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“In a time of drastic change it is the learners who inherit the future. The learned usually find themselves equipped to live in a world that no longer exists” Eric Hoffer
African Pilot’s January 2019 edition
The January 2019 magazine was the final edition that the African Pilot team prepared in 2018. This also means that African Pilot has entered its 19th 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 aviation business at Grand Central Airport as well as our annual Piston Engine aircraft over 650Kg feature and the OR Tambo ACSA awards. The closing date for this edition was on Friday 11 January, but we still have some space available for late advertisers who have just returned to their work stations. Please ensure that we receive your information by close of business today Monday 14 January. Please contact Lara Bayliss at Tel: 0861 001130 Cell: 079 880 4359 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
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Video of the week: Archaeopteryx all-in-one and I want one
SOUTH AFRICAN AVIATION NEWS
Important NOTAM from SACAA regarding contaminated AVGAS
It is suspected that Avgas fuel supplied at various airports is suspected to be contaminated with Mogas or another substance. Pilots are advised to be vigilant and if the fuel supply is suspect, pilots are asked to drain such the fuel from their aircraft and inform the SACAA. The use of Mogas aircraft engines is hazardous. If possible pilots to supply a sample to the SACAA to assist with the investigation.
Whilst visiting a customer at Grand Central Airport on Thursday last week I met up with a SACAA inspector who was there to collect a bottled sample of so called AVGAS fuel recently uplifted from one of South Africa’s licenced airports (NOT Grand Central Airport). It was quite clear to me that this fuel was contaminated because it lacked the usual brilliant blue of AVGAS and appeared to be yellowish and slightly murky. At the same time there have been reports from piston engine overhaul shops that they are seeing more engines with burn exhaust valves, which is a typical result of using MOGAS in a high compression Lycoming or Continental aviation engine. This is an ongoing saga and will require regulatory intervention at the offending airports. Also why can’t the regulator simply prepare NOTAMs in simple English, instead of publishing the entire notice in uppercase whilst using ridiculous abbreviations?
CemAir’s Air Operator Certificates suspended with immediate effect
The following is the text received from the SACAA early on Friday evening 11 January 2019
“The South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) has put a stop to CemAir’s operations following the suspension of the airlines’ Part 121 and 135 Air Operator Certificates (AOCs). The suspension is with immediate effect (i.e. as at 17h00 on Friday, 11 January 2019). The suspension was necessitated by the SACAA’s concerns over the systemic failure of the airline’s maintenance controls. In a nutshell, the most recent annual renewal audit revealed CemAir’s inability to prove the continued airworthiness of its fleet.
It is against the norm for the SACAA to publicly detail a chronological account of events leading to its oversight decisions. However, given several previous records with alternative information; on this occasion, the SACAA will reluctantly provide a synopsis of events leading to this decision, lest an inaccurate version miraculously emerges.
1. Subsequent to the settlement that was made a court order relating to the first suspension that followed the prohibition order issued against CemAir, the SACAA proceeded with the finalisation of the renewal audit of CemAir’s operations between 21 and 24 December 2018.
2. This audit revealed eleven (11) findings of which five (5) were classified as Level 1. The operator has submitted an acceptable Corrective Action Plan (CAP) for 10 of the findings.
3. CemAir subsequently submitted a Corrective Action Plan (CAP) aimed at addressing one of the Level 1 findings related to the continued airworthiness of the operator’s fleet. The initial CAP and subsequent revised versions were reviewed and found to be unacceptable.
4. On 26 December 2018, the SACAA, and in the interests of aviation safety, grounded eight (8) of the airline’s aircraft with immediate effect.
5. Between 28 December 2018 and 11 January 2019 there were numerous interactions between the operator and the regulator. In between, the SACAA also visited CemAir operations in order to gather evidence and confirm that the continued airworthiness finding is addressed satisfactorily. These follow-up inspection exercises did not meet the regulators’ expectations and the necessary evidence could not be produced by the operator.
6. During the audit, the SACAA also learnt that an aircraft manufacturer had given CemAir an assessment of their aircraft maintenance schedule with findings and recommendations on what the operator needed to do in order to get the maintenance status of their fleet on track, and worryingly the operator could not produce sufficient evidence to authenticate that all recommendations were fully implemented. Ignoring manufacturer’s recommendations is not only bizarre but is also a very serious and dangerous omission that should be avoided at all cost by any licence-holder.
