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zaterdag 21 mei 2011

Cessna Crusader history

Cessna's Model 303 started life as a four seat twin, intended for the hotly contested light transport and training role.
One four seat 303 was flown for a time from February 14 1978. Powered by two 120kW (160hp) Lycoming O320 engines it would have competed against the Beech Duchess, Grumman GA7 (Cougar) and Piper Seminole. However, a reappraisal of market demand for aircraft in this already crowded class led to Cessna rethinking the 303 design, and the outcome was a larger aircraft. Instead the resulting six seater aircraft was intended to replace Cessna's 310, then nearing the end of its production life.
The new model, designated the T303 for its turbocharged (and fuel injected) Continental TSIO520 engines, flew for the first time on October 17 1979. Certification was granted in August 1981, and first production deliveries commenced in October 1981. For a time the T303 was named the Clipper, but this was changed to Crusader as PanAm held the rights to the Clipper name.
In its definitive form the T303 incorporated a number of advanced features, being the first entirely new piston twin from Cessna in over a decade. Features included bonded structures around the integral fuel tank, a supercritical wing section and counter rotating propellers, while standard equipment included integral airstairs and a full IFR avionics suite (Cessna claimed the latter as a first for its class).
Only minor changes were introduced during production, including the addition of anti ice equipment as an option in 1982, and in 1983 the rear cabin bulkhead was moved aft slightly which increased baggage space and allowed the addition of a cargo door.
Production of the Crusader wound up in 1985 as part of the general decline in light aircraft sales during that period, terminating prematurely what looked to be a successful program. The cancellation also put paid to rumours that Cessna planned to develop more powerful, pressurised, and turboprop powered versions of the aircraft.

dinsdag 3 mei 2011

B-52 Bomber

Here's  some info about the B-52 bomber, I think it's an amazing plane:

The Boeing B-52 Stratofortress is a bomber made for missions of extraordinarily long range. During the Persian Gulf War in 1991, it flew the longest strike mission in history, taking off from Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana, flying to Iraq and launching its cruise missiles, then returning to Barksdale 35 hours after it leftall without stopping. B-52s flew numerous sorties against a variety of targets during Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003. First deployed in February 1955, the B-52 has proven its endurance over the years, and is expected to remain in service to the middle of the twenty-first century.
Over a period of eight years that ended in October 1962, a total of 744 B-52s were built and delivered. The only models remaining in service are B-52Hs, which are assigned to Air Force Air Combat Command and the Air Force Reserves. The H model, of which 102 were built, is made to carry as many as 20 air-launched cruise missiles.

Over the years, the B-52 has been modified to incorporate ever more advanced weaponry, as well as global positioning and electro-optical viewing systems. Heavy stores adapter make it possible to carry munitions of enormous weight. The aircraft weights 185,000 pounds (83,250 kg) empty, and can take off with a weight of 488,000 pounds (219,600 kg). It can travel 8,800 miles (14,080 km) without refueling, and aerial refueling gives it a range limited only by the needs of the mission and the crew. 

Its ceiling is 50,000 feet (15,151.5 m).
The same plane that bombed North Vietnam remained in service to bomb Iraq over a quarter-century later. It was also used in Operation Allied Force, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) campaign against Serbia in 1999. Engineering analysis conducted at the end of the twentieth century indicated that the B-52 could remain in service past 2045a full 90 years after its initial deployment.

maandag 2 mei 2011

Cargo Planes

Can standing on the cold tarmac in the earliest hours of the day watching the sleepless cargo jumbos at Schiphol be an idyllic experience? Jan Koppen returns with a unique composition that lets us all put ourselves into this unusual environment.

It’s about four hours after midnight and I’m standing on the vast freight apron of Amsterdam Schiphol International Airport in Holland. Cold rain is lightly drizzling down, from the threatening dark, water-filled clouds. While working my regular nightshift, I interrupted my overloaded schedule in order to catch up with some action on the freight ramp. In front, I see some familiar silhouettes of the classic large turbofan-powered Boeing 747, vaguely lit by the shimmering yellow ramp floodlights. Looking across the tarmac, I see several classic 747s parked together, some of them barely visible due to absence of sufficient light—surely a delightful view considering the dwindling numbers of first generation 747s throughout the world. 

