“Are you entitled to the fruits of your labour or does government have some presumptive right to spend and spend and spend?” Ronald Reagan
Since last week’s mystery aircraft was relatively easy to identify with 45 people correctly identifying the aircraft, although this mystery aircraft also attracted at least ten incorrect answers. This week I have provided another interesting aircraft type. Please send your answers to me at email@example.com. I will publish the names of those that identified the aircraft correctly within the Thursday edition of APAnews.
Airline vlogger Josh Cahill
Once again, a damaging video has re-surfaced on social media that attempts to tarnish the airline’s excellent reputation. This vlogger Josh Cahill has been banned from flying on several other airlines due to his You Tube reporting. Basically, his method is to bully and hold to ransom an airline that appears to pay him not to place his negative review video report onto his channel. I understand that Qatar Airlines has banned this vlogger from flying with the airline as other airlines have also done. Please do not believe everything you see or hear. Having discussed the matter with the airline concerned, I can assure readers that most of what Cahill videoed on his flight to Cape Town appears to have been deliberately staged. I have flown with this airline on several occasions and I can honestly say that every time it has been a pleasure to be a passenger on the airline. Cargill is a vlogger and he makes his living from his You Tube channel and deliberately holding airlines to ransom.
The February edition featuring Turboprop aircraft types, Military Turboprop trainers, Boeing 737 MAX-9 problems, Fighting Westen Cape wildfires, EAA launches Young Aviators, USAF B-21 Raider and the Japan Airlines A350 accident revelation as well as many more exciting features was published on Thursday 1 February 2024. This 285-page edition with 19 videos and nine picture galleries is considerably larger and more relevant than all the other South African aviation magazines combined.
The March edition of African Pilot will feature Piston Engine Aircraft, Piston Engine Propellers, Piston Engines and Piston Aircraft Maintenance. However, every month, African Pilot features all aspects of aviation from Airline business to Recreational and Sport Aviation, whilst Helicopters, Military Aviation, Commercial and Technical issues are addressed monthly. Within African Pilot’s monthly historical section, we feature the Best of the Best, Names to Remember, Fact File and our monthly historical feature.
The material deadline for the March 2024 edition of African Pilot is Monday 19 February. Also, please remember that February is the shortest month of the year.
All editorial content should be sent to me Athol Franz
For advertising opportunities please call Cell: 079 880 4359
The Sixteenth edition of Future Flight was sent out to the world-wide audience on Tuesday 16 January 2024. This 144-page edition has nine embedded videos. Due to the nature of the subject material, compiling this exciting new publication has been most rewarding, whilst at the same time, the magazine allows many of African Pilot’s advertisers to have their adverts placed in our second monthly magazine FREE of charge. I would love to receive your feedback about this new digital publication: firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you.
Boeing 737 Max-7 / -10 certification HALTED! 1 Feb 2024
EAA Chapter 322’s February gathering
On Saturday morning I attended EAA Chapter 322’s monthly gathering at the EAA Auditorium, Rand Airport. Guest speakers were Jeff Earl who spoke about an upcoming full-day workshop on the principals of formation flying that will be held at Airspan on 20 April, which will also be the EAA’s monthly fly-in. Santjie White provided an illustrated talk on fatigue and flying, which was enjoyed by all those present. I will use her talk as the basis of a future feature within African Pilot. Finally Captain Karl Jensen presented his ever popular ‘Kyk Weer’ illustrated talk on EAA events as well as other aviation themes that have taken place over the previous month of January. Once again, an excellent gathering of EAA Chapter members, many of whom had flown to Rand to attend the meeting.
ACSA’s robust performance places it firmly on track to full recovery
Airports Company South Africa (ACSA) is pleased to announce that it is well on its way to a full recovery, with some of its airports even exceeding projections following a bustling and active peak and festive season that saw passenger volumes climbing strongly towards the end of last year. Using the financial year 2019 / 20 as a base for recovery, passenger numbers across the entire ACSA network of airports achieved recovery of 87% as at end of December 2023, with 17% year-on-year growth. In December 2023, the organisation recorded 3.554 million passengers travelling through its airports, which exceeded its forecast of 3.425 million passengers. Of these, regional passenger volumes totalled 73 492, while domestic passenger volumes accounted for 2.4 million. International passenger volumes rose to 1.018 million, breaching the one million mark for the first time since the pandemic. Total airline movements showed a 93% recovery and a 10% year-on-year growth for December 2023 and January 2024. Total international passenger traffic was 30% of the total market. The total number of passengers was 1 092 248 with total international air traffic movements being 9 610.
