From the HODâ€™s Desk It is heartening to see the revival of Airspace , the annual magazine published by the students of Aerospace Engineering Department, a er a long silence for 4 years. Much water has own under the bridge since the last edition of Airspace in the year 2010. erefore, the expectations out of the current issue are naturally high. In the recent past, three new faculty members have joined the department Prof. P.J. Guruprasad (Aircra Structures Group), Prof. Kowsik Bodi (Aircra Propulsion Group) and Prof. Aniruddha Sinha (Aerodynamics Group). Dr. Eberhardt Scott, who worked in high-li aerodynamics with Product Development at Boeing Commercial Airplanes, was with us from Seattle as Visiting Professor for a semester during July-November, 2012. Dr. Scott owns an airplane and ies it as well. It was a rare opportunity for the students to learn a course on aircra design from Dr. Scott who has practical experience of working for one of the largest global aircra manufacturers. ere has been a steady increase in the students number and also in their active participation in various extracurricular activities in the department. But the most popular and signi cant one is the annual aviation festival, Zephyr, which has snowballed into a truly national event. e main highlight of the program is the technical lecture series consisting of spellbinding talks by eminent scientists/technologists inspiring the students to dream big. Dr. Vijay Saraswat, who formerly served as Director General of the DRDO and the Chief Scienti c Advisor to the Minister of Defense, enthralled the audience in Zephyr 2013 by his talk Future Challenges of Aerospace Research in India: a Perspective . is year, there were three talks Flight Test Data of Tejas by Shri Shyam Chetty, Director, NAL, Bangalore; GSLV-D5 Project by Dr K. Sivan, GSLV-D5 Project Manager; and "Inertial Sensors - Today and Tomorrow Performance in Mangalyaan Mission" by Mr. D. Sam Dayala Dev, Deputy Director, IISU ISRO. e department is buzzing with innumerable project related activities the most eye-catching being the mid-night visits by the students, including those from other departments, to laboratories for technology demonstrator projects such as Matsya (autonomous underwater vehicle), Shwas (underwater glider), Chaturpaksh (quadrotor MAV), Contra-Rotating Axial Flow Compressor, Autonomous Mars Rover, etc. to name a few. Most of these projects are gaining international attention. I admire the way our students are shaping themselves into ne all-rounders, taking lead roles in team work, participating in mentorship programs and representing the institute in sports and cultural activities. It is a matter of pride for the whole department that of the last ve Dr. Shankar Dayal Sharma Gold Medals, instituted for graduating students for all-round performance during their stay at IIT Bombay, three have been awarded to our students Mandar Kulkarni (2009), Manas Rachh (2010) and Yashovardhan Chati (2012). It may surprise many that two very important bio-medical research activities have been initiated in the Aerospace Engineering Department- shock assisted drug delivery and cardio-vascular ow dynamics. During the last two years, several of our UG students have attended international conferences abroad with support provided through Boeing funds. Currently, the department is placed 58 in QS World University Department-wise rankings (Aeronautical, Mechanical and Manufacturing), and at the top in the country. I am sure, students and faculty of the department will work together more cohesively to take this ranking further upward every year.
Prof. S D Sharma
From the EDITORâ€™s Desk Hurtling towards the red planet in a heliocentric trajectory at a speed of 28 kilometres per second, the Mangalyaan has instigated more debates than most other Indian space programs. Inspite of the widespread acclaim the MOM has garnered in light of travelling to Mars on a budget, some have called it part of the Indian elite s delusional quest for superpower status . e debates might linger on, but the incredible cost-e ectiveness achieved is only part of a legacy of frugal engineering bequeathed by Indian scientists and engineers alike, which was clinically apparent back in the days when a famous photograph of the APPLE satellite being transported on a bullock cart did the rounds. e latest edition of Airspace strives to be an appreciation of this renewed Indian drive for excellence in the aerospace technology rmament. Featuring a centerpiece spread by Ashok Chakra awardee Rakesh Sharma on the perils of investing in a manned-space program, the magazine has catapulted itself into being one of the nations most reputable magazines, besides already being Indias only student aviation magazine. e issue also features diverse articles elucidating the various career options available to a prospective aerospace engineer in its Career section, besides keeping its readers abreast with cutting-edge aerospace research through its Research section. ere is also an International section, exemplifying the major developments permeating the world of aviation, with comprehensive accounts from the industry, professors and even the students themselves. e magazine, at the time of its inception was a landmark step in bridging the divide between the world aerospace ecosystem and the students, but has remained dormant for the past 4 years. It gives me great pleasure, therefore, to breathe life back into this exemplary initiative, thus setting the tone for more issues to follow. e Aerospace Engineering Department is one of the smallest engineering departments at IIT Bombay, but apart from running the institute s student satellite program, has spawned a multitude of impactful initiatives, viz., a one-of-its-kind social outreach program in Udaan and the country s biggest aviation festival in Zephyr. At the time of writing, the Mangalyaan had already traversed a distance of more than 300 million kilometres, and inspite of the doomed fate shared by all such rst attempts to breach the Martian atmosphere, the MOM is a symbol of irrepressible hope for an Indian populace brimming with a rekindled desire to touch the stars.
Team AIRSPACE Editor-in-Chief Rohit Nijhawan
Designer Bikash Behera
Contributors Abhishek Jain Anant Kekre Anurag Mundhada Ardhendu Pathak Arjun Satya Avnish Kumar Wg Cdr (Retd) Deepak Sathe Kshitiz Swaroop Prof. K Sudhakar Mritunjay Prasad Prof. P J Guruprasad Rajat Chakravarty Prof. Rajkumar S Pant Wg. Cdr (Retd)Rakesh Sharma AC Tannishtha Sanyal
1 How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Academia
Notes of a hitch‐hike from aero to education TANNISHTHA SANYAL Starting Up: Zeus Numerix ABHISHEK JAIN
9 DRDO and Gulfstream Internship experiences
Dr. P. J. GURUPRASAD
2 What’s in a CPI? RAJAT CHAKRAVARTY 5 Stay Calm and Don't Panic
11 Aerospace Industry 13
AIRBUS perspective ARDHENDU PATHAK The Indian MIT Are we there yet? Dr. SCOTT EBERHARDT Curious Case of MH370 ARJUN SATYA
17 Should India Go for a Manned
LEISURE HINDSIGHT RESEARCH
Space Programme? Wg Cdr (Retd) RAKESH SHARMA AC Race for Air Supremacy in Asia A brief history and a peek into the future MRITUNJAY PRASAD
27 Why Microcombustion?
Prof. SUDARSHAN KUMAR
29 The Hyperloop Project
More than just a pipe dream AVNISH KUMAR Airships for Regional Air Transportation in Remote Areas : A case study for Uttarakhand Prof. RAJKUMAR PANT
35 Dreams of Flight
Tete‐a‐tete with an Air Force pilot
Wg Cdr (Retd) DEEPAK SATHE
37 I Open at the Close
30 years at IIT Bombay
10 The Big Picture
Prof. K SUDHAKAR
26 The Cosmic Eye ANANT KEKRE 39 Gods of Death ANURAG MUNDHADA
How I Learned to Stop Worrying and
Love Academia Sipping a cup of co ee, my friend asked, Was it by choice? . I replied, Yes . He further prodded me, "Was there ever any doubt?". I shook my head, smiled and answered, "Never". Now my friend was curious. He had to get it over his head. It was a question that he had been wanting to ask me for a while. He nally questioned me, "But why?".
It is true that being part of a leading organization with a history of strong focus in R&D can be quite rewarding. However, being part of an organization also becomes a big constraint. One has to toe the line of the management of the organization. e decisions are based on nancial implications, as it should be I guess, given the high stakes involved and their obligation to their shareholders. e question was whether I wanted to be part of it or not.
We were sitting at a roadside cafeteria beside the river Seine on a bright and sunny day. e view across the "You are right. However, I believe there is more river was picturesque. I had met my friend to inform upside in academia. You can him that I will be leaving pick and choose Paris in another week. My In academia my ideas may not be research work that suits you; plans were nalized. I had decided to relocate to it need not have immediate or accepted, thesis may be rejected even long term nancial Mumbai to pursue a career and opinions may be contested implications. It maybe in academics. It was not a but they will be atleast respected. something that is purely profession that many took driven by scienti c inquiry," I up. Naturally, my friend was replied, as if I was prepared to curious. ere are so many answer his question. myths surrounding the academic profession that my "Again lo y idealistic and romantic notion of friend was eager to get more insight about them from me. I played along. academia," he said sarcastically. "I pity tax payers for funding your scienti c inquiry," he laughed. "Hey, I "Freedom," I said. He did not understand, there was a didn't mean to say that I would only pursue such puzzled look on his face. "Freedom is very important interests," I said with a defensive tone. "I was just giving you an alternative to the regular sponsored and to me. Freedom of thought, expression and speech," I consultancy projects that one can take up in continued. "It is not possible for me to work in an academia. You get to work on problems of national environment that does not have any or all of this. In importance. Not to mention, there is additional academia my ideas may not be accepted, thesis may be rejected and opinions may be contested but they money you get by taking up consultancy projects. will be atleast respected," I said. ese endeavors are not just intellectually and emotionally ful lling but also nancially lucrative," I replied with a smile. "Now, do you see the big My friend was now thinking. "Surely you can't choose picture?" I questioned him with a straight face. a profession just based on such lo y idealistic He was not done with me yet. "Where does teaching reasons," he said. " e reasons that you have given are t into this grand plan?" my friend asked. I replied very abstract. Shouldn't you be practical? With the with a quote from Richard Feynman, "I don"t believe kind of educational background that you have, you I can really do without teaching. e reason is, I have can join any leading research and development to have something so that when I don't have any ideas organization and work on the forefront of technology. and I'm not getting anywhere I can say to myself that I don't understand your choice," he reasoned. at least I'm living; at least I'm doing something; I am Meanwhile, the waiter came and asked if we would making some contribution -it's just psychological." like to have anything to eat. We were beginning to get I don't think he was convinced with my answers but hungry and ordered couple of fresh croissants to go he seemed content. He was glad that I was not getting with another cup of cafĂŠ au lait. into a profession for the long haul without giving it su cient thought. We paid our bills, got up and His reasoning was ne. It was one of the rst thought started walking towards the metro station where he that had crossed my mind when I was in the process wished me the best and bid adieu. of making a decision. I had given it su cient thought.
1 AIRSPACE â™Ś 2013 - 2014
Dr. P. J. Guruprasad
Dr. P. J. Guruprasad is an Assistant Professor in the Dept. of Aerospace Engineering at IIT Bombay. He would like to describe himself as a rookie teacher, a deluded researcher, procrastinating idealistic thinker...or, as his wife would have it, an idiot.
What’s in a
Not so long ago, the writer was an IITian. By de nition, he wasn t average: just far below in this case. Being a ghati, carefully secured in a 500-acre campus blessed with dogs, maa and dogma; he let the opportunity exploit itself. Fortunately, he was a 5-pointer for most of his stay, and his simultaneous love for problem solving and doing research seemed quite logical to him. What also seemed logical to him was that he was being logical all along. He spent all his time mustering up certi cates, mess food, death metal and then writing poetry about it all.
When time decided to accommodate his busy agenda by scheduling exams, he would study. He didn t overdo it though, much to the delight of his below-average CPI. However, strewn between myriads of exams, some of which he needed to give more than once, were an internship, a seminar and a dual degree project. As his credentials would have it, all of these weren t served on a platter to him. Among his various other passions like not bathing regularly, debating badly and eating chocolate, he would somehow manage to cajole his professors of his desires to do CFD (that s Computational Fluid Dynamics for the uninitiated). Whether it was naïve sincerity or the deodorant that did the trick still puzzles the writer to this day; but rest-assured, he was quite a shameless contradiction. His rigorous internship and seminar only fuelled his false sense of self-belief. You see, dogma
in IIT dictates that research prospects and a bad CPI don t go hand in hand. Irrespective, he kept plugging away on turbulence modeling, hypersonic ow theory and his supervisor s motivations of publication.
Enter ﬁnal year: Everyone was too busy doing their DDP by preparing for interviews, making resumes and buying suits. With ambition in his mind and dabbling in his heart, he too tried his hand at nding a job. Soon, trying-to-get-placed turned to placing-to-get-tried. Interview calls were far and few. When it clicked, the writer was too busy justifying things ranging from his CPI to his overgrown hair. Long story short, he never got placed.
An ordinary lout in his position would start considering other options; like CAT, nirvana somewhere in the mountains, possibly o -campus placements, but least of all, a Ph.D. position in North America. In his free time, he kept working on his applications, GRE and TOEFL. By divine intervention, seeing his e orts, his committee handed him a 10/10 in his rst stage of DDP. at changed everything. He started applying le -right-and-center for Ph.D. positions. Rejections came in thick and fast, but didn t seem to matter given placements trained him well to face disappointment. Finally, in the month of June, just days before leaving campus, an interview call from a professor from the University of Saskatchewan, Canada came along. Very impressed with the DDP thesis and completely unbeknownst to the writer s bathing habits; a Ph.D. position was o ered. Given no one had really heard of the university before, the writer s skeptic friends, family and batch-mates didn t quite appreciate his academic forage in the wilderness. But much like his deviant tastes in music, they let him be and wished him well.
Rajat Chakravarty is a Ph.D. student and sessional lecturer in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Saskatchewan, Canada studying ﬂow visualization in turbulent ﬂows. He graduated from the Dual Degree program in 2011 after having survived 5 years in IIT being a hostel secretary, club convenor, institute speaking secretary, a member of InsIghT, Udaan; and ﬁnally, an erstwhile editor for this magazine.
ankfully, Canadas cold preserved the writer s body really well. e facilities, infrastructure and guidance he got, were world-class and fuelled his misplaced desire of research even further. Within 4 months of being there, he already began publishing his ow visualization
AIRSPACE ♦ 2013 - 2014
algorithm outputs at a research conference in Sicily, Italy. In less than two years, the writer already has 2 conference proceeding submissions and a journal paper submission under his belt. All of this amidst being the Vice-President and then the President of the Indian Students Association; being nalist at 2 Canadian Parliamentary debate tournaments; winning the Saskatchewan Open Public Speech; being Resident Assistant for his hostel; going on 5 vacations around Canada every year and all the friendships and adventure that came with it.
As it is with so many of life s endeavours, the trouble with research is that the thrill of being lost and trying to pave a path only comes a er one invests a threshold amount of time in it. We become so obsessed with direction and goals, that an unknownstate-of-mind suddenly becomes uncomfortable. An intellectual pursuit into the unknown quickly becomes overwhelming, boring and frustrating.
Give research a fair chance
I for instance contacted my present supervisor directly with my DDP Stage 1 thesis. A er having reviewed the quality of my work and a 2-minute interview, I was o ered a PhD position straightaway.
