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Fuelling a greener aerospace Will biofuel provide the basis for a closer relationship between aerospace and the environment? Filling the aviation skills gap | Autonomy into the future | China’s GA spending spree


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Don’t Miss! CAREERS IN AEROSPACE.COM

The only UK careers and recruitment fair dedicated to aerospace and aviation

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Volume 39 Number 10

Illustration: Wayne J Davis

Comment

October 2012

Mindmeld

Contents News Roundup 4

ver since the first aviators took to the skies, they have used technology to extend the human body’s natural limits. Leather coats protected against the cold and oxygen masks allowed high-altitude flight. G-suits and night-vision goggles permitted fighter pilots to fly and fight at several times the force of gravity and in darkness. However, today, augmenting humans has moved from the physiological realm into neuroscience. Research into bridging the gap between humans and machines, for example with cybernetic implants, is moving swiftly ahead. In parallel, meanwhile has been the rise of unmanned air systems and promise of more autonomous vehicles. Bandwidth restrictions, jamming and more complex missions means that increasing autonomy is becoming more valued. Together these two trends promise to open up new capabilities for air power, as our article on p26 highlights. But, although this discussion of ‘cyborg pilots’ seems like science fiction, these two halves of future air warfare may gradually converge. A genuine debate then about ‘robot ethics’ for these uncharted waters of autonomy is thus needed. Will the combat pilot of the future be a human boosted by machine augmentations, or a machine with human decision-making abilities?

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Filling the aviation skills gap 12 Why is the aerospace sector struggling for talent?

Letters 15 Pacifying rogue aircraft & London’s airports

Winds of change 16 A report on the UK’s new £60m aerodynamics centre Cover Story

Waiting for the green light? 18 An update on alternative fuels for aviation

China aims for the high ground 22

The runway that won’t go away

China’s military ambitions in space

Try as they might, UK politicians cannot avoid the recurring electoral hazard of Heathrow expansion and its third runway. Ruled out by Prime Minister David Cameron, the recent reshuffle puts a new transport minister in the hot seat as the prisoner of circumstances. A report in future SE airport capacity is now set to be carried out, with observers noting an unspoken indication that the next election may allow the runway to return. Yet this may take yet more valuable time, which Heathrow does not have against continental rival hubs. If Heathrow’s third runway does make a comeback, by then will it be too late?

The autonomous air system: far beyond the foreseeable future 26 Merging human and machine?

The great haul of China 30 China’s US general aviation spending spree

Correspondence on all aerospace matters is welcome at: The Editor, RAeS, No.4 Hamilton Place, London W1J 7BQ, UK

The last word 34 Keith Hayward on military UAV pilots e-mail: tim.robinson@aerosociety.com

Additional editorial features and content are available to view online on http://media.aerosociety.com/aerospace-insight/, including: London Thames Estuary airports — the 1970s debate, MBDA’s new long-range Meteor missile, Chinook celebrates half century, Filling the aviation skills gap. Editor

Tim Robinson

+44 (0)20 7670 4353

Editorial Office:

(tim.robinson@aerosociety.com) (twitter:@RAeSTimR)

Deputy Editor

Bill Read

+44 (0)20 7670 4351

(bill.read@aerosociety.com)

Publications Manager

Chris Male

+44 (0)20 7670 4352

(chris.male@aerosociety.com)

Production Editor

Wayne J Davis

+44 (0)20 7670 4354

(wayne.davis@aerosociety.com)

Editorial Assistant

Rebecca Uttley

Publisher: Advertising:

RAeS, No.4 Hamilton Place, London W1J 7BQ, UK Tel: +44 (0)20 7670 4300 Fax: +44 (0)20 7670 4309 e-mail: publications@aerosociety.com Royal Aeronautical Society, www.aerosociety.com Chief Executive: Simon Luxmoore Lee Wilson Tel: +44 (0)7870 362276 e-mail: lee.wilson@aerosociety.com

Unless specifically attributed, no material in Aerospace International shall be taken to represent the opinion of the RAeS. Reproduction of material used in this publication is not permitted without the written consent of the Editor. Printed by Sunday Publishing, 207 Union Street, London SE1 0LN. Distributed by Royal Mail. Aerospace International subscription rates: Non-members, £135 Please send your order to : Dovetail Services Ltd, 800 Guillat Avenue, Kent Science Park, Sittingbourne, Kent ME9 8GU, UK. Tel: +44 (0)844 848 8426. Fax: +44 (0)844 856 0650. e-mail: ras@servicehelpline.co.uk USA: Periodical postage paid at Champlain New York and additional offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to IMS of New York, PO Box 1518, Champlain NY 12919-1518, USA. USPS No. 000-000. ISSN No. 0305-0831

October 2012 Aerospace International

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NEWS Roundup News Headlines

Aerospace Ge-Chen Zah/Florida State University

Reshuffle opens airport debate UK PM orders report on aviation capacity Bill Read The UK Government is to launch a commission to look into how the UK can increase aviation capacity. Chaired by Sir Howard Davies, formerly from the Financial Services Authority, the cross-party commission will look at airport capacity in the southeast. However, it will not publish its findings until 2015, after the next general election. The decision has re-opened speculation that the British government may be considering reversing its election commitment which rules out the building of a third runway at Heathrow. Officially, government policy is still unchanged but there have been hints that this may change, after a cabinet reshuffle on 4 September which saw the removal of two opponents to Heathrow expansion — Aviation Minister Theresa Villiers and Transport Secretary Justine Greening — whose Putney con-

Bi-directional aircraft concept stituency is under the Heathrow flight path. The decision has provoked a fierce debate between different interested parties. Supporters of the third runway include former environment minister Tim Yeo who argues that it would enable LHR to compete better with rival international hub airports. Opponents of Heathrow expansion include business secretary Vince Cable, Richmond MP Zac Goldsmith and local councils. London mayor Boris Johnston has vowed to hold a rival enquiry to look into an alternative proposal for a new four-runway airport in the Thames Estuary. bill.read@aerosociety.com

A university design team has received $100,000 in funding from NASA to look at a supersonic ‘flying wing’ that would be able to optimise its flight by rotating the entire aircraft. The fuel-efficient, bi-directional, four-point wing could go into supersonic mode by just turning 90 degrees in midair, with engine nacelles rotating to match the direction of flight. The concept was proposed by University of Miami aerospace engineer Ge-Chen Zah along with a research team from Florida State University.

Sudan crash kills 32

World record for Mi-38

Thirty-two people, including officials, generals and a Sudanese Government Minister were killed when an Antonov transport crashed on 19 August in the south of the country. The aircraft, operated by Alfa Airlines, was on a private charter flight to the town of Talodi when it hit a hill in bad weather.

A Russian Mi-38 transport helicopter has set a new world altitude record by climbing to 8,600m at the 14th Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) helicopter championship. Test pilots from the Mil Moscow Helicopter Plant at Drakino airbase flew the Mi-38, setting a the new record for the 1020,000kg weight class.

From the web  Response to ‘London’s Thames estuary plans deja-vu all over again! Mike Carrivick: The present day situation presents issues that possibly didn’t exist in decades gone by. They include: -immediate intrusion into continental airspace -the impacts on other London / SE England airports -a cul de sac transport system that would be required to handle over 100m passengers pa, plus meeters/greeters/staff. - the entire supporting infrastructure that an airport like this needs - the economic effects on W London/Thames Corridor by closure of LHR - the need to take a huge share of passengers through/around London to get there. All these issues, and others, require consideration in the wider debate.

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Response to ‘Filling the aviation skills gap’ Tanwir: Reading this article infuriates me to an even greater extent. I have already made over 350 applications to secure a graduate scheme, but so far I have only had one telephone interview. The irony is I have a first class honours MEng degree, with excellent academic record and work experience, but still I cannot manage to get to an interview, let alone a job. The companies need to be willing to accept graduates and give them an opportunity to demonstrate their skills. A cover letter or CV hardly provides an accurate impression of what a person is capable of achieving, and therefore should not be used as the only means of evaluation. Twitter @exMerlinboss [On Airbus airliners flying in formation concept] just like in cycling and motor October 2012 Aerospace International

racing, you need to be tucked in close. I cannot see any aviation authority agree! @nigelmcd: Transpose the current LHR noise map east and where does it go? Suffolk, Who is the MP? Errr! Vested Interest? @Elecam4tito Spitfire eliptical wing design, best ever“@RAeSTimR: Most beautiful wing ever designed @simpliflying: [On air traffic predictions] Actually, I wonder which country has the most profitable airports? @NZAircraftFan [On great flying films] Good point I am sure Peter Jackson will make Dambusters after the Hobbit but Deighton's Bomber would make a great film www.aerosociety.com


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NEWS Roundup Aerospace

Airliner forecasts

China will need 5,260 aircraft, valued at $670bn, over the next 20 years and that Indian airlines will require 1,450 aircraft valued at $175bn in the next 20 years, with 1,201 of these being singleaisle and 234 to be twin-aisle jets. As well as this, it predicts worldwide demand for 24,000 aircraft worth $4·5 trillion, with China being the second largest market for commercial aircraft. Airbus

Airbus has revealed its latest Global Market Forecast for 20122031, pointing out the need for a total of 28,200 new airliner deliveries worth $4 trillion. 27,350 of these will be passenger jets and 850 will be freighters. Two-thirds

of the existing aircraft flying today will be replaced with more fuelefficient models in the next 20 years. However, John Leahy, chief operating officer, customers commented that China’s opposition to Europe’s ETS carbon-trading scheme remains active, with sales of 35-45 A330 widebodies still under threat. ● Meanwhile, Boeing released a commercial forecast showing

Flying bike A company called Aerofex is testing a bike-like ‘hover vehicle’ in California’s Mojave Desert. Using ducted fans, the bike is mechanically manoeuvred by two control bars which control balance. It is claimed that its simplicity means that no pilot training will be necessary. Aerofex plans to fly a second version in October and an unmanned drone version by the end of 2013.

Blimp racing An aviation enthusiast plans to organise a round-the-world ‘World Sky Race’ using blimps, departing from London in 2014. Organiser, Don Hartsell, intends the airships to race in eight stages, with the shortest time being the winner. It is estimated that the race will cost $50m.

X-51A failure

Airbus reveals ‘Smarter Skies’ concept Airbus has unveiled its ‘Smarter Skies’ vision of air travel in the 2050s, with propelled platforms to boost acceleration, allowing a steeper ‘eco-climb’ of the aircraft to reduce fuel and reach cruise altitude in a shorter amount of time. Airbus says this would also create shorter runways providing more space for airports. Other ideas include free flights and glide descent and approaches, as well as allowing aircraft to fly in bird-like formation, reducing drag by flying together on long range flights.

The Boeing/USAF experimental aircraft, the X-51A Waverider, broke apart over the Pacific Ocean during its test flight on 14 August after its supersonic-combustion scramjet engine failed to ignite.

Who’s News Neil Armstrong, the first man to set foot on the Moon has died aged 82, following complications from heart surgery. Patrick McLoughlin MP has replaced Justine Greening MP as UK Transport Secretary. Virgin Atlantic’s chief executive Steve Ridgway is to step down next year. The chief financial officer of Gol, Leonardo Porciuncula Gomes Pereira, resigned from his position on 15 August. Gol has not named his replacement.

succeeds Ray Conner who held the role prior to his promotion to president.

EADS has announced the newly appointed Group Executive Committee. John Leahy (chief operating officer – customers, Airbus), Gunter Butschek (chief operating officer, Airbus) and Bernhard Gerwat (ceo, Cassidian) are three new members.

Airberlin has announced Simon Cook as the new sales manager for UK and Ireland.

Robert Behnken has been named chief astronaut by NASA. He succeeds Peggy Whitson. John Wojick has been named vice president of sales for Boeing Commercial Airplanes. He

October 2012 Aerospace International

Flight Safety International has promoted Tom Eff to svp, General Counsel & Secretary, Scott Fera to svp, marketing, Greg McGowan, svp operations and Ken Motschwiller as svp and cfo. London Oxford Airport has announced that Andi Pargeter has been appointed its new md. She will commence her new role immediately.

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Leonid Sergeev has been appointed ceo of southern Russian airport group Basel Aero.


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NEWS Roundup Air Transport

Lufthansa hit by strikes

only offering a 3·5% increase. The airline is currently undergoing a €1·5bn cost-cutting programme due to rising fuel costs and increased competition. Management has now reported to have agreed to a key concession.

Eurolot firms extra Q400s Qantas

German flag carrier Lufthansa cancelled hundreds of flights for 7

September as cabin crew took part in a one-day strike at Berlin, Frankfurt and Munich. The cabin crew UFO Union called up the strike on 5 September, demanding a 5% pay-rise for 15 months for employees, however, the airline is

Warsaw-based airline Eurolot has converted options for six Bombardier Q400 NextGen airliners to a firm order that will increase its fleet to 14 Q400 turboprops. Bombardier says that the order is valued at approximately $190m.

Allocated seats for easyJet Allocated seating will launch across easyJet’s network from November to replace the airline’s speedy boarding. Those wishing to change their seats will be charged £12 for over-wing and front row, £8 for berths in the four rows behind the front and £3 for other seating on the aeroplane.

Emirates and Qantas tie the knot Qantas and Emirates airlines have signed a ten year alliance which is due to begin next April. The agreement will involve co-operation on pricing, sales and flight scheduling, though the agreement does not involve equity investments. By March 2013 Qantas is expected to have ended its existing relationship with British Airways and will replace Singapore with Dubai as its hub for European transit. The alliance comes on top of Qantas announcing a loss of $450m for the year ending 30 June 2012 and it cancelling an order for 35 Boeing 787-9s.

Air Nigeria closes down It has been announced by chairman of Nigerian airline Air Nigeria, Jimoh Ibrahim, that local, regional and international

News in Brief ■ Airbus has received the first wing for the A350XWB at Toulouse, France where the airliner is being assembled. The wing will not be used for flight but will be used for the structural testing as part of the ground static test prototype.

■ Astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS) have used a ‘lacrosse’ style basket to lob a 9kg spherical satellite into space to monitor debris. The satellite is expected to orbit for three months.

■ Russian flag-carrier Aeroflot has signed a statement of intent to acquire four Boeing 777300s as part of a lease deal with VEB Leasing. The deal has been valued at $1··26bn.

■ Lufthansa Technik has begun work to complete a customised VIP version of the first Boeing 787-8 for a private customer. The aircraft is expected to be delivered in 2014.

■ Two US aircrew have been killed in a US Army OH-58 helicopter crash in Logar, Afghanistan on 5 September.

