“I begin to think, that a calm is not desirable in any situation in life…. Man was made for action and for bustle too, I believe.”
Hello to 2020 – hopefully a better year!
To all our weekly APAnews readers, we welcome you back to what I believe will be an improved business year in 2020. There are many reasons for my optimism that are broadly reflected in overall improved world economy, the important change in political will in South Africa being the macro economic reasons. However, within aviation the 2020 calendar of events has never looked more exciting with more than 58 local and regional events scheduled, which is more than one per week. In addition, through the year additional aviation will be added to the schedule. This is also a very import year as the centenary of the Aero Club of South Africa and several important celebrations are scheduled to mark this important occasion. African Pilot is also entering its 19th year of continuous publishing and later in the year, I intend to bring out a beautiful coffee table book to mark African Pilot’s 20th year of publishing. As always I welcome our readers’ interaction with African Pilot, so please keep your comments coming to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
African Pilot’s January 2020 edition
The digital January 2020 edition was mailed to ALL subscribers on Thursday 12 December, earlier than usual so that our loyal subscribers would have this edition on their electronic devices well before the holidays. In addition, the printed edition was delivered to our national distributors well before the end of year holidays in 2019. The January edition also has a FREE 2020 A2 wall calendar that shows most of the important aviation events for the year.
African Pilot’s February 2020 edition
The February edition will feature those businesses at Grand Central Airport as well as all currently manufactured Piston Powered Aircraft. The editorial and advertising deadline for this edition is Friday 10 January 2020. For advertising positions please contact Adrian Munro at Tel: 0861 001130 Cell: 079 880 4359 or e-mail: email@example.com. Thank you.
About African Pilot
There is no doubt that African Pilot provides the finest overall media reach of all aviation publications in Africa where we are in a position to provide professional video and stills photography, website development, social media platforms, company newsletters as well as several other important media services to our customers. Naturally the monthly printed magazine has an incredibly long shelf life due to its excellent design and layout. Then of course the monthly magazine is also available as a digital edition where ALL advertisers have enjoy the direct routing to their websites at a touch on a smart phone or tablet as well as a click of the mouse on a computer screen.
Do you want instant aviation news and opinions?
Visit www.APAcom.co.za and register yourself as a user
Video of the week: Canadian Snowbirds at Oshkosh - 30 July 2016
Should you be interested in having your aviation event filmed, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
SOUTH AFRICAN AVIATION NEWS
ACSA appoints a new CEO
Effective 1 February 2020, Nompumelelo (Mpumi) Mpofu has been appointed as new CEO of Airports Company South Africa (ACSA). According to a statement issued late last year, she joins ACSA at a time when ‘the company is charting a fresh course for its future’. Presently Mpofu is Director General in the Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation in the Presidency. According to the statement, she has extensive experience spanning over 25 years in the fields of transport, infrastructure development, local government and town, urban and regional planning. She was also the leader of the Government Transport Plan for the FIFA World Cup 2010 and oversaw ACSA’s airport development and redevelopment programme for 2010. Mpofu holds an honours degree in urban and regional planning, a graduate degree in town planning from Coventry University in the United Kingdom, as well as a certificate in local government management from Oxford University.
What is scheduled for the next few weeks?
African Pilot’s 2020 calendar
We will publish the aviation calendar within APAnews three months ahead, but you can always visit African Pilot’s website: www.africanpilot.co.za if you would like to obtain the full calendar for the entire year.
