“Government is and always has been, the greatest criminal threat to the peaceful members of society.”
Richard M. Ebeling
African Pilot’s February 2020 edition
The February edition featuring aviation business based at Grand Central Airport as well as all currently manufactured Piston Powered Aircraft available in south Africa. This edition was completed two weeks ago the magazine has been distributed nationally. The digital edition was mailed to our considerable and growing list of subscribers on Friday 24 January.
African Pilot’s March 2020 edition
The March edition will feature aviation business at Rand Airport as well as Business Jets available in southern Africa. The deadline for this edition was on Friday 7 February 2020, but I will hold this edition open for another two days this week. Adrian has been distributing the February edition to the various Gauteng airports, whilst I have concentrated on Rand airport. I am pleased to report that we are receiving excellent comments on the overall quality and content of the February magazine. Thank you to our valuable advertisers who supported this edition. 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: Flying Legends 2020 brilliant:
Should you be interested in having your aviation event filmed, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
SOUTH AFRICAN AVIATION NEWS
ATNS unveils new bursary programme
Air Traffic and Navigation Services (ATNS) SOC is in the process of assessing applications of twenty qualifying candidates, to be trained as Target Generating Officers (TGOs). ATNS introduced the TGO Bursary Programme in November 2019. TGOs are required to perform simulator pilot roles in the training of Air Traffic Controllers (ATCs) and Air Traffic Services Officers (ATSOs). Training, which is extensive and is expected start in the first quarter of 2020. “The training of TGOs instead of ATCs and ATSOs is as a result of the realignment of Air Traffic Services function within ATNS and to fully comply with the South African Civil Aviation Authority’s reviewed operational legal requirements relating to simulator training,” said Interim ATNS CEO, Thomas Kgokolo. As a consequence, ATNS will not be calling for ATC Bursary applications this year (2020).
South African Airways announces further network changes
Struggling South African Airways announced that it is making an array of additional moves to transform the airline into a ‘sustainable and profitable business.’ Changes include route network cuts, the usage of more fuel-efficient aircraft, optimising the organisational structure and renegotiating contracts with suppliers. On 21 January 2020, the airline already temporarily cancelled some flights to preserve cash reserves. In addition, it also issued two tenders: one for nine Airbus A340 aircraft, the other for spare Boeing 747 parts. The latter tender expired on 22 January 2020.
The most visible change for the airline’s passengers will be the route network. South African Airways intends to only keep international flights between Johannesburg OR Tambo International Airport (JNB) and Frankfurt Airport, Germany (FRA), London-Heathrow (LHR), New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK), Perth Airport, Australia (PER) and Washington Dulles International Airport, United States (IAD) via Accra, Ghana (ACC). Such routes like Guangzhou, China, Hong Kong, Munich, Germany and Sao Paulo, Brazil have been cut to conserve cash.
On the domestic front, SAA would continue serving Cape Town International Airport, South Africa (CPT) on a ‘reduced basis,’ while other domestic destinations would be served by either Mango, its low-cost subsidiary, or SA Express, its regional operator. “SAA does not intend to make any further significant network changes. Passengers and travel agents can, therefore, feel confident about booking future travel with South African Airways,” states a press release issued by the carrier. The airline will continue operating the ousted routes until 29 February 2020.
The statement indicates that in order to improve the company’s liquidity, rationalisation programmes are considered to sell some of the airline’s assets, including an overlook over its subsidiaries. Nevertheless, the Business Rescue Practitioners (BRPs) are trying their best to minimise job losses at the airline. When the restructuring plan was announced in November 2019, the carrier’s unions began to strike over said job losses. “It is our intention to restructure the business in a manner that we can retain as many jobs as possible. This will help provide a platform to a viable and sustainable future. However, unfortunately a reduction in the number of employees will be necessary”, stated the BRPs.
Just this week, I met a person at Rand Airport who told me that his mother, a SAA employee for many years only received a percentage of her December salary and she did not receive a January 2020 salary; just promises that the staff would be paid eventually. Another picture that is doing the rounds shows a SAA London flight with fewer than 20 passengers on a wide-bodied airliner. You can draw your own conclusions as to how much longer what was once a great airline can continue operating.
What is scheduled for the next few weeks?
