Category Archives: Aerospace & Defence

Flight excursion to Malause’s phare aéronautique

Last Sunday, yet again, we took one of the aeroclub’s DR-400 airplanes to make another family flight excursion.

On the occasion of the previous excursion, last week, I introduced the phares aéronautiques, i.e., aeronautic lighthouses that were set up in 1920s to allow night flight navigation for l’Aéropostale courriers. Last week we spotted a couple of them to the South East of Toulouse. This time, we wanted to spot a couple of them to the North West of Toulouse, on the way to Bordeaux, in the villages of Canals and Malause.

Last week, we prepared quite well the spotting, checking in Google maps different views of what we would try to see from the airplane so that we could easily recognise them. This time, we prepared less, just marking a cross in the map with the approximate location of the phares and hoping that we would identify the lighthouses on the ground.

Well, the task proved as difficult as finding a needle in a haystack. We missed the phare of Canals in the first leg. We then continued over flying the Canal Lateral up to the water slop of Montech (1).

montech_1

The navigation of this flight was rather simple, as once over the Canal Lateral we kept flying over it northward up to the Pont-Canal to the East of Moissac (2).

Moissac

We then flew along the river Tarn until it flows into the Garonne and then the Garonne until Malause. We then knew that the phare would be to the North of the river, the canal, the railway and a secondary road. See it below.

Malause_1

If you haven’t been able to spot it, it’s OK. You’re not the only one. We didn’t spot it at first sight. We flew in circle to have a second chance. I reduced the speed from 190 km/h to 150 km/h, to see if at a slower speed we would see it better.

Malause_2

Saw it already? Not yet? Don’t worry, I didn’t either. But you see, I was at the controls, at the left side of the cockpit. But you… you have here a frozen picture, you’ve got no excuse not to see it. In fact, you’ve got the picture because Luca is starting to be a hell of a spotter.

Malause_3

Once at home, I researched a little bit and found this local website about the phare (in French), with a couple of pictures, some data, history of these phares and a nice chart from 1932. It explains that the lighthouses started to be built in 1923 and that by 1932 there were 140 of them across France. This one at Malause was operated by the family Jolly until 1948/1949.

2012_12_30_Cartographie_Phare_St_Exupery_01

On the way back to the aerodrome of Toulouse-Lasbordes we passed by Moissac and Montech again and failed to spot the lighthouse of Canals again. Next time.

Montech_2

Finally, see below the navigation chart with the route followed marked on it. The total engine running time of the excursion: 1h15′.

Mapa

(1) See here a post in which I described the concept of the water slope and a post about another flight excursion in which we took some more pictures of it.

(2) See a post about another flight excursion in which we took some more pictures of it.

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Flight excursion to Montferrand’s phare aeronautique and the Pyrenees

Last Sunday, we took one of the aeroclub’s DR-400 airplanes to make another family flight excursion.

This time the purpose of the flight was twofold: (1) we wanted to spot a couple of phares aéronautiques, i.e., aeronautic lighthouses that were set up in 1920s to allow night flight navigation for l’Aéropostale courriers, close to Toulouse, and (2) we wanted to take benefit from a sunny day around Occitanie to make a tour around the snow-covered Pyrenees, something we already did about a year ago when we completed the route of the Cathar castles (see here a post about it).

See below the quick reference paper navigation log prepared for the flight.

Nav_log_new

A few months ago, a friend of Luca, Tijmen, tipped us on the existence of these aeronautic lighthouses. See in this website a map with the precise location all of them had, including those still standing.

Map_phares

We succesfully spotted the 2 phares closest to the East of Toulouse-Lasbordes aerodrome, located in Montferrand (just to the East of the wind turbines by the A61) and Bazièges (just to the North of the silos marking the waypoint SB). See a picture of the first one below (2 houses to the left of the wing blue tip).

Wind turbines

IMG_20170319_112316917

Once we had spotted the phare in Montferrand, we took to the South to start the climb to above 10,000 ft in order to fly over the Pyrenees.

Pyrenees_afar_1Pyrenees_afar_2

Approaching the Pyrenees, we flew over the old castle of Montsegur, which we had already seen before when we flew over the Cathar castles. See below a couple of pictures, in context and in detail.