7. Based on the renewal audit findings and the subsequent confirmation of the systemic maintenance failure, it became evident and without a doubt that CemAir is simply unable to prove the continued airworthiness of its entire fleet.
8. Due to the serious nature of the findings and the impact they have on aviation safety, a decision was taken to immediately suspend CemAir’s Part 121 and 135 AOCs.
It must be noted that there is a provision in terms of Part 185 of the South African civil aviation regulations that affords the operator the right to appeal to the Director of Civil Aviation should they feel aggrieved by this suspension. The appeal must be made within 30 days from the date of receipt of the suspension letter, meaning that the appeal must be lodged before 11 February 2019. However, the submission of an appeal does not nullify the suspension.
The responsibility to ensure safe and secure aviation operations lies primarily in the hands of each and every licence-holder. The ‘catch-me-if-you-can’ attitude or predisposition to await recommendations and findings before attending to safety and security matters is dangerous and puts the lives of many at risk.
As with all operators, the SACAA is willing, able, and on stand-by to assist CemAir to comply with the requisite civil aviation regulatory prescripts.
The SACAA is mandated with regulating civil aviation safety and security thereby ensuring the safety of the flying community. The main reason why some enforcement actions are made public is to empower and alert the flying community to make informed decisions when utilising aviation operators.
The SACAA, once again, places it on record that it will undertake its mandate without any form of fear, favour, or prejudice. It is important that we do so lest we lose lives while turning a blind eye on non-compliances by those driven by profit and other factors. The SACAA’s mandate is strictly prescribed in the Civil Aviation Act and the regulator will not tolerate any behaviour that will undermine the safety of passengers, crew and those on the ground. The SACAA will always endeavour to protect the good safety record that South Africa has worked hard to maintain thus far.
External Communications Specialist
Corporate Communications and Marketing
In my opinion there can be no doubt that the SACAA has an agenda and hopefully this latest grounding will also be tested in the High Court within the next few days. The SACAA’s emotional media releases are deliberately timed to produce as much damage to an honest business as possible.
Over the past few years, I have tried very hard to engage with and work with the SACAA, but it appears that the regulator’s agenda is to destroy South African Civil Aviation. Why am I becoming involved in this fight? Simple, if the regulator is allowed to continue on its path of destruction, many aviation companies will either close down (as many have already) or choose to move their business away from South Africa.
I am one of the very few people that walks the airport ramps and works with numerous aviation professionals throughout South Africa and wherever I travel the complaints about the ‘bullying tactics’ of SACAA inspectors is often discussed. It appears that the South African aviation industry is afraid to stand up to the sheer incompetence of SACAA inspectors for fear of having their operations suspended in the same way that the regulator has dealt with a privately owned airline – CemAir over the past year. If one digs deep enough into paperwork, there is probably not a single company that has all its paperwork 100% in order, including the South African Civil Aviation Authority.
In reality for many years almost every business in South African civil aviation has suffered at the hands of SACAA inspectors, many of who do not have adequate qualifications, whilst they interpret the regulations in any manner that they see fit often contradicting themselves. I am sure we all remember the inspector lady that grounded a Cessna 208 Caravan, because the crew were refuelling with Jet A at Lanseria? Then there are the significant delays in getting modification approvals from the regulator, the simple fact that e-mails are not answered and telephone calls go unanswered. I have several personal examples of SACAA incompetence, but I have been waiting for an opportunity to address these matters in the correct forum. The BIG question is: What are we going to do about this horrendous situation, where the SACAA appears to be a law unto itself with very few checks and balances?
What is scheduled for the next few weeks?
19 & 20 January
SAC Gauteng Regionals at Vereeniging airfield
Contact Annie Boon e-mail: email@example.com
SAPFA navigation training at AeroSud Canteen Pretoria
(Note venue change from previously advertised Harvard Function Room at Grand Central) to 520 Van Ryneveld Ave, Pierre van Ryneveld, Centurion – adjacent to AFB Waterkloof. Cost R100 per person.
