"Son Of Voyager" Shown To The World
Steve Fossett continues to plan another record assault and
fellow record-setter Richard Branson is backing him up... Branson's
Virgin Atlantic has unveiled the Virgin Atlantic GlobalFlyer
aircraft in the Mojave Desert, California, the home of aviation
record-setting for over half a century. This somewhat aircraft
(which bears some intersting similarities to the original Voyager)
will be piloted by Steve Fossett later this year in his attempt to
break the last great aviation record by attempting the first solo
non-stop flight around the world.
The pioneering aircraft - the world's most efficient jet plane -
has been designed by aviation legend Burt Rutan. The unveiling is
the latest milestone following years of design and construction and
also marks the beginning of an exciting phase of flight
Built by Scaled Composites, it is a single pilot, single
engine turbofan aircraft designed for non-stop global
circumnavigation. Scaled used computer aided aerodynamics to design
the aircraft. The structure of the plane is entirely made from
composite material and will be ultra light. The aircraft
can carry more than four times its own weight in fuel -
enough to power the specially designed Williams FJ44-3 for the
entire flight. At the start of the flight the plane will weigh
22,006 lbs, and less than 80 hours and 23,000 miles later, it will
have shed 18,000 lbs of fuel to land at its dry weight of a little
under 4000 lbs.
The aircraft will fly at 45,000ft and travel 40,000 km at speeds
in excess of 250 knots (285 mph, 440 kph). The aircraft will
fly 75% further than the range record for jet-powered planes.
Branson, chairman of Virgin Atlantic, noted that, "It is
fantastic to see this unique and experimental aircraft in all its
glory. Flying solo, non-stop around the world has been a
dream of Steve's for some time, and Virgin Atlantic is proud and
delighted to help turn this ambition into reality."
Steve Fossett said, "I am truly impressed looking at this
amazing and beautiful plane. Burt Rutan's team at Scaled have
turned a dream into engineering reality and it's great to be
working with my former ballooning partner, Richard Branson, again.
Richard and Virgin Atlantic are true record-setting pioneers and
they understand what this project is all about - setting the most
ambitious goals and meeting the most extraordinary challenges."
For this record attempt the aircraft will be piloted by Steve
Fossett, legendary aviator, sailor and record breaker who was also
Richard Branson's partner in his last global ballooning record
attempt. Richard Branson will be the reserve pilot. The record
attempt is due to take off from a central US location and is
scheduled to take place this year. It is hoped the attempt will be
successfully completed within 80 hours.
Branson commented, "The unveiling of this aircraft signals the
beginning of the next exciting phase of this record attempt - the
flight testing. Scaled Composites has a number of highly
experienced pilots who will be testing every aspect of the aircraft
to ensure it is both safe and capable of circumnavigating the earth
without stopping or refuelling.
"The project team have also been progressing on a number of
other parts of the record attempt including the launch airport,
fine-tuning of the route and location of mission control. We hope
to be able to announce these details in the coming weeks.
"Virgin Atlantic is delighted to be part of this historic and
exciting project designed to set the first great aviation record of
this century. The manufacturers of the plane and the engine will
create unique data on improving future aircraft efficiency helping
in the development of more fuel efficient commercial aircraft."
According to Fossett, "I can't wait to get behind the controls
of the Virgin Atlantic GlobalFlyer during its testing programme. In
the meantime I am aiming to set another world record for the
fastest time sailing around the world. I am due to set off on this
attempt any time from now.
"I would also really like to thank Burt and his team for all
their hard work so far building this magnificent aircraft."