Montesegur_1

Montesegur_2

Once up there, we just enjoyed some minutes of flying around, spotting skiing stations, seeing possible routes through the mountains towards Andorra and Spain, enjoying the breathtaking views, taking a few pictures…

Detail_navigation

Over_wing

Over_dashboard

Selfie

Finally, see below the navigation chart with the route followed marked on it and the navigation log as used. The total engine running time of the excursion: 1h28′.

Nav_chart

Navigation_log_used

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European aerospace sector and regions

A few years ago due to a previous job position, I got used to look at materials of the different aerospace industry associations or agencies, from the AeroSpace and Defence Industries Association of Europe (ASD), the European Defence Agency (EDA), or focusing on Spain, the TEDAE, on France, GIFAS, etc. I would do that to seek relevant figures about the business, employment, trends… Nowadays, I do that from time to time out of curiosity to see the evolution in the recent years.

The documents, yearly reports or facts and figures brochures that those institutions publish provide a good snapshot of the aerospace sector, its main players, locations, trends, civil / military split, resources invested in R&D, orders of magnitude, etc. Let’s take first a brief look at the sources and see what we can learn from them.

Europe – ASD.

The ASD releases every year a “Key Facts & Figures” brochure (2015 issue here, PDF, 1 MB) which provides consolidated European figures of revenue, employment, investment in R&D, the split per sector (aeronautics (civil vs. military), space, land & navel)). Let me share some figures and graphic as teaser. In the year 2015 :

  • The turnover of the industry was 222 bn€ (54% civil / 46% military). Up 11% from 2014.
  • Direct employment: 847,700, out of which 552 k in aeronautics (2/3 in civil).
  • R&D expenditure: 20 bn€ (that is a 9% of revenues), out of which 16 bn€ in aeronautics.

as_2015_synoptic_chart

It is a pity but ASD, in the past, used to provide a more complete view of the business, as it, for example, provided figures of employment per country, compared revenues of the major players in the industry, etc. (see the 2010 brochure as an example). At some point the information provided has turned to be less detailed.

2010 ASD employment figures.

2010 ASD employment figures.

Europe – EDA.

Similarly, the European Defence Agency (EDA), produces a yearly “Defence Data 201x” report with the main figures and trends for the defence: member countries defence expenditures, investment on R&T, equipment, military personnel, etc. The latest one, released in 2016, aggregated defence figures of EDA members states from 2014 (PDF, 300 KB) and previous years. In a few snapshots it can be seen the effect of the crisis and austerity in defence expenditures.

eda_2014_real-defence-expenditure

eda_2014_defence-expenditure-as-a-share-of-gdp

Continued decrease of EDA members defence expenditure as a share of GDP and overall government expenditure.

eda_2014_real-defence-expenditure-breakdown

 

Spain – TEDAE.

At the national level, yours truly being Spanish, I will focus first on TEDAE, which does a similar exercise for Spain as ASD at the European level. TEDAE makes two different kinds of reports, an annual report of activities (“Informe Anual 201x”) and a brochure with the main figures which contains very insightful infographics (“Cifras TEDAE 201x”). You may retrieve them here. Some figures for the year 2015 (find the report here, PDF, 31 MB):

  • Revenues: 9.7 bn€ (5 bn€ defence). Up from 9.4 bn€ in 2014.
  • 10% of revenues are invested in R&D.
  • Employment: 54,448.
  • 83% of revenues are exports.

cifras_tedae_2015

It is a pity but TEDAE, in the past, used to provide a more complete view of the business, as it, for example, provided figures of employment per region within Spain, compared revenues of the major players in the industry, etc. (see the 2013 brochure as an example). At some point the information provided has turned to be less detailed.

cifras_tedae_2013_empleo-regiones

Source: “Cifras TEDAE 2013”.

In the map you can see that almost half of the aerospace activity in terms of revenues (49.3%) takes place in the Madrid region, mainly in Getafe, where Airbus and Airbus Defence and Space have one of the largest factories in Spain. Nevertheless, you can see that in the region there are up to 172 production centres. In terms of employment, Madrid region accounts for a 43.9%, followed by Andalusia with 29.1%, which has seen a continuous growth in the last decade.

