This Retired 747 is Testing the Engines of the Future

David Pflieger highlights the 747’s testing of a brand-new engine.

Airplanes have a limited life expectancy. They last for years, but every plane will eventually wear out and retire from active service with an airline. Some of them end up as scrap while others find their way into new roles. Rolls-Royce has acquired one of those retired planes for research purposes. They plan to use it to help test new engines that may see use on the planes of the future.

The Plane

The test plane began life as a Boeing 747, one of the most common jets among modern airlines. It flew for one of the world’s oldest and largest airlines, Qantas Airways Limited, for two decades before transitioning to its new role. It will need roughly two years and millions of dollars before it is ready to take to the skies again.

That investment of time and money will equip the plane with both a new engine and all of the special instruments that it will need to track the engine’s performance while it is still in the air. The modifications will ensure that the jet is as much a research station as an aircraft. It is certainly a large project, but it is likely to go smoothly. Rolls-Royce has plenty of experience because the company has already converted another Boeing 747 for research purposes.

The Project

Rolls-Royce plans to use their plane to test one of their latest designs, the UltraFan engine. The company hopes that the new engine will offer more fuel efficiency than modern engines, improved safety, and a higher level of general performance. The improvements will benefit both the environment and the passengers on future planes. That type of improvement may seem like a tall order, but Rolls-Royce is confident that it can get the job done. They have a large team working on the project and plenty of technical experience. The company hopes to start deploying the new engines within a decade.

The Future

It will take years of tweaking and testing to prepare the new technology for deployment. After all, jet engines are highly complicated devices and Rolls-Royce needs to be sure that they are safe before deploying them. Their newest test plane will definitely have a lot of work to do in the coming years.

The Most Commonly Connected Airports in the World

David Pflieger highlights the most commonly connected airports in the world.

While it is easier to get a direct flight than ever before, there is still a very good chance that you will have a layover the next time you fly. This is especially true if you are flying out of a relatively small city. This is done because airlines need to consolidate passengers onto one flight to a major connected airport in order to save money. These are four of the most commonly connected airports in the world.

Chicago O’Haire

O’Haire International Airport deals with more flight connections than any other airport in the world. Chicago is the perfect location for a connected airport because it is centrally located in the country. Airlines throughout the country can divert their passengers to Chicago without having to spent a lot of money on fuel. While there are dozens of airlines operating out of Chicago O’Haire, American and United handle the most flights at the busy airport.

London Heathrow

If you are flying from the United States to Europe, then there is a very good chance that you will have to catch a connecting flight at Heathrow Airport in London. In addition to being the busiest airport in the world, London Heathrow is also the closest major European airport to the United States. Passengers heading overseas make a quick pit stop in London before catching a short flight to their final destination.

Dallas-Fort Worth

It is far easier for airlines to keep costs low if they operate out of a single hub city. They can transfer all of the passengers in small cities to the hub city before dropping them off at their final destination. This operating strategy is a major reason why you are likely to experience a layover at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport at some point during your travels. This popular airport serves as the primary hub city for American Airlines.

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta

Delta Air Lines uses the same hub city strategy out of Hartsfield-Jackson Airport in Atlanta. Passengers flying to or from a small city on the East Coast of the United States will get rerouted to Atlanta at the start of their trip. The Atlanta airport handled more than 107 million passengers last year, and 73 percent of them were on flights operated by Delta.

How Do Airplane Autopilot Systems Work?

David Pflieger explains how autopilot technology works.

The autopilot system of an airplane is an integral part of the machine’s flight control technology. In fact, what most people refer to as the “autopilot system” is technically known as the Automatic Flight Control System, or AFCS for short. The autopilot system is just one component in the collection of systems that comprise the avionics of the airplane. The avionics consist of several components, including:

  • Communication systems which relay messages between the pilot and passengers and from the airplane crew to the radar tower and ground control.
  • Navigation technology which uses global positioning systems (GPS) and satellite technology to make sure the airline properly follows the intended route.
  • Flight control panels and real-time monitoring systems dispersed throughout the airplane’s cockpit.

With the invention of the Automatic Flight Control system, pilots were able to automate many of the more mundane parts of flying an aircraft and became free to focus on higher-level tasks requiring more careful planning and thought. Since the advent of the first airplane autopilot system in 1912, many different AFCS systems have come on to the market over the last century. These are typically named and separated by the aircraft parts which they are able to successful control.

To read the full article, written by David Pflieger, make sure to click the link.

The Heathrow Expansion: What is it?

David Pflieger highlights the Heathrow Airport expansion.

European airports are generally busy, but none reaches the number of passengers that annually fly through London’s Heathrow Airport. Located a short distance outside the city center and easily accessible by the London Underground and other public transportation options, Heathrow has needed an expansion for years. That expansion is about to begin.

Delays To The Heathrow Expansion

A number of groups challenged the approval that the airport received for its expansion. A couple of the major opponents included the group Friends of the Earth and the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan. The main reason for opposition to the addition of another runway at the UK’s flagship airport was concern over the environment. Critics of the expansion argued that the airport’s plans violated the nation’s environmental policies related to climate change, in addition to the Paris climate accord. The UK has ratified the Paris accord, but it’s not an official part of UK law. In addition to concerns over increased pollution in the area, there are concerns in the local area regarding the number of houses that would need to be demolished to make room for the expansion.

The court system ultimately rejected the argument from the critics of the planned expansion. There was an acknowledgement from the judges who provided the ruling that there was substance to the arguments of these opponents. However, the main concern of the judges was the legality of the project. The judges returned a unanimous ruling that decided that Heathrow could proceed with its planned expansion.

In order to read the full article, written by David Pflieger, make sure to click the link.