Top Aviation Maintenance & Technology Exchange 

March 30, 2015  -  No. 25

In This Issue
Facebook's UAV Flies, Builds On Developments In Solar Power
Airframe Parachutes Might Have Prevented Germanwings Crash
Avanti Leads Pan-African Aviation Project Powered by Satellite Technology
Not our drones
Plane Tech: HondaJet recevies provisional nod from FAA
Bayer MaterialScience Puts its Mark on Solar-powered Aircraft
Safety Expertise
Facebook's UAV Flies, Builds On Developments In Solar Power

Somewhere in the U.K., Facebook has completed the first flight of a prototype of the solar-powered stratospheric unmanned aircraft the social media giant is developing to provide Internet infrastructure in remote parts of the world.

CEO Mark Zuckerburg unveiled the aircraft's design and announced the first test flight on his Facebook page on Mar. 25 and, on Mar. 26 at a Facebook developer's conference in San Francisco, Chief Technology Officer Mike Schroepfer showed a photograph of the subscale prototype in flight.

The Aquila is an early prototype for aerodynamic testing, said Schroepfer, but he also showed time-lapse video of a composite wing-skin section for the full-scale aircraft being produced robotically.

Facebook acquired small U.K. consultancy Ascenta in March 2014, bringing on board some of the people responsible for designing early versions of the Qinetiq Zephyr solar-powered unmanned aircraft. In 2010, the Zephyr 7 set a world endurance record of 336 hr 22 min, reaching 70,740-ft. altitude.

By comparison, Northrop Grumman's RQ-4B Global Hawk jet-engined unmanned aircraft has stayed aloft for 34.3 hr., and Aurora Flight Sciences' twin-diesel-powered Orion flew for 80 hr. in December, setting a record only bested by the Zephyr. 

Both Facebook and Google, which acquired U.S. unmanned-aircraft developer Titan Aerospace in April 2014, have rekindled interest in using solar-powered high-altitude, long-endurance UAVs as "atmospheric satellites" able to stay aloft for week and months to provide communications service.

Qinetiq sold the Zeyphr to Airbus Defense & Space and in 2014 the company completed an 11-day flight in Australia, to prove its capabilities during the shorter days and longer nights of winter. The UAV then completed its first civil flight, in the United Arab Emirates, reaching 61,696 ft.

Schroepfer says the final design of Facebook's solar-powered UAV "will have a wingspan greater than a 737 [which is just under 120 ft.], but will weigh less than a small car" and be able to stay aloft at 60,000-90,000 ft. altitude for months at a time, providing backbone Internet access.

This is significantly larger than the latest Zephyr 8 "high-altitude pseudo-satellite" developed by Airbus. This has a wing span increased to 92 ft. from 75.5 ft. for the Zephyr 7, to increase the wing area covered with solar cells, and weight with payload increased to 130 lb. from 120 lb.

Google, meanwhile, says trials of its solar-powered UAV will begin this year under Project Titan. The search giant has received permission for broadcast transmission testing in an area around Titan's base at Moriarty, New Mexico.

Before it was acquired by Google, start-up Titan was developing the Solara family of "solar atmospheric satellites," designed to stay aloft up to five years. The initial Solara 50 was to have a 164-ft. span and 70-lb. payload.

A solar-electric unmanned communications and surveillance aircraft able to stay aloft in the stratosphere for more than five years was envisioned by the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (Darpa) under its Vulture program. 

Boeing, with Qinetiq, was awarded a contract in 2010 to build the SolarEagle demonstrator for Vulture. This would have had an almost-400-ft. wingspan and one-year endurance, but construction and flight test was canceled in 2012.

But where Darpa leads the world tends to follow, eventually, and Facebook and Google seem intent on bringing the concept of ultra-long-endurance stratospheric UAVs to fruition to meet the need to deliver affordable Internet connectivity to parts of the world that lack any communications infrastructure. 

Airframe Parachutes Might Have Prevented Germanwings Crash

The founder of an aerospace company dedicated to manufacturing airframe parachutes for general aviation and legacy aircraft, says that eventually such technology could even guard against sabotage - virtually preventing catastrophes like this week's Germanwings A320 crash. 

Even though IATA, the global trade association for the airline industry, reassured a jittery flying public that air remains the safest way to travel, perhaps it's time to take a hard look at airframe parachutes for commercial aircraft. That is, not for passengers buckled into the fuselage, but the aircraft itself.