Contact Mary de Klerk Cell: 084 880 9000 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
SAPFA Rand Airport Challenge – Rand Airport
Contact Frank Eckard cell: 083 269 1516 e-mail: email@example.com
SAPFA Cape Speed Rally – hosted by the Morningstar Flying Club
Contact Hans Potgieter e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
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: email@example.com
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: firstname.lastname@example.org
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: email@example.com
FASHKOSK at Stellenbosch airfield
Contact Anton Theart Cell: 079 873 4567 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
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: email@example.com
Robertson Annual Breakfast fly in
Contact Alwyn du Plessis Cell: 083 270 5888
Pilot Career Show venue TBA
Contact Greta Senkevie e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Contact Lourens Kruger E-mail: email@example.com
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: firstname.lastname@example.org
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: email@example.com
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: firstname.lastname@example.org
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 email@example.com or via mobile at +971 50 662 6371
AFRICAN AVIATION NEWS
Indonesia finds cockpit voice recorder from Lion Air crash
A search effort has located the cockpit voice recorder of a Lion Air jet that crashed into the Java Sea in October, an Indonesian official said Monday, in a possible boost to the accident investigation. Ridwan Djamaluddin, a deputy maritime minister, told reporters that the agency investigating the crash that killed 189 people had informed the ministry about the discovery. “We got confirmation this morning from the National Transportation Safety Committee’s chairman,” he said. Human remains were also discovered at the seabed location, Djamaluddin said. The 2-month-old Boeing 737 MAX 8 jet plunged into the Java Sea just minutes after taking off from Jakarta on Oct. 29, killing everyone on board. The cockpit data recorder was recovered within days and showed that the jet’s airspeed indicator had malfunctioned on its last four flights. If the voice recorder is undamaged, it could provide valuable additional information to investigators.
The Lion Air crash was the worst airline disaster in Indonesia since 1997, when 234 people died on a Garuda flight near Medan. In December 2014, an AirAsia flight from Surabaya to Singapore plunged into the sea, killing all 162 on board. Lion Air is one of Indonesia’s youngest airlines but has grown rapidly, flying to dozens of domestic and international destinations. It has been expanding aggressively in Southeast Asia, a fast-growing region of more than 600 million people.
Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 overshoots runway, disrupts flights
2019 kicked off with a close-call for Ethiopian Airlines as its Boeing 737-800 (ET-ATV) aircraft skidded off the runway upon landing at the Entebbe International Airport (EBB) in Uganda, on 3 January, forcing the closure of one of the airport’s two runways affecting inbound international flights. Flight ET338 was performing daily scheduled service from Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa to Entebbe, where Uganda’s main international airport is located. According to the airline, the plane overshot the runway ‘by a few meters’ and all 139 passengers and crew onboard the 737-800 disembarked safely. Passengers and crew were safely deplaned and were taken to terminal. There was no damage to the aircraft and it is being towed to the ramp.
WORLD AVIATION NEWS
China forecast to be the world’s largest air travel market by 2020
According to North Carolina-based procurement intelligence firm Beroe Inc, despite its recent economic slowdown, air travel demand in China remains buoyant and the country is expected to become the world’s largest air travel market by 2020. Meanwhile, global airline prices are expected to grow by 2.6 percent with an increase in oil prices, competitive pressure from the shortage of pilots, potential trade wars, and increasing fare segmentation to improve yield.
Travellers can now directly engage with airlines, hotels and car agencies and can either utilise TMCs (Travel Management Companies) exclusively for reporting or for reservations. Travel companies are also focusing on supplier negotiation and contract management to ensure better consumer experience. Industry best practices such as automated T&E processing, mobile accessibility and booking-based travel itineraries have been adopted by chief industry players.
Boeing sets new commercial airliner delivery records
In December 2018 Boeing delivered 69 737 airliners and set a new annual record of 806 deliveries in 2018, surpassing its previous record of 763 deliveries in 2017. Even as Boeing delivered more jetliners, the company again grew its significant order book by 893 net orders, including 203 airplane sales in December. With a seven-year order backlog, Boeing increased production of the popular 737 in the middle of 2018 to 52 airplanes per month. Nearly half of the year’s 580 737 deliveries were from the more fuel-efficient and longer-range MAX family, including the first MAX 9 airplanes.
At the same time, Boeing continued to build the 787 Dreamliner at the highest production rate for a twin-aisle airplane to support high demand for the super-efficient jet. The Dreamliner programme finished with 145 deliveries for the year. Deliveries of various 777, 767 and 747-8 models rounded out the total of 806 airplanes for the year. 767 deliveries include the transfer of 10 767-2C aircraft to Boeing Defence, Space & Security for the US Air Force KC-46 tanker programme.
