Technology Flies High on Boeing 737
BY OUR TECHNOLOGY CORRESPONDENT
SEATTLE, Sept. 25, 2003: /PRNewswire-FirstCall/
-- Imagine waiting in the terminal for your flight to depart San Francisco International Airport when suddenly, a thick blanket of fog rolls down from the bay and envelops the airport. Visibility is cut to 300 feet (91 meters). The word "delayed" starts to scroll across departure monitors. Your flight on a Boeing (NYSE:BA) Next- Generation 737, however, leaves on time, thanks to state-of-the-art flight deck technology.
At a time when increased security screenings lengthen the time it takes to travel, The Boeing Company continues to develop new technologies that promise to reduce flight delays and enhance safety and flight-crew efficiency. Nowhere is that more apparent than on the Next-Generation 737.
The airplane is the most popular commercial jetliner ever built. More than 4,000 737s have carried about 7 billion people -- more than the equivalent of the world's population. In fact, every 5.3 seconds a 737 takes off or lands somewhere in the world.
The newest members of the 737 family -- the 737-600/-700/-800/-900 models -- entered into service just five years ago after a technology makeover. The digitally designed 737s are outfitted with larger wings and more powerful engines, which allow them to fly higher, faster and farther than previous models and its competitor. In addition, the new flight deck features advanced programmable software and liquid-crystal flat-panel displays, not available on competing models.
An example of the 737's leading-edge technology is a sophisticated system called Head-up Display or HUD. Although HUD has been used on military aircraft for several years, the 737 is the only large commercial jetliner produced today with this capability.
HUD uses a transparent glass display positioned between the pilot's eye and the flight deck window to show critical information such as airspeed, altitude, attitude and flight path. During takeoffs and landings, an image of the runway is superimposed over the actual view out the window.
The technology can eliminate flight cancellations, diversions and delays caused by restricted visibility. It also provides an extra margin of safety by allowing a pilot to keep his or her eye "on the road," rather than looking down at the instrument panels. The ability to present data in real-world context makes it easier for pilots to take in information and fly the airplane, according to 737 Chief Pilot Ray Craig.
"As a pilot, it can be somewhat difficult to land at an airport at night or during low-visibility conditions with a high workload," Craig said. "Without having to do any extra calculations, I have all the important data I need to fly an approach under those conditions. That allows me to focus on landing the airplane safely."
This extra margin of safety allows a HUD-equipped airplane to fly when others cannot. Some regulatory standards require a minimum of 600 feet (182 meters) of visibility before an airplane is allowed to takeoff. Airplanes with HUD can takeoff in visibility conditions as low as 300 feet (91 meters).
Alaska Airlines was the first to incorporate HUD across its Next- Generation 737 fleet.
"We fly into many destinations where fog, reduced visibility and strong winds combine to restrict our system schedule," said Captain Paul A. Majer, Alaska Airlines System chief pilot. "The HUD technology enhances our capability to depart an airport with reduced visibility and helps us get our passengers to their destinations as scheduled. HUD has been a tremendous benefit to safety overall and, specifically, our ability to operate safely despite reduced visibility conditions."
Another advancement in the flight deck is Vertical Situation Display (VSD). This high-tech marvel builds on the Enhanced Ground Proximity Warning system and gives pilots a clear view of the airplane's current and predicted flight path.
The ability to see the predicted flight path provides an earlier warning of conflicts with terrain or an overshoot of the runway. The same data exists in flight decks today, but the pilot needs to mentally integrate the data from several sources. VSD does this automatically and instantaneously.
The system constantly monitors the airplane's flight path, calculating the airplane's altitude, speed and position, and portrays the information in an integrated and easily understood graphical display. Traditional flight deck displays give pilots a bird's-eye view of an airplane's position relative to the rest of the world.
"VSD gives the pilot a side view of the world, because people think in those terms. It adds a normal perspective for a pilot and increases situational awareness," said Ken Hiebert, Boeing Product Marketing regional director.
Earlier this year, Australian carrier Virgin Blue became the first airline to use VSD.
"The Next-Generation 737 is one of the best, if not THE best aircraft in the world in terms of technology," said Capt. Steve Knudsen, Virgin Blue's Flight Operations technical manager. "The new Vertical Situation Display provides pilots with yet another tool to monitor the aircraft's flight path. It is a valuable safety enhancement."
But predicting the flight path is not just important for avoiding mountaintops. VSD can provide an assurance that the airplane will be at a certain point in space at a certain point in time. That degree of accuracy can help rewrite air traffic rules and increase air space capacity, something that is desperately needed in crowded skies over Europe, the United States and other parts of the world.