However, developing patience and mental fortitude is itself part of the research process. Allergic reactions to research are natural All in all, he enjoys the graduate student life. Life moves slowly at the outset, and that has more to do with our academic no doubt, but one discovers himself in the upbringing. e rst few Eureka best ways possible when one gets to do what moments are always the hardest to Allergic reactions to one wants. e writer would argue that Ph.D. come by, but in due course, they research are natural at the life is also quite comfortable nancially become the driving force for the earning around 2500 CAD (INR 1.65 lakh) a outset, and that has more to future. It s a similar paradigm shi we month through various sources with living made while preparing for JEE over and do with our academic expenses around 1000 CAD gives ample scope above the board exams; I don t see why upbringing. to indulge. Otherwise, he cooks, reads, plays research can t follow. sports, travels, debates, swims, watches movies, parties, meets people from all over Justifying the bad CPI the world and still nds himself wanting to do more things. To sincerely not try to maintain a good CPI is bad enough; but to naïvely correlate a good CPI with research acumen and graduate A couple of weeks ago, the writer was barracked into writing an school admission is even worse. You must remember that CPI is article for this magazine. Free words of wisdom are exactly what a much stronger re ection of austerity in coursework than they are worth; but if the writer has really learnt anything these research; and while grad schools typically use it as a metric to several years, here s a quick snapshot of what he has to say: generalize student austerity, it s not everything they look at.
From the day we arrive at IIT; we are bombarded with the various templates of IIT life: seniors, batch-mates and professors (and possibly articles like these!) thrown at us. We keep dabbling with various activities until equilibrium sets in and we invariably end up choosing only those activities that give us the most immediate return on investment of subjective interest.
3 AIRSPACE ♦ 2013 - 2014
A great way to neutralize a bad CPI is to keep building research experience. Plug away at a research project with publishable outcomes. Build a toolbox of skills needed in your research eld to market to professors. www.aero.iitb.ac.in/airspace
Think Beyond the Rankings
e di erences in standards across engineering colleges in India can be quite glaring. As IITians, primed by our past successes, we always want to strive to be at the best places. However, we let this notion get the better of us when it comes to choosing graduate schools. We nd ourselves better o without a research opportunity than choosing to be at a place any lesser than a top rung university which in itself is a strange irony given most of us don t do the same for other things like internships and placements! Unfortunately, not everyone makes it to the best universities. However, that s not to say that cutting edge research happens only at these universities either. My university was only a recent entrant to the list of 15 of Canadas most research-intensive universities; but still boasts of Canadas only synchrotron facility and Nobel laureates. Having visited several universities here in North America, I can say that the di erences are far more minimal than what the rankings will have you believe. e facilities in most research-intensive universities in the western world are top-notch and will almost never hinder your research scope. Every university has its niche areas of research. As a graduate student, you immerse yourself in competition with a global community of fellow researchers and not necessarily with better-ranked universities. Your worth shi s from the pre-assigned credibility of your university to your individual prowess as a research scholar.
It s almost impossible to nd Ph.D. students without funding here. Canada additionally allows you to work o -campus while being a student, which in itself works out to be a comfortable option for students who have not been able to secure enough funding from university in their starting semesters. ere are several scholarships on o er here as well, which though competitive aren t outstandingly di cult to earn if you are sincere about your research and coursework.
e last 2 students who le my laboratory as Ph.D. students for jobs are earning 80,000 CAD a year and 72 CAD per hour respectively. Canada is a growing, stable economy and there are lots of engineering jobs available. Academia is also a rewarding and respected profession, though not everyone necessarily follows that route. Canada also o ers permanent residence to Ph.D. students two years into their program.
The Bottom窶人ine Research isn t for everyone, but a good CPI, jobs and the doctrinaire IIT-life isn t either. Graduate study for many is a continuing process of discovery, but for some, a new beginning.
AIRSPACE 笙ｦ 2013 - 2014
Stay Calm and Don't Panic Notes of a hitch-hike from Aero to Education Do I want to continue to study aerospace engineering? Do I want a core job? Do I want to do an MBA? Do I just want a ashy corporate job doesn't matter what really, because you know, that's where the money is. What else is out there? Sound familiar? It was very familiar to me circa 2008. It was enormously confusing and almost depressing because of the silly notion that by the time you graduate you must know what to do with life. I had no clue. I started weighing all the options that lay ahead.
Making a career choice based on pragmatic concerns My seminar topic Collision avoidance in swarms and a course on ight mechanics had me seriously considering research as an option. To test the waters further, I did a summer internship at EPFL Lausanne working on simulations of quad-rotor mechanics. Nothing went as per plan during the internship and I, rather hastily in hindsight, concluded that I didn't have the patience and drive to be a researcher. Also, studying abroad, in fact continuing to study anywhere itself felt like an expensive aspiration as I had an education loan to payback. Aerospace researcher, in fact researcher all together crossed out. e Department of Aerospace Engineering had been brilliant in providing us with multiple opportunities to experience the aerospace industry in action through visits to conferences like Aero India and organizations like GE, Honeywell, NAL. However, it was mostly all structures and propulsion-related work and the only subjects that I had ever really enjoyed (and understood somewhat!) were ight mechanics, optimization and controls. Also, any decent job required advanced degrees and didn't pay as much as their ashy corporate counter-parts. I equated work with money as that meant ridding myself of my loans as quickly as possible. Aerospace job crossed out. I attempted CAT half-heartedly, didn't get any calls. I went through the drill of chasing the hallowed day 1 job. I eventually got a day 7 job, which was something to celebrate in December 2008 the year of the massive global recession. I thought I had not sold out too completely as well because I applied only for companies that I thought worked with real world applications of di erent optimization techniques and my DDP was related to optimization. I was somewhat excited. As I worked at Cognizant Analytics (erstwhile
5 AIRSPACE ♦ 2013 - 2014
Market Rx.), the initial excitement soon became a restlessness to get away. I learnt the di erences between an academic setup and an industry setup and started appreciating academia so much more distance makes the heart grow fonder maybe. In an industry setup, sometimes the data manipulation becomes imperative because sometimes people just want to hear that the data corroborates what they already know or what their bosses believe in. To be fair, business doesn't just work on data, it works on the wisdom of the gut feel of experienced folks. But not trying to nd any real answers and focusing on pleasing people did not feel nice. Another round of disillusionment with the corporate world at large was underway. Just the money wasn't motivation enough.
Volunteering for Education full-time from part-time
I was going by the book until I met a young bathroom attendant who was trying to teach herself English and Math. I started taking extended loo-
As I continued to volunteer, it became evident to me that no serious social development work can be part-time. breaks to help her learn and researched open school options for her in my spare time. I then went on to lead many a volunteering activities of Cognizant Outreach in and around Gurgaon in under-resourced government schools and nearby slums. As I continued to volunteer, it became evident to me that no serious social development work can be part-time. Part-time work tends to be shoddy and irregular o en as there is little accountability, and can cause more harm than good. is is not to say that no volunteers do good work, just that it is systematically di cult to ensure quality and regularity of work.
Tannishtha has an eclectic professional background in affordable education start-ups, the business analytics industry and aerospace engineering. When not busy trying to ﬁgure out how best she can contribute to improving education in the nation, she likes dancing, reading, writing, sketching and of late, running half marathons. At IIT Bombay, she was often holed-up with her computer writing and editing for yet another magazine. She is very happy as an ex-Editor that Airspace is back!
For example, most of my e orts at Cognizant Outreach went into rallying volunteers together and the same volunteers rarely stuck on for more than a weekend or two. With classrooms, preparedness and continuity matter a lot, else children learn nothing and at worst, lose motivation. us, we quickly abandoned our naïve and idealistic teach on Saturdays idea to conducting one-o events like sports days and www.iitb.ac.in/airspace
CAREER educational excursions, even leading school enrollment awareness drives in slums and clothes/stationery collection drives. We also helped fund teacher salaries and school uniforms. Did that directly improve reading levels and math abilities? I think not. What that did accomplish though was making the children feel special and volunteers worth their while on weekends, thus inspiring a few to take the plunge into the development sector fulltime. It did so with me.
What has working at Avanti been like? At Avanti, we provide low-income high-school students a world-class science and mathematics education. And we do that without trained teachers or conventional lecturing at our learning centres. 40% of students of our pilot learning centre cleared the JEE advanced in 2013 and Pearson A ordable Learning Fund just invested in Avanti.
parents and supporters that where there is a will, there is a way. And that's what I have learnt for myself as well. Although I have never been athletic, I not only ran the Mumbai half marathon this year (Jan'14) covering 21 kms in 3 hours 20 minutes, I also raised Rs. 1 lakh from wellwishers and supporters for Avanti's nonpro t work. I am making my education loan installments just ne even now, in fact having become a tad wiser about my expenditures.
But, what about money? I nally mustered up the resolve to be a part of Teach For India (TFI), because the simplicity and clarity of their mission had always appealed to me since 2009 and I had loved my stint as a teaching assistant at college. I got selected but at the same time I got promoted at work. I got cold feet, a promotion meant more money, TFI meant meager just getting-by money (INR 2 Lakh per annum) I didn't join TFI. How would I continue to payback my education loan? I continued looking and found out that there are many ways - foundations, fellowships, social consulting rms, even grassroot organizations by which you can be enabling social development and still be repaying loans, seeing movies on weekends. For example, the TFI Fellowship may not pay much but corporate roles (manager, director) with TFI pay anywhere between INR 6-10 lakh per annum based on t and experience. And then I came by the opportunity with Avanti just as it was poised to grow. It combined a decent enough pay (INR 6 Lakh per annum) and the opportunity to build an organization from the ground up. is time I found my courage. One ne day I woke up and told my bosses at Cognizant that I quit.
Stay Calm and Don't Panic (Thank you, Mr. Douglas Adams!)
Education especially is in the middle of revolution world-over – what with MOOCs, peer instruction – and is beginning to flourish as an independent research field. If there could ever be a more exciting time to be a part of it, it is now. Working there is really like any other job in the sense that there are boring parts ( ling expense reports of your travel to the same school, day a er day for weeks) and thrilling bits (a school nally agreeing to partner with Avanti, a er months of negotiations!). What sets it apart is the vast degree of freedom to try new things constantly and the environment of meritocracy irrespective of age/experience. So if you're up to it, it is quite the ride depending on how you drive, for you will be in the driver's seat from day one. e unifying theme of my work at Avanti, and I have donned many hats as its 6th employee marketing, fundraising, impact assessment, data systems, operations, business development has been convincing students,
My loan was never a real constraint to making a career choice, just a convenient ruse. And we all have our ruses. As students of a premier institute, no matter our backgrounds, we, you and I, owe it to our privileged education and intellects to genuinely and constantly re-evaluate how we can best create value in the world. e wealth will follow. My ambitions have been undergoing a lot of metamorphoses over the years but I have never been as excited about anything as I am about quality education for all. Education especially is in the middle of revolution world-over what with MOOCs, peer instruction and is beginning to ourish as an independent research eld. If there could ever be a more exciting time to be a part of it, it is now. But I still have many questions buzzing in my head Do I need to start earning more again? Should I nally do that MBA? Should I do a Ph.D. in education technology? Should I just take a sabbatical and back-pack around the world on a shoestring budget? And this time around I am looking for my heart's voice before factoring in constraints. .
AIRSPACE ♦ 2013 - 2014
Zeus Numerix Introduction Something unthinkable had happened at IIT Bombay and of course, with the blessings of the main building and the Aerospace Engineering Department. A newly printed blue board was the rst thing you could notice the moment you entered the Aero Annex in 2004. It read Zeus Numerix Private Limited on the rst line and Dept of Aerospace Engineering on the second. Zeus was not an unknown word for many, the IITZeus group of CFD lab was quite famous. What bewildered most onlookers were the words private limited . A company inside IIT Bombay was not a new concept as KReSIT has had some idea based start-ups in the IT domain earlier. Zeus, however, was the rst experiment where IIT Bombay was transferring its IP back to its inventors and the company was to be located inside an engineering department. As I would narrate later, it was quite hilarious to explain the same to the visitors, customers and friends.
Call it providence but the team from the beginning was quite diverse in terms of geographical a liation, temperament and skill set. ough a few members le in the beginning, since then it has proved to be a wellknit group. No divorce is the rst hurdle that needs to be crossed for making a successful technology company. is does not mean that we did not have our ghts but in the end we could let it go.
Advice is is the most painful part of an entrepreneur s career. We tend to get a lot of advice and mostly from people who did not even do anything closer to running a household, let alone a company. e sad part is that their advice does a ect us. Since I do not have the energy to ght lawsuits of contempt, I ll share bits and pieces of the personally received advice we ve accrued over the years without taking names. If Nirma can be sold, why can t we sell CFD
so ware? e department was generous it gave us space, internet and access to all common facilities like the seminar hall, projectors and toilets (we realized this a er we moved out and had to manage a maid service). Only 5-10% companies survive till the 10th year and Zeus completed its 9 years just a month back, some things must have been done right!
e Team We have learnt and are still learning in more ways than we thought how a team is important.
7 AIRSPACE ♦ 2013 - 2014
Why are you people even doing CFD, you
should be simulating molecules in motion instead! Why at all are you people doing this? You will never survive against these big companies. Why don t you people diversify? (most unspeci c advice) Given that there are 10,000 colleges in the country and assuming that 10% buy our so ware , will we earn Rs. 10 Crore, given that one license is sold for 1 lakh rupees?
Abhishek Jain is an alumnus of the Aerospace Engineering Department, IIT Bombay and works for Zeus Numerix, the department's ﬁrst incubated company as the VP, Strategic Partnerships. Zeus Numerix has customers ranging from DRDO to the Airbus group. He received the DST-FICCI-Lockheed-Martin India Innovation Growth Medal for the company. His technical experience is centred around simulation of hypersonic ﬂows and axial fans and has 5 research papers to his credit.
is is not the end; there are digressions like www.aero.iitb.ac.in/airspace
CAREER attending too many seminars on entrepreneurship, which are made out to be those small self-help groups who will try to mentor you, reading magazines with content on similar lines and so on. ey are good but how much of that is good is suddenly lost. Vice-versa is even worse. Once you are invited to lecture on entrepreneurship and you deliver it well, you automatically get more invites. If you are accessible, you end up on that lecture circuit as a famous gyaanchand.
Perils of starting-up e journey always begins with seeminglyinsurmountable di culties, each of them recurring time and again. So I will recount some of them. e most basic one of them all is cash. It is not there. Zeus was lucky that it took its rst project in collaboration with IIT Bombay at the time of the start of the company. is meant that the founders and employees were above poverty line from day 1 (not the case with most). But that was it for us, no more than being just above poverty line. e rst payment from a client was delayed and that meant the salaries got delayed as well. It is di cult to explain at home what happened. But there are bigger issues than money and the biggest three get their paragraphs. ◘ Marketing Who will do the marketing? Just sample this one of the employees today simulated an aircra and he got a Cd (coe cient of drag, for the uninitiated) value with an accuracy of 2%. e other guy sat down on a phone and made 50 calls, attended a lunch he gave to the customer, eating with him in a hotel. e sudden feeling is that this tech guy has worked hard, making his code work while the marketing guy has just enjoyed. So what is the eternal mistake: out-source marketing. I have heard statements like We are technical people and thus, they will do the marketing work , We should not be concerned about their work at all . We need to nd a person who will market within the core group. How can you expect an MBA to guide his customer whether CFD analysis of a high AoA missile can be done with ½ symmetry or not? Customers are most of the times tied to a person, and so, when he leaves the customer goes. We have already lost a staggering 50L on account of this basic mistake.
