African Pilot’s aircraft of the week identification quiz
Not as many correct answers as usual, but the following persons correctly identified the mystery aircraft: Bernard Stander, Dawid Hanekom, Howard Long, Righardt du Plessis, Brian Spurr, Herman Nel, Erwin J.W. Stam and Nigel Maistry. Well done!
This dreadful COVID-19 situation is getting real, because now there are people, I know who are passing on due to contracting the virus, whilst other have become seriously ill with terrible symptoms. Please be careful out there and only travel when it is necessary, only shop when you must and then keep a respectable distance from other people.
RIP Kim Pratley
Kim Pratley was a devoted family man, successful businessman, exceptional pilot and an absolute stalwart at the Krugersdorp Flying Club. One of Kim’s closest friends who knew him far better than I did, will be writing the obituary within the February edition of African Pilot. Sincere condolences to his family, friends, the Krugersdorp Flying Club and the Pratley Group of companies. Kim may your final journey to that Great Hangar in the Sky be filled with wonderful aviation memories.
What happened at Rand Airport on Tuesday 20 January?
Remarkable photograph and story. Initially it was thought that two armed men gained entry to Rand Airport on Tuesday morning and held up an aircraft at the holding point, with the intent of robbing the aircraft occupants. However, this has turned out to be FAKE NEWS, because it appears that a seriously deranged man tried to hitch a ride from one of the planes. Apparently, the man was apprehended by the crew of Rand Airport’s Fire and Rescue Services. Still an interesting story and what a picture!
African Pilot’s January 2021 edition
The January edition has completed its international circulation. This edition features Professional Aviation Services in terms of aircraft and pilot insurance as well as aircraft financing and other aviation financial services. Advertisers can now see the benefits of marketing their products and services to a vast international aviation audience including short videos, picture galleries and actual virtual shops, they will realise that marketing is most important for future profitability. In South Africa and the African continent, African Pilot is the only aviation publication that has purchased the latest 3D software to provide digital enhancement to any advertiser anywhere in the world. At the same time African Pilot is also the only aviation magazine that is easy to read on any digital smart device, because our team understands the importance of ensuring the ease of use in this ‘new normal’ digital age.
It is now obvious that ALL other local aviation publications are attempting to copy what African Pilot has pioneered, but this was to be expected. However, at least African Pilot publishes correct aviation information such as the calendar of events on a regular basis. It was most interesting to see that a certain aviation magazine claimed that it was the first to publish its weekly ‘newspaper’, when African Pilot has been publishing APAnews for the past 20 years.
African Pilot’s February 2021 edition
The February edition of African Pilot will feature Piston engine aircraft over 600 Kg as well as the piston engines and propellers that drive piston aircraft. In 2021 we decided to no longer feature the major South African General Aviation airports, mainly due to the new international nature of the magazine. Instead, I will be featuring many of the smaller airfields and flying clubs at these airfields. Some of these airports have remarkable histories as well as colourful pilots that are building interesting aircraft. The idea is to expose more about sport and recreational aviation within South Africa and to other countries in the world.
The material deadline for the February 2021 edition is on Friday 22 January 2021.
All editorial content should be sent to me Athol Franz e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
For advertising positions please contact Adrian Munro
Tel: 0861 001130 Cell: 079 880 4359 or e-mail: email@example.com
About African Pilot
There is no doubt that African Pilot provides the finest overall aviation media reach in Africa.
We are positioned 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.
The monthly magazine is available as a digital edition where ALL advertisers 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 or tap on any smart phone device.
Then of course this APAnews service has been part of African Pilot’s line-up since the inception of the magazine 20 years ago.
Do you want instant aviation news and opinions?
Visit www.APAcom.co.za and register yourself as a user
African Pilot’s shop window
Over the past few weeks, I have received several e-mails asking for my assistance to place aviation friends in contact with service providers or to supply important information to assist them with answers within aviation. Understandably, I am not an expert in many aviation subjects, but via African Pilot’s considerable media reach including APAnews, I can assist to provide people with answers as who to contact for the respective inquiries. Please note that this is yet another FREE service to anyone in aviation and all you need to do is contact me via e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Enquiry 1: I have had a request for an EASA Part 66 qualified technician to physically check only 4 AD items on the aircraft. Do you know, and you know almost everybody in SA’s aviation, a person meeting that qualification?
