Sunday, January 24, 2010

Reading and Writing...Volts and Bits

I was impressed with the mechanically-oriented Airframe and Powerplant classes, as discussed last week. While browsing the school's bookstore, I was also impressed with the texts for the avionics program. (I had originally thought they were included in the A&P program, but it is a separate track. (Many student's continue with it after the A&P I'm told).

I hadn't encountered anyone with the certification, but the The National Center for Aerospace & Transportation Technologies, NCATT ( (formerly called the National Center for Aircraft Technician Training), offers professional accreditation. (I don't think it's part of the FAA processes, yet anyway). The local school issues a graduation certificate, and then one can continue with the optional NCATT certificate.

Interestingly, it would seem both the A&P and avionics certification are increasingly helpful in a number of industries, as employers seek qualified candidates. The wind energy business was in particular pointed out, both for the A&P mechanical applications, and the electronic control and power distribution aspects.

The following syllabus is the one followed by my local institution, in the past it has been a four-term program, and the fifth term is an option for those pursuing the national certification.

Session 1 (15 weeks)13 credit hrs
Technical Mathematics3
Basic Electricity and Electronics3
Basic Electricity and Electronics Lab4
Introduction to Avionics3

Session 2 (15 weeks)7 credit hrs
Avionics Systems & Troubleshooting2
Avionics Systems & Troubleshooting Lab2
Basic Communication Electronics3

Session 3 (15 weeks)8 credit hrs
Wiring and Cannon Plug Lab2
Aircraft Electrical, Comm & Nav 13
Aircraft Electrical, Comm & Nav 1 Lab3

Session 4 (15 weeks)10 credit hrs
Aircraft Electrical, Comm & Nav 23
Aircraft Electrical, Comm & Nav 2 Lab3
Basic Communications Electronics Lab4

Session 5 (15 weeks)11 credit hrs
Principles of Avionics3
Certification Preparation for NCATT 13
Certification Preparation for NCATT 23
Global Professional Standards2

The reading list for do-it-yourselfers (and study-it-yourselfers):

Basic Mathematics for Electricity and Electronics ($219)

Grob's Basic Electronics: Fundamentals of DC and AC Circuits ($151)

Grob's Basic Electronics: Experiments Manual ($80)

Grob's Basic Electronics: Problems Manual ($77)

Avionics Training- Systems, Installation and Troubleshooting ($69)

Avionics Databuses ($127)

Introduction to Airborne Radar ($159)

Basic Communication Electronics ($69)

Aircraft Wiring and Electrical Installations ($27)

Automatic Flight Control ($117)

Avionics Troubleshooting and Repair ($46.50)

Avionics Systems: Operation and Maintenance ($25.50)

Aircraft Instruments and Integrated Systems ($120)

Avionics Test Equipment Handbook ($86.50)

Aircraft Electricity and Electronics ($106)

Some of these are a bit dated- going back to the mid 1990's (ahem). I suppose a large percentage of general aviation aircraft are even older, so maybe not such a big deal. Good reference material anyway. (The "Grob's Basic Electronics: Fundamentals of DC and AC Circuits" in particular looked like a handy starting point aspiring students and DIY-ers to become familiar with).

Things change- the textbooks, as well as the test equipment. Seems like all the Oscopes I see anymore are the digital LCD ones. (And just after I figured out how to set the clock on my VCR, along comes DVDs... "Just when you figure out the answers, they change the questions".

I've *almost* overcome that digital trepidation because of the multi-color traces available with Tektronix "Digital Phosphor Oscilloscope" (DPO) - and probably a lot of other manufacturers. Interestingly, Hewlett Packard is no longer among those competitors, having ditched the test measurment business with a controversial spin off (Agilent). No shortage of controversy at HP, for sure. Here's a link to some of the "real" stuff though.

As typical, Wikipedia has a nice article on Oscilloscopes. Scroll down a bit, and you'll come across the "Digital Storage" section, and note:
"The first Digital Storage Oscilloscope (DSO) was invented by Walter LeCroy (who founded the LeCroy Corporation, based in New York, USA) after producing high-speed digitizers for the research center CERN in Switzerland. LeCroy remains one of the three largest manufacturers of oscilloscopes in the world."
Intereseting- I though of CERN (allowing my crude translation of things backwards- Center of European Research into Nuclear Stuff- I guess they left the "S" off) as a recently developed organization, but it dates back to 1954. Lot's of publicity about the Large Hadron Collider.

I would suspect a certificate in Avionics might be a good resume item for these other high tech industries- wind farms today, fusion reactors tomorrow! (Unfortunately, fusion energy seems about as far off as the flying car...).

Of course, there have been a variety of approaches to the flying car thing. But let's hope that regardless of the industry they enter, our friends with avionics certificates can get their career's off the ground!

(Or at least into high gear- not reverse! :)


Phil Bell said...

I don't know if these new DPO'scopes are really made with Phosphor or not, but I have always likened the pixels on a LCD screen to elements of giant bionic fly eyes, and the ethernet as it's cyber-optic nerve, feeding a giant brain somewhere that can read minds. I know it's proposterous, but I use the aluminum foil anyway- just in case...(It looks better on some people, than others...).

Hint: what the government DOESN'T want you to know about (!!) -
"eye patterns":
"In telecommunication, an eye pattern, also known as an eye diagram is an oscilloscope display..."

Public Service Announcement.

Phil Bell said...

An interesting article on...eyes.

(Beauty is in the eye(s) of the beholder!

A friend had a bug-eyed Sprite, and several have had various Spyders- not quite the same thing...

(Food for thought- are all automobile "spyders" convertibles? A quick scan suggests so. Spyder = Bug Catcher = Open Top ??)

Phil Bell said...

Hi Gadfly,
"So, I would put my Gerstner tool box in the VW Van, and drive to my night job in Elk Grove Village, to work until about midnight as tool-maker and night foreman. Next morning, “repeat same”. On Saturdays, “flight training” . . . expected to get an hour or two in a Cessna 150, or other aircraft. Since Moody was part of Moody Bible Institute, of Chicago, every student was expected to have a ministry in a “skid row mission” or in a church . . . so I taught a Sunday School class. Homework was also required on a daily basis."

Whew!! I'm doing about HALF that much- and I'm STILL tired!

Phil Bell said...

"The A&P certificate is very worthwhile. After a few years the holder may want to consider earning a mechanical engineering or aeronautical engineering degree from a good, well-respected state university. I would suggest a mechanical engineering degree as if times are really tough it is easier for a ME to work outside the aviation field than it is for an AE to do so."

Thanks for the good advice!

I think aerospace companies would also benefit from requiring aircraft (flight) "ground school" for ALL the employees. I think it would increase familiarity with their own product, and the customers.

From what I've seen so far, the A&P "General" portion of the curriculum could be satisfied with an engineering degree- with a "credit by examination" to make sure. After that, there's probably little redundancy, or substitute for "hands on" time.

Phil Bell said...

Hello Sparky,
"There is no doubt in my mind that getting my A&P early in my career helped me out a very great deal".

I agree- I am working with several engineers that have A&P's, and I think it is a great advantage. And for pilots and supervision personnel as well.

Congrats on the 777 job- that's awesomely cool (right up there with being an astronaut in my book)- a fantastic career accomplishment.

Phil Bell said...

Hi ExperiencedAviationProfessional,

Thanks for the auction update- I don't know quite what to make of these EAC-newco/2.0 boys.

I'm not sure if it's auctioning off "surplus", or plundering the nucleus of what could be EAC-3.0 ??

Mixed feelings- glad to see the doors open, but would like for it to remain intact for a "real" (or real-er) owner (with D-E-E-P pockets, which is the only thing I see lacking with the current setup, but that's a big item) to pick up the pieces in a couple of years- and I'd like all the pieces to be there necessary for it to succeed, or at least make a try of it.

As it is, I agree with ASM (" lessen his expenses until they can off load...")

BTDT said...

Some comments on the LSA EXPO in Sebring since that has been brought up.

Weather and the economy played the biggest part in the show. Friday morning a rain shower line went through and dampemed things. Saturday was the big day but to me it still seemed like attendance was down over all. I get the feeling that the LSA thing is going the way of the Part 103 UL 20 years ago. Oh yes Cessna still touts their 1000 Flyswatter orders. But the numbers just still do not seem to be there with the total pilot population hovering around 600,000 for the past 7 years. Has the blush started to fall off the LSA Rose?