◘ HR If there is one thing that does not follow any law of physics, it is human behavior. If this HR involves non-IITians, non-technical people, then it is a test of patience for some of our fraternity. ese are the things that we have to deal with: Insecurity In a big company a failure is shared collectively by a large group of people. Here, the same is not possible which scares many people. Decision-making is very poor and constant guidance is required. Culture Like me, many of us just come to a start-up directly from college which leads to no or very little professionalism on the employees part. is gets re ected in their mannerisms i.e., coming to o ce in short-pants, coming late, uncultured interactions with clients etc. It wrests on someone, to eventually break the mold. www.aero.iitb.ac.in/airspace
Diminished brand visibility ere was an employee who resigned because his prospective father-in-law had never heard of the company and was pretty unsure regarding his long-term job stability. So you need a company in which you can y in trim condition, as seen from an observer s frame of reference. e only bene t of a small company is that you can get to know the people around you on a very personal basis and if they turn out to be su ciently friendly, get to know their problems and help them solve the same. Yes, nding a place on rent is one of them!
◘Legal To those who think only MA courses are complicated, welcome to the world of company law. e problem is to catch up with the law. It is not good to write about the speci cs but su ce it to say that you will need a competent person to handle the legal and accounts side of your company. Don t mess up there. As per law, under varied scenarios, the directors are liable to many o ences.
Winding up So, is starting up all pain and no gain? Oh no, it is about a lot of experiences and satiating a desire to do something di erent and may be make a lot of money. When the space boom you made ies in air or when you receive your rst national award, it is something that I will not leave to words. e IIT name counts so the rst customers we made were the ones who would agree to meet us only because our address was in IIT Bombay, but over time we have consolidated our image and have been getting o ers from all around. So to end this not so useful article, I will do what is to be done to end this give advice. I will keep it short. Please do start a company now. You are young and have responsibilities tending to zero. is essentially means that your focus will be more on work rather than the price of onions. Secondly, no matter how many times you read this article, mistakes will be made. Lastly, entrepreneurs are people who look very con dent on the outside, but on the inside, they are scared as hell about everything. So the next time you feel something like that, just realize that you are not alone. When in doubt or trouble just go to SINE (www.sineiitb.org). We all grew up there.
AIRSPACE ♦ 2013 - 2014
Gulfstream and DRDO
is piece is a comparative discussion of my 2 internship experiences. My sophomore year internship was in the Solid State Physics Laboratory, a DRDO undertaking and third year internship was at Gulfstream Aerospace, the biggest corporate jet manufacturer in the world.
The projects At DRDO, New Delhi, I was working with the hydrophones group of SSPL. ey had recently developed very sensitive hydrophones (acoustic underwater sensor); and were working to utilize them in arrays for use in submarines. ey were also collaborating with other marine research institutes for various uses like use on torpedo, underwater mine detection and sea bed scanning for minerals. My exact work was to gure out how to reduce the weight and thickness of these arrays so that they could be used on submarines. e biggest challenge was to ensure the neutral buoyancy of the array for di erent sea-depths since sea density changes with depth without compromising on its acoustic sensitivity. In Gulfstream, Georgia, USA, I was working as a manufacturing intern in the manufacturing plant of their newest aircra G650. Precisely, I was working in their Systems Integration group comprising of 5 other manufacturing engineers. My basic job was to ensure the smooth functioning of manufacturing; resolving issues reported in quality audits and manufacturing issues faced by the technicians. Alongside this, I was also working on a project aimed at reducing the manufacturing hours in their paint shop.
The work model and culture I believe that the biggest di erence between the two setups is how they de ne their goals and the work ows; and also the processes they adopt as a consequence. In a private industrial set-up, every goal has a direct nancial cost and bene t attached to it, down to the smallest task, more so in my work as a Manufacturing Intern at Gulfstream. In SSPL, the goals are more focused over creating a product, the nancial analysis of the same being the last part of the proposal. is leads to both advantages and disadvantages in both the set-ups. While a pro t-centric model does sti e a lot of innovation both in terms of the scope of the project and what all will be pursued ; it is bene cial in terms of the e ciency . e limited resources of the organization thus get invested in productive projects. Additionally, if a project is going nowhere, it can easily be identi ed in terms of cost accounting and the expected bene ts giving an impetus to performance. e downside is that employees usually work towards safer ventures with immediate bene ts rather than riskier ventures with long-term bene ts.
9 AIRSPACE â™Ś 2013 - 2014
Productivity and individual drive In a governmental set up, you undoubtedly get a lot more freedom to pursue riskier ventures and the same is encouraged. For example, the group I worked with was developing a one-of-its-kind sensor in the world for more than 2 years. e downside is that since there is no impetus to provide immediate results, a sense of lethargy in the functioning does set in. Also, since there is no metric to directly assess performance, productivity also su ers. A technician in my group at SSPL had so much free time that he was simultaneously working as an an LIC agent. It would require a highly motivated individual to pursue his work with excellence in this limited feedback environment. But that is the cost you have to pay for doing major innovative work which is the reason for the existence of these labs.
Perks and miscellaneous Another interesting di erence was the attitude of the engineers/scientists towards the technicians, the expertise and training undergone by them and of course, their pay. e ones at Gulfstream were used to a more expansive lifestyle than their DRDO counterparts, driving DODGE Rams, Harley Davidson et al. An important lesson for my juniors here is that working in the core sector pays big time, you just have to work at the right place. Technicians are treated as equal team members with most project ideas, process innovations being suggested by them . eir inputs regarding the practicality of solutions being suggested by engineers are also valued. eir knowledge base was also impressive, as most of the interns used to approach them with all their major problems and went to the engineers only for the minor ones.
Working hours and food e major downside of working with Gulfstream was the unholy working hours from 5 in the morning to 4 in the evening. SSPL was more relaxed in this regard with the typical hours being 10:30 AM to 5 PM with a 1 hour lunch break. e atmosphere was more relaxed with you being allowed to set your independent hours as long as the work was done. Gulfstream is a little stricter in terms of time keeping since your every task is billed by the hour to ensure accurate cost analysis. On the lighter side, another di erence was the company cafeteria with SSPL canteen being obviously cheaper and the Gulfstream canteen being better with a lot more range (only if you are a non-vegetarian) with the menu including subways, burgers, pizzas, burritos etc. Each dish though, required a high amount of pepper and salt to make it palpable for the Indian taste.
Kshitiz Swaroop is a ďŹ nal year B.Tech. student studying aerospace engineering at IIT Bombay. He ended up in core internships despite zero aptitude or inclination towards the same, and began to ďŹ nally appreciate the same. He is currently praying to every known "GOD" for a successful app and any prayers on your part towards the same will be much appreciated.
The Big Picture Our race nds itself in a new age Where the best adventure can t wait for a dawn. Dark cloudless nights I seek, and lie down, A dotted void to gaze upon. Like a prisoner I feel, who sits in his cell, knowing of the whole world without, Hoping of the day he ll roam free. I likewise gaze, hypnotized, trapped, Knowing much and yet little of that void above, And hoping desperately for the night I ll go free. Curse that little star which robs me Of that void for half my life. All luxuries, only relative: Man once dreamt of far o cities, then countries, then seas. en he made it to the moon; few dusty prints for eternities. Is it too much to wait for the night we venture further yet? Remember, oh those heavy feats of science, Vessels that pulled the oceans narrow. Only this time probes before us Have mapped little chunks of the cosmic ocean. Back then, months were spent on the seas; Men grew beards, lost weight, retched horribly. Only this time souls will age and die Before a cosmic league is even conquered. And that is the grief e only grief so strong that grips a race, And for all our knowledge of that void so close Still we remain here stuck in chains. All those big pictures, o en quite petty Of politics, of gods and wars, territory. ose are the concerns of stupid colored men; e big takes shape only when the small is realized. We are like a kid, brought up to believe there s only one town, And only one park, and no slide. Time comes, when he sees of the wonders he s been kept from; He aches to travel far and wide, Never to return and so are we, so deeply immersed in our big pictures at we seldom nd time to glance above at the biggest of them all. e slides in the park above, that we children have now known, e canvas looks down, stranger than ever. It has let us live and prosper for so long, though so little in cosmic time, at I strongly feel it wants us to ride the slides. We are all stardust; we shall leave our homes One day to travel home. e cosmos looks down, so beautifully cast And we look back, prepared at last. - ANANT KEKRE
AIRSPACE ♦ 2013 - 2014
AEROSPACE INDUSTRY AIRBUS Perspective Recently, on a domestic ight in an A320 plane, I got into conversation with one of my copassengers. A er a while, he started complaining about the numerous delays at airports, the fact that his choice of hot beverage was not available, amongst a myriad other things. He then asked me what Airbus is doing about it, not knowing of course that Airbus makes planes, but does not run airlines, a common confusion. In any case, I told him that what we have achieved and are focused on ensuring everyday is exactly what he had mentioned: that while traveling very close to the speed of sound more than 10 km above the dear earth, sitting in a metal-composite tube, the biggest worry of a traveler today is not about safety but things like snacks on-board! If we have to list truly visible symbols of human achievements in science and engineering, then surely the sight of an aircra 's majestic takeo and landing will rank among the top few. Consider this: more than ve years a er it entered commercial service, each arrival at a new A380 destination draws spectators to witness the landing. Who would have thought that one day a plane like A380 will y 500 + people across the continents in the most fuel e cient manner possible? But it is not only about technology and the magic of ying. Bill Gates once remarked that aviation is the original World Wide Web. It is
true that no other system links continents, countries and people in a way that was stu of science ctions just a few decades ago. Last year nearly 2 billion people (more than the population of China, US and Indonesia combined!) took to air, for journeys long and short. It is estimated that about 3.5% of the global GDP is supported by air transport. World-wide, more than 56 million jobs are supported by aviation and the total economic impact of aviation on the world economy is estimated to be $2.2 trillion! Over 35% of international tourists now travel by air, supporting a signi cant part of GDP for many countries. According to Airbus' latest Global Market Forecast (GMF), in the next 20 years, air tra c will grow at 4.7 per cent annually requiring over 29,220 new passenger and freighter aircra s valued at nearly US$4.4 trillion. Some 28,350 of these are passenger aircra s valued at US$4.1 trillion. With today's eet of 17,740 aircra s, it means that by 2032, the worldwide eet will double to nearly 36,560 aircra s.
India has gured in a big way in the global aviation growth story so far and is going to be a signi cant part of Airbus' future as well. Airbus has fostered aviation partnerships in India since the rst aircra , an A300B2, was delivered to Air India nearly 40 years ago. Today, that partnership has grown to around 70 per cent of
In his current role at Airbus, Ardhendu is responsible for scouting and incubating a broad range of disruptive technologies that may have bearing on aviation, especially from nontraditional aviation sources. Before joining Airbus, Ardhendu spent 11 years with General Electric (GE), holding senior technology and executive roles in GE's various industrial businesses as well as in GE Global Research.
11 AIRSPACE â™Ś 2013 - 2014
all commercial aircra s in the country. Airbus' aircra s are today part of the eet of all major Indian carriers including Air India, Jet Airways, GoAir and Indigo Airlines. Today, Airbus is one of the biggest aviation companies in India, employing more than 2,000 people indirectly and directly. Engineering and manufacturing companies in India contribute to virtually all aircra programmes across the Airbus supply chain. e cumulative turnover of work generated in India has tripled over the last three years and is expected to grow signi cantly in the near future.
(inspired by nature) structures. Nano technology also o ers many opportunities. Already today, we are working on riblets, a surface nish that reduces drag. For the passengers, connectivity will continue to improve and perhaps further in the future we will even see holographic in- ight entertainment systems. e possibilities are endless.
And it is not only about the aircra . Airbus is also investing heavily to make the aviation eco-system as a whole more e cient. For example, today, 8% of the world aviation fuel India is one of the fastest growing markets in is wasted due to ine cient Air Tra c For the passengers, connectivity Management (ATM) system. e next the world with a predicted annual increase in will continue to improve and aviation tra c of above seven per cent up to generation ATM we are working on has a 2028. Yet the sector still has some way to go perhaps further in the future we potential to generate worldwide savings of 4 before it reaches the levels seen in mature million ight hours, 3 billion gallons of fuel will even see holographic inaviation markets such as the US, Australia flight entertainment systems. and 29 million metric tons of CO2. e full and Europe. Even so, by 2030, Airbus and swi deployment of Single European The possibilities are endless. estimates that Indian carriers will need over Sky ATM Research Programme (SESAR ), of 1,000 new aircra s including over 60 the size which Airbus is a major partner, would lead of A380s, to meet passenger and freight to creation of 328,000 jobs, cut CO2 demand. emissions by some 50 million tonnes from 2013 to 2030, ight times would be cut by some 10% on average and cancellations and delays would be halved. All this, of course, would translate into cost All this global growth is bound to have an impact on the reductions for passengers and airlines. environment, if not handled carefully. Being the technology leader in the industry, Airbus has made massive investments in technology Recently we tied up with Rimowa, a leading brand of premium and operating procedures to make fuel-e cient planes. Today, the travel luggage in Europe, and T Systems, a mobile service provider, aviation industry contributes to only 2% of all man-made CO2 to demonstrate a unique luggage concept that has an e-tag that emissions. Since 2000, the growth in passenger tra c has been 4 communicates with the passenger to tell where it is when it is times bigger than the growth in fuel use. In fact, every year, Airbus loaded / unloaded, and also with back-end cargo transportation invests around 2 billion euros in R&D to improve the performance system to ensure error-free routing of the luggage. In addition, the of its aircra s. tag can display the weight of the bag and, provide information such as airline /airport restriction on weight or even allowable items Given the fast growth and challenges that include environmental using a smartphone. impact, regulation and shi ing passenger demographics, how then may the aircra of the future look like? e aircra of the future In summary, aerospace industry is experiencing an unprecedented may not have been designed yet but it is already taking shape growth. We are at the cusp of one of the most exciting periods in through the work we are doing today on various technologies. con uence of di erent technologies and their applications in civil Innovative aerodynamic concepts like the laminar ow wing or aviation. We, at Airbus are committed to continuously shape and integrated engines hold some promise. Alternative energy, biofuels, harness these trends to make ying sustainable , a ordable and fuel cell or even solar power could see increasing penetration in enjoyable. aviation. Use of additive layer manufacturing will enable us to make more innovative structures, opening the door to biomimetic
AIRSPACE ♦ 2013 - 2014
The Indian MIT
Are we there yet? IITB, Indias MIT. But, does IITB stand as MIT s equal? If not, what will it take to get there? I should also point out that I am a born teacher. I love to work with students and that is where my heart lies. My belief of a good University extends beyond the research lab. is is important in formulating my impression of IITB. I believe IITB s biggest strength is its students. e students I met would have no problem matching, or even exceeding, their peers at MIT, or the other schools where I have spent time. Besides students; faculty, research, campus infrastructure and the ability to hold world-class seminars and conferences are important to de ning a university s stature. Also, the surrounding community can in uence the impressions one has about a University. I will touch on each of these throughout the article. Something that came as a pleasant surprise was how eager, motivated, creative and personable the students were. I knew they would be intelligent but I didn t expect to enjoy working with them so much. At the University of Washington, I always had good relationships with my students. We would chat about things, mostly ying and airplanes, in my o ce. I would learn about their goals and dreams. I was their mentor, but we were also friends. I found I was developing the same relationship with my IITB students. is was unexpected. I thought I would face a classroom of students steeped in a hierarchical structure and afraid to talk to me. I thought I would meet a group of students where failure was unacceptable so that no one would attempt anything new. Instead, I found the IITB students to be warm, friendly, curious, caring and quite willing to take risks and accept failure to learn. Comparing IITB students with those of my other experiences, including MIT, I would have to rank them at the top for innate ability. Ironically, the IITB students are probably better English writers and de nitely had better wrought mathematical skills. Where they were behind was in problem solving skills. But, they were not as far behind as I believed they would be. e problem solving skill-set I refer to is the ability to view a problem never seen before and dissect it, reducing it to a solvable one. e students I had at IITB were 4th-year Aerospace Engineering students, and they were coming along fairly well with these skills. ey were still a year or two behind their American peers, but ahead of their UK peers, in my opinion. However, because mathematical skills and problem solving for classical problems is superior in IITB students, I don t see
13 AIRSPACE â™Ś 2013 - 2014
this as having a negative impact on future abilities. If I were setting up a company and was in need of new, bright engineers, I would make IITB a top recruiting destination. e faculty in the Aerospace department is no di erent than the academic sta in the other Universities I have taught or attended. ey are good researchers and recognized for their work. Much to my relief, I did nd them to be a bit more relaxed than my American counterparts. Academic positions in the USA have become so cut-throat that 14-16 hour days are not uncommon. I believe Universities in the US have lost the life-work balance that is essential for a healthy lifestyle. Perhaps the situation at IITB felt more relaxed because virtually all the faculty lives on campus. is is very di erent than the US and UK, where faculty may have signi cant and stressful commutes to work. While I was working 10 hour days, it didn t feel like it because I had a refreshing walk to work and back and had lunch back at my apartment every day. I felt more relaxed than I have in years. e culture between faculty and students is di erent than my experience in the US. Previously, I mentioned that I developed personal relationships with students. I always felt I could be a better teacher if I understood the motivations of each student. I don t want to suggest that this attitude is common in US universities but it is more prevalent than I observed at IITB, or the University of Bristol, for that matter. I felt the relationship between professors and students at IITB was much more rigid than in the US. But, US faculty comes from many cultures so the experience I share is not universal. at brings up another comparison. In the US and UK, many academic sta in engineering are foreign-born. A typical roster in many engineering programs will show 50% of the faculty immigrated to teach at the University level. I did not run across any non-Indian faculty at IITB, and the only students were a few exchange students. Although IITB researchers may stack up favorably compared to colleagues around the world, the institute must shed its parochial image and recruit both faculty and students from abroad. While I have no doubt that the academic sta at IITB are equal to those elsewhere in the world, an international sta will result in greater international recognition.
