African Pilot’s aircraft of the week identification quiz
Those who got this one right: Raul Del Fabbro, Hilton Carroll, Erwin J.W. Stam, Sean Stedman, Bernard Stander, Brian Spur, Branko Brkijac, Righardt de Plessis, Brian Millett, Herman Nel, Gavin Phelps, Dave Entwistle, Nigel Maistry and Ian Pienaar. Thank you for participating and well done on identifying the mystery aircraft.
This week it was revealed that the Ethiopian aviation accident board had been appointed to further investigate the 23 January 2020 South African Civil Aviation Authorities’ airport calibration Cessna Citation accident in the mountains near George.
At 10h40 ZS CAR took off from George Airport to conduct calibration of the airport’s navigation facilities. However, although the Captain Thabiso Collins Tolo (49) was advised not to fly due to the prevailing weather conditions, shortly after take-off, air traffic control tower lost contact with the aircraft. At the time helicopter assistance was requested from local operators to assist with the search, but even those pilots refused to fly due to the extent of the cloud cover in the area. The wreckage was located at about 13h40 and revealed the complete destruction of the Cessna that had flown into rising terrain. Sadly, the other two members of the crew first officer Tebogo Caroline Lekalakala (33) and flight Inspector Gugu Comfort Mnguni (36) died in the crash.
The captain’s competence was widely criticized at the time by several Designated Flight Examiners (DFEs) that had flown with Tolo, all of whom wished to remain anonymous. In addition, Tolo had been asked to leave the South African Air Force and he later joined South African Airways as a junior first officer. After several years at the airline, he was found to be ‘unsuitable’ due to the fact that he did not pass the mandatory flight simulator tests. Despite sitting for exams on several occasions, he also did not pass his Airline Pilot’s Licence (ATPL). On being ‘requested to leave SAA, Tolo joined the SACAA’s flight inspection department. While he was part of the SACAA’s team, he managed to pass his ATPL exams and was promoted to Captain at the regulator operating the Cessna Citation ZS CAR. With this knowledge, which the SACAA has tried to cover up, you make up your own mind about what happened on 23 January 2020.
African Pilot’s February 2021 edition
The February edition of African Pilot is complete and will enter its distribution phase today. This edition features Piston engine aircraft over 650 Kg as well as the piston engines and propellers that drive piston aircraft. At 280 pages the February 2021 edition has set a new record for aviation publishing not only in South Africa, but for the entire world. As you examine the varied content, beautiful pictures and excellent layout, you will also appreciate that there is no other aviation publication that supplies as much to its readers anywhere. This edition also includes the most recent aviation news from all over the world as well as historical aviation features.
African Pilot’s March 2021 edition
The feature of the March edition will be Turboprop aircraft, turboprop engines and propellers. This feature will also include information about the many aftermarket enhancements available for turboprop aircraft types. As you will notice with ALL editions of African Pilot, we publish important aviation news, historical aviation features as well as news from the Experimental and Space sectors. There is no other African Aviation or international aviation publication that provides as much information together with superb pictures to its audience.
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: email@example.com.
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.
Ethiopia takes over probe of SACAA plane crash
The Cessna Citation flight inspection aircraft that crashed near in the mountains adjacent to George on 23 January 2020, killing three South African Civil Aviation Authority staff. A team from the Ethiopian Aircraft Accident Investigation Bureau is due in SA this week to look into the last minutes of a flight inspection aircraft that went into a mysterious dive seconds before crashing into the mountain. A month after the crash, transport minister Fikile Mbalula said an independent inquiry would be commissioned because the SACAA could not investigate one of its own aircraft.
In a statement last Friday, the SACAA said several countries were identified to take over the investigation, but the worldwide COVID-19 lockdowns delayed the selection process. Since being chosen, Ethiopian investigators had reviewed the SACAA’s interim report completed a month after the crash. The interim report compiled by French investigators said the 33-year-old Cessna Citation lost 1,500 feet in nine seconds before hitting a mountainside at 530 km/h.
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.firstname.lastname@example.org or 084 622 3931
Annelie Reynolds: Annelie.email@example.com 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.
