Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Spent the weekend at the Avalon Airshow - took the missus who yawned through an F/A-18F aerobatics display. I'll not make that mistake again.

Biggest surprise - Bob Carlton's jet powered sailplane. I saw it take off and couldn't believe my ears. Two tiny microjets powered a sailplane which did an incredible aerobatics display.

Biggest disappointment - the B-52 flypast. I last saw a B-52 at the 1988 Richmond airshow and the overwhelming impression it left on me was of staggering noise and size. For some reason this time they did their flypast at a couple of thousand feet several miles beyond the display line. The Jetstar A-320 arrival looked bigger and was louder by comparison.

Anyway - a pretty good airshow, but it was a bit too same-old. Why not a parachute drop from a C-130 or rope in from an Army helicopter? The Tiger helicopter and Hornets did demonstration strafing runs, but no blank cartridges? The only ally to show up and do a display came from the USAF, all the rest were manufacturers looking to sell us stuff.

The USAF F-16C, which looks like worlds most fun jet to fly. This bloke looked like he was having the time of his life, which he probably was.

The DHC-4 Caribou. We are looking to replace it, unfortunately, it looks like the only replacement for a Caribou is...another Caribou.

QANTAS 747. When you see these things sailing overhead everyday it's easy to forget how elegant the lines are, and how enormous they are.

Aussie Tiger, the Army's first attack helicopter. Now they just need some tanks to shoot at.

F/A-18F Super Hornet (aka Rhino.) For sheer power and brute force it's hard to beat. Noisiest plane of the day, and I love jet noise.

Friday, March 23, 2007

When good cats go bad;

Stray cats enter home, attack women, boy

Monday, March 19, 2007

Speed caused Garuda crash

Perhaps a little premature - I have seen no indication that the flight data recorders or radar tracks have been analysed yet, this conclusion seems to have been drawn purely from anecdotal evidence of eyewitnesses, which is less than objective. Also, speed didn't cause the crash. Whatever caused the pilots to make their approach at too high a speed is probably the cause of the crash.

Thanks to Coop for pointing this out, along with an excellent article in the latest issue of Australian Aviation.

As I suspected, there is more to the selection of the Super Hornet than mere numbers. The F-111 always relied on its performance for protection, flying ultra low level at high speed, the long range affording it the ability to attack a target from multiple directions. It's clear now that RAAF has less confidence on pure performance as a means of defence, requiring the F-111 to be escorted to a target. Furthermore, the F-111 is virtually blind once in the air. It has no air-to-air radar, little in the way of threat warning displays or electronic counter measures, nor is it 'networked.' The Super Hornet has all of these features, even if it cannot match the F-111's performance. Oils ain't oils, it seems.

Although the F-15E has, at first glance, superior performance to the Super Hornet in terms of speed, range and payload, it cannot match the avionics fitout of the Super Hornet. The APG-79 radar is what really sets the two apart, having a variety of sophisticated electronics tricks. The Super Hornet can also be used as a network node, distributing data to other platforms. And this is why the Super Hornet has been chosen, as it represents a technological bridge between the 4th generation F-111 and the 5th generation JSF. This will also ease the latters introduction.

It has also been suggested that the F-22 would have been a better choice, but the US Congress has voted to ban export sales of the F-22, so it simply isn't available. Yet.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

A man can dream, can't he?

Monday, March 12, 2007

As I re-read this article, I was struck by one quote;

"I don't understand why they didn't 'touch and go' (take off again and re-land). There was a huge bang and that was it."

Why not go around? A very good question, indeed. If I had a choice between being five minutes late and being toast, I know which one I would choose. But I am merely a private pilot, and the worst consequence for me of going around is paying an extra 0.1 on the hobbs. If I was an aviation professional, with years of experience and a lot of time and $$$ invested in my career as an airline pilot, things would be different. Reputations are at stake, questions would be asked, perhaps remedial training would be in order, perhaps a promotion delayed. Airlines would do well to put their own houses in order and ensure that the consequences of a go around are not something a pilot should fear.

