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New Rules for Small Unmanned Aircraft

Posted by Omar Bilonashvili on February 16, 2015 at 11:50 AM Comments comments (0)

  The Department of Transportation’s FAA today proposed a framework of regulations that would allow routine use of certain small unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) in today’s aviation system, while maintaining flexibility to accommodate future technological innovations.

The FAA proposal offers safety rules for small UAS (under 55 pounds) conducting non-recreational operations. The rule would limit flights to daylight and visual-line-of-sight operations. It also addresses height restrictions, operator certification, optional use of a visual observer, aircraft registration and marking, and operational limits.

The proposed rule also includes extensive discussion of the possibility of an additional, more flexible framework for “micro” UAS under 4.4 pounds. The FAA is asking the public to comment on this possible classification to determine whether it should include this option as part of a final rule. The FAA is also asking for comment about how the agency can further leverage the UAS test site program and an upcoming UAS Center of Excellence to further spur innovation at “innovation zones.”

The public will be able to comment on the proposed regulation for 60 days from the date of publication in the Federal Register, which can be found at Separate from this proposal, the FAA intends to hold public meetings to discuss innovation and opportunities at the test sites and Center of Excellence. These meetings will be announced in a future Federal Register notice.

“Technology is advancing at an unprecedented pace and this milestone allows federal regulations and the use of our national airspace to evolve to safely accommodate innovation,” said Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx.

The proposed rule would require an operator to maintain visual line of sight of a small UAS. The rule would allow, but not require, an operator to work with a visual observer who would maintain constant visual contact with the aircraft. The operator would still need to be able to see the UAS with unaided vision (except for glasses). The FAA is asking for comments on whether the rules should permit operations beyond line of sight, and if so, what the appropriate limits should be.

“We have tried to be flexible in writing these rules,” said FAA Administrator Michael Huerta. “We want to maintain today’s outstanding level of aviation safety without placing an undue regulatory burden on an emerging industry.”

Under the proposed rule, the person actually flying a small UAS would be an “operator.” An operator would have to be at least 17 years old, pass an aeronautical knowledge test and obtain an FAA UAS operator certificate. To maintain certification, the operator would have to pass the FAA knowledge tests every 24 months. A small UAS operator would not need any further private pilot certifications (i.e., a private pilot license or medical rating).

The new rule also proposes operating limitations designed to minimize risks to other aircraft and people and property on the ground:

A small UAS operator must always see and avoid manned aircraft. If there is a risk of collision, the UAS operator must be the first to maneuver away.

The operator must discontinue the flight when continuing would pose a hazard to other aircraft, people or property.

A small UAS operator must assess weather conditions, airspace restrictions and the location of people to lessen risks if he or she loses control of the UAS.

A small UAS may not fly over people, except those directly involved with the flight.

Flights should be limited to 500 feet altitude and no faster than 100 mph.

Operators must stay out of airport flight paths and restricted airspace areas, and obey any FAA Temporary Flight Restrictions (TFRs).

The proposed rule maintains the existing prohibition against operating in a careless or reckless manner. It also would bar an operator from allowing any object to be dropped from the UAS.

Operators would be responsible for ensuring an aircraft is safe before flying, but the FAA is not proposing that small UAS comply with current agency airworthiness standards or aircraft certification. For example, an operator would have to perform a preflight inspection that includes checking the communications link between the control station and the UAS. Small UAS with FAA-certificated components also could be subject to agency airworthiness directives.

The new rules would not apply to model aircraft. However, model aircraft operators must continue to satisfy all of the criteria specified in Sec. 336 of Public Law 112-95, including the stipulation that they be operated only for hobby or recreational purposes. Generally speaking, the new rules would not apply to government aircraft operations, because we expect that these government operations will typically continue to actively operate under the Certificate of Waiver or Authorization (COA) process unless the operator opts to comply with and fly under the new small UAS regulations.

In addition to this proposal, earlier today, the White House issued a Presidential Memorandum concerning transparency, accountability, and privacy, civil rights, and civil liberties protections for the Federal Government’s use of UAS in the national airspace system which directs the initiation of a multi-stakeholder engagement process to develop a framework for privacy, accountability, and transparency issues concerning commercial and private UAS use.

