Lightning Strikes Airplane – Clever Engineers Save the Day

Earlier this year we experienced a quite severe storm with thunder and lightning here in New Hampshire in the US. While this is not in itself unusual, it sticks in my mind because it brought a tree down on my garage. Fortunately the damage was only superficial, no one was hurt and it was repaired relatively quickly. However, since then I pay a bit more attention either during storms or when I read about the effects of them in the press.

airplane lightning strikeSo it will be of no surprise that a recent “lightning strikes airplane” headline caught my eye.

If you watch the video below, I think you will agree it is spectacular and also a little frightening, particularly if, like me, you fly extensively. Continue reading

Defense Technology and A Coat of Paint: The Difference Between Winning and Losing

Defense technology news has been awash recently with stories of the defeat of the Lockheed Martin F35 Joint Strike Fighter during a dog fight with a 40 year old fighter, the F16. Of course, such sensational stories are to be expected for an aircraft program that is under the microscope, particularly when it is alleged that the test pilot stated that the “F35 is at a distinct energy disadvantage” when it comes to maneuverability.

But just as quick was the response from the F35 team. According to the Washington Post, Pentagon officials pointed out that one of the key technologies that was missing from the F35 that was tested in the dog fight was its “special stealth coating” — or literally an extra coat of, albeit very expensive, paint. Continue reading

What do Facebook, Boeing and Raytheon Have in Common?

Apart from the fact that Boeing and Raytheon, like most companies in the world today, use social media and have a Facebook page, what at a core product level do these three companies have in common? Not a lot you might think. Well think again.

Facebook recently announced that it is building an aircraft (video) that has a similar wingspan to a Boeing 737. What is more, when flying at 60,000 ft. this aircraft will be able to transmit information over 10 miles using lasers to hit a point no bigger than a dime at a data transfer rate in the 10s of Gigabits per second. Right in the domain of expertise of companies like Raytheon. Talk about the convergence of the Internet of Things and the aerospace and defense industry! Continue reading

Composites? Not as Lame as Some Would Have You Believe

Like many others, I am delighted to see the progress made over recent years by some of the major aircraft manufacturers to deliver significant improvements in fuel efficiency and associated environmental impact. Popular media examples are the Boeing 787 Dreamliner and the Airbus A350. Improving the performance of aircraft like these involves almost every system and component of the aircraft from the engines, aerodynamics and aerostructures to the vast array of power, mechanical, pneumatic and hydraulic systems and beyond. It cascades from the OEMs right down through the supply chain.

At the recent Paris Airshow, some Boeing test pilots dramatically demonstrated exactly what can be achieved with these new aircraft. Breathtaking.These truly are game changing aircraft. Continue reading

Using ANSYS CFD to Analyze High-Lift Wing Design

Agastya ParikhFour years ago, as a high school sophomore, I began work on an independent project that explored ways to improve the performance of high-lift systems used on the Airbus A330-300. One of the biggest challenges facing me was how to best conduct experiments to assess the performance of the different designs. In prior years, I had conducted simple research on aircraft wing design and aeroelasticity using unpowered balsa models of the aircraft being tested. To employ this same method would be unworkable for the relatively complex systems of flaps and slats required by the Airbus aircraft. I would have needed to build a larger scale model or perform wind-tunnel testing — neither of which was viable because I did not have access to equipment of the complexity required. Continue reading

Landing Gear: An Aircraft System We Take for Granted

Watching the news recently I saw a video of an aircraft landing without one of its landing gear fully deployed. Wonderful job by the pilots and crew.

As it turns out, it is not that difficult to find other on-camera examples.

Continue reading

Icing Again? Did I Miss the Summer and the Fall?

Looking back at my blogs this year, in February I talked about the ANSYS’ acquisition of the assets of NTI, Inc, which now enables us to offer the most comprehensive solution for integrated aerodynamic and icing simulations. The picture I shared was of a typical winter scene at a New Hampshire airport — the view of the de-icing process from inside an aircraft. Then in April, with Spring very much upon us, I talked about the upcoming event in Italy in partnership with CIRA. I am very pleased to report that this event went very well with over one hundred delegates and speakers from leading companies such as GE, Safran and Airbus. Thanks to all our speakers and to all who attended. So why do I think I may have missed the summer and the fall? Continue reading

Springing into the Future of Aerospace Transport

The recent and very significant fall in oil prices has been very welcome as far as the cost of heating is concerned. Sure the days are becoming perceptibly warmer and there is a feeling that we have finally turned the corner from Winter to Spring. While I personally welcome the reduced expenditure, I am glad to see that this recent downward shift in oil prices has not caused the aerospace industry to lose focus on the long term, interconnected objectives of reducing fuel usage and environmental impact. Continue reading

DO-178C – Aeronautics Industry Moves To New International Software Safety Regulation

Embedded software in today’s aircraft is becoming continually larger and more complex. For example, the volume of embedded software in the A300 was a few thousand lines and it is in the order of 100 million in the A380. Moreover, a sizeable part of this software is safety critical. Hence, delivering certified code is one of the critical path design elements that is growing in significance. Continue reading

Don’t Call Them Blimps!

aeroscraft image

Courtesy Aeros

Many of us based in North America were glued to the screen recently to watch the annual Super Bowl event. Almost synonymous with this sporting extravaganza is the Goodyear Blimp. But this isn’t confined to the Super Bowl. You will find these lighter than air vehicles in the sky above almost any major sporting event around the globe. Not only do they add to the spectacle but their long loiter capability contributes significantly to the coverage we all enjoy. Continue reading