■ British Airways Engineering has been granted by the FAA a Part 145 repair shop certificate after withdrawing from the third-party MRO

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market in the 1990’s. The Part 145 certificate covers BA’s interior and safety equipment facility in South Wales. ■ A family has threatened to sue American Airlines after claiming that their 16 year old son with Down’s Syndrome was refused access to board their first class flight from Newark, New Jersey. ■ Honeywell Aerospace has received a $735m order for F124-GA-200 turbofan engines for Alenia Aermacchi M-346 jet trainers on order for Israel.

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NEWS Roundup

Boeing

Air Transport operations will be suspended for at least 12 months. Ibrahim is reported to have claimed that the suspension is due to staff disloyalty and a weak business environment. The airline has prompted customers to contact agents for ticket refunds and to appeal against any inconvenience.

PAL places $7bn order Philippine Airlines has ordered 54 Airbus aircraft worth $7bn at list prices. The order comprises 44 A321s (10 on which will be reengined neos) and 10 Airbus A330–300s. The A321s are scheduled for delivery in the second half of 2013 and will be used for domestic and short haul flights.

After delay, Air India 787 delivered Air India received its first Boeing 787 Dreamliner on 8 September, with two more to follow in a few weeks time. Six years ago the airline placed an order for 27 Dreamliners but the September 2008 delivery was delayed due to wrangling on price and 787 programme slippage. Air India has signed a compensation settlement agreement with Boeing. Meanwhile on 31 August LAN Airlines took delivery of its first 787, following Ethiopian Airlines which received its first Dreamliner on 14 August.

Slight recovery Virgin goes Chinese lessor Perth’s new in traffic domestic in UK buys 50 A320s terminal Figures from the International Air Transport Association (IATA) show a 3·5% rise for international passenger traffic for the past 12 months up to July. The monthly figure for passenger traffic in July rose by 0·3% while freight for the 12 month period fell by 3·3%.

Virgin Atlantic plans to provide services between Heathrow and Manchester from March 2013 presenting competition with British Airways. Three daily flights are to take place using an Airbus A319.

ICBC Leasing of China has signed a $3·5bn deal to buy 30 Airbus A320s and 20 A320neos. ICBC becomes the first Chinese customer for the re-engined neo. The deal was signed during a visit by German leader Angela Merkel.

Construction of Perth’s new terminal is almost complete, as part of a $783m development plan at the Australian airport. There will be 16 check-in counters, 15 aircraft gates, three baggage claim belts and a large departure lounge.

News in Brief ■ Rapper and songwriter Will.i.am had his song ‘Reach For The Stars’ played out, on 28 August, from NASA’s Curiosity rover on Mars. ■ Bell Helicopter announced on 10 September the delivery of two 407GX aircraft to New York’s Helicopter Flight Services, for touring, making these aircraft the first Bell 407GX to be used in a sight-seeing capacity. ■ The Philippines Interior Minister Jesse Robredo was one of three people killed when a Piper Seneca plane crashed near Cebu Island on 18th August.

■ A Cessna Caravan armed with MBDA’s GBU44/E Viper Strike bombs scored direct hits against eight high-speed targets in a recent two day test at White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico. ■ Four student experiments, to collect data on atmospheric particles and pressure, from US universities are set to fly on a two-stage Terrier –

October 2012 Aerospace International

Improved Malemute rocket as part of the RockSat-X project. ■ Brazilian manufacturer Embraer has received high altitude landing and take-off operation (HALTO) certification for its Legacy 650 business jet from the Brazilian civil aviation authority. ■ A flight highlighting the environment ‘On Wings of Waste’ aims to fly a Cessna 182 solo from Sydney to London over six days on fuel made entirely from recycled plastic waste. The English pilot, Jeremy Roswell, hopes to start the journey later this year.

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■ American Airlines and Iberia Express have received approval from the US Department of Transportation for a new codeshare agreement which will offer customers better connections between North America and Europe.


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NEWS Roundup Defence

Syrian rebels take down jets

Milestone F-35 bomb drop

a speed of 400kt during a test flight over the Atlantic Ocean in August.

A Lockheed Martin F-35B Joint Strike Fighter has conducted the first aerial drop of a munition, marking a milestone for the aircraft type. The separation test of an unguided JDAM bomb took place at an altitude of 4,200ft and

Indian Navy heli request

BAE Systems

Rebels in Syria claim to have shot down a regime MiG-21 fighter jet on 4 September as it took off from Abu Thurur air base. It is reported that the airport was surrounded by Ahrar Al Sham brigade and Syrian Martyrs brigade. This is the

second MiG-21 that the rebels maintain to have shot down, following the crash of another jet in Deir Al Zor province. ● This follows an earlier shoot down claims of a Mi-8 government helicopter which crashed in flames in Syria’s capital Damascus on 27 August and a MiG-23 fighter apparently hit by ground fire near to the Iraqi border earlier in August.

India is inviting bids to supply its navy with 56 light utility helicopters. The Indian Navy is reported to require aircraft with a maximum weight of 4,500kg and folding rotor blades, to replace its fleet of Hindustan Aeronautics Chetaks. Bids are due to be submitted by January 2013, with the Eurocopter AS595 MB Naval Panther and AugustaWestland AW139 reported to be top contenders.

Air-to-surface Sidewinder? First front fuselage for Eurofighter Tranche 3 BAE Systems has announced that it has completed the front fuselage for the first Tranche 3 Eurofighter Typhoon at its Samlesbury site. A total of 112 Tranche 3A Eurofighters were ordered for Eurofighter partner countries in 2009, with 40 for the RAF. The Tranche 3 variant includes provision for conformal fuel tanks and extra power and cooling for the planned AESA E-Scan radar.

Diehl Defence have started to develop an air-to-surface variant of Raytheon AIM-9L air-to-air missile, the laser-guided Sidewinder (LaGS). The missile’s infared seeker in the control and guidance section would be replaced with a semi-active laser (SAL), which would highlight the target with a laser designator

News in Brief ■ Virgin Australia has announced a net profit of $22·8m for the year up to 30 June 2012. Chief executive, John Borghetti, claims that the improvement is due to corporate and government travellers now making up 20% of total revenue.

provide telecommunications services across Latin America ■ Russian President Vladimir Putin has been pictured flying a motorised hang-glider in order to lead endangered cranes towards migration paths.

■ The RAF has reported that its Sentinel R1 and Shadow R1 spyplanes have reached 20,000 flying hours whilst patrolling over Afghanistan since 2009.

■ Airbus has announced that its Final Assembly Line China (FALC) in Tiajin, has completed its 100th A320.

■ On 19 August Sea Launch Zenit 3SL rocket put a Intelsat 21 satellite into orbit. The satellite will

■ LATAM Airlines, the South American carrier formed by the recent merger of Chile’s LAN

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Airlines and Brazilian rival TAM, has announced that it will invest $7·87bn on its fleet through 2014. ■ The Israeli Air Force (IAF) was forced to ground its fleet of Sikorsky CH-53 Yasur helicopters further to an emergency landing that took place on 16 August near Tel Nof airbase south of Tel Aviv. The incident is thought to be connected to the rotor system. ■ Space-Xs Falcon 9 rocket is undergoing pad testing prior to launch this month with its first operational resupply mission to the ISS.

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NEWS Roundup

Pakistan Air Force

Defence directing the missile to the found target. The total weight and centre of gravity would remain the same making the LaGS compatible with the Sidewinder weapon station.

Swiss Gripen delivery delay Delivery of 22 Saab Gripen fighters ordered by Switzerland in November to replace ageing F-5s, may be delayed from 2016 to 2018 in order to co-ordinate with an additional order from the Swedish Air Force. The Swiss defence minister fended off criticism of the deal, following publication of a critical report from Switzerland’s national security committee, which claims that delivery of the Gripen deal could be pushed back even further to 2020.

Non-pilot Reaper course The first MQ-9 Reaper UAV operators not to have completed US Air Force initial pilot training have graduated from the 29th Attack Squadron training course.

Pakistan Air Force Mirage loss A Dassault Mirage fighter jet belonging to the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) crashed on 15 August while taking part in a routine training mission in eastern Punjab. The pilot ejected safely and no ground casualties were reported.

The students represent a shift in USAF policy by allowing nonpilots to operate these UAVs.

China to boost helo capability China is set to acquire 55 Mil Mi-171E helicopters in order to

improve tactical transport cabilities. A contract was signed in July of this year between Beijing and Rosoboronexport, a Russian export firm. The deal is valued at $550m to $660m with each unit reported to be obtained at $10m to $12m. The aircraft, which can hold up to 37 passengers, will be produced at the Ulan-Ude Aviation Factory in Buryatia, Russia.

RAAF Growler greenlighted The Royal Australian Air Force is to convert 12 F/A-18F Super Hornets into EA-18G EW aircraft. Australia had previously taken the decision to pre-wire 12 of its 24 Super Hornets to allow for a Growler conversion.

News in Brief ■ Nextant Aerospace has announced that Asia Pacific Jets has placed an order for ten ‘remanufactured’ Nextant 400XT business jets. Some of these will be used as air ambulances. The first two aircraft will be delivered by the end of 2012. ■ UK airports group BAA is to divest Stansted Airport, ending a series of appeals against a 2009 Competition Commission ruling. BAA has already sold off Edinburgh and Gatwick airports. ■ Ethiopian Airlines has issued a request for proposal (RFP) to Airbus and Boeing for 15 single

■ The US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), as part of its investigation into a 2011 P51D crash at the Reno Air Races, has opened a public docket on 21 August on the incident.

■ The Royal Canadian Air Force’s (RCAF) aerobatics demonstration team, the Snowbirds, is to acquire a fleet of new aircraft to replace its ageing CT-114 Tutors by 2020. The RCAF is reportedly planning to spend $755m on the new aircraft and is currently exploring its options.

■ GKN Aerospace has been awarded a multimillion pound contract by Triumph Aerostructures to supply composite winglets and ailerons for the Bombardier Global 7000 and 8000 business jet aircraft.

■ ATK has successfully concluded burn tests to qualify a new rocket motor nozzle for the ULA Delta IV Medium+ rocket.

■ Amsterdam’s Schipol airport was partly closed on 29 August due to the discovery of a suspected World War II bomb.

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aisle aircraft. The acquisition, to boost the African carrier’s short-haul fleet, would form part of the carriers’ ‘Vision 2025’ revamp.


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NEWS Roundup Spaceflight above the Earth’s surface. Each of the solar-powered craft is heavily shielded and will be used to monitor the hostile Van Allen radiation belt.

Weather sat Dawn says bye Radiation belts ready to launch to Vesta probe lift-off Signals sent to NASA have confirmed that satellite Dawn has left the gravitational bounds of asteroid Vesta after 13 months of study. The space probe is now heading to the dwarf planet, Ceres and will reach it in 2015.

An unmanned Atlas 5 rocket lifted off on 29 August from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida carrying two identical Radiation Belt Storm Probes. The Probes will orbit for an expected two years, as far as 19,042 miles NASA

As Aerospacee International goes to press, European Metop-B’s weather satellite, built by Astrium, is ready to launch 17 September, after passing its final checks at Baikonur Cosmodrome. It will be put into orbit by a Soyuz launcher.

Orion parachute test NASA has completed the maximum parachute test for the Orion spacecraft. The test, which was carried out over the US Yuma Army Proving Ground in Arizona, consisted of a test vehicle fitted with an Orion parachute being dropped from a C-130 at 25,000ft. Orion is due to make its first test flight in 2014.

Boeing chosen for Euro sat Preventing orbital decay Two International Space Station (ISS) crew members (NASA astronaut Sunita William and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Aki Hoshide above) successfully installed a new power switching unit on 5 September in a spacewalk lasting 6·5 hours. They failed to complete the space-walk mission on 30 August when the mission proved to be testing, as they were unable to unscrew the fasteners holding the old power unit in place. Once they managed to have it removed, metal debris had damaged the opening. The power unit was eventually removed by improvising a tool out of a toothbrush to lubricate the fastening.

A Boeing 702MP platform has been selected by Intelsat for its Intelsat 29e satellite, scheduled for launch 2015. The satellite will provide communications coverage across North and South America, the Gulf of Mexico, the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic aeronautical route connecting North America and Europe.

News in Brief ■ Israel-based Elbit Systems has announced a multi-million dollar contract to supply Colombia with a mixed fleet of Hermes 450 and 900 unmanned aircraft systems (UAS). Deliveries are scheduled through the next two years.

■ Cobham has been awarded a contract by Embraer Defense and Security to develop and supply the auxiliary fuselage fuel tank (AFFT) for the KC-390 tanker aircraft. The contract has been valued at approximately $30m.

■ Scaled Composites is set to begin powered tests of SpaceShipTwo in the last quarter of this year.

■ Ryanair’s 30% stake in Ireland’s national carrier Aer Lingus has reportedly attracted the attention of Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways. Etihad presently maintains a 3% share in Aer Lingus.

■Bell Helicopter announced on 27 August the delivery of the first Bell 429 configured for emergency medical services (EMS) in Europe, to Air Zermatt in Switzerland.

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■ Two IAF Mi-17 utility helicopters collided on 28 August during a training sortie over India’s

October 2012 Aerospace International

western state of Gujart. Nine Indian Air force personnel were killed in the accident. ■ The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) successfully launched satellites into orbit on 9 September. The Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) carried, on its 21st launch, the SPOT-6 satellite of EADS Astrium of France and PROITERES 15kg satellite of Osaka Institute of Technology of Japan. ■ The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has issued a type certificate for the new Rotax 912 iS piston engine. Rotax claims that its new

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NEWS Roundup General Aviation

CAAC certifies Phenom 100 The Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) has awarded Embraer with type certification for the eight-seat Phenom 100 executive jet.

Richard Bach in crash Pilot Richard Bach and author of 1970s novel Jonathan Livingston Seagull, was critically injured after he clipped a power line during landing, causing the 2008 Easton Gilbert Searey aircraft to flip upside down. The incident happened on 31 August on a grass air strip off San Juan Valley Road in Washington State, US. The author, aged 76, is currently in hospital in a serious condition.

2013 Carbon Cub revamp General Aviation manufacturer Cubcrafters has announced its upgraded 2013 Carbon Cub SS model for customers. The

Double certification for Gulfstream G650, G280 Gulfstream’s G650 business jet has been granted a type cerificate on 7 September from US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), allowing the company to deliver the first aircraft before year end. The aircraft is fitted with a full three-axis, fly-by-wire system and an advanced flight deck, with four 14-inch displays, as well as a head-up-display. Meanwhile, on 5 September, Gulfstream’s G280 business jet was also certified by the FAA and the Civil Aviation Authority of Israel (CAAI). It is reported that the first G280 aircraft will be delivered before year-end to a US-based customer. The G280 is a mid-sized aircraft with a range of 3,600 nautical miles at Mach 0·80. upgrades include a new cowling design, improved cabin heat system and a new starter and system voltage monitor.

balloon came down in flames just outside the capital of Ljubljana. Authorities are now investigating the cause of the accident.

