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Rebuilding the Arrow

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    The real question regarding rebuilding a flying, supersonic Arrow, is whether it is indeed feasible. From an emotional perspective, rebuilding a flying Arrow makes good copy. Newspapers and magazines across the country have carried the story. Emotion aside though, issues need to be addressed by anyone considering such an endeavour.

      Rebuilding the Arrow from existing parts is problematic because not all the necessary parts are available. Secondly, refurbishing 41-year-old parts, many of which were uniquely designed, would prove an impossible challenge without the necessary tooling, all of which was destroyed when the project was cancelled. Reassembling them into an airworthy supersonic fighter makes the task that much more improbable. Even if a warehouse full of brand new parts was discovered, each would have to be inspected to the original drawings and most would need to undergo testing to ensure integrity. Parts have a certain shelf-life, which must be respected.

     Can one rebuild using modern materials and the latest in cadcam computer design techniques? The answer is yes but and it is a very big "but".One contention is that a number of the original drawings exist.

      There is one significant problem, which must be recognized. It would not matter if all the original drawings existed. Those drawings were developed based on engineering calculations and computations and thousands of hours of testing, for the characteristics of the existing materials of the day. Changing those original materials and replacing them with modern ones would obviate all those original drawings. Everything would have to be recalculated and re-tested from scratch. Centre of gravity, weight, drag and thermal coefficients and load and stress factors would all change, to name a few. It took over a thousand of the world's top engineers, technicians and technologists to design and prepare the original parts and drawings. If it were such a simple task using today's computing power, the major aircraft builders would not be spending hundreds of millions of dollars in aircraft development. The fact is the design would have to be redone from scratch. This is not a simple task and never has been.

      Engines represent the next big dilemma. Modern engines would need to be used. One has only too look back at the real Arrow to understand the cost and engineering impact on design with respect to altering the engine types from the originals. With different engines and new materials, the result could be made to look like an Arrow but it would not be an Arrow.

      What would it cost to build an aircraft from scratch for a one off prototype? The word astronomical comes to mind. According to audit records from 1959, the original research and development on the airframe and engines was just over $200 million dollars. One can well imagine what would be required today. Remember that this is a supersonic aircraft, not a 1950s roadster.

      Assuming the money was available, who would redo the design and testing, volunteers? If not, how would professionals be paid? How many specialists would it take? How many hours would be required? Who are the skilled artisans that would actually do the work of manufacture and assembly? What safety measures would have to be put into effect? Again, if building a supersonic fighter was a simple task, why has Canada not begun rebuilding modern fighters for the world? Why again do the aircraft giants in the United States and elsewhere form consortia to get the job done?

      Rebuilding a flyable 77 foot long supersonic aircraft requires a lot of specialized tooling for final and sub-assembly, not to mention floor workspace. Who will provide this workspace? The original Arrow required specialized wind tunnel testing. Where would this be done today? What about all the test and evaluation that would be required on components, parts, major assemblies and the like? Answers to these questions are crucial in seriously considering such a rebuild.

      In such a scheme, funding is obviously an issue. How much would be required? Would the funding be returned if the task were abandoned? How would spending be monitored and reported?

      The aircraft would require flight certification. Proof would be needed that the aircraft was built to all pertinent standards in order to satisfy Transport Canada requirements. Remember, as a rebuild, this would be considered a non-military aircraft and would require DOT certification. Configuration control of the thousands of drawings needed to recreate the design would be required. What would be the consequence if it crashed on initial flight? Who would shoulder the responsibility? What would it cost to train a pilot?

      Rebuilding a supersonic aircraft that looks like the Arrow is definitely possible, but would effectively require re-establishing an aircraft industry, for a one shot rebuild of a sixties technology aircraft. Anyone considering such a venture should consider the points raised here as a minimum.

      Finally, Jim Floyd, the original Chief Engineer of the Arrow said it best,

"Why?"

Palmiro Campagna P. Eng., Author

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PLEASE NOTE: THIS REBUILDING THE ARROW ARTICLE IS DIRECTED AT A CERTAIN AUTHOR THAT WAS COLLECTING MONEY TO REBUILD A FULL SIZE FLYING ARROW USING AUTHENTIC AVRO PARTS, NOT AT THE AVROE MUSEUM FLYING ARROW PROJECT, WHICH IS USING MODERN HIGH TECHNOLOGY TO BUILD A 75% FLYING ARROW.

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