Enquiry 2: A client of mine is looking to purchase a Piper J3 Cub. If you know of someone who is interested in selling a J3 Cub in good condition, please contact me. Thank you.
View and download African Pilot’s last three (3) 2020 editions.
Click on the covers below.
Launch of Wouter Botes’ e-book ‘Flights to Nowhere’
Wouter Botes’ E-book on Flight to Nowhere is available by visiting www.africanpilot.co.za and click on the button provided on the home page. We have provided an option for payment of R60 per download on the page.
AERO South Africa news
Early bird rates available for the ONLY dedicated General Aviation show in South Africa
AERO South Africa is the perfect platform to showcase your products and services and build profitable relationships whilst engaging with over 4000 visitors across the general aviation industry. Exhibitors to the show will also benefit from FREE landing, approach and ground handling fees, making AERO South Africa the most cost-effective opportunity to reach a niche target audience of general aviation enthusiasts and businesses.
Book your space at the premier General Aviation Business-2-Business event and benefit from a discounted rate, contact:
Marlene Bosch: Marlene.email@example.com or 084 622 3931
Annelie Reynolds: Annelie.firstname.lastname@example.org or 083 308 1251
Aero Club member support initiative
Aero Club coffee table Centenary Yearbook
The AeCSA Centenary Yearbook is now available to purchase from the online shop. Please visit www.aeroclub.org.za/shop.
Covid-19 uncertainties lead to cancellation of the Aerospace and Defence Trade Show 2021
This week the organisers of the Aerospace and Defence Trade Show (ADTS 2021) announced the indefinite cancellation of the event, previously scheduled to take place between 22 and 26 March 2021 at Lanseria International Airport. The announcement comes at a time when South Africa is in a second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic and the announcement of the extension of the National State of Disaster by the South African President. With the enormous uncertainties that the pandemic has dealt the global events industry, the successful execution of the ADTS was significantly compromised.
“The decision to cancel this event was not an easy one. However, the health and safety of all concerned, together with adhering to the prescripts of the law, is of absolute importance to us”, said Sandile Ndlovu, Acting Executive Director of the South African Aerospace, Maritime and Defence Industries Association (AMD) and ExCom Chairperson for ADTS 2021. The global COVID-19 pandemic, especially in its recent newly discovered strains, continues to have a huge impact on the events industry, which has seen many international event organisers either deferring their events from their traditional dates, or choosing to out rightly cancelling their shows based on the effect of the pandemic in their respective countries.
Although South Africa has kept international air travel opened after the pronouncement of the return to revised Level 3 Alert lockdown, the second wave resulted in the cancellation or decline of certain international flights into the country, associated with the international sentiment of the strain originating in South Africa. The knock-on effect to ADTS was on the arrival of international participants and guests.
“Trade events traditionally rely on the patronage of international delegations and this is a return on investment that we would offer to our exhibitors; failing to present our exhibitors with high-level delegations and buyers would not auger well for us as organisers. This was also a factor considered in the decision-making process. “We have looked at all the possible scenarios and really want to thank all exhibitors and sponsors for their patience and unwavering support in the past months leading to this difficult and yet essential decision.
“Our focus now is directed at AAD2022, which is scheduled to take place from 21 to 25 September 2022. We will continue to work hard at creating platforms for the South African Defence and Aerospace industry that will bring value to their business initiatives and grow their international footprints, and so look forward to welcoming all our valued stakeholders to AAD2022”, concluded Ndlovu.
Media queries: Nakedi Phasha: Marketing and Communication Manager
Marketingcomms@aadexpo.co.za Cell: 082 544 3339
SAPFA President’s Trophy Air Race (PTAR 2021)
Hello fellow Air Racers, this our first newsletter of the year in the run up to the PTAR, herewith some important information, firstly to announce that entries are open please go to the SAPFA website for the entry link. We had to of course abort the 2020 PTAR and have retained the same venue (Ermelo) for this year.