France – GIFAS.

Continuing at the national level, yours truly working and living in France, I will focus secondly on GIFAS (Groupement des industries françaises aéronautiques et spatiales) which does a similar exercise for France as TEDAE does for Spain and ASD at the European level. I must say that nowadays, the report from GIFAS is the most complete of the ones I have been reviewing, showing figures of revenues, new orders, employment (per region, gender, profession), recruitment, investment, exports, revenues per region, etc. Find here the annual report from 2015-2016 (PDF, 7 MB). Some key figures of the French aerospace and defence sector:

  • Revenues (unconsolidated): 58.3 bn€ (77% civil; 68% export). Up 14.8% from 2014.
    • That is a 26% of the European aerospace industry, or 6 times the size of Spanish aerospace and defence industry.
  • 15.9% of the revenues are invested in R&D. (7.1 bn€)
  • Employment: 185,000
    • Up 1.7% from 2014.
    • 42% engineers and managerial staff, 21% women, 92% working in aeronautics (8% in space).
    • Those ~170,000 working in aeronautics represent a 31% of the 552,000 employees working in Europe in aeronautics (refer to ASD figures above).
Source: GIFAS 2015-2016 annual report.

Source: GIFAS 2015-2016 annual report.

The annual report from GIFAS includes a map with the distribution of employment per region (what I mentioned that ASD for Europe and TEDAE for Spain used to do but they do not anymore) and in it, the weight of Toulouse and its region (Languedoc-Rousillon-Midi-Pyrenees) can be appreciated.

gifas_2016_employment_regions

Source: GIFAS 2015-2016 annual report.

Up to 28% of the 185,000 employees of the aerospace and defence sector are based in the area (1). That is about 52,000 employees in the region around Toulouse. If we compare with Europe figures from ASD (though those figures date from 2015), they represent around a 9% of the European aeronautics sector, or about the same size of the whole industry in Spain.  Thus, as expected, truly Toulouse is the centre of gravity of the sector in Europe.

Other European Countries.

I then thought it would be good if there was a thorough database or report with key figures and data for the complete of Europe, its countries and regions and wondered whether there was any such source. A kind of report with the breadth of information provided by GIFAS but compiling data from each an every European country. At first sight that compilation could be done by ASD but they do not. And it is not easy to do. For instance, not all bodies representing each national industry provide the same level of detail nor are as diligent in releasing yearly figures, or the figures correspond squarely to the same sectors:

  • The British Aerospace, Defence, Security and Space Group (ADS) publishes  a yearly “Facts & Figures” (find here the latest from 2016, PDF, 0.4 MB): 65 bn£ in revenues, thereof 31 bn£ in aerospace, of which 81% export, 13% invested in aerospace R&D (3.9 bn£),  128,000 aerospace employees (out of the global 340,000 employees between the 4 sectors).
  • The German Aerospace Industries Association (BDLI) releases a yearly brochure with the key figures of the industry (see here the latest one with 2015 key figures, PDF, 0.9 MB): 34.7 bn€ in revenues (up 8% from 2014), 73% in civil aviation, 70% export, 12.1% invested in R&D (4.2 bn€), 106,800 employees.
  • The Italian Industries Federation for Aerospace Defence & Security (AIAD) releases an annual report with figures (find here the 2015 annual report, PDF, 0.4 MB): 15.3 bn€ in revenues, 80% corresponding to the group Leonardo-Finmeccanica, 50,000 employees.
  • The Swedish Security and Defence Industry Association (SOFF) releases a “Facts” brochure with some of those figures (see here the figures from 2013/2014, PDF, 1 MB) a yearly report with some global figures (sales of 30 bn SEK in 2013, about 3 bn€), with some detail: 60% export, 65% military, 18% invested in R&D, about 52,000 employees.
  • The Netherlands Aerospace Group (NAG) releases a “Factsheet” with a good snapshot of the industry (see here the latest one with 2014 figures, PDF, 0.6 MB): 3.9 bn€ in revenues (up 5.4% from 2013), 69% export, 50% MRO, 16,500 employees.

