*** Please forward this newsletter to your friends in aviation ***
“I always knew that deep down in every human heart, there is mercy and generosity. No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than the opposite.” Nelson Mandela
From all of us at African Pilot we welcome you to the first APAnews edition of 2019.
We would like to thank all our readers and advertisers for your wonderful support during 2018 a year in which African Pilot grew substantially in market importance within the African continent and abroad:
• African Pilot prints more monthly magazines than any other African aviation magazine
• APAnews reaches more than 100 thousand readers every month
• Our digital footprint continues to grow so that African Pilot is reaching international markets
• Recently we introduced APAcom as an international blog on which any person can post their views about aviation matters
• African Pilot’s video and photographic capability has been substantially enhanced over the past 12 months.
• Recently African Pilot and APAnews together were jointly recognised as one of the top ten aviation publications in the world.
African Pilot’s January 2019 edition
The January 2019 magazine was the final edition that the African Pilot team prepared in 2018 and this edition has started its distribution phase well before the middle of December to be ready for the end of year holidays. This also means that African Pilot has entered its 18th year of uninterrupted publishing for a magazine that I started from scratch all those years ago. This edition contains our annual drones in South Africa feature as well as a report on the EAA Sun ‘n Fun weekend in Brits, Aero Club awards, the Commercial Aviation Association of Southern Africa (CAASA) awards and the first South African Civil Authority (SACAA) awards as well as many other interesting articles. In fact significantly more interesting articles than any other African aviation magazine.
African Pilot’s February 2019 edition
The February 2019 edition will feature business at Grand Central Airport as well as our annual Piston Engine aircraft over 650Kg feature. The closing date for this edition is Wednesday 9 January 2019. For advertising positions please contact Lara Bayliss at Tel: 0861 001130 Cell: 079 880 4359 or e-mail: email@example.com
What is developing at African Pilot?
Now you can download your favourite aviation magazine online
We have re-designed the option for the electronic version of African Pilot to be uploaded via our website. The cost of a single download is R16 (US$2) or R160 (US$20) for a 12-month subscription. In addition, we have created several other options. If you happened to miss out on a particular article or edition, back editions are available.
Do you want instant aviation news and opinions?
Visit APAcom and register yourself as a user
This is easy, just visit www.africanpilot.co.za and register on the APAcom portal once only
Video of the week - ASATV BULLETIN 21 DEC 2018
CEMAIR suspension temporarily lifted with conditions... Including a interview with Captain Glen Warden - Commercial director of Comair and Athol Franz - editor of African Pilot magazine
SOUTH AFRICAN AVIATION NEWS
Disabled pilot fatally injured in Thailand accident
One of two disabled pilots taking part in an around-the-world flight campaign to raise awareness about differently abled people was fatally injured in an accident while landing at Bang Phra in Thailand. African Pilot January 2019 edition pages 26 and 27.
Mike Lomberg, a member of the Morningstar airfield committee, was part of the Handiflight team. On 30 December 2018 the organisation posted on Facebook “we are so sad to inform you of the death of our friend Mike Lomberg due to the accident that happened shortly before he landed at Bang Phra Airport in Thailand. This tragic accident is inexplicable at the moment. The investigation is ongoing.”
The newspaper The Bangkok Post indicated that when first responders arrived at the accident scene, they found the aircraft engulfed in flames. Several power cables were broken in the approach path to the airport, which authorities said appeared to have been hit by the plane during the landing attempt.
Lomberg and the rest of the Handiflight team departed on 18 November from the Geneva, Switzerland airport for their around the world attempt. Lomberg was flying one of two Flight Design CTLS airplanes solo. A third support airplane was accompanying the two disabled pilots. The Aviation Safety Network identifies that airplane as a Piper PA24-250 Comanche HB-OVW being flown by another disabled pilot.
Lomberg was a former test pilot for the South African Air Force with more than 3,800 flight hours, according to the bio posted on the Handiflight website. He suffered a spinal cord injury in 1990 in an automobile accident in which he was a passenger, which left him a paraplegic and ended his test pilot career. But Lomberg continued working in the aerospace industry and got back into aviation in 2011 when he purchased a Glasair Sportsman that was modified to allow him to fly without the use of his legs. The Handiflight expedition was to have lasted nine months, with the team travelling through Australia and New Zealand before crossing the Pacific Ocean to South America, North America and then returning to Europe.