So Piper is now in the market. Looked at it and did a ho hum. Just another small overseas built bunch of metal with a Rotax. Also at around 10 AM this morning I dont think there were 200 customer types on site.More exhibitors standing around than customers.Numbers of aircraft exhibitors was down. Could be economy, could be a lot of things.

The Cessna hype was as good as ever to prove that bull crap still flows up hill. Yes they delivered one....but Oh BTW the next ones are going to be a little late due to the Yingling assemblers having to change control surfaces and some other touch up things. Seems to have something to do with spin recovery. So who cares about spins these days. You only need them to get a CFI. Current PTS for the Private does not even address the spin. The stall part of the PTS says something like"be able to recognize the approach to a stall and recover" so guess we dont do full stalls anymore.

Back to LSA things. Sorry but a Rotax just don't sound right when it comes to an airplane engine. And when I found out that sometimes during the pre flight when checking the oil level you have to "Burp" it. I decided it was back to the Continental C-85 and the sound of a real airplane engine on a 7-AC Champ. Oh BTW it is LSA anyways.

On the A&P part. Back in 1965 as a lineboy/CFI at a small airport the owner said that if I stuck around for 18 months I could get my A&E,(notice the E instad if the P). But I had a chance to fly a twice motored Cessna 310 and bending wrenchs did not fit into my plans at the time. But that changed later in life. Spent 18 months of "hands on" time restoring a B-17 and several B-25s in 85 and 86. Also got a type rating in the 25 as part of my pay. Then with the restoring of the Champ and other odd work got the additional OJT and did the A in 2006 and the P this past June. Only took 42 years but I got it.

Now I have to prepare for a big event next month. Even though I am an ATP flying as a Sport Pilot and have a current CFI I have to have a "Flight Review" to stay legal. Thats going to be a tough one to prepare for. Guess I will have to go do a little practicing on steep turns , APPROACH to stalls and other good things.

That brings up a point and lets all be honest here. When was the last time you did a steep turn 360 and rolled out and hit your prop wash??? In fact when was the last time you did it left and right and hit it both times??

All good liers go to the front of the line!!!

Just another Flying Old Fart.

Still the best jokes to play on a newbie student. Tell them to go into the shop or parts department and ask for 5 gallons of Prop Wash and 50 feet of Flight Line.

Yes I know it is old but it still gets a good laugh.

Phil Bell said...

Hi Floating_Cloud,

Thanks for the link to EAC v2.0 rent negotiations. (And for being an educator!).

"Mayor Richard Berry and City Councilor Trudy Jones have come up with an amendment to a lease agreement proposal that is being considered by the city council. The amendment states that for every ten workers Eclipse Aerospace hires, the city could give them one month of free rent. The company is leasing property from the city at the Sunport for $103,000 per month."

Sounds like EAC 1.0 math- spend 10 x $100K for employes ("burdened" rate) but get $100K back in free rent.

I wonder if that's what OldCo was doing! (And everyone wondered why they had 2000 employees- that would be 200 months- almost to the day they went BK! :(

Phil Bell said...

Hi Baron95,

"Well, Eclipse Aerospace is actually doing much better than anyone else here thought."

I have to admit, they're right on target- I figured 40 employees in ABQ. (But didn't figure on the 20 additional in Chicago-area).

I'm pleased that they're hanging in there; for all involved- it benefits the existing aircraft operators and employees now, and hopefully future employees and aircraft operators someday in the not-so-distant future.

Regarding your proposed comparison of "US network carrier fleets against their competitors.", and " you should mention that Embry-Riddle...", all I can say is

(Your spoiling the plot! :)
Why, it's almost like you were, ah, ?!?

(Well, I HAVE been sitting in front of this LCD display for a while...Say, where did that roll of aluminum foil go ?!)

Phil Bell said...

Hi Julius, Baron95, and BTDT (thank you for the LSA expo update!),

Question- why does eastern europe have all these two-seaters ?? (I've noted what seems to be a majority of LSA's are of Eastern European lineage).

(Speaking of jokes on newbies- I was so pleased when I "mastered" the first oscilloscope I ever worked with (at least to the point where I could turn it on and eventually figure out how to use it as a voltmeter). After a few weeks of struggle, and eventually modest victory, I was filled with satisfaction and pride when my coworkers scheduled me for my FCC Oscilloscope Operator Licensee test. I confidently strolled into the local FAA office (a bit perplexed, but figuring one government regulatory office was the same as another).

Speaking of "eyes"- I suspect the local oppomotrist got lots of visit from those with strained eye muscles that day (hyperextended "roll" muscles).

(At this moment, it just occurred to me how much money in the form of bets probably changed hands that day... :)

(Just in case anyone's wondering, there is NOT an FCC, or FAA, or NCATT, or anyone else, license for operating an oscilloscope. Afterwards, I WAS a bit sheepish about the whole thing, but dag nabbit- I was STILL pretty darned pleased with myself !! :).

Phil Bell said...

Still trying to get caught up with the mail. Thanks to all.

(Nine hours at work, pluse lunch and driving, and 6 at the classroom, makes for a L-O-N-G day! My humblest appologies. I swear on my Oscilloscope operator's license that I will get caught up this week !)

I appreciate the inputs- and read a lot faster than I write. (Just like I talk a lot faster than I listen- or think!)

ColdWetMackarelofReality said...

Baron, the issue with the C-162 is not Cessna's ABILITY, it is in the poor requirements for the ASTM methodology.

This is after all the same company that designed the Citation X which is, until the G650 enters service, the fastet civil aircraft in production.

The reason there are challegnes is BECAUSE the ASTM method is less involved than traditional Part 23 cert, the 'dinosaur' and over-engineered approach as descirbed by you in some of your own posts.

If Cessna was pursuing Part 23 cert for the C-162, they would have had to have been more stringent - it is madness to assume you will get a Part 23 design and test program for a plane that does not have those requirements. Should more of the things that make Cessna a successful design team been applide, perhaps, but they were not REQUIRED to do so.

This is the fallacy of an experienced Part 23 OEM bringing a lot to the LSA market, they can't afford to cross polinate too much.

So don't suggest that Cessna doesn't know what they are doing, they know what they are doing - they set out to design a clean sheet plane to the ASTM standards and do it for an investment they felt they could recoup - it is apples and oranges to compare that to their overall competency and their track record as the best managed GA company on the planet (IMO).

airsafetyman said...

"[Cessna] the best managed GA company on the planet"

Uh, that would be Dassault!

ColdWetMackarelofReality said...

Gotta disagree ASM. Dassault is a good company but nowhere near as well managed as Cessna.

Their product line is nowhere near as complicated or as far ranging, Cessna is the total package.

I have actually worked with Dassault (not with Cessna FWIW), so I have seen the insides, Dassault is a decent enough company, but the proof is in the pudding IMO, and Cessna has way more pudding.

airsafetyman said...

"I have actually worked with Dassault (not with Cessna FWIW), so I have seen the insides,"

I have worked with BOTH and there is no comparison, it is Dassault hands down across the board, in my opinion.

baron95 said...

Hi CW.

I take your point that it is hard for a Jet OEM to go build a LSA. The main problem is that they don't know how to do engineering on the "budget" (don't want to say cheap).

So Piper's and Cirrus' approach to resell an existing design has merit.

Having said that, regardless of if it is an LSA or part 23 piston single, you can still design, model, use air tunnels and make it spin resistant and spin recoverable, off the bat. There is nothing in ATSM that is incompatible with that. It is a more relaxed standard and testing requirement. Still many types have reportedly good stall/spin characteristics.

It seems to me that Cessna went into the C162 confused. Design to ATSM, test to part 23. This is fine.

The problem is that their aero design was bad from spin characteristics. Their first fix didn't do the job. Their second fix didn't do the job. They started to produce planes, and now post-production aero mods are needed.

I can't believe that Clyde could get good spin characteristics on C150 (and pretty much all the other singles) in the 50s, and the current Cessna designers can't get it done in 2010 in an LSA.