In today's air traffic system, airplanes approaching airports tend to stack up in the sky, waiting to get to the gate. It's similar to cars slowing down as they approach a traffic light. If cars have to start slowing down two blocks away, traffic slows to a crawl. Essentially, the same thing happens in the sky. Because today's system can't ensure an airplane's precise position, air traffic controllers require a certain amount of time and distance between airplanes. VSD can change all that.
"VSD should enable us to shrink the air space between airplanes and increase air space capacity because you can count on airplanes being exactly where they are supposed to be. And if we can move airplanes through air space more efficiently, we can add more flights and passengers will have more choices," Craig said.
Another flight deck system that enhances the ability of the pilot to monitor the precise position of an airplane and its relation to the desired flight path is called Navigation Performance Scales (NPS). The system incorporates global positioning satellite technology to pinpoint and display the precise position of the airplane in an easily understood graphical display.
Think of a traffic lane in the sky. NPS can tell you how close you are to the edge of the lane within 15 feet. With such accuracy, an airplane can safely navigate through crowded skies, mountainous terrain and noise sensitive areas. Like VSD, the NPS also opens up air space around airports.
"We're setting a new standard for graphic depiction and situation awareness," Hiebert added. "When the world goes to a tighter airspace system, you don't want pilots trying to figure out the airplane's position while moving at 450 knots. While you're trying to calculate that, you can move miles. NPS can tell you where you are instantly."
The most obvious piece of advanced technology rests outside of the 737 -- on the wings to be more specific. Visually distinctive blended winglets gently curve out and up from the wings. Unlike traditional winglets that attach at abrupt angles to the wing, the 8-foot (2.4 meters) high blended winglets add about 5 feet (1.5 meters) to the airplane's total wingspan.
Blended winglets reduce aerodynamic drag and allow the 737 to fly farther and quieter while burning up to 6 percent less fuel. Given the price of fuel these days, the blended winglets provide airlines significant savings, which can be passed along to the passenger in the form of lower ticket prices.
More than 28 airlines currently fly nearly 300 737s equipped with blended winglets, and more are on the way. Southwest Airlines, one of the most successful carriers in the world, will begin installing the sleek winglets on its newer 737s this fall.
"Southwest, the industry's low-cost provider, is keen on finding innovative ways to keep our operating costs in check so we can continue to provide low fares to millions more Americans," said Laura Wright, Southwest's vice president of Finance. "This technology is one way we can gain efficiencies in our operation and save money while we grow."
Besides lowering operating costs, blended winglets help airplanes fly from hot climate airports like Phoenix International Airport, where temperatures can climb to 110 degrees Fahrenheit (43 Celsius), or from high-altitude airports like La Paz in Bolivia, which is 13,320 feet (4,060 meters) above sea level. Both high and hot conditions can limit the number of passengers or cargo boarding a flight.
Just how do blended winglets help? Quite simply, airplane engines, like human lungs, need oxygen to work effectively. For an engine, the thinner the air -- as is the case at high altitudes or in extremely hot weather -- the harder it is to create combustion or power. To compensate, you need to create more lift with a bigger wing. Without more lift, an airline is sometimes forced to restrict the number of passengers or the amount of cargo on the flight. Because blended winglets add more surface area and greater lift on the 737, all passengers get on the airplane and get to where they are going non- stop.
Blended winglets and flight deck systems are just a few of the new technologies available on the modern family of 737s. More are on the way, and lest one thinks all these bells and whistles are for show, Craig quickly dispels that notion.
"The Boeing philosophy on the 737 is not technology for technology's sake. We have the most successful and advanced airplane in the world, and Boeing is committed to continually investing in technology that gets people to their destinations safely and efficiently," he said.
25 Sep 2003 14:39 Asia/Calcutta
Head: Nightstar Magnetic force flashlight
FORT LUPTON, Colo., Sept. 25, 2003 /PRNewswire/ -- Whether enduring a power outage, changing a tire on a dark, lonely highway, or enjoying the outdoors, having a light that will work when called upon even after years of abuse and neglect is priceless.
(Photo: http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20030925/NYFNSZ05 )
With no parts to burn out, break or fail, NightStar's patented power conversion system produces 20 minutes of light from just 30 seconds of gentle shaking. The specially designed reflector and lens used in NightStar produce a uniform beam capable of illuminating objects over 40 feet away.
"NightStar is now used and counted on by tens of thousands people worldwide," says its inventor Steve Vetorino. "After six long and difficult years, NightStar has become synonymous with reliable performance."
NightStar's magnetic technology works by passing a high strength magnet repeatedly through a wire coil. The electrical energy generated is stored in a capacitor. Superior to a battery, the capacitor in NightStar can be recharged continuously, will never corrode, and will power the LED even in the harshest conditions. Equally impressive, the white-light LED is practically unbreakable and has a rated lifetime over 50 thousand hours. All of NightStar's cutting edge components are built within in a polycarbonate housing, which is waterproof, corrosion proof and nearly indestructible.