SAAF requires maintenance support for its Dassault Falcons
The South African Air Force (SAAF) is still operating in austerity mode with acquisition replaced by maintenance and product support for its existing fleet. The latest to receive attention in this regard is the pair of Dassault Falcon business jets operated by 21 Squadron, the VIP transport unit based at AFB Waterkloof in Centurion. The requirement issued in an Armscor tender last month is for ‘Falcon fleet product support services for the SAAF Falcons (sic). The tender is assigned to the state-owned defence and security acquisition agency’s acquisition and supply chain for the aero systems division and closes on 31 January.
The pair of Falcon 50s can be rightfully called ‘long in the tooth’, having been taken into the SAAF inventory in 1982 (ZA-CAQ) and 1985 (ZS-CAS). Both aircraft were upgraded in 2005/06 at Duncan Aviation in Nebraska. This saw a full interior and galley refurbishment with engines upgraded to improve economy, reduce maintenance costs and improve range. The austerity mode, initiated by immediate past SAAF Chief, now retired lieutenant general Carlo Gagiano and apparently still in place since current CAF Lieutenant General Zakes Msimang took command in September 2012, has seen no new acquisitions. Instead the focus has gone to maintenance to keep the fleet airworthy. This has seen new service and maintenance contracts entered into as well as tenders for product support.
The Presidential Boeing 737-7ED BBJ Inkwazi (ZS-RSA) has been on receiving end of the ministrations of technical personnel at SAA Technical and is now flying regularly with South Africa’s first citizen aboard. This after it was just about a hangar queen at AFB Waterkloof for various reasons, including former president Jacob Zuma’s apparent dislike of using the aircraft.
What happened in aviation over the past week?
THY A333 at Johannesburg on 18 December 2018, rejected take-off due to open cockpit window
A THY Turkish Airlines Airbus A330-300, registration TC-JNK performing flight TK-43 from Johannesburg (South Africa) to Istanbul (Turkey), was accelerating for take-off from Johannesburg’s runway 21R when the crew rejected take-off at high speed (about 130 knots) due to an open cockpit window. The aircraft slowed safely, the crew declined assistance offered by tower, stopped briefly on the runway, then vacated the runway via taxiway H about 2000 meters down the runway and returned to the apron. A passenger reported the aircraft sustained a blown tyre and some damage to the landing gear. The passengers were taken to hotels. The occurrence aircraft was still on the ground in Johannesburg about 18 hours after the rejected take-off.
What is scheduled for the next few weeks?
EAA Chapter 322 monthly meeting at the Dickie Fritz MOTH Hall, Dower Glen, Edenvale
This meeting will feature a short interactive technical talk by Vice Chairman Sean Cronin, a presentation on slow speed flight by Rob Jonkers and a 20-minute quality HD video for EAA Chapter meetings made by the wizards at EAA USA. Several fly-aways and member project visits are planned both near and far. It is quite apparent that many of the flying members are not receiving regular adequate refresher training. To help make their flying safer, a ‘Training Boot Camp’ over a weekend in the winter is being planned. Our members who are in need of mentoring will be assisted free of charge by those pilots with many years of flying experience, among which are DFE and flying instructors. This camp is to be held at an appropriate airfield where there is little traffic and boasts good overnight accommodation and restaurant facilities.
We are making an effort to encourage younger members into the wonderful world of EAA and aviation by offering under 30’s their first year of EAA Chapter 322 membership for R100. Visitors are always welcome at the meeting and are encouraged to do so for a few meetings without being coerced into becoming members. At Dickie Fritz refreshments and light meals are available.
