ViaSat-2 sat quietly on its cradle in the clean room, no longer attended to by scores of gowned technicians. Antennas folded, solar panels and radiators tightly retracted. Its large rectangular structure could have been mistaken for an industrial appliance, rather than a highly advanced communications satellite bound for space. The satellite was ready to be enclosed in a specialized shipping container, a cocoon, to protect the satellite during its flight to French Guiana. And soon after being launched on an Ariane 5, ViaSat-2 will stretch out its 158-foot-long solar panels, ushering in new capabilities of Ka-band connectivity.
Passengers are unlikely to be unaware of the complexity of the aircraft systems that are hidden from view. After all, their onboard interactions are limited to aircraft seats, flight attendants and in-flight entertainment systems. Like a human nervous system, an aircraft’s wiring carries signals and information critical to the safe operation of the airplane. Carlisle IT, W.L. Gore and AeroFlite are a few of the companies that design and manufacture “the nerves.” Connecting everything from the fly-by-wire flight control systems to the coffeemaker in the galley, miles of wires, thousands of connectors, and tens of thousands of support brackets have to be cut, bundled, tested and installed.
Tune into the TV news in Vancouver, and one might see a story about a hapless hiker who’s lost in the local mountains, or a senseless snowboarder who rode out-of-bounds into a ravine. Invariably, to get the story, the reporter interviews one of the back-country rescue specialists at North Shore Rescue (NSR), with a bright yellow helicopter belonging to Vancouver-based Talon Helicopters hovering in the background. If the rescue is successful, the video might show people dangling on a long-line below Talon’s TwinStar helicopter as they drop gently into a parking lot. Sometimes, though, the rescue becomes a recovery mission. And in the 20-year relationship between NSR and Talon, rescue specialists and pilots have seen their share of both.
Imagine that your ink-jet printer has gone wonky. It’s sitting on your desk, running its print head back and forth for hours, continually printing one word. Once the unruly piece of technology is under control, you manage to pull out the paper. You can see, and feel, that the word “ROTOR” has been built up from the paper’s surface. If you scrape it off, the word will sit on your desk, like a paperweight. That’s the essence of 3D printing.
In simultaneous events in Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver, earlier today Air Canada revealed its new livery and branding, in an event described as “the future of Canada’s flag carrier.” Air Canada also introduced new uniforms, menu items, and wine choices at the events. The new livery was designed in conjunction with branding agency Winkreative and features a white upper fuselage, black tail and underbody, black engine nacelles, and a striking black “mask” surrounding the cockpit windows. Air Canada’s iconic red maple leaf rondelle returns to the livery after a 24-year absence: on the tail, on the inner part of the nacelles, and on the belly (visible when a plane flies overhead).
How does a successful aviation photographer make the leap from snapping aircraft shots for major airlines to launching a collection of aviation-themed clothing? If you’re Laird Kay, it’s about style. Kay began, like many other AvGeek plane spotters, taking photos of aircraft at his nearest major airport, Toronto-Pearson International (YYZ). “People on social media were looking at my photos and saying ‘that would make a great t-shirt – I would love that,’” says Kay.