Celebratory inaugural fare on Airlink’s new non-stop flights between Cape Town and Harare
Airlink, the independent regional airline, is offering customers a special inaugural fare to celebrate the launch of its new direct service between Cape Town and Harare, which will commence on 3 March 2021. The new route, which will satisfy demand for direct services between the two cities, is the latest in a series of Airlink connections across its Southern African network. The special inaugural fare between Cape Town and Harare is from R 2725 one way and R5292 return, including all taxes and is open for sale and valid for travel throughout March 2021, in W class. Terms and Conditions apply.
North-bound flights will depart from Cape Town during the mid-morning, with the south-bound flight leaving Harare in the early-afternoon, ensuring passengers have sufficient time to travel from the airport to their homes or places of accommodation before the 21h00 curfew. The new service is one of several Airlink flights connecting Cape Town with other destinations.
Skukuza flights to resume on 28 January 2021
Skukuza Airport was temporarily closed on 14 January in order to contain a local outbreak of COVID-19 in a nearby area. The following Airlink flights will operate on Mondays, Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays until 28 February. From 01 March they will be operated on a daily basis. Airlink continues to operate flights to Hoedspruit and Nelspruit KMI Airport, the two closest alternates for travellers planning to visit the Kruger National Park or other resorts and camps in the surrounding area.
NTSB preliminary report: Hughes 269C
On 13 January 2021, a Hughes 269C helicopter, N7480F, was substantially damaged when it was involved in an accident near Spanish Fork, Utah. The instructor and pilot receiving instruction were not injured. The airplane was operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 instructional flight. According to the flight instructor, they performed an uneventful preflight inspection, started the helicopter and transitioned into a hover. The pilot receiving instruction reported that during the engine run-up, which was performed at 2,500 rpm, they reduced engine power to idle and observed normal rotor and rpm separation. The instructor stated that after departure they entered the airport traffic pattern where they performed several landings and three autorotative maneuvers at the airport. They subsequently departed the airport traffic pattern and flew to a nearby practice area west of the airport.
After performing two recoveries from settling with power, they elected to return to the airport. During cruise flight at 6,500 feet mean sea level, 1,500 feet above ground level (agl), the instructor decided to practice a simulated engine failure and decreased power to idle as he announced to the pilot receiving instruction that they had lost power. The pilot receiving instruction lowered the collective to enter an autorotative maneuver and selected a landing site when prompted by his instructor. As the helicopter descended to 500 feet agl, the instructor advised the pilot receiving instruction to recover, but was unsuccessful in his attempts to restore power. The instructor immediately took control of the helicopter and attempted an air restart but was unsuccessful. He flared the helicopter as it passed below 30 feet agl to reduce airspeed and the helicopter’s rate of descent. The instructor then raised the collective to arrest their descent further before impact, but the helicopter had about seven mph of forward movement as it contacted the soft ground. The helicopter nosed over and the main rotor blades contacted the tail boom, which separated from the helicopter. The front right skid tube broke and the helicopter rolled onto its right side before it came to rest.
Go around goes awry
The pilot of the Luscombe reported that, during landing at the airport in Casa Grande, Arizona, the airplane yawed to the left as soon as the main landing gear touched down. He tried to correct with right rudder and applied full power for a go-around. During the go-around, the plane seemed to continue to yaw to the left, with the pilot correcting with full right rudder. The airplane continued to drift left, aerodynamically stalled and then hit the ground. The airplane sustained substantial damage to the wings, fuselage, and empennage. The pilot was seriously injured in the crash. The pilot reported that there were no preimpact mechanical failures or malfunctions with the airplane that would have precluded normal operation.
Mechanic’s lack of experience contributes to crash
A maintenance test flight ended in a crash when a Piper PA-32R-300 experienced a total loss of engine power during a visual approach to Runway 5 at Lenawee County Airport (KADG) in Adrian, Michigan. The airplane hit a fence and terrain short of the runway and sustained substantial damage. The private pilot and an airplane mechanic received minor injuries. According to the pilot, the flight departed with the airplane mechanic with inspection authorisation (IA) who signed off the airplane’s last annual inspection, for a post annual inspection flight. They flew north between Jackson and Lansing, Michigan, and then proceeded southwest to Coldwater, Michigan and then Hillsdale, Michigan.