Dr. Scott Eberhardt
Dr. Scott Eberhardt is a journeyman professor, teaching at the University of Bristol and the University of Washington in 2014. He left a position as Chief Engineer at Analytical Methods in Redmond, WA. Prior to that position, Scott worked for Boeing after a twenty year career on the faculty at the University of Washington in the department of Aeronautics and Astronautics. Scott was awarded a BS in 1980 and MS in 1981 from MIT and a Ph.D. from Stanford in 1985, all in Aeronautics and Astronautics. From 1984 to 1986 Scott worked at the NASA Ames Research Center in Aerothermodynamics.
Hiring visiting faculty, such as me, is a good way to start li ing the parochial image. Now, it is time to turn to some of the challenges IITB faces when recruiting faculty from
INTERNATIONAL other parts of the world, particularly the western nations. What visitors will notice is the rubbish in the streets, the poor exterior maintenance of buildings and the extensive bureaucracy, making living in India a challenge for westerners.
is compartmentalization in Indian society leads to a more challenging bureaucracy. IITB cannot escape it. It took a week for me to get issued an IITB ID card. Opening a bank account took the better part of the day, and three out of four paychecks failed to be deposited on time. I don t recall how long it took to get a computer account, but it wasn t ready when I arrived. In contrast, when I arrived at the University of Bristol, I had my ID card, computer account, a temporary o ce, until a more suitable o ce was available, by noon my rst day. e bank account was set up on computer, not on paper, in triplicate stamp, stamp, stamp .
ere is a complacency regarding rubbish in the streets that is shocking to westerners. I was initially taken back by the piles of garbage and construction materials le around campus. Of course, I got used to it. I wondered how long it would take to clean up the construction materials le over from the new Biology building that sat in front of the Aerospace Department building. In the US, that pile would have been removed the day a er construction was The bureaucracy, the grime, the completed. Toward the end of my four months, I started seeing one truck arrive fungus may be outside the control of each day to haul o a load. e the campus administration. But, construction pile was slowly disappearing without changes in these areas there but was not gone before I le .
will be reluctance for westerners to
e bureaucracy, the grime, the fungus may be outside the control of the campus administration. But, without changes in these areas there will be reluctance for westerners to relocate to IITB even if only temporarily. I feel it is my obligation to be brutally honest in these comments because I see these areas being the primary detraction for gaining equivalent stature to MIT, or schools of that caliber. A lesson we all learn is that rst impressions have a lasting e ect.
relocate to IITB even if only e most rigorous cleaning of campus was a result of the visit by Prime Minister temporarily. Organizing conferences and seminars is a short term Manmohan Singh. Of course, that happens method for bringing the world to IITB. ere was a in western countries as well, where the area surge of westerners during one conference during my tenure there. e Victor gets spiced up for a distinguished visitor. Except for all the armed guards and Menezes Convention Center has the feel of any modern seminar facility. ere restricted movement that day, the campus looked lovely. To outsiders, the are rst-class hotels in Hiranandani, but the walk from there to campus is impression le by a clean, pretty campus can make, or break, a positive challenging. Of course, there are the auto-rickshaws, who are more than opinion. We call it curb appeal . Compared to most western campuses, IITB willing to overcharge anyone they can. A major conference center around lacks curb appeal. With the new buildings, the potential is there, but they IITB would be a helpful addition. must be maintained and some of the older, 1970 s Soviet-style buildings, should be replaced. During my stay, I thought a lot about the rubbish problem. It is solvable. But, it takes a major shi in attitude. When I mentioned this to my Indian friends, they thought such an attitude change would not be possible. Even laws could not reign in the complacency towards rubbish in the streets, they say. However, I recalled my early childhood when highways in the US were strewn with garbage. When you had trash in your car, in the early 1960 s you would throw it out the window. Today it is very di erent. In the 1960 s, Ladybird Johnson, the wife of the President at that time, made it her mission to promote cleanliness in the US. A few laws and a major media campaign ( Keep America Beautiful ) changed the attitude toward cleanliness. Today, there is a universal gasp of displeasure when someone has the audacity to violate the rules of cleanliness and drop garbage onto the street. I won t say that inner city streets are pristine in America, but there are no piles of garbage along the streets. But, if you walk through any western campus, you should notice the cleanliness of the grounds. Building maintenance is another eye-opener for westerners. Again, I fault complacency. Many told me that the mold (fungus) that covers buildings is a way of life in Mumbai, due to the warm, wet climate. In warm, wet climates in the USA and Europe, the growth of fungus is kept at bay by regular building maintenance. While at IITB, I was following news at home with special interest because Seattle was passing strict measures to eliminate mold from buildings. Buildings found with mold are now subjected to large, daily nes (> $1,000 USD/day) and threat of closure if not treated. Why? Because fungus is now recognized as a serious threat to health. e mold covering most of the faculty annex is the reason my wife had to leave a er only 2-1/2 months, as doctors concluded she was very allergic to the fungus. If it hadn t been for that, I would have been able to stay for another semester. Indias culture is far older and more developed than the relatively new American culture. However, in a world that has become technologically advanced, and far more populated, some parts of the old culture interfere with progress. I believe there is too much compartmentalization in Indian life. A persons job has distinct borders that are not to be crossed. erefore, the person who swept my oors would not dust the shelves. e painter, who painted our apartment before we arrived, would not remove the jar of tomato sauce le by the previous tenants. e jar was painted. In contrast, my experience at Boeing is that every mechanic and engineer has the authority and moral obligation to stop the production line if he or she feels anything is wrong. An individual s responsibilities extend far beyond their speci c task in western cultures.
Another change that could put IITB into the category of the MIT s and Stanford s of the world is to develop the surrounding areas into a research center. e labs spawned from MIT, Stanford and many Universities in the USA came directly from the entrepreneurs those universities fostered. In many cases, these research areas were helped by local governments. Government, industry and university partnerships are essential in creating a world recognized high-tech region. ere appears to be a budding industry local to IITB, but the best example in Aerospace is in Bangalore. I was very much inspired at the University of Bristol, where it was common for lecturers to have joint appointments in local industry. In the USA, such joint appointments in engineering are very rare. My experience at IITB was de nitely an enjoyable one for me. I would love to come back to teach another semester. I really enjoyed the relationships I built with the students and will always cherish them. I hope I will run into some in the future, professionally. Because of chronic illness due to the prevalence of fungus, my wifes feelings toward returning are not positive like mine. We have discussed the possibility of my returning for a semester, but it would be alone. In writing this article I was asked to re ect on how IITB compares to schools where I have experience. Is IITB as good as MIT? It s not quite there, but not far away.
AIRSPACE ♦ 2013 - 2014
Curious Case of
MH370 On 8th March, 2014, Malaysia Airlines ight MH370 disappeared en route from Kuala Lumpur International Airport to Beijing Capital International Airport, sparking o the biggest search in the history of modern aviation. e aircra operating the service, a Boeing 777200ER, last made contact with air tra c control less than an hour a er take-o . e aircra was operated by Malaysia Airlines and was carrying 12 crew members and 227 passengers. While the manufacturers claim that the black box can sustain any degree of physical damage possible ,
there are no signals received and even a er 11 days into the search, the location of the aircra is still unknown. While several speculations were being made around the missing aircra including hijack and sabotage, there were no conclusive reasons to validate those claims until a er Malaysian Prime Minister Nazib Razak s announcement that "movements are consistent with the deliberate action of someone on the plane."
TIMELINE Here is a timeline of the plane's known last moments on March 8 TAKE-OFF : Flight MH370 takes off from Kuala Lumpur International Airport at 12:41 am (1641 GMT Friday), bound for Beijing. ACARS SHUTDOWN : The Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System (ACARS) — which transmits key information on the plane's mechanical condition — is manually shut off and stops sending data at 1:07 am. LAST WORDS : An apparently relaxed ﬁnal voice communication — “All right, good night” — comes from the cockpit after the ACARS shutdown, as the plane passes from Malaysian to Vietnamese air trafﬁc control over the South China Sea. TRANSPONDER SWITCHES OFF : The plane's transponder — which relays radar information on the plane's location and altitude — stops transmitting 14 minutes after ACARS went down, at 1:21 am.
Arjun Satya is a fourth year undergraduate student in the Aerospace Engineering Department, IIT Bombay. He is an avid fan of the show ‘Air Crash Investigation’ on Nat Geo and has developed general interest in the ﬁeld since then.
LAST RADAR CONTACT : The plane slips off Malaysian civilian radar screens at 1:30 am. While it continues to blip on military radars until 2:15 am, that sighting is only identiﬁed later as Flight MH370. ROUTE CHANGE : The plane is believed to have turned sharply from its intended route after losing contact with civilian radar, ﬂying west — back over peninsular Malaysia — before turning northwest. LAST SATELLITE COMMUNICATION : Final, automated, satellite communications with the plane come at 8:11 am — suggesting it may have ﬂown on for hours after the ACARS system and transponder cut out.
15 AIRSPACE ♦ 2013 - 2014
ere were only three communication channels between the aircra and the authorities which were used to narrow down the probable areas where the ight might have crashed/landed. ese are
ACARS: Satellite-based text messages e Aircra Communications Addressing and Reporting System (ACARS) on the plane sends manual or automated text messages from the plane back to base and vice versa. It is able to send messages using a system of satellites that are run by the British company Inmarsat, which is perfect for a plane at sea as it removes the limitation of needing to be close to ground-based transmitters to send radio messages. An ACARS message can be initiated by the pilot who might seek additional weather information or destination information from the company. e company will then respond with a text message which is uploaded and sent. ACARS in the missing Malaysia Airlines plane would not have "pinged out" its location in its messages. However, data from the Inmarsat satellites helped to re ne its location.
Transponder: Radar-based location e aircra 's transponder, which alerts air tra c controllers to the plane's location, is much more limited than the ACARS. Instead of satellites, it relies on ground-based radar and is useless when outside of signal range - usually about 80-100 kms. Each plane receives a four-digit number - known as a squawk code - which the pilot programs into the transponder at the start of a ight so that air controllers can identify and follow each individual plane. Out at sea, the transponder on ight MH370 would not have been able to tell authorities where the plane was. If the transponder is outside radar range, the transponder doesn't receive anything and if it does receive anything it may not be able to respond with enough signal strength - so the controller can't see it.
Black box: Underwater signal e aircra 's black box holds important ight data and is built to withstand res, explosions and underwater pressure. Its recovery, along with the cockpit voice recorder, would help investigators gure out what went wrong on the plane. e black box emits an underwater pulse to help authorities locate it, and despite its nickname is actually orange in colour for easy identi cation. But even though it sends out a signal, investigators would need to know a rough location on where to search for the wreckage.
A map showing the search zones for missing Malaysia Airlines ďŹ‚ight MH370. A rough location can be extrapolated by measuring the time it takes for the ping to be picked up by two satellites
As search area projected by the data from ACARS is very large, as of 18 March, there are 26 countries participating in the revised search, focusing on a northern locus from the Kazakh Turkmen border to northern ailand, as well as a southern locus from Indonesia to the southern Indian Ocean.
Speculations e speculations of possible hijack or terrorist attack are evolving with the search process. In the rst weekend of the plane's disappearance, it emerged that two passengers were travelling on stolen EU passports, fuelling speculations of a terrorist attack. Police then concluded that the pair were illegal Iranian immigrants. But the terrorism theory is now back in the spotlight along with possible hijacking or deliberate action by one or either of the pilots, who are now under investigation by Malaysian authorities along with the rest of the crew, the passengers and engineers on the ground. More recently, investigators are looking at the ight simulator taken from the home of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah, having discovered that some of the data on it had been erased. However, the deletions are not necessarily evidence of ill intent. Removing les from a computer is usually an innocent act repeated millions of times a day around the world but the possibility still exists.
Sources http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malaysia_Airlines_Flight_370 http://rt.com/news/malaysian-airlines-programmed-course-690/ http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/malaysia-airlines-mh370-pilot-s-simulatorhad-ďŹ les-recently-deleted-1.2578164 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transponder http://edition.cnn.com/2014/03/13/world/asia/malaysia-airlines-plane
AIRSPACE â™Ś 2013 - 2014
Should INDIA go for a
p ace S
30 years ago,when Rakesh Sharma echoed the Indian sentiment, "Saare jahaan se achchaa" in response to an indomitable Indira Gandhi, the words had not travelled back and forth from the Salyut space station over nothing. It was the dawn of an Indian resolve, only beginning to take centre-stage. Here is an exclusive from the legend himself, dissecting the need, if any and the perils associated with investing in a manned space programme.
