New Recommendations Seek to Improve Safety And Reduce General Aviation Certification Costs

On 28/07/2013, in The aircraft we fly, by steve

gaAn Aviation Rulemaking Committee (ARC), convened by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), today recommended a broad range of policy and regulatory changes that it believes could significantly improve the safety of general aviation aircraft while simultaneously reducing certification and modification costs for those aircraft.

The committee, made up of international industry and government experts, was tasked with examining the existing standards for the design and certification of aircraft ranging from small piston-powered airplanes to high-performance business jets, that are contained in Part 23 of Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations.

“Streamlining the design and certification process could provide a cost-efficient way to build simple airplanes that still incorporate the latest in safety innovations,” said Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “These changes have the potential to save money and maintain our safety standing – a win-win situation for manufacturers, pilots and the general aviation community as a whole.”

The committee’s recommendations cover the areas of design, production, maintenance and safety. The ARC’s goal was to identify ways to streamline the certification process, making it cheaper and easier for manufacturers to incorporate safety improvements into their products, allow for upgrades to the existing fleet, and provide greater flexibility to incorporate future technological advancements.

“The committee’s goal was to increase safety while simultaneously decreasing the cost of certification” said FAA Administrator Michael Huerta. “The FAA’s goal is to embrace innovation and create a regulation that will stand the test of time.”

Click here to read the full article


FAA Proposes $2.75 Million Civil Penalty Against Boeing Co. for Quality Control Violations

On 28/07/2013, in The aircraft we fly, by steve

penaltyThe U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is proposing a $2.75 million civil penalty against Boeing Co.’s commercial airplanes unit for allegedly failing to maintain its quality control system in accordance with approved FAA procedures.

“Safety is our top priority and a robust quality control system is a vital part of maintaining the world’s safest air transportation system,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “Airplane manufacturers must take prompt and thorough steps to correct safety and compliance problems once they become aware of them.”

In September 2008, Boeing discovered that it had been installing nonconforming fasteners on its model 777 airplanes. On October 2008, the FAA sent Boeing a letter of investigation that requested a response within 20 working days. The FAA alleges that Boeing repeatedly submitted action plans that set deadlines for the accomplishment of certain corrective actions, but subsequently failed to implement those plans. The company implemented a plan to address the fastener issue on Nov. 10, 2010, more than two years after Boeing first learned of the problem

“Manufacturers must make it a priority to identify and correct quality problems in a timely manner,” said FAA Administrator Michael Huerta.

Boeing stopped using the nonconforming fasteners after officials discovered the problem. However, some of the underlying manufacturing issues continued to exist until after the corrective action plan was in place.

Boeing has 30 days from the receipt of the FAA’s civil penalty letter to respond to the agency.


FAA Approves Boeing 787 Battery System Design Changes

On 19/04/2013, in The aircraft we fly, by steve

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) today took the next step in returning the Boeing 787 to flight by approving Boeing’s design for modifications to the 787 battery system. The changes are designed to address risks at the battery cell level, the battery level and the aircraft level.

Next week, the FAA will issue instructions to operators for making changes to the aircraft and will publish in the Federal Register the final directive that will allow the 787 to return to service with the battery system modifications. The directive will take effect upon publication. The FAA will require airlines that operate the 787 to install containment and venting systems for the main and auxiliary system batteries, and to replace the batteries and their chargers with modified components.

“Safety of the traveling public is our number one priority. These changes to the 787 battery will ensure the safety of the aircraft and its passengers,” said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.

“A team of FAA certification specialists observed rigorous tests we required Boeing to perform and devoted weeks to reviewing detailed analysis of the design changes to reach this decision,” said FAA Administrator Michael Huerta.

To assure proper installation of the new design, the FAA will closely monitor modifications of the aircraft in the U.S. fleet. The FAA will stage teams of inspectors at the modification locations. Any return to service of the modified 787 will only take place after the FAA accepts the work.

As the certifying authority, the FAA will continue to support other authorities around the world as they finalize their own acceptance procedures.


FAA Approves Boeing 787 Certification Plan

On 13/03/2013, in The aircraft we fly, by steve

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has approved the Boeing Commercial Airplane Company’s certification plan for the redesigned 787 battery system, after thoroughly reviewing Boeing’s proposed modifications and the company’s plan to demonstrate that the system will meet FAA requirements. The certification plan is the first step in the process to evaluate the 787’s return to flight and requires Boeing to conduct extensive testing and analysis to demonstrate compliance with the applicable safety regulations and special conditions.


“This comprehensive series of tests will show us whether the proposed battery improvements will work as designed,” said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “We won’t allow the plane to return to service unless we’re satisfied that the new design ensures the safety of the aircraft and its passengers.”

