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Unusual aircraft: Weirdest airplanes in the world

Engineers sometimes design and build an unusual aircraft for some reason or another, to prove a point, to research aerodynamics, or to see if it would fly better than a usual one. These weird airplanes are often seen as a novelty or a quirky invention, then they are documented and usually forgotten. Unlike normal airplanes, the focus on these unusual aircraft is often not practicality. The focus is mostly on testing a new theory to see if it would work, sometimes the theory does not work well and the aircraft does not fly at all, and sometimes it does but the cost is too high to experiment more on the subject. Such planes always end up in some sort of an aviation museum, kept as a novelty for the generations to come. Let’s take a look at some of the strangest airplanes that have ever flown in the skies. Some of these unusual aircraft did not fly for long, but they have all been tested, and all of them could indeed fly. Nemuth Parasol [caption id="attachment_2112" align="alignnone" width="949"] Nemuth Parasol[/caption] In 1934, students at Miami University decided to build this aircraft to demonstrate that a circular wing could indeed fly a plane. One prototype was made and tested, the unusual aircraft did, in fact, fly decently, and the circular wing provided a dreamy parachute-like landing. But the project did not go any further. Too bad as the Nemeth Umbrella Plane looked like a hybrid between a helicopter and a flying saucer. EDGLEY OPTICA [caption id="attachment_2114" align="alignnone" width="949"] EDGLEY OPTICA[/caption] Intended for low-speed observation work, this unusual aircraft was designed as a cheaper alternative to helicopters that allows for better vision with a focus on slow flying capabilities. The British inventor John Edgley designed and built the original prototype in 1974. He then started his company, Edgley Aircraft Limited with a small team, the first one flew in 1979. Thanks to its weird design, the airplane has been nicknamed bug-eye. Nonetheless, this same bizarre design is what gives it 270° panoramic vision and almost vertical downward vision. Plus, the cockpit canopy design allows photography through the panels. The small airplane barely has enough space for two passengers in addition to the pilot. It is considered the quietest powered aircraft in the world.   Antonov An-74 [caption id="attachment_2116" align="alignnone" width="949"] Antonov An-74[/caption] Nicknamed Cheburashka after a famous animated character,  the large engine intake ducts of the aircraft certainly do look like oversized ears. The plane, which has been operating since 1977, offers more than cute looks, it is capable of operating in harsh weather conditions in polar regions. It is one of the few planes that can operate in the Arctic and Antarctic environments. This is due to some helpful gadgets featured in the plane like wheel-skis landing gear and de-icing equipment. If you are looking for an airplane that can land well on ice, you can charter an Antonov An-74 from an air charter service. Sikorsky S-72 [caption id="attachment_2117" align="alignnone" width="949"] Sikorsky S-72[/caption] This experimental hybrid, titled Sikorsky X-Wing after the Star Wars fighter, is a mix of a helicopter and a fixed-wing aircraft. It was developed by Sikorsky Aircraft. The airplane was designed and built to combine the speed of a jet with the vertical takeoff abilities of a helicopter. However, the program, which was started for pure research purposes, was canceled in 1988. Rutan Boomerang [caption id="attachment_2118" align="alignnone" width="949"] Rutan Boomerang[/caption] Designed and built by Burt Rutan, The Rutan Model 202 Boomerang is a multi-engine aircraft designed to combat engine failure because even if one of the engines failed it would not become dangerously difficult to control the aircraft due to asymmetric thrust. This gives a very distinct appearance to the airplane. Two fuselages, one bigger than the other, with wings facing forward, this is indeed one unusual aircraft. It may look very bizarre, but the asymmetrical design allows the Boomerang to fly faster. And the plane was never intended for commercial use anyway, the 5 place light twin was intended for personal transportation. The Boomerang is simply a very unique private plane. Lockheed Martin P-791 [caption id="attachment_2119" align="alignnone" width="949"] Lockheed Martin P-791[/caption] Is it an airship? Is it an airplane? No, it’s the Lockheed Martin P-791! This aircraft is built for sustainability, it can fly longer routes for less fuel. this Hybrid Airship burns less than one-tenth the fuel of a helicopter per ton, and can easily land anywhere. That is why the producers of the technology hope that it will replace jeeps and trucks in sending cargo and transferring people to remote areas with no airports. This aircraft may look weird, but according to the company, it is faster and cheaper than land and sea transportation systems, especially for remote areas with little to no infrastructure. 