SAPFA Rand Airport Challenge – Rand Airport
Contact Frank Eckard cell: 083 269 1516 e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
SAPFA Cape Speed Rally – hosted by the Morningstar Flying Club
Contact Hans Potgieter e-mail: email@example.com
BARSA Aviation Summit Venue TBA
Contact Phushaza Sibiya Cell: 072 870 7085
7 to 10 March
Aero Club Air Week and mini airshow at Middelburg
Contact Richardt Lovett Cell 082 771 8775 e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Aero Club Alan Evan Hanes Tel: 011 082 1100
9 and 10 March
Swellendam Flying Club host Sport Aerobatic Club Regional Championships
Contact Pieter Venter e-mail: email@example.com
12 to 14 March
Saudi Airshow Thumah Airport, Riyadh
13 to 15 March
Ageing Aircraft & Aircraft Corrosion seminar at OR Tambo International Airport
Contact e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
FASHKOSK at Stellenbosch airfield
Contact Anton Theart Cell: 079 873 4567 E-mail: email@example.com
SAPFA Virginia Fun Rally – Virginia Airport
Contact Mary de Klerk cell: 084 880 9000
4 to 6 April
SAPFA Rally Nationals & Fun Rally – Stellenbosch Airfield
Contact Frank Eckard cell: 083 269 1516 e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Robertson Annual Breakfast fly in
Contact Alwyn du Plessis Cell: 083 270 5888
Pilot Career Show venue TBA
Contact Greta Senkevie e-mail: email@example.com
Contact Lourens Kruger E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Cell: 082 320 2615
4 to 14 April
Stars of Sandstone Ficksburg, Eastern Free State
10 to 13 April
AERO Friedrichshafen, Germany Global show for General Aviation
Contact Stephan E-mail: email@example.com
Rand Airport Easter fly-in
Contact Carolle Olivier Tel: 011 827 8884
SAPFA EAA Convention Adventure Rally – Vryheid
Contact Rob Jonkers cell: 082 804 7032 e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
26 to 28 April
EAA National Convention in Vryheid
Contact EAA National Committee Marie Reddy
27 & 28 April
SAC Judges Trophy venue TBA
Contact Annie Boon e-mail: email@example.com
29 April to 1 May
Airport Show 2019
Grab this opportunity to take part in Airport Show, the world’s largest annual gathering for the airport community on 29 April – 1 May 2019 Dubai. BOOK YOUR STAND (https://bit.ly/2P2PyVZ or contact firstname.lastname@example.org or via mobile at +971 50 662 6371
AFRICAN AVIATION NEWS
Boeing, Green Africa Airways announce landmark commitment for up to 100 737 MAX aircraft
Late in December 2018 Boeing and Lagos-based Green Africa Airways announced a commitment for up to 100 737 MAX 8 aircraft, evenly split into 50 firm aircraft and 50 options, as the airline gears up to begin commercial operations. The total deal carries a list-price of $11.7 billion, the largest aircraft agreement from Africa and will be reflected on Boeing’s Orders and Deliveries website once finalized.
“Today is a historic day for the Nigerian and African aviation industry,” said Babawande Afolabi, Founder & CEO, Green Africa Airways. “This landmark deal takes us much closer to our long-held dream of building a world-class airline that will unlock a new realm of positive possibilities for millions of customers. Broadly speaking, this deal is a bold symbol of the dynamism, resilience and soaring entrepreneurial drive of the next generation of Nigerians and Africans.”
Green Africa Airways, a value airline based in Lagos, Nigeria aims to offer safe, quality and affordable air travel and be a significant contributor to the economic development of Nigeria and the African continent. The new airline has received its Air Transport License from the Nigerian government and is anchored by a group of senior industry leaders led by Tom Horton, former Chairman and CEO of American Airlines, William Shaw, Founder and former CEO of VivaColombia and Virasb Vahidi, former CCO of American Airlines. Initially the airline plans to develop the Nigerian market and then build a strong Pan African network.
Air Tanzania becomes first African-based Airbus A220 operator
Air Tanzania (The Wings of the Kilimanjaro) also becomes the latest member of Airbus aircraft operators. Representatives from the airline as well as officials from the United Republic of Tanzania Government alongside executives from the A220 programme celebrated the aircraft handover at the A220 Mirabel assembly line. The A220 will allow Air Tanzania to further develop its domestic and regional market as well as open new routes to India and the Middle East from its home base Dar es Salaam. After Europe, Asia and America. With an order book of over 400 aircraft to date, the A220 has all the credentials to win the lion’s share of the 100- to 150-seat aircraft market estimated to represent at least 7,000 aircraft over the next 20 years.
ICAO launches ‘solar-at-gate’ pilot project in Kenya
A first of its kind pilot project in Africa consisting of a ground-mounted 500kW solar power generation facility and mobile airport gate electric equipment was launched last week at Moi International Airport in Mombasa, Kenya. By providing pre-conditioned air and compatible electricity that runs on solar energy to aircraft during ground operations, this new solar-at-gate project will eliminate carbon dioxide emissions from aircraft parked at the gate, which currently use their auxiliary power unit (APU) powered by jet fuel or airport ground power units (GPU) fuelled by diesel to run on-board systems before departing for their next flight. The solar facility will generate 820,000 kWh per year and will avoid emitting at least 1,300 metric tons of CO2 every year, while the airport gate equipment will serve more than 2,500 flights per year, demonstrating a concrete solution to reduce aviation carbon emissions.
