of 4,350 miles. But it would also need a massive amount of fuel and long runways, which would limit the airports it can land on. It would also need a very wide wingspan, making it an easy target for enemy fighters.

The payload capacity of 200 tons is 80 tons more than the US’ largest cargo plane, the C-5 Galaxy. Another thing that stands out is the hybrid engines. The main engine is gas powered, but it also has two electrical turbines. While electrical motors are making a leap forward in the automobile industry, they are far from suited for aircraft use. It will be interesting to see if Russia can pull this off, or if it’s just a front to funnel a lot of funds into a private company.

Thanks to Business Insider for providing us with this information

Solar-Powered Plane Getting Ready to Fly Around the World

The solar-powered Solar Impulse 2 is about to take off on a journey around the world after years of planning. The aircraft has been designed from the ground up with the latter mission in mind, having over 17,000 solar cells line in its wings which supply a series of electronic motors and charge four on-board lithium batteries.

The aircraft is said to be designed in such a way as to be endlessly powered by solar energy and thanks to its batteries, the plane is said to be able to fly day and night. The trip is going to take around 25 days split into 12 legs, starting and ending in Abu Dhabi.

Swiss aviators Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg are the project’s organisers, who stated that energy efficiency testing is the main objective here. While this project seems to be a step towards testing how renewable energy could help fly planes in the near future, Piccard and Borschberg stated that the project is more of a publicity stunt rather than a technological milestone.

Gathering more information on the plane itself reveals that it boasts only one seat with a built-in toilet, with no heating or oxygen. In terms of food provisions during the flight, “dehydrated and vacuum-packaged” seems to be the key description of what the pilots should expect. No wonder the trip has been broken down into smaller chunks.

Summing it up, the aircraft has a long way to go in order to compete with the more comfy Boeings and Airbuses everyone is accustomed to. However, the project does reveal the potential of renewable energy and its impact in the near future. If the project will come to be a success, industry scepticism regarding future powered solar planes might dissipate and debates regarding its future could reopen.

Thank you Gizmodo for providing us with this information

Man Asked to Leave Plane after Critical Tweet

A man from Minnesota and his two sons were asked to leave their plane last Sunday after a critical tweet about rude gate agents.

Mr. Duff Watson was flying from Denver to Minneapolis on Sunday with his sons ages 6 and 9. As a frequent flyer privilege holder he tried to board early together with his sons despite them not having the same privileges. The gate agent following the rules told him, that if he wanted to board together with his kids, he would have to wait. Watson replied that he had previously boarded planes early with them that way and sent out a tweet that read: “RUDEST AGENT IN DENVER. KIMBERLY S. GATE C39. NOT HAPPY @SWA.”

After they boarded the plane they were asked to exit the airplane again via an announcement. When they arrived at the gate, they were told that they weren’t allowed back on the plane and the police would be called unless he deleted his tweet again. Watson agreed to delete the tweet and was allowed back on the plane and was able to return home with his family.

Duff Watson told the TV Broadcaster KARE in Minneapolis on Wednesday: “We get bounced off the plane, and it turns into a completely different situation and escalated for reasons that are quite honestly silly.”

Southwest Airlines has offered a statement that a customer was briefly removed from the flight and that they as an airline have no intention to stifle customer feedback on social media. They have also offered the customers vouchers as a gesture of good will and stated: “Our decision was not based solely on a customer’s tweet.”

This just goes to show that the old phrase ”If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all” still is valid. Or wait until you’re at home. However it is to keep in mind, that in situations like this both sides were probably at equal fault, it could however have been resolved in a different way right away.

Thank you Reuters for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of Southwest Airlines.

Uncovered Hacking Plot Points to China Buying Stolen US Military Data

The recent news reveals that the US authorities have charged a Chinese business man with hacking into the Boeing computer systems and other firms with large defense contacts, stealing their data and then selling it to China.

Mr. Su Bin has been arrested last month in Canada after being accused of working with two other suspects to steal data about military projects amongst other similar data. The prosecutors have stated that Mr Su was mostly targeting information regarding fighter jets, military cargo aircraft and weapons. The information does not come as a big surprise, given that the 2013 reports have revealed that industrial spying from China is continuously becoming a threat. Though no specific proof has been found that the Chinese government is involved in Mr Su’s case, the US still accuses China of systematically stealing American high-tech data.

“We have repeatedly made it clear that the United States will continue using all the tools our government possesses to strengthen cyber-security and confront cyber-crime,” spokesman Marc Raimondi said.