OR Tambo accounts for the lion’s share of all traffic across the ACSA network. Of a total 1,249 309 travellers over the period, OR Tambo processed 922 595 in 2019 / 2020, 652 710 in 2022 / 23 and 745 511 in 2023 / 24 or 81% of all total traffic across the ACSA network. Total recovery is 113% for Cape Town International and 62% for King Shaka International Airport. Domestic performance indicates the greatest recovery at smaller ACSA airports with the highest recovery in Kimberley at 125%; Bram Fischer at 100% and OR Tambo at 91%. Domestic movement: Upington at 125%; Kimberley at 109%; CTIA at 104% and OR Tambo at 102%. One of the core drivers was tourism-related travel which translates into the figures to tourist airports.
ACSA’s busiest day was recorded on 22 December 2023, with 129 000 passengers recorded across the network, compared to the December daily average of 115 000. In total, ACSA reported 27.2 million passengers travelling through its airports year-to-date in the current financial year, compared to 32.5 million for the same period in the 2019/20 financial year and 23.1 million for the 2022/23 financial year.
OR Tambo continues to be ACSA’s major cargo hub. Cargo saw a 115% recovery and a 14% year-on-year growth. There was an increase in capacity due to belly cargo on wide-body aircraft. The announcement of the first African Continental Free Trade Area on Wednesday 31 January ignites phenomenal cargo growth for Africa and specifically ACSA into the future. In terms of aircraft movements, ACSA is also pleased to report that its network is recovering at 88%, when using the financial year 2019 / 20 as a base for recovery, with 9% growth when compared year-on-year. A total of 345 277 aircraft movements were recorded year-to-date during the current financial year, compared to 390 306 during the 2019 / 20 financial year.
For the month of December last year, ACSA recorded a 93% recovery, with a total of 38 834 aircraft movements and a 94% recovery in January this year, with a total of 24 396 aircraft movements. This is in comparison to the 41 606 and 26 050 aircraft movements in December and January of 2019 / 20, respectively.
ACSA experienced two serious incidents over the festive season period: the first was a technical issue where one of the five baggage sortation systems in the domestic terminal at OR Tambo broke down due to an incident that affected an electromechanical sensor. Out of a total of 77 569 bags processed at the airport on 22 and 23 December 2023, 4 500 bags were short shipped. This resulted in delayed flights as most domestic airlines delayed flights and waited for travellers’ bags to be loaded. ACSA mobilised its staff, including the senior management team, to assist and the incident was resolved.
Cape Town International Airport experienced two minor baggage sorting system incidents in the first week of January 2024. One was caused by a protruding object on a traveller’s bag which damaged a belt. The second incident was due to a premature belt failure. These resulted in 67 and 41 bags respectively being short shipped. However, these incidents were resolved on the day and most of the bags were reconciled with their owners on later flights on the same day. ACSA took further remedial action to improve enforcement of compliant bags at check-in and is now completing baggage sorting system projects for Cape Town, King Shaka and OR Tambo which commenced in 2023 that will improve system reliability and redundancy. Regarding ACSA’s luggage scanning system, ACSA is happy to report that X-ray machine availability is at 98%.
ATNS warns of bursary scam
On Thursday 1 February Air Traffic and Navigation Services (ATNS) warned the public about an e-mail scam asking aspirant youth for a fee to be assessed for the company’s air traffic control training bursary opportunity. Last year, ATNS invited qualifying young people aged between 18 and 35 years to apply for the company’s Air Traffic Control (ATC) bursary to be trained in the specialised aviation field at no cost to them. The bursary application closing date was 27 December 2023. However, an e-mail scam purporting to be from ATNS has since started circulating online, asking for a fee of R300 for applicants to be considered for the interview stage of the bursary application process.
