Bernard M. “Barney” Oliver was HP’s director of research for 3 decades, from 1952 to 1981. His list of patents, engineering achievements, and science awards was bogglingly large, and included many of the most prestigious awards in these fields. He was also a stickler for the proper use of English; and for clear communication that could move people by answering the “why?” questions, even as it informed them by answering the “what and how?”. That talent was one of many things that set him apart from his peers.
His most lasting achievement is related to that talent. The 1971 Project Cyclops report [PDF format, 14.5 MB | Print version] laid out the basis for theories of intelligent life in the universe, and was instrumental in the creation of NASA’s famous SETI (Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence) project.
Time may tell us how many of SETI’s premises turn out to be true. Until those verdicts are rendered, Dr. Oliver’s work is offered as a fascinating read – and a gold standard for excellent written communication in the aerospace, engineering, and technical policy fields.
In December 2008, the French aircraft manufacturer Dassault announced that France’s Structure integree de maintien en condition operationnelle des materiels aeronautiques du ministere de la Defense (SIMMAD) had signed a 10-year contract to maintain the 120 Rafale fighters France has ordered to date for its Air Force and Navy.
This contract follows the nascent global trend toward pay for performance in military maintenance. The 10-year “Rafale Care” global contract does use maintenance payments based on operational availability and flying hours, rather than materials and labor. The contract also includes a commitment to reduce those costs per hour over time, in a similar manner to many corporate outsourcing agreements. Unlike Britain’s fully comprehensive “future contracting for availability” model, however, “Rafale Care” covers the aircraft but not the engine (Snecma), radar (Thales), countermeasures and weapon systems.
Costs were not disclosed, but Defense News quotes a Dassault spokesman as saying that the larger twin-engine Rafale costs about 15% more per flight hour than the Mirage 2000 lightweight fighter. The French Armee de l’Air also refused to provide figures, saying that they were heavily dependent on key variables like flight and mission profiles. Dassault Aviation | Defense News.