It Has Finally Happened – A Plane Has Hit A Drone

While drones are a lovely piece of technology, they are often misused and prove a danger to not only their owner but the public at large. Two years ago a drone was hacked and it resulted in athletes at an event being injured since then we have constantly been warned about drones and the dangers that could happen if someone used them irresponsibly. The time has finally come when a plane has hit a drone, with no injuries we were fortunate.

Heathrow has had some close calls with drones before, this time, the plane is reported to have stuck an object, reported as possibly a drone, as it approached the airport near London. The plane was flying in from Geneva with 132 passengers and five crew when the mysterious object stuck the front of the plane.

While British Airways, the company behind the plane in question, have stated that the aircraft was “fully examined by our engineers and it was cleared to operate its next flight”, you can help but fear that this could have gone worse.

With near misses constantly happening thanks to drone users ignoring common sense and flying their craft not only near but in front and around areas with heavy airplane traffic, it was only a matter of time before something happened and fortunately, nothing bad came of this incident but the police are still looking for the drones owner.

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!

The Waterfront – Panasonics 4K Seat For Airplanes

Going to take a long flight in the near future? You may want to hope that Panasonic is the ones providing you with the in-flight entertainment though after they revealed the Waterfront, a 4k experience to keep you happy on the plane.

Concealed within a private seating area, not only are you welcomed to your own private refuge but the technologies there to make your flight as enjoyable as being at home. The lighting around your area is controlled by an app you can place on your phone, giving you control over the lighting in the front pocket and water bottle independently.

If that wasn’t enough from the app then you can take full control of the 24-inch 4K TV that sits in front of you for the duration of the flight. With video and music playback, with all the sound provided through a set of headphones placed neatly beside your head, the app can only be used to control your adjustable seats and a “do not disturb” function (complete with wake up time alert for the cabin crew) , the app continues to give you options when you’re enjoying your flight.

With a wireless charging area for your phone, power ports, and an HDMI input to let you play your own movies, you can even video chat with the built-in camera. Once you’ve got everything to your liking, you can save the settings and keep them for your next flight, the app even gives you a notification about where to pick up your bags. While it’s not set for release till 2019, you could soon enjoy the freedom and comfort of a 4K screen on your long distance flights.

Boom – The Supersonic Startup Gets Support From Virgin

When you think of startups, you often think of a small group of people working on a new gadget or maybe a new piece of software. Boom is a little different, the startup looks to create the world’s fastest passenger plane.

Boom looks to create a plane that will go supersonic at speeds of around 2.2 times the speed of sound. Compared to traditional airlines, which travel at Mach 0.85, Boom would outshine them at every turn and even the Concord traveled at only Mach 2.0. This would mean that Boom’s passenger jet would offer travel times of 3.5 hours from New York to London and only 4.5 hours for San Fransisco to Tokyo.

While the project is in its early stages the company looks strong with its 11 employees contributing on 787’s, fighter jets and spaceships. The project just gets bigger and bigger with Virgin Group optioning ten planes in a deal that comes in at around $2 billion. This isn’t their biggest contract, with another group (who choose to remain unnamed) optioning 15 at an amazing $5 billion.

This doesn’t mean they’ve been bought, but instead that once the plans and designs for the planes are in full swing, they will purchase them. It is a letter of intent meant to show their interest, something that relies heavily on the results of Boom successfully designing, creating and testing a successful supersonic jet.

The deal gets only sweeter with The Spaceship Company, Virgin Galactic’s space division, offering to help build and test the planes. With big names like that backing and supporting your group, our eyes are open to the possibility of quick flights around the world at supersonic speeds in the not too distant future.

Near Miss at Los Angeles Airport Calls for Future Drone Regulation

Drones are on everybody’s wish list this year. If you want them to just enjoy being in charge of your very own Enterprise or just because you are curious about the new technology, you should remember to use them safely. Sadly that seems to be a lesson that was missed by a drone pilot who caused a near miss at Los Angeles International Airport.

The incident involved a drone flying around 200 feet from a plane of a Lufthansa aircraft, a move which has sparked debate for greater control over drones and the authorities abilities to manage, control and restrict drones freedom when it comes to regulated space.

This is not the first time a drone has come close to the plane, with the same thing happening at Heathrow and other airports around the world. The problem with drones is their ability to operate remotely makes tracking down a drone’s operator difficult, an act which the authorities want to become easier.