Schiphol, well-known for its established carriers, is also frequently visited by worldwide 747 operators such as KLM, Martinair, Malaysian, Singapore, EVA, China airlines, Nippon Cargo, China Southern, Korean, Dragon, JAL Cargo, Northwest, Jade Cargo, AirBridge Cargo, Southern, Atlas, Polar, ELAL, Great Wall, Surinam, Cargolux, Kalitta, Virgen, Saudia, Air Atlanta, Emirates, TNT, Syrian, Air China, Corsair, Japan Defence Force and Royal Air Maroc.

The lesser known, but surely more interesting carriers that grace the ramp at Schiphol are the cargo jets of GirJet, Focus, Blue Sky, World Travel and Air Universal. This second category of 747s, often run by a couple of experienced aviators mostly on a low budget, will carry literally anything. Their cargo manifests show that besides general cargo, such items as in-calf cows and one-day chickens are heading for exotic destinations such as Iran and Kazakhstan. 

The classic 747, which can be acquired at a reasonably low cost, offers a generous payload of 100 metric tons, which can be loaded with 29 maindeck and 9 lowerdeck pallet positions. Besides these advantages, there’s a minor draw-back, in the shape of four fuel guzzling Pratt & Whitney JT9Ds or the early generation General Electric CF6-50s turbofan engines. Increasing fuel bills can cause an early retirement for the remaining 747-100/200/300 series. Another problem is current noise restrictions—due to the increase of these restrictions at the major airports, the classic 747 will be surely banned for its excessive noise someday.

Just in front of me, ground handlers are loading one of these dependable 747s with outward-bound cargo. The classic lines of the big Boeing are so evident when standing close to this four-engine transport. The overall sight of the giant bird commands deep respect from the onlooker.

zondag 1 mei 2011

Big props in Alaska

When you work for a major cargo airline, you find yourself constantly surrounded by modern planes and screaming jet engines. Although that’s very enjoyable, once in a while the need for some aviation nostalgia must be fulfilled. 

It’s becoming harder all the time to experience examples of the “good old days” of aviation, when piston engines ruled the sky and kerosene was only lantern fuel. Fortunately, Alaska still has a good number of operational “Big Props” lumbering through northern skies. Last April, I decided to pay this great land a visit and experience its aviation wonders first hand.

After spending a couple of days in the city of Anchorage I departed for the central Alaskan town of Fairbanks. There I was invited by Northern Air Cargo to have a closer look at their cargo operation and ride aboard a DC-6 on a scheduled service to the remote communities of Barrow and Deadhorse.

All Cargo – All the Time.

Some airlines carry cargo as a sideline, but at Northern Air Cargo they do it for a living. It’s been that way since they moved their first planeload of freight in 1956. Over the years they have provided customers in Alaska and the Pacific Northwest with a reliable means of shipping goods by air.

Originally established as a charter airfreight service, Northern Air Cargo pioneered air cargo transportation in Alaska. Using the unique C-82 ‘Flying Boxcar’, they specialised in the delivery of outsized cargo to rural communities on a charter basis. Customers knew that if they lived near a remote airstrip, and if their cargo fit in the airplane, NAC would get their load to them, no matter what the cargo might be: from nuts and bolts to live animals. This ‘can do’ commitment to their customers continues today. 

Northern Air Cargo operates the largest DC-6 fleet in the world. Besides these propliners the company operates three Boeing 727 freighter jets. NAC serves more than 20 Alaskan cities with scheduled, all-cargo services, plus flagstop and charter flights to many other destinations. Their motto is ‘All cargo – All the Time‘ and judging from the cargo on their ramp at Anchorage and Fairbanks, they really mean it.