"The sky is going to get more and more crowded and there are going to be even more and more accidents," Boris Popov, founder and CEO of Minneapolis-based BRS Aerospace, told Forbes. At some point, he says, major airframe manufacturers will be forced to include them as standard operating equipment to mitigate situations including: pilot incapacitation; mid-air collisions; mechanical failure; bird strikes; structural failure; pilot error; and even sabotage.

Since 1993, Popov's company has been providing general aviation and a few aircraft legacy manufacturers with options for airframe parachutes. BRS notes that FAA-certified tests have shown that full parachute inflation could occur at altitudes as low as 260 feet and, thus far, notes that aircraft using his system have saved well over three hundred lives.

The secret to our system, says Popov, is that it opens almost instantaneously. BRS rocket-propelled parachutes deploy from the back of the aircraft and accelerate to 100 mph. In less than a second, they provide a canopy that stretches tightly over the airframe. Once the aircraft is stable descends at a rate of some 21 feet-per-second which enables it to touchdown with an impact force akin to leaping to the ground from a height of roughly seven feet.

Cirrus and Flight Design already have BRS products as standard equipment and Popov says Cessna has made it an option on two of its models. He says his company has also tested systems capable of deploying parachute systems that can safely bring down 12 passenger commuter aircraft.

As for costs? 

 "If our parachute tech exceeds 15 percent of the airplane's value, then buyers start to back off very quickly," said Popov.

But is the tech available to equip large Airbus- or Boeing-built turbofan "jet" aircraft flying at high altitude with cruise speeds pushing that of sound?

"It basically requires a square foot of material to bring down one pound of aircraft," said Popov. "For a 500,000-pound Boeing 757, you'll need half a million square feet of parachute cloth." 

One of the biggest hurdles in using such a system for commercial aircraft is bringing down the weight of the parachute enough to make it economically feasible. Use on larger aircraft, says Popov, will likely have to wait until nanotechnologies can produce artificial man-made silks that are ten times stronger than steel and one tenth the weight of rip-stock nylon.

Popov explains that the immediate next phase of the technology rests in GPS-directed, steerable parachutes that can automatically steer an ailing aircraft away from ground hazards. 

"Smart chutes would steer the disabled aircraft to an optimum landing area controlled by GPS-directed steering inputs," said Popov. "[This has] already done this with cargo delivery parachutes for various military applications."

The idea says Popov is that if aircraft flying at night over mountainous or densely-populated areas and become disabled, they can automatically be steered into an area more suited for a "safer" landing.

What about over the open ocean? For aircraft in full cruise mode at high altitude, Popov proposes "smart chutes" that initially only open at 20 percent of their full opening and stay in that configuration until the speed slows enough so that the chute can open without shredding or ripping away from the aircraft.

What about technology that would enable parachutes to deploy in instances of sabotage or hijacking?

We've had many internal discussions about developing complex algorithms that would sense when an aircraft was badly off course, approaching terrain, over or under speed, or when the flight deck was not communicating normally. If impact was imminent, he says, these safety algorithms would then trigger the automatic deployment of airframe parachutes.

"It's well within our technology and the saboteur would have nothing to say about it," said Popov. "Getting pilots to accept this autonomous system would be a very hard sell, but as artificial intelligence gains acceptance, resistance will decrease." 

Avanti Leads Pan-African Aviation Project Powered by Satellite Technology 

Avanti Communications has been appointed by the UK Space Agency to deliver a crucial air navigation project in Africa, SBAS-AFRICA, powered by satellite technology. The leading satellite operator has been awarded the contract under the agency's International Partnership Space Programme (IPSP), which exists to open up opportunities for the UK space sector to share expertise in real-world satellite technology and services overseas. 

Africa has just 3% of global air traffic, and yet air accidents in Africa account for roughly 20% of the worldwide total.[1] By demonstrating potential improvements in flight safety via SBAS technologies, the project can provide socio-economic benefits to the continent.[2] Based on prior cost-benefit modelling[3] which identified a €1.7bn potential economic benefit to the African aviation sector from the deployment of SBAS services, SBAS-AFRICA will help accelerate the adoption of GNSS-based flight operations, positively influence the evolution of aviation safety in Africa and encourage development in the wider African economy. 

 SBAS-AFRICA will deliver a satellite based augmentation system for GNSS-based operations in the aviation sector, serving significant parts of Africa in partnership with a number of local stakeholders.[4] The project will use a unique asset, Avanti's ARTEMIS L1 Navigation transponder, to provide a navigation data broadcast service. 