377PG: The Pregnant Guppy [caption id="attachment_2120" align="alignnone" width="949"] 377PG: The Pregnant Guppy[/caption] Built from parts of Boeing airplanes as well as some new parts, the Pregnant Guppy is designed and built to carry irregularly shaped cargo for NASA. The designer of this unusual aircraft, John Conroy, had the idea when he heard that it takes 18 days for NASA to transfer space shuttle parts. He built the aircraft from parts of other planes, tried it, and then sold it to NASA. This type of aircraft is called Frankenplane because it is made of parts of other airplanes. Actually many people thought the project was ridiculous and the Guppy would never land safely. But to their surprise, the plane continued to work so well that a successor was designed and built, Super Guppy! Super Guppy features a  25-feet high, 25-feet wide, and 111-feet long cargo bay. This simply means that the aircraft boasts 39,000 cubic feet of usable space. Short SKYVAN [caption id="attachment_2121" align="alignnone" width="949"] Short SKYVAN[/caption] Built for function with total disregard for aesthetics, people have often made fun of this general-purpose aircraft, they have called it names like “Flying Shoebox” and “The Shed”, but the Skyvan has definitely proven value over the years. The plane that took its first flight in 1963, is still used today for transferring cargo and passengers. The 19-seat aircraft features a van-like large rear door for loading and unloading freight. This makes it very efficient for short haul flights, sky diving activities and much more. Dornier Aerodyne [caption id="attachment_2122" align="alignnone" width="949"] Dornier Aerodyne[/caption] This unusual aircraft looks like the rear part of an airplane as if someone has cut an aircraft in half and only left one half. Bizarrely though, it can fly! The weird invention was tested, it was remotely controlled and flew without a pilot. The first flight took place on 18 September 1972. The wingless aircraft was designed by Alexander Lippisch. According to Lippisch, with the right amount of thrust, a modified Aerodyne might be capable of supersonic flight. He never got to test that theory though as the project was stopped. To learn more about unusual aircraft see also: Giant airplanes: the biggest airplanes in the world

Want to be a captain? This is how you become a successful pilot

Becoming a pilot is one thing and becoming a successful captain pilot is another thing entirely. Some people study for a few years, earn their pilot license and never become captains. While other people move up in their careers quite quickly and become successful pilots and captains within six to seven years. Where does the difference come from? It actually depends on several factors, only one of them is having passion for the job, so even if you happen to be passionate about the career you have to take the right steps to achieve all that you can achieve in it. Here is how you become a successful captain pilot. The first step, become a pilot To become a pilot you first have to research flight training options. Start by comparing available programs then choose the best one. To apply for a professional pilot license you need to meet some basic medical requirements to fly. That’s why you should apply for a first class medical certificate through an Aeromedical Examiner (AME). If you don’t know where you can get one do not fret, the aviation school of your choice will provide you with this information. You also need to be at least 17 years old and speak fluent English, as most of the subjects you are going to study are in English. Once you have successfully enrolled, you will need to complete some ground training as well as flight training. Ground training usually covers topics like aerodynamics, radio communication protocols, and navigation using visual flight rules (VFR). The duration of the ground training course differs from one learning institution to another, but it usually takes around a year to complete the course, especially in non-English speaking countries where the students have to study English as well as other subjects. After this ground training, you should be ready to take the knowledge exam and pass with a grade of at least 70%. Some academies now allow programs where students can work on both simultaneously, ground training and flight training. To get your license you need to complete the required 150 flight training hours, this often takes from one to two years. After you have successfully completed your training, you shall be ready to take the practical exam to get your