Seriously. The certification standard for LSAs and Part 23 should be mandatory spin resistant like the C350, except for aerobatic airplanes. But that is just personal opinion. Cessna's legal department my share that view, though ;)

We know how to do that.

ColdWetMackarelofReality said...

I'll defer to your inside knowledge of Cessna ASM, but from the outside on Cessna and inside in Dassault, that makes me wonder how Cessna can compete as well as it does if it is managed worse than Dassault.

ColdWetMackarelofReality said...

The reasons for why the 162 is not a 150 are many and varied Baron but in short, the requirements are different, the knowledgebase is different, and the tools are different.

The 162 is not to be spun because it has bad characteristics, same as literally dozens (if not hunderds) of other designs over the years. It is no big deal IMO.

airsafetyman said...

"how Cessna can compete as well as it does if it is managed worse than Dassault."

I don't think they really do compete; Dassault avoids the low end altogether. Then there is the ethics issue. I can't see Dassault hitting up their French province for tax relief under threat of moving their factory or of outsourcing their work to a Chinese outfit to build an uncertified product after laying off half their domesic work force.

ColdWetMackarelofReality said...

You mean like Dassault did with the DFJ unit in LIT?


airsafetyman said...

"You mean like Dassault did with the DFJ unit in LIT?"

I Have no idea what Dassault got with respect to its Little Rock completion center. Perhaps you can elaborate? Free rent for a year, like Eclipso is asking or a few million dollars not to move their center like Piper robbed from Florida taxpayers?

Interesting article in the Wichita Eagle on how Cessna is being forced to replace some senior executives with people from Textron with zero aviation experience, the better to hasten the move of divisions to Mexico and India and wherever. The Boeing fiasco was not enough of a lesson for Textron.

Shane Price said...


I'm curious. What is it that you've found, and why send it to me?

I still keep an eye on the 'old' address, at least for the time being...


Shane Price said...

Piper are 'outsourcing' their LSA.

Now that's a surprise.


Seems Europeans are almost as cheap and cheerful when it comes to building aircraft as anywhere else. That's a real shocker!

On a personal note, I'm just back from a short business trip to the eastern end of the Med.

Food was good, weather was poor, my golf was terrible and the flight was...


Enough said.


baron95 said...

CW, Not to mention Dassault's PROMISE to MANY countries to locally produce/assemble Rafales if only that country would buy some.

Most recently, and one that I'm somewhat familiar with is Brazil's FX-2 competition, where part of the "package" is local production.

Not that this is unusual or that there is anything wrong with it.

But ASM's contention that Dassault will not send work outside France is silly. Like they should, they will do what is needed to win business and maximize return.

In Rafale's case the desperation to find ONE (any one) export customer is taking their toll on the company's practices that is costing the French taxpayer's serious money.

For example, part of the "package" the was put together by the insistence of Dassault include France's commitment to buy 10 Embraer KC-390 transports. Shouldn't that money go to buying a few more A-400s instead?

airsafetyman said...

"But ASM's contention that Dassault will not send work outside France is silly."

Well, what Dassault airplanes have been made outside of France? Some companies such as Canadair and Mitsubishi may have the capability but I don't know of any Dassault aiplanes that have been assembled outside of France or built under liscense in another country?

Anyway, the argument was about Cessna building a cheap, uncertified, junker with underpaid Chinese labor as well having other components made in India or China expressly for the cheap labor.

gadfly said...

Phil . . . in thinking back on the scedule of those days long ago, the requirements were severe, to say the least . . . and even beyond what I shared (you have no idea). I do not recommend them to anyone.

But this I will pass on . . . for anyone, if you are serious about a certain goal, you must be totally committed to that goal, and be prepared to stretch yourself beyond anything prior in your life. And if it's only for the "imagined" income, forget it right now . . . you won't make it. In fact, I'd be willing to guarantee total failure. Oh, you may get a paycheck, but you'll hate every minute of it and spend your life looking forward to retirement, and die within the first five years, after. Big whoop . . . total waste!

The goal had better be for a higher cause than "money" or "fame", because there is to come a day of accountability, . . . that is certain.

If you love aviation, give it everything you have . . . and even that involves stretching your mind in every direction from meteorology to electronics to aerodynamics to metallurgy, to machining, to painting, to aircraft instrumentation, to . . . name your poison . . . it's all in there!


(If you don't enjoy any and all of that, get off the bus right now, because the aircraft industry already has enough of the folks that "put in their time" to get through 'til Friday, or the next pay check. Oh, and did I tell you . . . you probably won't get rich working on aeroplanes?!)

baron95 said...

ASM, why do you say that the Chinese folks building the C162 are UNDERPAID?

Do you have any info from them that they are unhappy or are being paid below their peers for similar work?

Are they less "happy" with their work than the union guys say in Detroit or Wichita or American Airlines? Frankly, the US union works seem to be much more pist off at life than the Chinese workers employed by IBM, Motorola, Nokia, Cessna Suppliers (no first hand knowledge).

Seems to me that there are more people lined up for those jobs at the going wages than there are jobs available.

By most definitions of labor supply/demand those folks are actually overpaid and their incomes are rising in China very fast.

It is a good thing, no? We get to fly a more affordable plane, while the new workers achieve higher consumer spending power and happiness.

Why do you seem to think that is bad?

What is your definition of uderpaid?

airsafetyman said...

So, Mz Pelton, howzit going? I mean with the Chinese Skycatcher and all. You were supposed to get the very, very firstus one in late 2009 and begin your flying lessons! O joy! Have you soloed that puppy yet? The Cessna marketing department has been a little quiet lately on your progress, maybe you could speak up directly? Some people thought the news was a propanganda stunt (oops - 'public relations communique') to quiet qualms of buying cheap, uncertified airplanes made by unskilled labor in a brutal dictatorship but, what the hell, a penny saved is a penny earned!

Tell us Mz Pelton when you go to the supermarket and the lady in line in front of you is a laid-off Cessna employee who is using food stamps to feed her family does it bother you? I thought not. Do let us know how the Skycatcher thingy is working out for you!

BTDT said...

As a FYI Mrs Pelton was at the Sebring EXPO. A Flyswatter was on disply but I do not know if it was hers'

Did not see Jack. Maybe he was over talking to the Piper boys.

baron95 said...


Mrs Pelton, tell Mr. Pelton to hire all un-employed people in Wichita and solve, once and for all the un-employment problem there.

Cessna can pay those folks to sit around watching TV while they wait for non-existent orders.

Cessna can raise the prices of all planes to pay the additional salaries and benefits for the workers to sit around doing nothing.

That has worked beautifully up the river in Detroit and across the pond in the Soviet Union.

It sure will work for Cessna and Wichita.

Oh, Mrs. Pelton, while you are at it, you should get all the people from Wichita to also boycott using cheap oil from the Middle East, fresh and cheap grapes from Chile, and cheap cars built in South Carolina. From now all, all items consumed in Wichita, should be produced in Wichita. That is how North Korea does it (except for the smuggling).

Good luck.

baron95 said...

Hey Shane,

What is not to like about this?

baron95 said...

And the award for obvious innovation that no one has done before this week goes to Air New Zeland.

For those of us that travel with companion and/or children in coach on long flight, it is a no brainer.

But Air NZ is the first to launch lie flat seating in Y.

I'd say it is better than F or J to make out with the wife ;)

About time.

Floating Cloud said...

Why on earth and oh my stars would I ever be caught behind or next to a woman in a line at the grocery store with whom has the most lowliest of jobs being an educator when I can fly my hubby’s flyswatter right over her for fun and games? WE can bring down a beach, a piper, even a boeing ---or two, all in one fare swoop or swat with our super deluxe sports Flycatcher that I’m dyin’ to fly, but it’s back ordered so I can’t try it on just quite yet. It really wasn’t the right color for me anyways, but, well, sigh, I can wait…. Who needs to worry about flying when WE the royal “we” and my husband can make a zillion airplanes for nothing with our Chinese friends who are just biting at the bit and making all the machinery for cheap – hey, NO Problem! And I can’t wait for Eclipse to come on board too. They are raren’ to go but first they have to make sure they wring everything out of the city of ABQ! And so they will, because that city is even willing to trade labor (that clean the decks) for free rent. THIS is a real innovation in China. Let’s see, 10 employees at less than American minimum wage at x amount per 70 hour week = 100,000 dollars free rent per month! They are even are willing to clean FIKI windows!

