Sunday, December 13, 2009

First Flight of the Airbus A400M

The Airbus A400M military transport aircraft had it's first flight on Friday, December 11, 2009 (Thanks to Julius for the tip).
As an aviation enthusiast, I consider every first flight an "event" of sorts, and I'm sure the EADS (European Aeronautic Defence & Space, the parent company of Airbus.
The NYTimes has short article, mentioning $30B to go (for 180 aircraft, $166.7M per copy), and 2 to 4 years late, depending on what one reads. (The C-130J is quoted as $48.5M in 1998 dollars- So it's probably more or less, about half what an A400M will cost. The A400M is purportedly faster, and has fly-by-wire flight controls. And, I believe we had some discussion about this technology a while back: COUNTER-rotating propellers, as opposed to countra-rotating propellers- the inboard and outboard props turn in different directions, but there is only one "row" of blades. "Contra-rotating propellers have been found to be between 6% and 16% more efficient than normal propellers[1]. However they can be very noisy, with increases in noise in the axial (forward and aft) direction of up to 30 db, and tangentially 10db").

(The Airbus website has a photo of the flight deck towards the bottom).

The aircraft is being built at the CASA facility in Seville, Spain- here's a really nice overview of the CASA facility.

The A400M seems to drop right into the notch between the C-130J and C-17; generally it is touted as a replacement for the C130J, which itself is a fairly recent replacement, of sorts, for the C-130-everything else (mostly H's). While relatively speaking a technical success (eventually), sales have not been overwhelming. The US has been a reluctant customer (the first two customers were the UK and Australia).
The customer list for the A400M is dominated by Germany (60) and France (50), with Spain on tap for 27, and the UK signed up for 25 (same as their original C130J order). Some attribute recent (modest) foreign C-17 sales to delays in the A400M program.
I thought it would be interesting to compare the recent airlift platforms operated by the USA, including the C141 (finally retired in 2006).
The C130J is hard to pin down, I've used "standard" fuel (not including the 18000 lbs in commonly attached external pods, and the -30 length for an extra 15 foot of floor space).
(Ranges and altitudes are important, but have been omitted because they are just too variable, depending on load):

AIRCRAFT________ C-130J-30 __ A400M __ C-141B ___ C-17 ___C-5B
MTOW (LB)________ 164,000 __ 310,852 _ 343,000 _ 585,000 _ 840,000
EMPTY (LB)_________ 75,562 __ 154,000 _ 144,492 _ 282,500 _ 380,000
MAX FUEL (LB)______ 44,240 __ 111,333 __ 153,352 _ 243,134 _ 349,886
MAX CARGO (LB)_____ 44,500 __ 82,000 __ 94,508 _ 170,900 _ 270,000
CARGO (MAX FUEL)___ 44,198 __ 45,519 ___ 45,156 _ 59,365 _ 110,134

Obviously, aerial refueling is an important part of the utility equation when flying at the maximum cargo load with all these airlifters. (Throw on the typical C130 external tanks with over 18,000 lbs of fuel, and it's cargo payload gets cut almost in half too).

A limiting factor in a lot of airlift operations is volume, particularly floor space. The C-130's were stretched in Europe until the C-130J offered the 15 foot stretch from the factory. (Great for hauling cargo, but the extra length was a modest complication in "tactical" (read: short field) operations. The C-141 was stretched (and aerial refueling added) as a result of experience during the airlift to Israel in the 1973 Yom Kippur war. The C-17 has been mentioned as a candidate for a stretch too, although nothing has come of that yet. (Instead, it's the production line that keeps getting stretched out, for the past 3 years or so).

With cargo voume in mind, here's the cargo bay dimensions, with just the flat floor shown for "length" (not the cargo ramp, which is usable to various degrees).

AIRCRAFT_______ C-130J-30 __ A400M __ C-141B __ C-17 ___C-5B
LENGTH (FT)_______ 55 ______ 58.10 ___ 93.3 ____ 88 _____ 121
WIDTH (FT)________ 9.5 _____ 13.12 ____ 10.3 ____ 18 _____ 19
HEIGHT (FT)_______ 9.0 _____ 12.63 ____ 9.1 ____ 12.3 ____ 13.5
463L PALLETS________ 7 _______ 7 _____ 13 _____ 18 _____ 36
FLOOR AREA (SQ FT)_ 522 ______ 763 ____ 961 ___ 1584 ___ 2299

On the other hand, sometimes heavy items DO need to be carried, the M1 Tank being the flashiest bling-bling at most parties. The C-17 can carry one. I suppose if we just put the barrel of an M1 tank on the C17, it would remove the need to transport the actual tank itself. (Which is sort of what the AC-130 does, with the 105 mm howitzer). Or maybe just lower the back ramp and let 'em shoot from there- great fun! (Hey, if you can launch an ICBM from the back, why not?).

More pedestrian uses of airlifters involved the Stryker ground vehicle, which will fit inside a C-130, per design. (At over 22 feet in length, these are reported to be somewhat ponderous to maneuver in parking lots, but get great respect at the exit gate).

It looks as if one wishes to haul their Bradley Fighting Vehicle around, the A400M is a good fit.

(The 463L Pallet is an Air Force cargo standard, outer dimensions 88" x 108" x 10,000 lb capacity. These dimensions don't take full advantage of the A400M's width, so the fact it and the C130J-30 both carry seven is slightly misrepresentative- one of the items I read states the A400M has twice the cargo volume of a C130, but I suspect that refers to the 40 foot floor of the C-130J-10 and all the C130E and H's).

A400M "cutaway" view.
A400M First Flight Video
A400M avionic suite
Main Landing Gear Configuration
Who makes What
(Although I think South Africa has pulled out of the deal- odd, just five weeks before first flight...)


Phil Bell said...

Regarding stretched cargo planes, and strategic airlift, good reading- The Yom Kippur War, and the Airlift That Saved Israel, by Walter J. Boyne, c2003.

Let's hope the world situation will evolve such that military airlifters are used more for humanitarian aide and less for combat support.

baron95 said...

Congrats to EADS, Airbus and Europrop for the first flight of the A400M.

I think it is a very capable design - needs to be proven operationally.

But it will be a nice addition to Nata/European war lift capability and relieve the USAF of some of the missions that are severely adding cycles to our fleet.

I hope it can enter service in large numbers soon.

baron95 said...

Floating Cloud, the Amelia comments were not directly specifically at you.

In the field of Aviation, where men have no meaningful intrinsic advantage over women, celebrating the fact that a Women in 1932 flies from Canada to UK, 5 years after a man flies a longer root from NY to Paris in a much more primitive airplane, in a truly pioneering flight is sexist.

It was a feel good, maybe inspirational for women publicity stunt. She had a ton of "advisers" helping her plan/execute the flight, etc, etc, etc.

I'm sorry - that was not a pioneering moment in aviation.

What are we going to celebrate next?

The first black person to fly solo across the Atlantic? The first Senior Citizen?

Come on!!!

Was she a cheerleader for aviation? Yes. I salute her for it.

Was she a pioneer?


baron95 said...

Unless of course you believe women are that inferior to man in aviation and think it was a true accomplishment to execute a shorter flight, with much improved technology and many more advisors, many years after a man did it.

I don't believe that.

baron95 said...

