Hybrid Air Vehicles’ (HAV) Airlander 10, the world’s largest aircraft, has successfully completed its first flight.
The aircraft, which at 92m in length is longer than both the Boeing 747 and an Airbus A380, completed its maiden flight at Cardington Airfield in Bedfordshire England on Wednesday evening (local time).
The four-engined Airlander 10, with chief test pilot David Burns and test pilot Simon Davies at the controls for the 19-minute flight, during which the aircraft climbed to a height of 500ft and reached a maximum speed of 35 knots while remaining within a 5nm area of the airfield.
“It was privilege to fly the Airlander for the first time and it flew wonderfully. I’m really excited about getting it airborne. It flew like a dream,” Burns said in a statement.
HAV, the company behind the project, said “all test objectives were met during the flight”.
“These included the safe launch, flight and landing of the Airlander 10 and a series of gentle turns at increasing speed. Some technical tests on its hull pressure were also undertaken,” the company said.
HAV said there was strong customer interest in the aircraft, which could be used in search and rescue, communications, cargo and even passenger travel. There were also defence applications.
The flight test program was expected to last “a number of months” before it is taken on trials and demonstrations with potential customers.
The Airlander 10 had the capacity to carry 10 tonnes of payload and was powered by four 325hp, four litre V8 turbocharged diesel engines.
It had a cruising speed of 148km/h and could reach an maximum altitude of 20,000ft.
And the helium filled, laminated fabric construction hull provided about 40 per cent of the vehicle’s lift, according to the Airlander 10’s technical data sheet.
The project also had the potential to create 400 jobs in the UK, HAV said, as 80 per cent of Airlander’s supply chain was British.
Virgin Australia changed its operating procedures for aircraft pushing back from selected gates at Melbourne Tullamarine after an on-the-ground collision with a nearby Jetstar Airbus A320 in 2013, the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) says.
The incident, which occurred on August 10 2013, happened when the left wingtip of a Virgin Boeing 737-800 VH-YID pushing back for departure hit the tail cone of a Jetstar A320 VH-VGR that had just arrived from Sydney and was holding short of its gate.
The ATSB’s final report on the incident, published on Thursday, said the ground controller had issued pushback approval to the Virgin 737 located at gate E1 that required the Jetstar A320 to be on gate D2 before pushback could commence.
The Jetstar Airbus ended up stopping short of gate D2 after the automatic nose-in guidance system (NIGS) displayed a “STOP-WAIT” message.
The crew then transmitted to the controller that they were holding short of the gate because of the NIGS, the ATSB report said, then repeated the message about 40 seconds later because the first message had been “over-transmitted by another aircraft”.
“The message was acknowledged by the controller, who requested to be advised when the aircraft was at the gate,” the report said.
As a result, the Jetstar aircraft was not in position before the Virgin aircraft commenced its pushback.
However, the ATSB report said the dispatcher of the Virgin 737 looked under the aircraft and saw that the Jetstar A320 had stopped, then waited for 15-20 seconds “to confirm the aircraft remained stationary”.
“While VGR was actually holding short of the gate, the dispatcher formed the opinion that the aircraft was on the gate based on the observation that it had been stationary for a period of time,” the ATSB said.
“This was consistent with their experience and as a result, they did not move to a position from where they could accurately assess VGR’s location.
“The pushback of the B737 was commenced with insufficient clearance from the A320, which was not identified prior to the collision as the dispatcher’s position to the right-front of the B737 prevented observation of its left wing.”
The left wingtip of the Virgin 737 contacted the tail cone of the Jetstar A320 immediately aft of the operating auxiliary power unit. The tail cone fell to the ground.
While the ATSB report noted that from dispatcher’s perspective, the Virgin 737 obscured most of the Jetstar A320, it was normal practice for Virgin not to use a wing walker during pushback from gate E1.
“Following this occurrence, Virgin Australia Airlines Pty Ltd provided a local instruction to Melbourne Airport ground staff that stipulated the gates that required the presence of a wing walker prior to push back,” the ATSB said.
“Gate E1 was included in that list of gates.”
In terms of the radio communications between the flight crew of the Jetstar A320 and the ground controller, the ATSB said it was “not reasonable to expect that the transmission from VGR could have alerted the crew of YID to the collision risk”.
“In addition, in the lead up to the collision, the crew of VGR were communicating with their company to resolve the issue with the nose-in guidance system at the gate. This limited their ability to identify and therefore react to the collision risk.”
