Schlagwort-Archive: Flight

Svartisen, Second Largest Glacier in Continental Europe

It is not often that one has the opportunity to take a long flight south before encountering the Arctic Circle. One of the disadvantages in selecting Tromsø for a base of operations was the inevitable long slog south to capture the largest glacier complex in northern continental Scandinavia. The glaciers of northern Sweden and Norway are spread in a longer distance north-south than what is found in fjord country east of Bergen. Nonetheless, the time had come that I needed to get it over with, or I wouldn’t do it.

I had intended to make a long day of it, flying south to Bodø and then back north for the night. The idea of “night” was something of a laughable joke anyway, as it barely had existed so far for this adventure. In any case, I knew I needed to reserve quite a bit of time to properly photograph the fullness of Svartisen.

The problem is, that the furthest glaciers from Tromsø were another 78 miles south. By the time I fueled in Bodø and took off heading south, I realized that things were taking longer, and I had a problem.

Evening civil twilight set in at 11:15 PM or so, which meant that I needed to be on the ground then, although the sunset was theoretically before 10 PM. I contemplated fudging it, and decided against it, as it is not a good idea to knowingly break rules. So, do I go for the farthest glacier, and race back for an 11 PM landing, not sure if it will work, only to come back tomorrow.

As I passed Svartisen, the second-largest glacier in Norway, and crossed the Arctic Circle, I decided returning to Tromsø for the night was absurd. Was I really going to spend 8 hours the next day round trip commuting back here? I nibbled away at the little glaciers southwest of Mo I Rana, confirmed my fuel arrangements at Hattfjelldal by text, and made my way down to Byrkijenasjonalpark before rounding the bend at 65N and turning north.

I stopped for fuel in evening light, and continued my work, photographing Okstindbreen and the complex of ice around it, whilst taking a 30-minute jog east into Sweden and back. By the time I had crossed the eastern part of Svartisen, the sun was beginning to set, which it did as I descended over the Atlantic and for final approach to Bodø. It was beautiful. And it was confirmatory that returning to Tromsø was never going to happen.

The problem was, I had absolutely nothing with me to spend the night. No clothes, no nothing. That was made worse as I usually bring earplugs in the event of unexpected noise. By 2:30 AM, I was still not asleep as the hotel was a raucously loud affair. I descended to the front desk to request another room, where I was greeted by at least 50 people having a full-blown party in the lobby. “Are they waiting for a tour bus?” I asked, “They look like they are in a group.” “There is a music festival. That is Norwegian drinking culture.” “So, they’re just drinking?” “Yes.” “How long will it last?” “Some until morning.” “What is the purpose of a hotel room?” The clerk at this point thought I was expressing ire at the noise, to which I had to restate that it made no sense to rent a hotel room when one intends to spend the entire night drunk in the lobby and not sleep in said room. I got a puzzled look in response. Even alcoholics have a modest sense of cost-effectiveness, which is why they are often found imbibing cheap liquor.

I was given a different room, with a glorious 3 AM view of the Norwegian Civil Aviation Authority’s office across the street, where the twilight was already strengthening before sunrise. Life couldn’t have been better.

The next morning, somewhat ghastly in appearance, I stumbled into a taxi and back to the airport. I had roughly 8 hours left on my 100-hour inspection, which was running out about 7 days before the annual was due. My Norwegian-registered aircraft is subject to 100-hour and annual inspection regimes, whereas US-registered aircraft for private use only have an annual requirement. While it is generally a massive thorn in my side, it generally hasn’t made a material impact….yet.

That meant one long arse-numbing flight of 4.5 hours to Svartisen, to enjoy it in its full glory, before a fuel stop back at Bodø, and then the commute to Tromsø, where I would hope to god the mechanic would fly in from Bergen and perform the inspection (he did!).

Svartisen is a complex of two glaciers, with the westernmost glacier alone the second largest in mainland Norway, which I believe makes it the second largest in Continental Europe. It was a sight to behold, as Scandinavian glaciers are… large plateau glaciers with many tongues feeding from it, located not far from the sea, at only 1000m in altitude, yet in existence due to astronomical precipitation.

The 100-hour gaffe meant I couldn’t stick another 2.5-hour flight in to get a few glaciers in the area. Little did I know that the best summer in northern Norway in decades would become viciously nasty a short time later, ultimately rendering it impossible to get those glaciers. I will have to return next summer. Source: ‚Garrett Fisher‚.