Ladies and Gentleman... the 787 has flown....


At least the Nose wheel has left the ground.

The rest of the plane may follow Monday or Tuesday ;)

baron95 said...

And if you want to see it from another angle and hear the engines go to max power...

Despite all the problems, she *IS* a beauty.

baron95 said...

Scratch that - 90% chance of rain on Monday - won't happen till Tuesday the latest.

One more freaking reason to move Boeing out of Washington and move South.

Who the freak would choose to do flight testing in the rainiest region of the US.

Anyway - I forgot to mention - ZA001 *HAS* received the FAA Airworthiness Certificate.

Yes - one is needed prior to first flight.

It is *OF COURSE* an *Experimental* certificate.

Screw the Pacific Northwest weather - bring on global warming *NOW*.

baron95 said...

That should be Ladies and Gentlemen - The 787 *HAS* Flown.

I got too excited.

Actually, now that I think of it, it should be Lady and Gentlemen. I think we have only one member of the Amelia species here, right?

baron95 said...

And it looks like there is an AD preventing SR-22s to fly FIKI, until a lengthy inspection of their de-icing hoses. Seems like a few have been venting all fluid outboard.

BassMaster said...

How much of the 400 is made in the US?

Shane Price said...


Secretly, I've always been a woman at heart....


I think you'd be surprised as to how many female readers/contributors we'd had here and in our previous 'homes'. Some of the more informed and insightful comments have come from those of our species who multitask effortlessly.


How much of the 400 is made in the US?

Less than you'd hope, but more than you think, especially if you take the Wright brothers stance....


That airlift also turned the screw on the Russians, who could not believe how much material arrived in such a short timescale. It also proved how vital command of the air is in modern combat. The fact that the IDF 'owned' their airspace meant the Muslim coalition were unable to prevent reinforcement.

What we should also remember is the 1973 conflict persuaded both Israel and Egypt to talk to each other, and a lasting peace has resulted.

This proves that 'jaw jaw' is better than 'war war', as the old saying goes. Another is that generals fight wars, but politicians end them.

Best of luck to Boeing this week. It must be quite tricky to balance the commercial imperative to fly the bird, with the commons sense perspective that a serious failure could prove terminal for the program.

Hard one to call, especially in an era where the expectation of perfection is so embedded.


Shane Price said...

It's now official.

The Boeing 787 will make it's first flight tomorrow, Tuesday, at 1800 GMT (1000 PT).

I'm sure the weather will be just fine, and hope the flight will be incident free.

It's been a long time coming, and has seen several long delays at various stages. The initial decision to outsource almost the entire production process, together with new materials (for a civilian wide body) and a very high set of performance specifications were all contributing factors.

The upside is a fast, fuel efficient and (hopefully) comfortable long range replacement for all those aging 747's.

And that can't be a bad thing....


Floating Cloud said...

Baron et al:

There used to be several very knowledgable women in the aviation field on the old NG blog and I wonder where they all went? For those of you who missed the end of the last thread and wonder why Baron is having such a tantrum, here's why:

Floating Cloud said...

GEEZ, I am afraid as ususal you miss anything subtle. My comment/link was an acknowledgement and salute to all aviators in history and not just about Amelia Earhart. (And you, my dear, are one of them.) I did read her biography and believe me she WAS a pioneer for women - no matter how good or bad a pilot she may heve been. Without her exposes do you think Rita the Riveter would have ever existed? She gave ALL women during WWII the inspiration and dignity to roll their sleeves up and really make a difference
[in plain words Baron, BUILD airplanes] -- the world has never been the same. Gadfly, you above all would know more about this than anyone. Those butterfly pins say it all.

Floating Cloud

December 13, 2009 6:17 PM
Floating Cloud said...


That would be "Rosie" the Riveter. Rita was her cousin living in New Mexico working for the precurser to Eclipse. Mary Rose and I both know her...

gadfly said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
gadfly said...

A few women aviators and their pioneering accomplishments:

Madame Therese Peltier . . . first woman to fly an airplane, solo (1908).
Baroness Raymonde de Laroche . . . first woman licensed pilot in the world (1910)

Harriet Quimby . . . first American licensed woman pilot, 1911
Matilde Moisant . . . second American woman pilot . . . flew the English Channel in 1912

Katherine Stinson . . . fourth woman pilot in the USA (1912) and flew airmail prior to 1920 . . . she and her mother formed the Stinson Aviation Company . . . first woman to fly the “loop” and flew exhibitions in Japan and China . . . flew in France for the “Red Cross” and drove an ambulance. Her younger sister, Marjorie, qualified as the ninth American woman licensed pilot (circa 1915) and became a flight instructor for Canadian pilots.

Ruth Law . . . sets records flying between Chicago and New York (1916) . . . and flies airmail in the Philippines (1919)
Adrienne Bolland flies over the Andes in 1921
Bessie Coleman . . . first African American woman pilot.
Amelia Earhart . . . first woman to fly over the Atlantic (1928) . . . “Lou Gordon and Wilmer Stultz did most of the flying” . . . Amelia said she was just a passenger.

Helen Richey . . . first American woman airline pilot, 1934, Central Airlines

Betty Greene . . . first bush pilot for MAF, flying missionaries into remote areas (beginning 1946).


gadfly said...

Rita, my 100% Swedish wife (of 47 years), is "riveting", but never worked on an airframe . . . and is first generation Swede from Chicago.


Floating Cloud said...

Thank you, Sir Gadfly.

Your Rita is a lucky lady to have such admiration!

Please now back to 787s,
A400Ms and what one would hope more humanitarian efforts aided by airplanes.

Lady Floating Cloud

baron95 said...

Shane, *some* 787 may replace 747s, but most will be replacing 767s, A330s, A340s, early 777s in the long and thing routes or the high frequency routes.

Also, despite all these claims and misconceptions, the 787 does *NOT* have a "very high set of performance specifications".

Its performance target are in the range of a 20% CASM improvement over the 767 of 30 years ago, with half of it coming from engine technology. So about 10% improvement from an airframe over 30 years is hardly very high.

If a BMW car of today did no better than 10% over a 1980 one on (pick the metric) acceleration or fuel consumption it would be laughed out of the market.

ColdWetMackarelofReality said...

To put an end to this ridiculous auto vs airplane discussion let us look at the BMW M5.

Euro-spec E28 M5 (~'88) had 3.5L I6, 282 bhp, 0-60 in 6.2s, 153 mph top end.

Euro-spec E60 M5 (`'09) 5L V-10, 500 bhp, 0-62 in 4.7s, 163 mph top end.

In 3 decades one of the flagship sports cars for a premiere European mark has seen a 32% improvement in 0-60 times, by adding 48% in displacement and 77% more power.

I think that compares very favorably to the old dinosaur from the Pacific Northwest, especially considering the size of the vehilce, the investment required, and the certification hurdles which represent several orders of magnitude greater effort and costs than introduction of a new sports car.

Especially interesting when considering the fact that the 787 represents the worst management performance from Boeing, possibly ever.

While trut that some auto technology has crossed into commercial aerospace, the source of that technology has largely been the result of military aviation technology crossing into the auto industry. This cross-polenation has been going for ever and is nothing new.

The future of aerospace will not be found in cars - it has been and remains the other way around.

