Saturday, July 31, 2010
Posted by John McHale
I spent the past week all over the west coast visiting supporters of our avionics shows -- Avionics USA and Avionics Europe -- in California. Everyone was aware about the good news coming from the Farnborough International Airshow last week regarding commercial aircraft sales, but they are remaining cautious about any potential market recovery.
I spent the past week all over the west coast visiting supporters of our avionics shows -- Avionics USA and Avionics Europe -- in California. Everyone was aware about the good news coming from the Farnborough International Airshow this month regarding commercial aircraft sales, but they are remaining cautious about any potential market recovery.
At Farnborough the major airplane manufacturers announced airplane orders in the hundreds, signaling an upswing in the market, however it will be a while till this good news trickles down to the avionics level.
The commercial aviation market ramped down awfully fast, but it will not ramp up as quickly, cautioned Ben Daniel, business manager for avionics at GE Intelligent Platforms in Goleta, Calif. It will be a slow recovery but people will still be buying airplanes and designing avionics systems, he added.
Air Electro president Steve Strull in Chatsworth, Calif., told me he is excited about the airplane orders and that his aviation connector business has been steady, weathering the economic times well -- as Air Electro's connectors were designed into the aircraft manufacturing systems as well the finished aircraft systems.
Retrofits for aircraft are also a growth market, Strull added.
Designers of military avionics systems, say it's a matter of waiting and seeing where the Obama administration is going to spend dollars and if they are going to spend dollars. "We're seeing lots of activity in terms of proposals, but no one is sure how much Obama is going to cut out of the defense budget to pay for his social programs," said Doug Patterson, vice president of sales and marketing at Aitech Chatsworth, Calif.
When the Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter and the F-22 Raptor cancellations were announced many in the defense industry thought funding would go toward upgrading older aircraft platforms, but Patterson said that such retrofits may also be curtailed as well depending on what the Obama administration will do.
Sunday, July 4, 2010
Aviation safety story questioning Boeing 787 Dreamliner crashworthiness takes unfair jabs at Boeing, FAA
Posted by John Keller
4 July 2010. I'm taking a skeptical look at an aviation safety investigative report appearing in today's editions of the Chicago Tribune that call into question the survivability of the future Boeing 787 Dreamliner in a crash. Here's the problem: the headline of the story reads "Composite material used in Boeing 787 raises safety questions," yet the text of the story -- far down in the story -- points out that these questions have largely been answered.
It doesn't look to me that this story is being fair to Boeing, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), or to the engineers that initially uncovered potential weaknesses in the fuselage of the 787 in crash scenarios, and then went on to deal with these issues after rigorous testing. The fuselage of the 787 Dreamliner is made of lightweight, yet tough, composite materials, while most commercial jetliners are made from lightweight metals.
Based on information in the story, it looks like Boeing and the FAA have done a pretty good job of designing the Boeing 787 to be a safe commercial aircraft. While defendable, the story's headline strongly and unfairly suggests otherwise. For good or ill, no one is going to know exactly how safe the aircraft will be until -- God forbid -- one experiences a serious runway crash.
This story goes on for 26 paragraphs -- extensively citing five-year-old data -- before first mentioning that concerns about the 787's composite structure in a crash have been addressed with structural modifications that have satisfied experts at the FAA.
After 26 paragraphs, the story does give detailed treatment of how the 787 has been structurally improved since 2005, yet leaves readers with nagging doubts by quoting a "composite-materials expert" who hasn't worked for Boeing for 10 years, and left the company at least five years before Boeing experts started making modifications to improve the aircraft's crashworthiness.
I think I can see why the Tribune held this story for a slow holiday Sunday.
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