Flight management systems have never been considered simple pieces of equipment, but the technology is quickly evolving beyond basic navigation and performance functionality to include a host of new capabilities that hold the promise of changing the way pilots fly for the better.
Aviation International News » May 2009
Reductions in supersonic boom intensity could allow for overland operation of future supersonic civil aircraft, according to a panel of supersonic technology experts at a meeting held on March 1 in Palm Springs, Calif. The session was part of the UC Davis Aviation Noise & Air Quality Symposium.
Helicopter turboshaft manufacturers are incorporating new technologies in their engines to lower fuel burn, enhance capabilities and reduce operating costs. The major manufacturers are developing engines to meet these demands, along with the need for more power and lower emissions.
The in-development geared turbofan (GTF) has been attracting most of the headlines at engine manufacturer Pratt & Whitney lately, and it does indeed promise to make a large leap in powerplant efficiency and environmental friendliness when it enters airline service in 2013.
Stars & Stripes Air Tours, which launched sightseeing operations early last year out of Boulder City, Nev., filed for reorganization under Chapter 11 bankruptcy law on February 27. A company spokesman noted that tourism in the Las Vegas area, from where many of its clients are drawn, is down anywhere from 25 to 35 percent, “depending on who you listen to.”
New Zealand-based Spidertracks is offering a low-cost, portable satellite-tracking device that might appeal to helicopter operators. According to its designers, it is a carry-on accessory that does not need certification.
Two veteran American Airlines pilots, who in the words of the NTSB were “not having a good day,” nevertheless used “some exceptional stick-and-rudder skills” to get their crippled MD-82 safely back to Lambert-St. Louis International Airport (STL) after experiencing an in-flight engine fire during the airliner’s departure climb on Sept. 28, 2007.
The UK civil aviation authority (CAA) is recommending prevention and mitigation action to reduce the number of helicopter accidents in poor visibility. Proposed improvements include pilot guidance on whether to fly and better handling qualities. Together, controlled flight into terrain (CFIT), spatial disorientation and loss of control form the largest single cause of small-helicopter fatal accidents in the UK.
The number-two prototype Saras twin-turboprop crashed on March 6 in India during its 49th test flight, killing the three test pilots on board. The third prototype of the 14-seat Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6-powered twin is under construction and will be production-conforming. Indian certification of the Saras is expected next year.
Short-haul operators in Europe have been seeing almost no growth in passenger numbers and have struggled to reduce capacity to offset lower traffic as the global economic downturn has turned to recession. After a disappointing 2008 that saw load factors fall, European Regions Airline Association (ERA) members now suffer “a considerable worsening” in demand.