Briefing: September 2018


Pilot Recruitment Efforts Intensify

With an expectation to hire 8000 pilots over the next 10 years, Delta Air Lines has developed new accelerated career-path options to help ensure it has plenty of applicants for those jobs. “Delta conducted several years of research to create a pilot outreach and pathway program that will inspire and attract the next generations of high-quality talent,” said Steve Dickson, Delta’s vice president for flight operations. The new Propel program will provide community outreach, mentoring, and scholarships to help future pilots launch successful careers.

New Designs Unveiled At Farnborough Air Show

The Farnborough International Air Show, held biannually in Great Britain in June, is always all about innovation, and this year’s show was no exception. Rolls-Royce revealed a hybrid VTOL concept with rotating wings that could carry four to five passengers at speeds up to 217 knots, with a range up to 435 NM. The design should be flying by the “early 2020s,” the company said. Aston Martin unveiled a luxury three-seat VTOL concept, the Volante Vision, completely autonomous and powered by a hybrid-electric engine. Boeing said it had launched a new division, Boeing NeXt, tasked to “advance next-generation airspace management and evolve the transportation ecosystem.” NeXt engineers will explore technologies such as artificial intelligence, airspace management for autonomous flight and advanced propulsion.

NASA Works Toward Quieter Airplanes

A series of flight tests has successfully demonstrated new technology that can create a “significant reduction” in the noise generated by aircraft operating near airports, NASA said in June. NASA’s Gulfstream III research aircraft flew at 350 feet above a 185-sensor microphone array deployed on the Rogers Dry Lake at Edwards Air Force Base, in California. The flights tested several technologies designed to reduce airframe noise, which is generated by the aircraft’s movement through the air, and doesn’t include engine noise. The airplane was fitted with porous landing-gear fairings, chevrons installed near the leading edge of the landing-gear cavity, and a net stretched across the cavity to alter airflow and align it more with the wing. The researchers also had installed an Adaptive Compliant Trailing Edge wing flap, which had previously been flight-tested. The tests showed a 70 percent reduction in airframe noise during landing, NASA said.

Opener Introduces Blackfly Ultralight eVTOL

After nine years of covert development and testing, California-based Opener Inc. in July revealed an ultralight all-electric vertical take-off and landing aircraft. According to the company, the amphibious BlackFly has already completed more than 1000 flights and flown over 10,000 miles. The airplane has a small canopied cockpit for the pilot, and two rotating wings placed fore and aft. It has no landing gear but touches down on its belly. The aircraft has a range of up to 25 miles, and a top speed of about 70 knots, though FAA regulations limit operations to 55 knots.

Boeing Unveils Hypersonic Concept

Boeing engineers are working on a design for a hypersonic airliner that could travel at speeds up to Mach 5 at altitudes up to 95,000 feet, the company said in June. The aircraft would cross the Atlantic in about two hours, and the Pacific in about three. “We’re excited about the potential of hypersonic technology to connect the world faster than ever before,” said Kevin Bowcutt, Boeing’s chief scientist of hypersonics. First flight for the concept is still 20 to 30 years away, Bowcutt said.


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