They returned for an approach and landing to KADG on Runway 5 with engine power set to 14 inches of manifold pressure, landing gear extended and flaps extended. On short final for Runway 5, the ‘engine shut down’ according to the pilot, who added there was ‘no sputter- it acted as if someone shut off the key.’ Post-accident examination of the engine revealed that the crankshaft gear bolt was fractured through. A logbook entry dated 24 August 2013, at a tachometer time of 3,399.87 hours and a time since overhaul of 0 hours, stated that the engine was disassembled and an AN8-14 bolt was installed.
Following the accident, FAA inspectors interviewed the airframe and power plant mechanic (AP) who last overhauled the engine. During the interview, he stated he is the owner of a tool and die shop that also does manufacturing of various parts for the auto industry. He spends about 25% of his working time in his hangar performing aircraft repairs. He stated that he is most comfortable working on old, small, fabric-covered aircraft. The AP stated that he was the one that overhauled the engine on N8892E and the IA just removed and re-installed the engine onto the airplane.
The AP also stated that this was the first of the ‘big’ Lycoming engines that he had overhauled. The AP told inspectors that he does not like using the Lycoming manuals, as they are hard to follow. The AP mentioned several times that he had contacted Lycoming to request assistance and they worked with him in providing the necessary documentation needed for the work he was doing. The AP stated that he did not torque the crankshaft gear bolt to the engine manufacturer’s specifications. The engine overhaul was signed off by the AP.
Bell 206B JetRanger hits DJI Mavic Air 2 drone
On 23 January, a Bell helicopter belonging to the Chilean Navy was struck by a DJI Mavic drone that punched a hole through the windshield. The mechanic onboard received moderate injuries from the collision. Hopefully due to the personalised address of DJI drones, the authorities will be in a position to trace the offending drone pilot.
Private aviation is booming thanks to a 300% increase in new fliers
For industries that streamlined pandemic life, made it safer, or both, 2020 did have its upsides. First-time customers to private aviation, for example, swelled by 300 percent year over year, with thousands of people flying privately for personal travel for the first time, a silver lining considering corporate travel by private jet declined by 80 percent during the same period. “From April onwards, two-thirds of our card clients were new,” says Andrew Collins, CEO of Sentient Jet, the industry’s leading jet-card provider. “Thanks to the uptick in new entrants, we saw sales we never would have thought possible during a pandemic.”
The influx of novices was spurred in part by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which removed the 7.5 percent federal excise tax for all private air travel booked in 2020, including flights scheduled for 2021 and 2022. Quick to promote the tax holiday, many aviation firms fashioned membership programmes specifically aimed at first timers. “A number of companies lowered the entry points for their programmes,” says Doug Gollan, founder of Private Jet Card Comparisons, which tracks more than 60 card and membership programmes. “Some cut the number of hours required for purchase from 25 to 10, whilst others launched pay-as-you-go programmes you can join for under $10,000.”
Magellan Jets’ new membership programmes enticed many airline expats with a combination of guaranteed access and small membership fees (relative to jet cards, at least, which require large sums), with each programme offering its own app. A similar idea is XO’s RISE, for clients who typically fly less than 15 hours per year, priced at $595. And while Jet Linx’s Affiliate Jet Card Membership, a three-month programme with a small financial commitment, was designed to be offered for just 30 days during the first COVID-19 wave, it became so popular that it made up 22 percent of the company’s memberships by the end of 2020.
Other programmes blur the lines between memberships and cards. Jet Aviation’s hybrid programme did not even have a name during its trial period, though, according to Elouisa Dalli, the company’s senior VP of marketing and communications, the concept is self-explanatory: “The client chooses the plane, receives guaranteed availability and gets the best transparent pricing.” Jet Edge’s new Reserve program, meanwhile, is aimed at first timers who want large-cabin or super-midsize jets, but its multitiered, refundable deposits are similar to those of card programmes. Whether or not these newcomer-friendly offers continue to proliferate, most expect private aviation to keep growing. “The most common refrain I am hearing from subscribers,” Gollan says, “is that they are never going back to the airlines.”
Boeing airliners to be able to use 100% sustainable aviation fuel within a decade
US aerospace and defence giant Boeing has committed itself to ensuring that its commercial aeroplanes will be certified and able to fly using 100% sustainable aviation fuels (SAFs) by 2030. The group has already successfully carried out test flights powered entirely by SAF. This is to meet the challenge posed by climate change. Presently SAFs are mixed with conventional jet fuel, with the maximum allowable mix (under current fuel specifications) being 50:50. However, to achieve international aviation’s commitment to cut its carbon emissions to 50% of 2005 levels by 2050, it must move to 100% SAF significantly before 2050. Research by various agencies and institutions, including the US Department of Energy and the Air Transport Action Group, indicate that the adoption of SAFs would cut commercial aviation’s carbon dioxide emissions by as much as 80% over the fuel life cycle and could ultimately reach 100%.