commercial pilot license. This exam includes an oral part and a practical part. Got your license? Congratulations, now you are a pilot. The second step, find a job as a co-pilot In addition to the license, commercial pilots need an Instrument Rating and a Multi-Engine Rating to carry paying passengers. These licenses require additional training that covers rules and procedures specific to instrument flying, and flight training by reference to certain instruments and specific aircraft. The tests comprise a written exam and a practical test, known as the check ride, all check rides are divided into an oral part and an actual flight. However, many pilots complete the required training hours to apply for these exams by working as co-pilots. When you acquire a commercial pilot license you can apply for a job in an airline and sit through an interview. Keep in mind though that most major airlines require a lot of flying hours, that is why many pilots start their careers by applying for jobs at low-cost airlines until they gain enough experience that would allow them to apply in legacy carriers. Interviews for pilot positions often reflect license exams, there are often check-rides in addition to a written test and an interview, especially for new pilots. In addition to that, airlines frequently conduct psychological tests to make sure that their pilots are qualified to make good decisions under pressure. Did you pass the interview? Congratulations, you are officially a pilot! The third step, get promoted When you start your journey as a pilot, you probably get a job as a first officer (co-pilot), so how do you become a captain? The process takes a long time, from 6 to 15 years, depending on the airline and the pilot’s skills and qualifications. Pilots are only considered for promotion to become captains after they have logged at least 1,500 flight hours, and only if they hold a full Air Transport Pilots Licence (ATPL). This is the minimum requirement, other factors, however, are taken into consideration. But before we start with the other factors it is noteworthy to mention that most legacy airlines, in fact, require a minimum of 3000 flight hours for their pilots to be promoted into captains. Nonetheless, the experience does not grant the promotion, Meeting the flight hours requirement is only the start. If a pilot holds the required certificate and has logged in the required flight hours, the airline then looks into their training record and performance before starting a ‘command assessment’ that includes an interview and a simulator check. This simulator check is a practical test in which the pilot is usually given a scenario with various malfunctions. It is designed to assess flight management skills and decision-making process. After passing this assessment, the pilot starts a command course, which is the most demanding step, and where many pilots get stuck as the course is neither short nor easy to pass. Did you pass the course? Congratulations, you are now a captain pilot! The fourth step, become a successful captain pilot Now that you have reached your goal and became a captain pilot, how do you become the best captain pilot you can be? How do you really become a successful pilot and have the bright future you aspire after? There are certain qualifications and skills that successful captains possess, skills that allow them to be accomplished leaders. They appreciate teamwork Yes, the captain is the commander of the aircraft, he is the leader who takes the decisions and shoulders the responsibility. But in order to become a successful leader, you have to value teamwork. You have to know that you need every team member to do their job well so you can do your job well. They take responsibility Successful pilots do not blame others, they know very well that they are in charge, they are in control. To become a captain you have to know that with great power comes great responsibility. You are responsible for the aircraft and everyone on board. If a mistake happens, you have to be willing to work on it and find a way to correct it, not blame whoever did it. They know the right balance A leader who does not listen to others is a dictator, a leader who needs everyone’s approval is a pushover, a successful leader is someone who knows the right balance. To become a successful captain, you have to know how to take charge, and also how to listen to your team, this is called Crew Resource Management or CRM. They are willing to acquire new skills Many people wonder if leadership is by nature or nurture, and the answer is that is is a mixture of both. People are born with potential, and when they work on it and learn and grow and improve they achieve their full potential. In order to become a successful pilot, a person must have potential, but they must also be willing to work hard and learn new skills.

