Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Moio sudno na vozdušnoy poduške polno ugrey

This was one of my favorite visitors during the Olympics. Its a Tupolev 154 ( TU-154 ). Very similar to the Boeing 727, a loud, old-technology jet liner, with three engines arranged at the rear of the fuselage.

I thought at one time that these type of aeroplanes qualified as " Centre Line Thrust " types, but apparently not.

In a normal ( engines on the wing ) configuration, if one engine loses ( or two on the same side if you happen to be flying an extremely cool airplane ) power, a situation will exist where asymmetrical thrust will cause the aircraft to Yaw towards the dead engine. Not having a multi-engine rating, I'm not "formally" trained on this , but I have read a little bit. And I stayed in a Holiday Inn Express last night.

In some prop aircraft, there is the added hazard of one of the engines being the " critical " engine. It is critical, as the rotation of the prop and it's gyroscopic properties, will also cause additional yaw to the aircraft. If both the props are spinning in one direction, one of them will add to the total yaw moment being experienced by the aircraft and the other will subtract in an engine failure scenario. If you have yaw from only one engine providing asymmetric thrust and that yaw is compounded by the yaw created by the prop gyroscopically, you might have enough adverse yaw in the same direction to cause you to be unable to counteract it with the rudder.

This is solved in some aircraft by having the props rotate in different directions, or counter-rotating, if you will. This cancels out the critical engine effect regardless of which engine fails on you.

I imagine the reason all light twins are not counter-rotating is the costs associated with interchangeability of the engines, their mounts and all manner of ancillary equipment that hangs off of them. If they both spin the same way, you can mix and match, all the bits are the same on either side. In a counter rotating set-up, I think everything from the engine mounts to the props would have to be side-specific.

In any case, I guess the 727 and TU154 generate enough asymmetric power, even with their engines being relatively close to one another laterally, that they are not considered centre-line thrust. In fact, when I look up the definition of Centreline thrust, it specifies the "absence" of asymmetric thrust, not the amount of, as defining CL thrust.

Engines on an aircraft are numbered, starting from the captains left. In a twin, the #1 is on the left wing and the #2 is on the right.

In a 3 engine aircraft, #1 on the left side of the rear fuselage #2 in the centre and #3 on the right side of the rear fuselage.

There is an old story that the 727 was nicknamed a " Three-Holer ", not due to the fact that it had three engines, or air intake "Holes" but because it had three Lavatories.

Both the 727 and the TU-154 are loud. Very Loud.

I only saw the TU-154 land, so I can't comment from first hand knowledge on that one, but I fuel and see the 727 depart on a daily basis. The engines are loud enough on takeoff that you can feel it in your chest.

They also send out a giant plume of blackish smoke behind them as they power up for takeoff. I've seen pictures of old DC8s and 707s with the older generation engines taking off, and those kick up an incredible amount of black smoke. If those were around today, the environmentalist crowd would have a stroke.

I seem to recall that some of the older jet engines from that era were also water or methanol-injected. I also remember reading somewhere that the water/methanol was injected into the intake air to cool it evaporatively, causing it to be denser during compression. The side effect was partially burned fuel being shot out the back along with the water, causing a lot of black smoke. I could be wrong and I'm too lazy to google it. meh.

One thing that struck me about the 727 and the TU154 was the fact that the TU154 has a LOT of anhedral and the 727 has a modest amount of dihedral in the wing design.

Anhedral and Dihedral refer to the shape of the wings, wether they slope upwards or " droop " downwards in relation to the fuselage.

If you look at a Cessna 172, a high-wing aircraft, you can imagine that the fuselage of the plane acts like a keel when it is in flight. The weight hanging off the bottom of the wing, serves to stabilize it, just like a keel does in a boat.

So an aircraft with a low-wing, has the destabilizing effect of a lot of weight ( the fuselage ) sitting on top of the wing.

Thus, it is common for a low-wing aircraft to have the wings angle upwards. This moves the weight lower in relation to the wings and stabilizes things again.

In other aircraft, other bits of the plane, the wings, engines, stabilizers, etc, cause so much stability, that they need to " destabilize " things a little to make it possible or easier, to do useful things like being able to turn or climb. This is where Anhedral comes in, raising the fuselage up in relation to the wings.

Stability sounds like a good thing, but you can be too stable as well as too unstable. Some aircraft need to lean on the stable side of the equation, like airliners, as they are designed for heavy loads with smooth, easy flight characteristics. Other planes, like fighter jets, would prefer to be unstable, making maneuvering more dramatic and sudden.

