Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Aviation Experts!

Some time ago during the sad – and ongoing, situation with MH370 I mentioned that the World fills with aviation experts.
For some inexplicable reason everyone suddenly has an important facet that they feel should be introduced into the search or investigation.
These ideas range from the most fanciful conspiracy theory to the more down to earth and considered thoughts.
None of these conjectural inputs, as I said at the time, are helpful.
The only thing that matters here is that “we do not know”. The full stop (or ‘period’ as our transatlantic friends would have it) marks the point at which we cease to converse.
No more should be said until we have more knowledge; more facts.
There are still no more facts than we had before in that instance.

So we move on to Flight QZ8501.
It has started again.
I did mention that conspiracy theories arose on day one but now we have inputs from people who should know better.
Let me quote from a source that a few people regard as being a ‘news’ paper (‘The Guardian’, it said on the top of the web page):
“Weather was the “triggering factor” in the crash of AirAsia flight QZ8501 with icing likely causing engine damage, Indonesia’s meteorological agency said on Sunday, as bad weather continued to hinder rescue efforts.”
“The most probable weather phenomenon was icing which can cause engine damage due to a cooling process. This is just one of the possibilities that occurred based on the analysis of existing meteorological data.”
‘Cooling process’? Suddenly the meteorological office is a source of expertise on thermodynamics and the operation of the Brayton cycle (jet engine – for those who are not aviation people).
The problem, let me set you straight, with icing is twofold.
1.            The formation of ice on the rime of the airframe intake and the first stage fan blades may create problems when it breaks off and goes down the intake duct.
2.            Icing on the airframe intake rim may cause a disruption of the airflow into the engine. A smooth airflow is necessary for the efficient operation of the compressor. Turbulence can cause surge that can seriously damage the compressor components.
In the first instance one would imagine that these pilots, who were experienced fellows, would have selected anti-icing to ‘ON’ before entering inclement conditions.
This would preclude ice forming on the airframe intake.
Ice formation on the fan blades will, on most high by-pass engines, pass down the cold air duct if it breaks off. That said, ice formation on the fan blades is a fairly remote possibility considering the angular velocity of any section of the blades.
The engine choices for the A320-200 are the CFM56 and IAE (International Aero Engines V2500).
[Note: The Pratt & Whitney PW6000 engine choice is available only on the A318 variant.]
Both the CFM and the IAE engines have been around for a considerable time. Both are renowned for reliability – as they must be for aircraft that can be certified for ETOPS (Extended-range Twin-engine Operational Performance Standards).

Happily the Meteorological Office seems to know better. How fortunate we are to have their insight and recommendations.

Remember what we said about that ‘full stop’?

Monday, January 5, 2015


Just as a passing note: thank you to Benjamin Yee of Maryland, USA, for the wonderful review he submitted to ‘Amazon.com’ for “A Simple Guide to Understanding Jet Engines”.
Let me emphasise that I have no idea who Benjamin is other than the fact that he is a person of taste and discernment.

Why am I grateful?

Because all authors benefit from reviews. Sometimes the review is unfavourable as was one I had for a science fiction story I wrote.
But the criticism contained within the review was most helpful because it was constructive.
There is no doubt that whatever you write, or create, it will not be received with open arms by everyone.
Somebody will not like what you do. That is their prerogative. It is also their right to tell you why they were disappointed with it.

It is also encouraging that the person took the time to write the review. Positive or negative though it might be they sat down and put their thoughts about your creation on to the website.
For that alone, I thank you – who ever you may be.

Whether you are writing course or lesson notes; short stories; novels or textbooks the effort required is considerable. The words just do not pour out automatically – at least, they do not for me!
So appreciation from others is warmly received.

Thank you.

As a final note about ‘ASGTUJE’ (as we call it here in my house!) it was not written with the idea of making millions. The idea was to make the subject clear and simple. Even those who do not have English as a first language will be able to understand. For all readers, the objective remains the same – “K.I.S.S.” = Keep It Simple & Straightforward.
The endeavour with this ‘Jet Engine’ book was to explain the subject up to the level required (IATA Level 3) for license examinations without inundating the reader with complex equations and theorems.
And it has cartoons. Cartoons? In a textbook? Perish the thought! It has humour here and there, too. How heretical is that? After this you can ‘go on’ to the Rolls-Royce book of the jet engine, or Klaus H√ľnecke’s book, more confidently.

We hope that you all enjoy it. Not just pilots and engineers but also enthusiasts and hobbyists, too. It may even be useful for youngsters doing physics as there is a lot of basic knowledge covered in the early chapters that could be thought of as ‘Applied Physics’!

Thank you, again, for your reviews – for anyone’s story or book.

Sunday, January 4, 2015


Think about the new term coming up.

Why the 'new term'? Because the basics of jet engines is the basics of applied physics. If you are doing science at school this may help you understand what the teacher is saying in a non-academic manner

If you are in aviation this could be very useful to you.

Why? Because if you are an 'old salt' it will be a refresher and, at least, amusing.
If you are new it will help you learn and pass the Gas Turbine module for licensing (it is written to EASA Level 3 especially for trainee Engineers and pilots at Ground School)

If you are an aviation enthusiast it will help you to know what pushes aeroplanes through the air and tickle your funny bone at the same time.

If you are just curious about jets it is the best introduction you can get.

It does what it says on the tin - it is simple, straightforward and humorous. Black and white, no complications.

Thursday, January 1, 2015


Sadly the news has been grievous.
QZ8501 has been found – or parts of it, floating around the Java Sea.
Bodies have also been discovered and the recovery of those bodies and the delivery of them to Surabaya has begun. That will, inevitably, be a slow process.
Naturally enough the cause of the crash has yet to be determined. It will be a while before the ‘black boxes’ are found and their contents analysed.
At least, unlike MH370, some closure is available for the relatives in that the immediate knowledge has been confirmed as a fatal hull loss.
Our deepest condolences go out to the family and friends of those who perished in this tragedy.

Air Asia was the subject of an incident in the Philippines when another A320-200 flying from Manila to Kalibo overshot the runway.
It was said that the weather had been very bad and that the pilot had brought the aircraft in under very windy conditions.
Happily, there was no loss of life (hence it was an ‘incident’ and not an ‘accident’) as all the passengers successfully evacuated the aircraft using the emergency procedures.
This particular A320 is owned by Air Asia ‘Zest’. This is a domestic Philippines airline that is partly owned by Air Asia.
Just to put this into some sort of perspective, runway overruns are fairly common; it is not something we should be getting excited about.

Right now we should be concentrating on MH370 and QZ8501 and waiting patiently for information.