Some of the proposals include the geofencing of drones sold domestically, meaning that drones would be unable to fly above their legal altitude or the use of collision-avoidance software. With the requirement for drones to now be registered, it is expected that drone capturing equipment such as the SkyWall could offer authorities a way of tracking down and tackling dangerous drone users.

Airline Passengers Phone Catches Fire Mid-Flight

If you are reading this on your phone you may want to put it down on the table and read it from afar. Phones are known for having the odd quirk of behaviour here and there but when it comes to catching fire, that’s probably their scariest behaviour. Sadly one person found this out the hard way when her phone caught fire mid-flight.

Anna Crail is a college sophomore who was on an Alaska Air flight to enjoy her spring break. To pass the time on the plane she decided to watch a film on her iPhone 6, a move which seemed to cause trouble when it started to shoot flames.

Talking to KOMO-TV Anna described the events:

“All of the sudden there was like 8-inch flames coming out of my phone, and I flipped it off onto the ground and it got under someone’s seat, and the flames were just getting higher and a bunch of people stood up”

An Alaska Air spokesman told ABC news that the fire was “quickly extinguished” and that there was no injuries or damage to the plane which continued on its way.

Both Alaska Air and the FAA are looking into the incident alongside Apple who have said they are getting in touch with the family and the airline regarding the matter.

Amazon is Now Leasing Airplanes to Help With Deliveries

When it comes to ordering things online, Amazon is one of the places people first look. With distribution all over the world, the company is currently at the forefront of technology to help deliver their products, including being the leader in the “drones for deliveries” concept. In the companies latest move, Amazon is now leasing airplanes.

A step up from your garden delivery drone, Amazon has signed a lease on not one but 20 Boeing 767 freighter planes. With the ability to control and help organise international deliveries, could this be the first step in a truly global delivery system?

In an email to ArsTechnica, Dave Clark (Amazon SVP of Customer Service) provided the following:

We offer Earth’s largest selection, great prices, and ultra-fast delivery promises to a growing group of Prime members and we’re excited to supplement our existing delivery network with a great new provider, ATSG, by adding 20 planes to ensure air cargo capacity to support one and two-day delivery for customers.

From this statement, it would seem to be the case that the new planes will be there to help support and expand on Amazon’s Prime delivery scheme, something which offers quick delivery of their products.

Am I the only one who’s expecting Amazon to create a drone carrying aircraft to help deliver their products?

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.

Unmaned Jets to be Backed by “Arsenal Planes”

Technology changes, every day it shifts and moves. A major area for technological advancement is the military. Companies and governments pay billions to advance technology in everything from bulletproof walls to injectable sponges. One of the areas for advancement is drones or unmanned aircraft. The problem is that these craft need to not only be smarter but also built for stealth, something strapping a few weapons to them doesn’t help with. The proposed solution, back up the stealthy ones with the big guns mounted to an ‘arsenal plane’.

Traditional unmanned planes can only equip a few weapons, the problem being that they just become too big and end up drawing too much attention on radar. The solution proposed by the Defence Department budget, is that they would instead have an arsenal plane behind the stealth jet.

Described as “a flying launch for all sorts of different conventional payloads. In practice, the arsenal plane will function as a very large airborne magazine, networked to 5th-generation aircraft that act as forward sensor and targeting nodes”. While not a new idea the concept of a small jet being the precursor to a giant multi-purpose airstrike is certainly a frightful one.

With the reuse of old craft to save on costs, the issue of strapping a lot of explosives to an outdated model surely raises some heath and safety questions.

Airforce Wants Its Jets To Have Lasers By 2020

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ARABIAN GULF (Nov. 16, 2014) The Afloat Forward Staging Base (Interim) USS Ponce (ASB(I) 15) conducts an operational demonstration of the Office of Naval Research (ONR)-sponsored Laser Weapon System (LaWS) while deployed to the Arabian Gulf. (U.S. Navy photo by John F. Williams/Released)

Everyone loves a good laser, be it shot into the sky at a festival, or at your favourite hero as they try to save the galaxy. Even the real world is liking them, with more and more of science fiction being created and used in the real world. The Navy have even created and mounted a rail gun onto a ship  while BAE are looking at magnetic force fields.  Now even the Airforce want to get in on the science fiction weapons and mount “lasers” onto their Jets by 2020.