KnotMPH said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
baron95 said...

KnotMPH said...
A BMW getting 10% better mileage laughed out of the market is right. Private users don't care about mileage no matter what their mouths protest. The SUV phenom which BMW was happy to participate in, was touched off by the sub dollar gas of the early '90s.

My god - lets try...

So, you think that BMW started a whole new program of "Efficient Dynamics" as a joke?

That program includes:

1 - A almost 100% shift to low-lag advanced turbocharged engines from I4, I6, V8, V12 with DI, throtleless intake, etc.

2 - A total commitment to advanced, "clean" diesels.

3 - Electric steering, regenerative braking, alternator loading engine only during deceleration, etc.

4 - Introduction of Hybrids all the way to their flagship 750i.


Perhaps you didn't know that BMW sells their cars globally, not only in the US, including in places like the UK, with $10/galon gas last year, where a car (yes even premium cars) live or die on fuel economy alone.

The fuel consumption of the 750i hybrid is 45% better, adjusted for power compared to the 1980 7-series.

F O U R T Y - F I V E P E R C E N T

And according to you, they accomplished that because customers laughed at it.


baron95 said...

KnotMPH said...If one thinks a 10% fuel savings is not significant to air operations they have never worked in the industry

And who here, other than you, is having an argument over that?

Yes, it is substantial. But it is not the 35% CASM reduction that the 747 brought over the 707 over 10 years.

It is 20% over 30 years. And compared to its contemporary designs like the 77W, it is in the single digits depending on mission.

Yes. Very, very significant. That is why they sold 800 before first flight, but *NOT* "a very high set of performance specifications".

That gives the connotation that the 787 AIRFRAME design was introducing unrealistic performance improvements.

Quite the contrary, the improvements were in line with normal generation improvements for twin engine long range jetliners.

Nothing more, nothing less.

Try to read what is being said, before disagreeing.

baron95 said...

CW said...In 3 decades one of the flagship sports cars for a premiere European mark has seen a 32% improvement in 0-60 times, by adding 48% in displacement and 77% more power.

LOL - that really put an end to it.

Where is the efficiency? How many MPG do they both have? How about emissions?

How about the rest of the performance equation? How about internal space? Did the old M5 had SMG and traction control making the power actually usable? How would it fare on side or frontal impact?

It is like saying that 767 burns less fuel than the 77W. Duh!!!

Oh and that current M5 is on the way out, as in last year of production.

Seriously. Do the comparisson between the 80s 70series and the new 750i hybrid with 450HP (more than double), while having a lot more space, a lot more safety, a lot more technology, much lower emissions, AND it burns less gas!!!!

Why try to argue the obvious? Adjusted for performance, space, safety, comfort, car of today are incredibly more efficient (in terms of fuel consumption) than 30, 10 or even 5 years ago.

The argument is that it happened by accident or because customers value it.

The same is ABSOLUTELY NOT TRUE with airliners over their history.

For example, the move from piston to jet power came at a VERY STEEP decrease in fuel efficiency. So did the transition from turboprop to RJs in regional flying.

Of course there are many valid reasons for the change, but it has not been a linear, always improving progression.

When the Malibu becomes a Meridian, fuel efficiency plummets (even adjusting for power/performance), even though the Meridian is 20 years newer.

When the C421 becomes the C425 fuel efficiency goes out the window, even though it is a newer design.

Lots of things are valued by airlines on the 787 besides fuel efficiency.

There is the *expectation* that airframe maintenance and heavy checks will be less expensive. And over time the *hope* is that the electric systems will also save on maintenance.

Cost is much lower than a 772, due to production techniques and distributed supply chain.

There is the *hope* of higher residual values due to airframe/systems durability.

There are the better environment (inside the cabin).


But it would be a non-starter if it didn't also bring the table stakes fuel efficiency improvements.


The Sonic Cruiser had lots of the same attributes, minus the fuel efficiency - so it died.

KnotMPH said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
baron95 said...

Hey KnotMPH - you mix up so many things - I don't even know how to respond.

The numbers are the numbers as reported by car magazines, and our federal government. And the hybrid bit is a side note. The non-hybrid 750i is almost as efficient (while slower and cheaper).

The mild hybrid drive was applied to the 750i to make it perform like a V12 with small block V8 fuel consumption. For example, because there is torque assist from the engine off-the line at low RPM, BMW was able to tune the ICE to produce less torque at low revs, but a lot more power at the top end.

And yes, US drivers are using less gas per vehicle than we used 30 years ago. Even without adjustments for higher use, safer cars, better performing cars, cleaner cars.

And Mercedes and BMW do not need (up to now anyway) *ANY* fuel consumption targets in the US.

They gladly pay their gas-guzzler tax and their CAFE penalties so they can have safe, powerful desirable cars. But given the performance/content targets for a car, they try to make them as fuel efficient as economically viable.

The Smart car is part of the Mercedes group. It is sold by Penske in the US.

It sold very well in 2008 when gas prices shot up, then cratered once the gas price panic went away and the novelty factor wore off.

It will crater further once pictures of Smart cars being crushed by Escalades start hitting the Net and YouTube.

But hey... The GM lady that was heading Saturn (wonderful success) just got the job to head Smart sales in the US.

Lets see how she manages to sell a $15K car that fits in the trunk of a $12K Hyundai.

Good luck.

gadfly said...

‘Interesting perception by some . . . WWII and related (Did anyone here catch something when I mentioned Hermann Göring’s comments about what they would call him if the allies should fly over Berlin? . . . and what he said about the “Mustang”?) Shucks . . . here I thought I was being too obvious! We’ll leave it at that.

There was discussion about the ladies who drove or set rivets! That, too, seemed to fly about six inches too high for some. And maybe we can discuss at another time the “motives” of the ladies that drove to Lockheed in the middle of the night, for the “graveyard shift” (such as my own Mother, when my Dad had his first heart-attack at age thirty) to build the necessary equipment to keep up with the heavy demands of the time, having just come out of the heavy handed “cures” of our illustrious president, who thought he knew best. Those were hard times . . . and the answers were equally hard.

Well, the “gadfly” was thinking about some others who are seldom remembered from the “old days” . . . the “Munchkins”! Ah yes, the “Munchkins”, the little people!

Eclipse, with their so-called modern techniques used “stir fried” methods to secure aluminum panels in the wings. But what did they do “way back when”? The answer is that they employed “Munchkins” . . . the “Little People”. And No, Shane, I’m not speaking of those elusive Irish critters that live in the woods. After the making of the “Wizard of Oz” (with Judy Garland and her faithful dog), there developed a specific need for the “Little People”, at Lockheed and other aircraft manufacturers of the day. These folks, with their smaller than usual bodies, could crawl way back inside the wings and tight places inside airframes, “bucking rivets”, and doing things that some of us with oversized bodies could never do. The neat thing about the “Munchkins” is that they could intelligently inspect the final product, making sure that a crew somewhere over Germany, (or over the Imperial Palace in Tokyo) . . . maybe with Jimmy Stewart in command, need not worry about a wing coming apart . . . because a “Munchkin” had done an excellent job, as fine and as important as a “full size” “Rosie the Riveter” (or a “Rita”, whatever the case). Maybe some were known as “Rosita”, “Little Rose”! . . . or maybe “Pepito” (Little Joe).