No wonder that ASD does not undertake the exercise to provide a global picture.

Nevertheless, with a quick review of these sources and their figures we have covered the 7 leading European countries in the aerospace and defence industry, which together combine above 85% of the activity and employment.

Clusters – EACP.

Therefore, unfortunately I have not been able to find in the reports of the existing industry association that global, consistent and detailed view. However, in searching for that information I found out about the European Aerospace Cluster Partnership (EACP), that

provides a permanent platform for mutual exchange, policy learning, and cooperation to achieve high-level performance among European aerospace clusters.

[…]

The EACP aims at initiating an active exchange of information and knowledge between all partners and at developing and realizing concrete steps for long-term trans-national cooperation between clusters and companies for a stronger and more competitive European position in the world aerospace markets.

From what I read, the role of the partnership would be similar to that of ASD, but rather than gathering national industry associations (and companies), their members are regional clusters (34 of them from 13 different countries). The partnership started in 2009, and honestly, it had escaped my radar up to now.

Location of EACP clusters (source: EACP brochure).

Location of EACP clusters (source: EACP brochure).

The good news: they release a brochure (PDF, 22 MB) which provides an overview of the clusters in Europe members of EACP. That report provides some figures of 20 of the 34 clusters and taken together it is the closest exercise to the global approach I was looking for. I have compiled in the table below part of the available data of those 20 clusters.

Ranking of EACP clusters by employment. (Source of the data: EACP brochure 2015).

Ranking of EACP clusters by employment. (Source of the data: EACP brochure 2015).

Some comments and caveats to it:

  • The biggest cluster or region is Aerospace Valley which encompasses the French regions of Midi-Pyrenees and Aquitaine, and thus companies such as Airbus, Airbus Defense and Space, Air France Industries (MRO), ATR, Continental, Dassault Aviation, Latécoère, Liebherr Aerospace, Messier-Bugatti-Dowty, Turbomeca (Safran Group), Alstom Transport, Honeywell Aerospace, Thales Alenia Space, Thales Avionics, Rockwell Collins and several research centres (2).
  • The report informs that the cluster employs 130,000 workers. Recall the figures included at the GIFAS (industry-only) report, where the combined workforce of the regions Midi-Pyrenees (28%) and Aquitaine (10%) is about 70,000 employees (I have taken the percentages from the GIFAS 2014 report, previous to the re-organization of French regions).
  • The largest region in Spain, as we saw before, is Madrid. Madrid Aerospace Cluster would be placed 4th in the ranking above (however the ranking has some caveats that I discuss below). The figure of employment of the Madrid cluster (35,000) is not the same as that provided by TEDAE (industry only) in its 2013 report for the region of Madrid (the 43.9% shown in the map referred to the aeronautics sector only (~41,000 employees of the ~51,000 working in aerospace and defence) and yields a figure of 18,000 employees).
  • In the ranking the main other two Spanish clusters, HEGAN and HELICE (from the Basque country and Andalusia) are reported as very close to each other in terms of employment, however, as seen in the map from TEDAE, the Andalusian aeronautics industry represents a 29% of the national one, whereas the basque one a lower 10%. I guess that the reported figures in EACP from HELICE refer mainly to industry figures (or that the research centres mentioned do not employ many workers) and that HEGAN ones include a considerable figure of researchers.
  • The main caveats:
    • there are several clusters of which employment figures are not provided in the EACP report, in particular, the clusters from the UK (which as seen above is the second largest aerospace industry in Europe with over 128,000 employees; one or several regions from the UK would be placed high up in a regional ranking), the cluster from Paris region (recall that it represents 28% of the French aerospace employment as per GIFAS), other Italian clusters apart from Torino.
    • there are no Swedish or Dutch clusters among the members of EACP, and therefore no info is included either in the report or the table above, and we saw that those 2 countries are among the leading 7 European aerospace industries. Certainly a Swedish and or Dutch cluster would rank high in the list.
    • As reported above, the reported figures of the different clusters seem not to be consistent with each others, some reporting mainly industry employment whereas others include high numbers of researchers from other institutions than industry.

