Airbus and the C Series

“So … our cousins in Montreal have a little problem.”

Conceiving, designing, prototyping and launching a great airplane isn’t enough.  You need buckets of money.  Container ships of it.  Some connections with the mob, won’t hurt either.  Better yet, if you are in a big hurry, a rich and connected European aunt or uncle.  Perhaps the best, simplest overview of how it all went down can be found here.

That way, when Boeing comes after you, you can run to the only other safe harbor in town – Airbus.  A good lesson for early entrepreneurs here (not that Bombardier has the “hey… Armand.. make me a snowmobile, esti!” feel to it anymore) is that being heavily diluted and living to talk about it is better than being cut off from the US market and certain death.

If I was an aviation tarot card reader I would say something smart like, “There was no other way for this to work.  It was written!”

For us scrappy people of the start up world, this is a great story if only for how it ended.  While Bombardier to some may no longer be the epitome of agility, brilliance or innovation, it is nice to see a relative “little person” find safe harbor from the sledgehammer of abuse, myopic policy, and too many litigious hit men in the boardroom.

Boeing v. Trudeau

Boeing Super F-18.

I’m not a terribly patriotic Canadian, but I think this is an interesting story worth following.

Hegemony, aerospace, and the military industry industrial complex make for great reading when trying to understand the 51st State “nort of de border” as we say in Maine.  Richard Aboulafia writes extensively about the link between US prime contractors and the Canadian companies that play second fiddle as subcontractors for US aerospace manufacturing.

It is really hard to fight when we are so intertwined.  Bonne chance Justin.  Donald, more reading recommended.

Sanity Prevails

DHC 2 Beaver near San Francisco

Thank you to the many pilots and supporters that turned out yesterday at the Marin County Civic Center.  Common sense has prevailed and Richardson’s Bay will continue to have Seaplane Adventures operating as part of the fabric it has been there for 70 years.

This also means I can keeping adding seaplane ratings to private and commercial tickets.  Bravo Aaron and the rest of the gang.

Homage to the Skywagon (Cessna 180 / 185)

185house2.png

When I first got into aviation I called my company Skywagon Air Service.  That’s how nuts I was.  Nuts about the 180 / 185 that is.  In the basement, of this house, next to this 185, is where the company was born.  I got these photos the other day from Mike Ball of KRKD who reminded me of the day he “took the 185 home for lunch.”  The drive in his car would have been all of 4 min.  But why do that when you can land your 185 in your driveway and taxi it up to the front door… for lunch?: Continue reading Homage to the Skywagon (Cessna 180 / 185)

Fly Your Dog?

A key consideration for your next Cessna 140 modified bush plane:

Can you fit the hound?

carry-your-dog2
Image care of Aaron Bartels

So you purchased a 1947 Cessna 140, put some bush tires on it, and your therapist feels that this is a good direction (and step!) for you.

Bravo.  You eschew “Burning Man” for Wrangell Inlet.  You’re my kinda peeps.

But before we get too excited [whilst thinking of taildragger upgrades], let’s look at the basic needs of the new aircraft owner, facing a mild midlife crisis:

Continue reading Fly Your Dog?

Mach Crit and Supercritical Wings

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This F-18 is showing off critical Mach.

Sometime around 1962 aerodynamicists realized there was more that could be done.

More efficiency to gain at speeds near the speed of sound.

But most importantly, the phenomena so iconic in this picture wasn’t fully understood until the mid 1960s.  Sure, wings had been swept and shock waves studied.  And it is no coincidence that the area rule was being noodled around this time.

Continue reading Mach Crit and Supercritical Wings

NASA Humor: “That wing sure is critical”

I found this image on reddit and realized that since criticism and CRM are topics of interest, this would be a nice post to prime the pump for an upcoming article I’ll be doing on the supercritical wing.

The interesting thing about the supercritical wing is its age, ubiquity and connection to the area rule, which I wrote about here for the pilot and aviation buff community.  It was timely for me since so many of us offer blank stares when quizzed on the “why” of shapes that fly.  Whether we are asked about the hump on top of a 747 or the big blobs behind the wing where the flaps are (what is in those things?) most of us pilots know surprisingly little about design.

Continue reading NASA Humor: “That wing sure is critical”

Three Point vs. Wheel Landings

dc3Much like our politics, amateur tailwheel pilots tend to suffer from polarization.

You are either in the three point or wheel landing camp. This is not a grown up way to learn about your favorite hobby.

Why? Because each aircraft type, set of conditions or the landing environment will help you choose the right solution.  It will drive home that there is rarely a panacea via “one solution.”

In the spirit of Dale Carnegie, I’ll start with my own biased world view. I have a fair amount of tailwheel time, but mostly in one aircraft type – the Cessna 180 / 185 family. Whether there was 230 or 300 hp on the nose, one thing to me became clear – this make and model, under most conditions, preferred wheel landings.

Continue reading Three Point vs. Wheel Landings

No Coffin in My Corner – Airplane Talk Demystified

One of the strangest flight characteristics to the uninitiated non-pilot types, or even fixed wing private pilots, is that jet aircraft have aerodynamic qualities in the upper flight level that are a design limitation: They can both overspeed and fall out of the sky, at pretty much the same speed.

Coffin corner is a great concept to explore since it is both the yin and yang of flight. Or put another way, it is a strange intersection of where too slow meets too fast. The most noteable accident that was a stall that started near coffin corner was Air France 447, which is a good example because after suffering the effects of it, the crew wasn’t able to diagnose that a stall had even happened.  Continue reading No Coffin in My Corner – Airplane Talk Demystified