Barrow-bound Ken Zachary was our captain for the early morning flight to Barrow. Zachary is a veteran “bush pilot” and first learned to fly DC-3s at the age of 19! The first officer was Joe Holland and the crew was rounded out by flight engineer Artic Wikle. The manifest described our full load of cargo as “hard cargo and foodstuffs” and included several snowmobiles, plus and a 3000 pound (1500 kg) generator. Our aircraft for the flight was N2907F (c/n. 44636), built in 1955 as a C-118A for the US Air Force. It went to Davis-Monthan AFB, Arizona, for storage in the mid-1970s, before being auctioned off in May 1976. After a period of inactivity at Tucson it was converted to DC-6A standard and registered to the Time Aviation Services Company in 1978. N2907F was bought by Northern Air Cargo in March 1991. To April 2001 the aircraft had logged a comparatively low 31,530 hours since new.

By 08.30 local time, loading and all other departure formalities were completed and ten minutes later the four Pratt & Whitney Double Wasp engines successively wounded-up amidst clouds of glorious av-gas exhaust. Fairbanks ground control then gave us our squawk number, taxi and flight clearance.

Our routing was to take us out over the Tanana River and then on to Barrow via the Bettles intersection. We taxied out to the run-up area, the throb of the engines accompanied by the familiar squeaking of brakes. Following a lengthy check of all engines, ‘Yukon 60’ was cleared for take-off on runway 19 right. Ken rotated the DC-6 at 120 knots and we established a steady climb at 500 feet/min at 160 kts with a full 2,400 rpm given by each engine. During the climb-out the DC-6 banked gently over the Tanana river and established a heading of 299 degrees, on track for Barrow.

After climbing gently for about 25 minutes, we leveled off at 10,000 feet and settled into a cruise of 185 kts IAS with the engines throttled back to 2,200 rpm and the fuel flow to each of the roaring monsters eased to about 520 lb/hr. During cruise, fuel flow to each engine is about 520 lb/hr. 

Crop dusters

The most wonderful thing about aviation is that there are so many different ways to fly. Gliders, helicopters, ultra-lights, biplanes. You name it. There isn’t enough time in our lives to learn how to fly all of the aircraft available in the world. There are very few individuals across the globe that hold all certificates and are type rated in every single aircraft. John and Martha King are the only ones that I know. Anyone else?

In my search for both interesting aircraft and exciting career opportunities, I have come across some very intriguing pilots, recruiters and organizations with great stories to tell. None, however, like the age-old discipline of aerial application.

When people think of an “ag pilot,” they envision some old guy flying a biplane, with no radio and no cares, buzzing the landscape as his leather cap flaps in the wind. You remember the pilot from the movie Fandango—the guy who packs Judd Nelson’s parachute with his dirty laundry? That guy. Ag pilots appear suddenly from below, climbing briskly and diving abruptly, as you consciously scan your path on a long cross-country. They show up out of nowhere, with no radio call, no nothin’. You’re surprised, maybe even angry, as they dart out like a stray cat in front of your car. But you admire their cavalier, cowboy type of flight. It actually looks exciting.

The first known aerial application of agricultural materials was flown by John Chaytor, who, in 1906, spread seed over a swamped valley floor in Wairoa, New Zealand, using a hot air balloon with mobile tethers. The first known powered aircraft to spread agricultural materials was a U.S. Army Air Service Curtiss JN4, or “Jenny,” piloted by John MacReady spraying lead arsenate from a makeshift metal hopper to kill catalpa sphinx caterpillars that had infested an orchard near Troy, Ohio in 1921. A subsequent study revealed that the pesky caterpillars were virtually wiped out from the application and “crop dusting” was born. The first commercial operation to lead the charge in aerial application was Continental Dusters, once part of Delta Airlines, using insecticides and fungicides to treat a host of crops and tackle insects and other infestations.

Today, organizations like the National Agricultural Aviation Association (NAAA) are working successfully to change this stereotype of the cavalier ag pilot. The mission of the NAAA has always been to promote and foster the development of aerial application and the significance that it plays on a global scale. By promoting research, new technologies and new application techniques, the NAAA has changed what it means to be an ag pilot. Education, training and safety are the highest priorities for the NAAA. Its nearly 1,500 members and more than 350 pilots in the U.S. lobby for this niche flight industry and protect its growth by thwarting and abating certain governmental regulation that may hinder their field.

