Skip to comments.FAQ: The V1-VR Terrorist Runway Kill Zone (RKZ) Frequently Asked Questions
Posted on 05/04/2013 9:15:45 AM PDT by Seizethecarp
What is the V1-VR terrorist runway kill zone (RKZ)?
The RKZ is a zone on an airport takeoff runway between two points called V1 and VR that every large multi-engine jet aircraft, such as Air Force One, must pass through while taking off.
Here is a cockpit video of a 747-400 where the co-pilot can be heard to call out V1″ at 1:24 and then call out rotate (VR) at 1:30, as required for all takeoffs. The runway zone travelled by the aircraft in the 6 seconds between V1 and VR for this takeoff is the RKZ.
If any two engines on a large multi-engine jet can be disabled in the RKZ by a terrorist attack, the aircraft will not be able to gain enough altitude to return to the airport and will almost certainly crash. The availability of inexpensive, GPS-guided autonomous model aircraft and helicopters (drones and UAVs) that are capable of precisely targeting the runway path of each jet engine in the RKZ makes terrorist attacks increasingly probable.
How big a target for terrorists is the intake turbofan of a Boeing 747 jet engine coming down the runway in the RKZ?
The intake fan diameter of the GE CF6-80C2 turbofan used on Air Force One or a 747-400 is 93 inches (2.36 m) or nearly 8 feet wide (7 ft 9 in).
The latest drone, UAV, model aircraft and model helicopter GPS autopilot systems are designed to enable autonomous flight and incorporate location accuracy enhancement technologies called DGPS and WAAS. These GPS enhancements enable a location accuracy radius within the radius of a 747 engine intake ( 1/2 of 2.36 meter diameter = 1.18 meters, or 1/2 of 93 inch diameter = 3 ft 8.5 inches).
(Excerpt) Read more at runwaykillzone.com ...
“A radio transmitter, placed in the vicinity of the normal VR location, using low power, transmitting conflicting control signals could possibly defeat any attempts by someone hoping to use a drone to effect the crash of a heavy commercial aircraft.”
If you read down the blog at the link the inexpensive GPS/inertial autopilots that are available for model aircraft are discussed and links provided.
Model aircraft equipped with GPS/inertial autopilots DO NOT rely exclusively on radio control. If the location of an engine at VR at the end of the Runway Kill Zone can be calculated in three dimensions with near certainty for a specific airframe, such as a 747-400, the runway can be “mined” by programing the drone copter to proceed to that location as a “waypoint.” No further RC commands would be needed.
“Not really Load weight determines the speed of acceleration and a terrorist would need to know the weight and takeoff performance of the aircraft to know when the aircraft will be at a specific point and the terrorist would need to know the acceleration and performance characteristics of their weapon to get the weapon and the engine to be at the same place at the same time.”
I disagree strongly. BTW, three out of four of the 9-11 attacks using three separate “implausible” strategies were successful.
I guarantees that if you go to an airport where the same fully loaded 747 (passengers, cargo and fuel) takes off every day on a regularly scheduled flight, the V1-VR zone for the take-off.
This blog post was written a year ago and the new capabilities of minicopters hadn’t been fully apparent to me so, yes I was contemplating terrorist use of model jet turbine aircraft to make an attack which requires calculating trying to get the drone to the RKZ and the same time the airliner arrives there, but...
...mini-copter can be instructed to proceed to a three-dimensional waypoint in the runway path of an engine and just sit there waiting for the engine to come speeding down the runway to collide with it. It would have no radar return and could be hidden in grass nearby and instructed to pop-up and go to the waypoint at the last minute, for example.
Nope. If you knew anything about large aircraft you wouldnt have said such a thing. That point changes significantly.
I didn’t say “the same type” aircraft. I said, “the same scheduled airliner”. Passenger loads vary day to day but your Monday AM or Friday last PM birds are normally jam packed to capacity.
Cargo planes are the same during gift associated holidays. All Fed Ex birds are flying at weight capacity during the Christmas rush. Their VR points are all going to be very similar for type and model aircraft. Data which is easily determined by the N numbers.
It won’t be quite so easy as there has to be a dozen different models of the 400. I think the latest is 747-400XQLR. Each aircraft has a different base weight and capacity weight that comes into play.
Not saying that it can’t be done but just that it won’t be real easy.