African Pilot’s 2020 calendar
4 and 5 March
Aviation Africa Summit and Exhibition Addis Ababa 2020
Contact Tel +44 (0) 170 253 0000
E-mail: email@example.com / firstname.lastname@example.org
4 to 8 March
IADE International Aerospace & Defence exhibition Tunisia
March Website: www.expomediatunisia.com E-mail: email@example.com
SAPFA Brakpan Fun Rally at Brakpan airfield
Contact Frank Eckard E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Cell: 083 269 1516
With this year’s SAPFA events culminating in the World Rally Flying Championships (WRFC 2020) to be held in Stellenbosch in November 2020, we would like to invite as many participants as possible to take part therefore we are looking for interested pilots and navigators to learn the art of rally flying. There will be further practical flight training events taking place up until April 2020, which is when we hold Nationals in Stellenbosch, for selecting our Protea Teams. We are hoping to have up to 10 teams sufficiently qualified to take part in the World Champs in November.
It is very important to book online: http://www.sapfa.co.za/index.php/component/competition/?view=pilot in order for us to adequately cater for the numbers. Thank you.
7 and 8 March
SAC KZN Regionals at Ladysmith airfield
Contact Annie Boon E-mail: email@example.com
Aero Club of South Africa 79th AGM
Time: 18h00 for 18h30 EAA Auditorium, Hurricane Road, Rand Airport, Germiston.
SAPFA Speed Rally at Bethlehem airfield
Contact Jonty Esser E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Cell: 082855 9435
The Airplane Factory breakfast fly-in at Tedderfield airfield
Contact Shanelle McKechnie E-mail: email@example.com Cell: 066 224 2128
20 and 21 March
FASHKOSH airshow at Stellenbosch airfield
Contact: Anton Theart E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Cell: 079 873 4567
31 March – 5 April
FIDAE 2020 Arturo Merino Benitez Airport, Santiago, Chile
Website: www.fidea.cl On behalf of African Pilot I will be attending FIDAE this year.
31 March – 5 April
Sun ‘n Fun Aerospace Expo. Lakeland, Florida, USA
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
Garden Route airshow
Contact Brett Scheuble E-mail: email@example.com Cell: 084 418 3836
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.
Editor’s comment: It is rather amusing to notice that another aviation publication’s December 2019, January 2020 and now February 2020 editions contain events that happened in November 2019 and only one event in 2020 that is scheduled well ahead. All the aviation publications, including the online publications have access to the above calendar and all they need to do is copy and paste the correct information supplied here.
AFRICAN AVIATION NEWS
NAF adds AW109 and Mi-171 helicopters
On Thursday 6 February the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) announced that three new helicopters had entered its air force. These are one Mi-171 from Russia and two AW109 helicopters from Leonardo in Italy. Nigeria ordered several Mi-series helicopters over the last decade, receiving two second-hand Mi-24P / Mi-35P aircraft from Belarus in 2010, three Mi-35Ms from Russia in 2014 and six Mi-171Sh armed transports from Russia in 2015. According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute’s (SIPRI’s) arms transfers database, a further six Mi-35Ms were delivered in 2015, whilst two Mi-24P / Mi-35Ps were acquired from the Ukraine in 2014. SIPRI records that Nigeria currently has 12 Mi-35Ms on order, with four already delivered (from April 2017) and placed an order for 12 Mi-171 helicopters in 2014. It appears the delivery on 6 February (NAF 581) was the first of this batch.
The two AW109s (NAF 579 and NAF 578) that were inducted on 6 February. They had arrived partially disassembled in Nigeria on 15 January. They are part of a batch of six ordered from Leonardo, with the first two inducted on 29 April 2019 during the NAF Day celebrations in Abuja. “I commend the support of the governments of Italy and the Russian Federation, in particular efforts of the Italian and Russian Ambassador to Nigeria at sustaining the strategic partnership between our countries, which facilitated this acquisition,” Buhari said during the commissioning ceremony. He said the military would continue to be funded to address security challenges, with many more aircraft to due be delivered. The new helicopters will be used to combat insurgents, bandits and other security threats across Nigeria. “I want to, once again, salute the resolve of our Armed Forces and the invaluable contributions of all security agencies for their efforts towards the decimation of Boko Haram.