Mary Rose P.
I don't know why that poor educator doesn't get her A&P certificate. Oh, silly me I forgot she can't afford it! Pood dear!

baron95 said...

Nice analysis of our education system and global competitiveness on this blog.

But I still think this is a much better analysis.

airtaximan said...

"Mrs Pelton, tell Mr. Pelton to hire all un-employed people in Wichita and solve, once and for all the un-employment problem there.

Cessna can pay those folks to sit around watching TV while they wait for non-existent orders."

funny, I remember a time when BAron thought just circulating dollars a la VErn, was a GOOD idea...

This is exactly what Vern DID!

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

This last weekend, my wife and I drove a couple hundred miles from the Albuquerque area to Reserve, New Mexico, to attend the funeral of a dear friend. Mentioned earlier . . . I’ll skip the details of the attempted rescue by helicopter. As we passed the “VLA” radio telescopes on the “Plains of San Agustin”, we entered a different world. Turning south at Datil, NM, we made our way through the white-out darkness of blowing snow . . . almost “white knuckle driving” . . . watching carefully for indications of highway passing across desert or through forests, where a simple miscalculation would put us into a ravine, or into a mountain stream. Following the tracks of a single vehicle somewhere in the distance, we finally found the turnoff . . . maintaining forward momentum through forest and ranch-land, to park at our destination. For the next two and a half days, we lived in a land of cold, without running water, without power (except for brief periods with engine driven generator), using kerosene lamp-light, wood stove heat, and LED flashlights. Later, on the way out, we stopped at “Horse Springs”, for that single “window” of cell phone service, to make contact with folks back in Albuquerque. (The land lines still work back in Reserve.)

The power lines coming into New Mexico from the Arizona co-op were “down” in multiple locations, in high winds, and buried in eight feet of snow. You probably didn’t see this in the evening news.

The funeral, Saturday, in a bitter cold dark school gymnasium, in the town of Reserve (Population: 350), was attended by over two hundred people, for 2 ½ hours . . . for a man who touched the lives of hundreds of people. Restrooms “worked” for awhile, from the tall water tanks standing on the mountain like giant “golf balls on tees” . . . but with doors propped open, to allow the fading light to enter the dark concrete “ice” caverns. Heat for the service was “body heat” of two hundred people sitting in the dark concrete building. Let’s see . . . figure 50 watts per person times about 3.4 BTU per hour per watt . . . 175 BTU times 2 ½ hours times 200 people . . . we’re talkin’ close to 90,000 BTU’s during that time. That would be adequate for a small house for an afternoon, if the wind wasn’t blowing so hard. The burial was on the side of a snow covered hill, deep in mud, and followed by a time of visiting and potluck dinner, for a few dozen folks in the dead man’s home . . . with the warmth of the log fire.

Power was restored a day or so later, with a massive Caterpillar portable diesel generator, until the towers over the higher mountains could be repaired.

In this day of having everything at the flip of a switch, or the simple luxury of a flushing toilet, there is still the need for emergency equipment . . . including aircraft, that can move in and out of remote areas under extreme conditions. We see this in Haiti . . . and back home in the US of A. Thank God for something as ordinary as a “Sikorsky” helicopter, or a Lockheed C130. But these are getting “long in tooth” . . . opportunities are ever present for serious aircraft, beyond the “Flyswatter” and the so-called “fun jets”.


(‘Just thinkin’ out loud after seeing the need to use technology for serious purposes.)

julius said...


thanks for your latest summaries on how to become a hmmm certified aircraft technician!
My impression is,
first one has earn a lot of money before one may attend one of these courses or one has a sponsor.
Was Gadfly's boss exalted that he was working with reduced power?

But where does one learn how to work with metals, wood or composites - just the no so easy basics? In Dad's garage?


P.S.: In Europe there are some "LSA" (current mtow 472 kg including ballistic parachute) which are ready for 600 kg.

Cessna's skycatcher is "heavy" and inside noisy! If Miss Rose orders too many options, Mr. Jack will have to keep his golf bag at home if he wants to accompany his flying Miss Rose!
Is this the price for better "behaviour"?

gadfly said...

Thinkin' about the comments of KnotMPH, and the events mentioned earlier, our oldest grandson, who just graduated from the high-school in Reserve, NM, is now in Submarine School . . . and going on to Sonar School, having finished basic electronics. At Christmas, I "tested" him on the basics . . . E = I R . . . and all that sort of thing. (He "passed" by the way, and demonstrated to my old brain that some things a person can remember for over half a century . . . and longer.)

My ancient "Grob" Basic Electronics manual, written when vacuum tubes were king, sits near by on the desk.

It wouldn't matter if the speed of light was expressed in "furlongs per fortnight", the principles remain the same. Gain an understanding of the basics, and the transfer from one standard to another is not a big deal. Need help? . . . it's as close as an HP RPN calculator. Frame rate for video is 29.97 frames per second (go figure!, and solves problems if you're editing some video and you can't seem to sinc the sound with the picture) . . . pipe fittings for a Japanese CNC machine are the common "NPT" system, the same as in your own house plumbing . . . and I venture that setting up an oscilliscope to show a perfect circle, using sine wave scan rate and amplitude would work no matter what drives the image.

Don't wait for everyone to get together on a common system . . . it ain't goin' to happen. Learn the systems as they are . . . and get on with using them for practical applications. Conversion between systems is, quite frankly, the easiest part.


(And last time I checked, hydraulics and pneumatics haven't changed much in all these years.)

gadfly said...

julius . . . a person learns about "metals" and all the rest by buying up every opportunity, grabbing a book on the way to the "porcelain throne room", by taking any available course, even when it doesn't count for a degree . . . working in a machine shop, getting dirt under the finger nails, and seeking out the old "tool makers", and asking the dumb questions at every opportunity . . . and taking countless risks at being considered "stupid". Education comes at a high price, and I'm not talking about the money part.

Education is for the taking, provided you grab it at every opportunity. You may not get "credit" toward a degree, but then how many people do you know with "degrees" that are truly educated? Degrees are OK, but not essential.


julius said...


you are right - one has to take every chance!
But if one has to do something in time is there anybody who explains to a "sutdent" how to drill a hole in wood or metal?
Most of the "students" have to practice and to practice...

You know those simple exercises like: Cut 4 pieces of the same size out of a piece of metal, drill a hole in the middle of each of them - naturally not in one go! Then place one piece on the other adjusted to one side! Finally put (or try to put) a rightsized screw through these 4 holes. (I failed, when I attented a "free" course at the university! Ok, I hadn't any chance to practice at home.)

If one is working in houses - the 90° angle is standard and simple. But if the eyes say "No" - this does not fit ... you called it "art" - to find the right angle!

The fastest and cheapest way is using syllabi and teachers ... and then start with the appropriate tasks!


gadfly said...

julius . . . There is no hard and fast rule on how to learn to be a machinist or technician. In my own case, I was learning from my Dad and Grandpa from the age of about “three”. My first lessons were how stay back from gears and belts . . . by age five, I was allowed to cut wood on a band saw, and use a belt sander. And I spent a lot of time watching Grandpa and Daddy machine parts on a lathe and milling machine. And I learned how to build a house, lay bricks, wire circuits, spray paint, weld, solder, assemble instruments, design an engine (2 stroke), understand electronics, drafting, make wood patterns for aluminum castings, etc., etc., all before I left high-school . . . but almost none of that training was in school. (In “junior high”, I had one half semester of mechanical drawing . . . and basically reviewed the things my Dad had already taught me . . . but it was a fun course, and one of the few times I got an “A”.)

Even if you have a complete machine shop at home, an excellent way to learn is to work for a machine-shop, at any wage, . . . show a willingness to do anything . . . clean machines, sweep up the chips, etc., and make friends with some old tool maker and ask him to teach you the basics.