Date: Friday and Saturday 21 and 22nd May 2021
Where: Ermelo Airfield, Mpumalanga
The fees are as follows:
- Entry Fee R 3 850 per aircraft as the early bird fee (this amount can be paid into the SAPFA bank account – Nedbank Limited, Account Number 1876019840). Fees will increase after 30 April to R 4500
- Membership fees Aero Club & SAPFA R 900 per crew member – to register or renew: https://aeroclub.blueboxonline.com
- FAI licence R 280 per crew member (also can be purchased online on the Aero Club Bluebox payment system)
- If neither of the crew are SAPFA members then the total fee per crew is R 2360. If preferred, this total amount can be paid to SAPFA, SAPFA will apportion to Aero Club the membership fees.
- Additional banquet tickets R 450 each (the two crew members get a banquet ticket each as part of the entry fee of R 3 850)
- Accommodation and car hire: options for accommodation and car hire will follow.
The race format will follow what was established in 2019 in Saldanha, which has also been successfully executed in the Speed Rally series. Organisation of the event in Ermelo is progressing well, the Race Committee have conferred and have held meetings with the club, have prepared the proposed airfield layout and are busy getting the necessary approvals in place. Our next meeting will take place shortly to confirm the remainder of the logistics such as accommodation and car hire.
Home page for PTAR – http://www.sapfa.co.za/index.php/presidents-air-race (watch this space)
For entries: https://www.speedrally.co.za/event-details/ptar-presidents-trophy-air-race-sapfa-faeo-ermelo. Further details of the planning and run up to PTAR 2020 will be communicated in due course. Your comments are most welcome to email@example.com
Until next time, fly safe,
Rob Jonkers (race director).
What happened in aviation over the past week?
SAAF rescues six flood victims
The South African Air Force (SAAF) used an Oryx helicopter to assist in the rescue of six people who had been trapped due to flooding close to their property, in Loch Vaal, Vanderbijlpark, along the Vaal river. On the morning of 16 January, torrential rains resulted in people becoming trapped by rising water and they contacted the South African Police Service (SAPS) for help. Upon arrival at the scene, the SAPS found six people, including an 80-year-old man and a 72-year-old woman with limited mobility. SAPS divers were able to assist four members and eight dogs to safety by helping them swim. However, for the elderly the assistance from 17 Squadron members, who were called out from Air Force Base Swartkop in Tshwane.
According to Jake Manten, National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) Vaal Dam station commander, “We launched our Discovery Rescue Runner, accompanied by Police divers, to attempt to rescue the couple from the house but submerged and semi submerged long farmland grass hampered efforts to reach them and the couple were unable to wade through the barely accessible flooded terrain.”
They were medically assessed by paramedics and loaded into an ambulance and apparently transported to hospital as a precaution for treatment for shock. Apart from the SAAF, SAPS and NSRI, ER24 ambulance services, Netcare 911 ambulance services and Private Community Medical Services were also on the scene. “NSRI are appealing to communities along the Vaal rivers and dams to be vigilant for flash floods during the heavy rainfalls being experienced as water levels continue to rise from heavy rainfall in the area,” the Institute said.
Armed Forces Day 2021 another victim in COVID-19
As the largest internal SA National Defence Force (SANDF) annual day centring around the 21 February when the SS Mendi sank in the English Channel in 1917. SANDF Director: Corporate Communications, Brigadier General Mafi Mgobozi, confirmed this year’s event, originally scheduled for Mpumalanga capital Mbombela, had been cancelled. Armed Forces Day 2020 was staged in Limpopo capital Polokwane from 16 to 22 February.
SAAF misses flying hour targets
According to the Department of Defence annual report for that financial year, the airborne service of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) expected aircraft from its VIP 21 squadron to fly for 1000 hours moving senior government people, including President Cyril Ramaphosa, to and from important meetings and events locally, continentally and internationally. The target was missed by 93 hours. The South African Air Force (SAAF) planned for aircraft in its fleet to be airborne for 17 200 hours with by far the majority used for force preparation. Four thousand hours were set aside by SAAF budget planners for use in force employment of SAAF assets, only 2 526 hours were used.
No details were provided about aircraft types, classes or missions, cargo, trooping, search and rescue or mercy flights were provided. The report does not specify whether helicopters or fixed wing aircraft were utilised but notes hours flown are dependent on ‘the number of serviceable aircraft and operational taskings received’. The report states “the SAAF continued to provide support to the joint force employment requirements, despite air defence capabilities remaining under pressure due to budget constraints.”