18 & 19 January
SAC Gauteng Regionals and Judges Trophy at Vereeniging Airfield
Contact Annie Boon E-mail: email@example.com
SAPFA Rand Airport Challenge Rand Airport Germiston
Contact Frank Eckard E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Cell: 083 269 1516
SAPFA AGM at Rand Airport at 14h00
Contact Rob Jonkers E-mail: email@example.com Cell: 082 804 7032
SAPFA Speed Rally Witbank Airfield
Contact Jonty Esser E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Cell: 082 855 9435
SAPFA Rally Navigation Training Course Venue AeroSud
Contact Mary de Klerk E-mail: email@example.com Cell: 084 880 9000
4 and 5 March
Aviation Africa Summit and Exhibition Addis Ababa 2020
Contact Tel +44 (0) 170 253 0000
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org / email@example.com
4 to 8 March
IADE International Aerospace & Defence exhibition Tunisia
Website: www.expomediatunisia.com E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
SAPFA Brakpan Fun Rally at Brakpan Airfield
Contact Frank Eckard E-mail: email@example.com Cell: 083 269 1516
7 and 8 March
SAC KZN Regionals at Ladysmith Airfield
Contact Annie Boon E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
SAPFA Speed Rally at Bethlehem Airfield
Contact Jonty Esser E-mail: email@example.com Cell: 082855 9435
The Airplane Factory breakfast fly-in at Tedderfield Airfield
Contact Shanelle McKechnie E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Cell: 066 224 2128
21 and 22 March
FASHKOSH airshow at Stellenbosch Airfield
Contact: Anton Theart E-mail: email@example.com Cell: 079 873 4567
31 March – 5 April
Sun ‘n Fun Aerospace Expo. Lakeland, Florida, USA
Contact Neil Bowden Cell 084 674 5674
E-mail: Neil1@telkomsa.net or firstname.lastname@example.org
1 to 4 April
AERO Friedrichshafen, Germany Global show for General Aviation
Contact Stephan E-mail: Stephanie.email@example.com
2 to 4 April
SAPFA Rally Nationals and Fun Rally at Stellenbosch Airfield
Contact Frank Eckard E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Cell: 083 269 1516
3 to 5 April
Groblersdal Flying Club fly-in at Groblersdal Airfield
Contact Richard Nicholson E-mail: email@example.com Cell: 082 490 6227
Robertson annual fly-in breakfast
Contact Alwyn du Plessis E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Cell: 083 270 5888
Wings and Wheels Festival at Uitenhage Airfield
Contact Lourens Kruger E-mail: email@example.com Cell: 082 320 2615
Aero Club of South Africa Centenary Banquet venue TBA
Contact Marie Reddy E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Cell: 083 259 7691
Aero Club of South Africa Annual General Meeting EAA Auditorium Rand Airport
Contact Sandra Strydom E-mail: email@example.com Tel: 011 082 1100
Garden Route Airshow
Contact Brett Scheuble E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Cell: 084 418 3836
AFRICAN AVIATION NEWS
MONUSCO in DRC extended until December 2020
The United Nations Organisation Stabilisation Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo or MONUSCO, an acronym based on its French name (French: Mission de l’Organisation des Nations unies pour la stabilisation en République démocratique du Congo), is a United Nations peacekeeping force in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) which was established by the United Nations Security Council in resolutions 1279 (1999) and 1291 (2000) of the United Nations Security Council to monitor the peace process of the Second Congo War, though much of its focus subsequently turned to the Ituri conflict, the Kivu conflict and the Dongo conflict. Now South Africa’s sole continental commitment to peacekeeping, the UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) will continue at least until December 2020.
This is in accordance with a UN Security Council decision to extend the MONUSCO mandate taken at its mid-December meeting. This includes its Force Intervention Brigade (FIB), the first ever UN force to be given an offensive mandate in its efforts to protect civilians. South African soldiers and airmen are integral components brigade with Tanzania and Malawi the other troop and equipment contributing countries to the brigade. According to the Security Council MONUSCO’s authorised troop ceiling will comprise 14 000 military personnel, 660 military observers and staff officers, 591 police personnel and 1 050 personnel of formed police units, with a further temporary deployment of an additional 360 personnel of formed police units to be deployed in replacement of military personnel.
WORLDWIDE ACCIDENTS AND INCIDENTS
Sudan military plane crash kills 18 people
Five minutes after take-off, an Antonov An-12A of the Sudanese Air Force crashed in Darfur, western Sudan. Eighteen occupants including four children were killed. The military plane was about to carry out a flight from Geneina Airport (EGN) to Khartoum International Airport (KRT) with 13 people on board. It had just delivered humanitarian aid to residents of El Geneina, a city affected by ethnic violence.