Lesotho Defence Force take delivery of H125
The Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) Air Wing has taken delivery of an H125 light utility helicopter from Airbus Helicopters, replacing a crashed EC135. The aircraft (LDF-23, ‘Mokhele’) was ferried to Lesotho on 7 December and was commissioned on 14 December at Mejametala Air Base in Maseru attended by representatives from Airbus Helicopters Southern Africa and LDF commander Lieutenant General Mojalefa Letsoela. He said the aircraft will be used for both military and civil applications, including search and rescue and emergency response.
The Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) Air Wing has two other H125s in service, which were commissioned in 2017 and 2018. H125 ‘Litsebe’ was commissioned on 14 October 2017 along with the rehabilitation of the 1 300 metre long Mejametalana Air Base runway. The second aircraft, ‘Thaba Putsoa’, was commissioned in May 2018. All the helicopters are named after mountains in Lesotho. Lesotho’s small Defence Force is only believed to have several C212s and a single GA-8 Airvan fixed wing aircraft in service, along with several Bell 412s, a couple of BO 105s and a single Bell 206.
El Salvador sends more MD 500s to Mali
El Salvador has sent a second aviation unit with three MD 500E helicopters to Mali, where they have taken over from the German Tiger attack helicopters operated on behalf of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission in Mali (MINUSMA). The mission announced the arrival of the helicopters on 11 December 2018, delivered via an Ilyushin Il-76 transport aircraft and unloaded at Gao, Mali, with the help of Canadian military personnel.
To operate the helicopters the Salvadoran Air Force has established a new unit, known as Gavilan I, and comprising 50 personnel. This takes over from the four German Tiger attack helicopters that were withdrawn earlier in 2018. The MD 500Es will support Canada’s CH-146 Griffon (Bell 412) and CH-147 Chinook helicopters with MINUSMA, with the MD 500Es and Bell 412s tasked with light attack and escort duties. The MD 500Es in Mali are armed with a combination of a 7.62 mm Minigun and a seven-shot 2.75-inch rocket pod.
WORLD AVIATION NEWS
Runway reopens after days of drone disruption at Gatwick
Shortly after Christmas 2018 flights resumed at Gatwick airport after a series of drone sightings caused days of disruption, affecting more than 100,000 passengers. The runway had remained closed throughout Thursday night 20 December, forcing passengers to search for accommodation or shelter at the airport and bringing demands for new aviation regulations to tackle the threat. On Thursday night police said there had been more than 50 sightings of the drone in 24 hours from when the runway was first closed. However, not one clear picture has been made available, meaning that these ‘so called sightings’ have all been called into question. In fact one of the ‘sightings’ proved to a the lights at the top of nearby building site tower crane
Amid disbelief that the drone incident could be enough to bring one of the UK’s key airports to a standstill, the perpetrator or perpetrators eluded a search conducted by 20 units from two police forces in the surrounding area. Meanwhile, an emergency Whitehall meeting was called to decide on a response to the ongoing crisis and the airport warned that the disruption could mean further cancellations on Friday. About 800 flights were cancelled since the first reports of a drone sighting by an airport worker at 9.03pm on Wednesday. The runway briefly reopened at 3.01am on Thursday morning but closed 45 minutes later after a further drone sighting.
Some passengers reported being stuck on the tarmac for hours, while inbound flights were diverted to alternative airports as far away as Amsterdam and Paris. As the time of the airport’s reopening crept later and later and the number of flights cancelled continued to soar, Gatwick condemned an act that it said was designed to cause ‘maximum disruption in the run-up to Christmas’. It was not clear by evening when normal service would resume. Ryanair said all its scheduled services to and from Gatwick on Friday would operate from Stansted.
The Sussex police arrested a couple, but were forced to release them when there was no evidence that they had been responsible for the operation of any drone. No group has claimed responsibility. Climate protesters including Extinction Rebellion, which have been engaged in direct action to highlight climate change, denied involvement. This is an evolving story, which I sincerely believe will show the short comings of so called ‘drone hysteria’ and certainly show the complete inability of authorities to deal with any potential drone threat. A full article on this ridiculous situation will be published in the February edition of African Pilot.
Qatar Airways buys a stake in China Southern
The Qatari flag carrier has purchased a 5% stake in one of China’s big three airlines: China Southern. With its strategy to invest into ‘strongest airlines’, why was Qatar’s move met with surprise? According to the Gulf carrier, the deal was reached on 28 December, but was made public on 2 January 2019, when the both companies announced the deal in separate releases. According to the Chinese carrier, ‘this change in equity will not cause the company’s controlling shareholder and actual controller to change’.
