Thursday, February 24, 2011

Boeing Tanker Won over EADS's Tanker

Well, I am surprise by this announcement. I thought for sure that enough lobbyists from both sides had enough congressmen and senators paid off that the final decision would be a split purchase between the two companies.

And going by what one article said, that may still be in the works for a future purchase after these first 176 KC-46As are purchased. Price tag is $30 billion plus. EADS version of its Airbus A330 plane to be converted over to a tanker would have been called the KC-45A.

Problems with the F-35 keep on taking place along with the price tag keeps on going up. The USAF is rapidly retiring many of its legacy fighter aircraft such as the F-15 and F-16. Just to try and keep the wonder plane (i.e F-35) on track.

As a smaller aircraft, the KC-46A is expected to burn less fuel in absolute terms than the KC-45 over a 30 year lifespan for the airframe.

Boeing has to deliver the first 18 KC-46As within six years of the contract award date. The production spans over 13 years for building all 179 aircraft. And Boeing has confirmed that first flight for the KC-46A is scheduled for 2015. So, we should see a KC-46A flying by February 2015. I won't hold my breath. Something ALWAYS happens to screw up the production schedule. Then Boeing has to go to Congress to get more funds, etc., etc.

Now its a race against time. The USAF has 400 really old KC-135 Stratotankers that have to be replaced. Many of them are 50+ years old.

1. ELP Defens(c)e Blog. "Boeing KC-46A air-refueling tanker for the USAF. Now what? #military" by Eric Palmer. February 24, 2011. (
2. Flight "USAF selects Boeing for KC-X contract" by Stephen Trimble. (

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Academy of Model Aeronautics Press Release-“Special Rule For Model Aircraft”

AMA has been working with the FAA on setting up certain guidelines that will still allow model aviation to take place in the United States of America. I could have posted this article over on my other blog (Flash 255 Bunker), but since this also involves real world politics and the FAA; I decided that it had to go on this blog.

For months, modellers have been worried that Homeland Security/Federal Aviation Administration will come up with some sort of rule set that in effect will force thousands of people out of the hobby. Thousands more to lose their jobs when their industry has(had) just be outlawed by the Feds.

So it was with some releif to read the press release by the AMA (dated February 18, 2011) entitled "AMA Works to Amend Reauthorization Bill Providing Relief for Model Aviation from sUAS Rules".

I will post the entire press release below -

M U N C I E, I N – Sen. James Inhofe, OK, successfully sponsored S.223 in the Senate yesterday with an amendment specifying a “Special Rule For Model Aircraft” that provides an exemption from regulation for model aircraft operating within the following parameters:

 Flown specifically for recreational, sport, competition, or academic purposes;
 Operated in accordance with a community-based set of safety guidelines within the programming of a nationwide community-based organization;
 Limited to 55 pounds or less unless certified through a design, construction, inspection, flight test, and operational safety program currently administered by a community-based organization.

“On behalf of our 140,000 members I want to thank Senator Inhofe, Chairman Jay Rockefeller and Ranking Republican Kay Bailey Hutchinson for their leadership in shepherding the FAA reauthorization bill through the U.S. Senate,” said Academy of Model Aeronautics President Dave Mathewson. “Aeromodeling is an exceptional family recreational and education activity that has traditionally been a stepping stone for our children to careers in aviation and aerospace. With the Senators’ help we hope model aviation will continue to help provide that impetus for future generations of engineers, pilots and astronauts.”

The bill now moves to the House of Representatives, which is expected to rule on the matter in the very near future.

AMA has contended that the purpose and operation of model aircraft flown for recreational purposes is uniquely different from the operation of the growing number of commercial small unmanned aircraft systems (sUAS) for which the FAA is drafting regulation. Aeromodelers operating under AMA’s guidelines have earned a reputation of being one of the safest, if not the safest users of the National Airspace System. This exemplary safety record spans more than 75 years.

The Academy of Aeronautics, founded in 1936, charters 2,400 clubs across the country, sanctioning more than 2,000 events and competitions as a member of the National Aeronautic Association. It is dedicated to promoting aeromodeling as a recreational, competitive and academic pursuit.

# # #

On a more mundane note, I flew my Seagull Models sport-scale PC-9 this morning for the first time. This now makes THREE of these models that I have owned. They are nice flying airplanes. The wing to this particular model I flew today actually came off my very first PC-9 which had a accident (i.e it crashed - busted out the landing gear). Totally rebuilt the wing and the fuselage came from someone in Greece. The landing was ok, but the model drifted off to the side of the runway, hit a clump of grass and ripped out the right landing gear. So more repairs are now needed. But - that just goes with part of this hobby.

1. AMA "AMA Works to Amend Reauthorization Bill Providing Relief for Model Aviation from sUAS Rules". February 18, 2011. (AMA Works to Amend Reauthorization Bill Providing Relief for Model Aviation from sUAS Rules).

Thursday, February 17, 2011

FINALLY - Only ONE Engine for the F-35!

Pratt & Whitney has finally beaten out General Electric and Britain's Rolls-Royce to power the troubled F-35 fighter jet program.

And all it took was a coalition of Democrats and Tea Party Republicans to get it done. The U.S. House of Representatives finally voted down the mandate to have a backup engine design (which was a thinly disguise jobs aid program to GE for House Speaker John Boehner's southwestern Ohio and surrounding districts.

For years, going back to former President George W. Bush, and current President Barrack H. Obama; have tried to kill off the GE engine for the F-35. But the House kept on voting funds for that engine. And that added to the cost of the overall F-35 program.

For more information, check out the link below.

1. CT "Pratt Wins F-35 Engine Battle" by Mara Lee. February 16, 2011. (,0,4274620.story).

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Two Shuttles Might Stick Around Through 2017!

Found this little bit of news on the website.

NASA is consider keeping shuttles Endeavour and Atlantis in flight-ready condition after Endeavour's last scheduled mission instead of turning it into a museum piece. Endeavour was the replacement shuttle for the space shuttle Challenger that was lost in a lift-off explosion 25 years ago this year.

Thanks to the proposal from Commercial Space Transportation Service, or CSTS. They would use Endeavour as well as a sister shuttle, Atlantis, to fly two missions a year from 2013 to 2017 at an annual cost of $1.5 billion.

The contractor that currently manages the shuttle program on NASA’s behalf, United Space Alliance; has offered this proposal for the second round of funding from the space agency’s Commercial Crew Development initiative, also known as CCDev 2. United Space Alliance is the only company that proposes keeping the shuttles operational.

Other companies like Boeing and Sierra Nevada Corp, SpaceX, etc. plan on their own replacement vehicles to the shuttle. SpaceX has just successfully flown their Dragon capsule that they propose to make it human-rated.

For more information, check out the link below.

1. "NASA weighs plan to keep space shuttle until 2017" by Rob Coppinger. February 3, 2011. (
2. Picture of a space shuttle on launch pad.