In the 1960s, a great deal of excitement and anticipation surrounded supersonic transport (SST) aircraft in the business and commercial aviation industries. We’ve revisited the topic several times over the years as new developments seemed on the verge of becoming realities, like Spike Aerospace’s S-512 supersonic jet and Aerion Corp.’s experimental Supersonic Business Jet (SBJ). But roadblocks along the way have delayed their entrance into the market. Noise and emissions regulations, high costs, and safety concerns have cooled initial high hopes — and led to the demise of the Concorde, the only commercial SST jet — but industry experts still believe civil SST aircraft are on the horizon.
In December 2017, Lockheed Martin Corp. and Aerion Corp. announced they were partnering to manufacture a fast business jet that would fly up to Mach 1.4 and create renewed interest in supersonic jet travel. The partnership is interesting because Lockheed Martin is the biggest name in military aircraft, the company’s key focus throughout its history. However, the manufacturers at Lockheed Martin succeeded in building the world’s first business jet, which operated during the 1960s and 1970s. Leaders at Lockheed Martin and Aerion hope their first supersonic business jet, to be named the AS2, will take its first flight in 2023 with certification following in 2025.
Aerion and Lockheed stakeholders teamed up with General Electric Co. to design the new plane’s engine, which will allow the aircraft to fly up to 4,200 nautical miles at a speed 1.4 times the speed of sound. Aerion has already begun taking orders for the AS2 and expects to sell 300 over the next decade, according to The Washington Post article.
One of the biggest challenges for supersonic jet developers has been finding a way to minimize the sonic booms that occur when an aircraft surpasses the speed of sound. Such flights are prohibited over land, and Lockheed has been working with NASA over the past few years to come up with a way to mitigate the booms.
Aside from bone-rattling booms, AS2 makers also face the challenge of securing financing. To fund the supersonic business jet, Aerion plans to sell off as much as $200 million in debt. “That would get us through to the preliminary design phase, which would be about two years out,” said Brian Barents, executive chairman of Aerion, in an article in The National.
Aerion executives are willing to invest so much in developing the first supersonic business jet not only because they realize it will be a historical accomplishment but because the AS2 will also offer many benefits to passengers. It will be able to seat 12, and its faster-than-sound speed will cut three hours off a transatlantic flight from London to New York. That means a business executive could make the trip in just four or five hours, a tremendous benefit for executives whose businesses have strong presences in global markets. The jet could also carry diplomats, military, medical, or other officials to their destinations more quickly than other available transportation options. In addition, advanced aerodynamics will allow the AS2 to have a spacious, comfortable cabin without greatly impacting airframe drag and performance.
Although the AS2 likely won’t be operational for another seven or eight years, its development could be signaling the beginning of a new and exciting age for business aviation. Will AS2 technologies lay the groundwork for future supersonic business jets? Only time will tell. But for business jet travelers, time is money, and the ability to reach their destinations with such speed is something many are willing to pay top-dollar for.
Contact the experts at L & L International if you need assistance acquiring or selling a private jet.
Business aviation is changing. It’s expanding reach both into a new brand of customer — not just the ultra-rich — as well as into more global markets. That’s good for the industry, but active pilots and maintenance crews aren’t able to presently meet the demand. To combat this issue, industry leaders at the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) have created a mentorship program to guide individuals who are interested in business and private aviation, and congressional representatives are sponsoring initiatives to encourage more women to enter the field.
Those at the NBAA have initiated phase one of a mentorship program for people desiring to explore opportunities in business aviation. Representatives from the NBAA’s Young Professionals Council created the program along with Domestic Operations and Business Aviation Management Committee members. The program matches industry veteran mentors with those interested in learning about the industry or current aviation professionals who want to further their careers.
Newcomers — NBAA members paired individuals from the first group into 20 teams according to their common interests and goals. The 20 mentees include college students starting their careers as well as mature individuals wanting to deepen their knowledge and experience or take a different path within the industry. One mentee is actually a company CEO who wants to learn more about business aviation.