The 727 and the TU154 have similar designs to my uneducated eye. Same engine-thrust setup, with the three-holer design. Similar size wings, fuselage and tail.

So why is the TU154 so obviously " destabilized " with the wing anhedral and the B727 " stabilized " with wing dihedral?

I'm sure there is a valid reason. Engineers, Russian or not, rarely tend to do things without a reason. Even if that reason is simply " because it looks cool ".

One other cool thing I noticed, and this might be related to the stability issue, is where the landing gear go.

On a 727, the fold inward, towards, and partially into, the fuselage. When they are down, they are just outboard of the fuse, under the junction of the wing and the fuselage.

On the TU-154, they fold backwards, into pods under the wing.

The landing gear are fairly heavy bits of airplane, by necessity of their function. Being in between 200,000 plus pounds of metal and the ground in a controlled collision, several times a day for the thirty years kind of dictates it. I wonder if having all this weight out in the drooped wings counteracts things?

I'm sorry, but the landing lights on the IL96 are just wrong.

Maybe its me, but it looks severely buck-toothed to me.

I tried to catch a picture of this while I was driving..

Thursday, March 4, 2010

The Russians Are Coming.

Well, actually, they've already left. But they were here.

One of the cool things that happened during the Olympics was the arrival of quite a few Russian built aircraft. We very rarely see some of these birds in North America, let alone Vancouver.

This is the Ilyushin 96, operated by the Russian State Transport company and came with some Russian dignitaries for the games. Rumours had it that Putin was on board, but I'm not sure about that. On further investigation, it looks like it was Medvedev instead.

They did have an advance team come in with an Ilyushin 76 ( a large russian freighter aircraft ) that had motorcade and security gear, but it was in and out so quickly I didn't have a chance to get over and take any pictures. I did get to see it land and takeoff though, that was a treat. The IL76 is actually a lot bigger than I though, I always assumed it to be the much smaller cousin to the AN124, but looking at it now, it is quite comparable.

This one I was very dissapointed to not have been able to see close up, or in flight. Its an Ilyushin 62. Very cool looking aircraft, with 4 engines mounted on the rear, similar to an MD80, but with doubled-up engines.

Like the IL96, once its passengers were offloaded, it took up a parking spot out on Runway 12/30. They parked a couple heads-of-state aircraft out there during the games.

I was actually a little surpised, as they shut that runway down and set up a little military air-base out on the Runway 30 end. This is where they staged the portable hangars for the CF-188 Hornets ( F18's ). My thinking was that if you have the runway all to yourself, with a base on one end where your fighters can be staged, ready to go, why don't you use the rest of the runway to just takeoff on? No delays, waiting for other aircraft to land or takeoff? I suppose in an actual emergency the fighters would get priority, but still, they have to taxi all the way out to the closest departure end. They were sitting on a runway, why not keep it clear and just use that? Runway 12/30 is usually the crosswind runway around here, given our prevailing winds are almost always east-west due to the location of the airport at the end of a valley, alongside the water. Most people around here even call it " the crosswind runway " instead of 12/30 as it is rarely used except in very strong north/south winds, which is very infrequent.

I doubt the CF-188 has any serious concern with anything but the strongest of tailwinds when taking off. I suppose its safer to avoid, but given the rest of the risk management that they accept and deal with as part of their job, I doubt a little tailwind bothers them all that much.

The hangars themselves are pretty neat.

They look to be brand-new, and took them a couple days to set up out on the runway. They are entirely portable, have their own electrical system inside, and open up on both the front and back sides. I imagine this would be handy for a temporary fighter base, as you could open both ends up and start up the jet right inside the hangar and pull out and take off without the delay of being towed out. I suppose you could pull in the same way as well. I never did see them do that though, it was always in and out with the tug and tow bar.

They also set up a pretty elaborate perimiter fence of concertina wire, and had armed gaurds out there as well.

Helio Courier

Saw an open hangar the other day and this thing sitting inside.

I remember seeing these things in the movie " Air America ", but I seem to remember them as being tail draggers.

The pilot was getting ready to take it up flying so I had the chance to chat with him for a few minutes.

This guy has The. Coolest. Job. Ever.

Basically, he works for a major US broadcasting company, and they pay him to fly this aircraft around filming sports events. He does a lot of US Football and of course, they sent him up here to cover the Winter Olympics.