Now, considering that the “787" is to undergo about five hours of flight test tomorrow, “weather permitting”, Boeing may prudently use another day or two in preparations . . . considering that I just saw a satellite image that seemed to indicate a rather large “low pressure center” off the coast in the northern Pacific. Or maybe the day will dawn “clear and calm”, and Boeing will go ahead with the long awaited flight. But don’t hold your “CO2" . . . trees are starving for your next breath (or are they overfed . . . Al Gore can’t seem to make up his mind).

So, in the mean time, we can consider the relative merits of the direction of rotation of the inboard and outboard “props”, on the new Airbus. The “P-38" once had an opposite configuration, and by the second “YP-38" settled on the final design, with “inboard prop” going “up” instead of “down” (just like we observe in Phil’s picture of the Airbus, #2, and #3 engines). A single picture is worth ten thousand words, if you understand a few things about what you’re observing.
Carry on!


(And you thought I was in the back corner of the classroom, catching some "z's" . . . or "zed's" to Shane and our friends across the pond.)

gadfly said...

The “gadfly” is supposed to be the old guy that can’t keep focused . . . remember? Well, you folks talk about BMW’s, etc., and I’ll admit (having owned two of them, but never again . . . can’t afford the “up-keep”), they’re fun to drive. But that blue and white segmented circle emblem should bring the discussion back on track . . . the symbol for a two bladed propeller, since the “Beamer” (or “Bimmer”, if you wish . . . one for the “cycle”, the other for the “car” . . . and I forget which) was originally started by Bavarian “Hill Billies” (according to a close German friend, whose brother was killed on the “Russian front” in WWII) back around 1913, building aircraft engines under license to Mercedes, because the folks at “Benz” couldn’t keep up their contracts. And after the “war” (the “War” to end all wars, that would become known as the “first” world war), the Bavarian “hill billies” turned to cars and shaft-driven motorcycles, etc., and eventually got into the jet engine business by the second big one. So, in a “round about way”, I guess all this “car talk” (not related to “Click and Clack, the tappet brothers”) eventually will come full circle.

Have you ever been a teacher? . . . I have, on many occasions and many subjects. It’s a chore to keep a class “focused” on the main subject . . . but it can be done.

The subject was “Aviation Critic and Enthusiast”. But to be fair, it is almost impossible to remain on target, without bringing all these other technologies into the picture, because as “humans”, we don’t simply design and build aerioplanes (Yeh, the “miss-spelling” is a “ploy” to grab your attention). When we come to work, we bring our families and all our interests, dreams, fears, with us. We are not machines, and buried even in the best of our efforts, we find remnants of all we are, or will be. That’s both exciting, and a warning . . . at least a “caution”, because whether we like it or not, the things we put into our work, our designs . . . the final product of our efforts will indeed affect the lives of those that put their trust in our efforts. For instance, by studying a design, I can very soon discover the honesty/dishonesty of the designer, and the company that manufactured the product. And it’s rocket science, no joke . . . we’ve seen that sort of thing with “O” rings and grooves, . . . and things that go bump on the launch pad.

Earlier, we spoke of women in the workplace, and their achievements. In the design of certain machines, I came across a serious problem in someone else’s design for riveting (speaking of Rosie the Riveter). It seems that someone in the past, a lady with her well endowed body, leaned over her work and got caught in a riveting machine . . . while putting together thermostats. So, when I designed and built the machines that replaced the earlier machines, I made completely sure that there would never be such a tragedy, ever again. This at first seems funny, but it wasn’t . . . and hopefully will never again become the “punch line” for a future comment.

Whether a “teacher” or a designer or engineer . . . it is paramount to “see” things through the eyes of the “other”, to understand the opposite position. A supervisor is just what the word implies: “Super Vision” . . . not to find fault, but to gain the perspective of understanding . . . and correct mistakes, of the mind or action, before they take place.

Well, there it is! . . . another “insight” to be considered, as we look into the things that will make or break an aircraft company . . . simple stuff that is often overlooked.


(And I wonder how Boeing addressed the problem of distributing the stress in their “fix”. And will it hold for the life of the wing.)

gadfly said...

One last comment about the “Boeing” thing, and related: In life cycle testing, there comes a time of failure . . . and that is a good thing. That’s what you want in such testing.

With Eclipse, we’ve been told that the “fixture” failed before the thing being tested failed . . . in fact, we have been assured that the thing did not fail . . . that the test fixture failed. That is not good.

The failure is desired . . . it will happen, and when it does, we want to study the failure, to know if it is suddenly catastrophic, or a gradual failure, that will allow a time for recovery or escape. This is critical in aircraft design.

There is much more that could be said about the failures out at “China Lake” in California, when the test pilots could not return to give a report about the conditions just prior to, and just after a failure . . . but that will have to wait for another day.

Bottom line: All humans need time to evaluate a failure, which will eventually happen, and have opportunity to make corrections to “walk away” from the final end of the progression of the failure. That’s the part that seems to be missing in all this assurance that things are under control . . . ‘just a couple years later than planned.

I’m not convinced!


(Hopefully, my comments are “on target”.)

KnotMPH said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
gadfly said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
gadfly said...


'Not quite sure of your question. In the case of Boeing, and in a much smaller way, the little "Eclipse", both have made their claims openly to the public. The two companies are not be be confused as to reputation, but in the sense of providing transportation to the public, at large, they both have certain severe requirements as to their repective designs and safety.

Whether a casual passenger, or a regular traveler, those who put their lives into the hands of designer/manufacturer/owner-operator, etc., must be availed of full disclosure of the basis of their trust, when they plunk down the money for passage, and put their trust in the claimed safety of that machine.

These are not in the category of a "racing machine", to be tested on the salt flats.

In the case of an individual customer, the agreements and disclosures are to be kept confidential between the two. But in the case of general or commercial aviation the picture takes on an entirely different aspect. And that's where we are, I believe.


BassMaster said...

As for the e500 fixture failing realize that the production tooling fixtures were starting to have their own migration of tolerances that began to cause many problems before the end.

gadfly said...

BassMaster . . . Yes, and that is all the more reason why the test fixture should have been re-designed and/or rebuilt, to determine the parameters of the airframe. There are no excuses for the final decisions made to release this aircraft (?) before all the "T's" were crossed, and all the "I's" were dotted.



Beedriver said...

It is interesting that the engines on the A400m have so many blades on the propeller that they look suspiciously like the unducted fan jets we saw years ago on a prototype jet.

is there any information out there comparing the unducted fans with the high bypass ratio fans used on the new airplanes. things like efficiency, max speed etc?

gadfly said...


Here's a good place to start:

It seems that the eight-bladed design allows the props to operate at or below 840rpm, keeping the blade tips well below transonic regions, the airflow over the wings smooth (without pulses), yet providing maximum thrust, or reverse thrust in short-field landings.


The Negativist said...
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julius said...


A400M first flight is history... B787 becomes top 1 on the agenda (but there the spring 2010 with 150%...).
Anyhow, good weather, good luck for Boeing's team!


P.S.: Fpj & tooling: interesting notes from Bassmaster...

gadfly said...
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Soccer Dad said...

For those that are interested, you can keep up with the 787 first flight Follow 787 First Flight

Mike said...

