The hybrid UAV that operates in the water and in the air, conclusions from the “German Wings” flight investigation report, an Egyptian airliner hijacked, a pair of super-sonic jets in development and female aircrew members fly in Saudi Arabian skies. A global point of view on the passing month’s events

Tal Giladi | Translation: Ohad Zeltzer Zubida

Behind the Concorde: Super-Sonic Jets are making a Comeback
A revolution in aviation? 13 years after the grounding of the “Concorde”, the super-sonic passenger jet, an in-development prototype produced by a start-up company in Colorado promises to fly you from New York to London in 3:20 hours and just might bring super-sonic jets back into our lives.

According to the company, the “Boom” jet will transport passengers from New-York to London in such a short time thanks to a blazing speed of Mach 2.2, or 2,333 KMP. For the sake of comparison, the “Concorde” flew at a speed of Mach 2 and regular airliners today fly at a speed of Mach 0.85. Sounds great right? Well, not everything is perfect.

In the U.S it is illegal for aircraft to fly at super-sonic speeds over land because of the deafening noise they create. Therefore, the company is focusing on routes such as London – New York, San Francisco – Tokyo and Los Angeles – Sidney. When the “Concorde” flew over populated areas, the jet had to flew at a low speed, sub-sonic, in which its engine’s activity was inefficient and loud; its aerodynamic features are unique to the super-sonic world and require a long runway, make the jet’s take off extremely loud and limited the airports it could take off from.
The approximated ticket price won’t leave you very optimistic as well: a two way London – New York ticket will cost about $5,000, but the company’s vision is to make the super-sonic flight accessible to the general public, so anyone would be able to fly anywhere in the world in 5 hours for $100 per ticket. The company is currently working on developing a passenger jet which can accommodate 80 passengers and the prediction is that the first test flight will be carried out in 2017.

As for NASA and “Lockheed Martin” who are also developing a super-sonic passenger jet, their primary prototype is currently being designed in the U.S in a process led by “Lockheed Martin”. The project’s goal is to design super-sonic passenger jets that use silent engines and that do not create sonic booms. In the first stage, the team will characterize its needs, create sketches and conduct experiments in an air tunnel in NASA, with the final goal of building X-plane which will open the super-sonic flight market to the general public.

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Illustration of Lockheed Martin’s Super-Sonic Jet

In the Ocean and in the Air: the first hybrid UAV
It can be launched from a ship or from the ground, it is sub-marine and can dive and fly, it is the first hybrid UAV – developed by a company based in Singapore. Singapore Aerospace Technologies developed a UAV which can take off and fly for 15 minutes and then dive under water and carry out under water missions for about three hours, in which it loiters in the depths. The advanced UAV is designed to be a quick-response tool for patrol and observation missions because it can operate and respond much faster than two separate vehicles, aerial and naval. Some of the hybrid UAV’s missions are detection and clearance of underwater mines, aerial and underwater patrol, observation and SAR missions. The UAV has an electric engine and it can carry an array of pods up to three kilos, which include diving equipment, sonar and cameras.



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The first hybrid UAV: deep underwater and high in heaven


The “German Wings” flight investigation: The doctor recommended that the pilot be hospitalized
This month, the “German Wings” flight accident investigation report which crashed into the French Alps about a year ago was published in France. The report determines that the first officer, Andreas Lubitz, locked himself in the cockpit when the Pilot went to the restroom, switched the autopilot to continuous descent mode and made it crash into the Alps. This is of course a technical description of emotional actions with fatal consequences which we all know – 150 passengers and crew members were killed. These actions all point at the importance of the man in the cockpit’s sanity, which according to the report, seems to have been unstable before, a detail which could have prophesized the accident.

The pilot, Lubitz was suspended during his training and his license was temporarily revoked on the account of temporary insanity; he took anti-depressants; his doctor gave him holiday on account of mental troubles and he didn’t utilize it; a doctor recommended him, two weeks before the accident, to hospitalize himself for mental care and he ignored him – he did not share any of this with anyone, certainly not with his employers. A note a doctor wrote for him which was supposed to prevent him from flying the plane was found in a trashcan in his parents’ house. A few assumptions regarding the deterioration of his mental health have been made, such as deterioration in his eyesight which could have jeopardized his flight career and the end of relationship with his girlfriend.

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“German Wings” crash zone

An Egyptian Airliner – Hijacked
An “Egypt Air” airliner on its way from Alexandria to Cairo was hijacked this month to Larnaca airport, Cyprus. The airline confirmed that flight 181 landed in the airport, where a negotiation with the hijacker was conducted, as a part of which almost all of the passengers were released, except 8 of them, including three non-Egyptian nationals and 5 aircrew members including the pilot, co-pilot and stewards. The hijacker that took control of the aircraft, an Airbus A320, threatened that he was wearing a bomb belt. The authorities in Egypt and Cyprus clarified that the hijacker’s motives were personal and he apparently asked for asylum in Cyprus. After about six hours from the landing, the eight were seen fleeing from the cockpit window and a short time afterwards the hijacker surrender.


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“Egyptian Air” Aircraft (illustration)

The Sky has no Limits
If roads are blocked to you, try the sky: a few weeks ago, a crew of female pilots from Royal Brunei Airlines, which belongs to the Sultanate of Brunei in Southeast Asia, landed in Saudi Arabia for the first time – a country in which women don’t even have the right to drive a car. It was an aircrew composed of three female pilots, led by Captain Sharifah Czarena, which flew the new Boeing “Dreamliner” 787 from Brunei to the city of Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

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A crew of female pilots landed in Saudi Arabia, where it’s illegal for women to drive