Qatar Airways ‘negotiating’ a stake in RwandAir
One of the most outspoken Chief Executive Officers within aviation, Akbar Al Baker, confirmed that Qatar Airways is looking into purchasing a 49% stake in RwandAir. This would be the second move that the Doha-based airline has made in Rwanda. On 5 February while speaking at the CAPA Qatar Aviation, Aeropolitical and Regulatory Summit in Doha, Qatar, Al Baker stated that the carrier is currently in talks with RwandAir over a 49% stake in the African airline. In December 2019, Qatar Airways had already committed to a 60% stake in a new airport that would-be built-in Kigali, Rwanda.
If a deal does go through, RwandAir would become Qatar Airways’ fifth investment into an airline over the past few years. The Qatari airline holds stakes in Cathay Pacific, China Southern Airlines, International Airlines Group (IAG) and the South America-based LATAM. Furthermore, Al Baker once again reiterated that the airline would be interested in increasing its stake in LATAM, something he previously mentioned when Delta Air Lines shocked the world with its $1.9 billion investment in the South American airline group.
Kenyan C-27Js delivered
The Star reports Italy’s Leonardo delivered the first two C-27J Spartan transport aircraft to the Kenyan Air Force, whilst a third aircraft is still to be delivered. The two aircraft (registration 224 and 222) arrived at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport from Italy on 30 January. The aircraft will undergo acceptance trials before entering service with the Kenya Air Force. Kenya ordered the three aircraft in late 2017. News of the contract emerged in late June 2018 when it was revealed that Kenya had taken out a loan from Italy’s UnicreditSpA worth Sh20 billion ($198 million) for the three aircraft on 11 December 2017.
Kenya is the fourth African nation to order the C-27J after Morocco, Chad and Zambia. Other customers include the Air Forces of Italy, Greece, Bulgaria, Lithuania, Romania, United States, Mexico, Australia, Peru and Slovakia. The Spartan offers the ability to carry up to 60 troops in high density configuration and a maximum of 46 paratroopers. In the medical role 36 stretchers and six attendants can be carried. Normal payload is 9 000 kg for the C-27J, although maximum payload is more than 10 tons.
WORLDWIDE ACCIDENTS AND INCIDENTS
Plane breaks in two after landing in Istanbul airport
A Pegasus Airline plane skidded off the runway upon landing and broke in two parts before bursting into flames at Sabiha Gökçen International Airport in Istanbul, Turkey. According to local media, the runways at Sabiha Gökçen International Airport (SAW), the second airport of the largest Turkish city, were slippery due to heavy rain. Emergency teams quickly extinguished the fire and attended to the evacuation of passengers. This is the second incident of Pegasus Airlines that happens at Sabiha Gokcen International Airport within a month. On 7 January 2020, Pegasus Airlines Boeing 737-800 skidded off the runway, forcing the airport to temporarily suspend its operations. Pegasus Airlines is a low-cost Turkish airline based in Istanbul. It operates a fleet of 83 aircraft, including 46 Boeing 737-800, one Boeing 737-400, 24 Airbus A320-200 and 12 A320-200neo.
Istanbul airport resumes operations after fatal Pegasus crash
Flights resumed normally at Sabiha Gökçen Airport (SAW) in Istanbul, Turkey, a day after a Boeing 737 operated by Pegasus Airlines skidded off the runway and broke up, killing three people and injuring 179 others. The aircraft was a Pegasus Airlines Boeing 737, registered TC-IZK, carrying out flight PC2193 from Izmir Airport (ADB) in western Turkey. It skidded off the runway into a ditch, 20 meters down. The plane was split in three before one of the engines burst into flames. The fire was quickly contained and passengers evacuated. Early data shows that the plane landed long and hot, about 1950 meters (6400 feet) past the runway 06 threshold at a speed of about 240 km/h. The runways at Sabiha Gökçen International Airport (SAW), the second airport of the largest Turkish city, were slippery due to heavy rain, according to the local government. The accident is uncannily similar to another one that happened on 7 January 2020, when another Pegasus Airlines Boeing 737-800 skidded off the same runway. Fortunately, that time, the aircraft ended its course in the soft ground.