Balloon tragedy Vietnam police A hot-air balloon crash in Slovenia receive C212 on 24 August has killed four people and injured a further 28. The

The first of three Airbus Military

C212-400 maritime patrol aircraft has been delivered to the Vietnam Marine Police. Manufactured in Seville, Spain, the first aircraft was handed over at Gia Lame, Hanoi, after having its mission system installed in Skavsta, Sweden. The C212-400 will be used for missions such as coastal patrol, search and rescue, anti-pollution and law enforcement.

News in Brief engine offers 38-70% better fuel efficiency than rival engine competitors. ■ On 3 September UK-based aircraft lessor Falko opened an office in Singapore. ■ Over 100,000 people have contacted their MPs to complain about the UK’s air passenger duty (APD). Britain now has the highest tax passenger rate in the world, following an 8% increase in APD in April. ■ Sukhoi has begun testing the active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar on its

■ Milestone Aviation Group has announced a contract that will see the lessor acquire 19 additional Sikorsky S-92 helicopters further to the three previously ordered in February. ■ Boeing and China’s COMAC have together opened an Aviation Energy Conservation and Emissions Reductions Technology Centre to support commercial aviation industry growth (see Waiting for the green light p 18).

October 2012 Aerospace International

■ Three flights operated by Ryanair are reported to have declared fuel-related emergencies over Spain during the same day in July. The aircraft involved landed safely. ■ Seven American soldiers and four Afghans were killed when a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter crashed in the Kandahar province of Afghanistan on 16 August. ■ Brazilian manufacturer Embraer has admitted that the first flight of its new Legacy 500 bizjet is now expected to slip to the fourth quarter of 2012.

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T-50 PAK-FA fighter jet. The radar is equipped on one of three prototypes presently undertaking tests.


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Filling the aviation skills gap Is the aerospace sector in the UK doing all that it can to promote STEM subjects as a gateway into the exciting world of aviation and space? Or can more be done? TIM ROBINSON reports.

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ugust saw a timely workshop held at the Royal Aeronautical Society as part of the Careers and Image Workstream of the Aerospace and Defence Sector Strategy Group (ADSSG), which reports on skills issues to the UK Government’s Aerospace Growth Partnership. The workshop was timely, not only because the UK’s A-level results were out the same week, which sees students consider their next educational or career options but also because of the growing ‘skills gap’ challenge now facing the aerospace sector (and other industries). There is now a widening gap, say recruiters, between the kind of highly motivated, maths-savvy graduates they need and the ones being produced — raising questions over the future competitiveness of UK plc. This ‘skills gap’ was addressed by Allan Cook, chairman of skills council Semta at a RAeS lecture at the Farnborough Air Show.

It is not just a UK aerospace problem either. In the US the average age of aerospace workers in the industry is estimated to be in the mid 50s. Meanwhile, in Europe, Tom Enders, head of EADS, said recently that Europe needs some 12,000 aerospace graduates a year but only 9,000 graduate and, of these, up to half switch to other careers. Noting that: “Even the graduates that we do attract into the industry do not have the skill sets to match our needs,” he adds: “This is a crazy situation.” While Indian and Chinese universities are producing thousands of high-quality engineering graduates, the global footprint of aerospace industry still remains rooted in the traditional historic centres for the near future. It is clear that global shifts are happening and new competitors in aerospace are gaining ground but is this occuring too slowly to prevent the industry hitting a crisis of a lack of suitable talent?

The globalised nature of aerospace also means that Airbus has US suppliers, Boeing has partners in Italy and Japan, Embraer has a US factory, while China and Russian civil aircraft incorporate significant western content. This issue then is far from a UK, or even a western problem and threatens the entire global aerospace sector, and its highly complex supply chain — now interconnected in a myarid of different ways. Those who may think it is a zero-sum game of ‘dearth of engineers in one country = equal benefit to another with engineers’ could be in for a shock.

The ‘skills gap’

SBAP

The Boeing/RAeS Schools Build-a-Plane project is one of many initiatives to inspire young people into an aerospace career — so why are companies still complaining of a skills gap?

The problem then is not only one of demographics and getting enough engineers to fill posts for an industry with massive growth projections but of the right type of workers. Companies report that graduates are applying lacking not only in elementary maths or science subjects but also lacking in ‘interpersonal skills’. ‘Text-speak’ or the casual voice or email communication seems to have had an effect, with many being unable to craft a good standard of covering letter. This is not only true of those wishing to become engineers. Wannabee pilots, too, are ‘failing the personality test’, with some being found to have short attention spans and having an exaggerated sense of self-entitlement over the passion to fly. The result is that either key jobs are going unfilled, or that companies are spending time and money re-educating young people by teaching them the basics. But this goes further down the educational chain. Universities, for example, argue the same thing, that the student’s time in the first year, is spent teaching them the basics of science and maths, that they should already know.

The flip side However, it would be unfair to say that all young people desperate to get into the aerospace industry fall into the category above.

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A snapshot of aerospace STEM activity in the UK AgustaWestland – Imagineering, after school engineering clubs, Flying Start Challenge Thales – Challenge the Graduates BAE Systems – schools roadshow (in conjunction with RAF), 300 events a year, school ambassadors

Jumping on the careers bandwagon — Airbus drums up interest at Farnborough.

Many are driven, clever and extremely But a wealth of initiatives? numerate. They argue that a lot of the 12,000 aerospace graduate jobs across Europe outside Paradoxically, while the industry complains of the big companies’ recruitment schemes (e.g. a lack of visibility of the sector among young EADS/Airbus, BAE Systems, Rolls-Royce, etc) people and students grumble about invisible are effectively invisible (Airbus, for example, jobs going to only those with experience, the plans to recruit 4,000 this year). Young people amount of STEM, outreach and aerospace also argue that, while aerospace companies recruitment initiatives just in the UK alone are advertise how much they want fresh blood, in staggering. At the Farnborough Air Show this reality even those with First Class Degrees or summer, flash ‘drum’ mobs from Airbus, Masters are finding difficulty getting work. In Lego engines from Rolls-Royce and microshort the jobs are going to those with experi- lights built by schoolchildren in the ence — a chicken and egg situation for those Boeing/RAeS Schools Build-a-Plane project seeking work. Cynics might also contend that were just three of the initiatives wheeled out aerospace company’s to spark imaginations student and youth and grab the attention outreach programmes are of those choosing as about as much PR as The image then of Britain’s subjects or considactual recruitment — by dark satanic mills is thus ering careers. demonstrating their job The workshop, vastly at odds with the creation creditials to politiwhich had around 60 reality of the modern, cians. participants from Students also argue that highly skilled aerospace industry, academia, companies have failed to industry, with clean, highly the not-for-profit keep up with changing sector and other automated factories. salary requirements. While organisations, was a engineers pay compararevelation in terms of tively well with better providing a snapshot prospects further on, some young people argue of STEM and aerospace outreach initiatives that the introduction of tuition fees in the UK across the UK. Even to some familiar with has meant that, saddled with debts of at least STEM outreach intiatives, it was surprising £27,000 (or £50,000 if living costs are how much activity is going on, (see panel right included), the imperative for recent graduates which, it has to be remembered is only the has changed. They maintain that the aerospace workshop attendees). industry needs to recognise this. However, one As noted, this is just a snapshot of initiamanufacturer confided that tuition fees had tives and STEM outreach projects, which are been a good thing, as it boosted the attractive- expanding all the time. Boeing, for example, ness of paid apprenticeships to students. at Farnborough launched its Boeing Aviation Yet, as noted above, even highly paid jobs like Studies Certificate for 14-18 year olds. an airline pilot, whilst generating stiff competi- Meanwhile, the Vulcan to the Sky team has tion, are perhaps not attracting the right sort of just issued a request for consultations for a candidates. Flight schools already lament that Vulcan Engineering Education & the cost of pilot training has narrowed the net Experience Centre (Ve3) which will see the and that many talented young people who Avro Vulcan XH588 be transformed into an could excel in the job will never achieve their inspirational STEM intiative when it lands dream. for the last time.

October 2012 Aerospace International

Virgin Atlantic Airlines – schools visits, Heathrow Aviation Engineering University Technical College (UTC) University of Liverpool – Aerospace Headstart (design a Red Bull Air Racer), Dragonfly (women in aviation) Airbus – internships, maths/physics days, local outreach at Filton/Broughton, work experience, Flying Start, competitions, Facebook Careers page ADS Group – Youth Rocketry Challenge Department of Business, Innovation & Skills – See inside manufacturing, Make it in GB, sponsoring 500 aerospace MSc places (with RAeS/Royal Academy of Engineering) GKN Aerospace — internships, Technokids Atkins — schools outreach, Flying Start, work experience Cut-e – potential careers assessment tests Brooklands Museum — primary/secondary schools outreach UK Students for Exploration and Development of Space (UK SEDS) — schools outreach Astrium – 100 School ambassadors North West Aerospace Alliance — Take Off in Aerospace Bombardier — Bombardier High Flyers, annual kids competition Raytheon – Cyber summer camp, Rocketry challenge Yorkshire Air Museum — Reach for the Sky schoolsbook for key stage 2, Big Bang, Flight Paths Messier-Buggatti-Dowty — Cheltenham Science Festival, schools outreach, Schools Aerochallenge Merlin Flight Simulation — It Flies – aircraft design and handling competition GoCracker – new website coming aimed at graduates DSTL — STEM Ambassador, year in industry, Girls get Set, Imagineering Young Enterprise — Airline Industry Masterclass Engineering Development Trust Tomorrow’s Engineers, Big Bang Fair

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UK Space Agency – Mission X – train like an astronaut, Humans in space art contest


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Rolls-Royce Trent engine made out of Lego at Farnborough Air Show. But will it power up recruitment?

This high level of activity is not unique to the UK. Maths education drives, NASA tweetups, ESA support to teachers and thousands of other programmes across Europe, the US and other parts of the world should indicate that the aerospace community is doing all it can to attract new talent.

Next steps

Where is the ‘aerospace Professor Brian Cox?’

Wikipedia

Given this amount of STEM outreach and activity, what is the problem? First off is that the clustering effect of aerospace companies means that a lot of these initiatives may be local or regional. Go to schools near Filton, Broughton or Warton in the UK and you may

Finally, the workshop noted that aerospace is also still hampered by the image of engineering and manufacturing. Engineers (at least in the UK) are still seen by some as ‘greasy middle-aged blokes with spanners’ — a reality far from today’s project engineer. The decline of manufacturing means that, not only have many children never visited a modern factory, but also neither have many teachers or careers advisors. The image then of Britain’s dark satanic mills (highlighted by Danny Boyles’ Olympic opening ceremony) is thus vastly at odds with the reality of the modern, highly skilled aerospace industry, with clean, highly automated factories. One suggestion here was for the RAeS to host a careers advisors conference to help educate the educators, or at least provide for some continued professional development so that these influencers are up to date on the industry and its opportunities.

be overwhelmed with STEM activities from the OEMs and their supply chain. Similarly, living near Seattle or Toulouse may mean that young people have plenty of opportunity to be exposed to aerospace and engineering outreach. Elsewhere, keen children and students may not be so lucky. One recommendation from the workshop was a database or ‘clearing house’ of STEM projects, so that overlap and duplication could be avoided or at least reduced to minimum through better co-ordination. The second theme emerging for the workshop was that the education system needs change — even down to the primary school level to boost maths and science subjects. Early deficiencies in maths, it seems, are having cascading effects up the education ladder, with each level saying that time was wasted educating students (or recent graduates) on the basics. This seems to be made worse (at least in the UK), by teachers and lecturers chasing exam league table targets and advising students to drop hard maths or science subjects (where they might fail) in favour of easier ones. Third was that some at the workshop called for an ‘umbrella brand’ that could encompass these various initiatives and provide an overall coherence without restricting each organisations different needs and requirements and where they operate, whether at the local, regional, national or even international levels. This, for aerospace, is complicated by the fact that it not only covers engineers, but also pilots, cabin crew, aviation medicine, air law experts, airline marketing and so on that makes up a wide community and which all are specialised roles.

To many, Professor Brian Cox is the public ‘face’ of science. Would aerospace benefit from a similar high-profile figure?

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Indeed, the image of engineering and manufacturing in the UK ties into the question over aerospace’s visibility to the general public at large. Though it peaks in the general media whenever there is a significant story such as an aircraft crash or Mars Rover landing, the rest of the time (programmes like ‘How to Build…’ the notable exception) aerospace as a profession, or sector, is lowkey. The Farnborough Air Show, which used to get dedicated week-long coverage on BBC, now only appears in short news segments, and motoring journalists appear to be the broadcasters de-facto aviation correspondents. This is despite the huge potential for wider programming that could present the industry in a non-dumbed down way. The rivalry of engineering teams, the lives (and billions of dollars at stake), make or break business decisions, the excitement of discovery and the romance of flight itself, should make for gripping TV. Yet this is now largely untapped. This is also taking into account the influence of what one person has described the ‘Prof Brian Cox’ effect — where the young, articulate and extremely media-friendly physicist has helped to cause an explosion of the popular interest in science, physics and astronomy in the UK. But who is Professor Cox’s equivalent for aerospace to enthuse a new generation? Those questioned at the workshop could not name one. Perhaps it’s time to put out a ‘situation vacant’ sign.

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Letters

Letters

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We accept letters by post or e-mail:The Editor, Aerospace International, No.4 Hamilton Place, London, W1J 7BQ, UK E-mail: publications@aerosociety.com. Comments expressed by readers are personal views and do not imply endorsement or criticism by the editorial team or the Royal Aeronautical Society.

Eurofighter

Pacifying rogue aircraft — continued

hile the letter you printed in Aerospace International (p 29, July 2012) from Peter Rutherford has all the characteristics of a hoax, most people will agree that blowing a suspect airliner out of the sky is an appalling idea, not least because there would be very little choice about where it will come down. Mr Rutherford writes: “As we all know, modern airliners run on a fly-by-wire system…” I am afraid we know no such thing. Many of the Airbus products are fly-by-wire but perhaps the majority of existing aircraft are controlled via mechanical connections between the cockpit controls and the flying surfaces with assistance from hydraulic systems. Regardless of the above, does he seriously believe that it would have been possible to designed, built, tested, certified and installed such a system as he proposes, (even if the aircraft flight control systems were to be capable of externally-commanded reversion to ‘straight and level’), in the time available before the Olympic Games?