There is a camera operator who sits in the back, working the expensive camera mounted under the left wing.

It was kind of incongruous, seeing all the fancy A-Star helicopters, with ball-turret camera mounts hanging off the front and stuffed with so much high-tech gear that some of the seats had to be removed...and then this guy....

Don't get me wrong, I love it. I think this is a brilliant solution to the problem and most likely extremely cost effective compared to the heli-cam operators.

He also burns AvGas, as this is a piston engine aircraft. From what I saw, he was one of maybe a very small handful of people at YVR burning AvGas during the Olympics. The fuel supplier that provided him with fuel could have easily just given him the keys to the their AvGas truck, the only time I saw it move was to come out and fuel this bird.

Oh, and he can get 10 hours endurance!!! Which he needs on occasion as he has to reposition this aircraft all over the US. At approx 100 Kts, its going to take a while to get across the country!

While they were fueling, I also noticed that he would leave one of the four tanks empty, on the side that had the camera mounted under the wing. I assumed this was to balance out the weight of the camera apparatus.

The coolest thing though that caught my eye was the fact that he has retractable leading-edge slats.

Leading edge slats are a high-lift device, used for changing the shape of the wing to make it more efficient at low speeds.

Most large airliners have them. On take-off or landing, they will be extended, along with the trailing-edge flaps, to change the shape of the wing. On takeoff and after accelerating, the flaps and slats are retracted to make the wing more efficient at higher speeds.

The Helio however, has no use for massive hydraulic systems to operate the slats, so they came up with an ingenious solution.

The slats are basically mounted on sliding rails. When the aircraft is standing still, gravity causes them to fall " out " and be extended. Once the aircraft is moving, and operating in the low-speed area ( where the slats are required ), gravity and the relatively low force of the air hitting them keeps them extended.

If the aircraft accelerates and is no longer operating at " low " speeds, then the slats are no longer required and are in fact hindering further acceleration. The higher air-flow hitting the wing at higher airspeeds however, pushes them up against the leading edge of the wing and holds them up in the retracted position!

I pushed them with my hand and they move very easily, say dishwasher-drawer type of force required.

Sorry, I think that is so awesome. I love a simple engineering solution.

According to the pilot, the retraction / extension speed for the slats is actually the same as the stalling speed for the aircraft.

So yeah, flying a cool aircraft, down low, by hand, over sporting events, all over the US and Canada.

It was just him and the camera operator as well, no support staff or management types hanging around.


I didn't ask, but I imagine he gets a serious amount of flying hours as well.

Handicapped Parking

Saw this happen the other day and had the camera handy to take a couple pics.

A dash-8 sitting on one of the taxi-ways for a long time, with other departing aircraft being routed around it for quite some time. Finally, the dash shuts down both engines and some buses and airport authority vehicles come out to meet it.

Passengers offloaded onto the buses on the taxiway and eventually, the aircraft was towed away.

We were actually using my camera as binoculars it has a pretty good optical zoom, to try and figure out what was going on.

Originally we thought the nose-gear was twisted 90 degrees off centre. There is a nose-wheel steering disconnect on the exterior of the dash-8's nose that you have to pull out when towing it. One theory was that they had forgotten to reconnect, or it failed mid-taxi, causing the nose wheel to suddenly lose directional control.

When we zoomed in with the camera it became obvious this was not the problem.

We spent a few minutes trying to come up with a theory that would fit having to shut down and offload your passengers in the middle of the taxiway and hold up all kinds of operations, instead of simply taxiing back the gate.

This post was actually going to just repeat the same questions we were asking, till I realized I could probably find out.

Checking the photo-file properties I got a date that I took the photo. Using the aircraft type, location and date, I searched the CADORS database and bingo.

Two blown Main Landing Gear tires.

