Why Planes Crash and How Technology is Keeping Us Safe

I have recently read a very interesting article about how planes crash, and thought I should share it with the readers of this blog.

The article can be viewed by following this link: Why Planes Crash and How Technology is Keeping Us Safe

The article is about the causes of plane accidents and the precautions taken to try and prevent them. The article is interesting and informative and reveals a lot on the subject of plane catastrophes.

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Happy Birthday Phantom II

50 Years of Phantom II

The legendary fighter called the McDonell Douglas F-4 Phantom II celebrated its 50th anniversary of active service in March 2008!

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Picture of F-4 Phantom II above came from http://www.geocities.com

B-2 Spirit crash

Sadly, a USAF (United States Air Force) Northrop Grumman B-2 Spirit stealth bomber has crashed at Andersen Air Force Base in Guam, a Pacific island.

Guam is a US territory, 3,700 miles south-west of Hawaii. Its capital is Hagatna.

The B-2 came down shortly after take-off. Both pilots ejected safely. After the crash the wreckage could be seen giving out thick black smoke. This is the first time a B-2 has crashed.

The following up to *** is from http://news.bbc.co.uk :

Lieutenant Colonel Doug Smith from the USAF told the BBC that the crash would be investigated.

“The two pilots… ejected prior to the crash. One of them was medically evaluated and released and the other is in a stable condition at a naval hospital,” he said.

***

For more information, go to http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/7260231.stm

Information on the B-2 Spirit:

The B-2 Spirit is a large bomber, capable of holding 152 635 kg of weight. It can deliver nuclear weapons as well as conventional weapons. Its wing span is 52.12 metres.

The B-2 is an extremely effective bomber. It can fly to any point on earth in a short time and remain undetected. Enemies do not even know that the B-2 is there and if they do, they can only use some types of weapons against it (they cannot use radar guided weapons), making it very hard to shoot down, which is why one has never been shot down. The B-2 can do this because of stealth technology. It is built of material which absorbs radar signals, instead of reflecting them back to the enemy radar, like most planes do, making them easily detectable. Any remaining radar signals are deflected away because of the B-2’s very strange shape. Weapons are carried inside the plane, as weapons are a shape that reflects radar signals very well. Stealth enables the B-2 to fly wherever it wants which is what makes the it such a great bomber. It looks cool aswell. It looks like one wing flying on its own. It is definitely one of my favourite planes and it is sad that one has been lost.

Picture of B-2 Spirit below comes from http://www.don-lindsay-archive.org

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Giants

Hughes H-4 Hercules

The biggest plane in the world ever to have flown is the Hughes H-4 Hercules (also know as the Spruce Goose). It was meant to be a heavy transport aircraft which could land on water. Only one has ever existed and it made its first flight on 2 November 1947. This first flight was also its last, as the project was cancelled. It really is HUGE, as you will see in the pictures below.

Here is a picture of a H-4 Hercules compared with a Douglas DC-3, from http://en.wikipedia.org

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Picture below is a H-4 from http://www.combatreform2.com

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This is some information on the H-4 from http://en.wikipedia.org

General characteristics

  • Crew: 3
  • Length: 218 ft 8 in (66.65 m)
  • Wingspan: 319 ft 11 in (97.54 m)
  • Height: 79 ft 4 in (24.18 m)
  • Fuselage height: 30 ft (9.1 m)
  • Loaded weight: 400,000 lb (180,000 kg)
  • Powerplant: 8× Pratt & Whitney R-4360 Wasp Major radial engines, 3,000 hp (2,240 kW) each
  • Propellers: 8 x four-bladed Hamilton Standard, diameter 17 ft 2 in (5.23 m) each

Performance

  • Cruise speed: 220 mph (353.98 km/h)
  • Range: 3,000 mi (4,800 km)
  • Service ceiling 20,900 ft (6,370 m)
  • Projected endurance (cruise): 20.9 hrs

Antonov An-225 Mriya

The biggest plane in the world flying today is the Antonov An-225 Mriya. This too is HUGE and it is actually longer than the H-4 Hercules. Its horizontal tail is wider than the wingspan of a Boeing 737. It is powered by six jet engines. It is Russian, built to carry the Russian version of the space shuttle, the Buran, on its back. In reality it is used more for other large transport jobs. It also sometimes flys at airshows. Only one has ever been completely built, another was half built but I think that the Russians gave up on that one. The half finished aircraft still exists… somewhere…
When the An-225 takes off, other aircraft at the airport waiting to depart have to wait 15 minutes afterwards before they can do so, as its huge jet engines create violent vortices in the air, making take off after it dangerous.

Bono, from the popular Irish rock band U2, once said after having seen an An-225 take off, “It’s bigger than a rock star’s ego”.

Both pictures below are of the An-225 with the Buran on its back, from http://en.wikipedia.org

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Picture below is not of the An-225, but of the Buran. As I have talked about it, I decided to include a picture of it. (In the background, you can see a MiG 25 Foxbat).

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Below is some information on the An-225 from http://en.wikipedia.org

General characteristics

  • Crew: 6
  • Payload: 250,000 kg (550,000 lb)
  • Door dimensions: 440 x 640 cm (14.4 x 21.0 ft)
  • Length: 84 m (275.6 ft)
  • Wingspan: 88.40 m (290 ft 2 in)
  • Height: 18.1 m (59.3 ft)
  • Wing area: 905.0 m² (9,743.7 ft²)
  • Empty weight: 175,000 kg (385,800 lb)
  • Max takeoff weight: 600,000 kg (1,322,773 lb)
  • Powerplant:ZMKB Progress D-18 turbofans, 229 kN (51,600 lbf) each
  • Takeoff run: 3,500 m (11,500 ft) with maximum payload

Performance

  • Maximum speed: 850 km/h (460 knots, 530 mph)
  • Cruise speed: 750 km/h (400 knots, 465 mph)
  • Range:
    • With maximum fuel: 14,000 km (8,700 mi)
    • With maximum payload: 4,000 km (2,500 mi)
  • Service ceiling 10,000 m (33,000 ft)
  • Wing loading: 662.9 kg/m² (135.5 lb/ft²)
  • Thrust/weight: 0.234

Below is a picture comparing the H-4, An-225, Airbus A380 and the Boeing 747. (I will definitely do a post soon about the Airbus A380 and the Boeing 747, two passenger jets which are extremely big, so keep checking for it).

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