Further the report says the SAAF must provide four helicopter squadrons and a combat support helicopter squadron as its commitment to the Department of Defence (DoD) air defence programme. Other commitments in this regard include three medium transport squadrons: a VIP squadron, as well as one maritime and transport, a light transport and nine reserve squadrons. 2 Squadron flying Gripen fighter jets from AFB Makhado is the sole air combat squadron required as per the air defence programme which also has the responsibility for ensuring there is a 24-hour air command and control capability.
Crop dusting helicopter down
On Tuesday morning 19 January, according to an Eskom press release what looks like a Bell helicopter hit the 132kV Romansrivier / Wittenberg high tension power line. Electricity supply has been cut in Ceres in the Western Cape following a deadly helicopter crash. The accident helicopter appears to be Bell 206B JetRanger II ZS-HUC. The South African reached out to Western Cape SAPS for further comment and to confirm whether there were any fatalities or injuries. Captain FC van Wyk unfortunately responded saying that a young man had been fatally injured.
Civilian Air Traffic Controller spots a snag and prevents Osprey crash
An FAA air traffic controller has been recognised for preventing the crash of a CV-22 Osprey by noticing a maintenance snag from the tower. The student crew was taking off on a challenging night brownout landing training mission at Kirtland Air Force Base / Sunport International Airport in Albuquerque when Wendy Smith, who has been watching Ospreys take-off and land for 12 years, spotted something as the aircraft climbed out and got on the radio. “Hey Dusty 73, your right prop-rotor looks weird,” she said. The crew checked the rotor and noticed that one blade was misaligned and put the aircraft down. They fired up another Osprey and went off on their mission. On the ground, maintenance crews discovered the pitch align bearing in the rotor hub was failing and would likely have come apart during the mission with the loss of the crew and the $90 million aircraft. “It requires experience to know that something’s wrong. She has been up there for 12 years, that is almost the entire lifespan of the Osprey aircraft. She is probably one of the few people here with the experience to recognise that something is just not quite right,” said 71st Special Operations Squadron Commander Lt. Col. Brett Cassidy. The controller received a commemorative coin.
Russian MC-21 suffers runway excursion during test flight
As it was undergoing take-off tests at Zhukovsky International Airport (ZIA), in Moscow, an MC-21-300 prototype rolled off the runway, ending its course in the snow. The MC-21-300 was undergoing an aborted take-off test with a simulated single-engine failure. The aircraft veered off the runway for an unidentified reason. It came to rest on the soft ground, from where it had to be towed out of the snow. No injuries were reported among the testing team. The testbed involved in the incident is equipped with Pratt & Whitney PW1400G engines. It was the first to start flight tests, in 2017. Three other prototypes exist, including one fitted with the Russian-made Aviadvigatel PD-14 engines. The certification of the Russian single-aisle airliner is expected by the end of 2021.
NTSB preliminary report: Rutan VariEze
On 9 August 2020, a Page/Le Master, VariEze experimental airplane, N2ZE, was destroyed when it was involved in an accident near Kelso Valley, California. The pilot sustained serious injury whilst the passenger sustained minor injury. The airplane was operated as a 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91 personal flight. The pilot stated he departed California City Municipal Airport (L71), with 16 gallons of fuel on board. About one hour after the departure, the pilot experienced a loss of engine power. He switched the fuel selector from the wings to the center tank and the engine regained power for 30 seconds before it lost power. The pilot manipulated the fuel selector from center tank to wing tanks and back to center tank only to experience an additional 20 seconds of regained engine power.
After three failed attempts to restart the engine, the pilot decided to execute an emergency landing. The wreckage was retained for further examination.
Pilot loses control after being hit in head by a bird
The pilot reported that, while making a video of a boat near Santa Maria Island in Florida, he flew the Robinson R44 helicopter with the doors removed about 20 feet above the water and about ¾ mile offshore. He saw seabirds ahead crossing from his right to left and thought they would be no factor. Shortly after seeing the birds, he initiated a right turn to follow the boat and while he was looking over his right shoulder, he felt an object strike him in the back of the head. While dazed from the head strike, he flared to reduce speed and the helicopter settled into the water. He then applied left lateral cyclic to stop the main rotor blade’s rotation and the helicopter rolled left and inverted in the water. The helicopter sustained substantial damage to the fuselage and main rotor blades. The pilot, who sustained serious injuries, reported that he believed he had been hit in the head by a seabird.