Wg Cdr (Retd) Rakesh Sharma AC
Wing Commander Rakesh Sharma is a former Indian Air Force test pilot and the ďŹ rst Indian citizen to go into outer space when he ďŹ‚ew aboard the Soviet rocket Soyuz T-11. His heroic feat made India the 14th nation in the world to send a man into outer space and has reignited the Indian space program, besides also marking a pinnacle in Indo-Soviet relations. In light of his exemplary achievements, he was conferred with the Ashok Chakra, and till date remains the only Indian to be granted the highest distinction in the Soviet Union: Hero of the Soviet Union. He is, in every sense of the word, a legend in the Indian space technology ďŹ rmament.
INTERNATIONAL better foods, improved weather studies, new tools, growing near-perfect I believe that this topic holds a great amount of signi cance, crystal and lm materials for in the short term, for the immediate future of our space super-fast computers. Further, programme and, in the long run, for our country as a whole. from Near Earth Orbit, man It matters little that we are deliberating on this topic, some can observe Earth's features, ve decades a er man rst went into outer space or three environment, weather, and decades a er the rst Indian did so. What is important is the resources. ese studies will tell fact that we have begun deliberations. Period. us how we can live better on our planet whether by However, since we have some catching up to do, I urge reinventing sustainable ourselves to move purposefully and not delve too long on development techniques or, by questions which largely, have been answered by the fact that learning to economise and manned space activity is on the increase and that it has reject consumptive behaviour. increased despite the end of the Cold War which, ostensibly, Security is a concern. When was the driver for this type of space research in the 60 s and comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 the 70 s. Indeed, today, we are witnessing initial planning collided with Jupiter in 1994, e orts to set up a permanent habitation of humans on the our eyes Moon now that permanent were manned presence in Near Why do we go into Space? One opened in dramatic Earth Orbit has already reason is: because it is there.The fashion to the dangers become a reality by way of lurking in our own cosmic other is that, it is in man's the work being done on the neighbourhood. Shades of International Space Station . indomitable nature to scare Armageddon? Today we have himself silly, for no good reason the technology to see far into With this as the except perhaps curiosity! space, observe an incoming background, let us examine asteroid on a collision course with the issues that have the our home planet, intercept the threat potential to in uence our while it still is in-bound and de ect it ever so slightly so that decision. it misses the Earth and goes about its celestial wandering. e human race needs to co-operate, collaborate and contribute Essentially, there are only two: towards this type of technology to secure its collective future. Life Is manned space ight necessary at all? If it is, should India Insurance for future generations. opt for a manned space programme? e very survival of our civilisation would depend on its rst having diversi ed o the surface of the Earth. We cannot a ord to lose the entire human genome resulting from a single catastrophic event whether manIs Manned Space Flight Necessary At All? made or celestial. Same reason why we back up our data! Exploration is a fundamental human trait, something that de nes us. While Why do we go into Space? One reason is: because it is there. unmanned missions tell us what is out there, they do not return to earth to give is was the unforgettable response a questioner obtained us something to celebrate. It is our adventurous spirit that is the reason any space from Sir Edmund Hillary when asked why he climbed Mt. agency in the world exists. Ultimately, we will continue manned missions into Everest. at response applies equally to Space. space whether or not it is the most cost e ective route. It would be like trying to erase a part of our existence, a part that is written into e other is that, it is in Man's indomitable nature to scare the heart of humans. In all reality, nothing can stop manned space exploration himself silly, for no good reason except perhaps curiosity! from happening, so why try? is is an explanation I can identify with, given my test e space pioneer Tsiolkovskii said a century ago, " e Earth is the cradle of ying background and, therefore, I fully endorse it! civilization. But one cannot live in the cradle forever. e challenge of Mars shall inspire and drive the next generation. Meeting these As I had mentioned in the Introduction, I do not intend to challenges will force us to stretch our technology, prove our talent, advance our delve too long on this topic because, to my mind, it is fairly science, and, as with every frontier, evolve new ways of thinking and living open and shut. However, I will present some cryptic onetogether. No other focused e ort promises so much bene t. liners stated by many experts and futurists that shall state the Closer home, look at how space technology has enriched Indian lives. Space case in point-form: applications have touched lives in the remotest corners of our vast country, be it Advances in space technology have a dramatic tricklethrough television, tele-education and tele-medicine; the supply of remote down e ect on Earth technology. Bene ts range from new sensing data to support agriculture, sheries and the search for earth resources, ergonomic solutions for people who do repetitive work, to weather prediction etc. industrial, medical, bio-technological applications. Two girls who could not tolerate exposure to the suns strong ultraviolet light were each kitted out with UV protection suits that were developed from astronauts protective space suits. Manned space activity shall result in: developments in new metals, crystals, new fabrics, medicines and medical devices, detailed Earth maps,
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AIRSPACE ♦ 2013 - 2014
Does India Need To Have A Space Programme? Our country has had a glorious past a past, which was built on the pillars of science and spirituality. Let us concern ourselves with the former for now. If we are convinced that manned space activity is an essential ingredient for growth, security and self-knowledge, it follows that we
If the scientific community is convinced about the necessity, I am sure that political will shall be found. I believe that by virtue of its excellent delivery record thus far, ISRO is uniquely positioned to shape Govt. Policy in this regard.
destination for such training. I expect economies of scale to come into being by the next decade. Time to develop that expertise is now. Further, our space programme is poised at the juncture where, sending a man into space becomes the next logical step. It will enthuse our overachieving space scientists by providing them with something challenging. It will be a catalyst and provide focus for their e orts. Always good to stir the pot now and then!
Can We Do It? need to be a part of that activity, simply because we have what it takes for us to be at the forefront of technological advancement. O en, technological advancement results in the inequitable sharing of the fruits of such advancement. India has been providing moral leadership during the search for solutions in respect of contentious global issues and she has an important role to play in the future, in the eld of space research as well. For our country to discharge that responsibility, we will need to be a full- edged member of the space faring community, ergo one having a manned space programme. We have to earn our place on the high table ! We need to have a manned space programme for the very reasons that we today have the following in our country: A forward post in Antarctica - basically, a
strategic investment. e strategic need to be self- su cient. An intrinsic capability to achieve excellence
in the frontiers of science. A nancial and technological wherewithal
required to invest into our collective future. Outsourcing infrastructure. If international
crews need to be trained as they will have to when the world inhabits the Moon and later, Mars, then our country is the cheaper
21 AIRSPACE ♦ 2013 - 2014
is is an important question. How far are we from where we need to be, before we can have a credible and uninterruptible manned space programme? To my mind, we need to have the following ingredients in place before we undertake to set forth where not many have been before: a) Acceptance of necessity. b) Political will. c) Technological competence. If the scienti c community is convinced about the necessity, I am sure that political will shall be found. I believe that by virtue of its excellent delivery record thus far, ISRO is uniquely positioned to shape Govt. Policy in this regard. In short, it will be able to convince the Govt. of the day and so, the political will shall be forthcoming. Every political party must be aware of the Feel Good potential that a manned space ight can generate amongst the electorate! I personally have observed this and, in 1984, the Congress government certainly milked the opportunity provided by the Indo-Soviet Space Flight.
Coming to technological competence, I intend to concern myself only with our preparatory status in areas of crew training, airborne survival systems requirements and the mission control infrastructure needed to get started.
Crew Training: is is our biggest, though not insurmountable, problem. e Institute of Aerospace Medicine (IAM), Bangalore is aware of selection procedures and the guideline medical parameters needed to make the cut. ey are also aware of the medical conditioning required for preparing space crews to deal with the rigours of space ight like adaptation/re-adaptation to zero/earths gravity. Some needed infrastructure like the centrifuge and vestibular training apparatus is already in place at IAM. eoretical training and simulation work can be done at ISRO, HAL and ADE. In short, there is a lot of work but it can be done with minimal consultancy from out-of-country experts in the eld.
Airborne Survival Systems: e technology that needs to be mastered in this domain, is the preserve of aero-medical and aeronautical experts. ese experts already have extensive experience in aircra related crew survival systems. Space crew stations essentially utilize suitably modi ed aircra environment control and survival systems. is too, is do-able. Mission Control Infrastructure: ISRO already has a working infrastructure for both Tracking and Control. is will need to be modi ed to increase its reach and foot- print as voice communications would be crucial to manned space missions. Additionally, depending on the re-entry philosophy we shall be choosing, crew recovery methodology will need to be worked upon. Even here, we can enlist the support of the Indian Navy and the Air Force.
Conclusions Societies that have pushed their frontiers have prospered; those that have not, have perished. Rarely have we been able to assess futuristic bene ts. Our predictive model is quite immature in that respect. I rmly believe that we are done with exploring our immediate neighbourhood. We are about ready now to exploit it. is is an opportunity we must be aware of and prepare for.
AIRSPACE â™Ś 2013 - 2014
Race for Air Supremacy in Asia A brief history and a peek into the future As the two giants of Asia China and India, progress through the 21st century, their national prides have swelled and so has their appetite for natural resources leading to increased clashing of interests in various parts of the world. is coupled with the fact that the two nations have already faced each other in a bloody battle, leaves little hope that the giants will not lock horns with each other again. e question is whether they will face a full scale war or get involved in proxy battles involving other small nations. Whatever be the future, there is bound to be a race for controlling the skies of one's own and surrounding airspace and upgrading their weapons of domination with each one trying to pip the other in this imminent face-o . ough it does not come cheap, increasing stature in the world has made it a compulsion. As the two nations increase their military power alongwith their economy and the living standards of their people, one nation has been ahead for decades Japan. Despite losing at all levels in the WW2 and paying heavily both economically and socially, Japan has rebuilt herself astonishingly, propelling her economy to the world's second largest, a position she held for decades but relinquished it only a few years back to China. With a great number of limitations imposed on Japan's military by foreign treaties and to a signi cant amount by the mindset of her own people (such as the Article 9 of its constitution), Japan was able to allocate a meager 1% of its GDP to its military. Still, 1% of a world no.2, trillion dollar economy means a lot and Japan has, away from the limelight, built a formidable air and naval force (though its army is not much developed). e cultural revolution in China led to political and economic turmoil during the 60s and 70s which had serious implications on the Chinese Air Force. It resulted in the closing of nearly all technical and maintenance schools, halting non- ying education. is along-with poor pilot training, resulted in a poor air force. In China, there was an initial emphasis on quantity rather than quality. is resulted in almost 4000 aircra s in the
23 AIRSPACE â™Ś 2013 - 2014
air force, of which there were about 80 Su-27 Flankers imported from Russia, while the rest of the eet was constituted of 1950 s Mig 19 and 21 ghters. is created a lot of unwanted burden on the PLAAF (People s Liberation Army Air Force) as this vast vintage force also had to be maintained.
A decade later, the picture has changed considerably. More importance is now being given to quality rather than quantity. With 1,600 ghter aircra s now in its inventory, it is not even half of what was present a decade ago but is now much more advanced. Much of the aircra s are now being built indigenously, though there have been various claims of them being reverse engineered from Russian ghters and also some initial help from Israel (Lavi aircra ). Claims apart, the Chinese have progressed impressively and are on the way to become self-reliant in this important eld required for any country aspiring to have a military clout and become a world super power. India, following its policy of Non-Aligned Movement under Nehru, initially, didn t pay much attention to military building, resulting in a humiliating defeat in the 1962 Sino-Indian War. A er the rather rude wake up call, India faced a tough time then, having to ght 2 more full- edged wars with Pakistan in 1965 and 1971, which also catalyzed the development of the Indian Air Force. Its initial emphasis was on numbers, following which India bought a large number of MiGs from the Soviet Union which was then a potent ghter. As time progressed, bureaucratic hurdles and repeated delays in the indigenous ghter (Tejas) and engine (Kaveri) programs, IAF was forced to maintain the ageing eet of MiGs and use them in di erent roles (modifying them, resulting in massive failures). Spare parts were procured from various countries at cheaper prices (due to poor economy) and not from Soviet Union, which led to catastrophic results. IAF started losing its MiGs and precious pilots to crashes and MiGs became gradually known as the Flying Co ns . It took the Indian government another rude shock to wake up from its slumber the Kargil War. e government nally decided to modernize its 70s era armed forces and bring it at par with it s potential foes. Recent terror attacks have added an urgency to develop surveillance and surgical strike capabilities.
Mritunjay Prasad is currently in his fourth year of Dual degree programme in Aerospace department. He has worked in the areas of computer vision at RCI, DRDO and robotics at Carnegie Mellon University. His other interests include going through historical backgrounds of WW2 and South Asian and Middle east politics.
is article will focus on the air power of the three nations which dominate the continent of Asia: Japan, China and India.
INTERNATIONAL Japan Air Force (JSDAF) aircra s designed for electronic warfare and surveillance.
e Japanese have the highest level of sophistication of all the three forces, though this gap is increasingly being reduced. Being a close US ally and protected by the US nuclear umbrella, the Japanese had the latest weapons in their armory. In the 1980s, Japanese got the famed F-15 Silent Eagles taking their combat readiness to an all new level, matched by none of its neighbors in Asia. ough the spirit was dampened by refusal of the most advanced plane, the F-22 Raptor by the US government, the future looks bright for the Japanese with the induction of the stealthy F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. Along-with the ghter program, Japan has high level of
Mitsubishi F-2 F-15 Silent Eagle Grunman E2C Joint Strike Fighter
Type and Role Fourth Generation Fourth Generation Airborne early warning plane Fifth Generation
M i t s u b i s h i F- 2
e Japanese don't have any long range bombers because their constitution prohibits them from acquiring o ensive weapons. But the so-called defensive forces are highly advanced. e future is somewhat uncertain as Japan's economy has nearly stagnated with growing scal de cit limiting its options on defence expenditure. Yet, it remains a formidable foe with its current inventory and future induction of the JSF.
Numbers 98 220 13 ~40
F- 3 5
Status Operational Operational Operational Under Development
E - 7 6 7 AWA C
Chinese Air Force (PLAAF) With high emphasis being placed on indigenization rather than importing Russian products (Chinese don't enjoy the luxury of choosing from western heavy-weights unlike India), China has been working on numerous defence projects. e most famed project being that of its stealth ghter, the J-20. China has also been working on other aviation projects like Heavyli Transport Aircra , Long-range bombers, Refuellers, ghters, etc.
J-10 Su-30 J-11 JH-7 H-6 J-20 Y-8
Type And Role Fourth Generation, Multi Role Fourth Generation, Multi Role Fourth Generation, Air Superiority Fighter/Bomber Bomber Fifth Generation Transport
Many of the Chinese aircra s are reverse engineered or based on western / Russian planes and are yet to be war tested. For example, J-11 is based on Su-30, JH-7 is based on Sepecat Jaguar, H-6 is based on Tupolev 16, etc. Inspite of this, PLAAF is maturing fast and will become formidable in a decade or two.
