AviationNow has linked up the latest Aviation Week cover story, which provides the best-detailed look ever at Global Flyer, the airplane designed to fly Steve Fossett around the world solo and unrefueled. It's just possible he'll make the attempt this week, although a later date seemed more likely. The high points:
- Global Flyer's "structural fraction" (the part of the airplane that isn't fuel) is a remarkable 17%. In other words, when fully loaded Global Flyer is 83% gas, 17% everything else. This represents a 40% increase from the previous fraction champ, Voyager.
- Engineers are "concerned" because they haven't tested the airplane at full gross weight. Nobody really knows how it'll fly when completely gassed up.
- The flight profile will be weird and tricky, the cabin doesn't heat properly, and it's really, really noisy in there.
Which all translates into a mission that is absolutely not gauranteed to succeed. It'd be embarassing to go to all this trouble and then drive it off the end of the runway on the first attempt, that's for sure.
Well, here's to hoping for a successful flight!