In search of new friends: The fact that China Southern is looking for partners has been known for a while. On 1 January 2019, the Chinese carrier officially left SkyTeam alliance. When announcing the decision in November 2018, it also revealed it was seeking partnership with ‘advanced airlines’ outside the alliance, and an extended codeshare agreement with American Airlines that it expressed the same month. For Qatar Airways the acquisition is also in line with its strategy to invest into ‘strongest’ airlines, as the airline points in a statement. While its 49% investment into the loss-making, freshly rebranded Air Italy can hardly be called ‘The strongest’, the Gulf airline also holds 20% stake in International Airlines Group (IAG), 10% stake in Chile’s LATAM airlines group and 9,99% stake in Cathay Pacific. The latter airline is based in Hong Kong, which is only 119 km away from China Southern’s hub in Gangzhou. Therefore, Qatar’s second investment in Asia is taken as a sign of its strong interest in Greater China; a statement expressed by Qatar’s CEO Akbar Al Baker himself.
In June 2017 four neighbour countries of Qatar; the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain, Egypt and Saudi Arabia at the helm cut diplomatic ties and announced a land, sea and airspace ban, affecting Qatar Airways deeply: not only was the carrier banned from the airspace of the four countries, forcing it to reroute a number of flights, the ban also halted its flights to 18 destinations across the region. In September 2018, the carrier posted a $69.2 million net loss for the 2017-2018 financial year ending 31 March 2018, calling it the most ‘challenging’ year in the airline’s history. Qatar Airways is responding to political pressure by adding new flights and services. In March 2018, American Airlines cut codeshare agreement with Qatar and Etihad, claiming it ‘no longer makes sense’ for the US legacy carrier. In October 2018, Qatar struck back, threatening to leave OneWorld alliance due to continuing accusations and lack of good faith by American as well as Australian carrier Qantas.
PIA sacks over 50 employees including pilots for fake degrees
Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), the flag carrier of Pakistan, has terminated the contracts of at least 50 employees, including pilots and cabin crew, for holding false degrees. The case, which is being investigated by the country’s aviation authority, has reached Pakistan’s top court, revealing some of the airline’s pilots have not even completed high school. An initial statement by PIA said the airline has fired three pilots and 50 cabin staff after they were found holding fake degrees, media reports revealed on 29 December 2018. The action by the national carrier was taken in light of the proceedings of Pakistan’s Supreme Court against pilots and cabin crew members with bogus degrees and certificates, India’s Economic Times reported citing the Express Tribune. The country’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) had been given a 28 December 2018, deadline to complete the verifications of the degrees in question. As a result, the authority has suspended the licenses of pilots and cabin crew discovered to be holding fake academic credentials.
According to a report by News18.com on 30 December 2018, the cases of 4,321 employees of PIA had been verified by the CAA. But the agency also revealed before the Supreme Court it had found the academic credentials of seven PIA’s pilots to be fake. Chief Justice Saqib Nisar has asked the national carrier to submit a list of all its 498 pilots along with the results of their license examination. The CAA has also issued directives to suspend the licenses of all those who have not yet submitted their degrees and certificates for verification.
To fire or not to fire
The latest news coming from Pakistan informs that the country‘s Senate Standing Committee on Aviation has opposed the termination of contracts of those PIA employees involved in the fake degrees case.
According to a report by the Express Tribune on 3 January 2019, the committee was advised by the CAA that verification of educational credentials of PIA’s employees was an ongoing process: it is currently working on 1,200 cases of fake degrees and certificates. It was reported that PIA’s Chief Operating Officer Ejaz Mazhar told the panel that contracts with 402 of its employees have been terminated while 35 cases are under process of disciplinary proceedings; another 263 employees have approached courts for a stay order (a court order that suspends a judicial proceeding). Meanwhile, the Committee Chairperson Mushahidullah Khan was cited as saying that although the issue is serious, no one should be rendered unemployed for having a fake degree and thus lose their livelihood. According to the Chairperson, rather than firing the involved employees, they should simply have their salaries reduced. At the same time, the Committee recommended criminal proceedings against those persons at PIA responsible for verification of the now found to be bogus degrees at the time of appointment.
What to expect next?