On the orders front, Boeing achieved sales success across its airplane portfolio with 893 net orders valued at $143.7 billion according to list prices. While growing the order backlog for nearly every programme, the company showed particular strength in the twin-aisle category with 218 widebody orders last year. The 787 Dreamliner extended its status as the fastest-selling twin-aisle jet in history with 109 orders last year or about 1,400 since the programme was launched. Highlights include Hawaiian Airlines switching from the Airbus A330 to the 787 and Turkish Airlines becoming a new customer. American Airlines and United Airlines added to the growing list of repeat Dreamliner purchases with 47 and 13 additional jets respectively.
The 777 family continued its steady sales momentum with 51 net orders in 2018, driven by sales of the 777 Freighter to DHL Express, FedEx Express, ANA Cargo, Qatar Airways and other major freight operators. With additional sales in December, the 777 programme exceeded 2,000 orders since its launch. The 737 MAX family also achieved a major sales milestone in December, surpassing 5,000 net orders with 181 new sales during December. For the full year, the 737 programme achieved 675 net orders, including sales to 13 new customers.
Ryanair sacks ALL pilots and cabin crew in the Netherlands
Ryanair has fired all its pilots and cabin crew members based in the Netherlands after they did not agree to be ‘voluntarily’ relocated to bases as far-flung as Morocco and Belarus. The Irish low-cost airline officially filed for the collective firing of all personnel at the Dutch Employee Insurance Agency (UWV), an autonomous government administrative authority that handles unemployment benefits. Ryanair cites bad economic results for its Dutch base at Eindhoven, which was closed on 5 November, as the reason for the mass-dismissal. Unions VNV and FNV, which represent the pilots and flight attendants respectively, said they will appeal the mass-firing with the government body. Chairman Joost van Doesburg of pilot union VNV said he is surprised that the UWV accepted Ryanair’s application to fire all of its employees in the first place. He said that Ryanair would need to come forward with proof of the bad economic numbers for the firing of all the employees to be accepted, which according to him the low-cost airline has not yet done.
JetBlue Airways confirms order for 60 Airbus A220-300
JetBlue’s existing Airbus fleet includes 193 A320 and A321ceo aircraft in operation, with an additional 85 A321neo aircraft on order. The order was completed the last week of December. Airbus will produce the A220-300 aircraft at a new US assembly facility in Mobile, Alabama. Construction of the plant, to be located adjacent to the existing Airbus A320 assembly facility, will begin later this month. The A220 is the only aircraft purpose built for the 100-150 seat market; it delivers unbeatable fuel efficiency and true widebody comfort in a single-aisle aircraft. The A220 brings together state-of-the-art aerodynamics, advanced materials and Pratt & Whitney’s latest-generation PW1500G geared turbofan engines to offer at least 20 percent lower fuel burn per seat compared to previous generation aircraft. With a range of up to 3,200 nm, the A220 offers the performance of larger single-aisle aircraft. With an order book of more than 500 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.
US start-up Airline ‘Moxy’ confirms order for 60 Airbus A220-300s
Moxy is the new airline venture led by David Neeleman, one of the industry’s most innovative entrepreneurs and founder of JetBlue Airways. In addition to JetBlue, Neeleman also founded Azul Brazilian Airlines and is the controlling investor in the revitalisation of TAP Air Portugal. Plans for Moxy, a low-cost airline were unveiled at the Farnborough International Air Show in July 2018. The order was completed the final week of December 2018. Airbus will produce the A220-300 at a new US assembly facility in Mobile, Alabama. Construction of that plant, to be located adjacent to the existing Airbus A320 assembly facility, will begin later this month.
Delta Air Lines orders 15 additional Airbus A220 aircraft
This order means that the A220 aircraft has attracted 90 orders from the world’s second-largest airline and the additional orders are the airline’s first for the -300 model. Delta also converted earlier A220 orders to the larger -300, bringing to 50 the number of A220-300s on order. Delta placed its initial order for 75 aircraft in 2016. Airbus will produce the A220-300s from a new US assembly facility in Mobile, Alabama. Construction of the plant, to be located adjacent to the existing Airbus A320 assembly facility, will begin later in January.
