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back to article Playmonauts could down airliners, Canuck flyboy warns

A Canadian pilot has warned that audacious miniature figurine balloon missions could represent a "concern to aviation". Captain Barry Wiszniowski, chairman of the Air Canada Pilots Association’s safety division, issued his alert following the recent Canuck Legonaut's ascent to 80,000ft (24,384m), which saw teenagers Mathew Ho …

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Happy

Battersea..

Could be worse, think of the pilot that reported going past an inflatable pig on his way to Heathrow...

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Joke

Feeble weather ballons are BAD

Flaming chunks of Russian probe is OK...

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Anonymous Coward

"Try not to copy us"

Perhaps someone ought to research the HALE Project (High altitude Lego Extravaganza) from 2008..

http://www.unr.edu/nevadasat/hale/

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Alien

Playmonaut? Balloon?

Nah, I'd worry more about the cameras that seem to festoon these things.

They are probably the heaviest part of the assembly and at 500Mph would go through a plane windscreen like a bullet.

However, you have to be unbelievably unlucky to have that happen.

Yer far more likely to run into an alien spcaecraft. <LOL>

The engine would eat one of those balloons and spit out burnt shards, without really noticing.

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Silver badge

Spit out burnt shards?

Slight change in the composition of its exhaust gases, more likely.

As to whether a camera would be able to break a cockpit windshield, its battery is probably the most solid component; the housing and electronics are hardly sturdy enough to leave more than a scratch.

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Thumb Up

Nah, almost nothing could do any damage to the aircraft

The aerodynamic forces over the nose of the aircraft would basically ensure that nothing could impact it. That's why you never hear of aircraft being hit by birds in the windscreens. This applies to most of the aircraft - the exception being the huge sucking engines, which are routinely tested resilience in such events. But, as you say, a balloon (or even the payload) of an amateur mission is unlikely to do much damage to a jet...

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Bronze badge

I'd suggest...

... a brief look at the piccies in the Wikipedia page on "Bird strike" before posting more about this subject.

In particular, damage to aircraft from bird strikes is a significant cost to the aviation industry, and does cause fatalities. Windscreens are the most commonly *damaged* non-engine component, with cracks or even total destruction of the screen being possibilities, but almost any forward-facing part of an aircraft can be hit and damaged.

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Go

And how do they test those engines for bird ingestion??

Lacy!! Another shovelful of chickens over here!!!

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Mushroom

Watch this...

...US bans all amateur balloon activities unless licenced, and all balloon owners breaking the rule deported to Gauntanamo under the Patriot Act or some other knee jerk legislation that's come in since 9/11.

I would use the 'joke alert' icon if there wasn't a scary possibilty some security ****wit might actually make it happen.

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"US bans all amateur balloon activities unless licenced, and all balloon owners breaking the rule deported to Gauntanamo under the Patriot Act or some other knee jerk legislation that's come in since 9/11."

Shortly followed by the first extradition (or rendition) of a high altitude balloon team operating outside the USA for a flight which didn't come within a thousand miles of the USA or any territory even remotely under its control....

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14CFR101

Actually, there are provisions in the US for flying free, unmanned balloons with small payloads. These fit into the exempt category, so they don't require lots of paperwork. That's covered in 14CFR101:

<http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/CFR-2011-title14-vol2/pdf/CFR-2011-title14-vol2-part101-toc-id903.pdf>

Heavier payloads do require a bit of paperwork (in the form of notification to the local Air Traffic Control center, so that they can issue NOTAMs (Notice to Airmen) that the balloon will be in the air. Even heavier payloads require special permission. But, for anything that most people are likely to fly, it will fit in the exempt category (although it still may not hurt to notify the local ATC, just as a courtesy).

Dave

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In the UK, you issue a NOTAM - Notice to Airmen - before such a launch. This is communicated to any aircraft in the area. Balloons only transit the aircraft operational altitude briefly, the amount of time they spend there is pretty small. There's basically no risk to aircraft, even if such balloon launches were to happen as frequently as they did in the 70s.