World’s First Piloted Flight of Liquid Hydrogen Powered Electric Aircraft

Project HEAVEN, a European-government-supported consortium assembled to demonstrate the feasibility of using liquid, cryogenic hydrogen in aircraft, today announced it has successfully completed the world’s first piloted flight of an electric aircraft powered by liquid hydrogen. The consortium is led by H2FLY and includes the partners Air Liquide, Pipistrel Vertical Solutions, the German Aerospace Center (DLR), EKPO Fuel Cell Technologies, and Fundación Ayesa.

The day consisted of four flights powered by liquid hydrogen as part of the project’s flight test campaign, including one flight that lasted for over three hours. The flights were completed with H2FLY’s piloted HY4 demonstrator aircraft, fitted with a hydrogen-electric fuel cell propulsion system and cryogenically stored liquid hydrogen that powered the aircraft.

Results of the test flights indicate that using liquid hydrogen in place of gaseous hydrogen will double the maximum range of the HY4 aircraft from 750 km to 1,500 km, marking a critical step towards the delivery of emissions-free, medium- and long-haul commercial flights.

Besides project HEAVEN, the work has been funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action (BMWK), the German Federal Ministry for Digital and Transport (BMVD), and The University of Ulm. Compared with pressurized gaseous hydrogen storage (GH2), the use of liquified, cryogenic hydrogen (LH2) enables significantly lower tank weights and volume, therefore leading to increased aircraft range and useful payload. Source: ‚Pipistrel-Aircraft‚.

Enroute Flight Navigation jetzt auch auf Apple-Geräten

Viele Leser werden die App schon kennen: Enroute Flight Navigation ist eine kostenlose Navigations-App für VFR-Piloten, die von der Akaflieg Freiburg entwickelt und betrieben wird. Mit weit über 20’000 aktiven Installationen und über 800 Nutzern am Tag gehört die App in Deutschland inzwischen zu den weit verbreiteten Navigationsprogrammen. Nachdem Enroute Flight Navigation lange Zeit nur unter Android verfügbar war, steht die App seit einigen Wochen auch für iPhone und iPads bereit. Prof. Stefan Kebekus, der das Entwicklerteam bei der Akaflieg Freiburg leitet, freut sich über diese Entwicklung: „Wir haben uns bemüht, eine App zu programmieren, die sich auf das Wesentliche konzentriert und von jedem Piloten sofort benutzt werden kann. Mit der Programmversion für Apple-Geräte läuft Enroute Flight Navigation jetzt auf praktisch jedem mobilen Endgerät. Wir hoffen, dass die App bei Privatpiloten und in unseren Vereinen breite Verwendung findet und dass wir damit einen Beitrag zur Sicherheit im Flugbetrieb leisten können.“

Was ist neu?
Die Akaflieg Freiburg hat Enroute Flight Navigation in den letzten Jahren kontinuierlich weiter entwickelt und verbessert. Die App zeigt eine sehr übersichtliche Luftfahrtkarte, mit Informationen zu Navigationseinrichtungen, Lufträumen, Meldepunkten, NOTAMs, Flugplätzen und (sofern verfügbar) Platzrunden. Vereine können ihren Mitgliedern Dateien mit lokal vereinbarten Lufträumen und Lärmschutz-Zonen bereitstellen, die ebenfalls in die Karte integriert werden. Enroute Flight Navigation ist mit allen bekannten FLARM/ADSB Geräten kompatibel und zeigt relevanten Verkehr gut sichtbar in der Karte an. Wetterinformation zur Flugroute und Informationen zu möglichen Ausweichflugplätzen sind direkt verfügbar.

Die wichtigste Neuerung:
Seit etwa einem Jahr liefert die Infrastruktur der Akaflieg Freiburg tägliche, automatische Updates der Luftfahrtdaten für über 50 Länder. Vorübergehende Luftraumänderungen, wie die Flugbeschränkungsgebiete für das NATO-Manöver „Air Defender“, werden auf diese Weise tagesaktuell in der Karte dargestellt — wobei die Verantwortung für eine ordnungsgemäße Flugvorbereitung mit offiziellen Daten natürlich nach wie vor beim Piloten liegt.

Wird Enroute dauerhaft kostenlos bleiben?
Nutzer und Vereine fragen häufig, ob Enroute Flight Navigation auf Dauer zu einem (teil-)kommerziellen Produkt entwickelt werden soll. Die Akaflieg Freiburg lehnt solche Pläne klar ab. Stefan Kebekus: „Enroute Flight Navigation ist ein Gemeinschaftsprojekt von flugbegeisterten Menschen, die das Pilotenhandwerk in unseren Vereinen bei ehrenamtlichen Fluglehrern gelernt haben. Wir sind zuversichtlich, dass wir unsere Infrastrukturkosten durch Fördergelder und Spenden decken können. Der Programm-Code ist unter einer freien Lizenz veröffentlicht und steht Jedermann zur Weiter-Entwicklung oder zur Entwicklung neuer Produkte zur Verfügung. Es gibt keine Pläne für eine Kommerzialisierung.“


Kann ich mitmachen?
Absolut! Das Team der Akaflieg Freiburg würde den Nutzern der App gern Erklärvideos bereitstellen und und sucht nach Freiwilligen mit Know-How in Graphik, Video und Social Media. Programmierer sind immer willkommen. Interessenten können sich gern per e-mail bei stefan.kebekus[a] melden.