The case is the latest embarrassing blow in a line of controversies to hit the struggling airline: PIA employees have been repeatedly investigated for drug trafficking, particularly following the discovery of a drug smuggling network by its cabin crew on Dubai-bound flights in 2016. The state-owned airline has also struggled financially, running into losses for many years. In November 2018, the Pakistani government approved a (yet another) bailout package of Rs 17 billion (around US$ 121.57 million) for the flag carrier to keep it afloat. Pakistani news outlet Dawn reports, PIA’s accumulated losses have reached Rs 400 billion ($2.86 billion) as of August 2018, and its running losses each month are almost Rs2 billion ($14.3 million).
Editor comments: Doesn’t this sound all too familiar when we look at the South African Airways situation? I wonder how many ‘fake degrees and so-called qualified persons’ have found employment at the sate owned airline over the years?
Republic Airways and Embraer sign firm order for 100 E-Jet aircraft
Republic Airways Holdings Inc., the world’s largest operator of E-Jet aircraft, announced today that it has finalized a firm order for 100 E175 aircraft with Embraer, which originally was announced at the Farnborough International Airshow in Farnborough, England, earlier this year. With this firm order, Republic is in position to begin accepting deliveries during the second half of 2020.
The contract also provides Republic with purchase rights on an additional 100 E175s, as well as the ability to convert any number of aircraft to Embraer’s E175-E2 platform. Republic and Embraer’s partnership dates back to 1999, when Republic took delivery of its first ERJ 145. Since then, Republic has acquired approximately 350 Embraer aircraft and it currently operates a fleet of nearly 190 Embraer 170/175 aircraft for its codeshare partners American Eagle, Delta Connection and United Express.
Deadly incident occurs after chopper clips zipline cable on the UAE's tallest mountain
The National Search and Rescue Centre has announced the names of the four-member crew who were killed while performing their duty on board Augusta 139 rescue helicopter which crashed next to Jais Mountain in Ras Al Khaimah earlier on Saturday.
The names are:
Pilot: Saqr Saeed Mohamed Abdullah AlYamahi
Pilot: Hameed Mohamed Obaid AlZa’abi
Navigator: Jasim Abdullah Ali Tunaiji
First Aid Man: Mark Roxburgh (South African citizen)
The incident happened when the helicopter clipped a zipline on the mountain, the UAE’s highest peak.
A top official said: “The accident happened at 5:50pm on Saturday and the helicopter was on a mission to airlift an injured man from Jebel Jais. The helicopter crashed before reaching the man.”
The ‘Jebel Jais Flight’ zipline is the world’s longest zipline in Ras Al Khaimah. It is 2.8 km long, the length of 28 football fields and runs at a height of 1,680m above sea level, on top of Jebel Jais mountain, the UAE’s highest peak. By comparison, Burj Khalifa the world’s tallest tower in Dubai, is 828m high.
SpaceX says ‘Starship’ test flights could begin in April
SpaceX hopes to conduct a preliminary test flight of its Starship concept spacecraft in April, but it will not be the sleek passenger-carrying machine that is depicted in the company’s marketing and media materials. Engadget reports that according to SpaceX founder Elon Musk and company COO Gwynne Shotwell, the first flights will be short-distance suborbital launches similar to the company’s ‘Grasshopper’ test programme that led to the Falcon 9 rocket. Musk said that the test article will be as wide as the final planned Starship, but not as tall. Parts are arriving at SpaceX’s planned Texas launch facility. Musk and Shotwell had initially announced that the short-hop flights would happen in late 2019, but in a Tweet, Musk said that he is hopeful that the first flight will come in March or April. What remains an open question is how quickly the test programme will proceed following the initial test flights. SpaceX has said that it hopes to have a Starship spacecraft on an orbital test flight in 2020, but that timeline may be somewhat aggressive, observers say.
Medical helicopter pilot suffers eye injury from laser strike
According to a Columbia County Sheriff’s Office news release, on 25 December 2018 the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office responded to a UTV crash where a 17 year-old male suffered injuries, including a head injury. As a result of the injuries Med Flight was contacted to assist. Med Flight was unable to land at the scene of the crash and requested a landing zone in the Village of Pardeeville. As Med Flight was attempting to land to treat and transport the crash victim, a person or persons on the ground utilised a strong laser pointer and shined it towards the helicopter. This created an unsafe condition for the operation of the helicopter posing a threat to the helicopters flight and those on the ground. The pilot of the helicopter suffered an eye injury from the laser. The helicopter was utilising night vision during the flight.
