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.

Airbus A400M Disaster Blamed on Faulty Software Configuration

As software continues to grow more complex, the chance for critical errors to emerge increases. Airbus has found out the hard way after a Spanish A400M suffered a fatal crash just last month. Investigators have determined that a software configuration error for the engines led to nearly full engine failure, leading up to the crash.

Airbus was able to determine from the flight data recorder that the plane had not suffered any physical malfunction. Rather, software controlling the fuel supply erroneously adjusted the fuel tank trim due to faulty software configuration. Starved of fuel, the engines shut down, causing the plane to eventually crash. The software fault was not inherent to the code in the engine control unit but was due to it’s erroneous configuration settings.

While fly by wire has become very common in the plane industry, the continued reliance on software raises some concern. Checking for issues in software can be more complex than discovering and diagnosing physical problems with planes. Boeing, Airbus’s main competition,  recently discovered a serious software bug that could have led to crashes due to bad software, also relating to power and engines. It’s important for firms to take as much care to make secure and reliable software as it is for ensuring the physical integrity of the plane. These issues are sure to crop up more and before I get on a 100% software reliant plane with a windowless cockpit, that software better be free of errors and configured properly.

Pilot Draws Penis With Flight Path on FlightRadar

FlightRadar24 is a wonderful app for those with an interest in aviation, allowing aerophiles the chance to follow air traffic flight paths. Granted, those paths are little more than lines that sometimes intersect, but one canny pilot decided to turn his flight path into art… that’s if you can call a crude drawing of a penis art.

The phallic scene took place over Florida airspace. Though the mystery pilot has not confirmed that they intended to draw the male member in the sky, it seems like an odd flight path to be coincidental. And, does the pilot have an accomplice? The green flight path above the prominent yellow doodle takes a strange deviation as it creeps to the right. Is that a second sky penis, but side-on?

Source: Mashable

Flying Cars to be “Commercially Available” in 2016?

Terrafugia, a company based in Boston in the United States, says that it will offer the first “commercially available” flying car in 2016.

The ‘Transition’, as it’s called, will allow those who hold pilot licenses to fly their aircraft as well as drive it on the roads too. It is officially street legal – the first flying craft to receive such certification. The craft runs on standard unleaded fuel and is supposed to be incredibly easy to fly.

However, you might be questioning this and wondering, is this really the flying car we’ve always envisioned? Well, you do need a pilot’s license for it and it costs $279,000, making it inaccessible to many. Terrafugia thinks it has the answer to this though.

They say that the ‘Transition’ is just the beginning and that in 10 years, they will be able to offer the TF-X – a craft that is completely driverless, allowing literally anyone to step onboard and fly to wherever they want to go at speeds of up to 200mph. They say that the cost issue will be solved too – the vehicles will offered perhaps in a similar way to a taxi or Uber for example, where you can pay a fare just for the journey you wish to take.

While all of this is incredibly exciting, we’ll have to see it to believe it first.

Source: BBC News

How to Make Your Own Racing Drone

Popular tech-centric YouTube channel ‘Tested’ has produced a handy guide to producing your own racing drone.

Racing quadcopters have been the subject of a number of enthralling YouTube videos, showing packs of drones whizzing past trees at ridiculous speeds with inches to spare. Just take a look at this one:

Now take a look at the tutorial to learn how to make your own:

Source: Gizmodo

First Drone Launched From FAA Test Site Crashes

The first drone to be launched from the FAA’s test facility in Nevada crashed almost immediately. The facility is intended to test drones for their entry into commercial use.

The Magpie UAV did eventually get certification, but the first public demonstration flight of the aircraft crashed with all to see, including the Governor of Nevada himself.

The Nevada Institute for Autonomous Systems has been set up to provide certification to commercial drone operators. It is currently illegal in the US to fly drones for commercial purposes, so this facility has been set up to ensure drone’s airworthiness before they go into service.

I’m pretty sure this demonstration made the facility seem worthwhile.