 Matthew O'Connor, Chief Operating Officer at Avanti Communications, commented: "SBAS-AFRICA brings an innovative and pragmatic approach to deploying SBAS services in Africa. It establishes crucial collaboration between the UK and a number of African countries, including South Africa and Ghana. Participating countries will benefit hugely from expertise gained, placing them at the forefront of navigation services across the continent and, crucially, helping to improve aviation safety for a major generator of economic benefit in Africa." 

 He continued: "The Artemis satellite will play an integral role in this project. We expect that such a showcase for its performance, accuracy and quality will provide further evidence of what can be achieved with this technology and lead to significant commercial opportunities."

 Dr David Parker, Chief Executive of the UK Space Agency, said: "The UK Space Agency is delighted to play a role in fostering new international partnerships that not only enable innovative UK space companies like Avanti to provide more high-tech exports that can boost our space sector but also allow the UK to widely share the considerable social and economic benefits that space technology and infrastructure can provide." 


Not our drones

NEW YORK, New York - On a frigid winter day at Brooklyn Bridge Park, I found myself flying a kite for the first time in 20 years.

The kite's owner and my instructor for the day was Scott Dunn, a tall, cheerful man. He handed me a remote control. It operated a complicated mechanical rig mounted with a digital camera dangling from the kite.

I used the remote to twist and tilt the contraption. With another button, I triggered the camera's shutter. In the brisk wind, I pointed the lens all over the place, snapping greedy, sloppy pictures. After some fiddling, I managed to face the kite to the Manhattan skyline. 

All told, I took 54 photos in the span of just a couple of minutes. They were all blurry, wonky, except one:

This was my initiation into kite aerial photography (KAP), the conservative cousin to the drone. Despite its romanticism, KAP remains a meticulous, painstaking anomaly amid today's frenzied clamor for drone technology. If drones are the rule-smashing startup of aerial photography, kites are the cautious, deliberate mom and pop shop - old-fashioned, rule-abiding, self-policing and decidedly uncontroversial. And they'd like to stay that way, thank you very much.

Now that regulations are catching up with drone tech, this eccentric, overlooked kite hobby could just be the next best way to get aerial shots legally, without causing a stir.

KAP is practiced by a small, punctilious group scattered around the world. Most appear to be men, and I am told the community is predominantly middle age and over. It's not exactly trendy - at least not yet.

One of the most well-known and respected KAPers is Charles Benton, professor emeritus of architecture at University of California, Berkeley who has published several books of kite aerial photographs and runs the KAP discussion page, an online forum that serves as a virtual town hall for the community. He is the archetypal KAPer, a outdoors fanatic who spends long hours in his garage working on kites and rigs. An addict of details, facts and figures, he is a perennially smiling mad scientist.

"Aerial photography is a way of extending our native senses," he told me over the phone. This is something we have always wanted, Benton explained. Before aerial photography, we created maps based in part on what we imagined things looked like from the heavens.

The kite was an obvious way to get eyes into the sky. In 1888, French photographer Arthur Batut attached a camera and an altimeter to a large DIY kite and launched it into the sky over the town of Labruguière. Earlier attempts to make kite photos had failed, ostensibly because exposure times on cameras were far too long - and the kites too shaky - to capture a clear image. But by Batut's time, shutter speeds had dropped to a fraction of a second. Using a fuse to set off the shutter, he captured what's thought to be the first clear aerial photograph taken from a kite:

One hundred and twenty-six years later, KAP survives. Yet the number of people who even know about it, let alone do it, is still tiny.

Meanwhile, in just the space of a couple of years, drones (which are basically untethered, motorized kites) are everywhere. An off-the-shelf drone retails for just a few hundred dollars. They are simple enough to fly that a child who unwraps one on Christmas morning can have it airborne within a few minutes. 

This accessibility has a downside. In January, a drunk government employee flying a retail drone from an apartment in Washington, D.C. managed to crash the aircraft into a lawn at the White House.

As a result of this rapid growth, and spurred by incidents like the White House crash, the federal government is scrambling to catch up, while people turn increasingly suspicious of drone technology. Twenty state legislatures have passed bills limiting either the public's or law enforcement's use of drones. Cities are following suit: The New York City Council is considering a bill that would ban civilian drone use anywhere in the five boroughs, entirely.