Mentors — NBAA members chose mentors for these newcomers from a pool of candidates who expressed interest via membership surveys. Those in each matched pair sign a confidentiality agreement, decide how often they will meet, and set a specified end date so both parties understand it’s not a never-ending commitment.
Phase one will go through June of this year, after which the NBAA has scheduled a nine-month program to begin in September 2019. The group hopes to launch its full mentorship program in fall 2020.
A push for more women
NBAA members aren’t the only ones growing their ranks. With room for opportunity, the business aviation field is predominantly male: Only 6% of pilots, 2% of airline mechanics, and 26% of air traffic controllers are female. Those stats prompted lawmakers to sponsor initiatives to bring more women to the industry.
One bill, the Promoting Women in the Aviation Workforce Act of 2017, urges industry leaders to “explore all opportunities, including pilot training, science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education, and mentorship programs, to encourage and support female students and aviators to pursue a career in aviation.” The bill calls for the FAA to sponsor a Women in Aviation Advisory Board and to explore ways to expand opportunities for women in the field.
In another initiative, lawmakers approved the creation of the Women in Aerospace Act. It allows several science agencies to open up grant opportunities to women. The bill also calls for NASA to prioritize recruiting and promoting qualified women and minorities who are underrepresented in fields such as aviation and aeronautics.
The actions NBAA members and lawmakers are taking acknowledge the need to advance diversity in private and business aviation. These methods are meant to develop and sustain the interests of individuals aspiring to aviation careers, which could help the industry keep up with business aviation’s expanding role. These programs help promote collaboration and idea exchanges both within the individual programs and the wider business aviation community.
The expert jet brokers at L & L International are here to help you acquire the perfect jet.
Although business aviation allows companies to cut down on time spent traveling by cutting out lines associated with commercial airline travel and flying direct to remote locations, passengers are still going spend time onboard. Making that time more productive can further increase the cost-saving benefits of business aviation.
With so many of today’s business activities taking place online, internet connectivity is no longer a luxury. Even a few hours of offline travel time can be very disruptive, which is why aircraft connectivity has become a requirement in today’s business jets. What should you know about business aviation, internet connectivity, and some available options?
Being unavailable en route is no longer a valid excuse. Most private jets are equipped to provide various levels of in-flight connectivity (IFC), allowing everything from simple email exchanges to high-bandwidth computational tasks. Connectivity relies on ground stations, a network of satellites, and a service provider that allows a properly equipped jet to use the networks. According to a Valour Consultancy analysis of the market for in-flight connectivity on VIP and business aircraft, there were 19,131 IFC systems on VIP and business aircraft at the end of 2016, and that number is expected to nearly double by 2026.
Providers are competing to provide faster data speeds, greater reliability, smaller hardware requirements, more global coverage, and increased ranges appropriate for a wide variety of aircraft. Today’s private jet customers expect a certain level of luxury and service and, increasingly, reliable connectivity is a requirement rather than a perk.
Whether for business or pleasure, travelers want the same type of connectivity in the air that they have while on the ground. In addition to voice and text, they want video streaming and gaming capabilities as well as data access, conferencing, and access to other internet-related tasks. In the future, your choice of jet may ride on its connectivity solution.
The downside of a connected aircraft
As with most things, with connectivity comes a downside. Advancements can come with increased complexity. Solution providers will need to offer increased levels of training and support to operators. Greater connectivity also increases opportunities for cyberattacks. Providers will need to have adequate security installed on their systems to protect passengers’ online activities but also to prevent hackers from taking control of or interfering with aircraft control systems.
The other concern is data costs. As more travelers are demanding fast speeds and data streaming, data usage can quickly spiral out of control. Solutions like Honeywell’s GoDirectAccess allocate usage, helping to keep costs in check. And some operators are even turning to pay-per-usage cards or offering higher speeds and streaming services for a premium.
As in-flight connectivity becomes standard in private and business aviation, competition will drive innovation. In the near future, these innovations could be what makes or breaks a deal to purchase or charter a particular aircraft.