Norwegian’s brand-new Boeing 737 MAX 8 ‘stuck’ in Iran for weeks
One of Norwegian Air Shuttle’s brand-new Boeing 737 MAX aircraft has been ‘stuck’ in an airport in Iran since 14 December 2018, after it was forced to perform an unscheduled landing in the city of Shiraz due to engine problems. Over three weeks later, Norwegian’s engineers are still trying to repair the jet.
The Boeing 737 MAX 8 (LN-BKE) was headed for Oslo (Norway) from Dubai (the U.A.E.) with 192 passengers and crew on board when it carried out a ‘safety landing’ in Shiraz, southwestern Iran.
According to various sources, the affected passengers were able to return to Oslo the following day on a replacement aircraft. However, Norwegian’s 737 MAX 8 remains stored at the Shiraz International Airport awaiting repair. Le Figaro reported on 4 January 2019, that engineers who arrived on the replacement aircraft have been unable to repair the brand-new plane due to lack of spare parts, a situation made difficult by international sanctions, which bar the budget airline from sending the required US-made parts to Iran. The US re-imposed sanctions on Tehran in May 2018, after the Trump administration announced it would withdraw from the 2015 nuclear deal.
Boeing delivers first airplane from new 737 completion and delivery centre in China
On Tuesday 17 December Boeing and joint venture partner Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China, Ltd (COMAC) celebrated the delivery of the first airplane from the new 737 Completion and Delivery Centre in Zhoushan, China. Air China received the first plane, marking a new era in Boeing’s partnership with the Chinese aviation industry. Delivery of the first MAX 8, assembled in Renton, Washington and completed in China, comes 20 months after construction began at the 100-acre site. The 737 Completion and Delivery Centre is the first such Boeing facility outside of the United States. The facility has been built in partnership with the Zhejiang Provincial and Zhoushan Municipal Governments and will become fully operational in phases as capacity is expanded over time.
Boeing 737 MAXs for Chinese airlines will be flown from Seattle to Zhoushan, where the joint Boeing-COMAC Completion Centre will complete interior work on the airplanes. The statement of work will gradually expand to include painting with the addition of three paint hangers. Once completed, airplanes will move to the adjacent Boeing-operated delivery centre for customer acceptance activities and delivery formalities. The facility, which covers 666,000 square feet, is designed to support the entire 737 MAX family of airplanes, from the long-range MAX 7 to the high-capacity MAX 10. With about one third of all 737 deliveries going to Chinese customers, the Zhoushan facility will enable Chinese airline customers to update and expand their fleets with the most technologically-advanced Boeing single-aisle airplanes available. In addition, the business and the partnerships Boeing is developing in China are integral to adding capacity and aerospace jobs in the US. China is on course to become the largest commercial aviation market in the world. Boeing’s latest Commercial Market Outlook forecasts that China will need 7,680 new airplanes worth $1.2 trillion USD over the next 20 years and another $1.5 trillion USD in commercial services to support the country’s growing fleet of airplanes.
Vietnam’s newest player Bamboo Airways has a permit to fly
On 8 January 2019 the parent company of the airline announced that Bamboo Airways received its Aircraft Operator Certificate (AOC) from Vietnam’s Aviation Administration. Initially, the airline was supposed to be launched in October 2018, but the plans were cancelled after it failed to receive flying permits on time. No date on when the airline will officially begin operations has been announced. However, the carrier repeatedly stresses that it is more than ready to take up to the skies and already has ambitious goals for 2019. Bamboo Airways has two major aircraft deals with Airbus and Boeing: a $3 billion (list prices) contract for 24 A321neos and a $5.6 billion one for 20 787-9 Dreamliners. The US-made aircraft should reach Bamboo’s fleet in 2020-2021, while European aircraft are expected in 2022-2025. Until the new planes arrive, the company is planning on leasing 20 aircraft, expected to be delivered in the first quarter of 2019.
Not Russian enough: USA stalls $2 billion Iran-Sukhoi deal
Entering international markets is quite a challenge for Sukhoi Civil Aircraft Company (SCAC) since the latest attempt to establish Russian-Iranian cooperation seems to be failing, as Sukhoi planes are not ‘Russian enough’. Two Iranian carriers, Iran Air Tours and its subsidiary Aseman Airlines, which signed a $2 billion agreement to purchase 40 SSJ-100 aircraft from Sukhoi earlier last year, are now on hold to get their orders delivered. US Office of Foreign Assets Controls (OFAC) did not reply to the Sukhoi request to get the export certificate for the sale of SSJ-100 aircraft to Iranian carriers. The US approval for the transaction was needed, since Sukhoi aircraft contain more than 10% (22%, according to state news RIA) of American-made parts. SCAC claim they sent the request to the US Treasury, but no response was received by the end of 2018, Russian state news media TACC reports.
