On July 28, 1935, the B-17 Flying Fortress took its maiden flight in front of a crowd of reporters eager to see Boeing’s new bomber. Arguably the most famous heavy bomber of World War II, the B-17 was primarily employed in the daylight precision strategic bombing campaign of the conflict against German industrial and civilian targets. It was considered the first truly mass-produced large aircraft, eventually evolving through numerous design advancements, from B-17A to G.
The Flying Fortress was a potent, high-flying, long-ranging bomber capable of unleashing great destruction yet able to defend itself. During World War II, the B-17 equipped 32 overseas combat groups and dropped 640,036 long tons (650,195 tonnes) of bombs on European targets (compared to 452,508 tons (451,691 tonnes) dropped by the Liberator and 463,544 tons (420,520 tonnes) dropped by all other US aircraft).
According to the 2008 North American Airline Satisfaction Study from the consumer research group J.D. Power and Associates, the leading factor for the decline in customer satisfaction was due to poor airline customer service.
The recent study found that customer dissatisfaction with the helpfulness and courtesy of flight staff, gate agents and crew was twice as large as dissatisfaction with pricing.Sam Thanawalla, director of the global hospitality and travel practice at J.D. Power stated:
“Passengers are being affected by the ramifications of carriers making staff cutbacks and have expressed performance and attitudes of airline staff are suffering.”
In the study, there were seven areas probed to measure customer satisfaction levels for traditional and low-cost airlines: cost, crew, in-flight services, aircraft, check-in, the boarding deplaning and baggage claim processes and the reservation and check-in process.
JetBlue, for the third year in a row, ranked the highest over-all, scoring well in six out of seven of the categories, while Continental Airlines and Alaska Airlines tied for first among traditional carriers.Continental continued a three-year streak among the old-line airlines.Alaska Airlines and Air Canada were only the airlines customer satisfaction scores increase, while all others’ score decline.
Online checking and airport kiosks were used by many airlines to speed up the check-in and boarding process and cut staffing costs.Alaska Airlines, a major carrier along the West Coast, has relied heavily on kiosks, as well as an automated baggage drop as part of patented system called “Airport of the Future.”Paul McElroy, spokesman for Alaska Airlines said, “It allows our customer service agents to handle twice the amount of customers than we usually would.”
The J.D. Power study found that more passengers were booking their flights online in 2008 than in 2007.Older passengers were more likely to prefer complementary meals, while younger ones preferred in-flight movies.Rewards program was also a contributing factor for the passenger’s preference of choosing an airline.
Six people were killed and one was seriously wounded on Sunday when two medical choppers crashed on their way to a hospital in Flagstaff, Arizona, air officials declared. The helicopters collided near Flagstaff at around in the afternoon (PDT), said Ian Gregor, a spokesman with the Federal Aviation Administration in Los Angeles.
Preliminary reports indicated that at least one patient was among the three people killed in a helicopter operated by Air Methods Corporation. The other four died, as well as the injury, occurred aboard a helicopter operated by Classic Helicopter of Utah, Gregor added.
A spokesman for the Flagstaff Police Dept. said two rescue workers were slightly injured in a secondary blast while one of the helicopters on the ground burst.
Boughner said the two helicopters slammed into a hillside covered with ponderosa pines, leaving a large field of scattered debris and causing a fire. The set fire to flame was approximately 10 to 15 acres, but was quickly contained.
Flagstaff lies about 75 miles south of the Grand CanyonNational Park, one of the largest tourist draws in the U.S., which attracts some 5 million visitors a year. Four people died last year with a similar accident in Arizona, when two news television helicopters ran up while following a car chase in Phoenix.
The SOHO spacecraft discovered its 1,500th comet, making the observatory the most successful comet detector.
The NASA/ESA Solar and Heliospheric Observatory made its historic discovery on June 25 that puts SOHO’s count ahead of all other discoveries of comets throughout history combined.
SOHO launched in 1995 to study solar physics and space weather, but its prime location between the sun and the Earth gives an excellent view of the space inside Earth’s orbit. The spacecraft records comets as they slowly lose ice and often disintegrate in orbit around the sun.