“All of its occupants, seven crew members, three judges and eight civilians, including four children, perished,” said military spokesman Amer Mohammed Al-Hassan in the statement. An investigation is underway to determine the causes of the crash. The Sudanese Air Force (SAF) flies a mix of Chinese and Russian-made aircraft that are frequently affected by mishaps, mainly due to technical problems. In April 2016, an Antonov 26 of the SAF crashed during a landing attempt at El Obeid Airport (EBD), killing all five crew members.
Deadly helicopter crash kills Taiwan top military chief
On 2 January a Taiwanese military helicopter crashed in a mountainous area near the capital of Taipei. Eight of the thirteen occupants were killed, including Taiwan’s chief of the general staff. The UH-60M Blackhawk helicopter took off from Taipei-Songshan airbase and was on its way to another military base at Dong’ao, north-east of Taiwan. The aircraft was transporting a delegation of several military officials, including chief of the general staff Shen Yi-ming, the country’s top military commander. Ten minutes into the flight, contact was lost. The helicopter crashed southeast of Taipei, the country’s capital.
Taiwan’s defence ministry reported a search and rescue team, composed of two helicopters and a hundred soldiers on the ground, located the wreckage in a mountainous and densely forested area. Five occupants were rescued, but the remaining eight were found dead. Due to poor weather conditions at the crash site, survivors could not be evacuated by helicopter and had to be taken to the nearest hospital through ‘muddy and very steep’ mountain roads, the supervisor of the operation said. The helicopter involved, registration number 933, was delivered to the Taiwanese Air Force (ROCAF) in 2018. An investigation was opened to determine the reasons behind the crash.
Bek Air’s Fokker 100 with 100 onboard crashes in Kazakhstan
On 7 December 2019 a Fokker 100 aircraft belonging to Bek Air lost altitude and crashed into a building during take-off near Almaty (Kazakhstan). There were 98 people onboard; initial reports indicate that at least 12 of them have not survived the accident. However, more than 20 survivors were hospitalised, many of them in a critical condition. The aircraft, which was carrying 93 passengers, including eight children and five crew members, crashed during take-off in the area of Almerek village. It lost altitude and hit a two-story building. Founded in 2011, Bek Air is a scheduled airline based at Almaty Airport (ALA) in Kazakhstan. It served 10 domestic destinations using a fleet of 12 aircraft: ten Fokker 100s and one Airbus A340. Bek Air’s Fokker 100 fleet is over 27 years old. The aircraft involved in the accident, registration number UP-F1007, first entered service in 1996. Following the accident, Kazakhstan’s Civil Aviation Authority has suspended Bek Air’s Air Operator’s Certificate.
NTSB working to remove wreckage from HI helicopter accident
On 26 December 2019, an Airbus AS350 B2 helicopter, registration number N985SA, collided with terrain about 24 miles northwest of Lihue, Hawaii. The helicopter impacted a ridge at an altitude of 2,900 feet, then fell approximately 100 feet. A post-crash fire consumed much of the aircraft. The helicopter’s commercial pilot and six passengers were killed. The helicopter was registered to SAF Ltd and operated by Safari Helicopters, Inc. under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 135 as an on-demand sightseeing flight. The NTSB dispatched a team of four, led by Investigator-In-Charge Brice Banning, that includes experts in airworthiness, operations and family assistance. They arrived on Kauai, Hawaii, Sunday evening. On Monday, 30 December 2019, Banning flew over the crash site to evaluate the accident site conditions and photo document the wreckage path. In the coming days the wreckage will be moved to a secure location where investigators will conduct a more thorough examination of the recovered evidence.