Crossing Europe in a Super Cub

Source: ‚Garrett Fisher / AOPA‚.

Two planned trips fused into one when a long streak of unusually favourable weather appeared in the forecast, resulting in over 24 hours in the air, flying a Piper Super Cub from the bottom of Spain to Norway. The marathon of the flight was driven in the first instance by a plan to spend a little over two months in Norway, flying around glaciers in the summer. The Super Cub was in southern Andalusia, Spain, not far from Africa, after spending a few weeks during the spring holidays wandering around the coast. I had planned to fly the aircraft to Switzerland and then deal with getting it to Norway a month or so afterwards.

I have this image of Scandinavia, particularly the west coast of Norway, where the airplane ultimately would be headed. It was a visual of nonstop lashing rain, low clouds, intense winds, and generally vile weather, with sun three or four times a year. It is not that unfounded of a notion, as Bergen, Norway, is one of Europe’s rainiest cities, receiving almost double the precipitation of Portland, Oregon.

A heat wave was brewing in Spain, so I decided it was time to leave. What was curious was the weather forecast. It showed pleasant weather (naturally) in Spain, with VFR in France the next day. For days three and four, a strong high-pressure zone was forecast to form over Denmark, resulting in sunny skies from Belgium through the Netherlands, northern Germany, Sweden, and southern Norway. To get VFR stretching from 36 degrees to 59 degrees north latitude in Europe for four consecutive days is not something I deem common, so I was inspired to go direct to Norway.

A few fortuitous events made the trip appear to make more sense. The sellers of the Super Cub, from whom I bought it six months prior in Norway, are happy to lend hangar space while the airplane sat for a month. A mechanic I knew would be in Halmstad, Sweden, while I was passing through. It was one of my planned overnight stops, and I needed to discuss some modifications and plan the renewal of the airworthiness certificate, which must be done alongside an annual inspection. With a dose of tossing caution to the wind, I decided to make a run for it. It would be four days in the air and my longest European cross-country.

After departing Trebujena, Spain, over Seville’s control zone, the flight ventured into something visually like the American West. It is a semi-arid region with dry summers, like California. The resulting terrain looks something like one would find in southwest Montana, albeit with lower undulating mountains, many scrub pine forests, and intermittent farming. This goes on for three hours until approaching Madrid, for the first fuel stop at Casarrubios del Monte. It is worth noting that the lower airport density in Europe causes some element of anxiety. There are more airports in southwest Montana than in this stretch of Europe, though Spain is more densely populated. None of the reasonable alternates had fuel, so it required 75 per cent of my fuel capacity to get to the first refuelling point.

I visited Casarrubios in 2018 when crossing the PA–­11 Cub Special from the Pyrenees to the Portuguese coast. It is a friendly, nontowered airport with aerobatics, fuel, and good general aviation resources. After some hassle with a nonfunctional fuel pump, I was off again for my next destination: Biarritz, France.

Madrid’s control zone is not very flexible, so I had to largely go around it, heading southeast, then due east, then eventually to the northeast half an hour later, once free of airliner traffic. Temperatures at this point were in the mid-90 degrees Fahrenheit. I was closer to the ground owing to the cake overhead, though I saw some thundershowers developing in the mountains to the northeast of Madrid. Uncomfortably hot, I aimed for some precipitation, rinsing the airplane off and dropping cabin temperatures. By this point, I had climbed to 4,500 feet due to terrain while still within 1,000 feet AGL, as temps had calmed down.

Semi-arid terrain gave way to thick pine forests, which were giving off small clouds of pollen, a phenomenon I had experienced when I lived in the Pyrenees. I could smell it in the cooler and fresh air. Agriculture featured canola fields in full bloom, a display of bright yellow that I would see in great abundance along the German coast approaching Denmark two days later.

There was a concern about precipitation, as what appeared to be orographic thunderstorms started to show more alignment with a small front coming through. The showers I sought to cool me off became unavoidable as I found myself flying in the rain, wedging around them to stay VFR northeast of Soria, Spain, before crossing the ridge into the Ebro Valley.