Aviation in the Kingdom: Newest airports in Saudi Arabia

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is a very spacious country. It is the largest country in the GCC and one of the largest countries in the world in terms of area. That is why there are numerous airports in Saudi Arabia. The aviation sector in the Kingdom has been showing impressive growth over the past years. in 2017, Saudi Arabia recorded 8% passenger growth, and the numbers are rapidly increasing. Furthermore, the domestic market is currently served by five airlines, as opposed to only two airlines a couple of years ago. This significant progress in the aviation sector is, of course, accompanied by building new airports and developing the old established airports in the kingdom. Airports in Saudi Arabia are varied, ranging from the largest airport in the world, to small domestic airports, and most of them are modernly built and feature great amenities and facilities. So let’s take a tour around some of the airports in Saudi Arabia and check the latest additions to the aviation industry in the Kingdom. Under construction airports in Saudi Arabia Work has started on two state-of-the-art airports at Al Jouf and Al Qurayat areas within the northern region of the kingdom. When the projects are completed, the two airports will accommodate a combined capacity of 1.5 million passengers per year. Al Jouf airport project will be built on the Unified Airports Model (B) which can accommodate one million passengers per year. Al Qurayat airport, on the other hand, will be developed as per the Unified Airports Model Plan (A), which can accommodate half a million passengers per year. Al-Jawf currently comprises a small domestic airport with an area of 2,900 square meters, with a capacity of 175,000 passengers per annum. After the expansion, it will spread over an area of 13,000 square meters, with a capacity of one million passengers per annum. The expansion project comprises construction of five new gates, a new VIP terminal, a Royal Hall, a new air traffic control tower and other facilities. The Kingdom is also working on a project to develop King Abdullah International Airport Jizan. After development, the airport will have the capacity to handle 2.4 million passengers per annum. It lies in a strategic location between Jizan and Jazan Economic City. King Abdulaziz International Airport, Jeddah The new airport has been soft-launched last summer and has been welcoming some commercial flights since. However, the expansion is expected to be completed in 2025. The soft launch included the opening of 6 passenger gates, but when completed, the airport will operate 46 gates with the option to add more if needed. The original airport was inaugurated in 1981, but it has been recently expanded and developed. The three-stage expansion project started in 2006. It is designed to increase the capacity of the airport from 13 million to 80 million passengers per year. Spreading over an area of 15 square kilometers, King Abdulaziz International Airport is the third largest airport in Saudi Arabia. It is also the busiest airport in the kingdom and the largest by passenger traffic. This airport is mostly renowned for The Hajj Terminal, which is one of the largest terminals in the world. Extending over a vast area of five million square feet, The Hajj Terminal can accommodate 80,000 passengers at the same time. This one of a kind terminal is innovative and eco-friendly, it has received several awards for the imaginative design which combines air-conditioned halls and shaded open areas covered with an elegant tent-like white roof. The expansion project includes brand-new passenger terminal, the largest air traffic control tower in the world, electronic passenger guidance system and storm water drainage network. The existing runways and airfield systems will also be upgraded. King Khalid International Airport, Riyadh Already the second largest airport in the Kingdom, King Khalid International Airport is currently being expanded. Construction of the new expansion is scheduled to be completed in 2019. The project includes refurbishing and expanding the existing Terminals 3 and 4 and increasing their capacity from 15 million to 25 million passengers per year. Terminal 3 serves as a domestic airport and terminal 4 will work as an international airport. The new project includes integrating both with the addition of a central building. The integrated design is set to make connected flights a very smooth operation. The expansion project also includes the construction of a new fifth terminal, in addition to linking the airport with the new metro system in Riyadh. King Khalid International Airport was opened in 1983. And through the years, it has witnessed one expansion in 2016. As it features the second largest allocated area for an airport in the world, King Khalid International Airport was an alternative landing site for NASA's Space Shuttle. The airport also features one of the tallest control towers in the world, as well as two parallel 4,260 meters runways. King Fahd International Airport, Dammam Opened for commercial operations in 1999, King Fahd International Airport is considered to be one of the newest airports in Saudi Arabia. It is also the largest airport in the world in terms of area. Spreading over a massive area of 780 square kilometers, the huge area of the airport facilitated the landing of the largest aircraft in the world; In 2009, an Antonov 225 landed at Dammam Airport. It was transporting oil drilling equipment. King Fahd International Airport is located in the Eastern Province of the kingdom, 20 kilometers away from Dammam. The strategic location of the airport allows it to host the shortest international flight in the Kingdom, which is between Dammam and Bahrain and the longest domestic flight in the kingdom, which is between Dammam and Tabuk. Not all the area is currently utilized. The kingdom has more development plans for this airport. As part of a multi-phased master plan, the capacity of the airport is set to increase to 30 million passengers per year, up from 12.6 million passengers currently. King Fahd International Airport currently features two parallel 4,000 meters long runways, capable of accommodating the largest aircraft such as Airbus A340-600 and Boeing 747-400. Additionally, the expansion plans include paving the third runway. Since the airport was opened, all airlines transferred their operations from Dhahran International Airport to King Fahd International Airport. That is why it currently serves most of the Eastern Region of Saudi Arabia, and why it became the third largest traveling hub in Saudi Arabia. The spacious airport is also home to OxfordSaudia, the first certified pilot training center in the GCC.  