A website called NoFlyZone allows you to register the airspace directly over yours house as a no drone zone. 

The Federal Aviation Administration is in the process of developing comprehensive rules for the commercial use of drones. A draft of these regulations indicates that operators will have to undergo a rigorous certification process, and will be forbidden from flying over anybody who is not privy to the operation. 

Some experts worry that if the regulations are too restrictive, it could stem the growth of a potentially lucrative industry. 

Meanwhile, the kite hobby has eluded both the limelight and the attendant scrutiny from lawmakers and concerned citizens.

A self-policing community, KAP holds a deep-seated belief that it is important to coexist with the rules. Kite photographers are okay with being small and safe, and this seems to work well for everyone.

Furthermore, there is no off-the-shelf drone equivalent for kite aerial photography. It's largely DIY. To the uninitiated, the hobby appears extraordinarily, intimidatingly complicated. The KAP discussion page features threads like "Using continuous drive as an alternative to interval timer shooting" and "Spring cruise control governor for consistent string tension for a kite in gusts." Even the most basic KAPing will require DIY skills.

While this might discourage some, it is part of the appeal for many KAPers. Dunn, who runs a software consulting firm by day, is no exception. He told me he is, like Benton, a tinkerer and technophile by nature. 

Prior to our outing, I sent him a link to a Weather.com forecast. He gently redirected me to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Before our flight, I watched as he carefully assembled the kite and the rig. The process involved too many steps for me to count, executed in a specific order. Dunn seemed to take great pleasure in explaining the technical details of his equipment, like his hypsometer, which is like a pair of binoculars and measures the kite's altitude. 

For those willing to contend with the technical challenges, kite photography actually has several advantages over drones. Realistically, they can be used for some applications drones aren't suited for.

Depending on the conditions, kites fly for longer than the alternatives. While a drone will only fly for about 15 minutes; a kite will fly as long as there's wind. To maximize this benefit, Benton combines KAP with hiking. He attaches the string of the kite to his torso and walks for hours, taking photos the whole way. Ideally, he spends "10% of my time thinking about the kite and 90% of my time thinking about the photographs - pure bliss, as I am really there to do the latter."

A kite, which is very quiet, is perfectly suited for someone with Benton's Thoreau-like devotion to the serenity of the natural landscape. "Kite flying is contemplative," he said.

On the other hand, some feel quiet could make for a stealthy aerial spying device. During the occasional flight, Scott gets approached by people concerned for their privacy.

Drones, which are noisy, have been banned from all U.S. national parks. Noise pollution is one of several concerns. Another is the risk of crashing.

Dr. John Wells is chairman of the West Lothian Archeological Trust, a Scottish organization that promotes KAP for surveying archaeological sites. "Drones are problematic," he explained by email. They are liable to crash, which could damage the dig. He added that many of the strict forthcoming drone regulations won't apply to kites.

Which is not to say KAP isn't beholden to any regulations. Operators are forbidden from engaging in any activity that endangers persons or property. If the kite weighs more than five pounds, it must be kept below 500 feet and at least five miles from any airport. These rules are decidedly sparse. 

Maybe KAP could use some more regulations, I thought as I flew the kite.

The Brooklyn Bridge Park is just across the East River from the busy Downtown Manhattan Heliport. I wondered whether there was any danger of causing some kind of horrendous kite-meets-helicopter catastrophe; our kite was several hundred feet in the air. As I soon discovered, accidents have less to do with the kites themselves, and more to do with the people who operate them.

Whereas drone operators have deliberately flown into dangerous situations, KAPers work hard to mitigate risk. I found a KAP forum discussion about how to get in touch with Air Traffic Control if you plan to fly within five miles of an airport. In another, a KAPer proudly announces he avoids flying in places where the kite will distract people from operating vehicles or power tools. People mowing lawns, for instance, can't hear shouted instructions, or a kite flyer might walk backward into the path of a passing machine without warning.

Benton told me he once sacrificed a rig in order to prevent his kite from colliding with some hikers. (He had been trying to take photos of a replica Chinese fishing junk on a near windless day.)

When I flew with Scott, he positioned the kite over an empty lawn. If the kite were to come down, he explained, it would be less likely to land on something. It turns out what he was doing has a name: the safety box. In a 3,000-word essay on KAP safety, KAPer Jim Powers rates the possible risks associated with each of the 10 steps of flying a kite, from launch site selection to kite recovery.