Wow, I noticed the performance numbers on A400M. Thanks for the link Gadfly!

Mach 0.77 @ 40,000 ft Wow!

I thought props have a hard time flying that high and that fast.

Looks like the engines on this bird have married the best of props (fuel efficiency and range) & jets (speed and altitude).

Would be interesting to see whether it has taken care of the other major prop issue:

The high vibration & noise compared to jets.

Sure hope this engine tech trickles down to GA fast.


gadfly said...

Mike . . . Right now I'm "glued" to the Boeing Webcast. But let's do some logical speculation about the props and rotational relationship, to see if we can understand how they have overcome the many problems related to vibration/sound, etc.

As we speak, the 787 is beginning to move.


Soccer Dad said...

And she is off - congrats to all of the folks who have worked hard to make her fly - beautiful sight.

gadfly said...

Did I just hear right? . . . Two T33 chase planes? The T33/P80 began life in the mind of Kelly Johnson in 1943, at Lockheed in Burbank . . . that's sixty-six years ago.

Well, it's off the ground with those beautiful little T33's on either wing.

It's difficult to say which was the most exciting . . . watching the 787 make it's first takeoff, or watching the T33's with nose high "attitude", attempting not to get ahead of the Dreamliner, as it gathered speed down Runway 34. The water-spray from the runway gave some added "visuals" to the scene.

There 'tis!


baron95 said...

Congrats to Boeing - Boeing 001 sqwaking 4717 is off runway 34 in light drizzle.

Hoping this is a safe and productive first flight.

Soccer Dad said...

Yeah, I thought the T-33's were a nice touch - and the visuals were pretty impressive. Beautiful airplanes all around!

WhyTech said...

"Hoping this is a safe and productive first flight."

Anyone notice what appeared to be an extreme amount of wing deflection? Perhaps just the camera angle but looked unusual. Or, is this part of the design intent?

gadfly said...

WhyTech . . . This is the design intent . . . part of new thinking with carbon fiber composite design. Early computer simulation showed this much deflection, carrying heavy loads. With a planned flight schedule today of well over five hours, they probably have a full, or "near" full fuel load.

If you go back in history and look at the first flights of the Boeing B47, you would also see wing deflection that was a new thing back in the early 1950's. And look at the wing droop of a loaded B-52, prior to take-off. (Also, look at the "wrinkled skin" on the B-52, on the sides of the forward fuselage, before the aircraft is airborne. 'Talk about the need for "life cycle testing" . . . think of the thousands of deflections in the life a an aircraft that might reach the ripe old age of a full century.)

Time will tell if the computer modeling is providing accurate data, applicable to the "real" world. Computers have been known to produce bogus results in the past . . . the jury is still out.


(And that's why we have "test flights" before the paying passengers come on board.)

Orville said...

"Anyone notice what appeared to be an extreme amount of wing deflection?"

I thought so too - especially considering it's lightly loaded. Seemed like even more deflection than I observed on the A380 landing at OSH - which everyone commented about.

Shadow said...

Orville, if it's lightly loaded then wouldn't that mean it's carrying less fuel. And fuel provides a wing counterbalance to lift, so less fuel equals higher wing deflection. Yes?

ColdWetMackarelofReality said...

Congratulations to Boeing for what appears to be a successful and safe first flight of the Dreamliner.

Now begins the hard work.

gadfly said...

Shadow . . . That is good logic and shows sound reasoning.

The next question I would ask is "does the wing conform to this same configuration throughout the many variables of load and speed?" Or what? And if so, why would one want a wing with a built-in arc? . . . as opposed to a more straight wing?

'So many questions, so few answers for us "outsiders"! But we'll still keep chipping away until we get an understanding of the reasoning behind some of these new designs.


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ColdWetMackarelofReality said...

FWIW, Boeing has a remarkable history of betting the house at critical moments and winning big.

Let us hope that this streak replaces the missed opportunities and outright poor judgement that has managed this program for so long.

I am with Gad on the concern about the long term ramifications of the wing fix.

We all know, as do the wizards of smart at the Lazy B Ranch, that you cannot remove an unanticipated stress that causes the kind of delamination observed earlier. A patch or scab-on fix only transfers that load, hopefully well enough that it can be absorbed by surrounding structure - otherwise, the cracks just start somewhere else.

Whether or not the Dreamliner flies again in the next couple days will provide some indication, as will reports of additional mods (or not) to ZA001's sisterships, as to the efficacy of the WTB fix.

I am crossing my fingers as it more than Boeing that needs good news, the American aerospace industry as a whole needs some good news.

gadfly said...
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julius said...

Did I get it right, Big Boss McN. wasn't around - just a BCA event?

Different styles at EADS and BCA:
The complete team in orange overalls leave the a/c or the test pilots ("captains", in fine dresses) are welcomed by BCA bosses after a fine landing while the rest of the team has to use the back door.

Hopefully it was a boring event where the test pilots had to perform the art of flying and the engeneers got a lot of good data for the next steps.


gadfly said...
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baron95 said...
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baron95 said...

Re Wing Load/Deflection - I don't know what the comments are all abut.

This is what the 787 wing will look like at +2.5G loading.

So, even if you saw (which you didn't) the wing tips higher than the tail, that would be normal under 2G or so of load.

Composites *DO* bend, you know.

baron95 said...

gadfly said...
Weather was "iffy" at best,

Seriously - when is Boeing going to move flight testing out of that miserable (weather wise) area?

baron95 said...

gadfly said...
As we know, there are goblins lurking in the closet, concerning the " wing fix", etc.,

Do "we" *KNOW* this? I don't.

The goblins are not in the closet.

The *BIG* one, is out in the open, and no one is picking up on it.

Do you know that Boeing just increased the MTOW (with an expected similar EW) of the 788 by the equivalent of 109 FAA-standard human passengers?

O N E H U N D R E D A N D N I N E people of payload.

That is *HUGE*!!!! 18,500 lbs.

I.e. the 787 BEW just went up by the equivalent of an Embraer ERJ 135 regional get.

That is a *HUGE* weight miss, for an aircraft the size of the 787 with today's modeling.


baron95 said...

I meant similar EW *INCREASE*.

baron95 said...

Gadfly, no-one can control "the press" anymore.

We are the press.

Everything you just typed above will show up, probably forever, on a web search on this subject.

Someone like us, just went on and updated the Wikipedia entry for the 787.

Any news organization that fails to address what the *Blog/Twitter Buzz* is on any topic becomes irrelevant.

The information pipes became a busted dam - water pressure is too high to be contained.

Was this a first? *YES*

The play by play that Boeing provided in their website, aimed as much at individuals as to their potential airline customers, is unprecedented.

It is one more example of the "press" or companies needing to get a head of the news or become irrelevant.

So programs like the 787 will continue to receive unprecedented play-by-play scrutiny.

Who knows how many wing redesigns there were on the 707 or 727 or 767. There was no play-by-play then.

Now there is.

baron95 said...

Back to ICEs....

Today Dr. Weber said that all eight-cylinder Mercedes-Benz models will be turbocharged by the 2011 model year and that includes the high-performance AMG variants.

All will use direct injection and most will be designed to integrate with hybrid drive systems.

These will all be good donor candidates for future AC piston engines.