There were no injuries resulting from the incident.
Tigerair Australia has emerged as the biggest improver in punctuality in 2015/16, new figures show, with the increase in operational reliability resulting in higher customer satisfaction scores.
The Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics (BITRE) report showed 84.4 per cent of Tigerair’s domestic flights arrived within 15 minutes of schedule in the 12 months to June 30 2016, up 5.1 percentage points from the prior year.
Tigerair finished well ahead of its low-cost carrier rival Jetstar, whose on-time arrivals went backwards 4.7 percentage points to 78.2 per cent in 2015/16.
It was a similar story for on-time departures, with Tigerair improving 3.7 percentage points to 84.4 per cent, while Jetstar suffered a 6.9 percentage point decline to 75.1 per cent.
The airline also had the second lowest cancellation rate in 2015/16 at one per cent, behind Regional Express (Rex) at 0.5 per cent.
Tigerair chief executive Rob Sharp said recently improving on-time performance has been an area the Virgin Australia-owned carrier had invested heavily in.
“We’ve put processes in place that are designed to be dependable, replicable. We’ve also enhanced infrastructure access – infrastructure has been a key element to turning the business around on the operational side,” Sharp told delegates at the CAPA – Centre for Aviation Australia Pacific Aviation Summit in Brisbane on August 4.
“Partnering with best-of-breed engineering and also investing in a number of customer innovations which have also improved on-time performance.
“No magic silver bullet, lots of particular focus areas have come together.”
Sharp said the focus on punctuality alongside other operational changes have been noticed by passengers, with customer satisfaction up 20 per cent since October 2014, while 75 per cent were likely to recommend flying with Tigerair to their family and friends.
“One of the main factors that is obvious to people around Tiger is the on-time performance,” Sharp said.
“Even at the budget end of the market, getting people to where they want to go, to the footy match or the wedding or whatever is really, really critical.”
“The customers who are flying us are seeing a changed organisation.”
Previously, Tigerair has credited the work of BAE Systems Australia, which provided base maintenance services for its fleet of Airbus A320s, securing better access to terminal gates, check-in counters and kiosks at Sydney Airport and the move to Melbourne Tullamarine’s new Terminal 4, as factors in improving the airline’s punctuality.
Meanwhile, Virgin was Australia’s most punctual airline in 2015/16, with 89.5 per cent of its flights arriving within 15 minutes of schedule and 90.6 per cent of departures pushing back on time.
The airline finished ahead of Qantas, which had an on-time arrivals rate of 88.8 per cent and on-time departures rate of 89.7 per cent.
Among the regional carriers, QantasLink had the highest percentage of on-time arrivals at 86.4 per cent, while Rex took out the on-time departures’ honours at 88.5 per cent.
On-time arrivals for 2015/16 (figure in brackets indicates percentage point change from prior year)
Virgin 89.5% (+2.7)
Qantas 88.8% (+1.6)
QantasLink 86.4% (+2.3)
Rex 85.5% (+0.5)
Tigerair 84.4% (+5.1)
Virgin Australia Regional 83.8% (-1.0)
Jetstar 78.2% (-4.7)
Virgin network 88.8% (+2.4)
Qantas network 87.5% (+1.9)
On-time departures for 2015/16 (figure in brackets indicates percentage point change from prior year)
Virgin 90.6% (+2.4)
Qantas 89.7% (+1.4)
Rex 88.5% (+0.3)
QantasLink 87.1% (+0.9)
Tigerair 85.5% (+3.7)
Virgin Australia Regional 85.2% (-1.7)
Jetstar 75.1% (-6.9)
Virgin network 90.0% (+2.1)
Qantas network 88.3% (+1.1)
A mesma situação do “Pânico” na Band se aplica ao caso do Geraldo Luís na Record.
O contrato dele termina em março do ano que vem e sobre renovação nada foi além da conversa num jantar com Douglas Tavolaro, quando o SBT ameaçou entrar no circuito. Depois daquilo, mais nada.
Flávio Ricco com colaboração de José Carlos Nery
Não houve, pelo menos até aqui, nenhuma conversa da direção da Bandeirantes com a dupla responsável pelo “Pânico”, Tutinha e Emílio Surita, sobre renovação de contrato.
O que se informa é que ainda existe tempo para isso. O atual compromisso vai até março de 2017.
Flávio Ricco com colaboração de José Carlos Nery