Numbers ~160 ~100 140 ~80 120 2 Prototypes ~70
Status Operational Operational Operational Operational Under Development
Y- 8 AIRSPACE â™Ś 2013 - 2014
INTERNATIONAL Indian Air Force (IAF) e IAF is currently undergoing major modernizing programs though at a snail's pace. e most expensive deal in the world 126 MMRCAs (Medium multirole combat aircra ), having rst come into picture in 2001, is to be signed more than a decade late, optimistically in the rst half of 2014. e winner was Rafale, selected a er rigorous testing of various aircra s conducted in a very transparent manner. India has also embarked on a partnership with Russia to co-develop the Fi h generation ghter aircra . Initially, IAF wanted another 2-seat variant to be developed according to its need, but major concerns regarding degradation of stealth features have prevented it from development. Now
Su-30MKI Super Sukhoi
C-17 Globemaster III C-130J Super Hercules Phalcon
Type and Role Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft, Air Superiority Fourth Generation, Multi Role Fourth Generation, Multi Role, Nuke Delivery Transport, Tactical Cargo Aircraft Transport, Strategic Air Lift AWACS, Surveillance, C2BM
the IAF has gone for single-seaters just like the Russian Air Force. Another formidable aircra in the IAF inventory is the Su-30MKI. With major changes in the aircra : incorporation of canards, French avionics and Indo-Israeli helmet-mounted displays, navigation and electronic warfare systems, the plane is considered to be more advanced than its Russian counterparts and a generation ahead of its Chinese and Malaysian counterparts. Nuke and Brahmos (Air version) capable Super Sukhois are also currently under production. Major aircra s in the IAF inventory along with their description is tabulated below.
Status Under Development
230 (~160 Delivered) 42
10 (3 Delivered)
6 (5 Delivered)
S u k h o i PA K- FA
P h a l c o n AWA C
C-17 Globemaster III
C-130J Super Hercules
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The Cosmic Eye Imagine that while you sit there idling, A whole wide world is ticking by; And what you deem yourself as doing, Little to the world may signify. Imagine that while you lie there dozing, e sun, the stars, they skim the sky; And stocks go climbing, hopes go plunging, People rejoice while soldiers die. Imagine yourself with kin, vacationing, While seasons fade and rivers dry; With leaders lying, votes go piling Fortunes for few, while nations cry. Imagine your sands run down to a trickling, All the while your Race climbs high; From the day Men bid the rst Fires crackling, To the day Fires bid the Men goodbye. And so each man spent a life creating, Tiny, yet mighty, before each did die; And with every bit that seem'd so tri ing, ere came a day to transcend the sky. Millennia have we spent: thinking, dreaming, Of the profound darkness beyond that sky; But for billions fourteen it has been thriving, We are but a blink in the cosmic eye... ...we are but a blink in the cosmic eye.
- ANANT KEKRE
AIRSPACE â™Ś 2013 - 2014
Micro Combustion? e typical energy storage density in today's most advanced Li-ion batteries is ~ 0.6 MJ/kg, orders of Fig. 1 A cartoon comparing energy density of a battery and micro combustor
magnitude smaller than that of hydrogen (120 MJ/kg) and other hydrocarbon fuels (~ 45 MJ/kg). Due to current progress in miniaturization of various devices including daily life gadgets, the
Prof. Sudarshan Kumar
required size of the batteries is becoming very large compared to the size of various sensors.
electrochemical batteries need hours of recharging before their reuse. Due to these limitations, combustion-based devices o er many advantages like higher energy densities, negligible recharge times, smaller size for given power requirement and precise control of the temperature and hence power output.
es e micro-combustors als o
applications in various systems such as precise industrial heating, propulsion (micro gas turbines), micro-rockets and thrusters.
Even when these
combustion-based devices work at 1% overall e ciency, their performance will be comparable to batteries. A cartoon showing the comparison of the electrochemical batteries with micro-combustors is shown on the right-hand side of the title (Courtesy Prof NI Kim, S. Korea).
Sudarshan Kumar is an Associate Professor at the Department of Aerospace Engineering, IIT Bombay and received the distinguished INAE Young Engineer Award 2011, besides constantly being at the helm of cutting edge research in the department. His research interests include ﬂameless and mild combustion, micro combustion, pattern formation of ﬂames and propulsion.
Signi cant amount of research has been reported on the combustion of hydrogen and hydrocarbon fuels at such small scales.
ere is a need for devising new
mechanisms to convert the heat energy released
Fig. 2 Photographs of the ﬂames stabilized in a stepped tube combustor
from combustion of the fuel to electric power or mechanical work. Combustion research laboratory at the Department of Aerospace Engineering, IIT
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A ow velocity of 1 m/s at an equivalence ratio (Φ = 1) corresponds to a thermal input of 9 W and the same mixture ow at Φ=0.6 corresponds to a thermal input of 5.5 W. is indicates that even if an energy conversion device with an e ciency of ~ 10 % is utilized, one c a n
p r o d u c e
approximately 0.55 W of Fig.3 Flame stability limits in a stepped tube combustor
Fig. 5 CO emissions and clean combustion
power at the smallest
Bombay has been working on the issue of design, fabrication and
level. On the higher side,
characterization of the ame behavior in these micro combustors for a
the system can deliver as high as 60W of thermal input indicating the possibility
range of conditions with various fuels such as LPG, methane and
of a large turn-down ratio of these systems.
propane. Some interesting results are shown in
photographs in Fig. 2 show the ame stabilization in a stepped tube micro
Many of these combustors are also amenable to combustion instabilities. For instance, X- ames are formed in these stepped tube combustors for a range of
combustor for a range of ow velocities.
conditions. Some interesting facts of these combustors are (i)
e minimum thermal
ese X- ames are interestingly single ame fronts spinning at
very high frequencies of 70-150 Hz. Due to the high frequency of these ames,
input for these combustors is ~ 4 W which is almost 10 times smaller than
it is possible to achieve almost complete combustion as shown in Fig. 4.
a typical match stick ame. (ii)
CO emissions levels are almost zero for the spinning ames.
e combustors can be built with various
materials such as quartz (good transparency for ame visualization), steel, ceramics, mild steel and brass.
e ame stability limits depend on
the thermal conductivity of materials. It is di cult to have stable ames
Current status: Currently the students in the laboratory are working on various aspects related to
Fig. 4 X-ﬂames in a stepped tube combustor
in combustors fabricated with copper, silver and aluminum materials due
micro combustion. Mr Shambhoo is working on converting the heat from these
to high thermal conductivity of these materials resulting in increased
microcombustors to electric energy using the miniature thermoelectric modules.
heat losses from the stabilized ames. (iii)
He has been successful in achieving an overall e ciency of 2.5
e size of these combustors is
3.0 %. Parallel
as small as ~ 0.2 cm3. (iv) Lean and very rich mixtures can be burnt
e orts are being invested by Ms Nidhi to understand the ame behaviors in such
channels and their implications to re safety. Other researchers who are currently
is indicates that very low emissions and high combustion
e ciency is achievable from these systems.
working on the issues related to micro combustion are Amit, Amrutha and Santosh. Other students who have earlier worked on this topic are Lt. Cols.
e typical ame stability limits in a micro combustor are shown in Fig. 3. www.aero.iitb.ac.in/airspace
Sahota, Deshpande, Bhupendra, Upendra and Akram.
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More than just a pipe dream
The Hyperloop Project A er cars, trains, boats and planes; we might just have a h mode of transportation. To put it in a sentence, Hyperloop would be an elevated, reduced-pressure tube that contains pressurized capsules driven within the tube by a number of linear electric motors. Elon Musk and a few engineers from Tesla and SpaceX, who were working on this project, released the Preliminary Design Study of Hyperloop to the community. It is very interesting how Musk is approaching this project:
Hyperloop is a new mode of transport that seeks to change this paradigm by being both fast and inexpensive for people and goods. Hyperloop is also unique in that it is an open design concept, similar to Linux. Feedback is desired from the community that can help advance the Hyperloop design and bring it from concept to reality. – - Hyperloop Alpha, Page 6 is approach sounds familiar. On 25th August 1991, Linus Torvalds announced the Linux kernel release in similar fashion in a Usenet posting to the newsgroup "comp.os.minix .
"Hello everybody out there using minix I'm doing a (free) operating system (just a hobby, won't be big and professional like gnu) for 386(486) AT clones. This has been brewing since April, and is starting to get ready. I'd like any feedback on things people like/dislike in minix, as my OS resembles it somewhat (same physical layout of the ﬁle-system (due to practical reasons) among other things). I'd like to know what features most people would want. Any suggestions are welcome, but I won't promise I'll implement them :-) " Typical Linus. Musk knows from Linus experience and his own that this approach works. SpaceX uses Linux for mission control, among other things, and Tesla uses it for its IVI system. Musk is among the greatest innovators of modern time. Torvalds created a free and open operating system that would run most of the
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modern day society; Tim Berners-Lee chose not to patent the World Wide Web, opening up a communications vehicle that would radicalize the way we interact as a global community; and Zuckerberg took the Hacker Way philosophy to innovate on top of both Linux and the web to build what today is the most visited website in the world. ese geniuses know that no matter how high their IQ, they don t hold all the answers needed to transform the world but the community does.
The Hyperloop design Hyperloop consists of paired partiallyevacuated tubes (100 Pa), with passenger capsules that are transported at both low and high speeds throughout the length of the tube. e capsules are supported on a cushion of air, featuring pressurized air and aerodynamic li . e capsules are accelerated via a magnetic linear accelerator attached at various stations on the low pressure tube. Stators are located on the capsules to transfer momentum to the capsules via the linear accelerators. To overcome the limiting problem of air building up in front of the traveling pod (problem of Kantrowitz Limit), Hyperloop proposes mounting an electric compressor fan on the nose of the pod that actively transfers high pressure air from the front to the rear of the vessel. e mechanism would also create an air cushion that would create a low-friction suspension system.
Avnish Kumar is a ﬁnal year dual-degree student at the Aerospace Engineering department of IIT Bombay. His research interests involve robotics and its application in aerospace systems. He believes that we are at the cusp of a very interesting period of aviation and space exploration.
Passengers may enter and exit Hyperloop at stations located either at the ends of the tube, or branches along the tube length. e capsules may be passenger-only, or, (for more exibility) passenger+automobile where the commuter can drive their car directly into the capsule. e two steel tubes, inside which the capsules travel, would be welded together in a side-byside con guration to allow the capsules to travel both directions. Pylons will be placed every 100 to support the tube pair. Solar arrays will cover the top of the tubes in order to provide power to the system. www.aero.iitb.ac.in/airspace
e vehicle is streamlined to reduce drag and features a compressor at the leading face to ingest oncoming air for levitation and to a lesser extent, propulsion. Air processing in the Hyperloop passenger capsule is proposed as follows: An axial compressor compresses tube air with a ratio of 20:1. Up to 60% of this air is bypassed, travelling via a narrow tube near the bottom of the capsule to the tail. A nozzle at the tail then expands the ow, generating thrust to mitigate some of the aerodynamic and bearing drag. Upto 0.2 kg/s of air is cooled and compressed, an additional 5.2:1 for the passenger version with additional cooling a erward. is air is stored in onboard composite overwrap pressure vessels. e stored air is eventually consumed by the air bearings to maintain distance between the capsule and tube walls.
capsule. e rotor is located on the vehicle for weight savings and power requirements, while the tube will incorporate the stator. Each linear accelerator has two 65 MVA inverters, one to accelerate the outgoing capsule, and one to capture the energy from the incoming capsule. Inexpensive semiconductor switches allow the central inverters to energize only the section of track occupied by a capsule, improving the power factor seen by the inverters. e rotor is an aluminum blade 15 m long, 0.45 m tall, 50 mm thick. Current ows mainly in the outer 10 mm of this blade, allowing it to be hollow to decrease weight and cost. e gap between the rotor and the stator is 20 mm on each side. A combination of the capsule control system and electromagnetic centering forces allows the capsule to safely enter, stay within, and exit such a precise gap. e stator is mounted to the bottom of the tube over the entire 4.0 km it takes to accelerate and decelerate between 300 and 760 mph (480 and 1,220 km). It is approximately 0.5 m wide (including the air gap) and 10 cm tall, and weighs 800 kg/m. Laid out symmetrically on each side of the rotor, its electrical con guration is 3-phase, 1 slot per pole per phase, with a variable linear pitch (0.4 m maximum). e number of turns per slot also varies along the length of the stator, allowing the inverter to operate at nearly constant phase voltage, which simpli es the power electronics design, according to the team. e two halves of the stator require bracing to resist the magnetic forces of 30 N/m that try to bring them together. Energy storage allows the linear accelerator only to draw its average power of 8,000 hp (6 MW) (rather than the peak power of 70,000 hp or 52 MW) from its solar array. e storage element is proposed to be built out of the same lithium ion cells available in the Tesla Model S. With proper construction and controls, the battery could be directly connected to the HVDC bus, eliminating the need for an additional DC/DC converter to connect it to the propulsion system, the team suggests.
An onboard water tank is used for cooling of the air. Water is pumped at 0.14 kg/s through two intercoolers (290 kg total mass of coolant). e steam is stored onboard until reaching the station. Water and steam tanks are changed automatically at each stop. e compressor is powered by a 436 hp (325 kW) onboard electric motor, with an estimated mass of 169 kg, which includes power electronics. An estimated 1,500 kg of batteries provides 45 minutes of onboard compressor power, which is more than su cient for the travel time with added reserve backup power.
e Hyperloop uses a linear induction motor to accelerate and decelerate the www.aero.iitb.ac.in/airspace
According to the team, the recognized additional required work on the design is: More expansion on the control mechanism for Hyperloop capsules, including attitude thruster or control moment gyros. Detailed station designs with loading and unloading of both passenger and passenger-plus-vehicle versions of the Hyperloop capsules. Trades comparing the costs and bene ts of Hyperloop with more conventional magnetic levitation systems. Sub-scale testing based on a further optimized design to demonstrate the physics of Hyperloop.
AIRSPACE ♦ 2013 - 2014
Airships for regional air transportation in remote areas A case study for Uttarakhand Introduction to Airships Airships are LTA vehicles that work on the Principle of Archimedes, i.e., Bodies submerged into a uid receive from it a li ing force which is equal to the mass of the displaced uid . An airships envelope is lled with a gas having lower speci c weight than the atmospheric gas, and hence it generates li , which is equal to the di erence between the weight of displaced air and that of the li ing gas. is is called static li , since it is available even when the airship is stationary. In addition to this, an airship also derives some dynamic li , due to the action of aerodynamic forces acting on it as it moves through the air, just like an airplane.
Prof. Rajkumar S Pant
Although airships can takeo vertically, a higher payload capacity can be achieved by making a running takeo in an airship, much like an airplane. e speed gained on the ground is converted to li when the pilot raises the airships nose. Once airborne, airships can perform much like helicopters, remaining nearly geo-stationary for extended periods of time, albeit with much lesser fuel consumption, and noise and vibration levels. e reason for much lower fuel consumption of airships is quite apparent; a large fraction of a heavier-than-air vehicles propulsive power is spent in achieving enough relative velocity between the vehicle and ambient air to overcome gravity. In LTA vehicles, gravity can be overcome purely by static li , even at zero forward speed.