For years Boeing has been working with research institutions, industry, airlines and governments regarding SAFs, seeking to increase their availability and reduce their costs. In cooperation with engine manufacturers, airlines and other agencies it started test flights with SAF in 2008. These helped lead to the approval of SAFs in 2011. In 2018 a Boeing 777F freighter, operated by FedEx Express, made the first ever commercial aeroplane flight using 100% SAF (as part of Boeing’s ecoDemonstrator test flight programme). SAF can be produced from many different feedstocks. These include agricultural and forestry waste, industrial plant off-gassing, non-edible plants and otherwise non-recyclable household waste, among other things. Credible and strong third-party certifications assure the sustainability of these fuels.
Indian airline aviation returning to near normal
According to Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri, India’s domestic civil aviation operations continue steadily and the sector is nearing pre-pandemic levels. As many as 257,613 passengers flew locally as on 22 January compared with 30,000 passengers in 2020 before the COVID crisis.
First French Kodiak 100 delivery goes to Héli-Béarn
The delivery of a Kodiak 100 to Héli-Béarn makes this air services company the first French customer for the aircraft. Among the Kodiak 100’s duties for Héli-Béarn, which is based at Pau-Pyrénées Airport in southwestern France will be skydiving operations. In the skydiving configuration, the aircraft is equipped with a sliding door and accommodates up to 15 skydivers. Benefitting from its rapid climb capability of 9 min. 30 sec. to an altitude of 12,000 feet, the Kodiak 100 can perform an average of four rotations per hour for the deployment of parachutists.
Héli-Béarn CEO Jean-Luc Dartiailh said his company evaluated the Kodiak 100 in operational conditions and was rapidly convinced that it is the ideal aircraft, especially for skydiving flights. It is produced in the United States at Sandpoint, Idaho. Daher acquired the business in 2019, adding the Kodiak to its product line of TBM very fast turboprop-powered aircraft.
Sikorsky-Boeing team unveils Defiant X
On Monday Sikorsky and Boeing officially introduced its latest assault helicopter design for the US Army’s Future Long Range Assault Aircraft (FLRAA) programme, the Defiant X. Based on the Sikorsky-Boeing team’s technology demonstrator, SB>1 Defiant, the Defiant X features a coaxial rotor system, fly-by-wire flight controls, pusher prop, composite construction and retractable landing gear. According to the companies, the design is ‘currently undergoing testing in a digital combat environment.’
“We are ready to deliver unparalleled capabilities backed by proven technologies that will truly transform the Army’s mission today, with room to grow and adapt to the missions of tomorrow,” said Andy Adams, Sikorsky vice president of Future Vertical Lift. “DEFIANT X not only includes the transformational aircraft, mission systems and revolutionary sustainment solution, but also leverages Sikorsky’s and Boeing’s advanced manufacturing capabilities.”
As previously reported the SB>1 Defiant demonstrator flew for the first time in in March 2019. In March 2020, the Sikorsky-Boeing Defiant was selected to compete in the FLRAA programme alongside the Bell V-280 Valor tiltrotor. With contracts to be awarded in 2022, the programme’s goal is to replace the Army’s UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters.
Airbus unveils helicopter Flightlab
Airbus Helicopters has started in-flight tests on board its Flightlab, a platform-agnostic flying laboratory exclusively dedicated to maturing new technologies. Airbus Helicopters’ Flightlab provides a test bed to quickly test technologies that could later equip Airbus’ current helicopter range and even more disruptive ones for future fixed-wing aircraft or (e)VTOL platforms. Airbus Helicopters intends to pursue the testing of hybrid and electric propulsion technologies with its Flightlab demonstrator, as well as exploring autonomy and other technologies aimed at reducing helicopter sound levels or improving maintenance and flight safety.