Chilean Air Force locates debris from downed C-130
Reuters reports that in a news conference held on 12 December, Arturo Merino, head of Chile’s air force, said there were no survivors from the accident. The plane had departed from the southern city of Punta Arenas in Chilean Patagonia on Monday. There were 12 passengers and 17 crew members on board the aircraft. “The condition of the remains we discovered make it practically impossible that anyone could have survived the airplane accident,” Merino said. According to the report, the first debris from the aircraft was found by Chilean air force officials on Wednesday 11 December. Additional wreckage was found by a Brazilian ship operating in the area. Fox News reports that the pilots of the aircraft were very experienced, but likely encountered extreme weather over Drake’s Passage, a remote stretch of ocean between South America and Antarctica. The ocean in that area plunges to depths of as much as 11,500 feet.
Third USAF F-16 crash in less than two months
After a routine sortie, the F-16 was approaching the runway to land when the pilot, alone onboard, ejected. He sustained minor injuries and was released after a short stay in a medical facility. Except for the fighter jet, no damage to other base assets or property was reported. A safety board is investigating the incident. The aircraft involved in the incident that took place on 2 December 2019, was assigned to the 8th Fighter Wing. It operates from Kunsan Air Base, located at Gunsan Airport (KUV), on South Korea’s western coast.
Flying operations were suspended for 24 hours while the 8th Fighter Wing commander assessed if the runway ‘was safe for the use of all personnel and assets,’ it said in a statement. They resumed on 4 December 2019. “I want to thank everyone who worked hard and expediently to make sure we were able to resume operations with safety as our top priority,” said the commander Tad Clark.
Two killed in New Year’s Eve accident in USA
US television station WDAF reports that the two people on board the aircraft were pilot Jonathan Vanatta, 48, who was an investigator for the federal Drug Enforcement Agency. His passenger was 43-year-old Darcy Matthews. The US Justice department said the plane that Vanatta and Matthews were aboard did not belong to the US government and that Matthews was not a DEA employee. A DOJ spokesperson said that Vanatta was not on assignment at the time of the accident but did not comment on why he was in Kansas.
Ed Malinowski, an NTSB air safety investigator said that the damage to the plane was ‘consistent with nearly vertical impact.’ Witnesses living near the airport said the plane made a sharp left turn just after take-off and that there was a post-impact fire. The Kansas Highway Patrol identified the aircraft as a 2000 model Mooney M20S. The plane was registered to Marvin Vannatta Jr. of Shelbyville, Tennessee according to FAA records. Jonathan Vanatta is listed as a second owner of the airplane. The most recent airworthiness certificate for the plane was issued on 20 December 2019.
Delta’s Boeing 767 evacuation slide drops from sky, lands in yard
Delta Air Lines Flight DL405, operated on a Boeing 767-300 (registration N1607B), took off from Paris-Charles de Gaulle (CDG) on 1 December 2019, headed for Boston Logan International Airport (BOS), where it was scheduled to land at around noon. According to the FAA, as cited by The Boston Globe, upon approach to the airport, the pilot reported a ‘loud noise’. After the aircraft had landed safely, it was discovered that the right rear evacuation slide was missing. It was reported that the evacuation slide inflated in-flight and was ripped off the aircraft by the airstream, falling to the ground. The slide landed in a homeowner’s front yard in Milton, a town located around 10 miles south of Boston in the state of Massachusetts. After the slide was found, Milton police alerted the Massachusetts State Police at Boston Logan Airport and the FAA, which has opened an investigation into the incident. Fortunately, there were no injuries or damage to property.
WORLD AVIATION NEWS
Airbus overtakes Boeing as the world’s top aircraft manufacturer
Deutsche Welle reports that Airbus has reclaimed the top spot for the first time since 2012. In 2019, Airbus delivered a record total of 863 aircraft. Whilst at the end of November, Boeing had delivered just 345 airplanes and was on track for its lowest delivery numbers in more than a decade. Analysts attribute a great deal of the slump to the grounding of Boeing’s 373 MAX. Up until it was grounded, the 737 MAX had been Boeing’s best-selling airplane in the company’s history. More than 350 had been registered worldwide and there are about 5,000 on order. According to the report, the 737 MAX represents about 80 percent of the company’s commercial order backlog and about 60 percent of the company’s value. Boeing did continue to lead Airbus in the widebody category. Boeing delivered 225 widebody airplanes in 2019, compared to 147 for Airbus.
