Friday, September 2, 2011

Canadians in...Space


Many Canadians believe Canada would be one of the top nations in the world in aviation and space technology because of the CF 105 Avro Arrow. A delta wing interceptor aircraft, it was powered by the Orenda Iroquois engine, and boasted an on board computer that allowed it to fly by wire instead of hydraulics.  What's so special about that? Where is it now? The design of the CF-105 Avro Arrow was implemented in 1953. Yes. 1953. Production started and the first plane rolled off the line in 1958. It was poised to take over the aviation world and then...

Digital what? Scrap it. Internet? Scrap that too.

...the whole program was scrapped by Canadian Prime Minister John Diefenbaker and his cabinet. Politics. Records indicate high ranking members of the Canadian military recommended canceling this project and some believe Diefenbaker was paid to scrap it, either way it doesn't look good on his resume.




You can read more about the Avro Arrow here but what does this have to do with Canadians in space? Can you name any? What about Canada's space program? Does the acronym NASA sound familiar? 

Following the cancellation of production, the engineers responsible for the Avro Arrow left to join companies like the British Supersonic Transport study responsible for the Concorde, GE, Pratt & Whitney, Lockheed, Boeing and NASA where they welcomed that sort thinking.


Air show


book cover

Photoshopped

Avro engineers joined NASA's Space Task Group. This is the group responsible for developing the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo space programs and Canadians populated this team as lead engineers and program managers. Chief Aerodynamicist, Jim Chamberlain, was a key designer of the Mercury capsule John Glenn used to orbit the earth in 1962 and several ex-Avro engineers and designers were among those working at NASA's Mission Control. Eventually 33 engineers and technicians would join the Space Task Group and this incident became a sickening indicator of Canada's brain drain and why Canadians are significantly NOT in space.

Edit: From the comments, a some of the innovative firsts, that the average person might understand, in the 1953 Avro Arrow design. Full list in comments:

First a/c designed with digital computers being used for both aerodynamic analysis and designing the structural matrix (and a whole lot more).

First a/c to fly on an electronic signal from the stick and pedals. i.e., first fly-by-wire a/c.

First a/c to fly with fly by wire AND artificial feedback (feel). Not even the first F-16's had this.

First high wing jet fighter that made the entire upper surface a lifting body. The F-15, F-22, Su-27 etc., MiG-29, MiG 25 and others certainly used that idea.

First by-pass engine design. (all current fighters have by-pass engines).

First engine to use only 10 compressor sections in a two-shaft design. (The competition was using 17!!)

Courtesy of Randall Whitcomb, "Avro Aircraft and Coldwar Aviation."
© RL Whitcomb 2006
AvroArrow.Org.

All we're left with are artists renderings and models

3 comments:

Noelle said...

Fascinating! I had no idea.

Anonymous said...

You've wondered about the "firsts'" the Arrow was designed with, here are a few. These are all discussed in Randall Whitcombs book "Avro Aircraft and Coldwar Aviation." Remember the year was 1958

The CF-105 Avro Arrow was:

1) First a/c designed with digital computers being used for both aerodynamic analysis and designing the structural matrix (and a whole lot more).

2) First a/c design to have major components machined by CNC (computer numeric control); i.e., from electronic data which controlled the machine.

3) First a/c to be developed using an early form of "computational fluid dynamics" with an integrated "lifting body" type of theory rather than the typical (and obsolete) "blade element" theory.

4) First a/c to have marginal stability designed into the pitch axis for better maneuverability, speed and altitude performance.

5) First a/c to have negative stability designed into the yaw axis to save weight and cut drag, also boosting performance.

6) First a/c to fly on an electronic signal from the stick and pedals. i.e., first fly-by-wire a/c.

7) First a/c to fly with fly by wire AND artificial feedback (feel). Not even the first F-16's had this.

8) First a/c designed to be data-link flyable from the ground.

9) First a/c designed with integrated navigation, weapons release, automatic search and track radar, datalink inputs, home-on-jamming, infrared detection, electronic countermeasures and counter-countermeasures operating through a DIGITAL brain.

10) First high wing jet fighter that made the entire upper surface a lifting body. The F-15, F-22, Su-27 etc., MiG-29, MiG 25 and others certainly used that idea.

11) First sophisticated bleed-bypass system for both intake AND engine/exhaust. Everybody uses that now.

12) First by-pass engine design. (all current fighters have by-pass engines).

13) First combination of the last two points with an "ejector" nozzle that used the bypass air to create thrust at the exhaust nozzle while also improving intake flow. The F-106 didn't even have a nozzle, just a pipe.

14) Use of Titanium for significant portions of the aircraft structure and engine.

15) Use of composites (not the first, but they made thoughtful use of them and were researching and engineering new ones).

16) Use of a drooped leading edge and aerodynamic "twist" on the wing.

17) Use of engines at the rear to allow both a lighter structure and significant payload at the centre of gravity. Everybody copied that.

18) Use of a LONG internal weapons bay to allow carriage of specialized, long-range standoff and cruise missiles. (not copied yet really)

19) Integration of ground-mapping radar and the radar altimeter plus flight control system to allow a seriousstrike/reconnaissance role. The first to propose an aircraft be equally adept at those roles while being THE air-superiority fighter at the same time. (Few have even tried to copy that, although the F-15E is an interesting exception.)

20) First missile armed a/c to have a combat weight thrust to weight ratio approaching 1 to 1. Few have been able to copy that.

21) First flying 4,000 psi hydraulic system to allow lighter and smaller components.

22) First oxygen-injection re-light system.

23) First engine to have only two main bearing assemblies on a two-shaft design.

24) First to use a variable stator on a two-shaft engine.

25) First use of a trans-sonic first compressor stage on a turbojet engine.

26) First "hot-streak" type of afterburner ignition.

27) First engine to use only 10 compressor sections in a two-shaft design. (The competition was using 17!!)

Courtesy of Randall Whitcomb, "Avro Aircraft and Coldwar Aviation."

© RL Whitcomb 2006
AvroArrow.Org.

Frimmy said...

Thank you!