( none of us guessed this.. )

Cadors Number: 2010P0201
Reporting Region: Pacific
Occurrence Information
Occurrence Type: Incident
Occurrence Date: 2010-02-14
Occurrence Time: 2110 Z
Day Or Night: day-time
Fatalities: 0
Injuries: 0
Canadian Aerodrome ID: CYVR
Aerodrome Name: Vancouver Intl
Occurrence Location: Vancouver Intl (CYVR)
Province: British Columbia
Country: CANADA
World Area: North America
Reported By: NAV CANADA
AOR Number: 116196-V1
TSB Class Of Investigation: 5
TSB Occurrence No: A10P0044
Aircraft Information
Flight #: JZA180
Aircraft Category: Aeroplane
Country of Registration: CANADA
Model: DHC 8 301
Year Built: 1989
Amateur Built: No
Engine Model: PW123
Engine Type: Turbo prop
Gear Type:
Phase of Flight: Taxi
Damage: No Damage
Operator: AIR CANADA JAZZ (5002)
Operator Type: Commercial
Event Information
Aerodrome or runway shutdown
Blown tire/wheel failure
Detail Information
User Name: Samson, Donna
Date: 2010-02-15
Further Action Required: No
O.P.I.: Maintenance & Manufacturing
Narrative: An Air Canada Jazz Dehavilland DH8C operating Flight JZA180, IFR Vancouver to Kamloops, experienced blown tires while taxiing for departure (runway 26L). Taxiway Delta was blocked and as a result up to 5 departing aircraft experienced up to 10 minute delays.
User Name: Samson, Donna
Date: 2010-03-02
Further Action Required: Yes
O.P.I.: Maintenance & Manufacturing
Narrative: UPDATE / Add Info from TSB: A10P0044 - The Air Canada (Jazz) DHC-8-300 aircraft (C-GETA), operating as JZA180, was taxiing for Runway 26L at Vancouver for a flight to Kamloops. The aircraft experienced two blown tires on the right main gear and became immobilized on Taxiway D. Maintenance replaced the # 3 and # 4 right main wheel assemblies. The failed wheel assemblies are being examined by company maintenance in Calgary and TSB will be advised of findings.

In Canada, the Civil Aviation Daily Occurrence Reporting System ( CADORS ) is a great way for NavCanada and other agencies to quickly disseminate information about a safety or regulatory issue without waiting for drawn-out reports, committee's, meetings or royal commissions.

If you do something wrong while practicing Aviation in Canada and someone saw you, chances are you will be the subject of a CADORS.

A CADORS doesnt neccasarily mean there will be any enforcement action. You may not even know that a CADORS about you even exists, unless your friends find it, and post it up on the bulletin board....

Nekko Chan.

Well, we had a death in the family recently.

My little Kitty, Nekko-Chan has gone to the great scratching post in the sky.

A few weeks ago, she simply stopped eating.

A few days went by before we both noticed it, and then we waited for another couple of days, trying to entice her to eat. We changed her food, bought her her favorite treats. Tried keeping the dog well and truly segregated from her. Tried moving her food, her litter, her toys and blankets to different places, with no luck.

Eventually, had to take her to the Vet to find out what was going on.

She didn't seem to be in any discomfort, just a little lazier than usual ( this is a cat, its hard to tell when they are being lazy-er ). The vet couldn't do much, as our car is not really very friendly. In fact, she is kind of mean.

I don't mean it in a bad way, its just that she wasn't much of a touchy-feely-come-pet-me kind of cat. She liked new people to the house, and would even deign to let guests pet her on occasion. Making TLW and I look like fools after we would warn people not to try and pet our cat and then she comes over and rubs up on their leg and purrs.

She was a rescue-cat and I remember the night we went and picked her up from a no-kill shelter run out of a woman's home that TLW had come across.

All the other animals were running loose in the house, the yard, the neighborhood, even. When we arrived to pick up Nekko though, the woman had to go and get her from a seperate area of the house. She told us at the time that it was because Nekko was a little shy around the other animals. I'm sorry, but that was a bold-faced lie. Nekko was probably making the abused pit-bulls cower and wet themselves, necessitating a little time in solitary.

We were given her in a box and we drove straight home. She sat so still in the box and without the usual fussing or meowing that cats in cars will do, that we thought she had died of fright.

We got her home and let out and she curled up in our laps and was very docile for the first couple days. Then, once the shock of the change in surroundings wore off, her regulalr perosnailty came back.

Her name, Nekko, means " Cat " in Japanese.

In Japan, " Chan " is sometimes added to girls names in an affectionate form. Sort of similar to Miss or Missy. Often, the fist name will be truncated and "chan" added on as an affectionate name for a young girl. Julia might become Ju-Chan, Tomoko would be tomo-chan, etc.

She was our Nekko-chan.

You could pet her, if she willed it, for a few strokes. The top of her head only, maybe one or two down the cheek. Touch her tail, her tummy, her back or her sides and she was going to draw blood.