Attempt to fly aerobatics in Bellanca fatal for two
A witness saw the Bellanca flying over Lake Chickamauga near Soddy-Daisy, Tennessee. He noted that the airplane appeared to make ‘a tight U-turn’ at a low altitude, about two or three treetop lengths above the water, which he thought might have been an aerobatic manoeuvre. The airplane then spiralled straight down counterclockwise and hit the lake. The pilot and passenger died in the crash. A GoPro camera was mounted on both the left and right horizontal stabilisers.
Review of the video files revealed that only the camera mounted on the right horizontal stabiliser captured the accident. The video files from that camera revealed that the airplane took off about 13 minutes after the recording began. About five minutes later, the airplane flew over a body of water and descended closer to the water for about one minute and then remained level for 22 seconds. The airplane pitched up more than 30° above the horizon and began rolling to the left. It continued to roll to the left and entered a left spin. During the spin, the right aileron and the flaps were in an up position. The airplane then departed controlled flight and hit the water. A review of the video showed no in-flight structural failure or loss of propeller rpm.
International Air Transport Association (IATA) news
The news relates to Emirates and Etihad Airways becoming launch partners for the IATA Travel Pass mobile app. Travel Pass performs four key functions:
- It provides a registry of entry requirements for countries travellers intend to visit.
- It provides a registry of COVID-19 test laboratories, test centres and vaccination providers.
- It enables travellers to securely upload their test or vaccination certificates on their smart phones and to share these with the relevant authorities in a format that is recognised by the World Health Organisation and its sister UN body, the International Civil Aviation Organisation.
- It provides travellers with a digital identity to verify the owner of the certificate.
The basic features of the IATA Travel Pass are built to comply with defined global standards, where they exist. Where they do not yet exist, IATA will publish the interfaces and open them up for use by third parties so that the app is interoperable with other systems that some governments may wish to use.
Transport Canada un-grounds Boeing 737 MAX
On 18 January Transport Canada (TC), the authority responsible for transportation policies within Canada, issued an Airworthiness Directive (AD) for the Boeing 737 MAX, essentially un-grounding the aircraft within the Canadian airspace. The AD outlines the steps airlines must take in order to be able to fly the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft. Much like the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the Canadian authority will require operators to install an update on the Flight Control Computer (FCC) and the MAX Display Software (MDS), which will add an Angle of Attack (AOA) Disagree Alert. Furthermore, Horizontal Stabiliser wiring, which runs from the cockpit to the horizontal stabiliser itself will have to be physically unbundled. Carriers will also have to install an ivory yellow-coloured cap on the stick shaker’s circuit breaker (CB) button.
The caps on the stick shaker’s CB were mandated to ‘effectively reduce pilot workload given what has been learned from the two tragic accidents,’ argued the authority, outlining that this was a design difference from the FAA. Following an adjustment to the Aircraft Flight Manual (AFM) to reflect the newest changes to the Boeing 737 MAX, operators will have to conduct an AOA Sensor System test and as the final step, fly an operational readiness flight before the aircraft can once again carry passengers in Canada. However, before pilots could fly the aircraft, they will have to go through simulator-based training.
Boeing awarded contract for 12 further KC-46 tankers
The US Air Force has finalised a $1.7 billion contract for 12 more KC-46A tanker aircraft. With this sixth production lot, Boeing is now on contract for 79 KC-46A tankers. The company delivered the first KC-46A to the Air Force in January 2019. Since then, Boeing has delivered 42 tankers to four different bases. The next-generation KC-46 brings new capabilities and operational flexibility to the US Air Force and international customers. The KC-46A is a multirole tanker designed to refuel allied and coalition military aircraft compatible with international aerial refuelling procedures. It i also equipped to carry passengers, cargo and patients on any mission at any time. Boeing is assembling KC-46A aircraft at its Everett, Washington facility where it also continues production of the KC-46 tanker for Japan.
FAA clamps down on airport and airborne misbehaviour
Flight attendants are applauding a new zero-tolerance stance by the FAA for bad behaviour by passengers. The agency has announced that misbehaving passengers will no longer get a warning before they face significant punishment. The action, which is in force until the end of March, stems from a rash of airborne confrontations between unruly passengers and cabin crew, some of them involving participants in the 6 January political rally in Washington, D.C. In a statement, the FAA said the policy will also apply to incidents of ‘politically motivated harassment’ in airports like that experienced by several members of Congress in the last week. Fines of up to $35,000 and jail terms can be levied against violators.