American Airlines mechanic admits to plane sabotage attempt
A former American Airlines mechanic has pleaded guilty to ‘attempted destruction of an aircraft’ in a US federal court. The mechanic, accused of trying to sabotage a passenger airplane, admitted to tampering with a critical flight-monitoring device on the airline’s Boeing 737 jet back in July 2019. The sabotage attempt was discovered after a flight carrying 150 people on board was aborted just before take-off from Miami, avoiding a possible crash.
Alani admitted that he intentionally tampered with the air data module (ADM) system of an aircraft that was scheduled to depart from Miami International Airport (MIA) for Nassau, Bahamas, on 17 July 2019. The ADM system reports critical data such as airspeed, altitude and pitch of an aircraft. According to court documents, prior to the aircraft’s scheduled take-off from Miami, Alani had ‘inserted a foam substance into the ADM system and used super glue to hold the substance in place’. His actions were captured on surveillance video and he was also identified by fellow workers.
Alani was arrested on 5 September on suspicion of attempting to sabotage the airplane. He was suspended without pay immediately and fired from American Airlines on 7 September 2019. According to the criminal complaint viewed by The Miami Herald, Alani told federal investigators that ‘his intention was not to cause harm to the aircraft or its passengers’, but that he was ‘upset’ over the stalled contract negotiations between union workers and American Airlines. Alani also said that the bitter dispute had affected him financially. He allegedly explained that he tampered with the aircraft’s ADM system hoping he would get overtime work on the plane. He faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, if convicted.
KLM receives final commercial Boeing 737NG
The final Boeing 737NG to be assembled for an airline left the final assembly line of Renton sporting the KLM Royal Dutch Airlines livery. This 737-800, registered PH-BCL and baptised ‘Red-crested Pochard’ by KLM, flew to its base of Amsterdam-Schiphol (AMS) on 18 December 2019. The aircraft should have been delivered earlier this year. However, a defect was identified on the original fuselage built by the supplier Spirit, which had to be destroyed and replaced. With this new addition, KLM now operates 52 Boeing 737 aircraft in its fleet: 16 X 737-700s, 31 X 737-800s and 5 X 737-900s.
While the PH-BCL is the last 737NG assembled for an airline, the 737NG is not disappearing completely from Boeing’s factories, because from this point onwards the aircraft variants produced will be exclusively for the military: the P-8 Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft and the E-7 Airborne early warning and control aircraft. Following the end of the NG generation, the manufacturer was supposed to focus on the production of MAX. However, as it should be suspended by January 2020, no commercial 737 will leave Boeing’s assembly lines for the first time since 1967.
Aeroflot, Sukhoi begin the largest Superjet 100 transaction
Sukhoi Civil Aircraft, the company that produces the Superjet 100 regional passenger aircraft, said it had handed off the first five aircraft from a deal with Aeroflot, which is due to receive a hundred planes by 2026. According to Sukhoi, the delivery of Superjet 100s to Aeroflot is funded by VEB.RF, the Russian state development corporation. The transaction is the largest one for both the plane manufacturer and the airline.
Having introduced the Superjet 100 for passenger service in June 2011, the country’s national carrier is now the largest operator of the regional jet in the world with 49 jets in its fleet. This is a little under half of all Superjet 100s currently in service, as the active fleet currently stands at 119 aircraft, according to planespotters.net data. Besides the order for an additional hundred Superjet 100s, Aeroflot also has an order for 50 MC-2, the Russian commercial passenger aircraft currently in development. The airline is the launch customer of the aircraft, which is due to enter service in 2020-2021. The carrier would also be the first to introduce MC-21 powered by Russian-made engines Aviadvigatel PD-14.