I'm not even kidding. She'd give you a warning growl if you were lucky, but if you ignored that, the next one was a full-claws swipe. I've had grumpy cats before and the worst was a hiss and a swat with claws retracted, to let you knwo they were unhappy, but generally still acknowledging that you as the human were still the alpha.

Not so much with Nekko. She knew very little fear.

Both TLW and I had a couple instances over the years where we were attacked by her. Both times, we would be sitting down, watching TV and she would come full-tilt across the room, out of the blue, and hissing and spitting, take a few swipes at you before racing away. TLW got it in the head/hair once and and we both got it in the ankles as well. Its more than a little unnerving, believe me. That was a few years ago though, whatever we were doing that pissed her off so much, apparently we've stopped doing it.

In any case, the Vet tried examining her and was met with the Claws of Doom and her best Death-Howl. He wouldn t even touch her and asked me if I could hold her for him to examine. I laughed and told him "No.", not without those heavy duty falcon handling type gloves on. Even then, she was extremely uncooperative, to the point where sedating her and keeping her overnight for blood tests was the only option.

One day and a large sum of money later, we brought her home, with the bad news. He thought she might have a fatal, incurable disease. He gave us some antibiotics in the hopes he was wrong and that she might get her appetitie back, but no luck.

A few days later, she was on her last legs. She was practically falling down out of exhaustion and dehydration. One last trip to the vet and now she's gone.

She was not an easy cat to love, but we loved her.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010


Wow, so much has happened in the past few weeks. I don't even know where to begin.

In fact, I've been unable to properly string together a post in almost a week of trying. Theres three or four half-baked entries loitering in my edit-bin. Victims of me getting started and running off foaming at the mouth and trying to tell fifteen stories at once.

I'm going to try a new tack, as my usual 8-page run-on rambling entries are actually starting to intimidate me. I feel bad for you, having to read them..

I'll try to post a little more often and a little more on-task. It's hard though , when you have eight billion stories trying to bust out.

I'm thinking I might try and pre-bake a few entries and then go in and " release " them on a little more regular basis. When I get the urge to sit down and churn out some words, I have no problem spitting out five or six pages of drivel. So, instead of sticking one title at the top, I'll split it into six different entries. We'll see how it goes..

First big piece of news..... We're having a baby! Yup, The Lovely Wife is pregnant, three months pregnant to be precise. We've been trying for a while and things finally clicked just before Christmas.

This is one of my younger brothers and his baby. That's me holding Joel and apparently channeling Salman Rushdie.

Excited, Terrified, Nervous, Busting-out happy. I'm trying not to dwell too much on it, as I know there are going to be some major changes coming up, for both of us and the direction of our lives. But I think it's going to be one of those things better handled as-they-come and not to get too worried about trying to wrap a master-plan around everything.

Still looking for flying work, or any other new challenge on Aviation that scratches the itch.

Not that I've given up on finding a flying job, but the reality of my situation, my qualifications, the aviation industry in general, the industry in Vancouver in specific and the economy overall, dictates that I might need to focus on finding something that will build my skills and experience, and at the same time allow me to earn a living.

Since I know that chances are I will be here in Vancouver for at least the next year, I've started looking into a couple new directions.

- Flight Dispatching
Something I've found interesting in the past and would definitely challenge me on a whole new level. Not that my current job isn't satisfying or challenging to a degree, but the level of new challenges and learning on a daily basis are significantly lower now that I have a bit of experience.

- Flight Instructing
This one requires some funding to get an instructors rating, and no guarantee that I will find instructing work at the end of it. I think I would be good at it, given my previous " teaching " experience in Japan, and of course my passion for the subject at hand.

- Para-dropping or other part-time work
I suspect the opportunities here are a little limited, but if I could find something part-time, that would allow me even just enough flying to allow me to keep my skills current, I could tough out a year on the ground a little easier.

haha, there I go off into the wild blue babble-yonder.... I said I would keep it short and on-task....and now it's nothing of the sort...

I'll have a few entries worth of photos and stories about the Olympics, so I'm not going to go too far into them right now. I'm still awaiting the O'Hangover to clear before I can tell if people are calling the games a success or if my prediction of a flop was accurate. I suspect I may have been slightly off....I was surprised, both pleasantly and unpleasantly on more than one aspect of the festivities...

This wasn't the Olympics, but rather the ferry lineup sometime in the last couple years. I thought his performance worthy of note.