It is reported that Mr. Su runs a Chinese aviation technology company, having its office in Canada. On June 28, he apparently was detained while attempting to gain Canadian citizenship, being accused of attempting to sell the stolen data to state-owned firms in China. While the US justice department remains “deeply concerned about cyber-enabled theft of sensitive information”, Boeing has apparently released a statement in which the company admits it was co-operating with the US authorities to uncover industrial espionage hacking attempts against the US companies.

Thank you BBC for providing us with this information
Image courtesy of BBC

HondaJet Reaches Major Milestone, Takes to the Skies For the First Time

Honda successfully tested the company’s first business jet, flying near the Honda Aircraft headquarters located in Greensboro, North Carolina.

The aircraft flew for 84 minutes after taking off from Piedmont Triad International Airport – and has the ability to fly at speeds up to 483 mph (773 km/h), with a maximum range of 1,357 miles (2,183km) and maximum altitude of 43,000 feet.

The jet has a number of custom features, such as over-wing engine mounting and a composite fuselage, with the company hoping to shake up the current small business jet market.

Here is what Michimasa Fujino, Honda Aircraft CEO, said in a statement:

“With this first flight, the HondaJet program has entered the next exciting phase as we prepare for delivery.  This is an important achievement in bringing the world’s most advanced light jet to market.”

Initial research started in 1993, and the turbofan engine emerged in 1998, while the company wanted to enter commercial production in 2006.  However, numerous research setbacks caused delays, but there is still ample opportunity for the company to create success.

Looking ahead, Honda wants to qualify for aircraft certification and begin entry-level service in 2015.  The company is reportedly already in the final stage of Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) testing right now.

Thank you to USA Today for providing us with this information

Image courtesy of HondaJet

Royal Air Force To Use 3D Printed Parts For Their Tornado Jets

3D printed things have been the thing since 3D printers came out. There is no limit, except your imagination of course, to what you can make with them. This apparently is also the case for the Royal Air Force (R.A.F.) which started using 3D printed parts for their Tornado jets. And no, this is not a joke.

This move has saved the RAF £300,000 and is said that it could save them million of pounds in the next three years. The parts printed out span from protective covers for cockpit radios to support struts on the air intake door, and even protector guards for Power Take-off shafts. BAE Systems is the responsible for printing out the parts for the RAF.

Up until now, four squadrons of Tornado GR4 aircraft received the 3D upgrade and it is reported that many of the parts cost less than £100 to manufacture, leading to an estimate of £1.2 million in savings by 2017.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=33wIEBb9yoU[/youtube]

“You can manufacture the products at whatever base you want, providing you can get a machine there. If it’s feasible to get machines out on the front line, it also gives improved capability where we wouldn’t traditionally have any manufacturing support.” said Mike Murry, HEad of Airframe Integration at BAE Systems.

Thank you T3 for providing us with this information
Image and video courtesy of T3

Zeppelins Returning As Cargo Carriers In Europe By 2016

Zeppelins used to be kings of the sky, and new it looks like in the next couple of years the classic airship will be making a come back in a big way. Cargolux’s new generation of Zeppelins will be designed to carry cargo and their first fleet will feature 22 airships that will go into operation as early as 2016.

Zeppelins are originally from Germany, the creation of Ferdinand von Zeppelin in the early 20th century. These new models will however will be created in California under a partnership with Aeroscraft Corporation. They’ll be capable of fully vertical landing and take off, will be a whopping 554ft long and be capable of carrying 65 tonnes of cargo. The cruising speed will be a breezy 120 knots and the aircraft will have a range of 3100 nautical miles.

While the Zeppelin has been in use for decades for advertising, surveillance and pleasure flights, it’s great to see the classic Zeppelin make a big come back.

Thank you T3 for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of T3.

Early Access Date Given To IL-2 Sturmovik: Battle Of Stalingrad

1C Game Studios has announced an early access date for anyone who has purchased the Premiere Edition of their game IL-2 Sturmovik: Battle of Stalingrad. Premiere Edition owners will be able to start flying around in the game on November 12th of next month.

People who have purchased the Standard Edition will get early access the following month in December, but they do not have a specific date set for owners of that version. When the early access begins, the current pre-order versions will become unavailable at their reduced pricing ($49.99 /£31 Standard, $89.99 / £56 Premium), however people who purchase the Premium Edition at that time for $94.99 / £59 will be able to participate n the early access.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c4014tNwcao[/youtube]

IL-2 Sturmovik: Battle of Stalingrad is a WWII, combat flight simulator dedicated to the Battle of Stalingrad and the digital version is scheduled for release in the spring of next year (2014). the digital version will set you back $59.99 / £37 for the Standard Edition and $99.99 / £62 for Premium.

Thank you NextPowerUp for providing us with this information.

Image and video courtesy of NextPowerUp.