The science-fiction pundits were wrong. The future of space travel doesn’t look like a Buck Rogers-style rocket poised to roar straight up into the twinkling heavens from a tinkerer’s backyard. What space travel will look like, according to a company called Stratolaunch Systems−which includes board member and backyard tinkerer Burt Rutan−is kind of unsurprising, more airplane-like, although no less fantastical.
Burt Rutan, who retired in April from Scaled Composites, the company he founded in Mojave, Calif., has joined with Paul Allen in a plan to build the largest aircraft in the world. Allen, who co-founded Microsoft with Bill Gates, funded the SpaceShipOne effort that successfully boosted the first privately funded manned rocket outside the Earth’s atmosphere.
How does one measure the success of an airplane designer?
JetSuite brokered its first Phenom 100 charter flight in late May for customer Burt Rutan, who flew to his home base in Mojave, Calif. Solana Beach-based Air by Jet, a Part 135 certificate holder, operated the flight. Later this year, JetSuite expects to begin operating its own fleet of Phenom 100s, for which it has a firm order for 50 with an option for an additional 50.
Dr. Sam Williams, founder and chairman of Williams International, died yesterday at the age of 88, according to a statement issued by his company. Williams patented the small turbofan engine and built on his company’s successful development of tiny cruise missile engines to break into the rarefied world of civil turbine engine manufacturers with introduction of the FJ44 line of turbofans.
Famed aircraft and spacecraft designer Burt Rutan was the first passenger on a JetSuite-brokered Embraer Phenom 100 Part 135 flight earlier this week to his home base in Mojave, Calif. The flight was operated by Solana Beach-based Air by Jet, a Part 135 certificate holder. JetSuite is acting as a broker for the Air by Jet-operated Phenom 100 flights, according to JetSuite CEO Alex Wilcox.
No offense intended to its participants, but aviation progress by the 1980s had become rather mundane by comparison with the incessant leaps and bounds of previous decades. Maybe it was a matter of butting up against the realities of aviation’s maturity, or maybe it was simply a product of the funk enveloping the west at the start of the 1980s.
The Beech Starship fleet is being destroyed at the behest of manufacturer Raytheon, which owns 40 of the 50 production airplanes built between 1988 and 1995.
With the first flight of A500 S/N 0001 on July 11, the centerline-thrust, six-seat piston twin is poised to begin flight testing leading to certification, expected in the middle of next year. Three more of the carbon-fiber airplanes will join the program as they are produced. The proof-of-concept aircraft, designated M309 and designed by Burt Rutan, began flying in March 2000 and logged more than 300 hr before being retired.
So far, Toyota is downplaying the significance of its TAA (Toyota Advanced Aircraft) proof-of-concept airplane. The all-composite, four-place piston aircraft took flight for the first time on May 31 at Mojave (Calif.) Airport, and Toyota officials are calling the project “an early look” and a “feasibility study.” Some 35 Toyota engineers have been working on the single-engine airplane.
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