Goodyear's new Wingfoot One airship

Posted by Omar Bilonashvili on September 19, 2014 at 6:05 AM Comments comments (1)

Last July, we first heard about Goodyear’s plans to replace its current fleet of blimps with newer, more advanced models. The first of those airships, which was unnamed at the time, made its maiden flight this March. Now called Wingfoot One, it officially began active service last Friday.


The airship was christened in front of an audience of over 2,000 by Good Morning America co-anchor Robin Roberts, at Goodyear’s Wingfoot Lake Hangar in Suffield, Ohio. Roberts’ great-grandfather worked for Goodyear, starting in 1918.


Wingfoot One was designed and built by Germany’s ZLT Zeppelin Luftschifftechnik, and was assembled by a team of Zeppelin and Goodyear engineers over the past year. Among its touted features are advanced on-board avionics, and flight control systems that allow it to travel at faster speeds and hover in place.


The airship now joins Goodyear’s existing fleet, which consists of two of the smaller 45 year-old GZ-20 models. Plans call for these to be replaced by two more new Zeppelins, over the course of the next four years.


The name "Wingfoot One" was the winning entry in an online Name the Blimp contest. According to Goodyear, the introduction of the aircraft marks "the first major structural design change of a Goodyear airship in nearly 70 years."

Source: Goodyear

Airborne Giant with 150 metre wingspan

Posted by Omar Bilonashvili on July 21, 2014 at 8:20 AM Comments comments (0)

A concept aircraft under development at Boeing's Phantom Works R&D unit, the massive Pelican would have a wingspan of more than 150 m, carry up to 1400 tons of cargo - that's equivalent to 17 M-1 main battle tanks - would need 76 tires to cater for the weight and be almost twice as big as the largest aircraft currently in existence, the Russian Antonov An-225. The potential applications for such a huge vehicle capable of high-speed, long-range flights goes well beyond military cargo and troop deployment. The Pelican could be used as an airborne platform for re-usable space-vehicles and could also enter the commercial worldwide freight market currently dominated by shipping.


The aircraft would be designed to fly altitudes of only 20 feet above the sea in order to take advantage of the aerodynamic phenomenon called "ground effect" that reduces drag and greatly increases range and efficiency. The Pelican of the feathered variety employs this same technique.


The current giant of the skies - the An-225 plane was launched in 1988 as part of the Soviet Union's Buran space shuttle program. Only two of the aircraft were built and to give an indication of the scope of the Pelican concept, the 88.4 meter wingspan An-225 could carry a 250 ton payload - nearly five times less than is envisaged for the Pelican.

Aerion's AS 2 supersonic business jet

Posted by Omar Bilonashvili on May 24, 2014 at 5:30 PM Comments comments (0)

Aerion Corporation has upped the cabin size and added an extra engine to the first in its planned range of supersonic business jets currently on the drawing board. Designed with Supersonic Natural Laminar Flow (SNLF) wing technology that was tested in transonic wind tunnel tests and in NASA flight trials, the Aerion AS2 will now use a set of three smaller jet engines in place of its previous large two-jet design to provide quieter running, improved take-off performance, and longer range.

With its new three engine configuration, the AS2 is able to take greater advantage of the unique Aerion "unswept" SNLF (Supersonic Natural Laminar Flow) wing design. This sees the wing feature upper and lower surfaces that are slightly curved, ensuring a smooth flow of air across them that continues to travel in relatively undisturbed layers.


Aerion claims this results in a 90 percent reduction in drag over more conventional swept or delta wing designs and helps reduce total airframe drag by as much as 20 percent. As a result, it is expected that the AS2 will not only be fast, but super-efficient as well.

Capable of a maximum speed of Mach 1.6, the AS2 has been designed to travel at two optimal cruising speeds where range and efficiency are at their best: Mach 0.95 where supersonic flight is prohibited, and at Mach 1.4 where the SNLF wing characteristics will be at their most efficient.

 Dimension-wise, the fuselage is 160 ft (48 m) long and maximum take-off weight is expected to be around 115,000 lb (52,000 kg). With these figures, the minimum projected range is predicted to be approximately 4,750 nautical miles (8,800 km), though the company is hoping to achieve an ultimate range of around 5,000 nm (9,260 km).

Unmanned drones for document delivery

Posted by Omar Bilonashvili on February 19, 2014 at 4:35 AM Comments comments (0)

The United Arab Emirates is set to deploy unmanned drones to deliver official government documents such as driving licenses and identity cards within a year, according to a report from Reuters.