Dubbed Directed-Energy weapon pods, the devices will be mounted onto jets and will use beams of directed energy to ‘burn’ missiles and UAV’s, with the hopes of being powerful enough to even combat other aircraft. With a large contract on the line several companies have come up with solutions, HELLADS (High Energy Liquid Laser Area Defence System), from General Atomics, runs off a single lithium-ion battery and is small enough to fit onto a predator drone.

With the possibilities of being mounted to both land, sea and air vehicles, laser technology could revolutionise the way we act against other weapons. With the ability to shoot down missiles and heat up and melt the components in vehicles laser technology could quickly become the new step in modern warfare.

Thank you Engadget for the information.

Image courtesy of LiveScience.

More Than 400 Flights Cancelled Due To Technical Glitch

So it’s the weekend and you’re flying out somewhere nice? The problem is your flight has been cancelled, and so has over 400 other flights. The reason, a bug in the system.

This weekend over 440 flights was cancelled while hundreds more were delayed on the east coast of America this Saturday. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) stated that they believe a center in Leesburg, Virginia may be the cause of the problem. The problem itself being that a bug in the tracking software resulted in the system going haywire.

While expressing its resolve to work with carriers to resume normal service they expressly stated that the incident had nothing to do with “an accident or hacking”.

It should be noted that while tens of thousands of passengers were affected in the cancellations and delays, severe and large-scale weather systems can cause cancellations numbering upwards of 1,000 per day.

With technical problems ranging from the wide systems used in this example to the systems used on a single flight, with researchers claiming they were able to issue commands to a plane’s engines through its WiFi. Is it time for us to upgrade the technology we use on an everyday basis and that a lot of us take for granted when going on holiday or travelling for business?

Thank you Yahoo News and Engadget for the information.

Image courtesy of Picture Depot.

‘Concord 2’ Hypersonic Airbus Being Developed!

Airbus are known for their giant airplanes, and it’s not hard to know why, as they’re used all over the world to transport people and materials. Their new design hopes to improve on that by allowing them to travel at speeds of up to four and a half times the speed of sound!

To summarise this, travelling to New York from London currently takes seven to eight hours, with the new airbus design the flight would take a single hour. Flights from Paris to San Fransico and Tokyo to Los Angeles would take a mere three hours, saving people and companies time which they often don’t have lying around (or sitting) in the air.

The airplane will be a little different from your normal flight. designed to take off vertically thanks to some engines mounted underneath the jet is designed to climb vertically until it’s almost at the speed of sound. After this, it relies on rocket motors to carry it up to 100,000 feet before finally allowing the ramjets to push it to a final speed of Mach 4.5.

The design is similar to a lot of high-speed military jets, and even has some resemblance to the concord, a jet which was not allowed to operate over land due to the worry that it would cause a sonic boom. The new crafts design is built to limit not only the noise it creates but also the sonic booms, thereby hoping to allow it to travel in more populated areas without the restrictions set on the concord.

With only twenty seats on each jet, the chances are the tickets will be highly priced and the onboard entertainment short. Who wants a meal with their flight anyway?

Thank you Tech Sport for the information and the image. 

Largest Plane on Earth Will Be Airborne as Early as Next Year

Meet Stratolaunch, the largest plane on Earth! Codenamed the “Roc” after the mythical bird of prey, this ‘beast’ looks to be a true king of the sky. In terms of size, it is said to be 65 feet wider than the “Spruce Goose” H-4 Hercules and 95 feet wider than the spaceship-carrying Soviet Antonov An-225, so you can imagine how small you may feel when next to it.

In addition to the size, the “Roc” boasts six Pratt & Whitney jet engines, 28 landing gear wheels and a 385 foot wingspan. But the plane was not made to enter the Guinness record book. Microsoft’s co-founderm Paul Allan, is the guy behind the project and he aims to make the “Roc” the next big alternative to launching rockets into space.

The plane is able to hold a three-stage rocket between its fuselages, as shown in the picture above, which can then be launched at extremely high altitude and detatch its payload into space. So why is this helpful? Well, think about weather conditions. Having to launch a satellite from the edge of Earth’s atmosphere takes away a lot of unwanted variables, so it makes it easier and somewhat safer to launch from up above the clouds.