Further south of this point, the Monegros Desert begins. I experienced a similar event in June 2018, flying east from Madrid to the Pyrenees. I went from broken clouds, humidity, and cold to summer temperatures, sunshine, and a desert within 20 minutes. While it wasn’t quite a desert, once I left the terrain between Soria and Pamplona, the sun came out, and things were clear.

I stayed at 5,000 feet as the 30-minute crossing of the lower plains featured the hills of Basque Country on the other side. There was no point descending, only to climb back up again, particularly as I was on another long leg, which would use most of my fuel. As I approached the hills north of Pamplona, the vegetation turned lusciously green. Over the first ridge, in the direction of the Bay of Biscay, it looked like East Tennessee: rolling steep Appalachian-style hills with rich, green deciduous forests.

Within 20 minutes, I was handed off to Biarritz Tower and made my approach toward the Atlantic Coast near the border. From there, the circuit calls for following the coastline for five minutes, then a one-minute final into the airport. I had landed here two months earlier on the way down to Spain. At the time, the fees were agreeable, though apparently, things changed from winter to summer, so I was handed an almost $50 landing fee invoice. While I was fine with paying it, I took issue with the fact that the FBO claims that there is no bathroom, requiring pilots to walk half a kilometre, leave the airport, clear „security,“ and walk back. Pressing the matter, I asked if the customers that come in on private jets to this FBO have to walk the same distance. The „VIP“ package includes the use of a toilet. „How much if I do not want the VIP package to urinate in the bathroom?“ „Fifty-four euros“ ($65 at the time). No amount of French I spoke, or huffing indignation, changed their minds, so I got my exercise to use the bathroom elsewhere.

Though it was approaching dinnertime, I decided to go 75 miles north, along the coast to La Teste-de-Buch, France, as Biarritz had instrument conditions the previous morning, whereas points north did not. The following morning, my supposition was correct. Biarritz had IFR, whereas it was hazy and overcast over northern Bordeaux. While I would have liked to follow the coast, it would have lengthened an already very long trip. Even still, I could not fathom drawing a line from Bordeaux to Denmark, as it would have been 1,000 miles of repetitive scenery: fields, forests, towns, and some modest hills. Call me a curmudgeon if you must, though I grew up in upstate New York, which looks somewhat similar, absent French châteaux and whatnot. I plotted a course direct northeast of Calais, France, on the English Channel.

The slog through France was uneventful. It was almost three hours to Blois for fuel due to a headwind, passing over the Loire River before landing. I landed on the grass strip, a first for this aircraft, where the Baby Bushwheel felt right at home. Another struggle with a broken fuel pump, then shy of another three hours to Calais, with a flight over the Seine and Giverny, where impressionist painter Claude Monet lived. While it sounds like a fairy tale, I prefer the coast and mountains over farmland.

Calais was an amusing experience. I had read a web of pilot reviews raving about excellent English advertised in the official Aeronautical Information Publication and somehow confused myself. Controllers speak English during the week, but the frequencies revert to French on the weekend, and also with air-to-air uncontrolled communications. French flight following handed me off to the frequency, noting it was „French only.“ I could have diverted elsewhere, though it would have been quite stressful reading AIPs and reviews to see if other airports had fuel, so I decided to dive in with my limited French. Once in the air, confirming that fuel exists at an airport and is open is rather tricky in Europe, which is very different from markings right on the sectional map, or concisely noted in the AF/D in the United States.

The first problem with Calais was figuring out which field was in use. It is a field with lots of parachute activity, so flying overhead to find out is unsafe. I asked in French about the frequency and got no reply. Since I had been facing a northeast headwind all day, I decided to land to the east and announced as such in what was ultimately poor French. The result was a quartering tailwind landing, but so be it. There was plenty of room. After taxiing off the runway, I saw three airplanes lined up to take off to the west, whose pilots all opted not to speak at all (not even in French). I later snarled to a French pilot about French rudeness, and he pointed out: „They were being quite considerate in French terms by waiting for you. Normally they would have just taken off anyway.“

The day’s last flight was along the French, Belgian, and Dutch coasts to Texel, Netherlands. I had been invited by a fellow Super Cub pilot, who is also an aerial photographer. He kindly offered lodging and to hangar the airplane for the night. It was an open question if I could make it before closing, though I was able to with an extension from the information service folks, who stayed a bit later than normal. The flight was pretty along the coasts, and exceptionally so once I got to the Dutch islands northeast of Amsterdam, which reminded me of the Outer Banks of North Carolina.

Dinner with the Dutch pilot was illuminating. He told me a story about photographing as a passenger in a Cessna when they were impacted into the North Sea in the fog, in controlled flight but unable to discern the water visibly. The story reads as though out of a movie: gaining consciousness seconds before submerging underwater, the seat belt not wanting to release, his life jacket getting stuck to the sinking airplane, and finally getting free. He is only alive because he was wearing the life jacket, and he had a 406-Mhz personal locator beacon around his neck before the crash. I purchased both after talking to him and began wearing them if I went anywhere near the water.

