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Chasing the wind

After a year long flight test campaign involving five aircraft flying over 1,500 hours of flight testing, the US FAA and EASA certified the Boeing 787-9 for commercial service this week. Take look at the crosswind testing that formed part of the 787-9’s certification process.

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Kala Chapra & the airship era

At 260 metres long, 50 metres wide and tall, Kala Chapra (the Black Hangar) was the largest structure in the British Empire. Designed and built in 1927 as part of the British Government’s Imperial Airship Scheme, it was one of a number of airship stations that would connect the empire from Montreal in the west, to Karachi and eventually […]

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The man who put Helvetica on American Airlines, and your subway map

Every so often I like to explore outside the world of aviation. Flying and good design share many attributes: they’re visually powerful, require precision and need to be pragmatically understandable. I came across news that the incredible Italian graphic designer Massimo Vignelli is ill and spending his last days at home. In his long career, […]

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Victoria’s Victorian era of aviation innovation

The once poster child of Australian aerospace, Victoria, is dying an uninspired death. The aerospace mantle passed to Queensland.

In 2010 Victoria’s aerospace industry including aircraft, systems and components had an annual export value of $300 million. The sector employed 20,000 people generating nearly $600 million in economic activity. Today it’s influence has waned as sector employment has dropped to circa 18,000 with export values dropping.

Continue reading “Victoria’s Victorian era of aviation innovation” »

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ANA retires the B747

Yesterday ANA ended 35 years of continuous B747 operations, Boeing 747-400D JA8961 operating the final service from Okinawa’s Naha Airport to Tokyo-Haneda where it greased the tarmac for the last time at 15:13 local time. It also marks the end of passenger 747 operations in Japan, during which ANA and JAL operated every variant of […]

Squadron 216's last two Tristars taxi out on their final sortie. Image: Alan Huse.

Farewell to the Lockheed L-1011 TriStar

As aviation continues its twin engine march, yesterday marked the end of an era for another Trijet with the RAF formally retiring its final two L-1011-500 series TriStars after 30 years of service.

Departing RAF Brize Norton  for a refuelling sortie over the North Sea before one aircraft conducted ceremonial fly pasts to mark the disbandment of the RAF’s 216 Squadron, formed in 1917 and in operation continuously for 97 years. Only 250 TriStars were manufactured by Lockheed, with the nine L1011s that saw service with 216 Squadron previously operated by British Airways and Pan Am joining the RAF in 1984.

Lockheed L-1011 TriStar prototype during its first flight on November 16, 1970. Image: Air Pictorial magazine, January 1971.

The TriStar began as a request from American Airlines for a widebody aircraft that was smaller than the 747, but offered equivalent range and capacity to the recently retired DC-10. The TriStar was a technical marvel in many areas incorporating aerodynamic, avionics, engine technology and a cabin design that surpassed the market offerings of Boeing and McDonnell Douglas. Continue reading “Farewell to the Lockheed L-1011 TriStar” »

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Aviation’s next generation

For years Australia’s aviation industry, indeed the industry worldwide, has tepidly danced around the issue of what to do about the falling number of young people attracted to aviation. It’s not a new issue. But it’s an issue following a repetitive script, with an incomprehensible lack of engagement of the young people walking away to […]

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