“First strike and you are out,” said Sara Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants. “We applaud FAA Administrator (Steve) Dickson for taking this clear stand for our safety and security.” Flight attendants dealt with numerous incidents of bad behaviour in the days before and after 6 January, notably the refusal by some passengers to wear masks and the harassment of other passengers for their political beliefs.
Heli-Expo 2021 experiencing wave of cancellations
Heli-Expo 2021 may not be all that difficult to get around, despite aggressive efforts by HAI to assure exhibitors and attendees that they expect to have a safe event. HAI has dug in its heels and seems bound and determined to pull this off and restore some normalcy and score a positive event on behalf of the imperilled commercial aviation industry; despite a number of vendors pulling out on the last allowable cancellation day. Some with big names like Sikorsky, Airbus, Bell and Robinson. Robinson Boss, Kurt Robinson, said that ‘after careful consideration, Robinson Helicopter Company made the difficult decision, in light of the current COVID situation, to forego this year’s HAI Heli-Expo in March. Heli-Expo is an annual highlight and we are sorry to miss it. However, we will look forward to seeing our dealers, customers and friends in Dallas in 2022.” Still, HAI says they are committed to holding HAI HELI-EXPO IN PERSON in New Orleans between 22 and 25 March. HAI is also consulting with epidemiologist Dr Allison Stock, formerly with the US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, on health and safety measures at the show.
Russia carries out largest Antonov An-124 formation flight ever
On 15 January, as part of a series of training flights, six An-124-100 Ruslan strategic military transport aircraft of the Russian Aerospace Forces flew in formation. Such a large deployment of the gigantic aircraft is a world’s first. The fleet belonged to the 566th Military Transport Aviation Regiment, located at Seshcha Air Base, southwest of Moscow, from which the aircraft took off. The exercise involved personnel from the Seshcha and Tver military transport aviation regiments.
“The purpose of the training flights was to improve the skills of young crews of the An-124-100 Ruslan military transport aircraft in the simultaneous transfer of personnel of military units with standard weapons and military equipment over long distances,” explained the Russian Ministry of Defence in a statement. The exercise was carried out over 600 kilometres (370 miles) in adverse weather conditions, with precipitation, low clouds and strong winds reported. With up to 150 tonnes of payload, the An-124-100 Ruslan aircraft is one of the largest transport aircraft in the world, second only to the unique 250-tonne payload An-225 Mriya operated by Antonov Airlines.
Emirates airline offers employees Pfizer, Sinopharm vaccines
On 18 January 2021, Emirates Airlines began offering UAE-based employees to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, prioritising cabin crew, pilots and other operational staff. According to Emirates Airlines, the rollout of COVID-19 vaccination programme is essential to safeguard frontline aviation workers who often come into contact with passengers and help to move essential goods across the globe.
The Emirates Group is offering staff Pfizer-BionNTech vaccine as well as the other vaccine developed by China National Pharmaceutical Group (Sinopharm), which have been approved by the United Arab Emirates health authorities. Inoculation appointments will run at various Emirates Group company locations across UAE for 12 hours a day and seven days per week to ensure that as many aviation employees can get the vaccine. The United Arab Emirates aims to vaccinate more than 50% of its population by the end of March 2021.
Where is John Travolta’s Boeing 707?
In recent years, John Travolta has made the headlines in aviation news with his Boeing 707 aircraft. A passionate pilot, Travolta had donated it to Australia’s Historical Aircraft Restoration Society (HARS) in 2017. However, it appears to have still not travelled down under, with its transfer having since been delayed multiple times. So, where is it now?
American actor John Travolta is perhaps best known by the public for his roles in films such as Grease and Pulp Fiction. However, in the aviation world, he has another legacy. As a keen private pilot, Travolta owns four aircraft. One of these is a Gulfstream private jet. He famously had an electrical failure while flying this aircraft into Washington in November 1992. This forced him to make an emergency landing that nearly resulted in a mid-air collision.
