Mach Daddy

Well, our favourite airline has finally been cleared to fly in the US. After a coupla years of legal wrangling and lobbying, they have everything needed to take to the air in one of the most protectionist domestic scenes today. So why were they lobbied against? simply because they're good. There is no airline that is more of a maverick than Virgin, and they're getting into all sorts of cool stuff these days. Like the names of their planes, for example. The first one was named Jefferson Airplane, and was inaugurated by Grace Slick, who went on record to mention that Grateful dead would have been a bad name for an airplane :D The rest were all named in a contest open to the public and sports such cool names as Mach Daddy, Virgin & Tonic, An Airplane Named Desire, Chic Mobile, Unicorn Chaser, Fog Cutter and Jane. But the names that take the podium are Airplane 2.0, Contents May be Under Pressure, and ... Winner of Naming Contest ; that last one by a dude named Sahil Dilwali. Trust an Indian to maro a ganda fatta, eh? :D



In case you were wondering which corner of Russia I'd gone to find the name for my blog, well, here's the explanation. Pictured above is the Soviet Il-2 Shturmovik (Ил-2 Штурмовик) ground attack fighter, whose name I've borrowed for the blog. Along with its successor the Il-10, it is the single most produced military aircraft design with a production run of 36163 units. It played a crucial role in the Soviet victory in WW-II, as it could fly day and night and penetrate the thick armour of the Panzer and tiger tanks of the Nazis. The enemy nicknamed it black death while the soviets called it the flying tank. It also had a great capacity to absorb damage, leading to the German nickname Betonflugzeug or 'concrete airplane'.

And I've played the Il-2 sturmovik simulation game as well. And I've named my bike after it. Need I say more? :)

Rare AI Birds

An Ilyushin 62, a handful of DC-8s, a 767, a few Tristars.. what in heavens name am i talkin about eh? Well, all these are/were part of the Air India fleet. Honest! I even got pics to prove it :) Did a bit of hunting on good ol' A.net and found some interesting pics of old/rare AI aircraft.
This here is the Il-62 (NATO : Classic) that was leased from Aeroflot in the late 80's. Here its seen back with the soviets, waiting full repainting into aeroflot c/s. AI had apparently evaluated Il-96s as well before deciding on 747s. If the USSR hadn't collapsed, we would perhaps have seen that sight...And I told you we had Tristars as well :) ... i stumbled across a die cast model of an AI tristar while browsing through the IndUS Aviation store in Bangalore, and did a bit more of research on them. I could find only two registrations, V2-LEJ and V2 LEK. V2 is for Antigua, btw, and VT is India. It sure is a beautiful airplane.This is a Boeing 767 that AI has on its rolls right now. It has been leased from flyglobespan UK, and has a British registration. Its not gonna be around for long, and should go back by the time the brand spankin new 777s start rolling in from Seattle. This aircraft is sporting the unfinished new livery, which is being changed for the third time now to integrate elements from the Indian livery since the two airlines are going to be merged in

And these DC-8s used to operate with AI cargo in the late seventies and 80s. Apparently they had both the low-bypass-engined DC-8-63s as well as the high-bypass-engined DC-8-73. I don't know exactly how many they have operated, but all the ones I found pictures of were leased aircraft. AI cargo started out with DC-3s but i havent found any pics of those.This wasn't exactly a rare bird in its time, but then not many people know that AI used to operate Lockheed L-1049G constellations. These curvaceous tri-tailed beauties were all named after various queens in Indian history, like the Rani of Jhansi for instance. Speaking of unusual AI birds, I might as well add this one to the list. This is one of AI's leased A310s. This particular aircraft had been leased from CSA Czech airlines for a year and sported a livery that was a hybrid between AI and CSA. An AI A310 was the first fixed wing aircraft i ever flew in, and i'll probably write about that flight later :)
And why is this brand new 772 unusual you ask? Well, its unusual because this livery is probably never going to be used. The new livery will not have the centaur logo of AI, it will have an orange konark wheel instead on the tail and the engine nacelles, while maintaining the same red on the ivory base. The new airline would be named Air India.