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Factors affecting airports serving London

am sure that Mr Ginn (Aerospace International (p 15, September 2012) is correct in his view that London has an increasing need for increased airport capacity. I would add that an airport in the Thames estuary would be highly inconvenient and exorbitantly expensive where connecting infrastructure is concerned. He emphasises the importance of a ‘hub’ as distinct from the acceptance and dispatch of terminating passengers. But may I suggest that there are other salient factors to consider where the enlargement of Heathrow is concerned? In 2011 LHR handled 69·4 million passengers but only 44 million were recorded as ‘international’ or ‘domestic’, leading to the conclusion that there is a high proportion of inter-flight traffic. I wonder if this transit traffic should be a critical factor in the choice of where to locate a major airport extension? Consider first the passenger. In many years of flying, I do not recall many passengers who liked negotiating major hubs! I loathed them! Secondly, the aircraft. The B787-8 claims a fuel saving of 20% compared with a B767 of similar passenger capacity, extending its range to 7,650 statute miles with 210 passengers. Faced with demand for non-stop flights, the smaller size is an advantage inasmuch as it enables service frequency to be increased at any given traffic level, facilitating the establishment of new routes.

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Peter Detmold AMRAeS

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On 16 May, Mr David Hess, President of Pratt & Whitney, mentioned to the Society that geared turbofans may be expected to decrease fuel-burn by a further 16%, making possible even smaller extended range aircraft. No doubt other aircraft and engine manufacturers will follow suit. And so we get to the airlines. How an ‘alliance’ of major airlines, with the complexities of code-sharing and competing reservation systems, would combine to rationalise their fleet and route system challenges comprehension. But I believe that somehow airlines will continue buying aircraft that will suit their operations and they will detect trends in their traffic. Like all good businesses, they will meet the needs of their market. All we are concerned about here is how inter-plane traffic will grow or decline. I believe the latter is possible because passengers will demand more non-stop flights and airlines will try to reduce the number of costly stops. This does not question Mr Ginn’s thesis about the growth of traffic and the need for growing capacity overall. But it does suggest, as an alternative to extending LHR, a package of airport expansions that would serve a broader section of Britain with greater convenience to passenger and the more economical use of rail and road infrastructure, closely integrated with the airport system.


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Winds of change?

RICHARD GARDNER looks at recent announcements that aim to help safeguard Britain’s long term status as a global player in aerospace.

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his year’s Farnborough International Air Show (FIAS) was attended by a record number of UK Ministers and officials, indicating that maybe, just maybe, Westminister was warming to the message that the aerospace sector is a vital national asset, that its hard-won international status is threatened as never before by new competitors and that it is important enough to be worth encouraging with actions, not just words, so that it can better exploit its huge potential for increased exports, high-skilled, high-value job creation in science and technology and greater national wealth-creation. On July 10, at the FIAS, Business Secretary Vince Cable MP announced that his department was working with industry to boost investment in aerospace research and technology, as part of a £200m injection since 2011 which included specific measures that would help provide: “a new vision for the future of the sector which will help UK aerospace firms win billions of pounds worth of new contracts over the next 15-20 years.” So what is actually being done now to improve things and what extra investment is heading in the sector’s direction?

Aerodynamics gets boost First signs of a re-think in policy terms reflecting more recognition in Whitehall of what industry leaders had been requesting, for some years, was the announcement in the March Budget statement from Chancellor George Osborne that the government would fund the creation of a world class ‘UK Centre for Aerodynamics’, with £60m to be allocated

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for this. Some cynics suggested that this was surely what the government once had, in the days of the Royal Aircraft Establishment and later DERA, which was indeed recognised as world class but which was closed down to save money. Responsibility for R&D re-settled almost entirely into the private sector though, within this environment, it became more sharply focused on specific work for specific projects which were contracted for and where there was a revenue stream involved. Pure ‘blue skies’ R&D activity found itself looking increasingly to investment from European sources and within academia and, within strict limits, within the aerospace sector. A return to support from central government for wider R&D work beyond fully-funded programmes is thus very welcome, even if the level of taxpayer investment is extremely modest and still way below that enjoyed by all the UK’s major global competitors. Questioned by the author on the subject of where the new aerodynamics centre might be located, Mr Cable underlined that it was not going to be a new facility as the name might imply but would be a ‘virtual centre’ linking existing test and modelling facilities into a coherent organisation, “and will obviously have an administrative centre located somewhere suitable”. He said it will be responsible for coordinating and supporting world-leading research and technology. “Through the identification and development of new technologies, it will pinpoint areas for increased investment to fund research which will ensure that the UK remains a competitive leader in the global aerospace market. In addition, the research will October 2012 Aerospace International

de-risk radical new concepts in wing design and help deliver sustainable aviation by supporting the development of new technologies and more environmentally friendly aircraft.” The initial £60m will be spread over two years, £10m of which will be capital investment to upgrade facilities, with £50m resource funding for delivering the research. At a time when government expenditure has been severely curtailed, this extra money is a positive step in the right direction, though to keep things in perspective it perhaps is worth noting that compared to UK Government R&D investment a decade ago, the total is today barely half that level.

AGP — delivering on its promise? The Business Secretary used the Farnborough Air Show as a platform to update the audience of industry representatives and media on progress after setting up the Aerospace Growth Partnership (AGP). He said that UK aerospace was a global success story, with great opportunities ahead but that we should grab a greater share of the expanding export market as, “there are many other countries hoping to have a slice of the pie.” He told his audience that this was why the government is doing all it can to make the UK an attractive environment for aerospace — ensuring that companies are more likely to invest in jobs and facilities in the country. He said: “Today saw the first details of how funding for the new virtual aerodynamics centre would be distributed, including around £12m capability www.aerosociety.com


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AEROSPACE building work to develop and establish the Research projects UK’s intellectual leadership in aerodynamics. This would be supported by £28·2m of The projects that have been allocated grants government investment allocated to six innov- from the UK Centre for Aerodynamics are: ative new projects in aerodynamics — five The Advanced Integrated Wing Optimisation R&T projects and one project with a capital (AIWO) which is an Airbus-led project to grant, with a further £20m to be contributed investigate novel aerodynamic wing configuraby industry. A new competition for collabora- tions and shapes for the next all-new Airbus tive aerodynamics research projects is to be aircraft. Main activity will be located in Bristol. launched through the Technology Strategy Led by Airbus and Bombardier, the Structural Board (TSB) and up to £20m would be Technology Maturity (STeM) project is to government funding, support new concepts matched by up to £20m in wing structure and from business. manufacturing that The government and Investment in the UK is enable expansion of the industry will also be more likely if it is believed boundaries of aerodyinvesting £40m each in namic performance and that government is SILOET, a Rolls-Royce-led contribute to securing programme. This will committed to keeping the work in the UK for the accelerate the development country an attractive next generation of and introduction of low environment for aerospace aircraft. Main activity is carbon aircraft engine techto be located in the Isle activity. nology. It consists of seven of Wight and Northern projects looking at lightIreland. The Integrated weight structures, high Turboprop Propulsion temperature materials and technology, lean Systems (ITPS) project is led by GE Aviation burn systems, virtual engineering tools and Systems (Dowty Propellers) and will investiadvanced components. Each of the SILOET gate the aerodynamic and acoustic perforprojects consortia is made up of Rolls-Royce mance of innovative blade geometries with and various combinations from ten of the development of aerodynamic and acoustic leading UK universities. Mr Cable also design and analysis tools to advance recent announced that the TSB and the Engineering concepts into practical solutions. Main activity and Physical Sciences Research Council were will be at Gloucester. Another Airbus-led allocating £15m a joint government/industry project is Experimental Aerodynamics award to 11 business-led R&D projects. The (ExpAERO) and will generate a deeper underfunding is to help develop technology to grow standing of the flows on transonic wings in a the sector and safeguard a competitive edge in number of specific areas where there has been the global market. Another £6m was to be a shortage of detailed experimental data. It will used to fund 500 aeronautical engineers at be used to enhance Airbus wing design masters level over the next three years. This methods and main activity will be at Bedford was the item announced by the Prime Minister and Bristol. Aircraft Research Association and which received most media coverage. R&D (ARA R&D) is a programme, led by

ARA, that will tackle fundamental aerodynamic aspects and capability enhancements so that ARA can compete more effectively on the international wind tunnel test market, through the maintenance of expertise in wind tunnel testing and associated support technologies. Amongst the topics to be investigated are hybrid laminair flow control technology, aircraft loads alleviation technology, powerplant integration, cavity aerodynamics and acoustics. Main activity will be at Bedford. Aircraft Research Association Capital Equipment (ARA CE) is the project which involves an upgrading of Bedford’s wind tunnel infrastructure. This includes the transonic wind tunnel main control system, the drive system and acoustic measurement system, an upgrade in the computing system capability and machinery for model manufacture. These cover their ability for testing and modelling as well as their ability to manufacture and test very high quality test models.

Reaching for the sky?

Airbus

The first Airbus A350WXB wing has been delivered to Toulouse. The Centre for Aerodynamics is expected to contribute to future wing development.

The Reach for the Skies AGP initial report concluded that the UK can retain its position (claimed as the largest aerospace manufacturer in Europe, and No 2 in the world) if government and industry work together to address barriers to growth and if its customer base can be widened. It states that investment in the UK is more likely if it is believed that government is committed to keeping the country an attractive environment for aerospace activity. There is a warning, however, that insufficient access to finance represents a risk to industry. Mr Cable said that business and industry must work together to create a banking forum to close the gap between banks and aerospace businesses. The TSB competition for funding will see £20m invested in collaborative research and development that builds intellectual leadership to support the aims of the UK Centre of Aerodynamics. It will focus on strategic aerodynamic technological themes aiming to reestablish the UK as the leading nation in the field of aerodynamics. In its heyday, this is exactly just what the world-famous RAE at Farnborough, and its out-station at Bedford, achieved –— global aerodynamic leadership. This lead was needlessly discarded in the 1990s within a policy of running down the national in-house aerospace R&D establishments but the realisation now in government and industry that there is a continuing role for world-class aerodynamic R&D investment beyond what can be provided solely by the private sector and academia is a significant step and one to be applauded.

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On the eve of the 2012 RAeS Greener by Design Annual Conference, RICHARD GARDNER looks at progress on providing sustainable aviation biofuels.

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n early September, Airbus presented its most up-to-date Global Market Forecast, indicating a demand for over 28,000 new large aircraft over the next 20 years. They will all be familiar designs, as nothing radical is expected to arrive within this timescale, so where is the fuel going to come from to keep them all flying? Has enough investment been aimed at promoting a more sustainable way forward and should this have been the top priority rather than searching for that elusive breakthrough airframe/engine technology?

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The answer is that much progress has indeed been made towards finding better ways of providing new supplies of suitable aviation fuel to meet predicted demand but this has taken time as the research, testing and evaluation process is complex and is certainly less headline-grabbing compared to the release of futuristic images of radical new aircraft and engine designs.

A practical biofuel roadmap The laboratory and evaluation work to date, October 2012 Aerospace International

which has been very extensive all over the world, has largely eliminated many alternative fuel options, such as hydrogen and fuel-cells, though the latter have a role in specialised areas such as replacing APUs on board civil aircraft. The industry has however moved much closer towards a practical biofuel roadmap that will eventually make a big difference while enabling existing aircraft and engines to continue to be used without modification or re-design. Airlines want new fuels that are truly competitive with existing fuels in performance, cost and, most www.aerosociety.com


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ENVIRONMENT importantly, availability. For these reasons, ‘dropin’ replacement of refined crude oil fuels by synthetic fuels, is clearly the way to go and is likely to involve the creation of a whole new generation of production infrastructure that will gradually phase in bio-fuels, initially blended with traditional supplies but with the potential to supplement and eventually replace today’s reliance on products refined from crude oil sources. This effort is global, with Europe and the US driving the momentum but, with the increasing involvement of China where, alongside India, the greatest civil aviation growth is expected over the next 30 years. What is now accepted by most sustainable fuel developers is that the provision of new biofuels must not be at the expense of the human food chain. Today’s vast wheat fields and other seed-based production is needed for feeding an increasing world population. Land is finite and water supplies are also limited so the demand for additional fuel raw products will have to come from exploiting new untapped reserves and new locations where suitable bio-alternative materials it can be grown, harvested, distilled and transported to markets. The increasing effort to bring biofuels to market was reflected at the recent ILA air show in Berlin, where there was a large pavilion dedicated to this new sector. One exhibitor was Algae.Tec from Australia, which has been working with Lufthansa and which is making good progress developing a process known as the McConchie-Stroud system, to produce a highly productive, enclosed and scaleable algae growth system. The technology has demonstrated exceptional performance in productivity, product yield, carbon dioxide sequestration and production unit footprint requirements compared to agricultural crop production and other competitive algae processes. The algae growth process is seen as a profitable option for many carbon emitting companies seeking CO2 reduction solutions and an alternative to carbon capture. This solution has less than one tenth of the land footprint of pond growth options, while the enclosed module system is designed to

give the highest yield of algae per hectare. In September the company launched Australia’s first advanced engineered algae to bio-fuels facility, Shoalhaven One, in New South Wales. The carbon waste is fed into the algae growth system, which produces algae for the conversion to jet fuel and biodiesel. Talks are underway on projects and joint ventures in the US, Australia, Brazil and China.

tives to cut costs, reduce volatility of fuel supply, reduce climatic effects and improve fuel logistics. It says that the key to success or failure in the adoption of biofuels is availability on a large and sustainable scale — a global scale. At present, the most economic option is edible oils, such as palm oil and soybean oil but these are needed in the food chain, so inedible oils have more potential for aviation use and, these are the ones that the report focuses on. It states Latest thoughts that, to be viable, long term the biofuel used In August 2012, a new In China ... every year in the aviation sector European report, commiswill have to be sustainsioned by IEA Bioenergy (around 29m tonnes of Task 40 Sustainable cooking oil is) poured down able economically as well as environmenInternational Bioenergy the nation’s drains, and Trade, was published enti- most probably also straight tally. It should also with the tled The Potential and Role of into streams and rivers. This comply sustainability criteria Biofuels in Commercial Air developed for road Transport — Biojetfuel. The is some 9m tonnes more transport, which are document is a joint effort than the country currently available for the US between Imperial College uses in its civil air sector. and EU. These criteria, London, the Helmholtz it claims, are a first step Centre for Environmental towards sustainable Research and Deutsches Biomassforschungszentrum, DBFZ. In its 51 pages biofuel production but still leave some aspects are contained very thorough summaries and open, such as indirect environmental effects (e.g. analysis of just about every aspect of the subject land change) as well as social aspects. In 2009 of bio-fuels for civil aviation use. This ranges the Sustainable Aviation Fuel Users Group from descriptions of the main developments (SAFUG) was formed encompassing large taking place in bio-fuel developments through stakeholders in the airline sector, representing to technical options and applications, cost 25% of aviation fuel demand, to collaborate on trends, environmental issues and policy and the harmonisation of standards across regions. Currently biofuel is almost twice the cost of manufacturing factors. An assessment of promising feedstocks and potential demand for conventional kerosene and relatively very small biofuels is included. Tables include facts and quantities are available. IATA sees costs falling figures relating to comparative flight trials, over coming decades, as bio-fuels become more industry trends and needs, and official standards price competitive due to conventional fuel and requirements for commercialisation. For prices continuing to rise (especially if incorporeaders anxious to read the report in full, it can rating a carbon tax) while biojet fuel production be accessed online at : www.bioenergytrade.org costs should diminish. It says that one main The authors point out that this report is barrier to the much wider use of biojet fuel is intended as an overview of the use of bio-fuels, the high cost of feedstock. the so-called biojets. It underlines the need for the global industry to find reliable fuel alterna- What’s cooking in China?