The number of individuals who fully own their private jets — as opposed those who have fractional ownership or fly in chartered jets, is increasing. So, why does this matter? Because your level of ownership directly impacts the conveniences available to you in the air. What are the hottest amenities inside business and private jets?
Business and private jet owners now expect dependable in-flight internet access, and today’s technology can provide it in spades. With lots of high speed options, including satellite communications systems, you can connect anywhere in the world. And as we all know, connectivity is key in the world of private jet travel — especially for those flying for business.
Advanced cockpit technology
Advanced tech for pilots in the cockpit means a more comfortable flight for all. Pilots now have an increased ability to see turbulence in advance, allowing them to give passengers fair warning when things are going to get bumpy.
Moreover, new technology has given way to touchscreen controls, which provides pilots with more intuitive controls and a holistic picture of the entire aircraft.
Additionally, pilots now have greater visibility into inclement weather, so they can avoid danger and divert flights to the safest and smoothest paths. This is equally important with the increasing number of private drones hitting the skies, often interfering with flight paths, as avoiding them means avoiding a crash.
Private and business jet technology is also advancing “under the hood.” According to the Business Jet Traveler article, it now includes better engines, which means getting to your destination faster than ever.
Improved construction also means more cabin space and a quieter ride: On-board meeting rooms offer privacy for business matters, skylights can go from bright to dark and any level of tint in between, and improvements in galley size mean coffeemakers and extra wide high-temperature ovens are now available on many private aircrafts.
While these features are all impressive, industry experts predict technology will only continue to advance and become more luxurious. For example, telecommunications leaders are enhancing air-to-ground services to provide 4G LTE service, enabling fliers to stream videos from the comfort of their private planes. Other up-and-coming technologies include no touch flush toilets, ultra-thin video screens and holographic entertainment systems.
If you’re considering purchasing a jet, the experts at L & L International are here to help you find the tech you need for the cabin experience you’re looking for. Selling your jet? We can assist with that, too. Contact one of our private aviation professionals online or call +1 (305) 754-3313.
As electric car use grows more widespread, some aviation insiders hope electric aircraft propulsion will catch on as well. Through LeapTECH, a project under the Transformative Aeronautics Concept Program, NASA researchers hope to push commercial and private aviation to utilize more electric-powered aircraft over the next decade.
Electric flight has been around a lot longer than you may think. The first crewed electric-powered flight took place in 1973 when pilots flew the MB-E1 for nine minutes, reaching an altitude of about 1,000 feet.
For the next 30 years, solar power dominated electric flight propulsion, but mostly on light and experimental aircraft.
Over the next decade, electric-powered flight really took off with pilots setting or breaking new flight records nearly every year.
In 2011, pilots set seven new world records in a two-seat aircraft called the e-Genius when they reached 142 mph while climbing to an altitude of 20,000 feet in less than two minutes. Powered by an all-electric motor and a single battery, they flew 300 miles without stopping and didn’t burn a drop of fuel. Total energy cost for the flight? $3.
In July 2015, pilots completed a 37-minute flight across the English Channel from Lydd, England, to Calais, France, in the Airbus E-Fan. It was the first twin-engine, all-electric aircraft to take off and land using its own power.
Today, electric-powered flight is used mainly for light and small craft holding one or two passengers. Greener emission standards make it likely that electric-powered flight will be increasingly prevalent in small aircraft designs.
Research and development are underway for medium-sized and heavy aircraft, but the technology is still some way off. Business owners who want to purchase electric-powered private aircraft will likely have to wait another 20 or 30 years before nonexperimental planes emerge on the market.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Aeronautical Chart User’s Guide is a means of helping students and pilots understand FAA charts and publications. As visual flight rules (VFR) and instrument flight rules (IFR) have changed, FAA personnel have updated the guide. Now in its 12th edition, the FAA released the guide in an online version for pilots to access as part of their electronic flight bags (EFBs).