N.B.- The pics are blatantly copied from Airliners.net ... hope they dont sue me or anything :P


XWB - The Babe..

Aircraft being referred to in the feminine is nothing new. But i really dont think there has been one worthy of the title 'babe'. Until now, that is. Until the A350 XWB. I've heard of planes being called elegant ladies, old ladies, even pin-up sorta names, but i tell you this one is a babe. Put it in a swanky farmhouse party and it'll be right at home. Check out those windscreens out front, i doubt ray-ban will match them anytime soon. And those wings.. ooohh.. well yeah i agree its kinda wrong to be turned on by a plane, but this is the best I've seen so far. Its probably also the first time airbus has given some consideration to the looks of its plane.
They have long held the view that air doesnt yield to style, but with this one it apparently does, and how! The plane promises 30% more fuel efficiency than the competition (read : the 787) and better aerodynamics and 60% construction is from new materials. And its rumored that the xwb-1000 could even force seattle to run for cover with a new 777 variant. I only wish they could sort things out fast at Toulouse, Hamburg, Hawarden and all the other places to come out with this baby as soon as possible. I cant wait to see it in the sky, and this coming from a guy who nearly blew all his savings plannin on seeing the 380 on its first visit to India.

I wonder if Honeywell is gonna do the cockpit for this one :D?

There have been quite some orders so far, including three of my favourite airlines Aeroflot, Kingfisher and Finnair. I was kinda holding the opinion that the new Aeroflot livery looked good only on the soviet beauties, the Tu-154, Il-86/96 etc (It woulda looked great on a Tu-144 as well) but this one's shattered that opinion. Of all the airlines that have ordered this plane so far, the russian livery suits it the best.

Kingfisher has orders for five of these. Someone should give that chap an award or something, for bringing some cool stuff to Indian skies. The KF livery looks better on the 350 than it does on the 380. Anything as big and red as the KF 380 should be enough for a headache :) But I'm guessing that their A345s should give Virgin's livery a run for its money.
And Finnair, as usual is as cool as ever. The white fuselage, blue tail and the 'F' logo all make the aircraft look tailor-made for them. I'd always liked their colours on their MD-11s, and also the 'Official Airline of Santa Claus' stickers that they used to have at one point. This plane should do just as nicely.
The only other livery I'd like to see on this is the bare metal look of American, but i have a feeling thats gonna be very very unlikely.
One of the important things to be noted about this plane is composites. The website promises 60% new materials in construction, but also says that it is going to use repairable composites. One of the major concerns about composites in aviation is their tolerance to damage. They do not get damaged gradually like metal, they tolerate stress to a large extend and then snap. So smaller damages caused by bad landings or handling accidents could potentially warrant replacement of the entire part, unlike metal where a great degree of serviceability exists. I kinda think that this is a potshot at the 787, which is the first major commercial airliner to use composites extensively. How far Airbus would be able to deliver on their promises remains to be seen, but for an airbus supporter like me, this could be the future of long range aviation.


The magnificient flying paintings..

Guess whats in store for aviation nuts in India? well, here goes.. First off, the new liveries. Indian Airlines shortened itself to 'Indian' and adopted a new livery some months ago, and everyone else seems to be following suit. Air India's new livery has appeared on the net after its new 777-200 LR took to the skies for test flights. They haven't gone and ruined it like the last time with the sun livery, this time it is rather cool. The warm beige-ish colour and the stylized archer logo in gold is pretty good, and has class. And the famed window detail is still there, albeit smaller.