BMW is already all turbo in all their V8/V12s, with their 4.4L Turbo V8 producing 555HP @ 5,000 RPM - you can buy these today, they are already on the road at over 125 HP/l.

For comparison, the excellent (I mean it), (T)IO550 on your SR22 or Mooney or C400, manages 34 HP/l.

That is right, a 9 liter engine, that delivers only 310HP (true at 2,700 RPM) = 34HP/l.

I.e. the BMW engine has almost 4 times the power density (per displacement).

Someone can calculate power density by weight. My guess is 2.0-2.5x.

Just a little measure of progress ;)

baron95 said...

Oh, did I mention that if it were tuned to run on unleaded autogas like the BMW engine, that IO550 would probably put out something like 270HP (give or take)?

Leading edge, hugh?

gadfly said...
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Floating Cloud said...

Gentlemen, thank you all!

It was a thrill to watch the 787 maiden flight today and I owe that real thrill to all of you albeit even with all your bumps, bruises, warts, and one-up-nesses.

I hope and pray for all the best for Boeing. Americans need a real lift these days! And today we all saw one. It was on all major newscasts by the way Gad. NBC, BBC, and those are just the ones I happened to catch.

People are excited! Isn't that wonderful?!

Floating Cloud

baron95 said...

What a packed day. Phenom 300 received FAA Certification today as well.

Legacy 650, 500 and 450 are next.

baron95 said...

What I want to know is what this new fleet of 77Ws, A380s, 787s in the hands of the likes of CX, SQ, EK will do to the likes of AA, DL and UA flying the decrepit fleet.

I took a flight on CX 77Ws from JFK to HKG - out on Biz, back on coach.

I have to tell you, even though it was a 16 hr, non stop, day time flight, it was the best airline experience I've ever had.

Some notable items, beyond the food, service, attractive/young/motivated/fit flight attendants.

Flight Crew - American.

Seatbelt airbags on every seatbelt. That is right.

Large screen on-demand AND 110/220V power port on every seat - that is right even coach. TV, Movies, from multiple countries available on demand at all times.

Every seat reclines - that is right even emergency exit seats.

No seat, even at maximum recline affects passenger space behind. That is right, seat reclines within a hard shell. No feeling knees in your kidneys either.

And best of all, I got my AA miles, which put me above 4 Million miles.

The fleet age of these international carriers is a decade or two newer than the American counterparts.

And lets not even talk about the AA MD80s and DL DC-9s.

The American airlines are an embarrassment for our nation.

baron95 said...

But in the not so good news category....

Hawker Beechcraft just lost 40% of their existing backlog.

That is right 40%.


NetJets, TODAY, Cancelled $2.6B in orders from Hawker Beechcraft.

That is the equivalent of 100 Hawker 4000 Horizons.

Not good.

Expect even more layoffs in Wichita.

airsafetyman said...

"BMW is already all turbo in all their V8/V12s, with their 4.4L Turbo V8 producing 555HP @ 5,000 RPM"

And how many hours straight can the BMW engine run while set at 5,000 rpm and producing 555 HP?

Also consider that you could not just bolt a prop on the Beemer engine; it would require a reduction gearbox to keep the prop tips subsonic.

Nagging little details.

baron95 said...

You are missing the point ASM.

The point is that year after year after year after year BMW engines get better SFC, better power density, etc while being cleaner, more reliable, etc, etc, etc.

That Lycoming engine on a Mirage is stuck in with the same reliability (or even worse lately), same SFC, same power density it had decades ago.

It is not about the numbers per se. It is about the velocity of the numbers.

Everything around you, from your cars, to your phone, to your computer, to the engines on your airliner, has had major improvements in performance, etc.

EXCEPT the engines and airframes on ownerflown GA.

Even your local DMV office is more efficient today, for crying out loud.

ColdWetMackarelofReality said...

Once again, Baron is ignoring all facts that do not jive with his viewpoint. There is no point in arguing it.

One could look to Mooney to show massive improvements in performance over the last 4 decades (range, speed, etc. nearly 50% better in some cases), one could point to glass panel Bonanza's and Baron's, one could point to Diesel powered Diamonds and Extra's, one could look to FADEC controlled Lycosaurus's, one could point out improved aerodynamics and materials in propeller design (MT specifically comes to mind), one could point out the cottage industries providing various speed enhancements as well as interior mods and avionics upgrades, one could point out the incomprehensible variation in production and sales volumes for auto vs GA, but there is an answer in his head that meets each point to his satisfaction. It is a waste of time.

The foundation of the difference is utilization and resultant wear, and availability of after-market support, all taken in context of the necessary burden of certification.

Cars and planes is an irrational comparison that can ONLY make aviation look ludditic and fixed in concrete. The closest comparison would be the grey and white market for high-end auropean sports cars and Barret-Jackson type collector cars - where you pay for numbers-matching and quality of documentation and proper care and feeding.

This strawman needs to be burned up and tossed onto the ash heap of history.

airtaximan said...
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airtaximan said...

... or Baron's own example of a 20 year old engine in GA now performing so well, they had to increase all the aircraft performance specs, just to comply. That would be the PW535 on the Embraer Phenom 300.

No radical technology, no disruptive BS... just good'ol everyday GA at work, amking incremental changes and improvements.

Baron has decided to hate GA, and somehow tries to fit round reality into his square hole, so to speak.

Truth is, GA is improving and making real world marketing and risk/reward choices all day long. none of the results seems to match with his view, so he trashes it.

Problem is, his arguments do not correspond... PLUS, he will never get his personal jet for under $1M... because it only makes sense for a very, very, very small market segment, and it relies on heavy production volume to achieve - volume that is simply not there.

He and Vern are a lot alike. Velocity of dollars are more important than results... or should I say incineration of dollars? Art for art sake?

Bottom line, the light jet category is taking a BIG beating in all aspects of GA, and the frax are a dead model. The charter fleet of mids and heavies are doing OK. One might ask, "why are the lights tanking?"...

There IS a reason... but it does not match the Baron's or the Ken's ideas, or VErn's for that matter... so the issue will be avoided.

I'll give you a hint, my Dad used to call a 2-seater, a "selfish car"

Beedriver said...

Before you throw too many rocks at the 50's piston engine technology you need to look at all the people that thought they could build a better engine.

None of the experimental automobile, rotary, converted auto engines, boat engines have shown the same level of reliability and power to weight ratio of existing engines. Porsche tried and failed. even Continental tried to build a modern water cooled engine and had to buy them all back.

four major companies have tried to build an aircraft diesel and all have had major durability problem and have such high power pulses that metal props cannot be certified. All are very overweight compared to the 100LL engines we now fly behind.

It is a very difficult problem to get 75% power continuously out of a piston engine for 2000 hours from an engine that weighs 2 lbs per Hp including all the accessories, engine mount propeller etc.

Potentially the new diesel technology used in Europe by Audi, Diamler, BMW, and Iveco might work to build an engine size, shape and weight competitive with existing engines but it won't be easy or cheap. The best estimate I have heard yet estimates it will cost at least 50 million to get it designed, tested, certified, and a production system set up.

Our present 100 LL engines are very good and very reliable even if they sport magneto's and crude injection systems.

Anonymous said...

This just in...

From the website of a prominent Albuquerque Auction company...