Flight tests started last April when the demonstrator was used to measure helicopter sound levels in urban areas and to particularly study how buildings may affect people’s perception. First results show that buildings play an important role in masking or amplifying sound levels and these studies will be instrumental when the time comes for sound modelling and regulation setting, especially for Urban Air Mobility (UAM) initiatives. Testing was pursued in December to evaluate the Rotor Strike Alerting System (RSAS) aimed at alerting crews about the imminent risk of collision with the main and tail rotors.
Tests this year will include an image-detection solution with cameras to enable low altitude navigation, the viability of a dedicated Health and Usage Monitoring System (HUMS) for light helicopters, and an Engine Back-up System, which will provide emergency electric power in the event of a turbine failure. Testing on the Flightlab will continue in 2022 in order to evaluate a new ergonomic design of intuitive pilot flight controls intended to further reduce pilot workload, which could be applicable to traditional helicopters as well as other VTOL formulas such as UAM.
EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2021 to highlight US Air Force special operations
The aircraft and personnel of the US Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC) will be among the highlighted programmes at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2021. AFSOC is comprised of highly trained, rapidly deployable Airmen, who conduct special operations missions worldwide. Airmen who undertake Special Operations careers specialise in unique skills such as parachuting, scuba diving, rappelling, motorcycling, survival skills and more. Aircraft in the command include specialised mobility aircraft such as the MC-130, CV-22 and C-146, Close Air Support aircraft such as the AC-130 gunship and Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) aircraft such as the MQ-9 and U-28.
“Even those who have a solid familiarity with the US Air Force often know little about its special operations units and the important mission they fulfill, so we want to bring some visibility to that at Oshkosh in 2021,” said Rick Larsen, EAA’s vice president of communities and member programming, who coordinates AirVenture features and attractions. “The Air Force has been extremely cooperative through the years at showcasing its remarkable people and aircraft at AirVenture, and we look forward to discovering even more in 2021.”
In 1990, AFSOC formally stood up as a Major Command (MAJCOM) within the Air Force and the air component to United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM), but their heritage traces back to the Army Air Forces during World War II. In the three decades since AFSOC’s formation, they have been involved in missions around the world in both independent campaigns and in conjunction with other military branches.
China and Russia to start building ambitious CR929 in 2021
In an interview to Chinese newspaper The Paper, the news was announced by Yang Zhigang, pre-research chief engineer of COMAC. According to Yang, the design of the aircraft is finalised and the main suppliers are set. Currently, the company is in the process of ensuring that core systems of the plane have two or more suppliers, which is an insurance mechanism employed by main aircraft manufacturers worldwide.
The CR929 is going to be a wide-body aircraft in competition with the Boeing 787 and the Airbus A330. The base model, CR929-600, will seat 280 passengers and have a range of at least 12,000 kilometres (7,500 miles). The completion of the prototype of CR929, as outlined by Yang, will open a way for flight testing and eventual mass production of the aircraft. In December 2020, chief designer of COMAC Chen Yingchun revealed that the company hoped to start delivering new aircraft to air carriers in 2023.
The optimistic schedule also means that Russia and China managed to resolve their differences. In mid-2020, the new aircraft became a center point of a conflict between UAC and COMAC, as the two companies struggled to find agreement regarding market shares for the aircraft. Although the resolution of the differences was not announced, November 2020 saw a dedicated meeting between Russian and Chinese industry ministers and an agreement to resume the development of the aircraft.
Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport – world’s busiest
Serving 43.8 million passengers annually, China’s Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport is now the busiest airport in the world. Hit by the pandemic, the air travel industry reconfigured the list of the world’s busiest airports. After 22 consecutive years, Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL) lost its title as Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport (CAN) mounted to the top of the list and crowned itself the busiest airport in the world.
On 25 January 2021, Guangzhou airport announced it had carried 43.8 million passengers in 2020. In 2018, the airport carried 69.74 million and ranked 13th on the list of the busiest airports. In 2019, it climbed to 11th place with 73.39 million yearly passengers. In 2020, even experiencing a 40% drop of passenger traffic, Guangzhou airport outperformed Atlanta International Airport, which has seen a slower recovery from the pandemic.
In 2019, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport was the busiest airport by passenger volume and served 110.5 million passengers. In the first quarter of 2020, passenger traffic dropped to 20.7 million passengers. On January 23, 2021, the Atlanta airport said its passenger numbers mounted to 42.9 million in 2020.