Saudia Cargo Boeing 747 tail strike on take-off from Dammam Airport, Saudi Arabia
On 1 February, a Saudia Cargo Boeing 747-400 (TC-MCT) operated flight SV919 between Dammam King Fahd Airport, Saudi Arabia and Zaragoza, Spain. However, during take-off the aircraft scraped its tail along the runway. The aircraft levelled off at 7,000 feet and entered into a holding pattern west of the airport. After determination that the damage was serious, the pilots climbed to 18,000 feet and decided to divert to Jeddah Airport.
Seneca down at Stellenbosch airfield
On Saturday 08 February a Seneca had an aborted take-off runway 01 and subsequent overrun at Stellenbosch. Apparently, this was an aborted take-off after the baggage door popped open and fortunately there were no injuries.
Sling down at Nylstroom
Apparently, a student pilot from Wonderboom National Airport skidded off the runway and broke off the nose wheel at Nylstroom last week. There were skid marks (main wheels and nose wheel) just prior to departing the runway may indicate that the nose wheel may have taken a hammering during touchdown due to too much energy on landing. It appears that the propeller, nose wheel and wingtip were damaged.
Robinson R22 crash near Worcester airfield, Western Cape
According to information on hand two female Tanzanian students crashed this helicopter in temperatures up to 40 degrees Celsius. Also, it appears that this same flying school has now scrapped three Robinson R22 training helicopters, which is not good for the insurance industry. First reports suggest that the pilot panicked when the low rotor came on (governor issue) and did not use the correct recovery method.
Aero Commander 100 training flight down
From the NTSB Preliminary Report: On 4 January 2020 an Aero Commander 100 airplane, N5573M, sustained substantial damage during a forced landing to a field near Mullin, Texas. The left seat student pilot and the right seat certificated flight instructor (CFI) sustained no injury. The airplane was registered to the student pilot and was operated by the CFI under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a visual flight rules instructional flight. Day visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident and no flight plan was filed. The flight originated from the Abilene Regional Airport (ABI), Abilene, Texas. The CFI reported the purpose of the flight was for the student pilot to satisfy the solo flight requirements at an airport with an air traffic control tower. The airplane was topped off with 100 low lead fuel before take-off, for a total of 40 gallons. The airplane was destined for the CFI’s private airstrip in Mullin, Texas. About three miles out from the airstrip, the CFI initiated a slow descent. The student pilot completed the descent and the before landing checklist. At about 3,000 feet above mean sea level, the engine ceased producing power.
After the complete loss of engine power, the CFI immediately took control of the airplane. He ensured the fuel selector switch was selected for both fuel tanks, the carburettor heat was applied and the mixture control was at the full rich position. He trimmed the airplane for the best glide speed and the student pilot executed a mayday call. The CFI attempted switching fuel tanks, but the engine did not respond, whilst the propeller was ‘wind milling.’ The CFI assessed the situation and realized the airplane did not have adequate altitude and airspeed to make it to the airstrip. The CFI altered course about 45° to the west for a suitable landing area. The student pilot read aloud the checklist for an engine failure and emergency landing and confirmed everything had already been completed. The CFI observed a suitable landing area about one mile ahead of their current position to a flat, ploughed dirt field. At the entrance to the ploughed field, there were various trees along the fence line. The CFI attempted to land between the trees, but the right wingtip impacted a tree. The CFI was able to maintain control of the airplane and the airplane touched down on the dirt with the main landing gear wheels first. The airplane ‘skidded’ about 30 feet in the dry, loose dirt before coming to an abrupt stop when the nose wheel dug into the dirt. The airplane nosed over and came to rest upside down. The CFI executed an emergency shutdown and both occupants egressed from the airplane without further incident. The airplane sustained substantial damage to the fuselage, both wings and the empennage. The airplane was recovered from the accident site for a future examination of the airframe and engine.
Passenger flight diverts to escape Syrian anti-aircraft missiles
A Cham Wings Airlines Airbus A320-200 was forced to make an emergency landing in fear of being targeted by the Syrian anti-aircraft defence. The aircraft, registered YK-BAB, was performing flight 6Q-514 from Al-Najaf, Iraq, to Damascus, Syria, with 172 people on board. Cham Wings Airlines, the operator, is a regional Syrian carrier based in Damascus. It operates a fleet of four Airbus A320-200s. As the flight was approaching its destination, four Israeli F-16 fighter jets fired multiple missiles against targets located on the outskirts of Damascus, without entering Syrian airspace. Fearing the plane could be targeted by Syrian anti-aircraft systems that were about to retaliate, a Syrian air traffic controller advised the flight crew to divert. The aircraft made an emergency landing at Khmeimim Air Base, controlled by the Russian military, in north western Syria.