Recently, NightStar was subjected to extensive independent laboratory testing. NightStar is now certified safe for use in explosive environments filled with volatile substances such as acetylene, hydrogen, natural gas, & aviation fuel. NightStar also survived several days immersed in chemicals of phosphoric acid, drain cleaner, bleach and diesel fuel. Even when exposed to extreme temperatures and impacts, NightStar continued to pierce the darkness. NightStar even survived deep-water submersion to a depth of over 2200 feet and passed the grueling requirements of the ASTM marine safety standard.
NightStar is currently used by emergency aid workers and military personnel around the world. It's been used on scientific expeditions and relied upon in natural disasters where electrical services to homes and businesses were disrupted. It will work whenever and wherever needed, with no need for replacement parts.
At a retail price under $40, NightStar will quickly pay for itself by not having to buy batteries or bulbs. But more to the point, no value can be placed on a flashlight that works anytime, anywhere.
Web site: http://www.nightstar1.com/
Head: Microsoft targets teens interested in high tech careers
Intro: Innovative Program Gives Teens of Color an Edge in High Tech Careers
REDMOND, Wash., Sept. 25, 2003 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Sherrell Dorsey didn't think she was interested in computers, but when she created her first Web site, her family thought she was a genius. After completing her second summer internship at Microsoft, the 16-year-old junior at Seattle's Franklin High School is certain she wants a high tech career when she graduates from college.
(Logo: http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20000822/MSFTLOGO )
Dorsey developed her interest in technology when she joined the Technical Teens Internship Program (TTIP), a multi-year, intensive training program for high school and college students, which includes paid summer internships at participating companies. For each year that Dorsey successfully completes the training and internship, she receives a $1,000 college scholarship. Since its inception in 1997, TTIP has served more than 250 students.
TTIP is one of three programs sponsored by the Technology Access Foundation, (TAF), a non-profit organization in Seattle that provides much-needed computer education to underserved students of color and prepares them for success in a technology-driven world. TAF programs focus on the educational needs of students from kindergarten through college by providing access to training and resources that goes well beyond what they receive in school.
In addition to the Technical Teens Internship Program, TAF programs also include TechStart, which provides technology-based activities to improve math, reading and critical-thinking skills for students aged 5-12, and Higher Education Bound, which helps high school students enrolled in TTIP with searches for college scholarships, college entry exam preparation, curriculum selection and the application process.
TAF was founded 1996 by Trish Millness Dziko, a former Microsoft employee. The initial focus was providing Seattle communities of color with access to technology, but Dziko soon determined that there was a greater need to address the shortage of minority workers in the high tech field.
This was a big task, and Dziko decided to recruit some powerful Seattle-area partners to help her meet that goal. She formed the TAF Alliance, a partnership of 29 corporations that provide funding as well as input on the subjects they teach.
TAF Alliance partners help Dziko and her staff identify new trends in technology, which helps them provide a curriculum that's current. Partner corporations also offer internships to students so they can apply what they're learning in the classroom to real-world problems.
"We have an excellent track record, and companies are realizing that participating in the program makes good business sense," Dziko says. "It's an excellent way for them to train and recruit qualified technology employees and diversify their workforce, so they're willing to make it an integral part of how they do business."
Dziko is grateful for the support the partners provide.
"These companies recognized our vision early, and Microsoft was there from day one as a founding sponsor," Dziko says. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer served as TAF Alliance chairman the first year, and he sent 200 letters to local companies inviting them to join in diversifying the workforce of the Puget Sound area.
All three programs have been a success. More that 500 children have participated in TAF programs so far, giving them training and guidance, plus real-world experience they need to succeed it in the technology field. But the programs go farther than that. They also instill confidence in the participants.
Sherrell Dorsey says that TTIP has given her much more than technical skills. "You get life skills," she explains. "One of the requirements is that we have to give something back, so we each do 20 hours of community service. I tutored at an elementary school, and designed a Web page for a non-profit.
"The time spent in the program is long, and it does get hard, but as soon as you get your first internship -- and you graduate from the program with your scholarship money and your recommendations -- it's all worth it."
For Dziko, the biggest challenge is funding. It takes an average of $2,500 to put each student through TTIP, and to pay for staff, equipment, and classroom space. But the rewards are beyond measure.
"Teaching technology to our children is critical to the future of our economy," she says. "We believe technology allows everyone to compete equally and realize their own potential, so we're using technology to build futures -- one kid at a time."
BY OUR TECHNOLOGY CORRESPONDENT