On the FAA website, the guide is broken into seven sections:
Terminal Procedures Publication (TPP)
Each of these sections offers an explanation of terms used as well as a “cheat sheet” of symbols that students can use as a study guide or experienced pilots can reference. A PDF version of the guide is also available.
According to Rob Mark in a Flying magazine article, the one failing of the new guide is that there are no practical quizzes to test new pilots’ knowledge. Despite this failing, the guide is a useful tool that all pilots at all levels should be familiar with.
25,000 miles. No fuel. 15 months. The first solar-powered flight around the world in the Solar Impulse 2 is being hailed as an “innovation in energy” in a Pittsburgh Post-Gazettearticle.
The cost of innovation
17,248 solar cells powered the Solar Impulse 2 during 500 flight hours. At times, it was a dangerous journey. The longest leg of the trip, from Nagoya, Japan, to Kalaeloa, Hawaii, was more than 117 hours (five days and five nights) over the Pacific Ocean. The pilot of that leg, Andre Borschberg, flew more than 5,500 miles alone. He slept only in short naps and did yoga and meditation to keep his head clear.
That stretch of the 17-leg journey cost Borschberg and his partner, Bertrand Piccard, a 10-month delay in their solar flight around the world. According to Brent Bambury’s Day 6 article, the long flight caused damage to the batteries used to store solar energy and Borschberg and Piccard had to raise more than $20 million to complete the necessary repairs and return to their trip around the world.
The lessons learned in this flight were many, but, according to the Solar Impulse Adventure page, among them is that overnight flight powered by solar energy is completely possible. The specially designed plane had a 236-foot wingspan, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article, making it wider than the wingspan of a 747, according to the Day 6 article. That was necessary to accommodate the solar cells to generate enough energy for the overnight flight period.
A problem-solving mission
The plane also needed to be lightweight. In the end, it weighed about the same as a family sedan. All of these factors combined could well shuttle in a new era in airplane design: One that takes into consideration the ability to use sustainable solar power and new techniques for building lighter aircraft.
While the team set records during this amazing flight, that they also designed, built, and piloted the Solar Impulse 2 is even greater. Piccard puts it best on the Solar Impulse Adventure page:
“Solar Impulse was not built to carry passengers, but to carry messages. We want to demonstrate the importance of the pioneering spirit, to encourage people to question what they’ve always taken for granted. The world need[s] to find new ways of improving the quality of life. Clean technologies and renewable forms of energy are part of the solution.”
At the Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Symposium in Florida, the first hosted by the Federal Aviation Administration, administrators Michael Huerta and Michael Whitaker explained where the agency is headed with regard to UAS. FAA decision-makers asserted their agency’s commitment to the safe, timely, and efficient integration of unmanned technology. Huerta and others also said that the FAA is taking the conversation of necessary and extraneous regulation very seriously.
Drones and other unmanned aircraft help as well as hinder. Highly publicized problems —such as firefighters forced to halt desperate firefighting operations due to a drone entering their airspace, for example — have the FAA pressing onward for clearly defined standards and regulations.
At the symposium, Huerta discussed the FAA’s UAS partnership with NASA to test various systems, including the administration’s UAS Traffic Management program focused on geofencing, altitude rules, and trajectory scheduling. These types of UAS integrations are critical developments and strong indicators of the engagement with and acceptance of UAS into the U.S. airspace system.
Unmanned aircraft systems represent the future for the industry and have energized an entirely new generation’s interest in aviation. It remains to be seen what effects legislative efforts will have on the rising interest and investment in public sector UAS projects.
When a large, commercial aircraft approaches an airport for landing, its pilot knows exactly where his or her craft is in relation to the ground — even in low visibility — through a combination of radio signals and high-intensity lighting, according to a Scientific Americanarticle.
Pilots of smaller aircraft — such as private jets and helicopters — do not have such technology and must rely on a different set of skills and tech, according to the article. In serious weather situations, accidents are slightly more common due to “controlled flight into terrain” (CFIT) incidents. According to a NASA report, over 30% of fatal commercial airline accidents globally are categorized as CFIT.