Military pilots have a saying that it is better to die than look bad. Although it's tongue in cheek, there is a real element of truth to it. Aviation is a confidence game, you have to believe in your own infallibility, which tends to inflate the ego somewhat. Some pilots will do anything to avoid looking bad in the eyes of others, and if they discount in their minds the possibility of catastrophe, then a go around becomes unthinkable. This is where crew resource management is supposed to kick in, the theory being that although you might be willing to die for the sake of your own reputation, don't expect the same from your co-pilot. But what if the co-pilot is insufficiently experienced to recognise the danger in a situation, or is afraid to speak up and embarrass his captain?

So why not go around? The answer is probably a combination of the above - fear of retribution from ones employer, and the concern not to have ones reputation suffer.

There is a further possibility - and that is that the aircraft was not in a position to safely go around. Turbine engines take a few seconds to spool up, speed brakes need to retract, flaps take time to transition - if there was insufficient runway for all this to occur and still allow the aircraft to take off again, the most prudent course of action may well have been to ride it out.

The Australian Civil Air Patrol (of which I am proud to say I am a very small part) has a new website. A small band of volunteers who donate their time, skills, experience and money to helping others in a very aviation related way. We provide services such as airborne search and rescue services, transport of emergency personnel and equipment, acting as aerial observation and communications platforms to emergency services, and transport of emergency medical supplies to name a few. We also carry non critical care patients from rural areas to major cities; eg Angel Flights.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

20pc of four-year-olds overweight

Does this mean 80% of four year olds are healthy or underweight? Is this bad or good?

Pffft - you can prove anything with facts.

90 per cent of people believed the ads influenced children to want to buy junk food.

How many four year olds do you know have an independent income?

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Five Australians feared dead after crash

...and also some Indonesians, it appears.

Australian survivors of an Indonesian airliner crash have said the plane was travelling too fast when it approached the runway at Yogyakarta airport.

This is what everyone seems to be saying, but let's remember that none on the witnesses were on the flight deck, and the speed of an object through the air is very difficult to judge, so this may or may not be accurate. I have also read a statement that the aircraft landed long, but going by the hysterical comments being made at the moment, that may not turn out to be true either. It may turn out to be 100% accurate - I'm just saying that even the qualified observers, such as an Indonesian Air Force Marshal, weren't in a position to make precise observations. All in all, though, if an aircraft runs out of runway, it's a pretty safe bet to say it was going too fast at some stage, even if that stage was the departure end of the runway.

Indonesia is reckoned to be the 12th most corrupt nation on earth, and the safety of an airline and the qualifications of aviation some professionals is often determined by the size of the bribe to the relevant departmental official. Which is clearly now working out not so good. The 737 is one of the most popular and safe airliners around the world - Indonesian airlines have lost five in three months.

"And then there is one who we understand, we haven't caught up with him yet, but we understand he just walked away from the plane and he's in a hotel in Yogyakarta."

Sounds like a film I once saw.

Update - this bloke has turned up.

Out of a jet crash and into a cab

My kinda guy. Way to get back on that horse.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

$6 billion on stopgap fighter plane deal

It's official - Australia will acquire (buy or lease) 24 F/A-18 Super Hornets - probably the F model which will accommodate a crew of two, like the F-111. Really, it was a two horse race - F/A-18F or F-15E Strike Eagle.

Empty Weight......13,864Kg.......14,379Kg
Max T/off Weight..29,900Kg.......36,000Kg
Max Speed.........Mach 1.8.......Mach 2.5
Unit cost.........$59M...........$49M

I'm sure there's more to it than these bare numbers, but I can't see why the F-15E Strike Eagle wasn't considered. I stand ready to be educated.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Ever cross the international dateline, and ask yourself, "hang on, how can we get there before we left?"

You're not alone. Even the Raptor's Flight Computer couldn't work it out.

Hattip to Neptunus Lex.