Announced by the Minister of Cabinet Affairs, Mohammed Al Gergawi, the drones will be tested in Dubai throughout the next six months for durability and efficiency, and then be implemented across the UAE soon after.


"The UAE will try to deliver its government services through drones. This is the first project of its kind in the world," Gergawi told Reuters.


The battery operated quadcopters will measure around half a meter (1.64 ft) across and sport the UAE flag, with a compartment on top to carry the small parcels.


According to Reuters, the vehicles will use fingerprint and eye-recognition systems to correctly identify recipients as a security measure.

Boeing examines "green diesel"

Posted by Omar Bilonashvili on January 31, 2014 at 4:50 PM Comments comments (0)

Over the past few years, we've heard about "green" airliners running on a mixture of jet fuel and biofuels made from things like plants and recycled cooking oil. Now, Boeing is looking at blending jet fuel with green diesel, which is already used to fuel trucks.


Green diesel is derived from oil and fat-based feedstocks, as are the biofuels that have been used in planes before. It differs from biodiesel, however, in that it's not processed in the same fashion, and has a different chemical makeup.


According to studies conducted by Boeing, the blended aviation fuel should produce 50 percent less carbon dioxide than straight petroleum jet fuel. Additionally, green diesel should cost about the same as regular jet fuel, once US government incentives are factored in.


Existing production facilities that are already producing green diesel for ground transportation could conceivably meet up to one percent of the demand for jet fuel.


"We are collaborating with our industry partners and the aviation community to move this innovative solution forward and reduce the industry's reliance on fossil fuel," says Dr. James Kinder, a Technical Fellow in Boeing Commercial Airplanes Propulsion Systems Division.


Source: Boeing

Flying car prototype gets off the ground

Posted by Omar Bilonashvili on October 18, 2013 at 11:30 AM Comments comments (1)

The Aeromobil V2.5 is a propeller-driven aircraft that also functions as an automobile – or you can think of it it a car with lofty aspirations. The aviation aspects seem to be prominent in the design, with a streamlined cockpit, super light weight, and sleek tail fins in the back. Propulsion is provided by a 100 hp Rotax 912 water cooled engine mounted behind the seats, with drive shafts leading both aft to the propeller and forward to the two front wheels for driving.


This project is not the only flying car around. There is also the US-based Terrafugia, which folds up its wings vertically on the sides of the vehicle. There is also a Dutch design called the PAL-V, where the ground vehicle is a three wheeled tilting motorcycle that turns into a gyrocopter at the airport.

When the Automobil is a car, the wings are folded straight back along the fuselage and the engine drives the front wheels, while the small back wheels support the tail. There seems to be very little structure, and the entire vehicle weighs just 980 lb (450 kg) empty of fuel and passengers. There is room for two people in the very snug cockpit, and there are two steering wheels, mounted one inside the other in front of the driver/pilot. The larger wheel is for driving on the ground, and the smaller wheel is used for flying.


As shown in the video below, when the Aeromobil gets to the airport, the driver/pilot pushes a button and the wings fold out for a wingspan of 8.2 m (27 ft), which is comparable to other light sport aircraft of similar weight and power. The large flaps (moveable surfaces on the trailing edge of the wing) in this prototype flip over the wing and hang down to add lift for takeoff with the entire wing also tilting up a few degrees to assume the proper angle to the wind for takeoff.


The driver switches the gearbox to send power back to the propeller that is mounted at the very end of the vehicle between the two vertical tails. The Aeromobil then takes to the runway and accelerates for takeoff. In the video the airplane stays near the runway, as you would expect with a first flight. The airplane mode of the Aeromobil would have a top speed of 200 kph (124 mph) and a range of over 700 km (430 miles).


Klein says that in car mode the Aeromobil fits into a standard parking space and can be refueled at the same gas station as all the other cars – in other words, it does not require special aviation fuel like most aircraft. The flying car is extremely lightweight, coming in at less than half the weight of a compact car like the Ford Fiesta, which weighs 1,041 kg (2295 lbs). The structure is a steel tube frame with a carbon fiber composite shell, a configuration familiar to fans of racing cars.