This post was intended mainly to share some sources above, make a review of some of the main figures of European aerospace industry and its regions. Hopefully the next time that I take a look into it I may find a European-wide report as consistent and detailed as that of GIFAS.

(1) Recall that Airbus plant in Toulouse is the biggest factory in France as I commented in this other post, where I included a map with the largest 100 factories from the French industrial weekly “L’Usine nouvelle”.

(2) As an example, on top of industry, the EACP report includes the following research institutes within the French “Aerospace Valley” cluster: Bordeaux University, CEA/CESTA, CEA TECH, CERFACS, CNES, CNRS, Ecoles des Mines d’Albi-Carmaux, INP Toulouse, INRIA, ONERA, Toulouse University… up to 80 research institutions.

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Terre des hommes (Wind, Sand and Stars)

terreTerre des hommes (of which English version was titled “Wind, Sand and Stars”, and apparently differs greatly from the French version which I read) is a compilation book of some memories of the aviator Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, of his time at the airmail carrier l’Aéropostale.The book was published in 1939, two years later he received the US National Book Award for this book. His most known book, “Le Petit Prince“, was published a few years later, in 1943.

Saint-Exupery failed to enter to Naval Academy and started studies of Fine Arts, which he did not finish. While doing his military service, he took flying lessons and there he discovered his passion. He flew first for the French Air Force, then he was a pioneer in the international postal flight, flying for the Aéropostale between Toulouse and Dakar, and later other lines. Those were years in which aviation differed very much to what it is today, and that is reflected in “Terre des Hommes“, where he pays tribute to some of his colleagues, mainly Henri Guillaumet and Jean Mermoz, and he shares some experiences which seem today unbelievable.Those years at Latécoère (which airline later became L’Aeropostale) must have been truly remarkable.

Henri Guillaumet was another pioneer of French aviation who contributed to the opening of airmail routes through the South Atlantic and the Andes. He was said to be one of the best pilots of his time, “Je n’en ai pas connu de plus grand” (I’ve never known a greater one), said Didier Daurat, director of l’Aéropostale.

Guillaumet taught Saint-Exupéry how to see the land they flew over, noticing every minor detail, every tree, corner of a river, and getting to know the locals, their farms, etc., as that was the ground he would have to land on given the case:

“Mais quelle étrange leçon de géographie je reçus la! Guillaumet ne m’enseignait pas l’Espagne ; il me faisait de l’Espagne une amie. Il ne me parlait ni d’hydrographie, ni de populations, ni de cheptel. Il ne me parlait pas de Guadix, mais des trois orangers qui, près de Guadix, bordent un champ : «Méfie-toi d’eux, marque-les sur ta carte… ».”

Jean Mermoz, another French aviation pioneer, first flew for the Air Force and then for Latécoère. It is famous the quote from Daurat who, after Mermoz performed his entry flying exam, he told Mermoz “We don’t need acrobats here, we need bus drivers.” Of Mermoz, Saint-Exupéry describes when he was captured in Africa or how he opened routes through the Andes.

“Quelques camarades, dont Mermoz, fondèrent la ligne française de Casablanca à Dakar, à travers le Sahara insoumis. Les moteurs d’alors ne résistant guère, une panne livra Mermoz aux Maures ; ils hésitèrent à le massacrer, le gardèrent quinze jours prisonnier, puis le revendirent. Et Mermoz reprit ses courriers au-dessus des mêmes territoires.

Lorsque s’ouvrit la ligne d’Amérique, Mermoz toujours avant-garde, fut chargé d’étudier le tronçon Buenos Aires à Santiago, et après un pont sur le Sahara, de bâtir un pont au-dessus des Andes. On lui confia un avion qui plafonnait à cinq mille deux cents mètres. Les crêtes de la Cordillère s’élèvent a sept mille mètres. Et Mermoz décolla pour chercher des trouées.”