Algae.Tec

Australian company Algae.Tec is partnering with Lufthansa to develop breakthrough algaebased biofuel production.

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Perhaps one of the most promising areas for future bio-fuel production is the recycling of waste by-product materials from agricultural, forestry, manufacturing and urban usage. The current scale of waste is staggering. For example, a recent study of how much cooking oil is discarded in China indicated that every year around 29m tonnes is poured down the nation’s drains and, most probably also straight into streams and rivers. This is some 9m tonnes more than the country currently uses in its civil air sector. Sinopec, China’s largest oil producer has said that it could produce 20,000 tons of


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Airbus partnering in China, too

changes required, together with the associated costs. At the signing he said that he is keen to On 27 August, Airbus announced that it had see the research produce positive effects on joined in a new partnership in China to speed energy conservation, emissions reduction and up the commercialisation of alternative avia- also its potential for a positive impact on tion fuels. It has signed an agreement with the climate change. From an Airbus perspective, Tsinghua University to complete a sustain- as with Boeing, the Chinese market is simply too important to ignore and, ability analysis of Chinese feedby getting up close to develstocks and, to evaluate how best opments that will help keep its to support the development of a growth sustainable, everyone value chain to speed up the “We’ve looked at The ultimate goal is commercialisation of biofuels in many alternatives benefits. to see a complete sustainable China. The first phase is aviation bio-fuel production assessing suitable feedstocks that and green slime capability in China using only comply with ecological, burns very well!” sustainable resources. Airbus economic and social sustainis working to have such a ability criteria. The analysis will value chain in place in every be managed by Airbus and involves close co-operation between the continent by the close of 2012 and has already Tinghua and leading European institutions. established them in Latin America, Australia, Phase two will narrow down the most Europe, the Middle East and now, with China, promising alternative fuel solutions. The initial also in the Asia Pacific region. results are expected to be analysed in the second half of this year and includes both In the air cooking oil and algae, with the full sustainability analysis available early next year. After The introduction of small-scale biofuel this, the partners will scale up the alternative commercial operations has been underway on fuel production process to achieve sustainable an evaluation basis for several years and the quantities of aviation fuel for commercial use. bio pace is now increasing. Back in February The project manager, Professor Zhang Xilang, 2008, Virgin Atlantic made its first commercial Director of the Institute of Energy, bio-fuel flight with a Boeing 747-400, albeit a Environment and Economy, at Tinghua short hop from Heathrow to Amsterdam, University, said that the project with Airbus using a blended jet fuel comprising kerosene, would help understanding of the nature of babassu and coconut oils. This was partnered bio-fuels commercialisation in China, identify with GE and Imperium Renewables. The the challenges and opportunities and evaluate same month, a Rolls-Royce-powered Air New the social, economic, market and technology Zealand 747-400 used a blended jatropha-

Over 1,500 commerical flights have already taken place using alternative fuels in the past five years including this one from Air France . Airbus

aviation fuel a year from recycled cooking oil in a relatively short period and it has been claimed that if schemes for collection and recycling of cooking and other waste oils were to be put in place on a national scale, as part of a comprehensive programme, there could be enough to provide blended jet fuel for all China’s civil air transport needs. If such schemes could become global, and there would no doubt be challenging infrastructure and cultural issues to overcome, then this, alongside other biofuel production, could be an important component in the efforts to ensure there are no aviation fuel shortages later this century. The Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (COMAC) and Boeing, only last month opened a new laboratory in Beijing which will initially study and develop the scope for converting so-called ‘gutter oil’ into aviation fuel. This is seen as a major opportunity for Boeing to work closely with China in a partnership that will address meeting the future fuel requirements of what is destined to become the world’s largest aviation market over the next two decades. China is already the US company’s largest export market and has been involved for some time in partnered biofuel development activities which include flight trials aboard a Boeing 747 with blended fuel derived from the oily seeds of the non-edible jatropha plant. Other biofuel investigations have included research and development projects focused on algae, salt-water grasses and various oil seeds. At the moment, Boeing believes that bringing to market sufficient quantities of biofuels that will compete with conventional fuels on cost and availability could take another ten years, though the CAA of China is aware that it needs to reduce the nation’s environmental footprint as its aviation sector expands. It has said that it expects 30% of its jet fuel requirements to be met by biofuels by 2020. However, the huge problem it has to overcome is to balance this stated aspiration with unprecedented increases in demand. This year’s total of 300m air travellers is due to increase to 1·5bn over the next 20 years and, in 2011, the Chinese government announced plans to build another 56 airports over the next five years, as if to underline its determination to keep economic growth and connectivity as a priority. The Beijing Aeronautical Science and Technology Research Institute is heavily involved in projects, many in partnership with domestic and foreign organisations, on energy conservation developments and emissions reduction technology. So, the western aviation community has a big stake in helping China manage its civil aviation growth in a sustainable way and it isn’t just Boeing that is signing up partnership deals to help this along.

October 2012 Aerospace International


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Richard Gardner

ENVIRONMENT Plasma Gasification (SPG) technology and can process between 20-50% more waste material than conventional technologies.

Progress in the US

Grain terminal on the west coast of the US. Scaling up the infrastructure for biofuel is now the biggest challenge.

based biofuel. In October last year, Thomson Airways used a Boeing 757-200 in a flight from Birmingham using a biofuel blend in one engine, to evaluate its potential for further use. Co-operation between Lufthansa and MTU Aero Engines on sustainable fuels and related engine technologies goes back some time and, earlier this year, the German airline completed a six month Airbus A321 trial using blended biofuels (biokerosene), on 1,187 flights on the busy domestic route between Frankfurt and Hamburg. These trips averaged four per day and sometimes reached as many as eight in a single day. The fuel mix consisted of biosynthetic kerosene and standard jet fuel and involved IAE V2500 engine number two. During the flights, carbon emissions were reduced by 1,471 metric tons compared to using standard jet fuel. Total consumption of the mix was 1,556 metric tons. Under present regulations, commercial operators can use up to a 50% blend of synthetic and standard jet fuel. No modifications were required to the aircraft. MTU engineers analysed the in-flight behaviour of the engines to identify any problems early on in the programme but there weren’t any. In fact, there were no performance changes with one exception, the higher energy density of the biofuel content led to a 1% lower fuel consumption. Some 800 metric tons of biofuel were needed and this represented the largest quantity ever produced for use in such an evaluation. The synthetic mix included hydrogenated vegetable oil, HVO, made from 80% camelina oil, 15% jatropha oil and 5% slaughterhouse waste. The flights were funded under a programme designated BurnFAIR, part of an ongoing Future Aircraft Research (FAIR) project which, as well as Lufthansa and MTU Aero Engines, also includes EADS, Airbus and various research organisations in Germany. The German government contributed €2.5m and Lufthansa €4m. Follow on work is now concentrating on more trials to focus on sustainability, availability and certification of suitable raw mate-

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rials. As well as running in service on the wing, jet engines have to be tested on completion or after a major overhaul and MTU has built two test cells in Hannover which it plans to run on biofuel. Currently some 500 engines are tested every year using standard fuels so, if sufficient customers opt to use biofuel for their tests, this will make a useful contribution to reducing CO2 emissions and will be counted towards Europe’s Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS). IATA has set very high goals on carbon reduction, with the aim of reducing 2005 levels by half by 2050. Biofuels are a significant tool in the war chest. They reduce harmful emissions because the CO2 released when fuel is burnt has already been extracted from the atmosphere through photosynthesis during bio growth. Brazil, a leading member of the BRIC group of fast developing economies (Brazil, Russia, India and China) has huge potential for producing suitable biofuel material and last March, Airbus, Boeing and Embraer signed a collaborative agreement to accelerate the commercialisation of sustainable bio-based jet fuel. The Brazilian domestic carrier, Anzul, completed a demonstration programme recently using a synthetic jet blend produced from sugar cane, though this source is not widely favoured at present as it is widely used in food production. Last spring, commercial evaluation flights using various biofuel blends were carried out by Porter Airlines, All Nippon Airlines, Qantas and, in June, Air Canada made its first passenger-carrying flights on the Toronto-Mexico route, supported by Airbus, using a blend from recycled cooking oil. British Airways is planning to use 500,000 tons of waste material at a new recycling plant in East London to provide 16 million gallons of jet fuel from 2014. This could provide up to 1,200 new jobs and would deliver up to twice the current volume of blended jet fuel needed by all commercial flights using London City Airport. The recycling plant will use Solena’s

In the US, many bio-fuel initiatives are underway, including DARPA studies into new generation biofuel production. There is now enough technical evidence to show that synthetic biofuels can successfully supplement and eventually replace conventional fuels without any negative impact on performance. Indeed, every indication is that as the quality of mass-produced bio-alternatives is further improved, performance enhancements will result. The biggest challenge remains how to produce enough of the most suitable products in a reasonable timescale to allow for the processing and delivery to meet the growing customer demand. In a contract with DARPA, the Energy and Environmental Research Centre at the University of North Dakota is working towards the completion of a project to provide a 100% renewable synthetic jet fuel. The aim is to find a replacement for JP8, with an identical specification and full ‘drop in’ replacement potential. The Arizona State University for Algae Research and Biotechnology, Heliae Development and Science Foundation Arizona are collaborating in the development of kerosene-based jet fuel to be produced from algae. Algae can produce oil by a catalytic reaction with hydrogen that becomes a hydrocarbon compound with similar properties to kerosene. The process uses less energy than the FischerTropsche process. As algae does not compete with the human food process and can be established in a wide variety of locations presently un-suitable for food production, this bio option is much in favour at present. Speaking in London in September, Airbus chief salesman, John Leahy, memorably commented: “We’ve looked at many alternatives and green slime burns very well!” Plenty of technologists and chemists agree that algae holds out great promise for helping to make the bio-revolution in aviation fuel a reality, as does recycling waste materials. With new oil resources still being discovered and increasingly brought to market as extraction and processing methods become more affordable in difficult locations (such as Canada’s shale oil and polar oil fields) there would appear to be good reason to believe that there will be plenty of fossil-derived jet fuel available for blending with bio-products for many decades yet. There can also be little doubt that truly sustainable all-synthetic aviation biofuel supplies will become the long term salvation of the air transport sector.


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China aims for the high ground The Dragon in space has teeth —PAT NORRIS FRAeS conclude the story of China’s ambitious space programme.

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hina’s economic might has led it increasingly to play a Great Power role on the world stage. In parallel with its commercial growth, China is expanding its military forces and investing in strategic infrastructure. Long range nuclear-tipped missiles, anti-ship missiles, nuclear submarines, aircraft carriers, stealthy unmanned air vehicles and more have been pictured under construction or being deployed. Space is another dimension of China’s strategic vision. Satellites in orbit around the Earth perform many useful functions such as providing information about weather, flooding, agriculture, pollution, coastal erosion and so on. Satellites bring television and broadband to the remote regions of China. Satellites also undertake scientific research above the Earth’s atmosphere and beyond.

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These ‘benign’ uses of space and accompanying developments of rockets to make them possible were described by David Kane on p 30 of the November 2011 Aerospace International . In this second article other elements of China’s space activities are described, taking into account (i) the 29 December 2011 publication of a White Paper by the Chinese government outlining its Five Year Space Plan; and (ii) a wide ranging lecture on China’s space programmes by Karl Bergquist at the Royal Aeronautical Society HQ in London on 26 January 2012.

purposes, six carried military satellites — about which more later. A further seven carried satellites with both dual civil and military uses:

Recent launches

Only three of the 16 domestic launches were without military functions:

In 2011, China launched 19 rockets into space of which 18 were successful. Three carried telecommunication satellites for foreign customers in France, Nigeria and Pakistan. Of the 16 launches for domestic Chinese

● the Tiangong-1 space laboratory

Octobr 2012 Aerospace International

● two Beidou navigation satellites ● three remote sensing satellites ● a data relay satellite to communicate with other satellites (initially the manned capsules) ● a clutch of small technology and prototype satellites

● the Shenzhou-8 capsule (unmanned on this occasion) ● the ChinaSat-10 communications satellite. www.aerosociety.com


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SPACE In his RAeS talk, Karl Bergquist pointed out that the Chinese military is in charge of the human spaceflight and launcher programmes. While the military interest in launchers is to be expected given the strong technology overlap with missiles, Mr Bergquist concluded that the military role in human spaceflight was due to their desire to have control of the useful technology produced by the very large sums of money involved. He noted that the military also run the navigation and weather satellite programmes (which are included in the dual use category above). To describe China’s space activities without discussing the military dimension therefore misses out the majority of the picture. Another message from the list of 2011 Chinese launches is the failure of the August The public face of China’s space programme — China’s three Shenzhou-9 mission taikonauts. 18th launch carrying the SJ-11-02 satellite. The second stage of the LM-2C rocket failed to launched in 2011 are surveillance spacecraft of ignite, marking the first failure in 35 launches Military satellites since the first flight in 1975 of this member of One of the six Chinese military satellites various types — these are in addition to the the Long March family. The event emphasises launched in 2011, ZX-1A, was for telecommu- three dual use remote sensing satellites already that the Long March launcher family has nications and was based on the DFH-4 satellite mentioned. No official information is available proved very reliable but platform. As noted in on these satellites but they are thought to fall still experiences an the November 2011 into four categories: occasional failure — article, the DFH-4 has 1. High resolution optical satellites the previous mishap had reliability prob- These satellites in the Yaogan series offer was of an LM-3B While the military interest in lems which have been performance perhaps slightly better than that of launcher in 2009. publicly reported China’s civilian remote sensing satellites. They launchers is to be expected One surprising omis- given the strong technology because of its use for are thought to have a resolution (granularity) of sion from the 2011 exported commercial about 1m, which is about an order of magnioverlap with missiles ... the launch list is science. satellites. The ZX-1A tude worse than that of the best American and China’s two spacecraft military role in human space- (also called ChinaSat- European systems. These Yaogan satellites that orbited the moon flight was due to their desire 1A) is the first military weigh about 1½ tonnes and are usually placed (Chang’e 1, 2007-2009 to have control of the useful communications satel- in orbits about 500km above the Earth. They and Chang’e 2, 2010lite (comsat) to use incorporate digital camera technology, unlike technology produced. 2011) have received this platform. the equivalent Russian satellites that continue to widespread publicity Deployed in geosta- use the wet film technology developed during but the lack of any tionary orbit, ZX-1A the Cold War (and which requires the capsule to scientific satellites in the list of 2011 launches and its predecessors give Chinese military be physically returned to Earth before the shows that these scientific missions were the forces assured and secure communication links images can be viewed). exception and not the rule. The situation has not in the East Asia and western Pacific regions but changed in 2012, with the first 11 launches (up do not provide the global reach of US or 2. Imaging radar satellites. These satellites also in the Yaogan series use to 31 July) split into three military, six dual use, British military comsats. one civilian and one export. The remainder of the military satellites the technique known as synthetic aperture

Left: Shenzhou-9 second orbital dockingwith China’s Tiangong-1 space lab; Centre: Shenzhou-9 capsule after landing; Right: China’s Beidou global poistioning system became operational in December 2011. October 2012 Aerospace International

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SPACE not least to optimise the deployment of its growing submarine fleet and to more reliably detect the presence of the submarine fleets of other countries. Because of the mix of civil and military uses of these satellites, they were included as members of the ‘dual use’ category in the 2011 launch census above.

radar (SAR) to provide images of the ground day and night, and through cloud. While some European SAR satellites offer images with resolution of better than 1 m, it seems unlikely that China’s satellites can pick out quite as much detail. The imaging radar satellites weigh about 2¾ tonnes and require the use of a larger version of China’s Long March launcher to reach a ~500km orbit similar to those of their optical counterparts. A total of 156 Yaogan satellites have been launched since the series began in 2006.