At the Eurasia airshow in Turkey, Iran Air Tours and Aseman Airlines signed agreements of intent with SCAC to purchase 20 SSJ-100 aircraft each, in April 2018. Back then, SCAC President Alexander Rubtsov said to Russian news media Vedomosti, that under agreement, aircraft deliveries were expected to start in 2020 and be fully completed by 2022. The Iranian side provided feedback on the issue on 1 January 2018, revealing the details on the Russian deal current situation. It appears that due to the lack of license issued by OFAC, the arrival of the planes is out of question for now. The option of exchanging the parts to lower the proportion of US-made parts was considered by Sukhoi manufacturer, but would take too much time. Meanwhile, Sukhoi plans to work on lowering the SSJ-100 international parts percentage. SCAC has been working on a version of its Superjet 100 that could avoid sanctions by relying on more indigenous parts. Sukhoi ‘Russified’ Superjet 100 programme with a greater amount of Russian parts (including engine, navigational system and landing gear) is expected to be finished by 2020.
Qatar Airways Italian endeavour causes US airline industry panic
In early December 2018 when Air Italy, the country’s second largest airline announced its plans to launch flights to Los Angeles and San Francisco, US legacy carriers responded in outrage. What they see behind the small Italian carrier, formerly known as Meridiana, is the guiding hand of Qatar Airways, Air Italy’s current co-owner. Although Qatar has been investing into a range of foreign airlines for years now (most recently − China Southern), its involvement in Air Italy’s activities struck a chord within US industry giants reaching as far as the chambers of the US Senate. The Italian carrier’s aggressive expansion has raised concerns that the Qatari government had violated its Open Skies agreement with the US through its Air Italy investment. On 5 December 2018, Air Italy announced it would double its destinations across the US from two to four, adding Los Angeles and San Francisco on the West Coast of the US on 3 April and 10 April 2019, respectively. The new routes were an addition to the five intercontinental destinations it had already began serving in the second half of 2018 from its main hub at Milan Malpensa Airport (MXP), including Bangkok (Thailand), Delhi and Mumbai (India), as well as New York and Miami.
Less than two weeks later, on 17 December 2018, Air Italy announced direct flights to Toronto (Canada), followed by plans to launch new service to Chicago (US) revealed the next day; direct flights on these routes are scheduled to start on 6 May and 13 May 2019, respectively. Air Italy’s entry into the US crowded market appears consistent with Qatar Airways pattern on adding subsidised capacity in markets where demand is already well served.
Meridiana becomes Air Italy, aims to become new national carrier
On 19 February 2018, the Italian airline Meridiana merged with its subsidiary Air Italy, taking up a new name, a new hub and a new ambitious strategy. Under its new owners, the airline will seek to grow its fleet and passenger numbers fourfold by 2022, having a goal to replace Alitalia and become the country’s national carrier. However, with Air Italy’s expansion plans, the US big three: American Airlines, United and Delta claim to see a bigger picture. They see Qatar Airways’ aggressive strategy of expansion into the US market, out of Air Italy’s newly established hub and enabled by new aircraft purchases. Otherwise, why would a small, loss-making and relatively unknown European carrier undertake such plans? Qatar is using the tiny, close-to-defunct Air Italy to skirt its promise to the US to not add so-called ‘Fifth Freedom’ flights to the US. This goes back to the long-lasting bad blood between the US legacy carriers and the Middle East big three. American, United and Delta have long accused Qatar Airways (as well as Emirates and Etihad) of receiving government subsidies. According to the US big three, the alleged state subsidies received by Qatar (and the UAE, where Emirates and Etihad are based) are in direct violation of the ‘fair competition’ stipulated by the Open Skies agreements with the US.
Cirrus Aircraft CEO Dale Klapmeier to step down this year
Late in December 2018, Cirrus Aircraft announced that Chief Executive Officer, Co-founder and National Aviation Hall of Fame member Dale Klapmeier plans to step down from his current executive position within the first half of 2019 and transition into a senior advisory role. A new CEO is expected to be named within that timeframe as an internal and external search is currently underway.