The next day was an air-to-air photography session with our respective Super Cubs, lunch after landing on the island of Ameland, Netherlands, and a leg from Ameland to Lolland-Falster, Denmark. I cruised at 2,000 feet over the German barrier islands owing to a protected area. However, I overflew what seemed like an airport on each island (where being below 2,000 feet is acceptable for takeoff and landing). That beckons a return someday to land at each one.

I crossed the top of Germany in Schleswig-Holstein, where approaching the Baltic Sea coast, I was greeted with a sea of yellow canola flowers. It was a 12-mile crossing over water, thinking about the life jacket I was not yet wearing, and then fuel at Lolland-Falster. At this point, I was tracing, in the other direction, the path I had taken out of Norway the prior autumn. There was one last two-hour leg west of Copenhagen, over the Øresund Strait, into Sweden, and along the coast, before landing at the odd closing time of 7:35 p.m.

I booked a hotel for two nights in Halmstad. By midday the next day, the fact that the mechanic was 600 miles to the north left me pondering the philosophical question of what I was doing there. He was not reliable. The weather was perfect, daylight hours long, and it was only 1 p.m. I checked out of the hotel, filed a flight plan (with waypoints every 30 minutes and more than one hour before, a lesson I learned on a previous trip, and took off for Norway).

While it was less than three hours and featured sun instead of half of it being VFR on top like last time, I found myself rather tired. It was the last three hours of a 24.4-hour adventure from the bottom of Europe to Scandinavia. I could enjoy the coast with less fear of death than when I was going the other way. This time, I understood the airplane better and had fantastic weather with beautiful scenery.

I crossed into Norway, then over the Oslofjord, which I could see this time. Last time, it was nothing but solid overcast below. Before landing at TORP Sandefjord Airport for customs, I had to hold over the stunningly beautiful coastline. That featured some waiting and then a phone call to the customs office, who said I could be on my way. I find it ironic as I was examined thoroughly on the outbound leg, where I confessed to buying the airplane and exporting cheese.

The hop to Skien was only 20 minutes. I tucked the airplane into the exact spot where I had bought it six and a half months ago. It would sit for 45 days before I would return to Norway to begin the glacier attack. While I had a sense of accomplishment due to the length of the flight, I also knew that more intense flying lay ahead than behind.

The flight covered eight countries and went from 36 to 59 degrees north latitude, the same as going from Monterey, California, to Skagway, Alaska.

World Record Godwit Flight

Late yesterday (25th October 2022) a juvenile godwit, just five months old (tagged in Alaska), touched down in Ansons Bay in northeast Tasmania.

This godwit (number 234684) departed from Alaska on October 13, 2022, and certainly looks to have flown non-stop to Tasmania. This will not be the first one to make this flight as godwits are frequent visitors to Tasmania, but it’s the first time a tagged bird has flown between Alaska and Tasmania.

In the process, it flew a minimum of 13,560 km in eleven days and one hour. The previous long-distance record of 13,050 km set by the adult male 4BBRW in 2021 is blown out of the water by this young upstart. Connect with Nature! Source: ‚facebook‚. Image: ‚Lior Kislev on Bird Note‚.

Propellers are making a comeback in the pursuit of greener air travel

The propeller — a relic from the dawn of powered flight more than a century ago — is making a comeback as an emblem of aviation’s greener future. Rotors are proliferating on futuristic air taxis and plane prototypes powered by hydrogen and electricity. The old-school feature is also central to a radical new engine that could one day replace the turbofans on today’s jetliners as climate change pushes the industry to innovate its way out of fossil-fuel dependence. That design, developed by General Electric Co. and France’s Safran SA, could burn 20% to 30% less fuel with similar or less noise than their latest offering for single-aisle jets, executives say. They’re angling to put the engine, with its giant whirling propellers, on workhorse planes by the mid-2030s.

The invention push makes for some dizzyingly expensive and consequential wagers for some of the sector’s most prominent companies. Boeing Co., Airbus SE and engine makers such as Rolls-Royce Holdings Plc need to plough billions of dollars into producing more environmentally friendly planes that will fly well past the 2040s. But it’s not clear yet which technologies will provide the best path forward, or when airlines will be ready to embrace them. The financial toll of a misstep could linger for decades — or even wipe out a company — while engineering hurdles and regulatory scrutiny loom as potential roadblocks. “I wouldn’t want to be a president of Boeing or Airbus,” said Steve Udvar-Hazy, the pioneer of aircraft leasing who’s been one of both companies’ biggest buyers for decades. The challenges they face in trying to make the right call about what will replace today’s technology “are probably the most difficult they’ve faced in my career,” he told a conference on Sept. 7.