There are two stories in the book which are breathtaking. The first one describes a crash Guillaumet suffered in the middle of the snow-covered Andes. He crashed in the middle of a storm and once on ground, he covered himself with the postal bags for 48 hours. As there would be no one coming to pick him, he then walked for 5 days and 4 nights (without ropes, axes, food supplies, or any other equipment for the hike). In those moments, he only wanted to get some sleep but he kept telling to himself that his wife and his friends, all hoped for him to continue walking and he could not let them down. To keep himself awake he thought of movies or books and tried to mentally review them in his mind from end to end. However at some point he fell down and was not capable to stand up again.

“[…] semblable au boxer qui, vide d’un coup de toute passion, entend les secondes tomber une à une dans un univers étranger, jusqu’à la dixième qui est sans appel.”

But then, he suddenly thought that in the case of a disappearance the legal death would be established four years later and this would impede his wife to immediately receive the compensation from the insurance policy. This gave him the will to continue walking just for 50 more meters until there was a great rock where his body would be clearly visible the following summer.

“«Si je me relève, je pourrai peut-être l’atteindre. Et si je me cale mon corps contre la pierre, l’été venu on le retrouvera.»

Une fois debout, tu marcha deux nuits et trois jours.”

He stood up and continued walking, not only for 50 metres but for 2 days and 3 nights more and he saved his life.

“«Ce qui sauve, c’est de faire un pas. Encore un pas. C’est toujours le même pas que l’on recommence…»”

f-anry-2The second story is from Saint-Exupéry himself, when, together with his mechanic, departed from Senegal to Egypt. The last lap would take them from Benghazi (Libya) to Cairo. During that flight they suffered some engine issue which started with heavy vibrations and finally ended in a crash. This time was not in the snow-covered Andes, but in the middle of the desert (close to Simoun). Again, nobody would come immediately after them. Saint-Exupéry started to make some estimates of whether they would find them in 8 days if they had flown straight or in 6 months if they had suffered some drift (derive), and where to walk to try to be closer to civilization.

In that situation he remembered the words and the example from Guillaumet and he pushed himself one step at a time. It is daunting to read how in the night he buried himself in the sand to keep the warmth of his body.

«Je creuse une fosse dans le sable, je m’y couche, et je me recouvre de sable. Mon visage seul émerge

Four days later, four days of thirst, hunger and lack of sleep, they were found by two Bedouins with camels in the desert in Libya.

The figure of Saint-Exupéry is today of worldly fame and I believe that one has to read this book (1) to really know who he was.

***

(1) Apart from “Le Petit Prince“, which I commented here, I have also read his “Vol de nuit” and “Pilote de guerre“, which are short novels based on experiences very close to what he lived and described in “Terre des Hommes“.

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Yeager (book review)

yeagerChuck Yeager was the US Air Force flight test pilot that broke the sound barrier for the first time on October 14, 1947, flying on board of the rocket-propelled Bell X-1. That part of his biography is widely known.

Reading his autobiography you discover that he went from being an uneducated child in rural West Virginia to retiring as a general of the US Air Force, acquainted with several US presidents and other dignitaries, he was the first pilot to become ace in a single day by shooting down 5 German fighters at World War II. Previously, he had been shot down by the enemy when flying over France near Angouleme, he escaped the Germans on ground with the help of the resistance and crossed the border to Spain via the mountains carrying the heavily injured body of a fellow American. He fought as well in Korea and Vietnam, he flight tested dozens of American aircraft and a MIG 15 taken from the North Korea, he set up and led the Air Force Space school which provided for plenty of astronauts for NASA initial space programmes, he became friends of female aviator legend Jackie Cochran, and altogether made him receive plenty of medals and recognitions. Plenty of remarkable achievements in a lifetime.

Many considered Yeager the best pilot in the Air Force at his time. What it seems clear is that he had a privileged eye sight which allowed him to spot enemies, trouble, etc., much earlier than others. He had a deep knowledge of the machines he flew despite of his initial lack of engineering education. He overcame that by eagerness to learn, by continuously asking to the best engineers available to him, and thanks to his experience in maintenance. And he flew a lot. He repeats several times throughout the book that experience, flying continuously, flying plenty of different aircraft, was what made him a great pilot. Despite of those assets, he recognizes as well that luck played a big role in shaping his career. From being born in a time when the flying over the speed of sound was something unknown to surviving various close calls both in war operations and during flight testing.