Over the years, I’ve hired many people . . . some with formal school training. The best learners didn’t have the formal education, but showed an eager desire to learn. And I’ve seen those people to go on to be the best proto-type machinists and tool makers of all. On the other hand, I remember an “A” student from the local vocational school (TVI), who had no understanding of the simplest tasks. And I also had a retired machine shop instructor that was completely baffled by the basics . . . both folks I had to “let go”, even after patiently working with them for a time.

Not everyone is “cut out” to be a machinist, engineer, or technician in the modern world. All the formal education in the world cannot give a person something outside their native abilities and/or understanding.


baron95 said...

Speaking of Electronics, Apple just announce the iPad.

Any bets on how long it will take for it to replace all the GA EFB and hand held GPS?

It is the only device with GPS and Compass and Accelerometers.

It is the only one with multi touch. Pinch to zoom in/out of an approach plate.

It is the only one with WiFi and Blue Tooth to download updates.

It is the only one with 10 hrs of operation and 1 month of stand by battery.

It already comes with 140K downloadable apps, including maping, navigation, weather.

That is pretty much the perfect handheld GPS and Electronic FLight Bag platform.

Lets see the EFB app - who is going to do it? Jeppsen? Garmin (will they kill their own goose or let someone else do it for them)?

The AOPA Directory app already enables you to download airport info and plates to the iPad TODAY.

Will this be another example of the computer/auto industry taking over GA products?

Will we pay $9.99 for a EFB app instead of $3,000 for a Garmin 696?


airsafetyman said...

You can take the Airframe or Powerplant written and practical test if you have 18 months of experience in either one, basically as a mechanic's helper, usually in a certified shop or repair station, or you can take both tests if you have 30 months of experience. The work experience must be acceptable to the FAA but that should not be a problem if you work for a shop with good relations with the local FAA District Office. Alternatively you can attend a FAA approved school. Ideally it would be a good idea to work for an shop while you attend school.

julius said...


education - at any level - is just a tool which naturally should be used.
If the formal eduction doesn't fit to a person - bad luck for the person.
But no formal education is no solution, too!


baron95 said...

Choice A - Study, work for 30 months of experience to be an A&P, where there are only like 500 places in the US you can work at, you need to take US Gvmt Tests and do US Gvmt paperwork if you work for the largest employers (airlines) you are pretty much guaranteed to have to work the night/overnight shift.

Choice B - Become an auto-mechanic, which pays the same or more, you don't need to take any US Gvmt tests or do US Gvmt paperwork, you can work at hundreds of thousands of location and eventually own your own business and you have 1000 more potential customer and only work during the day shift.

Take your pick.

Yep - thought so.

gadfly said...

julius . . . first, if the foundation of natural ability exists, along with the drive and motivation, you use formal and every available form of education to build on it.

baron . . . if money is the object, stay away from being an "A&P". But if you have a love for aircraft . . . stay away from it, anyway . . . unless you love it more than the money. Being an "A&P" is a good way to die "broke".


gadfly said...

“Back then”, almost fifty years ago, . . . Mr. Bob Mayhew . . . shop instructor at Moody Airport:

Sometimes, with a tear in his eye, he would recall his earlier days at Purdue University, when he taught shop and they had a “Waco”. Mr. Mayhew and I had sort of a friendly competition going . . . I helped him in instruction, even though I was a student.

There was the test of the “scarf joint spar splice”* . . . he did everything he could to make my “spar splice” fail along the glue line. He put the twist on it with all his might . . . and it splintered everywhere except in the “glue line” . . . I passed. He did the same with my oxy-acetylene welds in 4130 steel tubing . . . doing all he could to find a failure in the weld zone . . . Passed!

Ah hah! . . . he saw his opportunity. Timing two magnetos on an inverted Ranger six-cylinder in-line engine. I used .0015" feeler gages, and timed the engine “by hand” and “feel”. Now, Mr. Mayhew could show the class how much better our little “buzz boxes” (which we built) with two neon “nixy” tubes could more accurately time the engine. He clipped on the leads . . . pulled the prop back (to remove “back-lash”), and advanced it forward . . . both lights popped on exactly at the same instant. OK . . . too fast. Sneak up on it slowly . . . and again, “perfect”. Once more, slower this time (get one lamp to light a split second ahead of the other) . . . the “buzz” and “lights” came on exactly together. Mr. Mayhew ‘just shook his head and walked off. I had ruined his whole day!

Someday, when I catch up with him in heaven, maybe we’ll recall those times . . . but if we do, it won’t mean a thing.


*each student was given a piece of pine or spruce . . . 1 x 4 x 24 inches long. We had to saw the piece on the diagonal (with a carpenter’s hand saw) . . . with at least a ten to one taper (per “CAM 18"), plane and scrape the two surfaces absolutely flat (no sanding allowed, as the sawdust would weaken the glue joint), glue the taper back together, with the original consistent thickness of one inch, and at least twenty inches long after gluing. The following day, the instructor would put one end in a bench-vise, clamp on a double 2x4 on the other end, about four feet long, and begin twisting the “spar”, back and forth, to make the glue joint fail, anywhere. Sooner or later, the spar would split . . . and if the “glue line” failed, anywhere, before the wood tore apart, the test was a failure. A second attempt was allowed . . . and even a third. But failure of the third meant the student had failed the course, and was removed from school. There were no exceptions. The one student in our class that came close to failing the course was the son of a cabinet maker . . . but on the third try, he passed.

gadfly said...

Today at lunch with an old friend I asked about their aircraft . . . I couldn’t remember which. A “Dassault Falcon 200" with avionics “maxed out” . . . parked because of the economy.

Funny thing here . . . do the numbers of a “used” Falcon and you don’t do any worse than the overall cost of the little Eclipse, dollar wise, but in the end you still have an airworthy aircraft that does everything a personal jet should do, with “aplomb”. . . and talk about performance? Wow!

And I agree with the earlier comments: The parrot is dead!


gadfly said...

And yes, I know you can't buy a "new" Falcon 20 or 200 . . . the plane the competed against itself, since there was little if any reason to buy the next generation.

It may be some time before someone finally figures it out.


(Yep . . . even the French can come up with a winner now and then.)

airsafetyman said...

"you need to take US Gvmt Tests and do US Gvmt paperwork if you work for the largest employers (airlines) you are pretty much guaranteed to have to work the night/overnight shift."

Working for good FBO chains or large flight departments are good normal day jobs with weekends off, and are better jobs than the airlines, especially the last few years. Later in your career you can leverage the A@P to become a service representative for an engine or airframe manufactuer if you like. If you go on to become a mechanical engineer the experience is invaluable. Some bright cookies had rather be a mechanic working on airplanes with their hands and brains than an engineer sitting in a cubical with their CAD programs.

gadfly said...

One last comment for the day, lest someone get a wrong impression:

The "gadfly" literally lives on Social Security, and little else. I can afford to "look" at pictures of Dassault Falcon 200's on the internet, and can afford to print out a full color image from Wikipedia . . . but not much more. I'm satisfied to know that someone can enjoy these beautiful aircraft . . . and I'm satisfied to keep warm by a wood stove, and remember the brief encounters I once had with those that can afford such luxury. It is enough!

Today, I was once again reminded of the hollow pleasure that remains of some folks that once had the world by the tail . . . and wouldn't trade all that for what I now possess.


(And I'm almost ashamed to use the "Crippy Sticker", as we call it, . . . there are others that can hardly walk . . . to park close to the entrance of Costco in the handicap zone, as I attempt to maintain a semblence of mobility to buy a few groceries, now and then. I almost run into the store . . . and within twenty minutes, I'm thankful to have a cart to lean on. It's amazing the simple things that spell the difference between success and failure. Sometimes, just getting back to the car is enough.

Life is wonderful, provided you know where to find it.)

Plastic_Planes said...

Just catching up so bear with me.

The Sky Catcher at Sebring is Rose's. It is the first production delivered 162. The wings on this unit were built in the states. The fuse is Chinese, but it has a new tail that is the latest "spin-proof" design. The mods were done at Yingling in ICT.

There have been lot's of changes at Cessna. Rod Holter (VP GM Single Engine and Outlying Ops) has departed Indy for HBC. He'll be heading up the Manufacturing Ops there. Bill Boisture is cleaning things up a little. Ron Alberti (VP Integrated Supply Chain) has be put on "special Assignment" heading up the transition of work from Columbus, GA to TAM in Chihuahua, MX. In addition, he has been tasked to get the Chinese back on track. There's a new head of Finance (who came from Textron Finance), and a new VP ISC who came from Bell's Canada operation at Mirabel.