Futuristic Concept
The futuristic concept from GE and Safran’s partnership, CFM International, features scimitar-like blades that spin exposed outside the turbine. It eliminates the casing that is seen on turbofan engines that currently power most commercial aircraft. That so-called open-fan design means engineers can install much bigger blades, which improves fuel efficiency by accelerating more air through the fan section for thrust instead of through the fuel-burning centre. And unlike piston-driven propeller planes of yore, those huge blades are driven by a high-tech turbine made with advanced materials that CFM says can run on biofuels or hydrogen. While they unveiled the concept last year, executives of the partnership offered new details in interviews about how they’ve worked to overcome key technical hurdles that bedevilled earlier open-fan designs.

Using supercomputers housed in research labs at the US Department of Energy, GE Aerospace’s Vice President of Engineering Mohamed Ali says company engineers have unlocked how to resolve trade-offs between cruise speed, fuel efficiency and noise. The government machines allowed GE to model turbulence and airflow around the engine on an almost molecular level, revealing how to precisely sculpt blades to make them quieter, he said. Initial flight tests are planned for mid-decade before CFM and Airbus rig the engine to an A380 superjumbo jet for additional demonstration flights prior to 2030. If those trials are successful, analysts say CFM’s open-fan design will be a serious contender to power the aircraft that will eventually replace Boeing’s 737 Max and Airbus A320neo jetliners — the duopoly’s most important cash cows. “Up until now, each new engine family has been evolutionary,” said analyst Robert Spingarn of Melius Research. “These are revolutionary.” As Ali sees it, climate change leaves little choice but to pursue such dramatic reinvention. “Can we really afford to leave that fuel-burn advantage on the table?” he said.

Engineering Advances
Of course, propeller planes have never completely vanished from the market, even after the modern jet ushered in faster travel decades ago. Such aircraft have been a mainstay of short, regional hops, though never coming close to matching the sales and speed of the turbofan-powered jets that routinely fly hundreds of people across continents and oceans. But the massive, exposed propellers like those in CFM’s open-fan concept would be something of a different species — a throwback, in some ways, to the 1980s. Back then, GE and rival engine maker Pratt & Whitney each developed and flight-tested similar engines as a solution for airlines looking to blunt sky-high fuel costs with a jump in efficiency. Boeing even marketed a plane powered by twin open-fan engines. But the concepts never made it to production, as technical challenges abounded and oil prices plunged.

Now, though, the harsh reality of climate change is likely to make for a more enduring impetus for invention than fickle energy prices did last century. Engineering barriers, too, are falling. GE’s 1980s model had two sets of exposed blades that spun in opposite directions, making it heavy, and complex and raising reliability concerns. That is one of the problems GE’s Ali says has now been solved. The second set of blades was needed to reach the necessary cruise speed for commercial airliners. But using supercomputers and wind-tunnel tests, Ali says GE discovered that a single set of blades with stationary vanes behind them can yield the same result. Meanwhile, propellers figure prominently in other efforts to make air transport greener. Pratt & Whitney and Collins Aerospace plan to flight-test 2024 a hybrid-electric propulsion system on a regional, propeller-driven aircraft. Funding is also gushing into startups developing new propulsion systems. Sustainable aviation garnered 23% of the $2.2 billion invested in futuristic air technologies during the first half of 2022, up from just 2% of funding a year earlier, according to McKinsey data. Battery-powered eVTOLs, which aim to whisk travellers over traffic-clogged streets, raked in the most funding.

Challenges to Adoption
While the auto industry decisively pivots to electric vehicles, Boeing and Airbus are taking more cautious steps to decarbonize, like replacing petroleum-derived kerosene with biofuels that can be burned by today’s jet engines. Hydrogen-powered airliners likely won’t be ready for decades, and in the meantime, going all-in on designs that rely on open-fan engines is risky — not least because conventional turbofans also have room for powerful improvements. “The modern turbofan is one of the most efficient power generators that people have ever created,” said Brian Yutko, vice president and chief engineer for sustainability and future mobility at Boeing. “If you take the duct away,” he said, referring to a jet engine’s protective covering, “you don’t absolve yourselves of integration challenges — you have different ones.”

That helps explain why Rolls-Royce and Pratt & Whitney are sticking to a more conventional engine approach. Rolls-Royce, after assessing and ground-testing open-fan technology, is moving ahead with what’s known as a geared turbofan with a model called Ultrafan that targets burning 25% less fuel. Pratt spent $10 billion to develop a geared turbofan that entered service in 2015 and offers a 15% improvement in efficiency versus its predecessors. Geoff Hunt, Pratt’s senior vice president for engineering, said the engine could boost fuel efficiency by another 20% via technology upgrades over time — a similar gain to what CFM expects its propeller design could offer.