The battery system improvements include a redesign of the internal battery components to minimize initiation of a short circuit within the battery, better insulation of the cells and the addition of a new containment and venting system. Click here to read the full article


FAA Will Review Boeing 787 Design and Production

On 11/01/2013, in The aircraft we fly, by steve

In light of a series of recent events, the FAA will conduct a comprehensive review of the Boeing 787 critical systems, including the design, manufacture and assembly. The purpose of the review is to validate the work conducted during the certification process and further ensure that the aircraft meets the FAA’s high level of safety.

“The safety of the traveling public is our top priority,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “This review will help us look at the root causes and do everything we can to safeguard against similar events in the future.”

A team of FAA and Boeing engineers and inspectors will conduct this joint review, with an emphasis on the aircraft’s electrical power and distribution system. The review will also examine how the electrical and mechanical systems interact with each other.

“We are confident that the aircraft is safe. But we need to have a complete understanding of what is happening,” said FAA Administrator Michael P. Huerta. “We are conducting the review to further ensure that the aircraft meets our high safety standards.”

Click here to read the full article


United 787 Virtual Tour

On 03/11/2012, in The aircraft we fly, by steve

A virtual tour of United’s Dreamliner is now available through the United Hub here. The virtual tour provides a detailed look at the aircraft’s unique characteristics through a variety of animated, interactive features. The tour enables viewers to sample the Dreamliner’s United BusinessFirst seats, electrochromatic window shades, six styles of LED cabin lighting and more. The virtual tour also includes segments on the 787’s state-of-the-art flight deck, crew rest areas and lavatories, as well as information about the Dreamliner’s General Electric GEnx engines, wing technology and cargo capabilities. A “facts & figures” section of the tour offers a series of graphics that illustrate the Dreamliner’s capabilities and specifications.

Recent photos and video of United’s first 787 aircraft are available for download in the media center here.

Click here to read the full article


Drone pilots… watch this video to see how they work

On 28/08/2012, in The aircraft we fly, by steve

Look at this video. These controllers are in Nevada and are each flying a  drone thousands of miles away in the combat zone in Iraq and  Afghanistan .
Their left hand is on the throttle controlling the drone’s engine.  Note all the buttons which perform various tasks without removing the
hand from the throttle.  The right hand is flying the plane.

Welcome to the new world order. This is modern warfare. This is what is behind the headline: ‘Missiles fired from Nevada-controlled drone  aircraft kill Taliban leader’. Watch how it’s done. Words fail to do this justice.

The nicest bit? Fewer of our sons and daughters need to go into harm’s way!


Cleaner, meaner and flies farther…

On 28/08/2012, in The aircraft we fly, by steve

A special American Airlines 737-800 left Seattle for flight testing as part of its participation in Boeing’s ecoDemonstrator program, which tests technologies focused on reducing fuel consumption, lowering noise and using sustainable materials.


United Airlines’ First 787 Takes Flight

On 21/08/2012, in The aircraft we fly, by steve

United Airlines’ first 787 Dreamliner has completed its first production flight as Boeing makes final preparations for delivering it to United at the end of September. The aircraft took off from Boeing’s Paine Field in Everett, Wash., on Sunday. Boeing pilots flew the 787 around the Seattle area for more than three hours as part of planned tests of the aircraft’s controls and systems.

During the flight, crew members examined the 787’s onboard systems at high and medium altitudes. They also checked backup and safety elements, including cabin pressurization, avionics, navigation and communications systems.

Sunday’s flight was part of a series of work that Boeing performs after each 787 comes out of its paint hangar and before airlines take delivery of the planes. The work also includes fueling, systems tests, engine runs and taxi tests.

Click here to read the full article


UAVs in civil airspace… is this a good idea?

On 19/08/2012, in The aircraft we fly, by steve

The US Congress has directed the FAA to make all necessary arrangements to enable Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) to operate in national airspace by 2015. Not that there are no UAVs outside the war zones already. Customs, low enforcement agencies, emergency response teams and the like are already using those little wonders to help their job and there can be little doubt: as time goes by, there will only be more of them around.

The next big step, which Congress wants the FAA to realize, is to allow UAVs out of their rather limited operational areas, right into airspace where traditional aircraft roam.

Is this a good idea?

Well, I guess it will be a while before we will see passenger aircraft fly with no pilots on board but if you ask the cargo folks, they will admit that they would just love to get rid of the second most expensive item after fuel, the flight crew. The cost saving would be enormous and if you can think out of the box, you must admit: why not?

In a research project not so long ago we were looking at the possibility of installing a “take me home” function on passenger aircraft that would simply take over control in case of a hijack situation and land the aircraft automatically at the nearest suitable airport, with the highjackers gnawing on their mustache. The important aspect of this exercise was that all experts agreed that this would be possible with existing aircraft and technologies. So why not fly routinely under remote control or fully automatically?

Click here to read the full article


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