In 2015, in the context of the Syrian civil war, Russia has been given land adjacent to Bassel Al-Assad International Airport in Latakia, to build the Khmeimim Air Base. Since then, it has been the main base of operations of the Russian permanent presence in Syria. The Russian Ministry of Defence has accused Israel of using the commercial flight as a shield to escape the Syrian counterattack. That accusation is not unprecedented, as Russia is believed to have already lost a plane in a similar manoeuvre.
On 17 September 2018, a Russian Ilyushin Il-20 electronic intelligence (ELINT) reconnaissance aircraft disappeared 35 kilometres from the Syrian coast. Fifteen soldiers were on board and they all perished. The plane had been shot down by a Russian-made S-200 long-range surface-to-air missile system operated by the Syrian military. At the time, the Russian Ministry of Defence also blamed the Israeli F-16s that were carrying out an airstrike on Syrian chemical facilities in the industrial zone of Latakia of using the Il-20 aircraft, which has an effective reflective surface greater than that of the F-16, as a cover. After initially blaming France and Israel for the disappearance of a Russian Ilyushin Il-20 surveillance plane, Moscow eventually admitted that it was shot down by a Syrian defence system. But Russia still blames Israel for their airstrikes that led to ‘a dangerous situation for other aircraft and vessels in the region’.
WORLD AVIATION NEWS
New Boeing 737 MAX software flaw discovered during test flights
The troubled 737 Max has provided a new headache for Boeing as a new software flaw was discovered when the 737 MAX was placed through its paces during flight testing. Bloomberg reports that the most recent issue is related to an indicator light that showcases if there is an issue with the aircraft’s trim system, which helps the flight crew either lower or raise the nose of the plane. The light was turning on when it was not meant to do so, stated the manufacturer. “We are incorporating a change to the 737 Max software prior to the fleet returning to service to ensure that this indicator light only illuminates as intended,” reads a statement by Boeing. However, the new issue should not delay the aircraft’s return-to-service, according to people familiar with the matter.
Over the past few months, several other issues were discovered on the jet. Firstly, a potential wiring issue could result in a short circuit and subsequently render the pilots unable to control the horizontal stabiliser of the MAX. A second issue was related to the flight computers on board: upon power-up, the computers check for any problems on the aircraft and the software glitch prevented them from doing so.
Airline consolidation in Europe: worrying times for the industry
While consolidation looks like a complex and long process that two or more companies undertake for one reason or another, at the end of the day, the term is fairly simple to explain: two or more business entities are combining forces either to improve their position in the market or grow quickly when it is hard to do so organically. However, the consequences of consolidation, especially within aviation, are much more complex than the term itself. In aviation, consolidated airlines are able to grow fast and in markets where potentially they could not enter organically or would risk failing in the process of attempting to do so. The fast growth part is crucial here, as nowadays acquiring aircraft or slots for growth is no easy task and scaling up business to survive in such a volatile and sensitive industry is crucial.
History of consolidation within the aviation industry
Consolidation is mostly associated with the 1978 Deregulation Act that was passed in the United States Congress. Prior to the Deregulation Act, the market in the United States was controlled by the Civil Aeronautics Board, which controlled everything from fares, routes, schedules to new players trying to enter the market. While one of the goals of the 1978 law change was to ensure that prices would stay low and competition blossom, the free market utopia did not work, as evident by the current state in the United States market:
According to Department of Transportation data, in 2018 a total of 777.9 million passengers travelled onboard a United States registered airline. Out of those 777.9 million, 576.8 million were onboard either an American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, United Airlines or Southwest Airlines aircraft. Meaning that the top four carriers control 74% of the market.
Consolidation signs in Europe trace even further back than 1978, prior to the establishment of the European Union or its predecessor, the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC). One example could be Scandinavian Airlines Systems or SAS for short. The consolidated Scandinavian carrier was born in 1951 when the flag carriers of Denmark, Norway and Sweden combined their forces and formed SAS.