I expect more staffing changes soon. I expect Ron will announce his "retirement" sooner rather than later. I'd even go so far as to predict Cessna will be sold within the year. No insider info here - it's just that Textron has milked this (cash) cow dry. It's time for new breath to be breathed into the old girl.

As for me? Maybe Wichita? Savannah? Vero Beach? AbbyQQ?

Nah, not AbbyQQ!


airsafetyman said...

"I'd even go so far as to predict Cessna will be sold within the year."

Well, Imprimis bought Piper supposedly because of the PiperJet. Then Imprimis brought in a new Chief Financial Officer and the PiperJet immediately was parked in the back lot in the weeds. I think the "Piper Sport" is a marketing gimmick to sell the company, much as the previous owners used the PiperJet concept. I doubt if $3 has changed hands with the PiperSport deal, much less $30 million. Look for Piper to be sold also, if Imprimis can find a buyer. Maybe the Charleston pharma dude? Col Mike could write the communiques!

Floating Cloud said...

Plastic_planes says:

“Ron Alberti (VP Integrated Supply Chain) has been put on "special Assignment" heading up the transition of work from Columbus, GA to TAM in Chihuahua, MX. In addition, he has been tasked to get the Chinese back on track.”

NO, you have got to be kidding me! Chihuahua is a WAR zone -- plain and horrifically awful. “Task of putting Chinese back on track?” WTF?! S’cuese the French, but this man is in real trouble.

Why would any person EVER be put to task on this or either front, without real understanding and experience?

I am asking the same question all around me for many different reasons. Why are employees being asked the impossible? Is this abuse? And if so, are we willing to recognize it? Are we willing to stand up say so? Is the economy making the best and all of us part of serfdom once again?

Floating Cloud, just askin'

baron95 said...

About time some adult supervision brought in to Cessna. Someone here claimed that Cessna is the best run GA company, but I beg to differ.

They completely lost market share in pistons to Cirrus and Diamond. They bought Columbia but don't seem capable of selling C350/C400s against Cirrus.

But, they were excused because they were selling more jets than anyone. Sure, that looked good in the NetJets (et al) induced bubble.

But that is OVER.

And Embraer is a-coming into the heart of the Citation line. Legacy 500 just cut metal this week. Phenom 300 shipping, 100 Phenom 100 delivered last year. Gulfstream (trully the best managed GA company) is locking up the high-end.

Sure, while it was competing against equally mismanaged companies like HBC, Cessna looked good.

How will they fare against a reasonably competent company like Embraer?

If you don't believe Cessna's entire business is under serious threat, think again.

Better get as much of that production out of Wichita as fast as you can. Better get the CJ4+ done on time. Better shut down the frankenstein Citation lines quick. Better get used to selling Citations at much lower cost. Better get used to substantially reduced service revenues as fleet utilization will go down and early Citations will be parked in the desert or simply chopped off.

Welcome to 2010 Cessna. A great 1990s won't save you.

airsafetyman said...

Now, now, Floating Cloud, we must always do what's best for our companies in their never-ending run to the bottom. We are expected to wear shirts with the company logo, drink coffee from company cups, and sing the company's praises at every opportunity. If we must go to war zones, so be it. I was in the Ivory Coast once, just a week before the gomers started shooting and hacking each other! Haven't made it to Haiti yet but I imagine dealing with the Tonton Macoutes would be just the same as dealing with senior management.

'Duvalier employed the Tonton Macoutes in a reign of terror against any opponents... Those who spoke out against Duvalier would disappear at night, or were sometimes attacked in broad daylight. They were never seen again. They were believed to have been abducted and killed... Anyone who challenged [Duvalier] risked assassination. Their unrestrained terrorism was accompanied by corruption, extortion and personal aggrandizement among the leadership.'

julius said...

The parrot is dead - no question!

But there is still a pet shop where one offers some food for the bird - each package with a price tag of allegedly $150,000. The food consists of substandard FIKI and outdated AVIO NG 1.5!

AlL joking aside - is that the price for the upgrade?

After the auction it seems to be obvious that EAI has no money to start the production within two years.(Or did EAI retain some production parts for boutique shop business?)


ColdWetMackarelofReality said...

Congrats to OKB Sukhoi for the successful first flight of the PAK-FA/T-50 prototype.

Described as a true 5th generation fighter (doubtful IMO), first flight is 3 years late, but it is a good looking machine.

baron95 said...

Nice Milestone for Sukhoi.

The airframe will likely be excellent, the engines will be OK, question is, will they get a decent AESA radar and the rest of the avionics/datalink competitive to use it.

Either way, the USAF (but not Gates) is counting on this thing being declared "imminent" before the F22 line is irrevocably shut.

If I were Japan or Israel or South Korea, I'd send the signal now - sell us the F22E (export version) now or we will sign up for the Russian program.

julius said...


Nice milestone...

when will the a/c be delivered to the Russian airforce? In 7 years or 10 years?
Then the F22 will be an old bird unless there will be permanent updates or upgrades.
The F22 is ugly expensive - even in terms of US economy! We will see how much the Russian/Indian bird will cost and if it is much better than the F35!

What will happen if everybody has cheap "Stinger++" or cheap and easy to hide "Patriot++" systems at hand? Then one has to fly in 20,000 ft AGL instead of 15,000 ft AGL at day light etc.?

Think of Iran: The country spends a lot of research and tech people in nuclear sciences but has to import gasoline...


ColdWetMackarelofReality said...

The real question is does the PAK-FA have a future or is it just another in a long line of interesting but essentially one-off aircraft like the SU-37, SU-47, MiG-AT, MiG 1.44. YAK-30, etc.

Since we are slowly descending back into the Cold War, I am happy to see the outrageous claims coming from Komsomolsk-on-Amur, even though history suggests they will later prove to have been, shall we say, optimistic.

It is only with the threat of boogeymen opposition that the party currently in power here in the States typically has the testicular fortitude to invest in maintaining our edge.

So please Mr. Putin, talk this up and rattle your sabre some more, even if it isn't exactly true, we will all be safer as a result.

baron95 said...

My sentiments exactly.

I think, given that they have Indian money in it, they are one partner away from getting this thing actually funding.

If the Chinese get in, it will be a done deal and produced in volume.

It looks like a nice platform to lob BVR missiles.

But we will see.

Point is, it is not out of the question for two or three countries (some with a lot of money - i.e. China) to team up and get a plane up to challenge the F22 (to say nothing of the Typhoon and Rafaeeeela - yep the ones with the bad radars).

ColdWetMackarelofReality said...

Tranche 3 Typhoon is already scheduled for AESA and other upgrades, this MAY pull the schedule forward. Thrust vectoring is also already being tested for Typhoon.

Not as sure for Rafale, but it has always struck me as a red-headed stepchild 4th Gen fighter anyway.

Even with the combined resources of Russia, China and India, the likelhood of a true across the board challenge to F-22 is limited at best. Multi-national programs always add inefficiences and cause delays (just see F-35). Neither country will provide any technological advantage to Russia, only money.

Unless the BVR missiles can detect and track the Raptor, PAK-FA, like all other 4th Gen platforms, will fall before they even know the Raptor is there.

Sukhoi has obviously chosen simple LO and, presumably, supermaneuverability, rather than true stealth, so where the Raptor could evade even a good AESA radar, PAK-FA will be detectable much further away which takes away any parity it might have with Raptor in the furball.

The inflight video is interesting, PAK-FA has full flying vertical stabs which, coupled with the Russians great 3D thrust-vector nozzle technology, should provide some stupid crazy maneuveability, but the SU-37 was doing amazing things a decade ago - competing with the Raptor as a true 5th gen fighter takes more than AESA radar and maneuverability.

Indications are that the PAK-FA certainly will be the pinnacle of Russian fighter design, but I think it probably represents a 4.5 Generation platform, we'll have to learn more to see if it can accurately be considered a true 5th gen figher.

baron95 said...

All true CW.

But still, if it were built, with Russian tech and Chinese money and volume. It would be a pain in the ass for Europe and Israel and Japan to counter without the F22 (which they won't have if the line shuts).

