US safety investigators continued scratching their heads over Dreamliner’s problems.
After governments around the world grounded Boeing’s aircrafts following a host of safety problems, US investigators have found that excessive electrical voltage was not the cause of a battery fire at one of the faulty aircraft operated by Japan Airlines. Investigators are having trouble pinpointing the exact problems with the aircraft’s battery, which was designed by manufacturers from many countries. Their difficulties underscore the problems with airline outsourcing.
This robot is fly.
MIT’s Robust Robotics program is showing off its nifty new robotic plane that navigates itself. Using only on-board sensors, the plane requires neither pilot, remote control nor GPS. A basic Intel Atom processor powers the little self-guided plane that could.
MIT team leaders are hoping to eventually trick out the plane with independent mapping, according to Dvice.com. Then it could truly be an autonomous ‘bot that could fly into duty for military or rescue ops, the site explained.
While the technology has been used with slower craft such as helicopters, what separates this flying machine is its ability to maneuver with speed in tight spaces, according to the video (above).
“The reason that we switched from the helicopter to the fixed-wing vehicle is that the fixed-wing vehicle is a more complicated and interesting problem, but also that it has a much longer flight time,” Nick Roy, an associate professor of aeronautics and astronautics and head of the Robust Robotics Group, told MIT News. “The helicopter is working very hard just to keep itself in the air, and we wanted to be able to fly longer distances for longer periods of time.”
WATCH the plane buzz through an indoor parking lot with all the assuredness of a winged Mini. You can get all the technical deets as you go along for the ride.
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At-Home Flight Simulator: Air traffic controller and private pilot James Price has spent 12 years of free time converting the nose of a Boeing 737 into a full-on flight simulator in his California garage. Price did all of the simulator’s programming himself, and about 90 percent of the gauges and displays in the cockpit actually function. Price is one of only several in the U.S. to own and operate such a device.
Firefighting plane drops giant water bombs
In this video, the cargo sliding out a plane’s back chute are giant water balloons developed by Boeing to fight wildfires. Specialised air tankers containing fire retardant or water are typically used to control fires but the US Forest Service only has 11 available for use. So Boeing is planning to equip other aircraft for the task by loading them up with cardboard crates lined with biodegradable bags. Air resistance rips the cardboard lid off, tearing off strips fixed to the box and releasing water.
You can read our full blog post about the technique here.
The awesome Boeing 747 Jumbo Jet revolutionised commercial air travel. With more than 1,400 rolled off the production line to date, this select group is revolutionising the Jumbo’s life-after-flight potential, from environmental consideration to the world’s wildest recycled home and hostel.
The Jumbo Hostel
As airport hostels go, this converted 747 in Stockholm is definitely the most original, the most daring and the most appropriate for the setting. The decommissioned Boeing 747-200, which was built in 1976 for Singapore Airlines, has 27 rooms and more than 70 beds. All rooms come equipped with wireless internet and flat screen TV which can be used to monitor departure times for the airport – just a five minute shuttle ride away.
The Jumbo Hostel, which offers a 24 hour service, also has a cafe where guests and non-guests alike can buy breakfast, served appropriately on airline trays – but hopefully a cut above airline food!
(Image licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic)
After service with Singapore Airlines, this old 747 was operated by Pan Am and finally Swedish airline Transjet, which went bust in 2002. To convert the aircraft, the original interior was ripped out with 450 seats replaced by 76 beds. New decor and a shiny coat of paint later, and the Jumbo Hostel was ready for the most discerning of travellers. The pièce de résistance is undoubtedly the “cockpit suite”, a two bed room with ensuite and flight controls thrown in – just don’t raise the landing gear!
Want to check out the Jumbo Hostel for yourself? Watch the tour (above) and visit the official website.
The Smithsonian’s Revamped 747 Cockpit
When Washington DC’s Smithsonian decided they needed a 747 – the plane that revolutionised air travel – nose section for its new America by Air exhibit, the plan was to impressive visitors with a ful-size replica. But before the model makers had chance to go to work, Northwest Airlines called to offer the Air and Space Museum an entire Jumbo Jet. With not enough room for the whole plane, the front was restored and placed in the museum – this colossal nose section alone takes up half the room! But the rest of the aircraft wasn’t so lucky.