Roughly 85 percent of SOHO’s comet discoveries involve a collective of icy objects known as the Kreutz group. The comet’s offspring now pass within 932,000 miles (1.5 million km) of the sun, then are flung far out into the solar system on highly elliptical orbits.
After Typhoon Fengshen hit the island of Panay, Philippines, much needed relief supplies were delivered by sailors from USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) and other supporting ships, and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on June 26.
HH-60H Seahawk and SH-60F Seahawk helicopters from Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron (HS) 4, embarked aboard Ronald Reagan; SH-60B Seahawk helicopters from Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron (Light) 43, embarked aboard USS Howard (DDG 83); and Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron (Light) 37, embarked aboard USS Thach (FFG 43) made 19 relief sorties to deliver food and bottled water to areas most affected by the storm.
For the second consecutive day, a Philippine Air Force (PAF) C-130 cargo plane loaded with food and other supplies arrived at Santa Barbara airport in Iloilo. Two C-2A Greyhounds from Ronald Reagan also arrived, carrying water and rice.
In two days, Ronald Reagan has provided 28,128 20-ounce bottles of water and 9,000 pounds of rice for the effort. US and AFP personnel loaded the goods onto the helicopters for rapid delivery to the victims.
According to Rear Adm. Phil Wisecup, commander of the Navy ships, the relief flights will continue as supplies arrive from Ronald Reagan, the Philippine government and relief organizations. “We’re here as long as the government of the Philippines continues to request this support,” he said. “The Filipino people are our friends, and we’re trying to reduce their suffering.”
Airbus Military has rolled out the first A400M military transport aircraft from the final assembly line for the new airlifter in Seville, Spain.
The A400M incorporates materials and technology being used in the newest civil jets. It also incorporates features such as electronic controls, carbon composite structures and an automated handling system.
Airbus Military designed the A400M to be versatile enough to offer both tactical and strategic airlift capability. With a payload of up to 37 tons over ranges of up to 4,700 nautical miles, it is designed to carry all loads and vehicles in the European Staff Requirement inventory, serve as an aerial delivery platform and act as an in-flight tanker for both fast jets and helicopters.
The A400M is capable of carrying a 32-ton payload over 2,000 miles and can carry up to 116 paratroopers. It will travel at speeds comparable with jet transports both at low level and at altitude. It is powered by four new generation TP400-D6 turboprop engines developed, manufactured and supported by EuroProp International.
The world’s longest airplane flew for the first time on December 21, 1981. The An-225, built by the Russian company Antonov, was manufactured to carry the Buran orbiter, Russia’s version of the Space Shuttle.
The Antonov An-225 holds over 200 records, including the world’s longest airplane at 84 meters or 276 feet.
Other specification of the An-225:
· Payload: 250,000 kilograms or 551,000 pounds
· Wingspan: 88.40 meters or 291 feet 2 inches
· Height: 18.1 meters or 59.3 feet
· Weight: 175,000 kilograms org 385,800 pounds
· Maximum speed: 850 km/h or 530 mph
· Range: 14,000 kilometers or 8,700 miles
There was only one An-225 ever built, a second was started, but not completed.
China is expected to unveil its new turboprop plane at the weekend, with the aim of increasing Chinese world market share for propeller aircraft.
The Modern Ark 600 or MA600 will roll off the assembly line in the northern city of Xian on Sunday, according to China Daily. The new plane will be comparable to the Canadian Bombardier and the French ATR.
The first and only model of the MA series on the market is the 50-60 seat MA60. The new MA600 is lighter than the MA60, and thus consumes less fuel. It is also equipped with maritime survival functions for island countries.
The MA600 is scheduled to begin trials in September and will be delivered to its first customer next year.
China also plans to build its own jumbo jets to compete with Boeing and Airbus. In March, it launched a new aerospace firm charged with this task and has already started building a mid-range, 70-90 seat aircraft called the ARJ-21.
Trevor Paglen, a photographer, shot 189 secret spy satellites for his exhibit. But the fact is that, officially speaking, the satellites don’t exist. Satellites are just the latest interest of Paglen’s photography, featuring nonexistent objects. He snapped haunting images of various military sites in the Nevada deserts, “torture taxis” (private planes that whisk people off to secret prisons without judicial oversight) and uniform patches from various top-secret military programs.