The KAP community relishes its squeaky clean reputation, and takes pains to maintain it. The strong tradition of self-policing is evident in the online discussion pages. Benton told me that KAPers who post photos that were clearly taken from above the altitude ceiling, or too close to an airport, they will be called out for it.

"There are people who are being irresponsible with drones, and so the entire drone community is under scrutiny," said Evan Reinheimer. "If a news story got out there that somebody was flying a kite near an airport and planes had to be diverted for 15 minutes while they went and found this guy, that would be really bad press for people who fly kites in general."

Every time a drone crashes into a bystander, or a building, or the lawn of the most secure property in the world, negative attention from lawmakers and the public intensifies, and the chances that regulations will be permissive shrink. The spirit of self-policing may just be the secret sauce that has kept KAP alive for over a century.

Even if kites survive another century, they will probably never be the new drones. Kite aerial photography is complex, time-consuming and failure-prone. When I flew, I was struck by how challenging KAP can be, in the same way I was struck by how easy it is to fly a quadcopter drone (until something goes wrong). Benton explained, "There are so many aspects. There is the tinkering, going outside twice a week, the computer work."

On some sessions Benton spends as much as 90% of his time troubleshooting. "You have to understand the wind, how to pick the right kite for the wind, how to react to changes in the wind, when to take it in, when to let it out," Scott told me as we thawed out over hot chocolate after our flying session.

Any KAPer you ask will have special words reserved for the wind. It is the essential ingredient for kiting, yet it is a wild and capricious beast. If the wind isn't strong or steady, the kite won't fly; if it's too strong, the photos will be blurry, the kite could break, or the string could snap. 

Several times while I was flying with Scott, the wind dropped without warning, prompting Scott to tense up and yank on the tether, generating lift. Every KAPer has lost a kite in a crash due to the wind, he said. It isn't cheap: a kit can set you back $1,000, including an inexpensive camera, not to mention the cost of the hours of tinkering required to put it together. (Drones mostly don't have this problem, since they have stabilization systems.)

To get a good photograph from a small, flapping piece of fabric buffeting around the wind, attached to the operator by nothing more than a string, an impossible-seeming number of factors have to align. The wind has to be right, the light has to be right, the rig has to cooperate, and you have to trigger the shutter at precisely the right moment. I asked Reinheimer, who has made a living as a kite photographer, if he had ever travelled to another country for work, only to find that there's no wind. "Oh, all the time," he said.

And while that might make KAP annoying for someone trying to get aerial photos efficiently, KAPers aren't just interested in the final product - they get something out of the process, and the pleasure of overcoming seemingly impossible challenges. "When it all comes together, it's amazing," Reinheimer said.

Seeing that one clear photo that I had taken, I tasted that same thrill Evan had described: the feeling of seeing one's hours of tinkering pay off, combined with the rush of simply getting lucky. That feeling is the point of KAP - rather than delivering Amazon purchases or buzzing over a neighbor's backyard. 

When it was time for me to bring the kite back in with Scott, it felt like reeling in a very large fish. (After all, when there's wind, a kite wants to fly). I was worried about crashing into the trees or ruining Scott's camera. It was a bit frightening. But it also put a big smile on my face.

As Evan put it: "It's hard to have a bad day when you get to fly a kite." Then again, so are drones.

Plane Tech: HondaJet recevies provisional nod from FAA

The HondaJet - Honda's unique take on executive airborne transportation - got its provisional type certification (PTC) from the Federal Aviation Administration. Next step: final certification.

A press release from Honda said the achievement indicates FAA's approval of the HondaJet design based on certification testing, design reviews, and analyses completed to date.

Honda Aircraft Company President and CEO Michimasa Fujino said, "Provisional type certification for the HondaJet is a tremendous milestone for the program, and we are pleased to reach this significant step toward customer deliveries and entry into service. Honda Aircraft has completed nearly all of the testing and reports required by the FAA, and we are very close to achieving final type certification for the world's most advanced light jet."

Honda said a PTC is a design approval from FAA and is commonly received by a new business jet when its final FAA certification is near.

FAA Atlanta Aircraft Certification Office (ACO) Manager Melvin Taylor said, "It is a pleasure for the Atlanta ACO to issue Honda Aircraft Company a provisional type certificate for the Model HA-420. It is a milestone event for a first time aircraft manufacturer to receive its first type certificate. This issuance speaks well to the hard work put forward by all the Honda and FAA staff working in a collaborative manner. The Atlanta ACO takes pride in being part of Honda's introduction of such an advanced and uniquely designed aircraft to the aviation market. We look forward to continuing our collaboration with Honda as we move to final completion of their HA-420 approval."