Med Flight was forced to abort the landing and had to return to its home base where the pilot was treated for the injury. The crash victim had to be transported for treatment via ground ambulance.
During the initial investigation a Columbia County Deputy was injured attempting to locate the person(s) responsible for utilising the laser pointer. The Deputy suffered a lower leg injury which required treatment at a hospital.
Airbus jet delays likely after fire at German plant
The plant in Augsburg produces the fuselages for some 600 planes annually. A major fire at Airbus subsidiary Premium Aerotec in southern Germany overnight into Friday has left several million euros worth of damage, a company spokesperson said. According to media reports, the fire broke out in an surface treatment area of the factory in Augsburg, 30 kilometres (19 miles) northwest of Munich. No one was in the building when the fire broke out; the cause of the blaze is still unknown. According to regional newspaper Mercur, it took firefighters several hours to bring the blaze under control. The plant primarily delivers fuselages for civil and military aircraft to Airbus and the company said it believes ‘virtually all Airbus models’ will now be delayed.
Premium Aerotec has around 10,000 employees; almost half of them work at the Augsburg headquarters. Four other German factories, along with one in Romania, help produce whole sections of fuselage for more than 600 new Airbus aircraft annually. Production at Airbus has already been plagued by delays at its engine suppliers, impacting deliveries of its new generations of passenger jets, and a series of technical problems with its A400m military transport plane.
Boeing Delivers the 787th 787 Dreamliner
On 13 December 2018 Boeing delivered the 787th 787 Dreamliner to come off the production line, marking a special milestone for the super-efficient airplane family and the fastest-selling twin-aisle jet in history. Since its first delivery in September, 2011, the 787 family has flown nearly 300 million passengers on more than 1.5 million flights around the world, including more than 210 new nonstop routes made possible by the airplane’s superior fuel efficiency and range. The airplane was delivered to AerCap, the world’s largest lessor and 787 customer. Sporting a special logo commemorating the production milestone, the airplane will be leased and operated by China Southern, which continues to expand its long-haul fleet of 787 Dreamliners, including 10 787-8s and eight 787-9s.
China Southern Airlines first ordered 10 787-8 Dreamliners in 2005 and further increased its capability on long-haul routes when they placed an order for 787-9s in 2016. The 787s have enabled the airline to launch a number of non-stop global routes, connecting Guangzhou to London and Rome in Europe; Vancouver, British Columbia, in North America, Perth, Auckland and Christchurch in the Oceania region.
Airbus delivers 400th A320 Family aircraft assembled In China
Airbus has delivered the 400th A320 Family aircraft from its Final Assembly Line Asia (FALA) in Tianjin, China. The A320neo was delivered to national flag carrier Air China, based in Beijing. Powered by Pratt & Whitney GTF latest generation engines, the aircraft features a comfortable two-class cabin layout with 158 seats: eight business and 150 economy. The milestone is a tribute to the excellent industrial cooperation and partnership between Airbus and the Chinese aviation industry.
The Airbus A320 Family Final Assembly Line Asia (FALA) is a joint venture between Airbus and a Chinese consortium comprising Tianjin Airport Economic Area Zone & Tianjin Port Free Trade Administrative Committee and China Aviation Industry Corporation (AVIC). Airbus and the Chinese Consortium hold 51 per cent and 49 per cent of the shares of the joint venture respectively. Airbus has four A320 Family production facilities around the world: Toulouse, France; Hamburg, Germany; Tianjin, China and Mobile, United States.
Cessna Citation Longitude achieves provisional type certification
On 20 December Textron Aviation announced its Cessna Citation Longitude super-midsize jet has achieved provisional type certification (PTC) from the Federal Aviation Administration. The PTC allows operators to begin Citation Longitude flight training in preparation for deliveries early next year and paves the way for the programme’s final phase of certification. Activity and interest in the aircraft remains strong as customers experience its capabilities first hand. Earlier this year, the Citation Longitude completed a world tour, circumnavigating the globe and demonstrating impressive performance figures along the way.
The Longitude flight test programme, including functional and reliability testing, is complete. During testing, the aircraft completed more than 1,650 flights and accumulated more than 4,050 hours. Longitude production is also underway in Textron Aviation’s state-of-the-art manufacturing facility where the jet benefits from cutting-edge assembly methods.