Let me quote some of the gems I had marked in his book:

“I got sick the first few flights […] like everyone else, I sweated through my first solo.”

“… most of us reached a point where, if a pilot borrowed our Mustang on our day off and was shot down, we became furious at the dead son of a bitch. The dead pilot might have been a friend, but he wasn’t as special as our own P-51…”

“I was still the most junior officer in our squadron […] there were several captains who were rubbed wrong being led by a new lieutenant. One of them was assigned to my flight of four, and refused to follow my orders. […] We were over Germany and this guy was flying as tail-end charlie, but lagging too far back in the rear, and ignoring my order to close up. […] I did a big barrel roll and came in behind him; he never saw me. Then, I fired a burst right over his canopy. The bastard saw that. He closed up immediately, and did what he was told.”

“Flying came with the marriage licence, and I had no problem with that.” (Glennis Yeager)

“I doubt whether there where many who loved to fly as much as I did.”

“Wright Field was a fun place to be, loaded with every airplane in the inventory…”

“[…] the real barrier wasn’t in the sky, but in our knowledge and experience of supersonic flight.”

Arrogance got more pilots in trouble than faulty equipment.”

“The real art to test flying was survival; maybe only a spoonful of more luck and more skill made the critical difference between a live test pilot and a street name.”

“The best pilots fly more often than the others; that’s why they’re the best. Experience is everything. The eagerness to learn how and why every piece of equipment is everything. And luck is everything, too.”

“And luck. The most precious commodity a pilot carries.”

“I was always afraid of dying. Always. It was my fear that made me learn everything I could about my airplane and my emergency equipment […]”

I strongly recommend the reading of this book (423 pages in the paperback edition).

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Boeing vs. Airbus: CEO compensation (2015)

Last year, I wrote a couple of post titled “Boeing vs. Airbus: CEO compensation (2014)” (and 2013) in which I compared the compensation of both CEOs. Yesterday, I saw that those posts received a larger than usual amount of visits which reminded me that now, at the end of the year 2016, we can find the same information for the 2015 fiscal year. Thus, this follow on post.

As both Boeing and Airbus are public companies, the information about their CEOs compensation is public and can be found in the annual report and proxy statement from each one. I will just copy the information below for comparison and future reference.

Airbus Group CEO, Tom Enders’ 2015 compensation (financial statements here, PDF, 1.7 MB, page 58).

Airbus Group’s Tom Enders 2015 compensation.

Airbus Group’s Tom Enders 2015 compensation.

In the case of Boeing, 2015 was particular in the sense that Jim McNerney was the CEO for the first half of the year and since July 1st the position is held by Dennis A. Muilenburg. Find in the table below the figures for both (proxy statement here, PDF, 3.7 MB, page 30):

Boeing’s Jim McNerney and Dennis Muilenburg 2015 compensation.

Boeing’s Jim McNerney and Dennis Muilenburg 2015 compensation.

It is interesting to note that while the base salary is nearly the same (1.4 m€ vs 1.6 m$, which after taking into account current exchange rate is almost equivalent) the incentive schemes at Boeing end up with a total remuneration about the double of that in Airbus Group.

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Flight excursion to San Sebastian

One of the goals that I had for this year as a recently qualified private pilot was to make a flight crossing the French border. For this purpose, last July I approached a colleague, Asier, who had obtained his license years ago and already had the experience of having flown to San Sebastian, the destination chosen for the flight.

We took a day off at the office to have time enough to make the return flight on a day and avoid constraints with the availability of airplanes. The weather was very good early in the morning all the way from Toulouse to San Sebastian, with only some wind, and a few gusts by the coast.

On the way to San Sebastian we would make a short stop over by Pau. On the way back we had planned another one by Tarbes, but in the end we skipped it. The outgoing flight took us 2h28′ (engine running time, including the stop over) for over 176 nautical miles; the return one, 2h04′.