Most people are fascinated by airline pilot salaries, either as a factor to become a pilot or as a topic of conversation as it is a commonly known fact that pilot salaries are among the highest salaries in all known professions.   Moreover, pilot salaries, which are already high, are expected to increase further due to the shortage of pilots and larger demand for qualified pilots as a result of the major increase in air traffic taking place around the globe. That is why people are more fascinated than ever before.   Where do the truth end and the myth start though? We all know pilots salaries are very high, but how high exactly? That is, in fact, difficult to tell as their salaries largely depend on several factors.   Let’s check those factors and find out how can a pilot earn an impressive salary. Knowing the real deal about pilot salaries can help you decide whether this career is the right one for you.   What do pilots do? Before discussing pilot salaries, we have to take a look at their job description to gain a better understanding of the job.   The duties of a pilot start long before the plane takes off. A pilot makes several important checks before any scheduled flight. Like checking the weather along the route, checking the plane's condition, the total fuel required for the trip and the weight and distribution of passengers and cargo on the plane. A pilot must also file a flight plan before the plane starts moving.   During the flight, a pilot must monitor the plane’s instruments and monitor all radio communication to use incoming data for assessing and detecting any issues that might affect the flight. In addition to that, the pilot should communicate with air traffic control to receive and follow directions for taking off and landing safely on the assigned runway.   The pilot supervises all the personnel in the aircraft cabin and cockpit as well.   How are pilot salaries determined? Unlike most other professions, Pilots and Captain Pilots do not earn a flat monthly salary. They are often paid an hourly wage for each flight hour flown instead, in addition to per diem.   To guarantee a minimum amount of monthly income, most major airlines guarantee a minimum number of hours per month when they hire new pilots.   Besides this hourly wage, a pilot often receives a fixed salary during the training period. They also receive per diem, which is compensation or allowance the pilots gets when away from home. This allowance is to cover meals and lodging when a pilot has to stay away from home overnight.   How much is this hourly wage? Like all other industries, the more experience a pilot gets the more hourly rate he/she earns. As a rule, the top of the pay scale for pilots are captain pilots working for international airlines.   Typically, airline pilots start out making $40 – $70 per hour when they first start flying, and the average pilot logs 75 hours per month in the air. When you add per diem, this amounts to almost 7000$ per month for newly appointed co-pilots.   This hourly wage however largely depends on the airline, type of aircraft, and the pilot’s level of experience, captain pilots for instance often make $300 per hour.   They sometimes also log up to 150 hours per month performing ground duties like simulator training, maintaining records, performing pre-flight inspections and flight planning. All these hours are also paid with the same hourly rate.   Where does the difference in salary come from? Pilot salaries differ according to the type of aircraft they’re flying. For example, a salary for the pilot of a large jet is impressively larger than a pilot of a small jet, while salaries of non-jet aircraft pilots are significantly less.   Salaries also depend on how long a pilot has been at an airline. The longer a pilot has been flying for an airline the more seniority they have, senior pilots fly larger planes and thus, get paid more.   They also depend on the type of airline. Legacy carriers, for instance, the largest and oldest carriers often offer some of the highest pay rates for pilots. And even though low-cost carriers offer a less hourly wage, most pilots start by working for them until they gain the experience required for legacy carriers.   What does per diem mean and how much is it? Per diem is the travel allowance airlines pay to pilots, it includes an hourly rate for their time away from the base, which is different than their flying hourly rate of course, but still comes to a sizeable amount per trip.   In addition to that, per diem also includes lodging, meals and incidentals expense. Sometimes though, the airline provides lodging for pilots, this often means booking them rooms in luxurious hotels. In which cases, only meals and incidental expenses are paid along with the hourly rate.   This allowance or compensation is paid by the hour, even if the trip takes several days. That is why it is usually a considerable amount of money. Even if the airline pays only 2$ per hour for new pilots, this comes up to 100$ extra cash for a 2-day trip. However, per diem is much more than that for experienced pilots and captain pilots.   How do salaries increase? All hourly wages witness an annual increase. The largest increase in salary usually occurs after the probationary period which is typically one year for pilots.   In general, the biggest salary increase happens in the first five years, then there’s usually a percentage increase every year after that.   This increase is often due to the major shift pilots go through from first officers to captains, this often happens after several years of experience.   What does on reserve mean? When a pilot is on reserve status for a period of time, this means the pilot is required to be on call for a while, either at the airport grounds or within a certain range of the airport. During this reserve period, a pilot is usually paid differently.   Keeping some pilots on reserve is some sort of insurance for the airline. It means that they have someone covering sick calls and schedule interruptions. For pilots, it means that they get some sort of pay just for staying near the airport for a few days. If they do fly during this time, they get their usual hourly rate.   Why are salaries rapidly increasing? The world has undergone a global economic recession in the early 2000s, this has resulted in several years of instability in almost all sectors which meant a lot of mergers and downsizing.   In the last decade, however, airlines did not only recover from this recession, but the air travel industry is also healthy and growing at a fast pace. Following slow times, this speedy growth means a need to hire more employees and more pilots.   Airlines around the world are undergoing significant growth over this decade, especially in Asia and the Middle East. This means that airlines are hiring more pilots than ever, and this peak in hiring is only expected to grow as air traffic increases. This means that airlines need to be competitive with their pilot salaries to keep their pilots from moving to other airlines.   According to Boeing, the demand for commercial airline pilots is going to reach an anticipated demand for 617,000 new pilots globally over the next 20 years.