China’s Five Year Plan A government White Paper describing China’s space plans until 2016 was issued in English on December 29 2011. Previous Five Year White Papers were issued in 2003 and 2006 and Karl Bergquist pointed out that the plans outlined in those previous documents have generally been implemented. The 2003 paper was driven by the 2001-2005 Five Year Plan for the economy which focused on modernising China’s industry and commerce to be more in line with world norms. It was issued about the time of the first Chinese manned spaceflight which itself was a signal that China’s space ambitions were growing. The 2006 White Paper called for an acceleration of space activities including investment in launcher production facilities and the New Space City outside Beijing. The 2011 White Paper can thus be seen in this context as a signal for ‘full speed ahead’ in all the areas of space activity in which investment has been made in the previous decade. Key objectives of the 2011-2016 plan include:

3. Signal intercept satellites Several recent Chinese satellites have comprised two or three vehicles flying in formation. Some have been designated as members of the Yaogan series, others of the Shi Jian 6 (SJ-6) or SJ-11 series. These formations are generally assumed to be signal intercept satellites, using the two or three members of a formation to triangulate the location of ships and other transmitting objects. Their orbits range from 700-1,100km in altitude. One satellite designated SJ-12 spent the summer of 2011 performing very close manoeuvres with SJ-6F maintaining a distance of <1km for several weeks — thought by some commentators to be a practice for inspecting or perhaps interfering with a satellite belonging to another country. 4. Electronic intelligence (ELINT) Although China has none of the giant eavesdropping satellites in geostationary orbit that the US deploys, it has used low orbiting satellites, many in the small satellite category (<½ton), to monitor radar and data traffic in the East Asia region. Recent examples have been designated as part of the SJ series or as technology prototypes with various designations and placed in orbits about 500-700km high. A fifth military surveillance satellite category is sometimes identified: ocean monitoring. The importance to China of monitoring America’s Pacific fleets and other regional navies is not hard to understand. Many of the political tensions in the region result in the movement of foreign navy vessels. In orbits of about 900km altitude the Haiyang (HY) series of satellites are mainly dedicated to monitoring ocean conditions using radar altimeters and scatterometers to measure wave heights, winds, ocean currents, etc and multispectral infra-red sensors to monitor plankton blooms and other phenomena loosely described as ‘ocean colour’. Better knowledge of the oceans is important to commercial shipping, fishing and undersea drilling, and it is also important for China’s navy

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● development of a more powerful launcher by 2014, the Long March 5, similar in capability to the US’s current most powerful launcher, the Delta IV, and about 20-40% more powerful than Europe’s Ariane 5; two smaller more modern launchers will also be developed ● new facilities for assembling launchers near Beijing and a new launch site in the southern island of Hainan ● continued deployment of the Beidou navigation constellation (completion date: 2020) and of advanced remote sensing satellites, and development of a new satellite platform for telecommunication satellites (to replace the trouble-plagued DFH-4) ● continued human spaceflight involving ‘medium-term’ periods in orbit (weeks rather than months) plus preliminary studies of a human mission to the Moon ● landing a robotic rover on the moon ● ‘continue to strengthen work on space debris’ China goes to the Moon — launch of the Chang’e-1 lunar orbiter on 24 October 2007.

October 2012 Aerospace International

Two of these objectives are especially noteworthy: human spaceflight and space debris. www.aerosociety.com


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Human Spaceflight. China is only the third space power to launch humans into space. Having placed the Tiangong-1 spacecraft in orbit in 2011, the Five Year Plan calls for exploitation of that vehicle, rather than for example expanding it to rival the International Space Station (ISS). The Shenzhou-9 mission in June 2012 placed three taikonauts on Tiangong-1 for ten days — the two spacecraft together weighing 16.5tonnes. With various modules and spacecraft attached to Tiangong-1, the eventual station is expected not to exceed 60 tonnes in weight — barely a tenth the weight of the ISS. The White Paper calls for international technological co-operation in human spaceflight but gives no further details. The commitment to perform studies of a human trip to the Moon is significant but it falls far short of a decision to actually undertake such a mission. A much more powerful launcher would be required than is currently planned, so we may expect the studies to assess the technical difficulties involved in such a development. The most we should expect is that the next Five Year Plan may include a schedule for a human mission to the Moon. China’s first female in space, Liu Yang, joins the first male taikonaut, Yang Liwei, as role models for Chinese world-wide Space Debris. The new White Paper is diplomatic in its treatment of the subject of space debris making no mention of China’s 2007 action in deliberately creating about 20% of the space debris now threatening the orbital environment out to about 1,000km altitude. On that occasion China destroyed one of its defunct weather satellites with a ground-launched missile, creating a cloud of debris that will remain in orbit for many decades. The only other nation to take similar action was the US a year later when it destroyed one of its military satellites but that took place at about 200 km altitude so that the debris created burned up in the Earth’s atmosphere within months. The FY-2F weather satellite was launched 13 January 2012; five years earlier China destroyed a defunct FY-2 satellite increasing space debris by ~20% Karl Bergquist noted that the Chinese action in 2007 took place just a week before China hosted a meeting of a United Nations Committee to discuss the problem of space debris. He attributed the embarrassing near coincidence of these two events to the fact that the People’s Liberation Army (PLA — the Chinese military) that fired the satellite-destroying missile took decisions independently of the govern-

ChinaSat10 communications satellite is prepared for launch in July 2011.

ment agencies that dealt with international space diplomacy. The commitment in the White Paper to ‘strengthen work on space debris mitigation’ suggests that the PLA has now signed up to a policy of reducing space debris at least in peacetime.

Buying western satellites The new White Paper not only omits mention of military satellites and debris creation, it fails to address a third topic, namely the continued purchase by China of western satellites that are more advanced than those produced in China. Since the early 1990s China has purchased communications satellites (comsats) from the west. Initially they were supplied by US companies but, from about 1997, internal US politics made exports of satellites to China illegal for US companies. The European vendor Thales Alenia Space (TAS) spotted a market opportunity and designed a version of its comsat that was free of components that fell under the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) export restrictions. The ITAR restrictions prevent most western satellites being exported to China or being launched on China’s Long March rockets. The most high profile of the TAS ITAR-free satellites exported to China was ChinaSat-9 October 2012 Aerospace International

launched in June 2008 in time to broadcast the Beijing Olympic Games. Chinese Earth observation satellites also lag those of western countries and we saw in 2011 one of the ways in which western industry can get around the ITAR restrictions and export these systems to China. The trick used is to deliver images from space to China but not to deliver the satellites themselves. Britain’s Surrey Satellite Technology (SSTL) signed a £110m contract to provide three high performance surveillance satellites — getting round the ITAR restrictions by structuring the deal as a contract to deliver data with the satellites constructed and launched without ever entering China. The features of the SSTL design allowed them to offer a cost effective mix of moderately high resolution images (1m panchromatic and 4m multi-spectral imagery), wide swath width, three satellites to reduce the period between over-flights, flexible pointing, wide bandwidth radio link to rapidly download the images and large onboard storage to allow extensive imaging beyond the line of sight of the ground terminals. As described earlier, China has made a heavy investment in military Earth observation satellites but the SSTL deal suggests that it has some way to go to match the price/performance of the best western suppliers.

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SPACE


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The autonomous air system: far beyond the foreseeable future Increasing sophistication of automation and interest in the emergence of autonomous systems have prompted discussion on the enhancement of air capability, linked either to the augmentation of human performance or the incorporation of human thinking into machines. AIR COMMODORE ANTHONY N. NICHOLSON FRAeS* argues such developments would be dependent on significant advances in the neurosciences and would be influenced by ethical considerations.

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here is growing interest in what could ultimately be achieved concerning the enhancement of air capability. Attention is turning to an era when it could be possible for the innate ability of aircrew to be augmented by artificial means and/or for autonomous systems to be developed that incorporate high level cognitive skills such as judgement and responsibility. Although, perhaps at first sight somewhat sci-fi, such changes in humans and machines are now matters of debate concerning the enhancement

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of air power. However, it is evident that, whether the discussion is concerned with the human or with the machine, it is progress in the neurosciences and the influence of ethical considerations that will determine the outcome. This article explores whether augmenting the innate ability of aircrew, or incorporating high level cognitive skills into autonomous systems are feasible and whether such developments would be practical propositions. The discussion follows on from the Joint Doctrine Note(1) from the MoD of the United Kingdom concerned October 2012 Aerospace International

with the approach to unmanned aircraft systems and the report from the Office of the Chief Scientist of the (United States) Air Force(2) that explores possible future developments in the interplay between the aircraft and the airman. Both these publications impinge on aspects of human behaviour but do not consider the present state or the potential limitations of advances in the life sciences. The possibility of artificial enhancement of human capability is discussed and then the discussion leads into the concept of autonomy. www.aerosociety.com


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AEROSPACE Augmentation of capability The need to augment the innate ability of aircrew is addressed forcefully in the report from the Office of the Chief Scientist of the (United States) Air Force(2). It notes that natural human capabilities are becoming increasingly mismatched with the enormous data volumes and decision speeds that technologies either offer or demand. Humans may remain more capable than machines for many tasks but it concludes that, beyond the year 2030, machine capabilities will have increased to the point that It might be argued that the fighter pilot is already ‘augmented’ beyond human capability with humans will have become the weakest compo- G-suit, night vision and helmet-mounted displays. nent in a wide array of systems and processes. For these reasons humans and machines will potential adversaries may be entirely willing to between being a person or a ‘thing’(7). This leads need to become far more closely coupled and, in make use of them. The report published under into autonomous air systems. The definition of this way, the report argues for the augmentation the auspices of the Secretary of the (US) Air autonomy is ‘freedom from external control or of the innate ability of the human component. Force and the Chief of the USAF concluded influence’ and so the meaning of autonomy is However, at this stage, it is important that there that developing ways to augment human perfor- free of ambiguity and the phenomenon of be clarity with respect to what is meant by the mance would become increasingly essential to autonomy is an absolute concept(8). In the aviaaugmentation of human ability. Augmenting the the preservation of air power. tion literature, autonomy is sometimes qualified ability of aircrew is a far step away from These deliberations imply that serious atten- by terms such as ‘increasing’ and ‘flexible’. restoring the function of aircrew from an tion is being given, or will be given, to the modu- These terms should be limited to aspects of unfavourable state. An example of the latter was lation of aircrew ability and it is, therefore, automation rather than autonomy; sometimes assisting the sleep of aircrew involved in long appropriate that the implications, let alone the there is even the implied assumption that autorange operations during the possibility, of mated systems could develop into autonomous South Atlantic campaign. augmenting innate behaviour. It is important that the nature of The scenario led to irregular ability should be exam- autonomy be understood. In that context the patterns of rest with fragined. Ethical questions Joint Doctrine Note from the Development, Beyond the year 2030 mented sleep and the exist as to whether Concepts and Doctrine Centre of the United inevitability of impaired machine capabilities will drugs should be used Kingdom Ministry of Defence(1) is a useful have increased to the performance during the to enhance normal document as it clarifies the distinction that exists subsequent duty period. point that humans will ability rather than just between automation and autonomy: Nevertheless, when sleep have become the weakest to treat deficits, even if ‘….as long as it can be shown that the system logiduring the rest periods was it can be assured that cally follows a set of rules or instructions and is not component in a wide array side effects would not capable of human levels of situational underensured by hypnotics, high of systems and processes. lead to disasters(5). standing, then they (autonomous systems) should be rates of work by the crews of transport aircraft during Further, there are considered as automated’ individual missions became cogent reasons why Autonomy in air systems is also a subject of possible(3,4). Capability was engineering interven- the report from the Office of the Chief restored preceding each mission, though the tions that directly modify the nervous system Scientist of the (US) Air Force(2) concerned with would be unacceptable. Indeed, there could be the future of air capability, though less considerinnate ability of the crews was not modified. Restoration of function does not imply overwhelming opposition to procedures such as ation would appear to have been given to the augmented ability, as augmentation of ability brain implants and genetic manipulations would demarcation between potential advances in implies a level of skill beyond that which can be be controversial to say the least(6). Ethical automation and the emergence of autonomy. achieved by humans in their present form. considerations may well prevail in these deliberThe Development, Concepts and Doctrine However, the report from the Office of the ations and so enhancement of human perfor- Centre has formulated definitions of automated Chief Scientist of the Air Force(2) is quite mance is likely to be limited to advances in and autonomous systems that apply to the explicit with regard to the need for augmenta- sensory aids, such as night vision goggles, or the world of aviation(1). These are: tion and has listed potential means whereby protection of humans from a hostile environ‘In the unmanned aircraft context, an automated or automatic system is one that, in response to inputs such a goal may be achieved. It could involve ment, such as pressure suits, though electrical from one or more sensors, is programmed to logically pharmacological agents (presumably with signals generated by eye movements and the follow a pre-defined set of rules in order to provide an activity far more sophisticated than those that activity of the brain may prove to be increasingly outcome. Knowing the set of rules under which it is simply counteract sleep loss), brain implants to useful in modulating external systems. operating means that its output is predictable’ improve memory, alertness, cognition and ‘It (an autonomous system) is capable of undervisual/aural acuity, screening of brain wave Autonomy standing higher level intent and direction. From this patterns and genetic modification itself. The Essentially, the quantum leap in the enhanceunderstanding and its perception of its environment, report accepts that some methods may be inher- ment of air capability will not be sought through such a system is able to take appropriate action to ently ‘distasteful’ to some but emphasises that procedures that would blur the distinction bring about a desired state. It is capable of deciding a