However, Travolta’s most famous aircraft is an ex-Qantas Boeing 707 -138B variant, which was 10 feet (three meters) shorter than the standard -100 version. Originally registered as VH-EBM, it entered service with the Australian flag carrier in 1964. However, aged more than 55 years old, it now bears the registration N707JT. All in all, the aircraft was the 13th Boeing plane delivered to Qantas, but it spent just four years at the airline. Qantas withdrew the aircraft in 1968, by which time it had amassed nearly 12,000 flying hours. It went on to have a variety of post-Qantas owners, including Braniff and TAG Aviation. Travolta eventually purchased it in May 1998, under the name Jet Clipper Johnny LLC. It was re-designated as N707JT, a custom registration for the American actor, in December that year.
Man lives at Chicago airport for three months unnoticed
A fear of becoming infected with the COVID-19 virus sometimes makes people take unusual measures for self-protection. Reportedly afraid to fly during the pandemic, a 36-year-old man managed to stay unnoticed at the secure part of an airport terminal in Chicago, for a three-month-long period. The resident of California had been living inside the secure part of the Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD) from 19 October 2020, until 16 January 2021. The man explained to the authorities that he was afraid to fly home to California due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The temporary resident of the Chicago airport was allegedly using a misplaced security pass to move along the secure part of the terminal and was asking passengers for food.
However, on 16 January 2021, after almost three-months of secretly living at the airport area, the man was noticed by two United Airlines employees. The truth came to the daylight after the man was asked to show his security pass. The authorities found out that he was using the security pass which belonged to an airport operations manager. The manager reported having lost the pass on 26 October 2020. The illegal resident of the airport reportedly arrived at Terminal 2 of ORD on 19 October and admitted that he found the security pass in Terminal 3. The man was arrested and charged ‘with felony criminal trespass to a restricted area of an airport and misdemeanour theft’. For the illegal stay in the airport, the man could face a fine of up to $10,000.
30 Mumbai airport staffers arrested for ‘pay and skip quarantine’ scam
On 15 January 2021, Indian police arrested a 35-year-old and two accomplices, on suspicion that they were involved in the ‘pay and skip quarantine’ scam in Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport (BOM). They allegedly collected bribes of Rs 4,000 ($55) from each arriving passenger who wanted to skip the mandatory quarantine. After finding fake stamps of home quarantine and doctor’s notes, the police suspected that the staffers were selling fake health certificates. The police also seized Rs 140,000 ($1913) in cash and 200 Saudi riyals ($53), which could mean dozens of travellers arriving from Dubai, Kuwait and the United States, were able to bribe their way out of the quarantine rules.
The Times of India stated the suspects are in custody until 19 January 2021. If found guilty, they could face up to seven years in prison for violation of prohibition orders, forgery and cheating. On 27 December 2020, Mumbai rolled out stricter quarantine rules. The restrictions meant all international passengers arriving to Mumbai from the UK, South Africa, Middle East and Europe were subject to a mandatory quarantine of at least 14 days, including seven days in a designated hotel and seven days at home. On 31 December 2020, the international travel ban in India was set to be lifted, but it was extended to 31 January 2021, allowing only the country’s Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) approved international flights to enter.
Virgin orbit launch successful
On Sunday 17 January, Virgin Orbit joined the commercial space race with the successful air launch of a rocket that boosted a payload of small satellites to low earth orbit. The 70-foot rocket, nicknamed LauncherOne, rode under the wing of a modified Boeing 747 to altitude over the Pacific where it was released. All the engines and systems worked and about two hours later the payload reached its targeted orbit. “Payloads successfully deployed into our target orbit!” the company tweeted. “We are so, so proud to say that LauncherOne has now completed its first mission to space.” There was, of course, a video camera attached. The orbiter carried nine ‘tiny satellites’ for NASA’s Educational Launch of Nanosatellites (ELaNa), a programme allowing high school and college students design and build satellites. NASA paid for the launch. The little satellites will conduct a variety of scientific experiments in orbit. The company already has more customers lined up for future launches.
Cadillac joins eVTOL race
Cadillac appears to be taking its current marketing slogan (‘Rise Above’) literally as it jumps into the eVTOL market with a quadrotor. The automaker’s parent company General Motors unveiled a video for the Consumer Electronics Show featuring a prototype single-seat design with a novel two-level arrangement for the rotors. It will be badged with the company’s marquee brand and ‘is a glimpse of what autonomy and Cadillac luxury might be in the not-too-distant future’ according to the commentary on the video.