“Re-imagining personal transportation has been our lifelong mission at Cirrus Aircraft,” noted Klapmeier. “We have changed the face of aviation over the past 30 years, from delivering more than 7,000 of the world’s best-selling high-performance piston aircraft, to fundamentally rethinking how we travel with the introduction of the world’s first single-engine Personal JetTM – the Vision® Jet, to transforming our business into a lifestyle company that defines our path ahead.”
For more than 30 years, Cirrus Aircraft has constantly raised the bar for performance, comfort and safety in personal aviation. First introduced in 1999, the SR20 was the first certified aircraft to be delivered with a whole-airframe parachute system (CAPS®). Cirrus transformed aviation again when it delivered the Vision Jet in 2016. Responsible for creating a new category, the Vision Jet was awarded the most prestigious accolade in aeronautics; the Robert J. Collier Trophy. Focusing on customers, Cirrus is leading the way in redefining how personal aircraft are owned and operated by opening its experience centre; the Vision Centre in Knoxville, Tennessee. As the flagship location for all customer activities, the Vision Centre campus is home to world-class training, sales, delivery, maintenance, support, personalisation and more.
Klapmeier said “Transitioning out of day-to-day operations will give me the opportunity to focus on long-term strategic opportunities. I could not be more confident in the team and I am excited for what lies ahead for the entire Cirrus family. For Cirrus Aircraft employees, partners and owners around the world, the best is yet to come.”
VSS Unity reaches the edge of space on test flight
Pilots Mark ‘Forger’ Stucky and Frederick ‘CJ’ Sturckow are to be presented with FAA Commercial Astronaut Wings History. As Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo, VSS Unity landed from her maiden spaceflight to cheers from Richard Branson and the teams from Virgin Galactic and the Spaceship Company. Not only is this the first human spaceflight to be launched from American soil since the final Space Shuttle mission in 2011, but the very first time that a crewed vehicle built for commercial, passenger service, has reached space. The historic achievement has been recognised by the FAA who announced that early next year they will present pilots Mark ‘Forger’ Stucky and Frederick ‘CJ’ Sturckow with FAA Commercial Astronaut Wings at a ceremony in Washington DC. CJ, as a four-time Space Shuttle pilot, will become the only person to have been awarded NASA and FAA wings.
The accomplishment has also been recognized by the NASA Flight Opportunities Programme, which flew four space science and technology experiments on VSS Unity, making this Virgin Galactic’s first revenue generating flight. The spaceflight, which was witnessed by a large crowd of staff and their families, as well as special guests and media, saw a 60 second planned rocket motor burn which propelled VSS Unity to almost three times the speed of sound and to an apogee of 51.4 miles. As VSS Unity coasted upwards through the black sky and into space, Virgin Galactic Mission Control confirmed the news and congratulated the two astronaut pilots: “Unity, welcome to space.”
After a Mach 2.5 supersonic re-entry into the atmosphere, which utilised Unity’s unique ‘feathering’ configuration, Forger and CJ guided the spaceship down to a smooth runway landing and an emotional homecoming welcome.
WORLD DRONE NEWS
US building new hangars at Djibouti UAV base
According to a notice published on the US Federal Business Opportunities (FBO) website on 13 December, the US has awarded a contract to build new hangars at Chabelley Airfield in Djibouti.
The contract covers the construction of four semi-permanent aircraft maintenance hangars to replace temporary large-area maintenance shelters (LAMSs) at Chabelley, from where US Air Force Reaper and Predator unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) have flown since 2013.
The partially redacted notice was released to justify the non-competitive contract award on the basis that there was only one company that could provide the required services. The contract was awarded to the Italian company Consorzio Stabile GMG SCARL in April because the company is already conducting work at Chabelley.
Algeria operating new UAV types
Algeria’s military has greatly expanded its unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) fleet and is now operating aircraft acquired from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) as well as China. Video footage seen in December 2018 revealed that Algeria is operating two types of UAVs built by the UAE’s Adcom Systems, including the Adcom Yabhon United 40, which is named locally as the Algeria 54. Two of these were seen along with two Yabhon Flash-20 (Algeria 55) UAVs on the flight line at Polygone Central de l’Air à Hassi Bahbah ahead of a military demonstration for the Deputy Minister of National Defence and chief of staff of the National Army. The Yabhon United 40s were armed with what appeared to be small diameter bombs while the Yabhon Flash-20s were not. Each UAV carried eight weapons. Its payload includes synthetic aperture radar (SAR), terrain avoidance systems and a gimbaled camera. It can carry 1 050 kg on its four under-wing hard-points and has a six-unit rotating dispenser mounted in the fuselage.