From the ground up, pilots who are currently entering this industry are trained in all aspects of aerial application, safe pesticide use and entomology, all the while minimizing the risk to the environment. Without pesticide use, the world’s food supply would be reduced by 40 to 50 percent, resulting in an increase in food prices estimated at more than 50 percent.

To produce future foods, fiber and bio-fuels, increased production on the land already in use will be critical. The use of fungicides, insecticides and herbicides has helped to increase crop yields, allowing more people and animals to be fed and clothed. And it has opened the way for advancements in alternative energies. High-yield agriculture benefits the environment by producing maximum crop yields from fewer acres. Aerial application is a critical component in maximizing this production from the land used. For example, corn fungicide applications during the “tasselling” or pollinating stage of corn growth will produce more corn for the use of bio-fuels, food growth and livestock.

It’s estimated that, with the increase in the world’s population, food, fiber and bio-fuel production will need to double by the year 2050 to meet the growing demand. Due to the large economic growth and middle class surges in India and China—accounting for almost 40 percent of the world’s population—the demand for beef has grown tremendously. As the demand for meat rises, the demand for grain and protein feeds rises as well. It takes eight pounds of grain to make one pound of beef, so the demand for growth in grain production is at an unprecedented high.

“During my international travels as Secretary of Agriculture, I saw firsthand how the thriving agricultural sector decreases poverty, increases national wealth, allows the state to reinvest in the sector and provides a better daily life for the people,” said Dan Glickman, who served as Secretary of U.S. Department of Agriculture from 1995 to 2001, speaking to the Chicago Council on Global Affairs about the need for renewed U.S. leadership in long-term global development. A grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation will aid the Council’s ag development project. “It is in the direct interest of the United States to help as many nations as possible as it is in line with our foreign policy, economic development and humanitarian goals.”

The use and development of pesticides and other agricultural application materials comes with its share of environmental concerns. Spray drift, soil contamination, water pollution and occupational disease (often in the form of increased risk to cancer) are a few. Increased environmental regulations implemented by the FAA and EPA in recent years have reduced emissions and dangerous contaminations. In order to stay current, aircraft and equipment in the ag industry are state-of-the-art. Crop-dusting planes today have on-board computers that monitor the rate of application and GPS units to make each field pass more accurate. The days of attaching a 50-gallon drum of chemicals to a rickety airplane are over, as the aircraft today have sophisticated spraying capabilities to improve efficiencies and reduce environmental impact.

Recent technology developments such as GPS swath guidance, aerial imaging and prescription mapping and dispersal systems, have revolutionized the discipline. Fertilizer prices have increased due to the demand, and operators and legislators are looking for a balance between environmental impact and operation cost. Therefore, manufacturers of application systems and aircraft are designing equipment that is aerodynamically “clean,” including optimal boom and nozzle placements resulting in a more predictable spray pattern that appeases both the client and the regulatory agencies. Companies like Hemisphere Air, a precision GPS developer, are producing GPS systems that provide guidance accuracy within three feet and guide the pilot using a light bar and electronic mapping system. John Deere Agri Service provides highly targeted infrared aerial technology that is essential in field mapping and additional research and development of variable rate nozzles is helping growers achieve higher yields, quality and profit. Also, electrostatic targeting dispersal equipment is starting to make its way into development.

So, now that you are intrigued with the agricultural industry, the technology and the growing need for aerial application, what’s next? You want to be an ag pilot? Ag pilots are trained from the ground up, literally, loading the aircraft for the day, understanding the intricacies of the application systems and aircraft, all the while obtaining the training and flight certification to earn the insurance for a career position. This process takes time, however with the increase in demand for food, fiber and bio-fuels, there is plenty of opportunity out there. Pay rates can vary from one operator to another. For newer pilots, you can get paid a percentage of the gross application or per-acre rate. Your overall experience, your total time in specific aircraft and knowledge of the application processes will dictate your success as an ag pilot.