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AEROSPACE course of action, from a number of alternatives, without depending on human oversight and control, although these may still be present. Although the overall activity of an autonomous unmanned aircraft will be predictable, individual actions may not be’

involves the sense of location in relation to the immediate and the remote surroundings. With automated systems, human levels of situational awareness may be exceeded and may be indistinguishable from if not superior to that of With these definitions autonomous systems manned aircraft. However, though awareness are independent and exclude systems that may modulate the process that leads to interpredepend in any way on human oversight or tation, it is not necessarily concerned with the control. The increasing sophistication of the interpretation of information. Interpretation is processing of input and output remains the a higher nervous function that involves ‘awaredomain of machine intelligence. This is distinct ness of awareness’. With automation there is no from autonomy which incorporates skills exem- ‘awareness of awareness’ and judgment and the sense of responsibility are plified by higher nervous missing. functions, such as judgment Awareness of awareand responsibility, and which ness, essentially consciousis sometimes referred to as A technologically based would be the key machine consciousness. As simulation of the human ness, component of an pointed out in the Joint Doctrine Note, a machine with brain may be possible by autonomous system, and the capacity to think like a the middle of the twenty unravelling the physical and physiological charachuman would be a paradigm first century. teristics of consciousness shift in technology and would is the unavoidable step have significant and immetoward the ultimate goal of diate implications to air creating an autonomous power(1). Such an autonomous system would have responsiveness system. This is considered by some to be indistinguishable from, if not superior to, that of beyond the realm of human endeavour. If that a manned aircraft, levels of situational aware- were true, it would be ill-advised to seek the ness far beyond those of humans, be able to goal of an autonomous air system but be exercise judgment and possess a sense of content with increasing the sophistication of artificial intelligence. However, the view that responsibility. understanding the basis of consciousness is beyond human endeavour is being held less and Transfer of responsiveness less, and the search for the neural substrate and Significant hurdles would have to be taken the physiological characteristics of consciousbefore the emergence of an autonomous air ness is no longer considered to be outside the system. The essential property of autonomy is realm of science(10,11). For instance, as a step but independence of human oversight or control, only a step, toward its realisation, a technologiand so the skills presently exercised by aircrew in cally based simulation of the human brain may manned systems and in the control of be possible by the middle of the twenty first unmanned systems would need to be transferred century. Even so, though that would incorpoto a machine. The essential question is whether rate many cognitive skills, it would still not advances in the neurosciences could make exhibit the higher nervous functions that are possible the transfer of higher nervous func- the essential characteristics of humans. It is the tions. These skills involve those that underpin understanding of the nature of consciousness responsiveness and, as far as aircrew are that will determine such progress in the engiconcerned, they are embedded in the discrete neering world(12) and whether autonomous states of wakefulness, awareness and conscious- systems will ever emerge. ness(9). The three states provide increasing levels How then should the development of an of responsiveness and ascending this ladder is autonomous system that exhibits judgement relevant to reaching autonomy, though the ascent and responsibility be approached? There can be no doubt that the emergence of machine is not a continuum. Wakefulness is the basic enabling state in consciousness is an uncertainty, but, if ever a human responsiveness and ensures vigilance, possibility, it will depend on advances in the though with both automated and autonomous neurosciences that will dissolve our present systems sustaining wakefulness — a significant day limits to understanding the phenomenon. problem in manned operations — is no longer Advances in the neurosciences over the last of concern. Awareness involves perception and, century have been significant and as a first in aviation, is especially concerned with the step it is, increasingly but not always, accepted appreciation of the spatial environment that that consciousness resides in the brain rather

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than being an extracorporeal phenomenon, though the causal link between neuronal activity and consciousness has not been established. Can anything be gleaned from the neuroscience of today concerning the nature of consciousness? Unfortunately, there is very little. There is the possibility that consciousness could reside in a forebrain system that involves a continuous dialogue between specific neurons located in the cortex (outer layer of the brain) and neurons with intrinsic activity independent of sensory input located in the thalamus (a midline nucleus of the brain). This neural circuit is termed the thalamo-cortical system. It is an attractive possibility, as progress in understanding human responsiveness has increasingly emphasised the role of the brain, as opposed to the sensory systems. But such speculation is a long way away from the experimental detail that currently exists concerning wakefulness and even awareness.

Emergence of autonomy The practical issue is ‘When could the incorporation of human consciousness into a machine be achieved?’ To answer this question it is worth recalling the pace of progress that has influenced our present day understanding of responsiveness. As far as wakefulness is concerned, it was the belief since ancient times and well into the twentieth century that sensory input was the predominant factor in the control of wakefulness(13). It was only by the mid twentieth century that the neural substrate that controls wakefulness(14) was located in the brain stem (reticular activating system) and only many years later the circadian clock that controls the alternation in sleep and wakefulness was located above the pituitary gland in the suprachiasmatic nucleus. Understanding the sleep-wakefulness continuum has markedly influenced present day approaches to preserving the alertness of transport aircrew coping with time zone shifts(15) and the potential effectiveness of aircrew operating with the irregularity of rest and activity inherent in high intensity operations(4). As far as the physiological basis of awareness is concerned, advances during the last quarter of the twentieth century indicate that cells in the brain exhibit activity related to location(16). Like wakefulness, orientation may not be entirely dependent on sensory input(17). At the time of writing the practical implications of the findings are uncertain. Suffice to say that our understanding of the neural basis of orienta*

Will more complex missions demand ‘thinking’ flying machines?

tion is far from complete, though it is likely to evolve during this century. At this moment in time, the nature of consciousness is simply a mystery. It is the scientific challenge of the age and it is the remit of the discipline of neuroscience to solve this mystery. But when the actual pace of progress in understanding both wakefulness and awareness is taken into consideration, together with the untold complexity of consciousness involving the skills of judgement and responsibility, the emergence of autonomous systems, if ever possible, is not an event that is likely in the foreseeable future. With the advent of autonomous systems there is a further issue that would need to be considered. Decision making by an autonomous system would be limited to the task in hand if the rules of engagement were set elsewhere. Essentially, such a system would be designed to accept a set of instructions uncritically(8) and so there would be in-built constraints to a system intended to be operating without human oversight. This raises the issue of indoctrination and there would, therefore, be the need to incorporate doctrine within the system to preserve autonomy and to ensure that judgment is exercised with a sense of responsibility.

The way ahead Autonomous systems that by definition incorporate judgement and the sense of responsibility would be the quantum step in the search for the ultimate enhancement of air power. Such systems would operate free of human physiological frailties, have responsiveness indistinguishable from, if not superior, to that of a manned aircraft, possess levels of situational awareness far beyond those of humans, operate without human oversight and control, and exercise judgment and the sense of responsibility. But such systems are far beyond the

foreseeable future and their introduction would raise many issues including the limits of decision making(18) and of indoctrination. Understanding the physical basis of consciousness with its high level skills is the greatest challenge ever to the life sciences — far beyond the challenge that was met by the discovery of the double helix model of DNA and the link between the action of molecules and ‘livingness’(19). The mystery of consciousness will not be solved in this century and so the emergence of autonomous systems by the end of the present era of manned aircraft is not a proposition. It is the increased sophistication of on-board artificial intelligence in unmanned systems, subservient to human decision making, that will be the means by which air capability will be enhanced for the foreseeable future.

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REFERENCES 1. Joint Doctrine Note 2/11 — The UK Approach to Unmanned Aircraft Systems, The Development, Concepts and Doctrine Centre, Ministry of Defence, Shrivenham, 2011. 2. Report on Technology Horizons AF/ST TR 10-01.15 — A Vision for Air Force Science and Technology During 2010-2030, Office of the Chief Scientist of the Air Force, Washington DC, 2010. 3. J.A. BAIRD , P.K. COLES, and A. N. NICHOLSON. Human factors and air operations in the South Atlantic campaign: discussion paper, Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, 76, pp933-7, 1983. 4. M. KNIGHT. Strategic Offensive Air Operations. In: R.A. MASON (ed.) Air Power: Aircraft, Weapons Systems and Technology, Series 8, Brassey’s, London, 1989. 5. A. ROSKIES. Neuroethics for the new millennium. Neuron, 35, pp 21-23. 2002. 6. V.E. MARTINDALE. Implications of technology horizons. Aviation, Space and Environmental Medicine, 82, pp 70-71. 2011. 7. M.J. FARAH. Neuro-ethics: the practical and the philosophical. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 9, pp 34-40. 2005. 8. The New Oxford Dictionary of English. J. PEARSALL (ed.) Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2001. 9. A.N. NICHOLSON. Wakefulness, Awareness and Consciousness. In: The Neurosciences and the Practice of Aviation Medicine. A. N. Nicholson (ed), Ashgate Publishing Company, Aldershot, UK, 2011. 10. D. PAPINEAU. Thinking about Consciousness, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 2002. 11. J.R. SEARLE. Consciousness, Annual Review of Neuroscience, 23, pp 557-578. 2000. 12. O. HOLLAND. Machine consciousness. In: T.BAINE, A. CLEEREMANS and P. WILKEN (eds), Oxford Companion to Consciousness, Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp 415-417, 2009.

*Air Commodore Anthony Nicholson OBE DSc FRCP FRAeS was the Commandant and Director of Research of the former Royal Air Force Institute of Aviation Medicine and, lately, the Visiting Professor (Aviation Medicine), Centre for Human and Aerospace Physiological Sciences, School of Biomedical Sciences, King’s College London.

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n 9 July, US aircraft manufacturer Hawker Beechcraft Corporation (HBC) announced that it had agreed to a $1.79bn buyout from Beijing Superior Aviation in China. The third largest producer of GA, biz-jet, special mission and military training aircraft in the US, Hawker had net sales of $2.44bn last financial year and delivered ed 291 aircraft in 2011. However, the airc company any has been be in financial difficulties for some time and filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on 3 May with $2.5bn of unpaid debts. On 17 July, HBC said that it had received approval from the US Bankruptcy Court to enter into ‘exclusive negotiations’ with Superior for up to 45 days, during which the two companies would finalise details of the takeover. During this period, Superior would provide Hawker Beechcraft with up to $50m to keep the company’s business jet production lines running. The progress of the negotiations has not been revealed but, on 21 August, Hawker

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asked for the court for a 120-day extension to allow the company more time to exit bankruptcy. Hawker ceo Steve Miller was quoted as saying: “We believe a transaction with Superior would maximise value for Hawker Beechcraft and its stakeholders. This combination would give Hawker Beechcraft greater access to the Chinese business and general aviation marketplace, which is forecast to grow more than 10% a year for the next 10 to 15 years.” Beijing Superior Aviation, which hopes to take over HBC, manufactures small piston aircraft engines in China for the Asian market. Sixty per cent of the company is owned by Shenzong Cheng, known as the ‘Helicopter King of China’, with the remaining 40% held by the Chinese state-controlled Beijing E-Town International Investment & Development Corp. Shenzhong is no stranger to the US aerospace market, having bought two Texas-based aerospace companies in 2009. At the time of its $7m purchase, GA piston engine parts supplier October 2012 Aerospace International

Superior Air Parts was on the verge of bankruptcy but has since reversed its fortunes and is expanding into China. The same year, Shenzhong purchased Brantly which made the B-2B small helicopter. Following the sale, a joint venture was set up between Brantly and Shenzhong’s company Weifang Tianxiang Aviation Technology Co Ltd to set up a Chinese production line in Qingdao and the US manufacturer’s tooling was transferred to China. While Brantly still retains a parts and service department at Superior Air Parts’ facility in Texas, all B-2B manufacture is now done by Qingdao Haili Helicopters Co in China, although recent reports suggest that production is currently suspended due to poor export orders. Concerned over a possible repeat of the fate of Brantly, the machinists union at Hawker Beechcraft has objected to the proposed sale, claiming it would give China access to US technology but their protest has attracted little support from Washington. Republican Mike www.aerosociety.com

© Cessna

In recent years, many US aircraft manufacturers have been opening new plants in China while Chinese companies have been busy buying up US GA and biz-jet producers. BILL READ reports on the current trend of US-Chinese interconnectivity haul.


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Pompeo, who represents Wichita's district was quoted as saying that the HBC sale could preserve thousands of jobs at its Kansas and Arkansas plants. Hawker currently employs around 7,400 workers, of which 4,700 are at its headquarters in Wichita, Kansas. The head of Superior Aviation, Chinese industrialist, Shenzong Cheng, has stated that Superior had no plans to relocate or close down any Hawker Beechcraft facilities. However, on 2 August, Hawker Beechcraft gave notice to 170 workers at its Little Rock aircraft completion facility. The HBC takeover is not yet cut and dried, as the deal needs to receive approval from the US Committee on Foreign Investments federal inter-agency which will consider any national security implications — in particular the transfer of any US military technology. The sale of HCB does not include the company’s military division, Hawker Beechcraft Defense Corp (HBDC), which has separate facilities and production lines. If HBDC is sold, then Superior will still receive a refund of up to $400m of the $1.79bn purchase price. Although the deal will not affect production of the T-6C military trainer and AT-6 light attack mission aircraft made by HBDC, it will include the King Air turboprop which is used by the US military and other countries as an intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) platform. The US Bankruptcy Court will also require the company to be sold through a mandatory competitive auction which means that the Superior deal could be terminates if Hawker receives a higher offer from another buyer. Hawker is currently owned by Onex Partners and GS Capital partners.