This is why Stratolaunch was designed so big and massive, weighing in at 1.3 million pounds (including the rocket). But will it do what is expected of it? We won’t know until they do the test runs, which are said to begin as early as next year. If they prove to be a success, Stratolaunch’s first mission is said to be planned for 2018. Until then, here’s a simulation of how the plane and rocket launch should take place. Enjoy!

Thank you Yahoo! for providing us with this information

Airbus A400M Software Update Caused Crash

Investigators for the Airbus A400M crash have narrowed down the cause of the software configuration error that led to the crash. According to sources speaking to Reuters, the most likely scenario is that critical software data was wiped from three of the engines during a software upgrade.

During a software upgrade for the engines, data pertaining to the engines, called “torque calibration parameters” were inadvertently wiped. Airbus had known about the potential issue that a software installation could wipe critical data. However, the risk was deemed low and Airbus simply implemented more checks. Unfortunately, in this case, the extra checks failed to discover the problem until it was too late.

Once in flight, a safety check by software would also determine if the engines had any problem. However, this check was only meant to stop faulty engines from causing damage, and to shut down the engines if needed. In this case, the engineers had never envisioned that 3 engines would have to be shut down and the critical loss of power eventually caused the crash.

The cause of the wipe has been identified as the Airbus software used to conduct the installation. Airbus has since warned its customers to cease using the faulty software. With even Boeing finding critical software bugs, one wonders how much care is being taken to software stability and if we can ever trust a windowless cockpit.

Thank you Reuters for the information.

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.

Google’s Solar Plane Crashes After Takeoff

Over the last few months, we have heard about Google’s and Facebook’s plans to bring free internet to everyone in the world; focusing on the parts of the world currently without internet access. Plans jumped from weather balloons to satellites to planes and much more. Google decided to stick with a solar plane.

In theory, this was a good idea; a huge 50m wing span completely covered in solar panels to absorb as much energy as possible, in a light weight chassis and electric motor.

https://youtu.be/Q7Z_-nfVUS4

During initial testing in Albuquerque, the plane crashed shortly after takeoff. This happened on May 1st on a private airfield and luckily no injuries were reported; well apart from the plane. The drone was a project idea of Google which became a reality after the acquisition of Titan Aerospace. It has not been made clear if the plane is salvageable or if the technology will be used to build ‘Solar Plane 2.0’.

“Although our prototype plane went down during a recent test, we remain optimistic about the potential of solar-powered planes to help deliver connectivity,” Courtney Hohne, a Google spokeswoman, told Bloomberg. “Part of building a new technology is overcoming hurdles along the way.”

It is still early days for the project, maybe it would be better to be dropped off the bottom of a larger plane instead of self-propelling for take off.

Thank you Engadget for providing us with this information.

Court Rejects Lawsuit Challenging the Use of Personal Electronics During Flights

A court has overturned a lawsuit challenging the Federal Aviation Administration’s decision to loosen restrictions on the use of personal electronics in-flight. A Washington, DC court said Friday that the FAA had the authority to allow the use of gadgets at various stages during a flight, Ars Technica reports.

The lawsuit argued that the use of personal electronics during flights could pose a danger by distracting passengers from the various safety announcements before take-off or becoming projectiles during turbulence or other issues. Due to differences in aircraft the rule was not always applicable but in all modern aircraft there is little to no risk from having a personal device.

In 2013, the FAA made the official decision to allow the use of electronic devices during most phases of a flight. By 2014, around 96 percent of US commercial plane passengers were allowed to use small electronics during takeoff and landing, the AP reports.

The FAA stated in 2013:

Passengers will eventually be able to read e-books, play games, and watch videos on their devices during all phases of flight, with very limited exceptions. Electronic items, books and magazines, must be held or put in the seat back pocket during the actual takeoff and landing roll. Cell phones should be in airplane mode or with cellular service disabled – i.e., no signal bars displayed—and cannot be used for voice communications based on FCC regulations that prohibit any airborne calls using cell phones.    If your air carrier provides Wi-Fi service during flight, you may use those services.  You can also continue to use short-range Bluetooth accessories, like wireless keyboards.

1. Make safety your first priority.

2.  Changes to PED policies will not happen immediately and will vary by airline. Check with your airline to see if and when you can use your PED.

3.  Current PED policies remain in effect until an airline completes a safety assessment, gets FAA approval, and changes its PED policy.