Former Eclipse Aviation Liquidation Auction, January 23, 2010 @ 9:30 AM MST ~ Albuquerque, NM

Warning! If you have never done business with the devil before, you will at these auctions. Thieves, liars, and scoundrels aplenty.

baron95 said...

You guys are just explaining WHY things are the way they are. No disagreements there.

I was just noting that they are as they are.

Personal flown GA is in a 40-decade rut and will continue to be in a rut until the cost/benefit starts to show progress.

Simple as that. It is a quadrilateral vicious cycle. Burdensome regulations pushing high costs, pushing low volumes, pushing lack of innovation, pushing lower volumes, pushing higher costs, ...

Beedriver, you forgot about Rotax. Terrestrial transportation derivative. Certified. Relatively high volume. Dominates LSA market. Certified. Supported. Light. Lower cost.

You also have to explain why a 1950s airframe/piston engine is so much better than a 1940 one, which is much better than a 1930 one, which is much better than a 1920s one.

That progress on engine/airframe in personal flown GA continued till about the 70s. Then it stopped. The number of new airframes/engines certified since them dropped to virtually zero. In the previous decades they were dozens.

Innovation gets owners excited. G430/530, G1000 and glass got owners into the upgrade, buy new mood. So did the Diesels (as bad as they turned out to be). So did LSAs. Every little innovation has a disproportional impact on sales.

Fractional Jet ownership, which was simply a marketing innovation caused a *HUGE* increase in Biz Jet sales - obviously with an overshoot and now a correction.

The opportunity to innovate on training, support, financing, airframe construction and engine technology is there.

But it is hard to crack, with the circle the wagons mentality.

It will happen though. And it will come courtesy of automotive and military technology. Be it $10 solid state automotive gyros or Military paid GPS constallations or UAV engines or Automotive Engine ECUs and turbocharging or low cost composite materials ans manufacturing technology.

Anyway - enough of that - either way it is a couple of decades away.

In the mean time - watch for more Wichita lay offs.

julius said...

I have to correct myself: Big Boss McN was around when the 787 made it's maiden flight.

Now the test business will start.

EAI is still quiet: no new customer communiqués?


P.S.: RiP got some pressure by NY judge

airtaximan said...

"The opportunity to innovate on training, support, financing, airframe construction and engine technology is there."

its all been done, and continues to be done, in GA. Innovation abounds.

You just don't like the results, becasue they are not directed at your end of the market. Too small, too unprofitable.

Your own point is that the PW535 is markedly improved... and this was a 20 year old engine, with upgrades... nothing radical or too risky, just innovation at work.

Good result.

Radical ideas, disruptive, risky, usually do not make it in GA. Same with new companies. There's a lot of competition and a lot of innovation in this market...

Michael said...


My comments about the amazing A400M turbo prop performance (Mach 0.77 @ 40,000ft), rightly got shadowed by the amazing Dreamliner first flight.

So putting it back here again.

Gadfly & others: So how did they manage to do this with a prop?

Is it a turbine innovation or has more to do with those cool looking props?

Imagine if they manage to apply this same tech to proven GA airframes like PC-12, TBM-850, or the Epic LT etc.

Wow, talk about disruptive tech. That for sure would kill the Citation and HB offerings.



gadfly said...

Michael . . . begin with:

There's some excellent pictures if you dig into this website. "Click" on the "plus" symbols to enlarge the images. Notice the "scimitar" shaped blades and think of "swept back wings" on most modern jets. Each blade is essentially a "wing", providing lift (thrust) in the direction of flight, dealing with the same problems of moving shockwaves back.

Also notice that the blades move together between each pair of engines, rather than the interrupted flow with conventional aircraft.

Bottom line: I'm learning along with you, and just as curious how they pull it off.


gadfly said...

Correction: I believe the swept-back leading edge is to place the leading edge "behind" the potential shockwave.


gadfly said...
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gadfly said...

Michael . . . Two things come to mind in the design of propellers: The first was one of my grandfather's first patents (of 29), No. 803,560 Nov.7,1905 "Reversing Propeller". This was in production for use with his early marine engines, allowing a "clutchless" change between forward (two speed), reverse (two speed) and "neutral", (using a single ratchet lever) while maintaining constant engine rpm.

[Most engines operate efficiently at a constant "rpm". The "Airbus" in question is merely using this principle to great advantage.]

The second was squeezing under rack, backwards on my stomach, in the "after torpedo room", climbing through openings in the bulkheads over the spare engine parts, cylinder liners, pistons, etc., and back into a tiny compartment located inside the welded up #7 main ballast tank, that we used for eletronic's parts storage . . . directly between the nine foot diameter twin screws (propellers) . . . and sometimes we would accelerate to "all ahead flank", and those two massive bronze screws would bite into the ocean at above 360 rpm and "cavitate". Being just inside the pressure hull, within maybe four or five feet of all this activity . . . sounded like being inside something grinding up massive granite boulders, as vapor bubbles formed and collapsed on the backside of the four blades on each prop. ("Flank speed" or "All back emergency" meant changing the four batteries, 126 cells each, from parallel to "series-parallel", 240 vdc to 480 vdc, to make a sudden dash of speed . . . called the "half-hour" rate, that would completely drain all 504 1,600 pound cells in 30 minutes, had we maintained that speed.

Propeller design, whether for an American submarine, or a high-efficient aircraft, is as much an "art form" as science. There are no simple formulas . . . there must be that human genius behind each of these problems/solutions.

"Fun stuff" offering challenges and rewards in the efforts.


(For those who are not interested, skip over my comments. But I learn by relating real-life experiences to theory, and I'll continue to ask the dumb questions . . . because that's how I learn.)

gadfly said...

In the early days, horse power of an engine was determined by taking a wooden beam, and a strap (often of leather, but not important to the results) wrapped around the flywheel that could be tightened while the engine was running. A distance out from the crank shaft, a “scale” was attached, calibrated in pounds. The engine was run up to whatever rpm was desired, the strap was tightened until further opening of the throttle, combined with smoke and/or fire, showed further abuse was not wise . . . or the engine could no longer “hold constant rpm”. The rpm (or "rps") times the distance from the center of the crankshaft to the scale (measured in feet), multiplied by 2 “pi”, divided by either 550 revolutions per second, or 33,000 revolutions per minute . . . and there it was, “Brake Horsepower”. (One horsepower being the equivalent of lifting 550 pounds a foot off the ground in one second, or 33,000 pounds a foot off the ground in one minute. Or, 746 watts, should you choose to make the electrical/heat equivalent.)

After things cooled down, another rpm might be chosen, and the test repeated. In time, a “torque curve” was established. And the maximum torque does not usually occur anywhere near the maximum horsepower. Today, of course, all this can be done in rapid succession . . . but the interesting thing is that the accuracy of “the old way” may in some cases be superior to the “new way”. Calculated horsepower is an entirely different animal . . . sometimes unrelated to reality.


(At least that’s how my grandpa taught me when I was a kid.)

gadfly said...