It is important to note that ATNS does not charge a fee to process applications for the ATC bursary, or any of the company’s learnership and internship programmes, or advertised vacancies. Any applicant who receives communication that does not come from an official ATNS email domain should disregard the correspondence. Incidents of this nature should be reported to the ATNS Fraud and Corruption Hotline on 0800 222 335, which is a free call number.
General Mbambo says SAAF resilience needed amid global conflicts and humanitarian crises
Increasing conflicts and natural disasters are placing pressure on South African Air Force (SAAF) assets, but a lack of funding is hampering operations and requires the SAAF to work more efficiently with what the SAAF has at its disposal. This is according to Lieutenant General Wiseman Mbambo, who was speaking at the SAAF Prestige Parade at Mobile Deployment Wing (formerly Air Force Base Swartkop) on Thursday, when he also marked the 104th anniversary of the SAAF.
In the SAAF’s long 102-year history, it has “passed through tribulations and storms but is still standing,” Mbambo said in his parade address. The SAAF is in the midst of another storm, with the world punctuated by conflicts and instability. The eagerness to move towards the negotiating table is no longer there, Mbambo said, with international bodies proving weak in resolving conflicts and a growing appetite to resolve conflicts through the barrel of a gun. The Israel / Palestine and Ukraine / Russian conflicts are stark examples. “Closer to home, the embers of Cabo Delgado and the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo have not died down yet and are flaring up,” Mbambo said, while humanitarian disasters are increasing, including wildfires and floods, meaning SAAF assets are in high demand. “With lack of strategic lift capability our people around the world are sitting ducks,” he added.
On the African continent SAAF assets are committed to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Mozambique. There are currently five Oryx helicopters in the DRC, serving with the UN peacekeeping mission there (MONUSCO), as well as several Rooivalk attack helicopters. The Rooivalks are expected to return home as the UN mission winds down this year. However, assets may be sent to support the new Southern African Development Community Mission in the DRC (SAMIDRC), which is currently being stood up. “As SAMIDRC tasks become clearer, we will take it a step at a time,” Mbambo said of asset deployment to the DRC.
As for the Southern African Development Community Mission in Mozambique (SAMIM), Mbambo said SAAF assets there (Oryx and A109 helicopters) will be returned as stipulated as SAMIM’s mandate expires in July. “The price tag to maintain SAAF assets is very high,” Mbambo cautioned, with the reality being a lack of adequate funding for defence. “Parliament’s comments on defence and the ministers of defence have presented the funding case but we are optimistic and hopeful this storm shall pass away.”
“The defence mandate funding should not be at the bottom of the priority list,” Mbambo emphasised. He explained. In the interim the SAAF is working diligently with what it has and is looking at, for example, sweating assets, even though this ‘remains unpalatable in some sectors.’ Efforts are being made to collaborate with the industry as well as carry out more maintenance and repair in-house.
With an eye on the future, Mbambo told the audience at Mobile Deployment Wing that the SAAF has completed its Air and Space Power Strategy guiding document, which although it “sounds like a far-fetched dream given the SAAF’s challenges, will allow the SAAF to sustain itself in-house.” Although results will not be achieved overnight and the road to the desired future is not without risk, “the best way to predict the future is to create it,” Mbambo said.
Mbambo functioned as the Review Officer for Thursday’s parade, which also saw sizeable participation from active and retired SAAF aircraft. This included flypasts by helicopters (Rooivalk, Puma, Alouette II, Alouette III and BK 117), trainers (five PC-7 Mk IIs), VIP jets (Falcon 50 and Boeing Business Jet), jet trainers (four Hawks) and fighters (three Gripens). One of the Hawks provided a solo display.
SAAF Oryx damaged by small arms fire in the DRC
Unofficial sources indicate that a South African Air Force (SAAF) Oryx medium transport helicopter (1247) from 22 Squadron was hit more than 40 times while carrying out a medical evacuation, resulting in injury to the commander as well as a medic in the cabin. It is not clear who was firing at the helicopter, although it is suspected that M23 rebels were responsible. The Oryx has been badly damaged, with multiple rounds going through the cabin, cockpit and main rotor blades, causing damage to the hydraulic system. The incident apparently occurred about 25 km north of Goma and the crew managed to fly the aircraft directly to a Level 3 hospital (a fully equipped and staffed multidisciplinary UN field hospital).