By contrast, Indian seems to have done an attention grabbing bid. The livery is stark, pretty much an LCC sort of thing. But the saving grace is the wheel graphic in deep blue, contrasting nicely with the loud orange. Besides the engine nacelles, like in AI, are a nice touch. But I got fooled once, thinking i was going to board one of their brand new 320s. Only on the airstairs did I notice that my flight had double bogey landing gears.. seen only on the oldest of Indian's 320s. Buggers had started repainting them already. The older ones have blotchy white paint, in case you want to tell the difference.

Jet is what I hate though. I've always had a thing against them for having a livery too close to that of Singapore. And when they finally changed, they didnt go the whole hog. Just a half hearted introduction of yellow to the front of the fuselage. I would've ranted more were it not for the sexy yellow uniforms they have given their cabin crew. That and the fact that they have ordered some 330s along with their 777s and 787s. And again, its not that the aircraft dont look cool, its just that i would have loved some more change. Of course, to each his own.

The one that takes the cake, though, is Air I
ndia Express. Its nothing short of revolutionary. Like the first AI 747s with the palace in the sky livery that was intricate and out-of-the-world for that era. The photographic stickers on the tail depicting bits of Indian culture, from art to dance to architecture, is simply brilliant. Each aircraft has a different picture on either side of the tail, each more intricate than the next in detail. It remains to be seen how AIX can manage maintenance on these, but for the moment I'm willing to put my money on these beauties for the title of 'most beautiful 737s in the skies' today.


An ode to my bike.. ;-)

a few reasons why i love or not-so-love the karizma.....:)

Absolute power... the modified rx 100 135 etc, as well as all pulsars are easily left behind... waaaay behind. not to mention some city cruisers :D

Of course, with great power comes great responsibility. the other day i was drivin at around a 100 on mg road when somthin whacked me upside the head.. was my own bag that flew off at that speed, but being attaced to me by a shoulder strap, swung around and hit me. and im left wondering who dares catch up with me, hit me on the head and disappear at that speed... hayabusa?

Looks man, looks. babes dig you on this machine.. u really have to ride it to believe it. get on brigade street and, well, if there arent too many karizmas around, u have the entire attention. and this is only slight exaggeration. its the best when u overtake guys ridin with their gfs like they werent moving at all, then slow down, allow them to catch up, give the girl a look/smile, and pull out again.

You begin to indulge the lesser bikers a bit. the usual means of doing this is to let them catch up, overtake, and just when they are baskin in the glory of havin overtaken 225ccs, treat them to a blast of your exhaust.

Of course the babes would be no good if the bike were designed, like the pulsar, to crush your balls everytime you hit the front brakes or attempted a stoppie.

Whatever be the little troubles with the bike u cant get angry at her... one look at it in the morning sunlight and you feel all your troubles belong to someone else...especially that guy with the Platina next door :)

People are always out to get you...the first thing they ask is mileage:(

For a splendor, fill it shut it forget it. for 'zma (fill it, shut it) infinite loop. forget (filling) it at the end of the month.

Makes you a sentimental man. oh yeah? try riding at 100 with no glasses on :( you'll be in tears of joy literally...

Makes you a well dressed man. i've started wearing cotton trousers for fear of my jeans scratching the tank.

Makes you an important figure in world politics and directly influence oil prices. considering that your annual fuel intake more than matches the total intake of a few african countries...

Your hatred of auto drivers comes a full circle. first you hated having to deal with them at all. now you resent their very presence on the road. especially when you're tearing down mg road at 100 and lo, the stupid auto had to cut left...

Source of constant amazement. especially at traffic signals when you notice that the traffic on the road is actually moving... at karizma speeds you are inclined to treat all objects as stationary.

Will not go slow. will never ever go slow. the bike will commit suicide before going slow. not in first gear, not in any gear. no sir. only when u turn the engine off, switch to neutral, get off and push does it go slow. and even then, i doesnt look slow enough and you have that niggling fear in your mind whether shes still drinkin a bit of petrol as an after hours snack.

You occasionally feel like kissing her. damn.

Ok didnt feel like writing anything new to put here, so here's an old piece.