Capabilities & Limitations of Airships Some of the advantages of airships as compared to conventional modes of transport are listed below: Since airships are lighter than air vehicles, they don t use energy for li but only for forward
movement. Also, unlike conventional modes of transport, airships are relatively quiet and have extraordinary endurance (they can last for weeks instead of hours) compared to conventional aircra . Airships do not need runways to take o and land, hence their operating bases can be located away from the congested airspace near an existing airport. With the use of a high mooring mast, their operation from or near city centres is technically feasible. Further, airships y at lower altitudes (around 2,000 . above ground level). In fact, any increase in operating altitude adversely a ects their payload carrying capacity. Hence, the introduction of airships for transportation of goods and passengers does not interfere too much with the existing airspace in which conventional aircra s operate, and also does not add to congestion in an existing airspace. Airships can be con gured to perform vertical li operations with much lower fuel consumption than helicopters. Since airships operate at low altitudes, and also climb and descend gradually, it is not necessary to pressurise the passenger cabin; hence it can be made spacious and luxurious. Airships also o er a breathtaking view of the outside world for the passengers. Owing to their low speed of operation and inherent exibility in their structure, airships are safer than aircra s in handling operating hazards such as bird hits, or accidental hits to xed objects. Helium is now available globally in fairly large quantities; hence its use as a lighter-than-air gas can make airships a very safe mode of air travel. e two main aspects of civil aviation that harm the environment are emissions and noise, both of which are very less in airships, compared to that required by the equivalent conventional aircra . is is primarily due to the fact that the propulsive power (hence engine size and/or fuel consumption) required by airships is much smaller.
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Prof. Rajkumar Pant is a member of faculty of Aerospace Engineering at IIT Bombay, where he joined in December 1989. Earlier, he worked for ﬁve years at HAL in their Nasik and Kanpur divisions. All his three degrees are in the area of Aerospace Engineering; Bachelors' from Panjab Engineering College, Chandigarh (1978-83), Masters'from IIT Madras (1983-86), and Ph.D. from College of Aeronautics, Cranﬁeld University (1994-97). His areas of specialization include Aircraft Design, Air Transportation and Optimization. For more than a decade, he has been advocating the use of Lighter-Than-Air systems as a long-endurance, environment friendly platform for a variety of technical and commercial applications.
Airships TLG A60+
Envelope Volume (m ) / Rotor Diameter (m) Empty Weight (kg)
US-LTA 138S 3,908
Max Takeoff Weight (kg)
Max. Length (m)
Cruise Ceiling (m)
Table 1: Important parameters of the selected airships & helicopters
Airships can achieve level ight speeds of up to 100 km/hr. Hence, they
can cover a distance of 500 km in around four to ve hours. e operating cost per seat-km of an airship can be far lower than that of a conventional aircra , thus giving it a competitive edge. However, airships do su er from some operating limitations as compared to conventional modes of transport, some of which are listed below: Airships are sensitive to changes in ambient wind speed; hence they are
not all-weather vehicles. Airship operations can be hindered in disturbed weather conditions, especially when accompanied by vigorous changes in the direction and magnitude of ambient winds; a ecting their dispatch reliability. Due to their large size and susceptibility to wind disturbance, airships need to be stored on large-sized hangers. e payload carrying capacity of an airship diminishes a lot with increase in operating altitude.
Airships for providing air connectivity to remote areas In India, the Program on Airship Design and Development (PADD) was initiated in the early years of the new millennium. PADD aims at developing indigenous airship technology in India for various scienti c and commercial applications. In the rst phase of PADD, conceptual design studies of airships were carried out, for transportation of goods and passengers in a remote region in Uttarakhand (earlier known as Uttaranchal), a province of north India, over mountainous terrain under 'hot and high' conditions. Techno-economic feasibility of leasing airships for operation in India was investigated, and a Project De nition Report for development of two airships, the PADD Demo and the PADD PaxCargo was completed in 2003. Two case studies were also carried out to bring out the e cacy of airships as an alternative means of transportation. e rst case study dealt with
a comparison of airships and road vehicles for Char Dham Yatra. is paper describes the second case study in which a techno-economical comparison of helicopters and airships for ferrying passengers from low-lying plains to mountainous regions was carried out. e DOC (Direct Operating Cost) and payload capability of two ve-seater non-rigid airships and helicopters were compared for connecting three speci c city-pairs in Uttarakhand.
Case Study: Comparative analysis of ﬁve-seater airships and helicopters
Airships and helicopters are the only possible forms of aerial vehicles that can circumvent some of the di culties associated with traversing terrains such as Uttarakhand s. Compared to the xed-wing aircra , they can be operated over mountainous terrains more safely, since they can be own at much lower speeds. us, they can y through relatively narrower valleys or corridors with higher levels of tolerance and safety since their ight dynamics do not require large forward velocity as their prime source of li . ey also require signi cantly less area for landing, parking and taxiing, which makes them ideally suited for operations in mountains, where it is impossible to construct regular runways due to unavailability of large areas of at land. However, increase in temperature and operating altitude adversely a ect the performance capability and payload carrying capacity of airships and helicopters much more than that for a xed-wing aircra . Compared to helicopters, airships have signi cantly lower fuel consumption, higher endurance and o er a much better ride quality to the occupants. Airships, on the other hand, are more sensitive to weather uctuations, and are larger in dimensions compared to helicopters of similar capacity.
Selection of Airships and Helicopters: Table 1 lists the values of a few important parameters of the two non-rigid airships and helicopters (both having a passenger capacity of ve) that were considered for this study.
Selection of the three routes A er studying the geology and topology of Uttarakhand, two levels of operation for airships and helicopters were considered - the lower level comprising all locations below an altitude of 2000 m; and the upper level consisting of locations situated above this altitude. An analysis of the population distribution of Uttarakhand revealed that nearly 70, 54,700 people live in the lower level, which constitutes nearly 68% of the total population. Further, majority of agricultural and commercial activity takes place in this level. Locations in the higher level were beyond
AIRSPACE ♦ 2013 - 2014
the scope of operation of existing airships and helicopters; hence this study was limited to operation only in the lower level. Based on a study of demographic data of Uttarakhand, three city pairs were chosen for this comparative study viz., Dehradun to Nainital, Pauri to Almora and Uttarkashi to Pithoragarh. A feasibility study on operations of airships between these cities in Uttarakhand was carried out by e Lightship Group, and the exact route to be followed between three major city-pairs on which the airship was to be own were identi ed, as shown in Fig.1. It was assumed that the helicopters would also be operated along the same routes.
Fig. 1: Map of Uttarakhand highlighting the three routes for airship & helicopter operations
Operating costs are applicable to all aircra s, and are o en a decisive factor while evaluating the relative merits of certain aircra s having comparable performance characteristics. e factors that contributed to Direct Operating Cost (DOC) like depreciation and insurance, maintenance (labour and spares), crew remuneration and fuel costs have been considered. A description of the methodology adopted for estimation of the DOC due to these factors follows.
Depreciation and Insurance Annual cost of depreciation was taken as 10% of the purchase price of the airship or helicopter. Annual insurance premium has been taken as 2% of the insured value of the airship/helicopter and support equipment, as suggested in a previous study referenced from outside.
Maintenance e annual cost for labour and spares for maintenance of US-LTA 138S airship was obtained. ese costs were scaled as a percentage of total procurement cost for TLG A60+ also. e maintenance schedule (in terms of Maintenance Man Hours per Flight Hour, or MMH/FH) and cost gures for the helicopters were also obtained. e results of the same have been summarised in Table 2.
Fuel Expenditure Table 3 shows the results obtained on the three
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routes for the airships & helicopters. Since potentially hazardous weather conditions can pose a serious threat to airship operations for approximately three months of the year, the calculations are based on operation for eight months, keeping an extra one-month as a contingency time margin for major maintenance and spillovers. e daily and annual totals of ight time and cost of fuel over the three routes have been shown in Table 4. It is interesting to note that though the helicopters can cover the routes in nearly half the time, but their fuel consumption is around twice or thrice. However, Helicopters use Jet-A fuel, which costs US $ 0.6 per lit, as compared to airships, which use 100 LL Aviation Fuel, which costs US $ 2.0 per lit. Hence, the annual fuel costs of helicopter are much lower, compared to airships!
Crew Compensation It was assumed that the operations would require three pilots and one trainee, ten technicians and ground crew men, and four sales & marketing personnel. Using the values quoted for Skyship 600 airship modi ed for operations in Indian conditions, the crew compensation was assumed to be 0.4 million USD per year, and the same was assumed to be applicable for both the airships, as well as the helicopters.
Comparison of DOC of Airships & Helicopters Table 5 lists the breakdown of Direct Operating Costs (DOC) of airships and helicopters. Helicopters are seen to have nearly the same annual DOC as compared to the airships, but the hourly DOC is 75-150 % higher.
Results and Conclusions It is observed that the annual operating costs of airships and helicopters are in fact quite similar. But the hourly DOC, as well as hourly cost per seat for airships is signi cantly lower than the corresponding gures for helicopters, as seen in Table 6. It can be summarised that since the fuel consumption of airships is 1.7 to 2.7 times lower compared to helicopters; they provide a greener solution to meet the transportation requirements. However, the ight duration by helicopters is nearly half compared to airships. ough the operating costs of airships and helicopters are quite similar, airships o er far superior levels of comfort due to larger cabin space and lower vibration levels, perhaps resulting in a more enjoyable ight, especially for tourists!
AIRSPACE â™Ś 2013 - 2014
HINDSIGHT Tete-a-tete with an Air Force pilot Thank you sir for interviewing with Airspace. Can you begin by giving a brief introduction about yourself? I was commissioned to the Indian Air Force in 1981 a er having seen through a memorable stint at the National Defence Academy and the Air Force Academy where I was conferred with the Sword of Honor. I began my tenure as a trainee, going on to y MiG 21 ghter aircra s as a part of the fabled ghter squadron Scorpios . erea er, I proceeded to become a ight instructor and eventually, a trained experimental test pilot. A er 22 years of service, I sought a pre-mature retirement from the force and am now a Captain with the Air India Express ying Boeing 737 passenger aircra s.
Wg Cdr (Retd) Deepak Sathe
How does your experience at IAF compare to the one you’re having now with Air India Express? Why did you leave the Indian Air Force prematurely? My tenure with the Indian Air Force was both exciting and challenging at the same time. It taught me a sense of responsibility, a sense of accomplishment and leadership skills under trying circumstances. At the same time, it entailed a turbulent lifestyle with frequent transfers to the remotest corners of the country. Places like Avantipur, where cross-border terrorist attacks are commonplace or places like Tezpur and Uttarlai which are a generation behind the rest of India, would not have served as nurturing atmospheres for our growing sons. So I decided to hang my boots and become a commercial pilot, which, albeit, is a di erent type of job, but o ers more stability and a life in a metropolitan environment.
What were the different aircrafts you ew throughout your career? Over the span of my Air Force career, I ew 18 di erent types of aircra s, including ghters, cargo trainers and helicopters. As an instructor, I used to y the Polish PZL TS-11 ISKRA, which is still the oldest jet still in service in Poland. ese aircra s were able to sustain 12 training ights per day, which really brought into light their impeccable robustness. For a long time, I ew MiG 21s as a part of the marquee ghter squadron Scorpios .
Retired Wing Commander Deepak Sathe served in the Indian Air Force for 22 years and is now a commercial pilot for Air India Express. He has been putting his life on the line for the country and at the same time has had a momentous inﬂuence on the massive strides Indian aerospace research has undertaken over the years.
Have you ever been involved in combat? If no, could you share with us some critical scenarios you found yourself into? No, I was never involved in actual combat. But I was stationed as the Commanding O cer of the Air Force Unit in Bhuj when the earthquake came, and lived through a poignant experience. We were there in the midst of it when the quake hit an approximate 8.3 on the Richter scale, with buildings collapsing everywhere around us. e chivalrous attitude of the IAF, climbing inclined buildings, pulling people out of debris and saving lives is something that I cherish, and having been at the forefront of it all, motivates me to this day.
Could you share with us some of the technical aspects of the training you underwent before joining the force? We were introduced to ying-related subjects (aerodynamics, aero engines, navigation etc) at the NDA and at a greater detail at the Air Force
35 AIRSPACE ♦ 2013 - 2014
HINDSIGHT Academy. Subsequently, during my ying instructor course, ight related theories, technologies and the intricacies of man-machine interfaces were all covered at a greater depth.
How deeply did your role transcend from being a pilot to actually innovating cutting-edge research?
Beyond the scope of formal training, one had to get into great details related to each project. O en, it required a combination of more than Being a trainee at the Aircra & Systems Testing Establishment (ASTE) which is one type of technology, and entailed a lot of self-study and preparatory a unit of the IAF, for the Experimental Test Pilot Course, gave me exposure to research prior to in- ight evaluation. To name a few: weapon fuse aerodynamics, aero-structures, propulsion, avionics, control systems, digital designs, radar signal characteristics, electro optics (for night vision signal processing, design optimization for man-machine interface and nondevices), aircra performance(take-o , landing, acceleration, engine dimensional/reduced parameter analysis. Later, this exposure to technical stability/reliability), life support systems(oxygen subjects was found to be vital during actual ight mask designs, thermal suits), fail safe/ fail evaluations of indigenous and other equipment. It is The scope and variety of operational aspects of critical airborne equipment pertinent to note that cutting edge technology is applied in all projects related to military aircra projects in the field of flight systems. structures/designs, propulsion systems, avionics, evaluation is huge. Many One of the projects commissioned by DRDO electronic warfare signal processing, weapon times, a very recent technology, involved test ring a rocket that could penetrate a guidance & control systems, smart communication just off-the-drawing board, is runway, and explode seconds a er penetration, on equipment, or life support systems for the onboard account of a delay bomb fuse installed on board. It aircrew. e scope and variety of projects in the eld put to work. required us to re the rocket from a ghter aircra of ight evaluation is huge. Many times, a very recent at the precise airspeed, angle and position with technology, just o -the-drawing board, is put to reference to the calibrated runway which was setup in some far- ung work. is should be of interest to the aerospace engineering faculty at IIT desert in Rajasthan. I had even authored a research paper on ight Bombay. testing techniques of structurally modi ed aircra s. How signiﬁcant was your interaction with scientists from the Indian research establishments? On what level does the Air Force give feedback Do you foresee a potential shift to remote-controlled aircrafts or to each of these establishments so as to ensure more channelized drones in the future? How do you see that impacting the IAF’s research? operations? During my stint as an experimental ight test pilot, I worked closely with DRDO, HAL, NAL so as to examine the e ectiveness and safety of home grown indigenous aircra /system technologies. I also had the opportunity to interact with various foreign weapon/avionics equipment manufacturers, so as to test out their compatibility with the existing Indian technologies and their suitability for use by the Indian Air Force, before they could be bought and inducted into the country s arsenal. For example, I was a part of DRDO s Airborne Early Warning System (AEW) program for 3 years, which was an ambitious attempt to develop Indias very own low cost AEW system. e project attracted attention from foreign agencies at the Aero India airshow in 1999 on account of the remarkable attempt to develop a low cost model of a sophisticated technology. Another interesting project that I worked on entailed a structurally modi ed Boeing 737 for electronic data gathering during peacetime. Such information accumulated could prove vital in the scenario of war.