I see the maneuverability as a plus NOT to dogfight the F22, but to escape SAMs and Air to Air missiles.

Even the USAF knows that the current AIM 120s get detected when launched by a good radar and/or a good infrared detector (which the Russians have).

With a good AESA on a PAK an F22 might need to launch from 30 miles away to avoid detection. If the missile gets detected say 20 miles out, that is a lot of time for a maneuverable jet to do its thing and beat the Slammer.

Hence our program to make the BVR missiles themselves stealthier.

And how many AWACs are in Europe? Like a dozen? If you use you hypothetical PAKs to get those out of the air - say losing 10 PAKs to take out an AWACs you can cause a world of pain to Western airforces.

90%+ from our advantage comes from AWACs derived airspace C&C.

Oh well - just games for now - will have to wait a couple of decades to find out.

baron95 said...

Oh, for those who like the courtroom drama, the Continental/Concorde trial starts on Tuesday.

Continental and its mechanics stand charged with manslaughter.

First trial I can remember where an American airline and its personnel will stand criminal trial for manslaughter as a result of an air accident.

Sad but true.

Phil Bell said...

New headline Tuesday AM.

Regarding the Concorde trail, I was puzzled, but yes, it is THE Concorde. Wow- almost 10 years (July 25, 2000) after the accident. Or what will be prosecuted as a non-accident (/intentional neglect...that sounds contradictory, but, well, you get the idea I hope).

A sad event, at any rate- the accident/incident, and I think also prosecuting anyone involved 10 years after the fact. I imagine the families of those on board are understandably adamantly insistent that it be prosecuted though).

Concorde Crash Trial

baron95 said...

The prosecution on the Concorde trial claims that Titanium repairs are banned. Is that a bad translation or is it so? I thought it was an expensive, but relatively common practice to use titanium from airframe repairs to prevent weight gain. I.e. weight of the titanium patch + overlaps + doublers + rivets is closer to original AL only structure, than if the repair patch was AL. Is that not so? Or is that just a military technique?

Second, the information that there has been 6 previous instances of 65 previous tire bursts with 10% (six) of them resulting in fuel tank perforation is shocking. I didn't know that - I guess we were lucky that more accidents like that didn't happen before.

Now - chances of a fair trial in front of the French magistrate are probably not too high. Column A - an American company. Column B - French Concorde engineers. Pulling the lever - French Judge.

Any bets on result?

Beedriver said...

I bet this is why the US airplanes have stopped taking severely injured Haiti people back to the US

therefor If someone is severely injured of course he/she will become a terrorist or become an illegal alien after being brought into the US

Business aircraft operators planning to assist directly in the Haiti relief effort are being alerted by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) that they are required to screen all passengers before boarding flights to the United States, as well as filing manifests and getting CBP permission before departure. That notification was issued earlier this week, in response to the ongoing airlift of supplies and medical personnel to the devastated island nation.

Specifically, CBP says no rules have been suspended for the effort and thus pilots of private aircraft are required to electronically transmit passenger and crew manifest information for all flights arriving in to or departing from the United States. Pilots of private aircraft are also obliged to take what the agency calls “reasonable steps” to prevent the boarding of improperly documented aliens at Toussaint Louveture International Airport in Port-au-Prince and any other ports of embarkation in Haiti and third countries.

NBAA has the CBP advisory at and

The Department of Homeland Security, of which CBP is a part, has the authority to use discretion to mitigate or waive penalties associated with INA section 273(a)(1) for “bringing an alien without a valid unexpired entry document,” but operators cannot count on getting such waivers.

For specific questions about documentary requirements, pilots of private aircraft can consult the Carrier Information Guide available online at

baron95 said...

Cool Boeing Video on 787 Stall Tests

gadfly said...

We’ll let the French Court wade through the evidence and legal issues of the Concorde, etc., but the subject of repairing aluminum with titanium brings to mind some pertinent issues . . . and I would like to suggest that we follow the issues with keen interest.

Back many weeks, we have discussed the issues of using carbon fibers in aircraft construction . . . and I brought up the necessary caution when using fibers that inherently have no “stretch” before catastrophic failure. Others also joined in with comments confirming some of the items of concern.

Some folks don’t like reference to the Bible . . . but I’d like to refer to a couple or more verses that have relevance to the subject, although the basis has nothing to do with aircraft construction. The Lord spoke parables, on another subject, that revealed a common knowledge fact of the ancients, that modern aircraft designers seem to have forgotten. Look it up in Matthew 9, Mark 2, and Luke 5 (the “Synoptic Gospels”). It was the same as when my wife asked me yesterday, “Can you repair leather with Super Glue?” And I said, “No, the Super Glue is too stiff and has “no give”. The Lord had better things in mind, but the fact remains that repairing old material, or wine skins, with new material causes the “old” to rip open, because the patch does not comply with the “old” . . . a soft old material needs something equally compliant, or “more so”, to make a viable patch.

Or, if that is too “new” for you, go back to Deuteronomy 22, and read the “Law” under Moses. So, in any case, this sort of thing has been clearly stated and common knowledge for at least 3,500 years. Amazing!

When “the wife” patches old denim jeans for the “grand kids”, using material from other old jeans, she inherently knows that the patch will not rip out the old. The same is true when someone makes a patch on an old airframe.

Now that you have enough “technical” information to deal with the present, apply it as you observe the outcome of the Concorde trial, and as you observe the problems that are sure to occur in the future of the Boeing “Dreamliner”.

And, while you’re at it, think about the fantastic uses of “Duck Tape” (and, No, it isn’t “duct tape”) . . . and why it works so well. Hint: It isn’t as strong as the original, but “complies” to the stresses of the repaired vessel, until it equals the strength required to complete a mission, or bring lives in danger back to a safe harbor. Now apply that knowledge to the needs of a carbon re-enforced spar, or wing, to prevent sudden and catastrophic failure. Hey . . . maybe some will “see the light”. And about now some will start arguing about using “duck tape” to build aircraft.


(Bottom line: the “patch” needs to be more compliant than the original . . . otherwise the “new” will rip out the “old”, and you’ll lose the farm. Got it? Great! . . . you’re on your way to becoming a successful aircraft designer.)

baron95 said...

Sorry Gad, I'm no expert, but I know enough to know the explanation is too simplistic.

Doublers, overlapping and load distribution are well known techniques to deal with materials of differing strengths, rigidity, properties, etc.

Carbon fiber spars and wing boxes are used routinely on aluminum and fiber glass wings -e.g. SR22 G3 and A380.

The fact that you use a stronger material for a spar won't make the weaker aluminum/fiberglass in the wing fail. There are well known ways to engineer the joins and engineer in the fail points.

As to field repairs, it is all in the design, fabrication and installation of the repair, more than the materials itself.

gadfly said...

baron . . . you obviously are a man of "theory", without practical application. May your tribe decrease . . . or get some practical experience.

There is so much more I wish to say . . . but me thinks it would all fall on deaf ears.


(Now, excuse me while I go out and talk to a brick wall.)

gadfly said...

For whatever reason, you have a chip on your shoulder . . . attempting to prove that you are right in whatever subject is current.

'Just for fun, why not contribute to a positive and constructive part or the discussion rather than "attempt" to prove something that few if any of us understand . . . that is, your point of view.

Who knows . . . maybe you'll develop a few friends.

Frankly, I'd hate to think that I had all the answers . . . what future in that? And if that were the case, we'd all be in trouble.

You see, There are many of us who come here on occasion and want intelligent answers, rather than snide remarks from folks that claim to know everything and yet seem to hold back those wonderful explanations on the final solutions.

A few months ago, there was "another", who promoted the little bird from ABQ . . . somehow, the two of you seem to be related.


You said, "I'm no expert, but I know enough to know the explanation is too simplistic." . . . in that, you spoke the truth, recognizing that in this sort of discussion, all attempts at explaining to "all", results in missing data and subjects beyond the reach of most. In lieu of that, how would you bring the rest into an intelligent discussion, with meaningfull results? Huh?

gadfly said...