In Britain, the current form of British Airways was formed in a consolidation process: British Overseas Airways Corporation was merged with British European Airways by the British Government. Two, lesser-known airlines, were also added: Cambrian Airways and Northeast Airlines. In the 20th century, British Airways further gobbled up British Caledonian (itself was a result of a takeover of British United Airways) and Dan-Air. It also added British Midland International in 2012. However, at the time BA itself was already under the ownership of International Airlines Group (IAG).
One of the earliest and largest mergers in the 21st century was the Air France and KLM Royal Dutch Airlines marriage, cleared by the European regulators in 2004. Air France essentially bought KLM. While the two companies operate under the same holding company, they operate independently. The catalyst for the marriage was the ruling by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) in 2002. ECJ ruled that the European Commission had the power to overrule individual open-skies agreements between its member states and outsiders.
Coronavirus takes out ABACE 2020
Last week NBAA announced the decision to cancel this year’s Asian Business Aviation Convention and Exhibition (ABACE), given health concerns and other special challenges for event participants, which have arisen in the wake of the Coronavirus outbreak. ABACE 2020 was scheduled to take place in Shanghai from 16 to 18 April. In remarking on the decision, NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen noted that, “ABACE has always been more than an industry trade show: it is a platform for building business aviation in China, throughout Asia and around the world. NBAA and the Shanghai Airport Authority (SAA) have an extraordinarily strong partnership, having worked closely together for nearly a decade, to build ABACE into one of the world’s truly great aviation events.”
Bolen concluded that, “We will focus on making ABACE 2021 the best edition yet and continuing its critical role in promoting business aviation in China, across Asia and around the world. As we look to next year’s event and those in the years to come, we look forward to building on our relationships with the SAA, our host FBO Shanghai Hawker Pacific Business Aviation Centre and our peers with the Asian Business Aviation Association in producing ABACE, ensuring the show’s continued success for business aviation across the globe.” ABACE 2021 is still scheduled to take place from 13 to 15 April 2021.
Coronavirus forces Airbus to close Tianjin, China FAL
As the global spread of coronavirus is affecting international travel, including cargo, global businesses, including aviation companies, are feeling the adversities of travel restrictions. Airbus announced that it is temporarily closing its final assembly line (FAL) in Tianjin, China. While the Chinese Government has given out the requirement for staff to work from home to avoid travel and Airbus has provided its employees the necessary IT equipment to do so, travel restrictions are ‘posing some logistical challenges’ for the assembly line itself. Tianjin hosts one of the few FAL’s outside of Europe, where most of the assembly and manufacturing sites are located. The other international A320 FAL is in Mobile, Alabama (United States).
In addition, Tianjin is also home to a Completion and Delivery Centre (C&DC) of the A330 wide-body jet. On 6 November 2019, Airbus announced that the capabilities of the facility would be improved to also be capable of accepting deliveries of the Airbus A350, the manufacturer’s flagship twin-aisle aircraft. It planned to deliver the first A350 from the new C&DC in 2021. Whether the temporary pause on production would have any long-lasting effects, is ‘too early to say,’ according to an Airbus spokesperson.
Cathay Pacific asks 27,000 employees to take unpaid leave
Cathay Pacific asked all its 27,000-strong workforce to take three weeks of unpaid leave in the next few months, as geopolitical events have severely dented the Hong Kong-based airline’s demand in recent weeks. The city-wide Hong Kong protests that have been going on since March 2019 and the break-out of the novel coronavirus (nCoV) that has negatively affected the global travel demand from and to China, have also negatively impacted Cathay Pacific.
The airline is amidst a turnaround plan, initiated in 2017 and previously set to end at the end of 2019. The company is yet to issue its FY2019 financial results. Cathay Pacific was already forced to cut capacity by over 30%, the carrier announced on 4 February 2020, due to ‘the Novel Coronavirus outbreak and also a significant drop in market demand,’ an airline spokesperson indicated.
EASA addresses A350 in-flight shutdowns due to ‘liquid spillage’
The European Union Safety Agency (EASA) issued an emergency airworthiness directive (EAD) 2020-0020-E after two events of Airbus A350 un-commanded in-flight engine shutdowns following ‘liquid spillage’ on the aircraft’s control panels. The panels in question are the ENG START panel and the ECAM Control Panel (ECP). According to the EAD, following the engine shutdowns, attempts by the pilots to restart the engine were unsuccessful. Nevertheless, the flight crews successfully diverted to the nearest available airport.