For military applications like weapon-delivery against surface targets, pilotless aircra s have a huge potential. In this regard, lower cost aircra s with lesser associated risk (no pilots) can indeed be the norm of the future as Use-and-dispose type of aircra s. For tasks such as airborne interception, remote-controlled technology still has an appreciable distance to catch up. For civil applications such as passenger transport, current technology is not adequate to address and mitigate the risks involved in making ight completely remote-controlled. e human element is extremely critical to ight and in times of adversities, a lot of lives depend upon it. is limitation impacts the automation of both military and commercial aircra s.
AIRSPACE ♦ 2013 - 2014
I open at the close 30 years at IIT Bombay 11:00, 5th April, 2014. At that precise moment I hit the 'I' key and started typing out the title of this piece. e timing had a purpose; 30 years (accurate within minutes) since I signed on a register at IITB to become an Assistant Professor at the Department of Aerospace Engineering. It is nice to know that this issue of Airspace carries an article by Wg Cdr Rakesh Sharma. He started his journey to space on April 3, 1984. I started mine to IITB on that very same day. He spent 8 days in space, and I spent 30, not days but years, in IITB. Kodak moment with Rakesh Sharma and Ravish Malhotra when they visited the department in 1984, soon a er they returned from Russia, gives a glimpse of moss covered portal of the department during those days! ( e photograph mentioned here is displayed towards the end of the article.)
Directors have steered the institute to glory. e jet ghter that stood on a platform at the far end of the aero building and the helicopter perched in the D-patch right in-front of aero building have both gone as scrap; buildings across the campus have got de-mossed and received a face li , roads have widened, Powai lake has shrunk; leopards have shown up with regularity, one crocodile has ambled across the guest house to bask in the sun by the pond, snakes have crossed paths and one has even curled up till my ankle, mongooses have become rare, crabs that surfaced in thousands each year when the
Prof. K. Sudhakar
K. Sudhakar has been a professor at the Aerospace Engineering Department at IIT Bombay for the past 30 years. His research interests include design optimization, ﬂight dynamics and aerodynamic design. He has been widely regarded as one of the most student-friendly professors till date, and leaves his faculty position in the department in the current academic year.
Since then, 30 batches of students have passed through this portal, 10 di erent Heads have adorned the department chair, 5 di erent
The helicopter 37 AIRSPACE ♦ 2013 - 2014
rst monsoon rains hit the earth have disappeared; several buildings have appeared, some have disappeared including the building that rst housed my family (C-23) when we arrived on campus in 1984; shops have sprung up one by one lining the streets outside that once used to have empty sides, whole of Hiranandani has sprouted out of the ground, BEST buses (No. 392) have stopped crawling through the campus, number of cars on campus have gone up from what one could count on ngers to needing a census to nd out; watching movies at Convo and eating batata vada has stopped. Memories! Each year as I step into a class to teach a new batch of students, I nd the faces to be as young as they were in 1984; making me feel that it is only I who is ageing! Most students melt away leaving only their young faces in my memory. A few have stayed in touch and have greyed and aged with me! Somnath Nagendra (1984), now in P&W, has kept the link alive all these years (seated 5th from right, check shirt, glasses). Vivek Jayaraman (1994) has emailed every time there is an update in his life; PhD, changes of jobs, marriage, etc. Srinivas (Gun) stumbles into campus each year to recruit students for his Bangalore based rm only to nd that I am in Bangalore on that particular day! Madhura, Saptarshi, Chati and Ankit Shah email to inform of their India visits, well in time, so that a meeting can be planned. Amardeep & Tannishtha
drop in whenever they stray into campus and sometimes even stray in only to visit. Kanwal and a few others reply when written to. Some have returned to become colleagues Ananthkrishnan, Sanjay Bhat, Chatterjee, Mahulikar and Arya. ere is in nite, interesting variety in the way students have stayed in touch! 30 years of life on campus, inside the academic area and outside, has been most satisfying teaching, research, funding, continuing education programmes and a host of other professional activities. Excellent opportunities to team up with colleagues always brought the best in me and synergy into every act. During early years it was Professor Shevare. It seemed that together we could conquer the world! en CASDE was born. Professors Joshi, Mujumdar and later Arya stepped in and made sky the limit for nding interesting things to do. Years have a way of slipping past unnoticed when brilliant PhD students do extraordinary work and ll life with excitement. Ananthkrishnan let me experience this rst; Piyush and Shaja let me experience it for the last time. Wonderful times. Alas! How soon they had to end!
AIRSPACE ♦ 2013 - 2014
DEATH ANURAG MUNDHADA, Winning Entry, Aero Fiction, Zephyr 2013
Time travel was nally invented in the late 22nd century a er a decade-long project undertaken by some of the most brilliant minds of the world. However, the expected rami cations of the invention did not come to fruition: though one could travel backward and forward in time disregarding the arrow of time, the method was practically unusable for this purpose. However, the invention brought about a totally unexpected revolution: it opened up the possibility of inter-galactic space travel. Allow me to explain. You see, although scientists had known from centuries that the universe was expanding, there was no theory yet of what lay beyond the universe. Since anything outside the universe couldn t be observed anyway, this subject was of no practical relevance. However, the invention of time travel changed all that. e unanimous conclusion of the scienti c world was that there was an absolute xed reference frame, and it was not within this universe. Rather, there was a xed reference frame with respect to which our universe, and probably others, had their absolute velocities. e velocity of our universe was calculated to be a staggering 1.5 light years/year. Yes, the theory of relativity was apparently not applicable in the metauniverse, as the world containing our and other universes was termed by the scienti c community. e practical rami cations of this were the opening of intergalactic space travel. When a person travelled back in time, she actually remained still with respect to the fabric of the meta-universe. However, since our universe itself
39 AIRSPACE â™Ś 2013 - 2014
had a not-so-insigni cant velocity, she actually travelled a great distance in the universe a time journey to a point in time just 5.73 years into the future meant that your brains would be frying in the core of the Sirius star, while travelling 1.66 million years into the past meant that you were being torn apart by the black hole at the center of the Andromeda Galaxy. Our story begins when the year was 2213 on Earth. For simplicity, all the events will be according to Earth time. Six billion kilometers of space journey using regular ion drive propulsion had worn us out when nally the Captain decided that it was safe to use the Temporal Engine, and in an instant we were 22 light years away outside the sun system called Gliese 581. Our target was the fourth planet orbiting Gliese 581; it was one of the three planets in the known universe which had been determined to have intelligent life. We were part of a diplomatic mission to the Gliesians. is was the rst time humans would be making contact with extraterrestrial intelligence. I, Dr. Ravi Malhotra, a cognition and linguistic expert, was accompanying the team as the translator. I know more than thirty languages, and am quite adept at picking up new ones. Since their language was probably altogether di erent from ours, it had been determined that the only way to establish communications with them would be through gestures and pictographical language. Only a er rst establishing a rudimentary language could we move on to symbols and more advanced language structures. I had been chosen to be the communication link between our peoples. I was sitting in the viewing bay with two other crew members. e Gliesian sun shone only dimly through the glass screen, since we were still about a billion kilometers from our destination. Ironically, though this journey from the periphery of the Gliesian system was
LEISURE few hours of light remained. Small settlements could be seen beside the nearby river; apparently their people had not advanced to the level of building planned urban areas and were still at the level of settlements at the sides of rivers. We were going to change all that. We would educate their people and bring to them our technology. At least that was our plan. I, however, felt a bit uneasy what if they were happy as they were, and what if equipping them with advanced technology suddenly, led to more harm than good? I was in a moral conundrum, so to speak this incursion into their society smacked too much of the British colonialization of the world that we read about in history books. Slowly we trekked down the hill to the settlement. e gravity was slightly more than that of Earths, and our movements were clumsy. e protection suit further made movement di cult. It took the better part of the day to reach the bottom of the hill. At the bottom, we saw a group of the villagers approaching. ey looked humanoid, but there were a few notable di erences they were shorter, probably because the higher gravity favored the evolution of shorter species. Also, there was a small appendage at the top of their heads, which looked like a horn of some sort. It reminded me of a certain cartoon character and I let out a nervous laugh. I was both nervous and excited at the same time. ough we had no reason to fear these natives, as we had quite a bit of repower at our command, I still felt a bit uneasy what if they had something which we could not match? e group cautiously approached us. We stood still, so that we did not appear hostile to them. When they were about y feet from us, their leader came forward and shouted something, which I obviously could not understand.
but a fraction of the journey we had undertaken from Earth up till here, it would take considerably longer, since it was too risky to use the Temporal Engine once within a star system. is was because even a slight mistake in the Temporal calculations could mean that we could be dead, grounded on some asteroid or planet. Two days later, we were orbiting our destination Gliese 581g. It looked eerily similar to earth with its vast oceans and interspersed landmasses. However, due to some reason the water was somewhat greenish this could probably be explained by the unique bio-diversity of the planet. I was fairly excited to be on the planet, my scienti cally inclined mind yearned to explore the planet, to discover its secrets and mysteries. us lost in my thoughts, I was surprised when the loudspeaker suddenly announced, Hi, this is your Captain speaking. We are preparing for landing. Please attach yourself to your seats securely. e atmospheric entry was a bit rough but overall uneventful. Since the glass windows had been covered, we could no longer see the outside and I retired myself to boredom. An hour later, when the spaceship had landed and cooled down su ciently, we nally exited the spacecra , having donned the protection suits with the oxygen supply. e protection suits were to prevent us from contracting any diseases from the unknown environment. Since even the most harmless microorganism on Gliese could potentially kill us, we had to be extremely careful with the suits. We le the ship one by one, and found ourselves on a small at hilltop from which quite a bit of the planet was visible. It was evening only a
I had been trained for exactly this scenario. e years spent researching my thesis were nally going to be of some use. I started gesturing with my hands, accompanied by certain basic sounds which, in my research, had been found to have connotations deeply ingrained in the psyche. e gist of my message was simple we come in peace and was designed to relax their survival instincts. It apparently worked; the natives relaxed noticeably, and started talking to each other in their tongue. e sounds coming from them seemed weird no language on Earth had evolved such a combination of sounds. It seemed to indicate a fundamental di erence in the anatomies of our vocal chords. A er animated discussions for some time, one of them came forward, stood up to its full height, and said something. It sounded like the combined sounds of a zebra braying and a hyena laughing, interspersed with weird clicking sounds. From its body language and gestures, I deduced that he was trying to ask us who we were. I again responded with some of the primal words in my arsenal, accompanied with the suitable gestures to convey that I came from another planet I pointed at the sky, and then our spaceship. At this, the natives started chattering excitedly amongst themselves. A er some time, they fell to their chubby knees, and started wailing tere s no better word to describe the sounds. I had expected something of this sort since religions have evolved independently on earth too and there was no reason that they would not
AIRSPACE â™Ś 2013 - 2014
LEISURE have one. Obviously, they believed us to be gods. Our greater heights could also possibly have reinforced this observation. I sighed. is was not going to be easy. It was morally wrong to let the natives believe that we were gods. Besides, the Universal Treaty on Space Exploration had explicitly forbidden such deceit. I had to quickly convince the natives that we were not gods, but rather fellow intelligent life-forms who had come to establish friendship. But that could come later. First, we had to establish communications. I began the long and arduous process of creating a basis of communication. I pointed at things, and asked them what it was using gestures. I was able to quickly get them to respond; a er all, we were gods to them. I catalogued all their words using a recorder. is information was going to be invaluable. Meanwhile, the rest of my crew was busy setting up base. ey set up massive tents, which was essentially a closed system within which one could live without their spacesuit. e arrival of nanotechnology had enabled space travelers to live in relative luxury; where earlier they had to retire back to their spaceships at night, now they could sleep comfortably on the solid ground of the planet. e natives were inviting us to their settlements apparently they wanted us to dine with them. I refused, since we were not sure what kind of reception we would receive in the village. e sudden occurrence of gods might lead to chaos. Instead, the natives bought us their food, along with pitchers of a greenish-blue liquid. We could not obviously eat it, for fear of infection, but we took samples anyway for testing and archiving purposes. Who knows, it might actually be edible! I was progressing slowly with their language. I now knew about twenty nouns, and about ten verbs or actions. e night came quickly. eir day was shorter than ours about 20 hours. e natives retired back to their homes one by one. We could not see any light in their houses, except a central area where a re was burning. Finally, all the natives had le . We woke up early next morning. I had planned a lot for today I wanted to progress to a functional speaking language by tonight. I quickly revised what I had learned the previous day, and practiced speaking their words. We were going to be visiting their settlement today, to observe their life and also to learn more about their government. We wanted to directly communicate with their overall leadership, if they had one. I assembled my team of two fellow scientists, experts in their elds of evolutionary biology and psychology respectively, and three security personnel, and we set out for the village. e village was about an hour of strenuous trek from our base. eir settlement seemed oddly quiet for this time of the day.
the homes of the people to nd out what was really happening. We chose one of the larger homes near the village square, since most of their houses were too small for us because of their smaller size. We knocked on the door with trepidation. When no one answered, the security personnel forced the door open and we entered cautiously. Even though this was one of the largest houses, we had to stoop and walk. e rst few rooms of the house were empty. e house was completely silent. Not a snore, not the sound of any children crying. We reached the last room in the house. Its door was closed I pushed it open, and entered slowly. Four Gliesians were lying huddled together in a corner. I approached them; they showed no response at all. My heart was beating so hard that I could hear it beating. A feeling of dread crept up in my mind. What had we done? I approached the natives and, not being able to think of anything else, poked the largest with a stick. And jumped back. No one jumped back at me. We had killed them all. .. All our precautions, all our bio-contamination containment measures, had been aimed at our protection. Our systems were designed to not allow infections into our bodies we had not spared a single thought for what happened to others. Our suits exteriors and other equipment brought out from the spaceship had not been sterilized and they had come into contact with the Gliesian atmosphere. Since the Gliesians had no immunity against the natural microorganisms on our bodies, those very microbes that were docile in our immune bodies had wreaked havoc on theirs.
Perhaps they have not evolved to wake up in the morning, said the biologist. I still had a nagging feeling of unease. We cautiously entered the settlement. ere was complete silence; the streets were deserted and not a single sound came from their homes. I could see that all my colleagues were troubled. e security personnel became more alert, and we moved forward stealthily towards the village center. We had decided not to enter their homes without invitation, for we did not know how they would react to such an intrusion.
We were all stricken with guilt. We had been responsible for killing o an entire village and they had considered us gods. We hardly spoke to each other what could we say? I could see the crushed morale in the eyes and faces of the crew. None of us would be getting any sleep in the coming nights.
We saw that the entire village was deserted. e village center was a circular open region surrounded by small shuttered shops. Five roads led out of the village center. e village center, which would have bristled with activity if on earth, was so quiet that we could hear our own breathing.
We le Gliese immediately, wanting to avoid any more deadly contact with the natives. But before we le , we poured gasoline over the entire village and set it to ames, to exterminate any microorganisms remaining.
Confused by the complete desolation of the village, we decided to enter one of
It would burn for days.
41 AIRSPACE â™Ś 2013 - 2014
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