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A round peg in a world of square holes...

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Blame it on the moon

       The moon has posed BAE Systems an unusual problem during the final assembly of the Typhoon jet fighter.
       On the Lancashire coast, at Warton, where the aircraft is assembled, the movements of the tides and the moon's gravitational pull have resulted in the tight tolerances being thrown out of alignment.
       Martin Topping, final assembly operations manager, explained: "Every time the moon pulls the tide in and out, the ground moves by between one and two millimeters."
       So BAE has spent £2.5 million putting in alignment facilities which use laser trackers and computer-automated jacks to cope with the distortion. In addition, each airframe is built on giant floating concrete rafts on which the measuring equipment sits.
       Topping said: "Each concrete raft is over 3m deep and 18m long. All nine automated jacks and both laser trackers are positioned on one surface, ensuring all movement is relative, achieving a near-perfect alignment whatever the moon may be doing."
       BAE said it had resulted in one of the most perfectly aligned fast jet airframes in the world. Although 15m long from tip to tip, the variation of each Typhoon assembled is minute.
       This in turn helps the fly-by-wire computer system to accurately control the aircraft, designed to be unstable in flight to allow superior agility.

("Typhoon stays still while the earth moves."   Professional Engineering 20.5 (2007): 12.)

So, there you have it, HONDA (Hotrods Of No Dramatic Acceleration) Rice Boys have another excuse when they lose a race and/or crash and burn — the gravitational pull of the moon and the resulting tide caused the ground to move by one to two millimeters, resulting in an out-of-control vehicle due to massive understeer. Those (ludicrously) over-cambered wheels are mighty sensitive, you know?



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