Meanwhile, multiple reports throughout the year have indicated that Superjet100 was also counting the last days of operations with its only remaining international customer. Mexican airline Interjet has 22 Russian-made aircraft in its fleet, but the vast majority (16) are grounded. The airline has reportedly been looking to return its full Superjet 100 fleet, or as much of it as possible, as it had struggled to pay for repairs of mechanical issues with the PowerJet SaM146 engines and had ‘cannibalised’ (scrapped for parts to repair other aircraft) several of its aircraft.
On a positive note, in October 2019, Sukhoi Civil Aircraft finished the flight test programme of the Superjet 100 new horizontal wingtips called saberlets. With the promise to reduce fuel consumption by at least 4%, the new technology would allow to improve Superjet 100 take-off and landing performance and make the aircraft more appealing to airlines operating on regional runways, in hot weather conditions and on mountain aerodromes. Also starting in 2020, United Aircraft Corporation is starting to form a new model for full-scale technical support for Superjet 100 operators, according to the company’s general director Yury Slyusar cited in a statement by Sukhoi Civil Aircraft.
Emirates’ Clark to step down in 2020
Arabian Business reports that in an unexpected turn of events during the Christmas holiday season, Emirates Airlines President Tim Clark is set to step down from his role and move to an advisory role.
Citing an internal memo sent by the chairman and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the airline group Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, the report indicates that Clark will step down in June 2020. However, he will stay close to the airline and will remain an advisor to Emirates. Clark, who celebrated his 70th birthday on 22 November, is one of the founding members of the Dubai-based carrier that was established in 1985. He started his tenure as Head of Airline Planning and moved to his current role of President in 2003. Most recently, he was publicly blasting aircraft manufacturers, including Airbus and Boeing, left and right: criticizing them due to the lack of reliability on newly built aircraft.
Textron Aviation mates wing and fuselage of first Cessna SkyCourier aircraft
Textron Aviation has successfully mated the wings to the fuselage of the first Cessna SkyCourier twin utility turboprop prototype aircraft, a key milestone in the development of the clean-sheet aircraft. The programme is progressing considerably with the assembly of the prototype and additional five flight and ground test aircraft. Landing gear testing continues as well as avionics ground testing. The first flight of the Cessna SkyCourier is anticipated in 2020. The aircraft will be offered in various configurations including freighter, passenger or combi, all based on a common platform with a 6,000-pound payload. The freighter configuration is designed to accommodate three standard air cargo containers (LD3) while the passenger variant carries up to 19 passengers and baggage.
The Cessna SkyCourier is designed for high utilisation and will deliver a combination of robust performance and lower operating costs. Cessna SkyCourier will feature the popular Garmin G1000 NXi avionics suite and offer highlights such as a maximum cruise speed of up to 200 knots and a maximum range of 900 nm. Both freighter and passenger variants of the Cessna SkyCourier will offer single-point pressure refuelling to enable faster turnarounds.
Airbus begins deliveries of A350s with touchscreen cockpit displays option
Airbus has commenced deliveries to airlines of the first A350s equipped with pioneering new touchscreen cockpit displays. Specially developed for the A350 together with Thales, they will confer enhanced operational efficiencies, greater crew interaction, cockpit symmetry and smoother information management. On 18 December 2019 China Eastern Airlines took delivery in Toulouse of the first A350 equipped with the new devices. To date, around 20 airlines have selected the option for their new A350s.
Of the A350 cockpit’s six large screens, three can now become touch capable: the two outer displays plus the lower-centre display. These displays now offer touchscreen capability for the pilots when presenting Electronic Flight Bag (EFB) applications. This new method of input complements the existing physical keyboard integrated into the retractable table in front of each pilot and also the keyboard and trackball ‘keyboard-cursor control unit’ (KCCU) located on the center console.
