By Gregory MonePosted 09.21.2007 at 10:17 am 1 Comment
Talk about an aviation buff. A passenger reportedly bid over $100,000 for a luxury seat on the first commercial flight of the Airbus A380, on Singapore Airlines. The inaugural round-trip will run from Singapore to Sydney and back. Singapore Airlines opted for an aircraft with a 480 seat configuration instead of the 555.
The auction was conducted through eBay's Singaporean Web site, and the proceeds will go to charity.—Gregory Mone
By Gregory MonePosted 09.10.2007 at 12:50 pm 2 Comments
Those silly billionaires. Always looking for strange new ways to spend their money. French newspaper Le Figaro reported recently that billionaire and legendary spender Roman Abamovish has purchased his very own Airbus A380.
This VIP version would be even more costly than the $300 million required to buy an A380 for commercial use, and it's hard to guess what, exactly, Mr. Abramovich would need it for, since he already has his own Boeing 767-300. In fact, a spokesperson denied that Abramovich has bought one of the monsters. But maybe he just doesn't want his 500 closest friends calling him all the time for free rides.—Gregory Mone
Having passed its emergency-evacuation test last weekend, the Airbus A380 is officially certified to haul a staggering 853 passengers—that's how many people safely escaped a darkened test aircraft in less than 80 seconds. The A380's capacity puts it well past its next-largest rival, Boeing's venerable 747, which has held the title of world's largest active commercial jet for almost 36 years. When the A380 takes to the skies on its first commercial flight with Singapore Airlines later this year, it will probably max out at around 500 people (800-plus is for a nightmarish single-class setup).
So how does an aircraft this big get itself built, let alone get in the air? Check out this cool time-lapse video of an A380 assembly to find out, and stick around for the end—the double-time painting process is amazing to watch. —John Mahoney
Transformational Space's versatile manned rocket system features a cleverly designed capsule, a dramatic airborne launch, and Apollo-style reentry and splashdown. The young company has quickly become a leader in the commercial space race, and its craft is a potentially key backup during NASA's efforts to replace the space shuttle. T/Space's approachgetting incremental funding from NASA only after it demonstrates working hardwarehas earned it rock-solid credibility in a world populated by vaporware.
The biggest airliner ever built takes flight
When the first Airbus A380 made its maiden flight from Toulouse, France, on April 27, it launched a new age in long-distance air travel. The top-shelf airlines first in line to purchase it-Singapore, Emirates, Virgin-will use the enormous jet's roomy two-story cabin to pamper around 118 business- and first-class travelers while packing as many as 437 passengers in coach to hold down fares.
DayJet's new software is the key to its forthcoming on-demand air taxi service, efficiently matching available planes with potential travelers. As soon as next year, you'll be able to call or go online to request a trip, with a desired departure and arrival time. The software will analyze factors including weather and DayJet's available planes and itineraries and will respond in seconds with a fare.
Swift is the first satellite explicitly designed to solve the mystery of gamma-ray bursts, the enigmatic explosions that have puzzled astronomers for decades. Practically every day, another burst randomly appears in the sky, flashing powerful gamma rays for anywhere from a fraction of a second to two minutes. Before the burst fades, Swift quickly locates it, rotates its telescopes and other satellites for observation, and relays the burst's location to ground-based telescopes, which study it in detail.
Imagine an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) that could fly for days rather than hours, aiding soldiers on reconnaissance missions or supplying emergency communications to disaster-affected regions. AeroVironment, which built the first human- and solar-powered airplanes, has successfully flown a prototype of a UAV that will be able to remain at high altitudes for longer than a week at a time. Unlike earlier solar-powered systems, which had to power the vehicle and store enough electricity for nighttime flying, Global Observer uses fuel-cell-powered electric motors to drive eight propellers.
Meade's RCX400 is the first consumer scope that comes out of the box with all the features you need for optimal stargazing and astrophotography. In addition to its GPS tracking, it has a built-in cooling fan, a motorized focuser, and a heater to keep condensation off the lens. Its mirrors can be aligned electronically, and it offers customized settings for different celestial targets.
10- to 16-inch apertures; $5,150 - $16,400
Most business jets don't get anywhere near their maximum range traveling at top speed. The Dassault Falcon 7X, unveiled in February, is the exception. Its long, slender wings help lift the plane to 41,000 feet even when fully loaded (other jets must burn significant amounts of fuel to reach similar altitudes, where airplanes operate more efficiently) and suffer less drag at high speeds than do other wing designs. The result: a 6,560-mile range while traveling at 530 mph. Advanced flaps and slats let the Falcon land at slower speeds and on shorter runways.