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Julian Bray provides: Opinion, comment, forward thinking speculation on Travel, Cruise & Aviation: conflict zones, terrorist impact, drone (UAV) issues, safety (black boxes, emergencies), airline operations, aviation finance, political implications, and all forms of incident risk. Worked at board level with several airline and aviation groups, including Alitalia, British Island Airways, British Airways, Galileo , British Aerospace, Skyways, former CEO City firm Leadenhall Assoc. Founder CNS City News Service. Director NTN Television News (joint co. with ITV Wales TWW) Debretts People 2017 and in launch edition of PRWeek Black Book.

Direct links to a selection of television and radio contributions can be found at foot of this page. Scroll down.

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Friday, 31 October 2014

UPDATE: NTSC says PILOT ERROR may have doomed Virgins' SS1. Test Co-Pilot dead and Test Pilot severely injured in Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo test mid air explosion



LATEST: PILOT ERROR may have been cause of incident says NTSC investigators


Spaceship two crash

Breaking News Developing Story

Julian Bray added (on November 3rd 2014)

Investigators from the NTSC working from datasets transmitted from the Virgin Galactic SS1 Rocket powered craft, suggest that pilot error might have contributed to the catastrophic failure of the Virgin Galactic SS1.

The failure, it is alleged, was possibly caused by the co-pilot prematurely switching on a feathering process, which required two deliberate sequential switch actions by the co-pilot.  

Richard Branson speaking from his Necker Island retreat live on Sky News, claimed the NTSC state the two rocket fuel tanks and the rocket motor were intact, and there was 'no explosion ' This bears out an earlier BBC TV report that 'no explosion' was heard by observers on the ground.   Sam Leith (London Evening Standard) writes: http://www.standard.co.uk/comment/comment/sam-leith-the-real-virgin-tragedy-gets-lost-in-space-9835627.html

Julian Bray added (on November 1st 2014): Sir Richard Branson has always been very open and said he "is in it for the money", but this latest tragic incident, in a catalogue of setbacks over the last ten years, must mean that whatever the ultimate aim, and no matter how many expensive subscriptions for future space hop tickets have already been banked; this project has still to meet even basic safety standards.

Setting off a huge explosion (which is what rocket ignition is all about) literally a few feet away from fare-paying passengers was always going to be difficult. The temptation to rush safe arms length ground bench testing, can be understood. Ground testing makes for poor PR and publicity pictures and lacklustre worldwide TV footage.

Many of those who rushed to buy up tickets will now be too old to enjoy their hoped for near space flights, meanwhile other probably safer technologies could well overtake the Virgin Galactic, rendering the project worthy but commercially useless. 


It could well join the pre-production Concorde now renovated - with working droop snoot - and on proud static display at Duxford Air Museum. The pre-production Concorde was built with several 'ground facing torpedo tubes' so crew members wearing parachutes could literally drop through the floor in the event of an emergency....

Sir Richard says the project will continue but clearly he should call an honourable halt to this dangerous adventure and possibly refund those individuals who, say have reached the age of 70, and clearly have no hope of ever, experiencing a near space experience. No one will think any the less of Sir Richard closing this down, but clearly it could be decades before this particular bird slingshots and then rockets into 'sub-orbital space.'


 
Julian Bray earlier wrote: The could be the end of this long drawn out, often delayed experiment to cash-in on near-space tourism; earlier today (Friday,October 31st) the Virgin rocket co-pilot (an employee of Scale Composites - a partner in the venture) died and the pilot severely injured as he ejected from the experimental pre-production Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo rocket propelled sub-orbital space tourism craft.

It suffered what local sources say was a mid air catastrophic explosion - although a local BBC correspondent quoting observers claimed that no explosion was heard on the ground - at the start of a 30-second burn, testing a new type of solid rocket fuel and a nitrogen fuelled mid air ignition system. Apparently extensive ground testing had been completed but the 'new mixture' solid rocket fuel had never been nitrogen (nitrus oxide) ignited at 45,000 feet.
 
Space Ship Two had detached (or dropped) from its carrier 'mothership' aircraft, when eye witnesses say a mid air explosion ripped the rocket powered experimental craft apart and sent debris crashing to the desert below. The debris field covered over two square miles this has now be extended to five square miles.  . It  crashed in the California desert, according to the California Highway Patrol.  A major incident investigation has already started with Officials scheduled to be on site by 7am in the morning.
 

A hastily called news conference - with many of the platform party exhibiting signs of trauma - heard that the craft was unusually undergoing 'manned testing', project named POWERED FIGHT FOUR, rather than use a safer drone technology with a totally new type of solid rocket fuel, and nitrogen enhanced ignition burn system.

The carrier craft with the rocket plane launched at 09:20 hrs at 10:10 hrs the two craft reached 45,000 feet and the rocket was released at 10:10 hrs, at 10:12 hrs a mid air explosion was recorded. Positive confirmation was to come 10 minutes later. Local sources say the rocket powered craft broke up in mid air into five large scale pieces.


The crash site is located 25 miles north of the launch airport in the Mojave Desert.  The company initially described the incident  as "a serious anomaly". The rocket motor had been used three times before in space hence this flight being tagged Powered Flight Four.

SpaceShipTwo (SS2) when operational would have a full payload of sub-orbital space tourists on board,  is positioned at flight level 50,000 feet by a twin bodied carrier aircraft, the rocket craft is slung underneath the central wing section.

Space Ship Two is then released and fires its own solid fuel rocket motor to place the space tourist craft into a sub-space orbit.

The Virgin Galactic statement was terse, and gave little practical information: the "vehicle suffered a serious anomaly resulting in the loss of SpaceShipTwo".

Kern County Sheriff's spokesman told the Reuters news agency the rocket powered SS2  co-pilot was killed, while the pilot ejected and was seriously injured.

Ken Brown, a photographer who witnessed the crash, told the Associated Press news agency the craft exploded after it was released from a plane that carries it to a high altitude.

The carrier aircraft, known as White Knight 2, landed safely, according to Virgin Galactic.

Weeks earlier in a major investigation into the whole Virgin Galactic program the DAILY MAIL quoted Julian Bray:

 Julian Bray, one of Britain’s most prominent aviation experts. He points out that Virgin Galactic has created an entirely new system of launching and powering an aircraft. 
 
‘Realistically, the testing and flight type-approval process could take up to a decade from the point where the initial flight cycles have been proven,’ he says.
 
‘You have to go back to the development of the Comet jet airliner in the late Fifties and early Sixties to get an idea of how long a completely new design and type of propulsion concept takes before fare-paying passengers are allowed on board.’



Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2762839/Why-thing-Branson-fired-space-ego-700-VIPs-paid-50m-tickets-orbit-But-six-years-Virgin-boss-promised-blast-space-ship-STILL-isn-t-ready.html#ixzz3HkhXGOh5

JULIAN BRAY [ 01733 345581 ], Journalist, Broadcaster, Aviation Security & Operations, Travel / Cruise Industry Expert, Writer and Coach EQUITY, NUJ, Broadcast ISDN changed number 01733 345020) SKYPE: JULIAN.BRAY.UK e&oe A later updated version is always on the Website
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