(Image courtesy of James Covington, Airliners.net)
Here it is, rusting away on an airfield at Maxton, North Carolina in September 2006. This 747-151 was the first built for Northwest Airlines and took to the sky in 1970. Its wings were clipped in 1999, with the aircraft reduced to scrap metal seven months after this photo was taken. The nose section was removed, renovated and dismantled into various sections for transportation to the museum. Visitors can now wander onto the top deck, check out the old fashioned analogue cockpit and wonder what can be found at the bottom of the elegant spiral staircase (fitted to the older Jumbos, as opposed to the more traditional straight ones of today).
Boeing 747 Restaurant
Like the Jumbo Hostel above, this 747 in Namyangju-Si, South Korea can claim to be one of the few – if not the only – restaurants created inside an entire Jumbo Jet – minus half of the right wing, which was cut off due to lack of space. Looking rather better inside than out, this photo was taken in November 2005, since which time the “restaurant” appears to have been abandoned. Dark Roasted Blend published a great article about this aircraft – the second 747 ever built and the first to fly commercially – with a spectacular selection of photos, which demonstrate what happens to man’s greatest mechanical wonders when left out in the rain.
Extreme Living: 747 Wing House Project
As far as “recycled” 747s go, the Wing House Project in Malibu is probably the greenest and most ambitious. The planning process lasted several years, partly because owner Francie Rehwald had to gain approval and special markings for recycled parts that could unwittingly be taken for an aircraft crash site! But approval did come and work on the green home – designed primarily around the aircraft’s two massive wings – commenced. In the true spirit of green living, none of the 747 will go to waste. Parts of the fuselage (see Alan Radecki’s picture, top) will become a guest house and art studio, while the nose section, pointed skyward, is to be a meditation pavillion. Join the journey vicariously via the video above. And don’t miss Alan Radecki’s series of retired aircraft that were not so creatively recycled. (More plane houses here.)
Boeing 747 Spare Bedroom Flight Simulator
Last but not least, this one may not be the biggest but it is no less ambitious. Once again, the parts are recycled and the result is probably one of the most incredible – and bizarre – spare bedrooms in the world – a fully functioning, homemade 747 cockpit simulator, with seats that look far more comfortable than the real thing! John Davis spent eight years and £15,000 building the simulator. It’s now proven so successful that John has quit his job as a graphic designer and now runs a full time flight sim business from his home in Coventry, UK.
The cockpit is made of wood with a main 12 ft x 9 ft screen and two 19-inch flat screens for the side windows. Microsoft Flight Simulator and Aerowinx PS1 take care of the visuals, while the autopilot system, throttles and weather radar were found online. The 747-400 cockpit simulator, which can recreate pretty much anywhere in the world, costs between £65 ($130) for one hour and £420 ($850) for six hours.
John has logged an impressive 2,500 hours on the simulator, and his wife has since moved out. In 2007, John and some mates embarked on a round-the-world flight in the sim to raise funds for his local Air Ambulance. In-flight entertainment came via a Scottish Elvis impersonator and the wife of one of the “crew” was on airline food duty. Urban Ghosts Media loves the simulator and wishes John as many landings as there are takeoffs! Read the full interview in Gizmodo.
A Boeing engineer said Tuesday that the company had projected a longer lifespan for the skin and the supporting joints of its older 737 jetliners and was surprised that serious cracks developed on one Southwest Airlines plane last Friday.
Paul Richter, a chief engineer for the older Boeing 737 models, said the plane maker had expected the parts to last 60,000 cycles of takeoffs and landings before cracks might form, while the jet that developed the hole on Friday had only 39,000 cycles. Southwest had done nothing wrong in maintaining the plane, Mr. Richter said.
He said Boeing had felt so confident about the joints that it did not even require airlines to inspect that part of the plane until it reached 60,000 cycles.