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

Dassault Mercure: The Right Range in the Wrong Plane

In 1967 aircraft manufacturer Dassault, with support from the French government, embarked on the design and construction of a new narrow-body airliner to compete with the American Boeing 737 and McDonnell Douglas DC-9 airliners. When the first prototype flew four years later, it could carry 20 passengers more than the Boeing 737 despite using the same engines. The aircraft seemed well-placed to become a serious European competitor in the short-haul market, fifteen years before the Airbus A320 first flew. Instead the Mercure was one of the greatest commercial failures in aviation history. Dassault managed to sell only eleven aircraft (including Continue Reading

Why are Helicopters so Slow?

Helicopters are undeniably slow compared to aeroplanes. There is no pure helicopter that flies faster than 400km/h (250mph), yet aeroplanes have been going much faster for a long time, and even some trains and cars can go faster. The Short Skyvan, a propeller driven aircraft with fixed landing gear nicknamed “The Shed” by pilots, has about the same top speed as the world’s fastest pure helicopter. What do helicopters do differently? Helicopters have rotors instead of wings. This one difference leads to big changes because, unlike an aeroplane wing, a helicopter rotor has parts moving at different speeds even when it is hovering Continue Reading