Who Wants a Nuclear Powered Cruise Missile?

Back in February 2019 when Russian news websites posted the first articles about the new Burevestnik “nuclear powered cruise missile”, I almost wrote about how ridiculous the idea was, since clearly nobody would be silly enough to build a nuclear powered cruise missile. The whole thing was surely just Russian propaganda exaggerating the abilities of a new project, like they had with the PAK-TA back in 2015. Fast forward to August 2019 and an apparent explosion during an engine test killed at least five people and spewed radiation into the atmosphere. I’m no longer so sure, maybe the Russians really Continue Reading

Airbus A340: Making the Same Mistake Twice

It is possible to hide an aircraft in plain sight. Ask most people how many four engined aircraft Airbus has produced and the typical answer is two; the A340 and the A380. The correct answer is three, the differences between the A340-200/300 and A340-500/600 are such that they are by any standards different aircraft, despite similar appearances. Compared to the baseline A340-200/300, the A340-500/600 has: Newer, larger, heavier, more efficient and more powerful engines from a different supplier. A new wing of increased span, sweep and area. Enlarged vertical and horizontal tailplanes. Modified landing gear with extra wheels. Fuselage lengthened Continue Reading

Did Boeing Trick Airbus into the A380 with the Sonic Cruiser?

There is something of an urban legend that Boeing deliberately used the Sonic Cruiser to trick Airbus into building the A380 and pouring billions of dollars into a project that was doomed to huge costs and moderate sales. I came across it most recently doing an online Strategic Management course from the Copenhagen Business School. The course director, Robert Austin, mentioned it as a classic example of a strategic ploy by one company to trick another, despite it by his own admission not having been confirmed by either side. Which got me thinking, could it be really true? The Case for Continue Reading

Why We Will Never See a Solar-Powered Airliner

The recent adventures of Solar Impulse II almost completing a round-the-world flight (1st of August 2016 update: Congratulations to the Solar Impulse team, they have completed their circumnavigation!) have shown that solar-powered aircraft are undeniably possible. In an ever-changing world where aviation is under increasing pressure on both cost and environmental grounds to reduce fuel consumption, is it just a matter of time then until we see a completely solar-powered passenger aircraft? Let’s have a look at the numbers. Can we put Solar Panels on Everything? Aircraft use a huge amount of energy to fly, and the energy is stored very densely Continue Reading

Russia Does Not Start Designing New Super Transport

Over the past few days Russian media sites such as Sputnik and Russia Today have been reporting on plans for a new super-heavy transport aircraft for the Russian Air Force, under the title “PAK-TA”. There were conflicting statements about the specifications, although the aircraft would undoubtedly be huge, carrying 200T+ of cargo over 7000km (4350 miles). However what stood out most was the unusual design presented in all the articles. It is unclear why the design is coming from the Volga-Dnepr (a specialist cargo-charter airline), when other sources claim that Ilyushin (an actual design bureau) will be designing the aircraft. What is however Continue Reading