That I have no idea of. Did you notice that I said “I am not sure how this would affect the Airbus - fly by wire aircraft If your Smart phone must be turned off for takeoff and landing they are susceptible to radio waves, I presume. I don’t know anything about Airbus aircraft except I have waited in line behind them to takeoff.
“The drone operator would have to know the numbers for each model aircraft, TO weight, effect of wind, temp, field elevation, pressure...and then would have to be able to control the drone so as to have it in the exact spot required....”
True, and entirely within the capacity of, for example, the planners of 9-11.
I would expect a terrorist to focus on one and only one high value airframe for a particular attack plan (a particular 747-200B comes to mind, to start with, but that would be a “hard target”). Multiple attack variables could be programed into the control station of the drone and at the last minute the variables for a particular airframe could be sent to the drone.
If a person reads down the whole blog and goes to the supporting links and videos, I think this kind of attack will be seen as more feasible.
The FBI and an NTSB investigator certainly thought making such an attack in the air in three dimensions miles from the airport in a Landing Approach Kill Zone (LAKZ...blog pending) as can be seen at the bottom of my opening comment to JR.
“It wont be quite so easy as there has to be a dozen different models of the 400. I think the latest is 747-400XQLR. Each aircraft has a different base weight and capacity weight that comes into play.”
But, IIRC, all 747-400s have the engines mounted exactly at the same distance from the centerline, for starters. Daily observation, as was previously pointed out, could nail down VR for a particular scheduled flight.
BTW, on the blog there are links to a 747 takeoff cockpit Youtube there is a great head-on Youtube of a 747 during takeoff shot straight down the runway from a public access location. A terrorist with only an RC airframe might even achieve a direct hit from such a vantage point where only TWO dimensions are involved!
Runway security may become a higher priority than it is today.
Yep. The only way I see a drone operator hitting an engine of a 747 is with visual guidance and with some luck still. Doable but there are far more effective and less risky means to harm airplanes in Afghanistan.
“BTW, three out of four of the 9-11 attacks using three separate implausible strategies were successful.”
implausible to whom exactly? That strategy the 911 attackers used was already known and warned about in the intelligence community.
“If your Smart phone must be turned off for takeoff and landing they are susceptible to radio waves, I presume.”
Unfortunately, that presumption has been around even in the aviation community. However, I can guarantee you there has not been a single incident of a smartphone interfering with flight control systems or even navigation systems. In fact, the FAR, Federal Aviation Regulations, in no way require devices to be turned off. The FAR simply gives the PIC, Pilot in Command, the authority over that decision. The FCC disallows phones in the air to protect cell towers from being bombarded by signals at altitude where phones may hit dozens or even hundreds of towers at once. Cell system operators asked for that regulation.
If we are to become paranoid about what someone can do then we must lock down everything and close all roadways. I could easily just bump you at highway speed from the road and maybe kill you. I could knock you over as you road a bicycle. We could even just push you down a flight of stairs.
There are no protections in the real world from all evil. It is a simple fact of life.
Like I said I don’t know squat about an Airbus. I haven’t flown on commercial airlines in twenty years so I haven’t kept up with the aircraft being used nowadays.
Any comments on the 777 engine explosion at Las Vegas?
Thanks for calling this to my attention as a possible “kill zone” event. My personal health issues have clouded my cognitive ability so badly that when I saw this story it didn’t even occur to me that this could have been a drone strike!
The 777 is a poor choice of airframe for a terrorist to hit because each engine can easily lift the plane off the runway by itself. There really aren’t as many kill zone probabilities per se with this aircraft like there could be with a 707 or 747 4-engine airframe under certain conditions that a terrorist could more likely exploit in the research that I have done.
It will be interesting to see what caused the engine to fail in this instance.
Did the engine fail due to some internal flaw or did it ingest something...like a bird or drone?
If it was a drone, was it some stupid local idiot or a terrorist drone, such as the sort of one that I have been warning about?
Early findings show the failure occurred where the engine was under the highest pressure, though there was no immediate indication of what caused it or the fire that forced 170 people to evacuate Tuesday at McCarran International Airport as smoke poured from the aircraft.
“You really don’t see catastrophic or uncontained engine failure like this very often,” said John Cox, an aviation safety consultant who spent 23 years as a U.S. Airways pilot. He said the failure indicates parts sliced through the engine casing.
The National Transportation Safety Board said there was damage to the armored shell around the left engine’s high-pressure compressor, and several 7- to 8-inch fragments of the compressor were found on the tarmac.