Update on the GlobalFlyer

 - February 1, 2007, 8:31 AM

Mojave, Calif.-based Scaled Composites recently modified the Virgin Atlantic-sponsored GlobalFlyer with fuel jettison capability at the request of pilot Steve Fossett, who is scheduled to fly the single-engine Williams FJ44-powered aircraft solo around the world nonstop without refueling sometime after January 4.

According to Scaled project engineer and test pilot Jon Karkow, GlobalFlyer’s new fuel jettison system isn’t designed to “dump” fuel, but instead to pump it slowly overboard at a rate of 1,000 pounds per hour. Considering the aircraft’s mtow of 22,000 pounds and an estimated fuel burn of 200 pounds per hour, if Fossett decided to abort the attempt shortly after takeoff, he would need to stay aloft for a minimum of five hours to bring the GlobalFlyer to its design maximum landing weight of 16,000 pounds.

Neither the exact date nor the takeoff/landing location for the record attempt had been announced at press time. Fossett is reportedly planning to make several more test flights, including one 12-hour overnight flight, in the GlobalFlyer before he is ready for the estimated 80-hour global circumnavigation attempt.