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US helicopter manufacturer Sikorsky has been producing S-300C light helicopters in Beijing Superior Aviation is not the only China since 2006 while Florida-based Liberty Chinese business interested in acquiring US Aerospace (which is 75% owned by Kuwait manufacturing assets. Recent years have seen an Finance House in Bahrain) signed a deal in 2007 increase in commercial with China’s Anyang links between the two Angel Aero Science countries, both from and Technology western GA companies Air China chairman Wang Development in setting up joint Beijing to produce Changshun stated that China 600 Liberty XL2 partnerships in China and from Chinese intends to build new GA flight training aircraft companies buying US airports to increase capacity under licence for the manufacturers. Chinese market. by 70% while China’s GA In 2007, leading US Other international fleet will double to 2,000 GA and biz-jet manufacturers have manufacturer Cessna aircraft by 2015 with an also begun announced that it would annual growth rate of 15%. manufacturing in begin producing its 162 China. In June, Skycatcher light sport Embraer of Brazil aircraft in China, the first signed a deal with examples of which took flight from Shenyang AVIC to begin building its Legacy 600/650 Aircraft Corporation in 2009. However, there business jet in Harbin. European helicopter have been problems with export versions of manufacturer Eurocopter has had a presence in the aircraft with European Aviation Safety China for several decades, producing the Authority (EASA) flight certification still not AS365/Z9 under licence, as well as jointly completed. In March 2012 Cessna signed a deal manufacturing the EC120. Its newest project is with Aviation Industry Corp of China (AVIC) a 50-50 joint venture with Avicopter to develop and the Chengdu government to produce and manufacture the EC175/Z15. In 2006, Citation biz-jets and Caravan GA propeller Diamond Aircraft in Austria signed a deal to aircraft in China. AVIC already has fixed-wing manufacture its single-engined DA40 in China aircraft factories in Guizhou, Hanzhong, in a joint venture with three other partners at Jinmen, Shijiazhuanghas and Zhuhai and has Binzhou Dagao airport in Shandong province. also been developing its Avicopter helicopter division. The Chinese manufacturer is also Other US takeovers developing a small single-engined amphibian, called the Seagull 300 which made its first flight In addition to setting up GA manufacturing in 2010. facilities on its home soil, China has been buying

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GENERAL AVIATION up US-based aerospace companies — of which engine manufacturer Continental Motors from Hawker Beechcraft is the most recent example. Teledyne Technologies for $166m. In July this In February 2011 Cirrus Industries, parent year, Chinese conglomerate Jilin Hanxing company of Cirrus Aircraft (the second largest Group purchased Arlington-based GA US producer of GA aircraft after Cessna), was kitbuilding company Glasair Aviation which sold for $150m to China Aviation Industry produces the four-seat high-wing Sportsman kit General Aircraft Co (CAIGA), a business unit aircraft, as well as the low-wing Glasair sports plane. The new owners of AVIC. Cirrus, which stated that they wished was previously 60% to keep Glasair owned by the Arcapita Aviation in Arlington investment group in China has three options for and work towards Bahrain, has continued developing aircraft obtaining flight production in the US certification for the while, using $200m of manufacturing — to build Sportsman from the new investment from its own aircraft from US Federal Aviation CAIGA, Cirrus, has scratch, to produce aircraft Administration (FAA) announced it is reviving in partnership with western so that it can be sold as plans to develop the companies, or to take over a completed aircraft. Cirrus Vision SF50 The Chinese single-engine business jet control of an existing takeover of foreign which had been on hold company. It is in fact doing aerospace companies is due to lack of funds. all three. not limited to the US. In 2010 AVIC bought In 2009 Austrian the assets of bankrupt Oregon-based composite kit plane aviation component supplier FACC was bought manufacturer Epic Aircraft for $4.3m. The by Xi’an Aircraft Industry (XIA) Corporation. company was subsequently sold on to Russia MRO company Engineering LLC in March Ones that got away 2012, although it is believed that AVIC may have retained the right to produce the Epic LT single The Chinese bids do not always succeed. In 2008 propeller aircraft under licence for non-US AVIC is reported to have failed in an attempt to markets. AVIC went out shopping again in 2011 bid for the aerospace division of Netherlandswhen it bought Mobile, Alabama-based aero based Stork NV that was eventually sold to UK-

based private equity group Candover Investments. Also in 2008, Guizhou Aircraft Industry Corporation was one of two bidders for bankrupt German composite aircraft manufacturer Grob Aerospace but lost the deal to Munich-based H3 Aerospace. AVIC is reported to have held talks with PLZ Mielec in Poland concerning production of the company’s M18B Dromader utility aircraft. US industry sources claim that AVIC also tried to buy US very light jet manufacturer Piper Aircraft which was eventually sold to Singapore-based investment firm Imprimis in May 2011. AVIC is also been rumoured to have been interested in acquiring new start US composites biz-jet producer, Spectrum Aeronautical. Meanwhile, The Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), which sold its RBS Aviation Capital aircraft leasing division in February to the Japanese Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group for $7.3bn, is reported to have turned down a higher bid from China Development Bank (CDB) because of concerns of the Chinese bank’s ability to close the deal.

Shopping frenzy The current Chinese interest in US assets is not limited to aviation. A recent report from research firm Rhodium Group claims that Chinese direct investment in the US could exceed $8bn in 2012. As well as aerospace, Chinese companies have been targeting companies involved in advanced

Based in Wichita, Kansas, Hawker Beechcraft was created in 1994 when Raytheon merged its Raytheon Corporate Jets division (which originated from its 1993 acquisition of British Aerospace Corporate Jets) with its Beech Aircraft Corporation subsidiary — which had been bought in 1980. In 2002 Raytheon relaunched Hawker and Beechcraft as brand names for its aircraft. In 2007 Hawker Beechcraft was sold to US-based Goldman Sachs and the Onex Corp from Canada.

© Hawker Beechcraft

Hawker 900 assembly line.

Products: Business jets: Hawker 4000 super-midsize twin jet, 8-10 pax Hawker 900XP midsize twin jet, 9 pax Hawker 200 single pilot business twin jet, 5-6 pax Beechcraft Premier 1A twin-engine light jet, 6-7 pax GA aircraft Beechcraft King Air 350i — twin propeller — GA aircraft/ISR platform, 7,000 units delivered. Beechcraft Baron G58 twin propeller light aircraft, 4-5 pax Military aircraft Beechcraft T-6C military trainer Beechcraft AT-6 light attack mission aircraft HBC also offers customers the option of configuring its other commercial aircraft range into special mission aircraft.

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USA

CHINA 3⋅7m sq miles 1,347⋅3m (est) $7⋅29tr 150* 1,124 (est*)

3⋅718m sq miles 314m $15⋅09tr 5,200 224,475**

Area Population GDP No of GA airports No of GA/biz aircraft *Official Chinese Statistical Communique **US Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association 2011

manufacturing, oil and gas, renewable energy, electronics and banking. Chinese state-owned companies China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) and the Sinopec Corporation are reported to have been purchasing US oil and gas deposits. CNOOC paid $570m for a one-third interest in Chesapeake Energy Corp’s 800,000 leased acres in northeast Colorado and southeast Wyoming, including rights to a third of any new oil discovered by the company in the region. Meanwhile, Sinopec has a one-third interest in 265,000 acres in the Tuscaloosa Marine Shale as part of a wider $2.5bn deal with Devon Energy.

A tale of two GA industries What is the reason for the sudden surge in China’s interest to acquire US aircraft companies? It is certainly no secret that China is keen to develop its national aerospace industry as a strategic asset. The country’s demand for new aircraft is increasing and many experts predict that China will soon become the world’s largest civil aviation market. However, although the prospects for future growth in China’s GA industry are potentially huge, with a population dwarfing that of the US, general aviation is still in its infancy. While the US has over 220,000 GA and business aircraft (70% of a total world fleet of around 320,000), China currently has just over 1,000. Airspace in China is still tightly regulated by the government with over 75% of airspace reserved for military or official transport. Airport infrastructure is also very limited, although new airports are being built. Most of these are flown on agricultural, power line patrol or flight training missions with very few flights for sport, personal and business purposes. However, all this is predicted to change with plans for low-altitude airspace to be opened for private flights within five to ten years. The 12th Five Year Plan announced by the Chinese government in 2011 included a commitment to

Advantage — China While few US companies are keen to buy October 2012 Aerospace International

ailing US manufacturers, they are just what Chinese investors are looking for. Owning a US manufacturer offers Chinese companies an opportunity to break into an international market with a recognised brand, a worldwide product support network and a way to achieve US certification for new products. At the same time, Chinese ownership offers the advantage for US companies of providing new sources of capital for investment into new projects that they previously could not afford (it has been estimated that developing a new aircraft can cost between $180-700m), as well as access to Chinese markets (over the past decade Cirrus only delivered nine pistonengine aircraft to China out of a total of nearly 5,000 worldwide). However, there have also been concerns voiced in the US relating to the possible negative aspects of Chinese ownership. Some commentators claim that China is only taking over certain companies in order to acquire new technology, such as carbon-fibre composite designs. Others are worried that Chinese owners could opt to either set up parallel production lines in China or even (as happened with Brantly) to transfer production away from the US, resulting in losses to both domestic manufacturing jobs and skills. There are also concerns about the transfer of intellectual property rights or the loss national sovereignty over products that could be needed by US defence forces. While, there could be cost advantages to moving production out of the US, there are also good reasons for Chinese owners to leave US-based companies where they are. For example, if the Hawker Beechcraft production lines were moved to China, the company would find it difficult to sell aircraft in the US, as it would lose its Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) production certificates. It will be interesting to see who benefits most in the future, US manufacturers in China or Chinese companies in the US.

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the continued growth of the GA industry and construction of new infrastructure. Air China chairman Wang Changshun stated that China intends to build new GA airports to increase capacity by 70% while China’s GA fleet will double to 2,000 aircraft by 2015 with an annual growth rate of 15%. Opinion is divided over how fast China’s aerospace industry will develop. While there have been plenty of announcements concerning the forthcoming liberalisation of Chinese airspace, actual progress has been less in evidence due, according to some sources, to the Chinese air force’s reluctance to cede control of the skies. However, this slow progress is not necessarily a disadvantage for China, as the only way forward for its aircraft industry is up. China has three options for developing aircraft manufacturing – to build its own aircraft from scratch, to produce aircraft in partnership with western companies, or to take over control of an existing company. It is in fact doing all three. In the larger civil aircraft sector, Airbus and Embraer already produce Chinese versions of their aircraft while Bombardier is co-operating with China on its new CSeries regional airliner. China is also developing its own indigenous civil aircraft designs with the ARJ21 regional jet and the larger C919. Looking at the GA industry, Chinese companies already produce a number of small light aircraft designs but these have little export potential beyond the US. China also has two aircraft with US FAA certification, the 19-seat Harbin Y12 turboprop and the Hongdu N5 crop-duster, but neither have been sold successfully in the US. However, while the current global recession has come at a bad time for the US GA industry hard, sending a number of manufacturers into receivership, it has proved an ideal time for Chinese investors to buy up US companies.


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The Last Word

Commentary from Professor Keith Hayward – RAeS Head of Research

“These are piloted aircraft — not drones ”

W

hen two newspapers as geographically distant as The New York Times and The Guardian run very similar pieces on remotely piloted operations, one senses a well orchestrated briefing from the USAF. Not that the outcome was anything but interesting. In the case of the latter, a twoday spread was linked to news about UK maritime unmanned plans.

Humans in the loop

the duration and virtual proximity of a Predator or Reaper mission. On the one hand, the remote pilot may join a ground patrol giving top cover, working directly with the infantry team in hostile territory. On the other, a potential target may be monitored for days, seeking proof of hostile action. The remote crew will ‘live’ with the individual and his family, and will try to strike only when the target is separated from the non-combatants. Despite the care and attention to reduce collateral damage, ‘drone’ strikes are becoming one of the most controversial aspects of the current US Administration’s foreign policy — especially when legally infringing another state’s sovereignty. Unmanned aerial policing of ‘bad lands’ — redolent of RAF operations in interwar Iraq — may well be emerging as US policy of choice. We will return to this issue next month.

The focus of these articles published in August was on training crews for unmanned operations; this year the Holloman (New Mexico) base will graduate 360 crews. Significantly, these include some of the best and the brightest of pilot trainees. As in the 1960s, when running an ICBM wing suddenly became a command track, the once scorned UAV squadron is now the place to go for action and British unmanned futures prestige. The terminological emphasis is on the Coming closer to home, the lead for The remotely piloted aircraft; the use of unmanned Guardian article was news that the UK MoD aerial vehicle evidently diminishes the role of was planning a new generation of unmanned humans in the loop. The trainees are a mixture underwater vehicles for future anti submarine of direct entrants and fighter-pilot convertees. missions. These would replace current systems The key skills are multi-tasking, communi- already being used in the Gulf to protect cating up and down the command chain, as against mine-laying. The UK Defence Science well as observation and interpretation. and Technology Laboratory (DSTL) has Instructors are at pains published a wide ranging to deny the link between review of unmanned this kind of work and systems; with hints of a computer gaming. The key skills are multiwide spread application in Training is based on tasking, communicating UK defence and security. simulation, but a This follows earlier hints squadron or F-22 up and down the that Britain’s maritime Raptors has been moved command chain, as well surveillance gap might be out of Holloman to as observation and filled by UAVs and be make room for some interpretation. used to complement the direct hands on remote carrier strike force in the Instructors are at pains piloting. 2020s. to deny the link between Generally, the DSTL this kind of work and wants to ‘stimulate new And emotionally lines of thought’ in computer gaming. challenging unmanned technologies. In this respect UAVs Operationally, although might be used to help the remote, the tensions experienced ‘in the field’ are as intense as clean up of UK nuclear waste at Sellafield, combat flying. The psychological hook lies in where decades of highly radio-active waste

O

34

October 2012 Aerospace International

have been left in unmapped silos. This would be an ideal application in a ‘dirty, dull and dangerous’ environment. The relevant technology is currently under development at Sheffield University. The specialised ‘one off ’ nature of this application reminds us that the future commercialisation of unmanned technologies may indeed signal a transformation of the aerospace industrial base.

Closer to a commercial breakthrough? Generally, the impression given by The Guardian coverage is of a technology on the cusp of a key commercial breakthrough. This includes operations in controlled airspace, and going beyond the line of sight restrictions affecting current use of small platforms by the police and other users. As I have argued before, this does not necessarily mean lucrative markets for traditional aerospace suppliers in the usual centres of aerospace production. UAV technology is fragmented and widely spread, especially at the bottom end of the potential market. Think very high end custom sports cars, and you may have the more typical emerging UAV market or business model. But I am mindful of a comment made by a former, very senior BAE executive, who observed: “if you want a model aeroplane platform, you can build it in a garage. Anything more complex, especially at the very top end of the mission spectrum, you will need a proper defence company”. This may be so: but there are other characteristics of the UAV market that may challenge existing business models notably the need for series production of identical models. Think again of an auto assembly plant that can adapt to and from standard vehicles to luxury units, and that can add customer specified items of equipment and trim on demand. The specifics of future UAV development and production remain uncertain, but all of the numbers point to a burgeoning demand, as well as a centrality in future military operations. It is just as well the UK has got more than a toehold on the basics. But the commitment will have to be sustained and imaginative to keep in the game long term.

O

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Recruitment PAGE CSM:Layout 1

13/08/2012

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Welcome to the World’s Foremost Aerospace Community

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www.aerosociety.com/membership


Advert Back Page:Regular Journal Pgs.qxd

13/09/2012

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