The time was the late “1940's”. The war was over . . . and in our neighborhood we were learning about “Pride and Prejudice” . . . not the later movie and BBC series, but the real-life sort of drama, big time, but on a small scale. A kid up the block, there in Burbank, California, had an ego far beyond anything we had encountered prior to that time. Anything he possessed was superior to anything anyone else possessed . . . and he never neglected an opportunity to express his opinions to the rest of the neighborhood. It mattered not that “he” purchased something at a local store, at the same time another purchased the same thing . . . his was superior. The amazing thing was that he was able to convince others of this silly claim.

In the years following, somehow his existence disappeared from my memory, except that I figured he had a future in politics. On the internet, I have not been able to discover his “where-abouts”.

Today, even on this website, we seem to have the same sort of scenario . . . and at times, I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. Sixty years ago . . . and more, all that was accepted. But in the years between then and now, there is a certain expectation that folks will “grow up” and finally become adults.

It’s my problem . . . and I’ll go back to explore the true meanings of things like “adult” and “maturity” . . . and if there is such a thing as “growing up”.

Do you ever get the feeling you’re locked into some sort of “day nursery”? . . . and you must forever speak to a bunch of fellow inmates, that have not yet achieved graduation into the first or second grade? Now it all comes back . . . when the war came (1941), I missed “Kindergarten”, and now I must make it all up. Yep, that’s it!


(But I still remember that film, showing the hydraulic retraction of the landing gear on the DC-3 . . . and you thought that five-year-olds weren’t paying attention in class.)

gadfly said...

Confession of the gadfly:

When I watched the film about the landing gear retraction of the DC-3, I wasn't yet "five", I was still four years old.

'Thought I better get that off my chest.


(Accuracy is sometimes important.)

gadfly said...

Let’s keep focused, here, and maybe come up with something of value. Phil is about to bring us into something about the “Concorde”, and its demise. And I fully expect it to be fully profitable to follow “his” presentation, and where-ever it leads. Phil is doing his best to center our thinking on things that will further the success of aviation in general.

Thanks, Phil!

And yet woven within that fabric . . . wherever it should lead, there are underlying facts, clues, that should “tweak” the minds of engineers/designers/mechanics . . . that will enhance the next generation. And yesterday, I made reference to the “compliance” of a patch and attempted to expand your understanding of some of the problems of certain materials that may suddenly fail, without a “buffer” to prevent sudden catastrophic failure. And I made certain references to the Bible, and things of common knowledge, “way back when”, that most of you know by simple experiences in everyday life.

The subject connected with the “Concorde”, has nothing to do directly with the Concorde, but with a titanium patch on a different aircraft . . . and leads to the question as to “Why” would a titanium patch be unacceptable on an aluminum skin . . . or whatever. And we’ll turn to something as simple as simply getting “old”. And that leads to my own two feet. What?????

Old folks . . . I’m one of them . . . sometimes get “cracks” in the skin of the souls of my feet. They hurt real bad. And I don’t mean a “little bit bad”, but the kind of bad that can easily make a grown man cry. Real bad kinda bad. I can put some sort of oil on them, or I can put some “Super Glue” on the cracks, and ease the pain for a few hours. You didn’t know that? . . . Get old, and you’ll learn! But what’s the problem? The skin gets “dry” (Non compliant), and cracks open. Grossed out about now? . . . Stay with me . . . we’re almost there.

Brittle material . . . think “carbon fiber filament” . . . can easily crack and fail. It’s sudden and catastrophic . . . in other words, it cracks, you fail. Period. Fix it with something equally hard (Super Glue)? . . . Even if there were time, it fails even sooner.

You need something “compliant”, and not when the failure occurs . . . there is no time, etc. You need something that is built into the material, so that when the failure begins, the compliant material is already beginning to take the “stress”.

Earlier, I suggested things that I have personally done and found effective . . . as in fifty years ago. Nylon “fishing line” back then . . . I’ll not repeat the details except to say “it worked”. Today, I would suggest investigation of using, maybe, “Kevlar”, or even something else, woven in the carbon matrix . . . or maybe compliant layers of “binder” between layers of the carbon fibers. The possibilities are open . . . but it must be addressed.

Most readers will say “Huh?” . . . a few will say “Stupid, Dumb, . . . not needed!” But a few . . . a very few, will say, “Hey, that’s worthy of further thought” . . . and pursue it. For those “few” I’ll say, keep your ears and eyes and “grey cells” open and ready to follow the reasoning. You’re the ones that will make the carbon fiber thing viable. Until then, we must plod our way through the swamp of intellectual stupidity. But carry on!


gadfly said...

And, No! . . . I’ll not shut up. I care too much about the future of all aviation, military, commercial, general . . . and specifically each and every one that steps aboard a mechanical device to transport them safely between points “A” and “B”.

Who cares who gets the credit . . . all who travel safely get the benefits. That’s enough!

Here we have opportunity to share thoughts about technology, thanks to “Phil”. And what do we hear? We have snide remarks attacking each other over the most frivolous comments, without the slightest knowledge of the basics, and yet willing to denigrate another’s character over some silly trivial comment or detail.

Yes, the economy is in the “pits”, etc. And the future as of this week appears to be going “south” even faster than desired. But regardless of the stuff coming out of the White House, we may get opportunity to regain a claim on safe and profitable air travel. If, and when that occurs, you, who have influence on the design and manufacture of the next generation had better be fully informed, knowledgeable, and ready to hit the ground running . . . to design a fully functional and safe (in the full sense . . . we’re not there yet), modern aircraft that will make the “Dreamliner” an antique artifact of early flying machines.


(Yep . . . that’s me thoughts, and, for whatever they is worth, me thinks they have certain value. Hah!)

gadfly said...

Confessions of the "gadfly":

In case you hadn't noticed, today is "Groundhog Day" . . . . and what in the world is a "marmot"?

And frankly, Bill Murray reminds me of some of the folks that appear from time to time on this blogsite . . . but I digress.

“Groundhog Day” . . . a movie that says so much. Would that reality could be like the movie . . . and folks could somehow “learn” and somehow benefit from earlier life experiences. But real life shows a much different panorama of reality. Unlike life, the film runs from reel to reel, the watched for “spot” in the upper right hand corner of the frame tells the projectionist . . . ten more seconds and start the second projector. The second “spot” appears, and the audience hasn’t a clue that a second “reel” has begun. (And now you all know about that white spot that appears out of no-where, with another white spot a few seconds later, always in the upper right hand corner . . . and a projectionist somewhere up behind, watching and waiting for that perfect “timing”, to flip one projector “on” , and the other projector “off”, providing that both projectors have been perfectly framed and focused, on the screen, in preparation to that instant in time. At the first spot, the second projector is started, having been prepared with the first spot at the right frame. Giving the projector time to come to speed, a quick flip of one switch “on”, and the other “off”, the audience hasn’t a clue that the reels have changed. It’s an “art”, seldom appreciated by the audience. ‘Been there, done that . . . formally trained by the US Navy, to show such stuff on a submarine, in the After Battery, on a “diesel electric sub”, on a screen not even three feet wide.)

Groundhog Day . . . folks who never seem to learn, and repeat over and over and over the mistakes, the “bloopers” of the past . . . and go on to do it all over again. In the movie, Bill Murray is the hero . . . and finally gets it all together. But in real life? . . . It’s another story.


(If I were a betting man, which I am not, I’d bet that the lessons of the past will be learned again, at a hard price, by Boeing, and others . . . over and over. But for the moment, the trial of the “Concorde” fiasco, and related, may provide some entertainment . . . along with the Super Bowl. And will anything be learned? . . . Probably not!)

gadfly said...

A week or so ago, I had lunch with a long time friend . . . a man who manages a dozen or so companies, one of those companies has 700 employees who depend on his careful management, etc. This man has access to the finest jet aircraft in the world . . . but travels by commercial jet, because he recognizes his responsibilities to those over whom he has control. Not all with power and wealth are tyrants. Else, why would he have lunch with me?

The problems of today are obvious to anyone who has seriously examined/studied history. There are no new problems . . . not technical, nor political. The same old, same old spiritual/political/technical/personal problems are the same . . . going back millennia, to the beginning of time. The solutions . . . or to re-phrase that, “Solution”, remains the same, yesterday, today, and forever.


Phil Bell said...

New headline post is up!