On one instance, a Delta Air Lines Airbus A350-900 registered N508DN was en route to Seoul Incheon International Airport, South Korea (ICN) from Detroit’s Metropolitan Wayne County Airport (DTW) on 21 January 2020. Following an alleged coffee accident in the cockpit, the right-hand Rolls-Royce Trent XWB shut down and the pilots of the aircraft were forced to land in Fairbanks International Airport, Alaska, United States (FAI). The aircraft was shipped to Minneapolis Saint Paul International Airport, United States (MSP) on 22 January 2020 and performed its first commercial flight after the liquid spillage on 23 January 2020, to Seoul (ICN).
The second instance was related to Asiana Airlines’ Airbus A350-900 XWB that operated Flight OZ751 on 9 November 2019. The flight departed from Seoul (ICN) to Singapore Changi Airport (SIN). However, after about four hours of flight, the pilots made a turn towards Manila, Philippines (MNL) as a liquid was once again spilled. The aircraft, registered HL7579, returned to Seoul (INC) on 11 November 2019, indicates Flightradar24.com data.
Following an investigation by the manufacturer, EASA determined that the Airplane Flight Manual (AFM) needed an amendment that indicates a ‘liquid prohibited zone’ in the cockpit as defined by Airbus’ Temporary Revision (TR) in the AFM. The TR also indicates actions the flight crew needs to perform if such an accident were to happen once again. The Emergency Airworthiness Directive (EAD) is effective 7 February 2020 and applies to both A350 models: the -900 and the -1000.
Russia signs contracts for Tupolev future strategic bomber PAK-DA
Three days after the United States Air Force shared new visuals of its upcoming B-21 Raider, the Russian Defence Ministry announced it signed the contracts regarding the production of its own future long-range strategic bomber, the PAK-DA. On 3 February the television channel Zvezda reported that the Ministry had just ‘signed all the necessary contracts to start production of a promising long-range aviation complex.’ The contract includes three prototypes of the PAK-DA (Prospective Aviation Complex for Long-Range Aviation) destined to carry out a ‘preliminary’ test campaign between 2023 and 2025. If the campaign proves conclusive, further testing by the Russian military will take place in 2026, with the aim of starting mass production in 2027 earliest.
Not much is known so far regarding the characteristics of the Tupolev PAK-DA. However, throughout the years, Russian officials have indicated that it should take the form of a flying wing, much like the U.S. B-2 Spirit and B-21 Raider and be stealthy. It would be operated by a crew of four people, much like the Tupolev Tu-160. As for its specifications, the PAK-DA is expected to have an operational range of around 12,000 kilometres (7,500 miles) and be able to remain airborne for up to thirty hours. It would carry a payload of 30 tons, ranging from long-range cruise missiles, both nuclear and conventional, including the upcoming hypersonic 3M22 Zircon missile. The PAK-DA will replace both the Tupolev Tu-95 ‘Bear’ and the Tu-160M ‘Blackjack’.
A day before the signing of the contract was made public, the modernized version of the Tu-160M made its maiden flight from the runway of Tupolev’s Gorbunov factory in Kazan, capital of Republic of Tatarstan, Russia. This update will see the supersonic bomber refitted with new communication and control systems, a new radar and new means of electronic warfare. It should also eventually be fitted with the Kuznetsov NK-32-2, the largest and most powerful engine ever fitted on a combat aircraft that should also power the PAK-DA.
Christina Koch completes 328-day mission in space
Setting a record for the longest single spaceflight in history by a woman, NASA astronaut Christina Koch, Soyuz Commander Alexander Skvortsov of Roscosmos and Luca Parmitano of ESA (European Space Agency) landed on Earth in Kazakhstan, southeast of the remote town of Dzhezkazgan. Koch’s first journey into space became a 328-day mission in which she orbited Earth 5,248 times, a journey of 139 million miles, roughly the equivalent of 291 trips to the Moon and back. She conducted and supported more than 210 investigations during Expeditions 59, 60 and 61, including as a research subject volunteer to provide scientists the opportunity to observe effects of long-duration spaceflight on a woman as the agency plans to return to the Moon under the Artemis program and prepare for human exploration of Mars. One particular research project in which Koch participated is the Vertebral Strength investigation, which better defines the extent of spaceflight-induced bone and muscle degradation of the spine and the associated risk for broken vertebrae.