The Aeromobil is a prototype intended to demonstrate to investors that the concept is viable. Klein is now shopping this striking flying vehicle to potential manufacturers and investors in order to make it a reality. Once such a deal is struck, he estimates that it would take two additional years to get certification for the Aeromobil to go into production, presumably under the existing Light Sport Aircraft rules.


Over the twenty year gestation of this flying car concept, Klien has created four different versions of his dream. The first version did not have folding wings at all, but was a boxy canard (tail first) design with tall wheels. The next versions featured the signature folding wings, but different tail configurations. Version 2.0 had an inverted V-shaped tail and this last version 2.5 was the first with two vertical tail fins enclosing the wheels. His web site shows drawings for Version 3.0.


Klein has a very interesting background, with degrees both in mechanical engineering, and in fine arts. He originally wanted to be a sculptor, but received his engineering degree first. He later studied design at the Academy of Fine Arts in Bratislava, the Slovak Republic and became the head of the Department of Transport Design at that school. As a professional, he worked on car designs for Audi, BMW, and Volkswagen, and won a national design award for a three-wheeled electric scooter, which he still drives to work each day.


Flying is in the Klein family, however, and his grandfather, father and brother are all pilots. He started flying as a teenager with his brother, and today flies both powered aircraft and gliders. For the Aeromobil, he is also the chief test pilot, which in unusual in these days of large aerospace companies.


Klein calls his Aeromobil flying car “the intersection of technology and art.” You can judge this for yourself by checking out the following video in which Klein demonstrates the road driving characteristics and then shows the first flight of the Aeromobil flying car.

Elektro E6. EADCO electric plane

Posted by Omar Bilonashvili on July 5, 2013 at 9:20 AM Comments comments (0)

EADCO company recently joined forces with PC Aero to start development of the latter's new twin prop, 6-passenger electric airplane concept called the Elektro E6. EADCO is now busying itself designing the frame for the potentially groundbreaking craft, while PC Aero takes care of the electrical systems.



PC Aero previously designed the smaller Elektra One and Elektra One Solar, which draws about half of its energy for flying from solar cells on the wings.


At the moment, the partnership is aiming to create a plane that is low on noise, vibrations and CO2 emissions, but also capable of over 700 km (435 miles) of range on 400 kg (882 lb) of on-board batteries. However, the designers are hoping that battery technology will continue to improve over the next decade to reach that goal, as the current range feasible from that amount of batteries is closer to 300 km (186 miles).


One possibility that the Elektro Sky team is aware of, but has no direct connection or commitment to, are the new microbatteries developed at the University of Illinois.


The key calculation is that 10 percent of the E6's power needs must be met by on-board solar power, something that's not currently possible with existing technology, according to EADCO, but could soon become reality. The target cruising speed for the plane is 220 km/h (137 mph/120 knots) with a maximum speed of 300 km/h (186 mph/162 knots).

Mannarn stressed that the project will wait for proven and suitable technology, so as to avoid the kind of battery issues (and corresponding groundings and negative press) suffered recently by Boeing.


"There are a lot of companies talking about how they're developing new batteries, but we want to see them, we want to see them in use," says Mannarn. "We want to make sure that we don't have a problem similar to the Boeing problem, with the batteries overheating, catching fire, burning. So clearly the manufacturing processes for these next generation batteries has got to be absolutely precise. The batteries must be safe for use in an aircraft."


The E6 will sport a 16-meter (52-ft) wingspan and a 10-meter (33-ft) long body, and will stand 3.34 meters (11 ft) tall. The fuselage height and width is estimated at 1.4 meters (about 4.5 ft) with two doors at the front and a large passenger/cargo door at the rear.


Though the final frame materials are still to be decided, it seems likely to be carbon fiber composite and lightweight honeycomb construction.


"The key thing is to have the frame available at the time that the technology is ready for implementation, so that our partners don't have to wait seven years designing the aircraft," adds Andrew.


EADCO's Mannarn says that each prop on the E6 will have two electric motors driving it, lowering maintenance costs and being configured in a way that creates "almost a redundancy."



He says they're hoping to have batteries that can recharge in about an hour, but can also be swapped out so that when the E6 reaches its destination, the batteries can be replaced for the next flight.


That's a long to-do list to get the E6 up and flying as envisioned, but the team says it would like to have a working prototype built within the next three years and have a design certified for service within a decade. That design includes fully-retractable landing gear, pressurized cabin, and anti-ice systems.