Pilots of all aircraft need to avoid terrain and obstacles during all phases of flight. Key technologies are being developed to enhance operational safety for the unique situations pilots face when operating at low flight levels — where the need for continuous awareness of obstacles and terrain is critical.
Solutions on the horizon
Engineers are constantly working to develop state-of-the-art vision enhancing technologies to aid helicopter pilots. According to a PR Newswire article, those at Dassault are working on a Combined Vision System (CVS) called FalconEye, while Honeywell Aerospace‘s Synthetic Vision Systems (SVS) have been a staple in the industry. The Honeywell SVS includes a 3-D view with computer-generated terrain overlaid with advanced symbology for increased situational awareness.
Dassault’s FalconEye CVS uses thermal and synthetic imaging. According to an Aviation Week article, this combined system approach means that real-time Enhanced Vision System (EVS) images are placed as an overlay on data-derived synthetic images. On the same display, this combined visual allows for a more precise approach and landing.
An eye on the horizon
The information provided by the CVS systems is particularly useful at night and during degraded visual conditions, according to Honeywell. Pilots will also enjoy reduced workload as buildings, oil rigs, ships, and other obstacles are accurately depicted on the visual display, leaving the pilot free to focus on the mission.
According to theScientific American article, Honeywell is likely to have some competition when its CVS hits the market in the next few years as others, including Ensco Inc., are also developing combined synthetic views.
Contact L & L International if you need assistance in purchasing or selling a private jet.
You can reach our sales specialists today at sales@L-Lint.com, call us any time at +1.305.754.3313, or visit us online.
Laser pointers — those cheap, entertaining trinkets that inspire household pets to chase and pounce — are causing significant problems for law enforcement. Most people see these red or green dot pointers as having weak lights, but they underestimate just how far light travels and the damage these lasers can do when pointed at aircraft.
While some may think the light stops before reaching a passing aircraft, but it doesn’t. Even the standard laser pointers used for presentations are bright enough to distract a plot. At distances up to 1,200 feet, the light from a standard laser toy can reverberate about the cockpit and cause near blindness, according to Jake Rossen, a Mental Floss contributor.
Lasing is a felony
Interfering with aircraft operation has long been a federal crime, but, according to an article from the FBI, the Federal Aviation Administration’s FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 made the act of intentionally pointing a laser at an aircraft a felony.
Since the FBI and the FAA began tracking laser strikes, there has been a significant increase in the number of laser illuminations, or lasing, by curious or malicious individuals on the ground. According to the FAA, as cited in a Laser Pointer Safety article, lasing incidents could increase 64% from 2015 to 2016.
What happens when a laser is pointed at an aircraft?
From the ground, it may seem that a small beam of light won’t make a dent on a pilot’s vision. But when pointed at airplanes and helicopters, a laser’s light can be significantly magnified by the aircraft windows. The windshield turns opaquely green and the strobe effect can cause a burning sensation in the eyes. According to a Popular Science article, lasing can even cause temporary blindness in affected pilots and crewmembers.
According to the Mental Floss article, the crew’s ability to see is seriously compromised and, while no lasing accident has been reported yet, pilots have been forced to change course, even in crowded airspace, and later required medical attention. Pilots who have been hit with lasers claim it’s the equivalent of having a very bright camera flash go off in pitch blackness right in front of you. According to an Air and Space magazine article, green lasers are especially harmful because the human eye is susceptible to damage from light in the yellow to green part of the spectrum.
The FAA, FBI, and local law enforcement teams have worked out a number of effective methods to find and prosecute those who point lasers at aircraft. Increased public awareness is helping somewhat, but tens of thousands of dollars and years of jail time and community service are doing a lot to curb enthusiasm for this curious activity as well.
Contact L & L International if you need assistance in purchasing or selling a private jet.
You can reach our sales specialists today at sales@L-Lint.com, call us any time at +1.305.754.3313, or visit us online.