SNCA aircrafts deal

  Dubai, December 10, 2018 - The Saudi National Company of Aviation (SNCA), a CAE Authorized Training Center, has selected Diamond Aircraft twin DA42-VI and single DA40 NG for its training center. The agreement will compromise 60 airplanes over a five-year period. Delivery of the first 12 aircraft will start February 2019. The DA40 NG and the DA42-VI represent the newest versions of Diamond’s technology leading piston aircraft fleet, the first certified general aviation piston aircraft to combine modern technology airframes, avionics and power plants. The aircraft are equipped with efficient, clean and reliable jet-fuel piston Austro engines and Garmin G1000 NXi avionics systems, representing the very best of modern piston aircraft technology. “We are proud to be SNCA’s choice of training aircraft for the establishment of their new flight training organization,” says Amila Spiegel, Sales & Marketing Director Diamond Aircraft Austria. “The commitment of another reputable big flight school to our airplanes and flight training solution proves we are meeting the demands of flight training organisations worldwide. We are the only manufacturer who offers a full range of modern, safe, efficient and reliable single and twin engine aircraft, along with proprietary jet-fuel piston engines and professional high fidelity Diamond Simulation flight training devices.” “This purchase agreement is one of the largest in history of aviation academies in Saudi Arabia and perhaps the Middle East region. It also marks a new era of aviation training in The Kingdom which is well aligned with the Kingdom’s 2030 vision. SNCA is determined to provide the aviation industry with highly qualified male and female pilots who will be part of the development of our aviation industry and serve as an integral tool for development in the region. We have carefully selected Diamond aircraft because of their well-known reputation of safety and efficiency. We are confident that our choice of partnership with Diamond will guarantee our young trainee cadets the best possible learning experiences,” says Anthony Miller, director of global business Development at SNCA.   About SNCA The Saudi National Company of Aviation (SNCA), a CAE Authorized Training Center, was established to provide high quality training for young cadets and equipping them with the latest methodologies using latest equipment. Saudi Arabia, specifically, and the Middle East region, in general, is facing a significant shortfall in airline pilots both now and in the immediate future. The academy aims at facing this shortfall by providing the Saudi and Gulf region with qualified pilots that, not only are highly qualified, but also meet the specific requirements for airlines in the region.  The Center has already begun its operation in the Foundation Year program with an excess of 400 students; the first batch of young cadets is expected to complete the program and graduate in 2020. At the 2017 Dubai Air Show, the Saudi National Company of Aviation (SNCA) and CAE announced a collaboration agreement for the creation of a CAE Authorized Training Centre in the region. Under the terms of the agreement, CAE will provide the authorized training center in Dammam, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the key elements for world-class cadet training such as commercial pilot license curriculum and courseware, the training of staff and instructors, and safety and quality control systems. The new CAE Authorized Training Centre is funded by the Saudi National Company of Aviation (SNCA) and will be located at King Fahad International Airport, Dammam, in a dedicated 40,000 square meter site.