Israel F-35 photographed for the first time in Lebanon skies
While no official explanation was given to justify the presence of the F-35I over Lebanon, the activity of the Israeli Air Force has reportedly increased in the region since the beginning of 2021, with regular violations of Lebanese airspace to carry out strikes in Syria and Iraq. On the night of 12 to 13 January 2021, SANA, the Syrian state news agency, reported Israeli raids targeted arms depots in the Deir al-Zour and Albu Kamal regions, eastern Syria. According to the British NGO Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, at least 57 pro-Damascus fighters, most likely Syrian and Iranian, were killed in those strikes. The same day, a retired general of the Lebanese military, Khalil Hélou, commented on Israel’s strategy to Beirut-based newspaper L’Orient-Le Jour. “Low-altitude flights have two uses: on the one hand, they photograph and carry out electronic surveillance; on the other hand, they make it possible to send a message of intimidation to Hezbollah: “We can destroy you and Lebanon’,” Hélou explained.
Boeing KC-46A tanker catches Israel interest
The State Department officially informed the Congress of its intention to proceed with the sale of eight Boeing KC-46A Pegasus tankers, the Defence Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) announced. The sale could help reduce the stress currently affecting the USAF aerial refuelling capacities.
The Israeli Air Force was the first operator to use the F-35 in combat, even before the United States military. In May 2018, the Middle Eastern country announced it had used the “Adir” (Mighty One) to carry out strikes in Syria against Iranian positions and in neighbouring Lebanon against Hezbollah insurgents. Israel has been particularly concerned to maintain its technological superiority in the air over its direct neighbours. When the Emirati government sent Trump’s administration its official demand to acquire a number of F-35A stealth fighters, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu protested, fearing the acquisition could disturb the power balance in the region.
Since 2008, any proposed US arms sale in the Middle East must include a notification to Congress with a determination that the contract would not affect Israel’s ‘Qualitative Military Edge’ over its potential adversaries. While a deal between the United Arab Emirates and the United States was eventually signed hours before Joe Biden was inaugurated as President, Secretary of State Antony Blinken promised the new administration would have to ‘take a hard look’ at the F-35 sale.
India’s Republic Day
For the first time, a Dassault Rafale fighter jet of the Indian Air Force (IAF) took part in the Republic Day celebrations in India. It was part of an ‘Eklavya’ (Vic) formation along with four other aircraft of the IAF, namely two SEPECAT Jaguar attack aircraft and two MiG-29 fighters. The Rafale then concluded the flypast with a so-called ‘Vertical Charlie’ manoeuvre. India’s Republic Day celebrates the date on which the Constitution of India came into effect, thus becoming a sovereign republic, on 26 January 1950.
The IAF formally inducted the Dassault Rafale fighter jet in the 17 Squadron ‘Golden Arrows’ at Air Force Station Ambala on 10 September 2020. An order for 36 aircraft was placed by India in 2016. Eight have been delivered so far. Rafales of both the Indian and French Air Forces recently had the opportunity to train together for the first time as part of the Desert Knight 21 exercise, between 20 and 24 January 2021. Indian authorities and their French counterparts are reportedly discussing an arms contract that could include a second batch of 36 Rafales, as well as six A330 MRTT tankers and over a hundred AS565 Panther helicopters.
Mannequin Skywalker flies again
The Blue Origin team conducted another test of the New Shepard / Blue Origin system as they edge closer to the advent of manned flight operations, which may come this year. Mission NS-14 featured a crew capsule outfitted with astronaut experience upgrades for upcoming flights with passengers onboard. Capsule upgrades included:
1) Speakers in the cabin with a microphone and a push-to-talk button at each seat so astronauts can continuously talk to Mission Control
2) First flight of the crew alert system with a panel at each seat relaying important safety messages to passengers
3) Cushioned wall linings and sound suppression devices to reduce ambient noise inside the capsule
4) Environmental systems, including a cooling system and humidity controls to regulate temperature and prevent capsule windows from fogging during flight, as well as carbon dioxide scrubbing
5) Six seats.
This flight continued to prove the robustness and stability of the New Shepard system and the BE-3PM liquid hydrogen/liquid oxygen engine. Also onboard were more than 50,000 postcards from Blue Origin’s nonprofit Club for the Future. The Club has now flown over 100,000 postcards to space and back from students around the world.
