What do airplanes and sharks have in common? Maybe not a whole lot at the moment, but that could change – radically so – if aerodynamics research just getting under way at the University of Alabama pays off.
Dr. Amy Lang, endowed with a Lindbergh Foundation grant, has launched a study aimed at determining how the skin of fast-swimming sharks, which flex and bristle their scales when in hot pursuit of prey, can be applied to reducing aircraft drag.
The news yesterday that Piper was undertaking a review of its Altaire single-engine jet program raised eyebrows because it is unusual, to say the least, to announce such reviews—they are most often conducted behind the scenes and very quietly. In fact, we seldom learn about the existence of such reviews until after the company has decided to axe the program in question, such as when Cessna decided to discontinue its large-cabin Columbus program a few years back.
The conventional wisdom behind the evolution of aviation technology is this: if it's not what we're doing now, it won't work because we've thought of everything before and if it's not what we're doing, then it was proven at some point by somebody smarter than you not to work. I hate to say how many times I've heard that hoary logic applied to anything that had even a whiff of new car smell to it.
Strolling the million or so square feet of exhibit space at the NBAA Convention in Las Vegas, you’d swear you’d stepped into some strange parallel universe where the business aviation industry’s worst-ever downturn simply never happened. The show floor is packed with people and products, business jet makers aren’t skimping on their lavish Vegas exhibits and the mood – unlike at the past three conventions – is upbeat bordering on bubbly.
I got to thinking about what must being on in the minds of the leaders of business jet manufacturers right now, so I compiled a list of pros and cons to see if one really does have to be crazy to be in this business right now, or not.
During my 12-year flying career, I’ve had one engine failure. I was lucky. It happened during a takeoff in my Cessna 170, and thankfully the engine quit immediately after I applied full power on the runway. I was able to use what forward momentum I had achieved to roll onto the hard surface area between the runway and the taxiway. The experience made my heart beat a little quicker, but I never felt in danger.
There has been a lot of talk this year about student retention and what flight schools can do to inspire their customers to keep flying. I think one of the most important aspects of this issue is the student-instructor relationship. Learning to fly is a very intimate experience requiring many hours in close quarters. In some airplanes, the instructor and student are almost attached at the shoulder. Without a positive bond between the instructor and student, success is going to be difficult to achieve.
Generally speaking, information is a good thing. There are, however, exceptions to that rule. Big exceptions.
Sometimes a little information can be a bad thing, especially when it upsets the people flying with you in your airplane.
This came up yesterday in the most interesting context.
I was up at Cessna touring the new Cessna Citation M2, the latest iteration of Cessna’s remarkable CJ series. Sitting in the cabin of the mockup, I got the chance to talk with a couple members of the smart and talented team that put the finishing touches on this latest CJ.
The First Amendment guarantees our right to petition our government. For generations, Americans have used this right to organize around issues they care about, from ending slavery, to guaranteeing a woman's right to vote, to furthering the civil rights movement. Now, with the rise of the Internet, any citizen can create an online petition in minutes, post it to the official whitehouse.gov website and, if enough people agree with a particular point of view, have their collective voices heard.