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Thursday, February 26, 2015

Aero India

The Aero India Air Show is the second-largest air show in the world after the Paris Air Show. It was started in 1996 and takes place every two years. The tenth Aero India took place from 18th to 22nd February 2015. In the past few years, it has become the most important military air show for foreign countries to display their aircraft. The MiG-35 and the F-16IN Super Viper was first unveiled at the 6th and 7th Aero India shows respectively. It is held at the Yelahanka Air Force Station and is organized by the Ministry of Defence.

The 2015 edition of the Aero India had 72 aircraft as part of the display and numerous countries including USA, Britain, Sweden, Czech Republic, etc. The main events of this show was the flyby of the Tejas and the HAL Light Combat Helicopter, which is now in the test phase. The main theme of this year's air show was the Make In India campaign started by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi who aims to build 70% of the country's defence equipment in the country. (Above right): A HAL Tejas on display.

Image result for c-17 globemaster iiiImage result for f-16The majority of the foreign planes in the air show were from the USA, including two F-15s, two F-16s, a Kc-135 tanker, A C-17 Globemaster III and a P-8A maritime surveillance aircraft.

(Above Left): A C-17 Globemaster III in flight. (Above Right): A F-16 Falcon

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Sunday, February 22, 2015

Aerospace Companies: HAL

Hindustan Aeronautics Limited Logo.svgHindustan Aeronautics Limited is a state-owned defence and aerospace company managed by the Indian Ministry of Defence. It is based out of Bangalore and has several centres across India. It is one of the largest aerospace companies in Asia, and has a number of airports in various parts of the country, including Nasik, Lucknow, Kanpur, Bangalore and Hyderabad, among others. HAL has collaborated with many multinational aerospace companies, including Airbus, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Sukhoi Aviation Corporation, RSK MiG, BAE Systems and Dassault Aviation, among many more. (Above): The logo of HAL

HAL was initially launched as Hindustan Aircraft in Bangalore in 1940. This was a time when few large kingdoms such as Gwalior and Mysore were still active, and the Maharaja of Mysore actively funded the corporation by investing 25 lakhs and 700 acres of land for the first factory. (Left): The Saras, a passenger plane being developed by HAL and the National Aerospace Laboratories.

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The factory was organized and equipped by William D Pawley from the Intercontinental Aircraft Corporation in New York. He managed to secure a lot of tools and machines from the USA. A one-third stake in the company was bought by the Indian Government, mainly to increase British military hardware to counter the threat of Imperial Japan in World War II. The first plane built there was a Harlow PC-5. (Right): A Harlow PC-5, the first plane built by HAL.

On 2nd April 1942, the government bought out the stakes of all the promoters to get free rein over the entire company. The kingdom of Mysore refused to yield its stakes, but gave management over to the government. The nest year itself, they gave the factory to the US Army Air Force, although retaining management. The US quickly expanded the factory into one of the largest repair and overhaul centres in the East, and called it the 84th Air Depot. The first plane to be overhauled was a PBY Catalina, followed by almost all aircraft used by India and Burma. The factory was returned to the government in two years, and after independence in 1947, it was taken over the new Government of India. (Above right): The HAL Tejas.

Officially, HAL was formed in 1964, although its foundation had been around for over 20 years. From then on, the company's operations increased, with multi-million dollar contracts from major companies to manufacture spare parts, engines, etc. The HAL Tejas and HAL Dhruv were two of the many aircraft developed and manufactured at HAL. A advanced Mig-21 called the MiG-21 Bison was also developed. (Left): The HAL Dhruv.


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Saturday, February 14, 2015

Iconic Planes: Concorde

British Airways Concorde G-BOAC 03.jpgThe Concorde is undoubtedly the most recognized and well-known commercial passenger planes of all time. It was one of the only two passenger planes ever to have been able to break the sound barrier. This plane was built by Aerospatiale, a French aircraft company, and the British Aircraft Corporation. The Concorde could reach maximum speeds exceeding Mach 2 and had seating space for about 92 to 128 passengers. It could cover routes in less than half the time of normal aircraft. However, only 20 were built, and its development was quite an economic loss for the companies concerned. Thus, the aircraft was discontinued after 2003. (Above): A British Airways Concorde taking off.
 
Concorde, when it was built, was one of the most advanced planes ever built, constituting a delta wing shape with an ogival fuselage (the term "ogive" refers to the roundly-tapered end of an object. The external tank of the Space Shuttle is an ogival object). It also constituted a fly-by-wire system and advanced circuitry. (Left): The ogival shape of the Space Shuttle's external tank.
 
The Concorde was powered by 4 Olympus turbojet engines which were modified so that they were very efficient at high speeds. This gave the Concorde the highest supersonic range of all planes. However, these engines were extremely fuel-guzzling when not at full thrust, and consumed almost 2% of the aircraft's total fuel just getting on to the runway. Afterburners were required during take-off and the initial climb, after which they were switched off. All these factors made the Concorde highly inefficient on the whole.
 
The high supersonic range of the Concorde required a very thin fuselage with an extremely long nose. This meant that only 4 seats were in each row with an aisle in the middle and headroom was quite short. Undoubtedly the most brilliant feature of the Concorde was the way the nose could droop. During taxiing, take-off and landing, the nose was drooped so that the pilots could see the runway and their surroundings properly. During flight, however, the nose was raised so as to minimise drag. (Left): The rather cramped interiors of the Concorde. (Right): The nose of a Concorde droops as it comes in to land.
 
Quite shockingly, the thin fuselage of the Concorde actually flexed at high altitudes and speeds due to outside forces. This was reported by many passengers who sat at the rear end of the aircraft, who could see the forward buckling slightly. However, this had no profound effect on the airplane's airframe in general. The Concorde's landing gear was also extremely long and strong due to the way the delta wings generated lift, increasing stress on the rear of the aircraft. Also, the whole plane was constructed out of an aluminium alloy to prevent metal fatigue due to huge differences in temperature and pressure. (Right): The longer-than-usual rear landing gear of the Concorde.
 
However, despite the technical leaps and advanced technologies which the Concorde facilitated and incorporated, its impact on the environment was its eventual downfall. Combined with the noise its engines created and their inefficiency, the Concorde was doomed to live a short life. The noise it created was so great that routes had to be planned over the sea most of the time to not disturb people in the more populated areas. Due to its high altitude and nitrogen-oxide-filled exhaust, the Concorde also contributed to ozone layer depletion, though most claim that its effect was negligible due to the fact that only 20 were ever built. (Left): The intake system for the Concorde's engines, which were cleverly designed to be efficient despite all the various temperatures encountered during a supersonic flight.
 
All in all, the Concorde is, and will remain, one of the most iconic commercial planes of all time, whether its due to its advanced technology and engineering brilliance, or just due to its plain cool looks. A Concorde is on display at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Centre in Virginia.
 
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