Such advances in turbofans could present a serious challenge to the widespread adoption of open-fan formats. Airlines might be loath to switch to an unproven new engine when a familiar option — one that fits neatly into the established design of existing planes – is offering comparable improvement. There are other obstacles, too, such as the likelihood that regulators would pay new aircraft special attention. The GE and Pratt concepts of the 1980s bellowed so loudly, they raised doubts they could comply with noise limits. Safety issues, namely how to prevent a blade failure from sending debris slicing through a plane’s frame, would also be scrutinized by authorities — and customers, too. Airbus, for example, was sceptical of open-fan designs pitched by CFM about 15 years ago as it considered engines for what became the A320neo, people familiar with the matter said. The planemaker would’ve needed to completely rework the A320 to make the engine fit, one of the people said, and the blades would’ve been positioned high and on the rear of the aircraft, presenting challenges to winning regulatory certification due to the risk of a blade breaking off or a tail scrape. And that’s all before considering how passengers might react. “Looking out and seeing Cuisinart blades under the wing with double rows, dozens of blades — yeah, that’s disconcerting,” said aviation consultant Richard Aboulafia.

New Jets
Developing a new airplane can cost $15 billion — or far more if a groundbreaking technology goes awry. The potential of the CFM open-fan engine is likely to factor into planemakers’ high-stakes plans. Boeing and Airbus are already plotting their strategies for the next decade when they’ll need to replace their most profitable jets, which have designs that date to the 1960s and 1980s. The US manufacturer is expected to make the first move. Badly lagging Airbus in the crucial narrowbody market, Boeing is likely working on an all-new jet to counter its rival’s A321neo, and Spingarn of Melius Research expects it to also unveil a 737 Max replacement by the late decade. Airbus’s dominance, meanwhile, gives it more breathing room to devise upgrades to its A220 and A320 families of aircraft. Still, as the company girds for the future, it’s making big bets on unproven technology, such as pledging to bring a hydrogen plane into service by 2035. Many in the industry are sceptical that it can meet that timeline. The open-fan engine should be in the running for both Boeing and Airbus — provided CFM can deliver its engine by 2035, and resolve the issues that caused the planemakers to reject propellers in the past. The conventional jet engine has “gone as far as it can be given the level of challenge that our industry has taken on,” said Francois Bastin, Safran’s vice president of commercial engines. “Now there is something bigger than all of us, which is the environmental challenge.” Source: ‚American Journal of Transportation‘. Images: ‚MT-Propeller‚.

Mooney Formation Flight over Hudson River

Video about a formation flight of three Mooney’s along the Hudson river, then a low approach on 4R at Newark international airport. Once-in-a-life-time-experience. Newark is one of the busiest airports in the world. Source: ‚Youtube‚.

First Flight Using 100% net-zero Synthetic Fuel

British synthetic fuel company Zero Petroleum has announced the successful completion with its partner the Royal Air Force of the first flight in the world to be powered entirely by synthetic aviation fuel. On the morning of 2nd November 2021 at Cotswold Airport, an Ikarus C42 aircraft conducted the flight which has since been awarded “First aircraft powered by synthetic fuel” from Guinness World Records. The flight is the first step in a joint programme which aims ultimately to defossilise the entire fuel requirement of the RAF.

Zero Petroleum’s synthetic fuel is manufactured by extracting hydrogen from water, using energy generated from renewable sources; and combining the hydrogen with carbon dioxide, captured from the atmosphere, to create “drop-in” fuels which entirely substitute current fossil-based aviation fuels. The process uses Direct FT, an advanced proprietary variant of Fischer-Tropsch technology which, as a fully industrial process, is reliable, secure and fully scalable without the land-use and biodiversity challenges of biofuels.

“Climate change is a transnational challenge which threatens global resilience and our shared security and prosperity” said Air Chief Marshal Sir Mike Wigston KCB CBE ADC Chief of the Air Staff. “I am determined to tackle this head on and have set the Royal Air Force the ambitious goal to be Net Zero by 2040. The way we power our aircraft will be a big part of achieving that goal, and this exciting project to make aviation fuel from air and water shows how it might be done. I am delighted at the award of this world record and to see the Royal Air Force yet again at the leading edge of innovation and technology, as we have been throughout our history.”