The new technology, which was recently certified for the A350 by EASA in November, facilitates ‘pinch-zooming’ and panning gestures and will facilitate more flexibility and better interaction between both pilots, particularly during these scenarios: (a) before take-off (for computing take-off performance while entering data into the flight management system ‘FMS’); (b) in-flight / cruise (for accessing en-route navigation charts) and (c) during approach preparation (for consulting the terminal charts before entering FMS data). Moreover, during high workload phases of flight, the touchscreen capability reduces need for pilots to make multiple cursor inputs and avoids them having to flip between different displays when using the EFB applications collaboratively on the lower center display. By the end of November, the A350 XWB Family had received 959 firm orders from 51 customers.
AirVenture 2020 to commemorate 75th anniversary of the end of WWII
EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2020 will feature expanded warbird flying activities as the annual Experimental Aircraft Association fly-in convention commemorates the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II. The 68th annual EAA fly-in convention takes place 20 to 26 July at Wittman Regional Airport in Oshkosh.
EAA AirVenture will tell the many aviation stories of The Greatest Generation and the worldwide conflict during its renowned afternoon airshows. It will feature flying displays and groups that are favourites for EAA audiences. Highlighting the weeklong commemoration will be major airshow flying activities on Wednesday, 22 July as well as on Friday and Saturday 24 and 25 July. Specific aircraft and flying demonstrations are still being finalised for EAA AirVenture 2020 but will feature aircraft from both the European and Pacific Theatres. Additional highlights will tell the stories of remarkable heroism and pioneering technology that changed the course of the war. Further details on individual highlights and aircraft will be announced as they are finalised.
Airliner order boom appears to be cooling
For the past few years, both Boeing and Airbus have announced huge orders for airliners, sometimes numbering in the hundreds of units. The buying spree by airlines has led to a backlog of more than $800 billion combined between the two manufacturers. However, it appears that order boom is cooling, if not going bust, led in part by the lengthy grounding of the 737 MAX fleet. There are other factors at play as well, because Boeing and Airbus will begin the third decade of the 21st century looking at slowing air traffic growth and trade wars. There is also lower demand for wide-body jets that command a higher price, which has led to the pending demise of the Airbus A380 super-jumbo jet. The past 10 years have seen the two major manufacturers amass orders for 20,000 airplanes, which is 66 percent above the previous decade. Now both Boeing and Airbus say their pipelines are full and they are having trouble keeping up with the pace for manufacturing and deliveries.
British pilots fly around the world in a restored Spitfire
On 5 December, the Silver Spitfire Longest Flight expedition came to a triumphant end as friends, family, colleagues and hundreds of fans welcomed G-IRTY home to a frosty Goodwood Aerodrome. Escorted by two of the Red Arrows Display Team, the Silver Spitfire and the PC-12 support aircraft flew across the English Channel and over the White Cliffs of Dover before making it home safely. It was an emotional moment for all the crew and those who had turned out to show their support. The circumnavigation took four months to complete. Pilots Steve Brooks (58) from Burford, Oxfordshire and Matt Jones (45) from Exeter, Devon made stops in 100 locations in 30 countries. The flight originated and finished at Goodwood Aerodrome in West Sussex. The airport is the base of Boultbee Flight Academy and the first-ever school for Spitfire pilots. This airplane was first built in 1943. It was followed by a PC-12 chase plane on a route that crossed Scotland, the US, Canada, Japan, Russia, India, Europe and then back to Britain.
Insulin-controlled diabetics can obtain second and first-class medicals
The US FAA has released a new protocol to allow individuals with insulin-controlled diabetes to apply for and obtain second- and first-class medical certificates. Previously, these airmen were limited to third-class medicals. The protocol makes used of continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) technology, which has seen widespread adoption among patients with insulin-controlled diabetes in recent years. The blood glucose history these devices provide allows the FAA to make more informed decisions on issuance and simplifies the procedure for pilots to monitor blood glucose before and during flight. The FAA will also make this CGM-based protocol available to holders of third-class medicals as well.
