Landings to below Cat I and II ILS minimums have been possible for more than three decades, but the price of admission until recently has been autoland certification of the aircraft and crew.
Aircraft flight control systems
Dassault is about to flight-test production-conforming modifications that should boost the range of its new Falcon 7X. Officials at the French manufacturer last month revealed that the average customer is choosing options and cabin equipment that are raising aircraft weight beyond earlier expectations. On many aircraft the weight gain is cutting range to just short of the promised 5,700 nm.
It has been 10 years since the ValuJet DC-9 accident in the Everglades that cost the lives of 110 people and a considerable amount of money. The cost to the aviation industry was also high as a result of additional requirements imposed on the existing aircraft fleet.
Reacting to a pair of landmark NTSB recommendations addressing potential safety vulnerabilities in autopilots, the FAA this month is amending airworthiness standards for automatic flight control systems in transport-category airplanes. The revised standards cover newly certified business jets with an mtow of more than 12,500 pounds.
As regulatory agencies in Europe and North America grapple with whether to permit the use of personal mobile phones in flight, the companies that intend to sell and market the services not surprisingly are trying to convince the world that the concept is perfectly safe, will not foster air rage as some have claimed and that the concerns in general have been overblown.
As the industry prepares for very light jets (VLJs) to live up to their billing to transform personal transportation, air-taxi and charter operations, members of the Aviation Insurance Association recently gathered for their annual conference in Grapevine, Texas, to consider risk exposure implications and market opportunities if the VLJ phenomenon turns its promoters’ rosiest visions into reality.
The Falcon 7X flight-test program is progressing on schedule, with four of the trijets logging more than 850 hours during 275 test flights. Certification flights with the EASA have begun and will be completed by year-end, to be followed by final certification and first deliveries early in the new year. As a further mark of progress, Falcon 7X S/N 04 joined the test fleet in late July.
Business jet manufacturers do not agree on the virtues of electric power for onboard systems. Although Boeing and Airbus airliners are already going “more electric,” Dassault, Raytheon and Gulfstream remain cool about the claimed advantages of electricity versus hydraulic or pneumatic power. New entrants in the purpose-built bizjet arena, such as Eclipse Aviation, Embraer and Spectrum Aeronautical, are much more enthusiastic.
Flight testing is scheduled to begin this month of a Gulfstream V modified with a fly-by-wire system for controlling the spoilers. Elevator fly-by-wire testing is scheduled for later this year. Gulfstream launched a flight control research program in 2004 with the aim of exploring the potential of fly-by-wire technology on future business jets.
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