Slightly peeved at the attention this Canadian Legonaut is getting; everyone's acting as if this was the first such mission ever. Such amateur balloonery, complete with patriotic lego stratonaut, has all been done numerous times before. Not at least by the PARIS team here (although, that was with a Playmonaut which is a COMPLETELY different concept...)

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Anonymous Coward

What exactly is the surface area of planet Earth at 80,000ft and how many legonaut's are launched a year? Just trying to get a handle on the likelyhood of a collision, is that 20 or 200 zeros before the 1?

More unneeded control freakery on the horizon.

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Silver badge

Motor gives way to sail

And wings give way to balloons.

That said, it's always a good idea to give your local version of the CAA a heads up.

<obJoke>Chicken gun. Locomotive Windscreen</obJoke>

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Coat

8 years of racing in the Solent has taught me

Fibreglass gives way to steel!

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Anonymous Coward

Small price to pay

Having a few plains a year knocked out of the sky a year would be a small price to pay in order to further the science of aviation

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Joke

Next time you see a balloon with a toy please call in the US Air Farce to shoot it down!

If you like balloons or blimps, try my Gasbags site: 3w dot airship dot me which is the worlds only lighter than air comedy web site.

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Joke

Next time you see a balloon with a toy please call in the US Air Farce to shoot it down!

If you like balloons or blimps, try my Gasbags site: www.hybridblimp.net which is the worlds only lighter than air comedy web site.

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Megaphone

Outraged airline passenger...

Do these pilots seriously not look where they are going?

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Coat

Nena was a prophet

99 red balloons.

floating in the summer sky.

Panic bells, it's red alert.

There's something here from somewhere else.

The war machine springs to life.

Opens up one eager eye.

Focusing it on the sky.

Where 99 red balloons go by.

-- I love how panicky they get.

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Go

God forbid LOHAN brings down a plane, but......

Would it be worth it for the inevitable Reg subtitle:

"LOHAN blows UP a planeload of footballers"

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Anonymous Coward

Playmobil BAD.. but they used Lego!

Well, the kids used Lego, so I don't think claiming that Playmobil is dangerous is relevant.

And another thing... so a Playmobil / Lego payload weather balloon, whereas a standard one-every-six-hours radiosonde magically won't harm the plane, if hit?

And another thing... a mate who worked as a ground engineer for a major airline for many years often related stories of having to remove the after-effects of birdstrikes. They are frequent, especially at airports near coasts. Apparently the least favourite birds were albatross, due in part to their size, and their payload of a couple of kilos of rotting fish. Birds will dent nosecones, occasionally crack windsheilds (common on Cessnas, almost unheard-of for airliners), the biggest danger is clogging / breaking pitot tubes (clogging is... yucky). Bird into engine results in a bit of a cough out the back, and the engine casing being lined with overcooked finely minced bird. A cleaning job for the apprentices.... Any other part of the plane results in small dents or smears. The 737 that dropped into the Hudson ingested a whole flock into both engines while on takeoff - so it was heavily laden with fuel. I think IRRC it also had it's pitots damaged as well.

And another thing... if you live under a flightpath, try attaching a 10m strip of alfoil to a few helium balloons, it gets you about 30mins piece and quiet, followed by cops cruising your street for a few hours.... not that I would know.... just... hypothetically.

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Please check your facts before posting

"Bird into engine results in a bit of a cough out the back, and the engine casing being lined with overcooked finely minced bird. A cleaning job for the apprentices...."

You are a bit optimistic. Bird ingestion can cause major damage to the compressor section of a jet engine eventually leading to compressor blades breaking away from the compressor disk.

I hope in that case the repair is not left to an apprentice...

BTW Jets have multiple pitots at different locations on the hull. The only single bird able to take out all of them in one go is the ... flying elephant. Wasn't he called Dumbo?

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Happy

reminds me of an anecdote

When British Rail were developing their abortive high speed train in the seventies they asked the RAF to lend them a gun to test the effect of bird strike.

Results were a bit scary as the supermarket chicken crashed through the window, demolished the drivers chair and embedded in the engine behind the cab.

When they asked the RAF about this the reply was, "You did defrost the chicken didn't you?"

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