Algeria has greatly expanded its UAV fleet and recently revealed that it is operating a number of Chinese UAVs. Footage of CH-3 and CH-4 UAVs in Algerian service emerged in October during a visit to Ain Ouessara Air Base in the 1st Military Region by Chief of Staff Lieutenant General Ahmed Gaid Salah. Although not fitted with weapons, the CH-4 seen was fitted with hardpoints. Algeria already operates Denel Seeker UAVs. The CH-3 is manufactured by the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC). With a wingspan of eight metres, the CH-3 follows a canard configuration. It has a 12-hour endurance and 180 km radius of action. It can be fitted with FT-5 guided bombs or AR-1 missiles. The CH-4 was introduced in 2011 and has been in Chinese service since 2014. The CH-4 has a maximum take-off weight of 1 330 kg and a payload of 345 kg in addition to its electro-optical turret and synthetic aperture radar. The aircraft has a wingspan of 18 metres and length of 8.5 metres. It is powered by a 100 hp class piston engine giving a top speed of 235 km/h and cruise speed of 180 km/h with endurance of up to 40 hours.
FAA looks to accelerate drone ID rules
According to a notice published in December in the Federal Register, the FAA is set to authorise as many as eight industry-financed projects to examine various options for airborne drone identification,
Drone DJ relays a report from the Wall Street Journal which indicates that the goal of the programme is to ‘verify technologies and provide real-world data to hasten broader regulatory steps aimed at significantly expanding commercial uses of unmanned aircraft.’ The inability of authorities to identify and track drones has been a major hurdle to the integration of UAVs into the National Airspace.
The announcement of the remote-identification initiative just before Christmas went by largely unnoticed, but could have significant impact. According to the report, the agency plans to concentrate on small-scale, short-term field trials before developing long-term strategies. One of the major issues preventing drone flights over people or populated areas is the lack of identification and tracking options that are dependable and reasonable priced. A major question that remains to be answered is whether such data will be broadcast using cellular technology or IP networks.
Europe moves to set ground rules for drone deliveries
The SAFIR consortium, a group of 13 public and private organisations, has been selected by Single European Sky ATM Research Joint Undertaking (SESAR JU) to demonstrate integrated Drone Traffic Management for a broad range of drone operations in Belgium. The goal of the SAFIR project is to contribute to the EU regulatory process for drones and drive forward the deployment of interoperable, harmonized and standardized drone services across Europe. The SAFIR consortium (Safe and Flexible Integration of Initial U-space Services in a Real Environment) consists of the following organisations: Unifly, Amazon Prime Air, Belgocontrol, DronePort, Proximus, the Port of Antwerp, Helicus, SABCA, Elia, High Eye, C-Astral, Tekever and Aveillant. SAFIR will carry out multiple studies and demonstrations for drone operations that are viable, robust and ready-to-implement throughout Europe. These demonstrations will include surveillance flights (including container terminal inspection, oil spill inspection) in the Port of Antwerp, parcel delivery, medical inter-hospital transport, high voltage line mapping and pylon inspection. Further the use of telecommunication network technology for data communication with both manned aircraft and other unmanned aircraft will be assessed. Finally, a radar system will be deployed capable of monitoring cooperative and non-cooperative drones.
Mega Airlines hired a new CEO. Like all airline CEOs, he was certain that all his employees worked too little and made too much. The new boss was determined to rid the company of all slackers. On a tour of the company’s very large maintenance hangar, the CEO noticed a guy leaning against the wall. The room was full of workers and he wanted to let them know he meant business.
He walked up to the guy and asked, “How much money do you make a week?”
A little surprised, the young man looked at him and replied, “I make $500 a week. Why?”
The new CEO dug in his pocket and came out with a wad of cash. He counted out $2,000 and slapped it into the clearly confused young man’s hand while screaming, “Here’s four weeks pay, now GET OUT and don’t come back!” The startled young man darted for the door.
Feeling pretty good about himself, the CEO looked around the room and asked, “Does anyone want to tell me what that goof-ball did here?”
From across the room came a voice, “Pizza delivery guy.”
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African Pilot ‘Serious about flying’.
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