Friday, August 10, 2007

Canada welcomes the C-17

The Canadian Air Force will receive this weekend the first of four strategic lift aircraft-the C-17 Globemaster III.

This is a special occasion for the Canadian Air Force for the following reasons:

  • The men and women of our armed forces who are deployed in dangerous peace keeping operations worldwide deserve the best equipment and logistics support we can afford, and they need them now.

  • Canada needs its own airlift capability to provide quick humanitarian relief and piece keeping operations anywhere in the world when needed.

The C-17 was competing against the EADS A400M. The C-17 was a good choice for Canada because:

  • The C-17 is a proven airlifter and Canada can leverage that experience immediately.

  • EADS revealed last week that the A400M's first flight has been delayed until "the summer of 2008", and that "the consequence on deliveries and cost is under assessment".

  • Finally, I must confess that I've always been in love with the C-17 for its design and record breaking capabilities.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

My russian aviation adventures

Fifteen years ago, in the summer of 1992, I had the opportunity to fly the Tupolev 154 as a flight engineer. I was flying with an Aeroflot crew based in St-Petersburg, Russia. This was part of a flight training program that also included theoretical studies at the Russian Academy of Civil Aviation in Aviagorodok (near St-Petersburg) and practical exercises on a flight simulator.

The Tu-154 did not have a glass cockpit like modern aircrafts, so the flight crew had to be skilled in aerodynamics as well as aicraft systems and engines. For someone who wanted to learn about airplanes, this was the right airplane to fly. The Tu-154 was powered by three Kuznetsov NK-82 turbofans and was a very reliable airplane at the time. The Tu-154 seats about 160 passengers and flight crew of three or four. I was seated on the flight engineer deck. My role was to control and monitor the aircraft's engines and systems (hydraulic, electrical, pneumatic, air conditioning, and APU) during normal, abnormal, and emergency situations. Each flight started with a visual inspection of the exterior of the airplane followed by some systems and engines checks inside the cabin.

The Tu-154 flight manual was a good guide and I was fortunate to have a very professional and experienced instructor during the simulator training. The flights took me to the following cities:

  • Anapa
  • Mourmansk
  • Dnepr
  • Kiev
  • Moscow
  • Simferopol
  • Volgograd
  • Krasnadar
  • Sotchi

All these flights were uneventful and gave me the chance to discover the russian countryside. It was a pleasure to fly with the rest of the crew. They were interested in learning few english and french words from me. My first 6 months in Russia were spent learning to speak, read, and write in the russian language. The total immersion helped learn the language very quickly and I was able to take all the aviation courses and read the aircraft technical documentation in russian.

I wanted to revive my memories of flying the Tu-154 with a PC-based flight simulator. While surfing the web, I found a web site for Project Tupolev Tu-154B2 which is a flight simulator for the Tu-154. In the simulator, the flight engineer panel is very detailed and realistic. It is divided in sub-panels for engine parameters, hydraulic system, electrical system, etc.

Instructions are provided on how to get the engines and systems started, but clearly, my previous knowledge about the aircraft was very helpful. The simulator comes with an english user guide, but the flight deck is completely in russian.

The simulator can be downloaded from the Project Tupolev Support Site.