PERLAN II – SOARING TO NEW HEIGHTS

Congratulations to the Perlan II mission team, that has now flown this pressurized two-seat glider to a record-breaking 76,124 feet, by exploiting stratospheric mountain waves that are found only over southern South America at this time of the year, when they combine with the Polar Vortex. And congratulations to Airbus ceo Tom Enders, who agreed … Continue reading PERLAN II – SOARING TO NEW HEIGHTS

HIGH-ALTITUDE PSEUDO-SATELLITES (HAPS) – A QUICK REVIEW

At the recent Farnborough Airshow, my personal highlight was a visit to the Airbus Zephyr production facility (above), in the nearby Science Park. I wrote about this for AIN here and, as predicted, this fascinating solar-powered design has since claimed a new endurance record for an aircraft - more than 25 days. The Zephyr project … Continue reading HIGH-ALTITUDE PSEUDO-SATELLITES (HAPS) – A QUICK REVIEW

LATEST MH370 REPORT AVOIDS THE OBVIOUS

The Malaysian-led team investigating the disappearance of flight MH370 for ICAO has issued a new 450-page report into what has become the greatest aviation mystery of all time. There’s not much new, except for the first official release of data found by the Royal Malaysian Police on the flight simulator that Captain Zahari kept at … Continue reading LATEST MH370 REPORT AVOIDS THE OBVIOUS

TEMPEST – HURRY UP AND WAIT

The unveiling of Britain’s future combat aircraft concept last week was driven by industrial policy as much as it was by advanced technology. Which is just as well. The industrial statements were made, implicitly. To France and Germany: the UK can do this without you. To Japan, Sweden and other nations: the UK would welcome … Continue reading TEMPEST – HURRY UP AND WAIT

F-35s FOR THE UK; SOME THINGS TO THINK ABOUT

Britain's fixed-price entry into the System Design and Development (SDD) for $2 billion bought significant influence and knowledge, without exposing the country to the huge increase in the cost of SDD. That good deal did not automatically entitle British companies to a defined workshare on the F-35. They earned their place by providing “best value” bids. … Continue reading F-35s FOR THE UK; SOME THINGS TO THINK ABOUT

URBAN CLOSE AIR SUPPORT – AN IMPOSSIBLE MISSION?

Compare and contrast. Amnesty International said last month that the US-led coalition killed hundreds of civilians in re-taking Raqqa from Islamic State (IS), many of them in airstrikes. Air commanders in Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR) say they took the greatest care to avoid any such outcome. The UK Ministry of Defence still says that British … Continue reading URBAN CLOSE AIR SUPPORT – AN IMPOSSIBLE MISSION?

IT’S TIME TO RE-FOCUS!

After 30 years of covering the aerospace/defense business for Aviation International News (AIN), I will be leaving on good terms in mid-2018, to focus on my other interests: I am best-known as the unofficial historian of the U-2 spyplane. I want to revise the book that I self-published in 2015, on the recent and current … Continue reading IT’S TIME TO RE-FOCUS!