Now, let’s consider the Airbus thing . . . four engines producing over 11,000 hp each, turning 17 foot diameter props at 840 rpm. Unless I made a “booboo” in my math, at “rpm” these props have over 68,000 foot pounds of torque applied . . . each! That’s a bit more than either of my BMW’s ever produced . . . even on a good day. Or think of it for each blade . . . let’s see, 68,778 divided by eight . . . 8,597 pounds each . . . over four tons on each blade. You know sumpthin’ . . . a few pounds here, a few pounds there . . . before you know it, you’re talkin’ about a whole lot of torque.


(Don’t get excited . . . a congressman thought I said “pork”, and was already denying it!)

Beedriver said...

Baron 95

Bombardier can only build little engines. and in training all the people who run them continuously prefer good old 4 or 6 cylinder 360 cuin Lycomings or continentals

when Bombardier tried to build a real full size aircraft engine, the V300T 300 hp turbocharged liquid cooled v6 they failed terribly. Cirrus had one and they could not get ride of it fast enough. as usual Cirrus went back to the old reliable technology from the 50's, the 550 continental if you want information on that engine go the the August AOPA pilot and look at the article. as usual it sounded good on paper but when they built one it would not do what was needed and was no where near as good as the Continental.

Bombardier spent a lot of money and failed. Again it points out that the present engines we have are pretty well perfected for the applications we use them for.

Just like Vern did not know enough to know what he was up against so do all the people that say just put a reduction gear box on a modern _____ V8 or? and we can beat the old technology easily.

I have learned that when a lot of smart people have seriously tried to do something and failed (and bombardier has some very smart people) it is not as easy as it looks.

gadfly said...


If these wizards of the “new and improved” would have knowledge of the basics of machine design, they might study the output of engines, and note that although an engine might put out say three hundred horsepower for five minutes on takeoff, the life of the engine depends on possibly seventy percent rpm, translating to “real power” of probably no more than fifty or sixty percent continuous . . . which in the final analysis comes down to less than fifty percent actual stresses, etc., with huge differences in the actual stresses and wear of cylinder walls, bearings, heat-stresses, valve temperatures, turbocharger requirements.

The list is long . . . but the changes of a percent here, a percent there, gather up exponentially.

Almost all claims are based on “cutting edge” maximums, while the “real” designers/engineers must deal with the long-haul requirements, and never fall victim to the claims of the promoters.


BassMaster said...

How long will it take for the 400 to become a true competitor for the 130J?

julius said...



what about the gear boxes? How many percents are lost to reduce the rpm's? The heat must be dissipated...

The Russian Bears TU 95 is/was even faster. But what about cross wind landings - nearly imposssible!
See youtube:
Bear TU 95
or Aerospaceweb:
Data of TU 95


gadfly said...

Julius . . . you're right about the gearbox. However, the power was rated at the "shaft", so the losses may already be figured. But even at say 75% or so, that is a lot of power.


(For us it's a game . . . making educated guesses that may or may not get to the facts. Good exercise for the grey cells.)

airtaximan said...
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ColdWetMackarelofReality said...


The A400M will never be serious competition to the Herc.

Going all the way back to its origins almost 3 decades ago, yes that's right, 27 years - it was intended then to compete with the C-130, now it will, likely, be limited to EADS host nations and a few small countries.

Current order tally is under 190 since South Africa cancelled their order for 8 (almost 5% of the total).

On paper it is an impressive machine, but the primary reason it is 60 mph faster than the 130J is that it has nearly two and half times the horsepower (11,000 shp ea vs 4,700 shp ea).

I can hardly believe the thing is still alive as I recall when the original FIMA concept was announced (think I still have the Jane's All the World's Aircraft version with the original in it, circa '83 or '84).

The A400M is the result of significant political wrangling which suggests it will not live up to its' potential.

It IS a damn sexy machine though, for a transport, and having the second most powerful set of turoprop engines hung on a wing is pretty cool. I doubt anything will ever surpass the TU-95 in terms of raw power (come on, 15,000 shp ea, almost 600 mph, uh uh uh).

Michael said...


I am not sure if C-130 is directly comparable to A400 M in mission capabilities.

From Gadfly's link

A400 payload is nearly double that of C-130. 82000 lbs vs. 45000 lbs.

Cost is close to 50% more than C-130. $100,000,000 vs. $67,000,000


gadfly said...

Michael and "Cold Fish" . . . Ever so often an aircraft, car, or some machine brings together all the un-defined things that cannot be quantified with the numbers. The C130 is one of those things. It was most interesting to see two “P80" chase planes alongside the “787". And it was the C130 that took over the duty of “Puff the Magic Dragon” in Viet Nam, after the dear old “DC3" had initiated that function. How does one put those things into numbers?!


BassMaster said...

Thanks guys.

airtaximan said...

Bee's post is most interesting.

Everyone here is interested in innovation...

Some think Eclispe almost had it, and that this sort of newbee radical innovation is a good idea, and the same folks almost always trash the OMEs as dinosaurs.

They cite the fact that their dream amchine a $1M or so twin jet is not available, and they basically blame the lack of this result on the OMEs and the GA old guard.

I prefer to ask "why" before I trash... kinda like Bees post where he cites examples of failed attempts at more radical ideas in GA...

So, the Barons of the world would have you believe the OEMs are slothy risk averse lethargic companies, filled with no-minda who could find THE market opportunity if it was sitting on the tarmac right in front of them...

And I would propose that these gusy are smart, dedicated and well experienced. They can weigh risk and reward. The have been around for a long time, and seen and heard almost everything... all the BS

All the "why not this" or "why not that" are good questions, just because you lack the insight or forsight to understand "why not"... does not mean everyone else is wrong.

GA is chock full of improvements, and innovation. The conventional configs are the best for aero... and they have been imporoved upon.

The engine makers have done an excellent job of meeting the requirements, and THATS why its so tough to radically improve.

Bottom line, this is a tough industry to break into, precisely because the old guard are so good.

See all the dead bodies beside the road - those are your misunderstanders....

Beedriver said...

I do feel that the technology exists in the European diesel field to build an engine much better than what exists now. However just taking an automotive 4 cyl or V8 and repackaging it with a gear case will not work. too heavy and it is the wrong shape causing way too much drag. in addition they have no way to minimize the huge power pulses develop by a diesel that prevent any metal propeller from being used on the existing attempts to build an aero diesel.

Cirrus is an example of how to do it. you start with a few of the right brilliant people knowledgeable in the technology who will look to other people when necessary to help get the additional knowledge they need and a funding scheme that allows for a 4 or 5 year development cycle.

LYC and Continential will not do it because their owners only care about the profit next year and are not looking to invest so that 5 or 8 years from now the new engine will make them dominate the market. and provide a very profitable company.

It will not be cheap to do as some of the estimates I have heard say that an investment $50,000,000 will be necessary to develop, test certify and get the production system set up to reach a break even volume of 500 to 1000 engines per year.

There are something like 190,000 260 to 350 Hp piston 100LL engines out there and about 14,000 of them are rebuilt or bought new every year. A market of at least 10,000 engines per year at $80 to $100,000 per engine is nothing to sneeze at. that market of 10,000 engines per year is a business of $1,000,000,000 per year gross.

Phil Bell said...

Great discussion on many interesting topics on this thread!

I've been out of town for the past three days- still catching up and absorbing the ideas presented- wish I could think- and write- faster.

(I confess that is not an original observation...)


Phil Bell said...

New headline post is up!

Anonymous said...

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