4. Cell phones may not be used for voice communications.

5.  Devices must be used in airplane mode or with the cellular connection disabled. You may use the WiFi connection on your device if the plane has an installed WiFi system and the airline allows its use.  You can also continue to use short-range Bluetooth accessories, like wireless keyboards.

6. Properly stow heavier devices under seats or in the overhead bins during takeoff and landing. These items could impede evacuation of an aircraft or may injure you or someone else in the event of turbulence or an accident.    

7. During the safety briefing, put down electronic devices, books and newspapers and listen to the crewmember’s instructions.

8.  It only takes a few minutes to secure items according to the crew’s instructions during takeoff and landing.

9.  In some instances of low visibility – about one percent of flights – some landing systems may not be proved PED tolerant, so you may be asked to turn off your device.

10. Always follow crew instructions and immediately turn off your device if asked.

I’ve used my phone and laptop on a plane before and I’m still here!

Thanks to The FAA and The Verge for providing us with this information.

Airbus A350 WXB Jet Features 1000 3D Printed Parts

3D printers have revolutionized many industries in recent years, but before they started entering the consumer market, albeit mostly for the enthusiast crowd at the moment, they were getting used in everything from Formula 1 to aerospace technology. The Airbus A350 XWB jet however, has more 3D printed parts than any other, clocking in a staggering 1000 parts that were created using 3D printed techniques.

1000 3D printed parts means that the Airbus has more printed parts than any other aircraft. The reason for this is that 3D printed parts can be made in shapes and forms that normal machine processes simply cannot replicate. What may take several parts that need to be welded or bolted together using traditional methods, can be printed as a single object. This means that the parts can be lighter and also easier to produce helping save on manufacturing costs, as well as reducing the weight of the craft, thereby saving fuel in flight.

“From what I can gather it’s certainly unprecedented in scale,” said James Woodcock, an expert on 3D printing with Rapid News. “Historically, the use of 3D printed parts have been in military aircraft rather than commercial passenger jets.”

The plane was delivered in December 2014, so it’s certainly nothing new, but the news that they used the Stratasys FDM 3D Production System so extensively was unknown. The technique also helped Airbus complete their deadline for building the craft a lot sooner.

It’s amazing to see what 3D printing can do, besides making novelty keyrings and knock-off LEGO bricks.

Thank you BBC 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

Harrison Ford Injured in Plane Crash

The man who flew the Millennium Falcon was involved in a plane crash yesterday, but luckily he’s alright. Harrison Ford managed to land his plane on a nearby golf course with what experts describe as exceptional piloting skills.

Harrison Ford is battered but okay after the crash landing on Thursday. He was flying his vintage World War II training plane when it lost engine power and he had to crash land on a California golf course where he even clipped a tree on the way down. He still managed to land the plane ‘intact’.

https://twitter.com/ChefBenFord/status/573649772583591937

The 72-year-old actor was conscious and breathing when the rescue crews arrived at the scene where he was stabilized and then taken to a hospital. Sources have told NBC News that Ford slammed into the plane’s console and control stick and that he underwent surgery Thursday night. He suffered a broken arm and a nasty gash to his head, among other injuries.

There are those who try to use the news to push their own agenda, about the retro planes safety and close proximity to residential areas, but there is no doubt that Harrison Ford pulled off an amazing landing in a difficult situation. The rest is a matter for another time.

We’re happy that he only suffered minor injuries and wish him a speedy recovery.

Thanks to NBC for providing us with this information

 

Man With no Formal Training Builds Plane From Scrap

George Mel, a 23-year-old man from Juba, South Sudan, dreamed his whole life of flying, but the death of his father meant that he had to leave school, as his family could no longer afford his tuition. With that, his potential career as a pilot was curtailed.

“I’ve had the desire to become an aeronautic engineer since I was young,” said Mel. “When I was still young I tried to fly. I got curtains and placed metal in to form wings, and got on topmost of the roof. I wanted to see if I would fly alike a bird, but I fell. I nearly broke my leg.”

Though his formal education had ended, Mel spent his time reading and teaching himself about aeronautics. “My brain was free to do a lot of exploration. I didn’t just sit down… I stuck to my dreams and I started doing them practically and exploring a lot,” he said.

