Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Virgin Atlantic GlobalFlyer
|Virgin Atlantic GlobalFlyer|
|Length||38 ft 4 in||11.7 m|
|Wingspan||114 ft 10 in||35 m|
|Height||11 ft 10 in||3.6 m|
|Wing Area||400 ft²||37 m²|
|Empty||3,530 lb||1,600 kg|
|Loaded||22,000 lb||10,000 kg|
|Engines||1 Williams International FJ44-3 ATW turbofan, modified for JP-4 fuel|
|Thrust||2,300 lbf||10.2 kN|
|Maximum speed||275 mph||440 km/h|
|Range (still air)||21,000 miles||33,800 km|
|Service ceiling||50,000 ft||15,240 m|
|Rate of climb||ft/min||m/min|
|Wing loading||55 lb/ft²||270 kg/m²|
|Thrust/Weight||0.10 lbf/lb||1.0 N/kg|
The Scaled Composites Model 311 Virgin Atlantic GlobalFlyer is an aircraft designed by Burt Rutan that Steve Fossett flew in a non-stop solo trip around the world from February 28, 2005 until March 3, 2005. The feat matched the distance set by the previous Rutan-designed Voyager aircraft. The attempt was described as "the last great aviation record attempt". (first solo, first jet-propelled, non-stop unrefuelled circumnavigation).
The aircraft was financed by Richard Branson's airline, Virgin Atlantic, and built by Burt Rutan's company, Scaled Composites. The companies had previously announced a combined effort for Virgin Galactic.
The GlobalFlyer is the first aircraft designed for an uninterrupted circumnavigation of the globe with just a single jet engine.
Physically, the GlobalFlyer aircraft resembles an enlarged, slender P-38 Lightning, with twin tail booms mounted outboard of a smaller, central nacelle. The pressurised cockpit is mounted on the leading edge of the center pod and provides seven feet of space in which the pilot sits. Unlike the P-38, or similar twin-tail designs, the solitary turbofan engine is mounted atop the manned central fuselage, several feet behind the cockpit. The outboard tail booms instead contain fuel, and end in control surfaces which are not cross-connected.
The aircraft is constructed of carbon fiber and epoxy materials, the main structural member being a slender single piece 37 m wing. The wings are made of sturdy carbon fibers with the skin of the aircraft being a graphite/epoxy and Aramid honeycomb. The use of lightweight materials permits the fuel to comprise 82% of the take-off weight: a unusually high ratio in the aviation world.
The Voyager aircraft suffered from design flaws that made it warp in shape very easily, so the GlobalFlyer is designed to have greater stiffness. It is also designed to fly much faster than the Voyager, mainly due to the endurance constraint dictated by the choice of a solo pilot; as a consequence, the Voyager's propeller system was replaced with a turbofan powerplant.
The GlobalFlyer as designed to operate at high altitudes, where the air is colder. Despite this, external heaters were not included in the design. As a consequence of this, there was some concern that, if the aircraft was to use standard jet fuel, the fuel might freeze. Therefore, the GlobalFlyer's engine, a Williams International FJ44-3 ATW turbofan, which would normally take Jet-A fuel, was modified to burn lower-freezing JP-4 fuel, which is a 50-50 mix of kerosene and gasoline.
The round-the-world attempt was scheduled for early January 2005, from the 12,300 ft (3,750 m) runway of the municipal airport in Salina, Kansas. However, a late problem with delivering the aircraft to Salina meant that the attempt was pushed back to 28 February 2005.
Mission Control was at the adjacent Salina campus of Kansas State University, and proved to be an extremely high-tech affair.
A tail wind was essential to making the 36,787.559 km (22,858.755 miles) that it needed to fly in order to meet the FAI's definition of circumnavigation, the length of the Tropic of Cancer. This meant that the last few hundred miles would be fairly tense, as by that point the aircraft would be nearly out of fuel. As it turned out, GlobalFlyer's fuel sensors indicated that the plane had possibly lost about 1,200 kg (2,600 lb) of fuel early in the flight. This forced Fossett and Mission Control to decide whether to abort the flight as it reached the Pacific Ocean near Japan. Fossett chose to delay the final decision until he reached Hawaii; by that time, favorable winds encouraged the mission team to go ahead and attempt to complete the circumnavigation.
Virgin Atlantic GlobalFlyer landed at Salina at 19:50 UTC (13:50 CST) on 3 March 2005, having completed its circumnavigation in 2 days 19 hours 1 minute 46 seconds. The distance flown was determined to be 36,817 km, only about 30 km above the minimum distance required.
Note: Since 1986, the FAI has changed the geometric requirements for circumnavigation of the world. In 1986 the Voyager was required to pass the equator, flying in both the northern and the southern hemisphere. This criterion no longer applies, allowing the pilot more flexibility in seeking tailwinds.
- Virgin Atlantic GlobalFlyer home page
- GlobalFlyer Live Flight Tracking
- "Solo record plane set for launch", BBC News – 28 February 2005
- The Salina Journal's Global Flyer Mission Log
The contents of this article is licensed from www.wikipedia.org under the GNU Free Documentation License. Click here to see the transparent copy and copyright details