Source: Gizmodo

Need to Land a Plane? There’s an iPad App for That

Xavion, an iPad app used by pilots to plan flight paths, is due to receive an update that will allow it to land a plane without its pilot.

The app is designed for pilots of small aircraft and has traditionally given them data to help them on their way. Xavion can provide detailed weather updates so pilots can avoid turbulence for example. But this new update, due to arrive early next year, will do something no app update has done before. The update promises to be able to bring an aircraft to a point just before landing, so even the least experienced pilot can land an aircraft and “walk away”. By subscribing for $199 a year, the app can help guide a plane in to landing in the case of an engine failure, lack of fuel or even if the pilot is incapacitated.

“In practice, pilots would use this app to guide them down to just before the threshold of the runway,” Meyer says. “At that point, any pilot can take over and land the airplane. Our tests today took us practically all the way down to touchdown. If the pilot didn’t take over, he would have just had a hard landing, broken the landing gear, and everyone would have walked away.” – The Creator of the app Austin Meyer speaking to Popular Science.

Check out the video at the source link to see the app in action.

Source: Popular Science Via: The Verge

Delta URL Trick Allowed You To Use Someone Else’s Boarding Pass

A incredibly simple URL trick allowed anyone in possession of a Delta airlines online boarding pass to get hold of someone else’s pass. All the holder had to do was change a single number in the pass’ URL to get the pass of another passenger.

The trick was discovered by a journalist who accidentally changed a digit in the URL of their boarding pass. This ‘vulnerability’ meant that literally anyone could have got hold of your Delta boarding pass, with ultimately no hacking required.

In a statement to Gizmodo, Delta have since apologised and patched up the issue.

“After a possible issue with our mobile boarding passes was discovered late Monday, our IT teams quickly put a solution in place this morning to prevent it from occurring,” Delta spokesperson Paul Skrbec said. “As our overall investigation of this issue continues, there has been no impact to flight safety, and at this time we are not aware of any compromised customer accounts.” The airline added, “We apologize for any concern this may have caused.”

Source: Gizmodo

GoPro Plans to Make Drones

GoPro is reportedly planning to introduce a line of consumer drones.

The Wall Street Journal says that the company, famous for its line of rugged High Definition cameras, will introduce its own drones next year. They say the drones will cost between $500 and $1000.

They say the move to sell drones is in response to a wave of competition to GoPro’s products from a number of companies including Sony and HTC. As a notable example, HTC recently introduced its RE Camera, a rugged, viewfinder-less camera that’s designed to be used for the same purposes as the GoPro. Although, that product may not fare too well considering its inhaler-like appearance.

The Journal also points out that it’s not just about cameras themselves – a number of drone manufacturers who previously provided special attachments for the use of a GoPro, are now including their own high definition cameras. This is most evident with the DJI Phantom, a drone which was often paired with a GoPro by its users, but its successor, the DJI Phantom 2 Vision, includes its own camera.

Source: The Wall Street Journal

Everyday Pilots Trialing Fight Pilot Style Augmented Vision Glasses

Augmented reality and VR tech in general is all the rage right now and Aero Glass are looking to innovate in the aviation market by offering heads up display glasses to pilots. This may all sound very familiar, that is because military pilots wear augmented reality heads-up displays, but these are wildly expensive and have never really been suitable for general aviation.

Aero Glass want to offer a lower cost and less intrusive solution that will allow pilots to physically see if another craft is above them or below them, as well as any other obstacles via their Epson Moverio BT-200 smart glasses. They’re fairly similar in concept to that of Google Glass, but feature a full display across both eyes that make them ideal for real-time information over-lays.

“Instead of looking at instruments and doing lots of mental calculations, basically you’re looking outside and you see all these things overlaid on reality,” says Akos Maroy, founder of Aero Glass. “You can select how much information you want overlaid on reality.”

The bonus here is that the whole setup can be implemented for under $1,000 and there are already 200 pilots testing out the new system. It’s currently aimed at experimental pilots and early adopters rather than the commercial aviation market, but it’s still pretty interesting tech.

Thank you Fastcoexist for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of Fastoexist.