Mel gathered as much scrap metal as he could and, in his garden, constructed his own small aircraft. Even as South Sudan descended into civil war, Mel kept building inside his compound while his neighbours took to the streets to fight. “I didn’t halt my project,” he said, “I kept on doing it in my exploration centre. I just sealed myself inside, and did my work.”

Comprised of an aluminium frame and two small petrol engines, Mel’s plane impressed South Sudan’s Air Force so much that they gave him a job in their IT department. Officials at the Air Force base have refused Mel permission to test-fly his creation.

Source: Moment Tools

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

Man Critical After Insane Ice Bucket Challenge Stunt

The Ice Bucket Challenge has done a lot of great things this last few weeks, it has helped raise money for many charities around the world and inspired many people to do something good for others. Unfortunately for one man, things may not end so well, after an insane stunt was performed for his ice bucket challenge, leaving him in critical condition.

Belgian photographer Bruno Brokken thought it would be a good idea to have 396 gallons of water dumped on him from a firefighting plane. This meant he was hit with a thousand pounds of water from a height of 22 feet that was carrying significant momentum from the plane. The result of this will have been like having a car dropped on him.

The thing to take away from this is to think before you act. I hope that Bruno pulls through from his injuries, but I can’t help but wonder how the pilot or anyone else involved in this stunt didn’t realize the dangers of dropping such vast amounts of water on a person. Take the video below for example, makes it pretty clear how dangerous it would be to dump water on somone.

[youtube width=”800″ height=”450″]http://youtu.be/FM9FeEgI0Eo[/youtube]

Thank you Flight Club for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of Flight Club.

BREAKING NEWS: Malaysian Airliner Shot Down Over Ukraine

Reports and information is currently coming in that Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 has been shot down from its cruising altitude of 33,000ft over the Ukraine close to the city of Poltava.

As seen in the image below which was recently tweeted by online flight tracker Flightradar24, the Boeing 777 airliner was flying at a steady altitude of 33,000ft before its tracker stopped transmitting and the plane disappeared off the map.

Cruising at 476kts, the flight was on its way to Kuala Lumpur after shortly taking off from Amsterdam at the moment that it was taken down by a Buk surface to air missile system. Conformation on the missile launch was given shortly after by Ukraine’s interior ministry advisor Anton Gerashchenko. All 295 people on board the flight are presumed dead as the plane fell to the ground.

Source: BBC News

New Plane To Circumnavigate The Globe Using Only Solar Power

The innovative minds that created the first solar-powered aircraft that could fly for over 24 hours have unveiled its bigger and better successor, the Solar Impulse 2. Their new plane may not have the passenger capacity of the 747, but it does have the same wingspan, despite only weighing 2300 kg / 5000 lb.

The new plane is designed with one seriously impressive task in mind, circumnavigating the globe in a single flight, a task they plan to undertake next year. The plane will be allowed to land, giving the pilots time to exchange roles and restock the cabin, especially given that carrying a full stock for the whole trip would add a lot of extra weight that they could do without. The real issues will come when crossing the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, which could take five days at the Solar Impulse 2’s maximum speed of around 85 mph as they won’t be able to land in the water.

To save power at night the craft only outputs 15 horsepower over a 24 hour period, this is complimented by 87% efficient motors and a huge array of high performance solar cells along the wingspan of the craft. While the pilots can enjoy, for lack of a better word, their new seating arrangement in the cabin, which features custom chairs that can be converted into a toilet and a bed.

I’m a fan of petrol burning engines and other such things, but the advancement of clean energies is a worthy pursuit and I can’t wait to see what else the team can come up with in the future.

Thank you Arstechnica for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of Arstechnica.

GoPro Dropped From Plane Survives, Keeps Filming All The Way Down

Dropping your camera from an plane isn’t exactly something you want to do on purpose, but that’s exactly what one owner did who was filming while the plane was making its accent. The camera tumbled violently to the ground from a height of hundreds of feet, filming it’s nauseating spin all the way down until it hit the Earth, ouch.

But that’s not all! The camera actually survived the impact! And it may have something to do with the muddy ground it landed on, where it immediately began filming an amusing surprise.

The camera wasn’t even recovered by the original user, it was found eight months after it was dropped, most likely by a local farmer.

[youtube]http://youtu.be/QrxPuk0JefA[/youtube]

Thank you Metro for providing us with this information.