The navigation went rather well even if we didn’t make use of the GPS and just navigated using the charts, compass and VOR… It basically consisted in departing from Toulouse Lasbordes and flying around the CTR of Toulouse via the southern itinerary. Once arrived at the SN way point we took a west heading towards the VOR of Tarbes (TBO) and from there we sought the integration in the CTR of Pau. At Pau we simply went to the general aviation parking, drank some water, refreshed ourselves, rearranged some papers, visualized the second part of the flight and got ready for departure. While at the holding point we had to wait for an airliner and a French Air Force CN-235, a nice view considering that both Asier and I used to work for Airbus Military.

chart-route-ss

Navigation log.

Navigation log.

It was when flying around Pau that we noticed that the temperature of the oil was rather high, almost in the red zone of the arc. As the pressure was OK we decided to simply reduce the rpm. The action was succesful in lowering the oil temperature back to the green area of the arc, but we were forced to fly for the rest of a very hot day at a somewhat slower speed (between 150-170 km/h vs. the planned 180-200).

Final approach at Pau airport.

Final approach at Pau airport.

From Pau we followed the transit towards Biarritz via Orthez and Dax that follows more or less the high speed way and river Gave de Pau. We flew around Biarritz by the North and coastal transits. The bay and beach of Biarritz are wonderful on the ground, even more so from the air. In general it is a very recommendable experience to fly from Biarritz to San Sebastian, as despite of the turbulence that you may encounter the views are breathtaking. See the pictures and video below.

Atlantic coast.

Atlantic coast.

Biarritz

Biarritz

St Jean de Luz

St Jean de Luz

Leaving St Jean de Luz,the French air traffic controller bid us farewell in Spanish. Those were the first words in Spanish I ever exchanged in the radio as I obtained my license in France and the FCL055 to be qualified to speak in English when flying abroad, but I had never flown by myself to Spain. We then contacted the air traffic control at San Sebastian, who were waiting for us. While talking to the controller I felt very awkward, as despite of being a native Spanish and having reviewed aviation phraseology in Spanish the previous days, the terms and sentences didn’t come natural. I am sure that I used plenty of expressions that are either not correct or not in use. I noticed a couple of them by myself (“back track” the runway was employed by the controller in English, rather than a Spanish form I used or “Responde” for the transponder); there ought to be many more.

Air space around San Sebastian was very quiet. We demanded a clearance to make a detour by the bay of San Sebastian and come back to the airport in neighboring Fuenterrabia and it was granted without hesitation. Basically we could do as we pleased, we just needed to report when approaching the airport. After taking some pictures of the bay we headed back to the airport and we flew through the port of Pasajes, which I had visited on ground a few months before.

San Sebastian

San Sebastian

San Sebastian

San Sebastian

Entering Pasajes.

Entering Pasajes.

It took me a while to spot the runway in long final but the landing went smoothly.

Final approach to San Sebastian airport Fuenterrabia.

Final approach to San Sebastian airport at Fuenterrabia.

We then went to have lunch with a relative of Asier at a close by restaurant and later had a walk through the village centre (Fuenterrabia).

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About 3 hours later we came back to the airport. Just in time to take-off and leave before the weather deteriorated. Clouds were approaching the airport from Pasajes, thus we took off heading North (runway 04), with heavy cross wind (310 degrees, 15-20 kt) in what was the most difficult take-off I have experienced so far. Once on air, at Biarritz the controller adviced us (and any other aircraft around) to either land or fly inland as soon as possible as a front was approaching from the sea. So we did, turned east, inland, and continued our flight towards Toulouse.

Biarritz

Biarritz

The rest of the flight went very smoothly, even though we skipped flying over Tarbes after having slightly diverted from our planned route as demanded by controllers.

To conclude this post, find below:

  • a video we made during the flight. Despite having played with the camera for most of the flights, of having collected over 1 hour of footage, most of it is about flying in the countryside, not that interesting to watch. However, I rescued the approach and landing at Pau and the flying along the coast in the way back, which are worth seeing (~10′).
  • the navigation log as it was after using it during the flight.

Used navigation log.

Used navigation log.

If you liked this post, find in the page Flight excursions of this same blog, a list of posts describing similar experiences to other destinations.

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Filed under Aerospace & Defence