Paglen’s projects are the result of meticulous research. He admitted that his photos aren’t necessarily revelatory. That’s by design. Like the blurry abstractions of his super-telephoto images showing secret military installations in Nevada, the tiny blips of satellites streaking across the night sky in his new series of photos are meant more as reminders rather than as documentation. Paglen stated:
“I think that some of the earliest ideas in the modern period were actually from astronomy.” “You look at Galileo: He goes up and points his telescope up at Jupiter and finds out, hey, Jupiter has these moons.”
Paglen also said, more important than the discovery itself, was the idea that anyone with a telescope could verify it and see the same exact thing that Galileo saw – an idea Paglen is trying to re-create in his own photographs. He said, “It really was analogous to a certain kind of promise of democracy.” Paglen sees a similar anti-authoritarian premise running through his own work.
Paglen says his most recent project is the culmination of close to two years of trial-and-error experimentation with astrophotography, untold hours of fieldwork and analysis, an ongoing collaboration with amateur astronomers and many nights in his Berkeley backyard and at California’s Mono Lake.
To capture his images, the researcher and “experimental geographer” employs a motorized mount with various combinations of telescopes and digital and large-format film cameras. Paglen uses spy-satellite data compiled by Ted Molczan, a renowned amateur astronomer profile by Wired magazine in 2006. The spy-satellite data were used to predict where a given “black satellite” will be in the sky. Then he decides how he wants to compose the image. Paglen says, “I’ll find where a star will be in the compositional plane.” “Then I’ll use one telescope, which is attached to a webcam, to focus on that star.” Paglen says he can get the telescope to swivel with the Earth’s rotation with the help of a computer program that controls the mount of the telescope and keeps it focused on the heavenly body. He then uses another telescope attached to a high-end digital camera for his deep-sky shots, similar to the rig he used for his desert shots. “I’ll see the satellite in the sky, kind of know where it’s going to be in the frame, then I’ll open the shutter and take a long exposure of the satellite passing through.”
Paglen’s interest in “black projects” of the government materialized while searching through US Geological Survey archives of satellite prison photos in 2002, wherein he noticed that many of the photo frames of prison sites were missing and some were heavily edited. Curiosity to fill those blank spots led Paglen to other mysterious subjects and turned a hobby into a full-time job, one with a particularly political stance. Pagan noted:
“For a time, people were getting arrested for photographing the Brooklyn Bridge.” “So to me, what it meant to do photography also changed. There was a new kind of politics to it – something that was very aggressive and dangerous – and a presumption that it would reveal some kind of truth or evidence.”
The satellite photos are an attempt to critique that attitude. In the last ten years, black military operations budget has more than doubled and the government continues to advocate secrecy of these operations, however, it can’t prevent interested amateur astronomers from calculating the orbital paths of spy satellites.
The SA Air Force (SAAF) has acquired a small supply of high-tech IRIS-T short range air-to-air missiles (SRAAM) to arm its growing fleet of Gripen advanced light fighter aircraft. The wikipedia says the processor-heavy infrared guided missiles cost €400,000 (Euro) each. It is not known how many missiles SA has bought.
The IRIS-T (Infra Red Imaging System Tail/Thrust Vector-Controlled) will arm the Gripen as an interim solution until a local missile, the Denel A-Darter, becomes available. Diehl BGT Defence, the company that manufactures the IRIS-T, says the Air Force placed an order for the weapons in late May through the Department of Defense’s acquisitions agency, Armscor.
The company says the missiles will be fully operational by 2009. The SAAF, at present, has 3 Gripens. 2 Gripens will be added by year end and to 26 by 2012.
SA is the 2nd export customer for the pan-European missile. Austria preferred the IRIS-T missile at the end of 2005 and received 25 in 2007. It is also in service with the air forces of Germany, Greece, Italy, Norway, Spain and Sweden, the countries that collaborated to develop the missile.
The IRIS-T will be on display at Africa Aerospace & Defence show, in Cape Town by the month of September.