Key mission statistics
· 15th consecutive successful crew capsule landing (every flight in programme, including pad escape test in 2012)
· The crew capsule reached an apogee of 347,568 feet above ground level (AGL) / 351,215 feet mean sea level (MSL).
· The booster reached an apogee of 347,211 feet AGL / 350,858 feet MSL.
· The mission elapsed time was 10 min 10 seconds and the max ascent velocity was 2,242 mph.
All mission crew supporting this launch exercised strict social distancing and safety measures to mitigate COVID-19 risks to personnel, customers and surrounding communities.
Terrafugia qualifies for special light-sport airworthiness certificate
Terrafugia announced that it has reached a significant milestone by obtaining an FAA Special Light-Sport Aircraft (LSA) airworthiness certificate for its Transition roadable aircraft. As a unique integration of a two-seat aircraft and an automobile, the Transition is designed to meet safety standards from both the FAA and the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
The vehicle that received the certificate is legal for flight and represents the initial version of the Transition roadable aircraft. Terrafugia will produce and sell additional initial (flight-only) versions to interested parties and will evolve the driving portion of the Transition design, with the goal of being legal both in the sky and on local roads in 2022. The initial version of the Transition provides pilots and flight schools with an aircraft featuring enhanced safety capabilities and the latest avionics. Powered by a 100-hp Rotax 912iS Sport fuel-injected engine with a 2,000 hr TBO, the vehicle has a flight speed of 100 mph and runs on either premium gasoline or 100LL airplane fuel. Standard features include a Dynon Skyview avionics, an airframe parachute, four-wheel hydraulic disc brakes, a rigid carbon fibre safety cage and folding wings to allow storage in a single-car garage.
CASIC claims maiden flight of long-range WJ-700 UAV
The China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation (CASIC) appears to have conducted the maiden sortie of the WJ-700 unmanned air vehicle (UAV). Images posted on Chinese social media show a group of people at an undisclosed air base holding a banner celebrating the first flight of the high-altitude, long-endurance UAV, although imagery of an airborne WJ-700 has yet to appear.
According to CASIC’s stand at the show, the jet-powered WJ-700 has an endurance of 20h and has two hardpoints under each wing. The example displayed was shown with models of the CM-102 anti-radiation missile, the C701 ground-attack missile and the C705KD anti-ship missile. According to CASIC, the WJ-700 is a ‘high-speed reconnaissance-strike integrated UAV system’ that can conduct autonomous take-offs and landings. It has a maximum take-off weight of 3,500kg (7,720lb) and can carry out a range of missions, such as surveillance over the sea or land, early warning, anti-shipping, anti-radiation, signals intelligence and jamming.
5GAT aerial target drone crashes on maiden flight
The Indian Army has signed an approximately $20 million contract for undisclosed quantities of a high-altitude variant of ideaForge’s SWITCH UAV which will be delivered over a period of one year. ideaForge has been awarded this contract after it emerged as the only vendor that qualified the operational requirements in an evaluation done in real-world conditions, for a fast-track procurement. The contract marks a strategic shift in the Indian defence procurement process as the Indian Army goes on an aggressive modernisation drive. It has also cemented ideaForge’s position as India’s largest manufacturer of drones for defence, homeland security and industrial applications.
SWITCH UAV is an indigenous system built to cater for the most demanding surveillance operations of the Indian Forces. This Fixed Wing VTOL (Vertical Take-off and Landing) UAV can be deployed at high altitude and harsh environments for day and night surveillance in Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) missions. It is man-portable and has the highest time on target compared to any other UAV in its class.
Built on a strong foundation of interdisciplinary engineering, ideaForge has become a global leader in UAV technology. Its drones offer class-leading performance and reliability and have been widely adopted for defence, homeland security and enterprise applications. In India, ideaForge has by far the largest market share in the security, surveillance and industrial market of drones. Its customers include Indian Defence Forces, Central Armed Police Forces and State Police Forces and has conducted over 150,000 missions using its drones. ideaForge has a diverse list of industrial customers as well in sectors such as geospatial surveying, oil & gas, mining and many more.
Twice Weekly News from African Pilot
Should you miss out on any edition of APAnews, please visit the website: www.africanpilot.co.za and click on the APAnews link on the front page. All past weekly APAnews publications have been archived on the website.
Until Monday, please be ‘Serious about flying’.
Athol Franz (Editor)