A two-seater is also in the works and is part of the GM’s effort to ‘reimagine personal transportation.’ The vehicle will fly at about 45 knots using a 90-kW motor to power the rotors. As mentioned, it will be an autonomous vehicle and the luxurious inside is optimised for the occupant to relax and enjoy the view. The video also shows the eVTOL being met at its destination by a driverless car.
Volocopter campaigns to debut electric air taxi services
Volocopter says that the FAA has accepted its application for concurrent Type Certificate validation. This starts a process (likely to be a lengthy one) that will allow Volocopter to bring its electric air taxi services to the American market. Volocopter claims to be the first and only eVTOL company with Design Organisation Approval (DOA), the license to develop and build certified aircraft, from the EASA.
The company is currently in the process of receiving EASA Type Certification for its VoloCity aircraft. The VoloCity, Volocopter’s electric air taxi, is designed to meet aircraft safety standards. Volocopter developed the VoloCity specifically to meet growing demand for better intra-city mobility in large cities like Los Angeles, New York City, San Francisco and Washington D.C. among others. These air taxi services would promote local job opportunities, save people time and reduce costs associated with spending hours in traffic. Furthermore, Volocopter’s business plan aims to provide scalable air taxi services at costs comparable to regular taxi services.
Volocopter is currently working with EASA on certification for commercial launch planned in the next 2-3 years. When Volocopter receives type certification approval from EASA, immediately followed by the FAA validation in this timeframe, the company will be positioned to enter the electric air taxi market first and pave the way for the UAM industry to expand services globally. By offering concurrent type certificate validation, the FAA gives aircraft manufacturers like Volocopter the opportunity to show that they are fulfilling the necessary requirements parallel to being certified by the primary authority of the company’s current jurisdiction. This format promotes open communication about certification and safety qualifications internationally for aircraft like the VoloCity.
UK Police – Aeryon SkyRanger R60 accident
The UA fell from a height of about 70 feet into a pond when the emergency cut-out was accidentally operated by the pilot. The pilot stated he had not recognised the emergency cut-out function icon which had appeared on the flight controller screen. In attempting to clear it he unintentionally activated the function, stopping the UA motors.
History of the flight
The UAS was being used to search for a missing person in the area of a large pond surrounded by trees. The search was being conducted at night and was using a thermal camera to search areas hard to access by foot. The weather at the time was good with only a light breeze. The UAS pilot reported that during the flight he became aware of a message on the screen of the flight controller which he did not recognise. He did not realise the message was a warning and attempted to clear it but in doing so the aircraft motors cut out, causing the UA to fall from a height of about 70 feet into the pond below.
The SkyRanger UAS includes a quadcopter UA powered by four electric motors with a maximum take-off weight of 3.5 kg. Using the DROPS analysis tool, a dropped object of this weight is capable of causing fatal injuries to an individual wearing a hard hat from a height of only four metres. The UA is controlled remotely by a pilot using a flight controller containing a small screen to input commands and to receive information. A stylus has to be used to make selections on the screen. The UAS has an emergency cut-out function which cuts power to all four UA motors. It is accessed by holding the stylus over an icon on the flight controller screen showing a white aircraft on a black background. This causes the aircraft shadow under the icon to flash red. By tapping the icon three times within three seconds the emergency cut out function is activated.
Data from the UAS was sent to the manufacturer for analysis. This confirmed that the cut‑out screen icon had been activated three times within three seconds, causing all four electric motors on the UA to stop.
Two neighbouring police forces had combined the management and oversight of their UAS operations. Between them they operated several UAS with about 150 officers being qualified to use them. In order to qualify as a UAS pilot, personnel were sent on a five-day course with a civilian training company to gain the necessary UKCAA recognised qualification, during which time they were required to fly a UA for a minimum of two hours. This was followed by further internal training working alongside a more experienced qualified UAS pilot within the relevant police unit for a period of time until the trainee was considered ready for assessment.
Pilots operating the SkyRanger were required to undertake a two-day specific course, designed by the manufacturer but run internally. The course included the management of different aircraft warnings and failures, with pilots needing to pass an assessment at the end of the training. Pilots were required to maintain a minimum currency, as required by the UKCAA, of two hours flying in 90 days. Where they fell below this requirement pilots were required to be re-assessed before they could operate again.
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Until Monday, please be ‘Serious about flying’.
Athol Franz (Editor)