Zero Petroleum was founded by Formula One engineering legend Paddy Lowe and Professor Nilay Shah OBE, Head of Chemical Engineering at Imperial College London. Paddy was previously Technical Director at McLaren, Executive Director at Mercedes and Chief Technical Officer at Williams, contributing to a total of 158 race wins and 12 World Championships, and recognised by Honorary Fellowship of Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge. Nilay is one of the most prominent and influential chemical engineering authorities in the world and last year received an OBE for services to the decarbonisation of the UK economy. Both Paddy and Nilay are Fellows of the Royal Academy of Engineering.

Zero Petroleum completed a seed financing round including an investment from Formula One World Champion and Sky broadcaster, Damon Hill OBE. Zero Petroleum also received a grant from the UK’s leading innovation agency Innovate UK for fuel synthesis technology development.

The company’s vision is to become the world leader in synthetic fuels technology and production. These innovative fuels can replace fossil fuels without the need to adapt distribution infrastructure or engine design. They are crucial for sectors in which electrification is not currently an option, including aviation, agriculture and a wide range of high-performance vehicles.

The project to complete this flight, named Project MARTIN, started in June 2021. Zero Petroleum and its technology partner IGTL Technology combined efforts to design and build a production plant in record time in Peterhead, UK. The plant was then positioned at Billia Croo, Orkney, UK for fuel manufacturing operations during September and October 2021.

“This unique project with the Royal Air Force demonstrates the validity of our synthetic fuel and the potential it has to eliminate fossil CO2 emissions from a number of difficult but critical sectors, including transport which currently accounts for 23 percent of the global total” added Zero Petroleum founder Paddy Lowe. “We are particularly proud of the fact that this high-grade aviation gasoline ZERO SynAvGas was developed in just five months and ran successfully in the aircraft as a whole-blend without any modification whatsoever to the aircraft or the engine. The engine manufacturer Rotax’s measurements and the test pilot’s observations showed no difference in power or general performance compared to standard fossil fuel. Synthetic fuel allows the world to rethink its relationship with petroleum which can now be man-made in significant volumes within a carbon neutral process. This revolution will power the Energy Transition by creating a fully circular fuel supply, at scale. This is the start of a new era of perpetual energy, fossil-free. I want to thank the Royal Air Force for setting and supporting this challenge and to thank the incredible team at Zero Petroleum and at our technology partner IGTL Technology who delivered the fuel for the flight today. I could not be more excited as I believe we have together made a significant mark in the history of powered aviation which started with the Wright brothers just 118 years ago.” Source: ‚RenewableEnergyMagazine‚.

Terry Delore fliegt wieder Rekord-Distanzen

Anfangs Monat ist der weltweit bekannte, neuseeländische Segelflug-Pilot Terry Delore mit einer ASW 27 B in den neuseeländischen Wellen-Systemen 1’861 km geflogen. Hier sein Kommentar auf Facebook: „Ich danke meinen Freunden auf der ganzen Welt und in Neuseeland für alle freundlichen Kommentare und Wünsche.
Die Angst vor dem Scheitern ist es, welche die meisten von uns aufhält. Auf diesem Flug habe ich mich an meine früheren Misserfolge erinnert, und das hat mir zum Erfolg verholfen.
Ich habe das Glück, die Unterstützung meiner Familie, meines Vereins und so vieler Spitzenpiloten von überall her zu haben. In Sachen Rekord sieht es so aus, als hätte die freie Hin- und Rückstrecke geklappt. Aber die ausgeschriebenen 1’730 km (Hin- & Zurück) und 1’500 km Geschwindigkeitrekord werden wohl nicht homologiert – weil ich die Startlinie um 200 m verpasst habe, ich war zwar im Quadranten, aber die Regeln haben sich geändert! Harte Lektion! – Beste Grüße, Terry“. Hier finden Sie einen TV-Bericht über den Flug.

Africa – Flight for Every Mother

In early 2013, I heard through the grapevine that a British Obstetric Surgeon was intending to fly through Africa in a light aircraft, and offer medical training and supplies in countries along the route. Having always been fascinated with the idea of a long flight through Africa, I got in touch to find out more, and see if there was any way I could help with my experience of flying in Africa to date. Dr Sophia Webster and I ended up getting on well, and discussing the trip in more and more detail – before long, I was asked if I would come along as a more experienced pilot to deal with the aviation side of things. While Dr Webster held a Private Pilot’s Licence, she had relatively few hours of experience and more importantly would need to be devoting most of her time to the medical mission rather than flight planning. Once I had agreed that yes, I would like to go (which was not a difficult thing to convince me of) things started coming together remarkably quickly. Within the space of a few weeks the aircraft lease was organised, vaccinations acquired, flight to Europe booked, and visa and flight clearance process well under way. Find out more about this incredible trip int the Blog ‚‘.