In 2019 EAA AirVenture will celebrate 50 consecutive years in Oshkosh
The Experimental Aircraft Association is marking the 50th consecutive year of its annual EAA AirVenture Oshkosh fly-in convention in Oshkosh in 2019 with a full schedule of activities for arriving aviators and residents of EAA’s hometown. The 67th annual event is scheduled for 22 to 28 July at Wittman Regional Airport in Oshkosh. The EAA fly-in convention was first held in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in 1953. In 1959, the event moved to Rockford, Illinois, where it was held annually through 1969 before coming to Oshkosh. EAA moved its permanent headquarters from the Milwaukee area to Oshkosh in 1983.
EAA is seeking any of the show planes present at the 1970 EAA fly-in convention and inviting the current owners to bring them to Oshkosh next summer. They will be featured in exclusive parking areas on the grounds. In addition, EAA is seeking members and volunteers who will be attending their 50th consecutive fly-in in 2019, and unique memorabilia and stories from the 1970 event that will add to the history of what has grown to be the largest annual fly-in in the world. In 2018, EAA AirVenture Oshkosh welcomed more than 600,000 people from 87 nations, along with more than 10,000 aircraft. As a thank you to Oshkosh residents for welcoming the aviation world to their city for the past half-century, there will be special offers for community members and additional ways to engage in this historic milestone. Those details and others are still in development and will be announced as they are finalised.
WORLD DRONE NEWS
Gatwick – A Vacuum of Silence
“In space, no-one can hear you scream”, but this wasn’t space, it was the UK post-Gatwick and there were plenty of opportunities to scream, but for some reason, none of the major stakeholders in the drone industry were doing much other than laying down and rolling over. Initially their response was as per their usual modus operandi, reminders about safety and the dangers of flying drones illegally. All good stuff for the media which lapped it up as soundbites to fit the narrative that Gatwick was the result of moronic drone users with no concern for public safety. This slotted neatly into their rapidly woven pieces which also included statements from commercial aviation advocates such as BALPA. The overall narrative was a condemnation of drone users, the need for tougher regulation, better education, and harsher penalties. Anything to stop the cause of the problem – drones.
As time went on it became apparent that many, if not all of the sightings were false positives. Some people reported the police drones, some people reported helicopters as drones and so on. The police were under increasing pressure, especially after arresting an innocent couple in a very public operation, which did nothing to try and shield their identities from the hungry media. There was a very brief window when public opinion was moving against the police’s handling of the matter. They were starting to question why Gatwick had closed. Was it an overreaction? What were the real dangers of drones? Were there even any drones?
So what does the future hold for the supposed drone industry in the UK? Undoubtedly tighter regulations, much less public support, greater hostility towards drone users and the inevitable ongoing bad press. Add to that another drone incident and the hobbyist market will become hugely contracted.
All the low hanging fruit has now been picked and there’s no visible sign that either the manufacturers or trade bodies are willing, or able, to apply the effort to grow the market. Without a growing market, there’s no industry, just a niche that a few people make a killing in and the rest just get by.
Drone assists Monterey County, California Sheriff to make an arrest
According to a MCSO posting on Facebook, a suspect with a rifle broke into the buildings sometime during the night of 9 December 2018 and when the lighthouse docents arrived Sunday morning to run the tours for the day, they discovered Tony Snowden of Hollister, California inside one of the buildings. Snowden ran off and was reported to have a rifle. California State Park Rangers and MCSO Deputies responded. The three docents on site had locked themselves in a building. The MCSO drone was launched and Snowden was located on top of a hill at the far end of the volcanic rock outcropping. The rangers were directed to Snowden’s location then he was subsequently arrested. Snowden had thrown the rifle in the bushes prior to Rangers coming into contact with him. Snowden later mentioned he saw the drone and knew he was spotted so he wanted to stash the rifle. The incident is still under investigation by State Park Rangers.
This was a dangerous situation due to the steep terrain and firearm involved along with the unknown intent of the suspect. The MCSO drone programme is a relatively low cost resource that supports deputies and other agencies by adding an aspect of awareness from above. In this incident, drone operators worked with Rangers in locating the suspect, then provided the best tactical route to reach the suspect. The suspect had put the weapon down and walked away from it before rangers made their way over the mountaintop.
Weekly News from African Pilot
Should you miss out on any edition of APAnews, please visit the website: www.africanpilot.co.za and click on the APAnews link on the front page. All past weekly APAnews publications have been archived on the website.
Until next week, please be ‘Serious about flying’.
Athol Franz (Editor)
African Pilot ‘Serious about flying’.
*** Please forward APAnews to your friends in aviation ***