Honda said the targeted final approval date would be "in the next few months." The press release said the four HondaJets in flight testing have performed as expected and flown more than 2,500 hours. Reportedly, the flight testing program has conducted extensive testing for certification at more than 70 locations throughout the United States.

Honda said it is manufacturing the HondaJet at Honda Aircraft Company's headquarters in Greensboro, NC. The press release issued Friday, March 27 said the plant's final assembly line is full with 12 aircraft, and another five are in the "production flow."

For planewatchers, the HondaJet will be easy to identify at a glance thanks to its over-the-wing engine mount (OTWEM) configuration. The two turbofan engines look like they sit on stems jutting off the tops of the wings. Honda said that configuration in combination with the HondaJet's natural laminar-flow wing and composite fuselage make the HondaJet the fastest, most spacious, and most fuel-efficient jet in its class.

Bayer MaterialScience Puts its Mark on Solar-powered Aircraft

March 27--Solar Impulse 2, an aircraft powered exclusively by the sun that is attempting its first round-the-globe journey over the next four months, is serving as sort of a scientific experiment in the sky for scientists and engineers at Bayer MaterialScience.

That's because Germany-based BMS -- whose North American headquarters is in Robinson -- helped produce some of the energy-efficient components used in the cockpit and other parts of the plane that took off earlier this month from Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates. Bayer officials hope the products and technology it developed for the solar-powered aircraft can also be applied in consumer markets such as the appliance and automotive industries.

The brainchild of Bertrand Piccard, a Swiss researcher who completed the first nonstop, round-the-world balloon flight in 1999, Solar Impulse 2 has more than 17,000 solar cells in its wings, fuselage and tail. The solar cells drive four electric motors and propellers and produce enough energy that some can be stored to power the plane at night.

Solar Impulse 1, first tested in 2009, flew across the U.S. in 2013 in the "Across America" campaign. Both planes are part of the Solar Impulse project that is privately financed by corporations and individuals. Mr. Piccard considers the project to be a high-profile way to demonstrate the value of using renewable energy resources both in the air and on the ground.

After its launch from Abu Dhabi on March 9 and stops in Oman and India, Solar Impulse 2 is on a scheduled break in Mandalay, Myanmar. The trip itinerary calls for it to head to China next week. Eventually it will cross the Pacific Ocean and North America and is expected to return to Abu Dhabi by July, said Richard Northcote, chief sustainability officer for Bayer MaterialScience's global business who is visiting the company's Robinson campus this week.

Bayer has been an official partner of the Solar Impulse project since 2010 and agreed to license some of its materials to the project, said Mr. Northcote.

"They were looking for solutions for light-weighting the plane, and we had those for the automotive, refrigeration and construction industries."

Specifically, Bayer applied some of its existing technology to design a very light, thin polyurethane insulation foam that lines the shell of the plane's cockpit to keep the temperature moderate during extreme fluctuations of hot and cold.

It's the same type of foam Bayer produces for insulation used in energy-efficient, consumer refrigerators, Mr. Northcote said.

The company also supplied Solar Impulse 2 with specialized insulation for the plane's door; material for the door locks; and lightweight, transparent sheets of polycarbonate that are used for the windows instead of glass.

The window material has "huge potential" for the automotive industry that is scrambling for more energy-efficient vehicle parts, said Mr. Northcote.

Bayer also developed materials used in a silver coating that covers the plane's solar panels. That same coating was used on the skin of the soccer ball designed by Adidas for last year's World Cup held in Brazil.

Bayer's logo appears on the tail of the aircraft, Mr. Northcote said, because the company is a "technical partner" of the Solar Impulse project. 


Curt Lewis, PhD, CSP, FRAeS


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Curt Lewis & Associates, LLC is an international, multi-discipline technical and scientific consulting firm specializing in aviation and industrial safety. Our specialties are aviation litigation support, aviation/airport safety programs, accident investigation, safety & quality assessments/audits, system safety (PRA), human factors, Safety Management Systems (SMS) assessment/implementation & training, safety/quality training & risk management, aviation manual development, IS-BAO Auditing, airfield/heliport lighting products and Technical Support.