This timely endeavour is expected to provide insight into the development of future countermeasures, such as preventative medicine or exercise. These results also could provide recommendations for limiting the amount of force astronauts are subjected to during launch. Koch lived in space with four fellow NASA astronauts and classmates: Anne McClain, Nick Hague, Andrew Morgan and Jessica Meir as well as four Russian cosmonauts, Canadian astronaut David Saint-Jacques, ESA astronaut Parmitano and visiting astronaut Hazzaa Ali Almansoori from the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
Wisk prepares for New Zealand Cora air taxi trial
The New Zealand Government and Wisk, an Urban Air Mobility (UAM) contender, have announced a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to establish a passenger transport trial in Canterbury, New Zealand. Wisk’s self-flying, all-electric air taxi, called Cora, is the aircraft selected for the trials. In October 2019, the New Zealand Government announced that it was establishing an industry-wide Airspace Integration Trial to work with leading, innovative domestic and international industry partners to safely test and demonstrate unmanned aircraft. Wisk, based in the United States and New Zealand, was announced as the first industry partner to join this programme. Around the globe, Urban Air Mobility is an emerging, high-value industry and New Zealand is an attractive location because of its thriving innovation ecosystem with unique expertise, people and technology. With the agreement now in place, the planning for a passenger transport trial in Canterbury is now underway. The passenger route is a world’s first and will commence after Cora’s certification by the New Zealand Civil Aviation Authority.
WORLD DRONES NEWS
Empire drone company receives FAA approval to spray crops by drone
In the US Empire Drone Company has received a Part 137 certification from the FAA. This certification allows Empire Drone Company to spray crops by drone. They are now one of only a few companies which have this authorisation in the United States. Spraying drones can cover up to 24 acres per hour. They are flown either autonomously in a grid or they can be flown manually for spot spraying. The drones are able to fly a consistent elevation a few feet above a field with the help of its onboard radar system. The prop-wash effect from the drone’s propellers effectively force inputs down and around each plant. There are several advantages over traditional spraying methods when crops are sprayed by drone:
• Cost: Spraying drones help growers save on equipment, application and labour.
• Time: Spraying Drones dramatically cut down on time and traffic in the field.
• Health: Remote spraying reduces an applicators exposure to potentially harmful chemicals.
• The spot spraying accuracy of drones can also reduce the amount of run-off into the environment.
This new type of aerial application service is fast and delivers inputs at the precise point where they are needed. This vastly increases overall efficiency when spraying by drone when compared to traditional application methods.
Africa’s largest drone conference and competition opens in Kigali
Last week the African Drone Forum started a two-week schedule of events in Rwanda. Africa and Rwanda in particular are open for drone business. Twenty-five regulators from across Africa are attending, the East African block is particularly strong and positive in its attitude towards RPAS. More than 800 people are expected to attend the event travelling from all points of the globe. Teams are flying and demonstrating their delivery drone platforms at The Lake Kivu Flying challenge about 100 km West of Kigali. Not just putting machines on a stand and showing renderings, really flying to an island 20 km away and delivering merchandise. The flying challenges taking place are:
Emergency delivery challenge
to safely deliver an emergency package weighing a minimum of 1kg from the drone port on the mainland to Bugarura Island in Lake Kivu and then return and land safely at the starting point. The distance between the drone ports is around 20km. No battery swap is allowed at the drop-off location.
Take-off from the mainland drone port and safely pick up as many 250g modules as possible from the drone port on Bugarura Island on Lake Kivu and return them to the mainland drone port.
Find and assess
Successfully identify the coordinates of both land-based and water-based targets in Lake Kivu, then return and land safely at the starting point.
However, Amazon and Wing are noticeable by their absence. They talk the talk…
Editor comments If an exercise such as this can be staged in Rwanda, why can South African drone operations be tested in a similar manner? Just think about the possibilities if our own SACAA were to spearhead such an exercise for the various drone manufacturers and drone operators to become involved to demonstrate the positive use of drones in our airspace.
Weekly News from African Pilot
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Until next week, please be ‘Serious about flying’.
Athol Franz (Editor)