For diabetics not dependent on insulin, the FAA has a relatively straightforward process for special issuance certification that has been in place for many years and many medication-based treatments are acceptable. The FAA has a worksheet to assist medication-controlled diabetic pilots in certification. Diet-controlled diabetes with documentation of successful treatment is eligible for certification without a special issuance.
Luxury design goes vertical
In December Transcend Air Corporation announced that it is partnering with renowned VIP aircraft interior design firm Huslig Collective in the building of the new luxury edition of its VTOL aircraft, the Vy 400R. The Vy 400R is the luxe version of the Vy 400 vertical take-off and landing aircraft. The base Vy 400 will be used in airline service between major city pairs. Designed for people who want to be the first to own new technology, the Vy 400R features custom interior appointments, specially configured seats and exclusive paint schemes. Every Vy 400R is a true VTOL, needing no more than a standard helicopter pad for take-offs and landings. The aircraft then transitions to a high-speed fixed wing airplane, cruising at over 400 miles per hour. Every Vy 400 and Vy 400R comes with a whole-aircraft parachute system for the ultimate in safety.
F-16 downs drone during cruise missile defence testing
On 19 December 2019 the 85th Test and Evaluation Squadron shot down a subscale drone using an AGR-20A Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System laser-guided rocket, providing a proof of concept for using rockets queued from an F-16 Fighting Falcon targeting pod as viable munitions to perform cruise missile defence. Originally, the AGR-20A was developed as a low cost, low collateral damage air-to-ground weapon for use in Afghanistan and Iraq; adapting the system for counter-air use is momentous. The AGR-20A is a fraction of the cost of the AIM-120 missile, commonly used for cruise missile defence. In addition, the AGR-20A can be loaded faster than an AIM-120 and an aircraft can carry two-to-three times the number weapons.
AFRL successfully completes two and a half-day flight of LEAP drone
The US Air Force Research Laboratory’s Center for Rapid Innovation (CRI) has successfully completed initial flight tests for a revolutionary Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) with a customisable suite of Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) tools that supports extended missions. This series of flight tests began in February 2019 at Dugway Proving Ground, Utah, culminating with a two and a half-day continuous flight demonstration from 9 to 11 December 2019.
The Ultra Long Endurance Aircraft Platform (Ultra LEAP) consists of a high-performance, cost-effective, sport-class commercial airframe converted to a fully automated system with autonomous take-off and landing capabilities. Ultra-LEAP also features secure, easy to use navigation employing anti-jam GPS and full global operational access via a satellite-based command and control and high-rate ISR data relay link. Developing Ultra LEAP from concept to first flight took less than 10 months, whilst the system could be ready for operational fielding as soon as 2020. The high level of automation it provides will enable greatly reduced operator training requirements for the US Air Force. Smaller support crews will also lead to lower operating costs.
Ultra-LEAP employs many of the subsystems and lessons learned from AFRL’s highly successful prior LEAP programme, a UAS that supports missions up to 40 hours. To date, LEAP has completed more than 18,000 combat flight hours and demonstrated one of the lowest mishap rates and smallest mission crew size of any operational UAS in its class. CRI employed the same strategy in both efforts of converting existing aircraft into ISR platforms. Going forward, parallel AFRL-CRI efforts will focus on UAS operations with short take-off and landing distances to support deployments at non-traditional locations.
Drone delivery mailbox on display at CES show
Dronedek, LLC, first position patent holder in the multi-billion-dollar drone delivery receptacle space, is set to unveil its second-generation prototype at the CES Show 7 to 10 January Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. Dronedek’s vision is to disrupt the unchanged mailbox, bringing it up to date from its 1858 inception. As consumer habits change, a smart mailbox; delivering conveniences such as notifications, heating and cooling, reverse logistics, Bluetooth, streaming video, weather reporting, hazard sensing, marketplace conduit and more will complete the last mile solution. Dronedek is set to begin taking subscription orders for end users and is also allowing shippers and deliverers to sign on to the platform and in doing so receive an extended free start-up period.
Weekly News from African Pilot
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Until next week, please be ‘Serious about flying’.
Athol Franz (Editor)