‘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. 

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 unveils Reusable Rocket Engine Program Adeline

European airspace firm Airbus has revealed their answer to reusable rockets. Most of the things humanity has shot in space has been expendable. Cost, reliability and complexity have kept us from reusing our space hardware. Airbus’s Adeline or Advanced Expendable Launcher with Innovative engine Economy aims to change that. Using built-in wings and propellers, the engine will detach on a ballistic trajectory and fly back to a runway.

Right now, the most well-known effort to get a reusable rocket is Space X’s Falcon 9. That rocket reserves an amount of fuel and has added complexity to give it the ability to land upright. Adeline on the other hand, should be relatively simpler as it’s more of powered glider and landing conventionally seems it will be much easier. By abandoning the fuel tank as well, the cost of returning the module in terms of fuel consumption should also be decreased. The space shuttle program for instance recovered the shuttle and the booster rockets but let the fuel tank, which is relatively cheaper, burn up in the atmosphere.

Airbus has been working on the project since 2010 and has already spent 15 million euros on the project. However, the priority is still the Ariane 6, pushing Adeline to between 2025 and 2030. As it appears that the Falcon 9 is at the cusp of being recoverable, Space X will be able to offer lower prices fist, cutting costs by over 50%. United Launch Alliance (Boeing-Lockheed) may also be pursuing reusability with their upcoming Vulcan rocket. The biggest challenge for the 3 will be convincing customers to let their expensive payloads be exploded into space by what is essentially second-hand hardware.

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.

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.

Engineers Working For Free to Realise Elon Musk’s Hyperloop Transportation System

Last year, Elon Musk pitched a fantastical idea for a new national transportation system in the US. Called Hyperloop, it involved capsuled traincars propelled at high speed through low pressure underground tubes. Now, a group of engineers are working for free to make the project a reality.

Hyperloop Transportation Technologies (HTT), aided by a group of UCLA students, has made great strides with the idea, to the point that engineers from companies such as Boeing, Airbus, and Musk’s own company SpaceX, have been working on the project for free. The team have developed potential cross-state Hyperloop routes, keeping the lines as straight as they can to prevent motion sickness, and preliminary designs for the stations and capsules.

HTT and the students think they have figured out how to build the vacuum tubes, but are yet to determine how to implement the friction-free propulsion through those tubes. They claim that, with a $6-10 billion investment, Hyperloop “can be built within a decade.”

Source: Wired

Next-Gen Supersonic Jet Capable of Flying From NYC to London in Less Than 4 Hours

Those super-long trans-Atlantic flights could be a thing of the past, especially with the next generation of supersonic passenger aircrafts. New supersonic jets are being made for the 1%, which are capable of hitting Mach 1.6, or over 1200 miles per hour.

Aerion, a Reno, Nevada-based company is developing a new supersonic jet with a price tag of $110 million. The jet holes 12 passengers, and is around twice as fast as the Gulfstream G650, which is worth $65 million, and capable of flying passengers between New York and London in just 7 hours. The new $110 million supersonic jet however, cuts that time in nearly half, to just over 4 hours.

Andrew Goldberg, the CEO of Metropolis Group, which is an investment firm with expertise in the aerospace sector, said that it’s the “corporate jets and the very rich who would value the speed and pay a high price.” Jeff Miller, Aerion’s head of marketing and communication said “There’s a business case and a demand for this. People want to get places faster.”

Considering the high price, the company has been inundated with orders, recently signing an agreement with Airbus for technical assistance. Considering Airbus constructed the Concorde, this is a big contract. The company hopes to land its first plane in the hands of the company by 2022.

Source: CNN.

Replica Mini Mars Created Just Outside London by Airbus Defence

If you want to test a new rover for a mission on the red planet you’ve got two options. One would be to spend billions and fire your creation through space to Mars and put it straight to work, alternatively you can spend £500,000 and build a massive “Mars Yard” just outside London.

Engineers at Airbus Defence and Space in the UK have opted to build their own Mars as a testing ground for new Mars bound technology. It features 300 tons of sand that have been colour matched from the readings taken by NASA’s rovers, and even the light levels inside the testing ground have been set to mimic those of the red planet.

With ESA’s ExoMars program preparing to send two missions, the first to test if Mars could ever have supported life and another which will attempt to return samples from the planet in 2020.

With Mars bound missions have a high failure rate we hope this new testing ground proves useful in making these two missions a success. Unfortunately the first rover won’t touch down until 2019, so it looks like we’ll have to be patient to find out.

Thank you CNN for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of CNN.