Posted by Omar Bilonashvili on June 26, 2013 at 2:35 AM Comments comments (8)

   Italian engineering company SBK Engineering has produced an innovative backpack which converts a bicycle into a water-bike within 10 minutes, enabling off-road trekking without water-barriers, or an entirely new way of seeing cities with water/canal systems such as Venice or Amsterdam. The SHUTTLE-BIKE project began in 1992 in Vigevano, Italy, near Milan, where Leonardo da Vinci spent many years working on his inventions. The ultimate goal of the project was to create an inflatable "bicycle boat"--or a "shuttle"-- that would be easy to carry and allow a bicyclist the opportunity to ride across water as well as on land. With the weight of the entire back-pack now down to 11 kilograms, a top speed of 10kmh on the water, and a prep time of under 10 minutes without the need for any tools, the SHUTTLE-BIKE has prospered.

  SBK Engineering has produced an innovative backpack which converts a bicycle into a water-bike within 10 minutes, enabling off-road trekking without water-barriers, or an entirely new way of seeing cities with water/canal systems such as Venice or Amsterdam. The SHUTTLE-BIKE project began in 1992 in Vigevano, Italy, near Milan, where Leonardo da Vinci spent many years working on his inventions.


The ultimate goal of the project was to create an inflatable "bicycle boat"--or a "shuttle"-- that would be easy to carry and allow a bicyclist the opportunity to ride across water as well as on land. With the weight of the entire back-pack now down to 11 kilograms, a top speed of 10kmh on the water, and a prep time of under 10 minutes without the need for any tools, the SHUTTLE-BIKE has prospered.


From those beginnings a decade ago, the SHUTTLE-BIKE has become much more than its original conception. It is now used in both Europe and America in a variety of commercial and leisure roles: for resort rental (with permanent urethane-filled floats), along with ship-to-shore tender usage and search-and-rescue duties in addition to the logical exercise and fitness, leisure and personal exploration.


Probably the biggest strength of the SHUTTLE-BIKE is it's portability--no other pedal powered watercraft is truly amphibious and as lightweight and compact. The SHUTTLE-BIKE will carry a load of 125 kilograms safely, but in rescue conditions can be expected to carry 200 kilograms plus.


The SHUTTLE-BIKE kit adapts to almost any bike with round frame tubes with a set of universal clamps. Permanently fastened on the frame, they do not hinder the use of the mountain-bike on the road. The permanent clamp accessories are designed to lock onto the SHUTTLE-BIKE frame without using any tools--the whole kit snaps together, tightens and inflates by hand and pedal-power in about 10 minutes.


The floats can be blown up by means of a small pump which enables you to utilize pedal-power rather than lung-power to inflate the floats by pedalling on the spot, since the frame suspends the rear wheel a few centimetres above the ground, so it works much like an exercise bike.


The propulsion system begins with a pivoting roller/gear mechanism that attaches to the frame and adjusts to contact the rear wheel when the bike is used on the water. From there the power is transferred by means of a flexible drive shaft to the gear/propeller/rudder assembly attached to the front wheel.


The propeller/rudder allows you to steer with the handlebars--you can do a 360' turn in place by turning the handlebar 90' in either direction! Since the drive roller contacts the rear wheel, the bike's gears can be used to achieve the best cruising or speed combinations.

Solar Impulse Sun-powered flight across America

Posted by Omar Bilonashvili on May 4, 2013 at 10:25 AM Comments comments (0)

3rd of May at 6:12 am PST, the Solar Impulse solar-powered airplane took off from San Francisco’s Moffett Airfield, beginning the first leg of its planned flight across the U.S.


The aircraft was piloted by Bertrand Piccard (and still is, at the time of this posting). He will be sharing piloting duties throughout the course of the 2013 Across America mission with fellow Solar Impulse team member André Borschberg. The mission will be broken into five legs, with the plane making stops at select American cities between each one. It is expected that the final leg of the journey will begin in early July.

Officially known as HB-SIA, the single-passenger Solar Impulse aircraft incorporates 11,628 solar cells on the top of its wing and horizontal stabilizer. These power its four 10-hp electric motors, and also charge its 400 kilograms (882 lb) of lithium batteries – allowing it to fly at night.


It should be completing the first leg of the mission when it lands in Phoenix, Arizona this Saturday (May 4th).