Since some time ago I wanted to write a small entry just to show the following graphic to point a very basic issue to non-engineers:
Efficiency vs. airspeed.
I have very often heard remarks about turbo propellers referring them as old or old technology, etc. I guess that this comes from seeing images of old aircraft with propellers and reciprocating engines, and now people being used to fly in turbofan engines.
However, turbo propellers are neither old nor a worse technology. As almost everything in engineering it all depends on what the requirements are and the price to pay for the solution. Then come the trade-offs. As you may find in the Wikipedia entry [turboprops] “they are mostly used where high-performance short-takeoff and landing (STOL) capability and efficiency at modest flight speeds are required”.
The first requirement is among the ones explaining why some military transport aircraft such as the C-295, the C-130 or the most modern A400M are equipped with turboprops.
The second requirement explains why some regional airlines employ turboprops for short-haul flights, when the distance can be covered at a bit lower speed without a big impact in the flight time.
If you take a look at the picture above, you could start roughly guessing what type of engine you would choose depending at what speed you would normally fly (then more requirements would come into play).
PZL (Państwowe Zakłady Lotnicze – State Aviation Works) was the main aircraft manufacturer in Poland. With the fall of communism, the company was divided and some years ago Airbus Military acquired for EADS part of it, which since then is called EADS PZL.
This week I visited EADS PZL facilities both in Warsaw (where they produce C-295 outer wings, most of Airbus Military electrical harnesses, PZL-130 Orlik trainer airplane…) and Mielec (where the aviation services unit is located) in which was my first visit to Poland ever.
Frankly, I found Warsaw a quite nice place to live even though we could visit the old town only by night. We especially liked the couple of good restaurants we visited: Fukier (apparently the restaurant of choice of Felipe Gonzalez, Madeleine Albright, Naomi Campbell and us, of course) and U Kucharcy (where traditional Polish food is cooked in between the tables where customers are seated).
EADS PZL ZUA, the aviation services unit in the South of Poland (Mielec) operates dozens of aircraft in fire fighting and agriculture missions in places ranging from Sudan, Iran, Egypt, Chile… This unit is made up of a different class of people; adventurous pilots and mechanics that learn a language in few weeks and off they go to their next assignment in another corner of the world living by the aircraft in tents at ad-hoc built “bases” close to forests. Enjoy this video of a PZL M-18 Dromader in a demonstration flight:
I loved this visit. It was impressive to see the tens of Antonov 2 and PZL Dromaders, and we were offered a flight around the skies of Mielec in a Piper Seneca V, which I had the chance of piloting for a while.
To my fellow EADS workers: if you have the chance of spending some time working for PZL, do not doubt it, go for it.
Last time I went to the night disco “Kapital” was some years ago, yesterday I went again as my company, Airbus Military, organized a private party for its engineers (with about 1,000 people attending) to celebrate the recent certifications of the A330 MRTT (multi role tanker transport) and the C-295 anti-submarine warfare (ASW).
“Madam, if a thing is possible, consider it done; the impossible? That will be done”, this quote from Charles Alexandre, vicomte de Calonne, was used by Javier Matallanos, Airbus Military Senior Vice President of Programmes, to describe what it is being done at the company in the last years. As he stated, we, in Airbus Military, have launched recently the first air-to-air refuelling aircraft in the history of Europe and the only anti-submarine warfare aircraft in the last 40 years in Europe (he quoted the only other European attempt, UK’s Nimrod, which has ended in a cancellation as I posted some months ago, the previous programme is the Breguet Atlantic).
Both Matallanos and Miguel Angel Morell, SVP of Engineering and Technology, thanked families and partners of Airbus Military workers for their continuous support: “be proud of your partners, please, know that they are exceptional people as they are used to do the impossible and these examples (MRTT and ASW) we are celebrating today are only two of the many we could give account”.
Finally, even though at the time of the speeches the presence of the CEO of the company, Domingo Ureña, was excused due to personal reasons (aside of closing the A400M negotiation in the same day), the CEO indeed appeared at about 23:00 as we saw him at the fifth floor.
My kudos to the person who had the idea of organizing this event and to the ones carrying it forward. I look forward to some more initiatives like this in the future.