This is not the first time SAAF helicopters operating with the United Nations mission in the DRC (Monusco) have been hit by small arms fire. The most tragic incident occurred on 5 February 2023 when Sergeant Vusumuzi Mabena was killed by a sniper’s bullet while flying an Oryx (1231/UN821) on a routine mission. The pilot, Captain Mathew Allan, was injured by the same bullet, but recovered. A Rooivalk was hit in the tail by small arms fire on one occasion and at least two Oryx have been hit by small arms fire in the DRC over the past decade.
African Pilot’s 2024 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.
MayDay SA golf day and industry dinner Serengeti Estate
Contact WhatsApp 083 797 7001 Website: www.mayday-sa.org.za
CAASA AGM and awards at CAASA House Lanseria
Contact Melissa Sewgolam E-mail: Melissa@caasa.co.za Cell: 082 847 3403
12 to 14 February
African Air Expo and conference CTICC, Cape Town
Tedderfield breakfast fly-in
Contact Alan Stewart Cell: 083 702 3680
26 to 29 February
HAI Heli-Expo Anaheim Convention Centre, California, USA
EAA Chapter 322 monthly gathering at EAA Auditorium
Contact Neil Bowden E-mail: email@example.com
SAA Museum Society Specialised Tour limited to nine adults
Contact E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Cell: 076 879 5044
DCA Industry Roadshow Stellenbosch, Cape Town
Contact Ms Charmaine Shibambo E-mail: email@example.com
8 to 10 March
Aero Club Airweek venue Middleburg airfield
Contact Sandra Strydom E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Tel: 011 082 1100
8 to 10 March
EAA National Convention Middleburg airfield
Contact Paul Lastrucci E-mail: email@example.com
SAPFA ANR at Middleburg airfield
Contact Iaan Myburgh E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Cell: 082 449 2531
DCA Industry Roadshow Mangaung, Free State
Contact Ms Charmaine Shibambo E-mail: email@example.com
EAA Chapter 322 fly-in breakfast to Brits airfield
Contact Neil Bowden E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
22 & 23 March
Stellenbosch airshow – Fashkosh
Contact Anton Theart E-mail: email@example.com Cell: 079 873 4567
Robertson annual fly-in breakfast Robertson airfield
Contact: Alwyn du Plessis. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Cell: 083 270 5888
EAA Chapter 322 monthly gathering at the EAA Auditorium
Contact Neil Bowden E-mail: email@example.com
SAPFA ANR National Championships – venue TBA
Contact Iaan Myburgh E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Cell: 082 449 2531
6 & 7 April
SAC Eastern Cape regionals Wings Park airfield
Elder’s Flight Brakpan airfield
Contact Felix Gosher E-mail: email@example.com Cell: 066 1919 4603
EAA Chapter 322 fly-in breakfast to Eagle’s Creek airfield
Contact Neil Bowden E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Contact Chris Theodosi E-mail: email@example.com Cell: 071 220 1245
MD500 helicopters donated to Kenya by South Korea
South Korea is donating 16 retired MD500 helicopters to Kenya to be used on United Nations (UN) peacekeeping missions, with the first six being refurbished ahead of delivery to the East African nation. The Republic of Korea (ROK) Ministry of National Defence said on 21 December the first six aircraft were transported from Army Logistics Command’s General Maintenance Depot in Jinhae to the United States, in cooperation with the US State Department. The defence ministry explained that the US plans to transfer the helicopters to Kenya as soon as maintenance has been completed.
A South Korean spokesperson said, “Our government plans to work closely with the United States and the United Nations to quickly complete the donation of the remaining 10 helicopters, while continuing to further expand its contribution to promoting international peace and security, including UN peacekeeping operations.”
Korean Air’s aerospace division built some 280 MD500s under license between 1976 and 1984, but these are being replaced by newer aircraft, including the Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) Light Armed Helicopter (based on the Airbus EC155 Dauphin). The first examples of the Light Armed Helicopter are expected to be delivered this year. Kenya’s military already operates the MD500, with 40 delivered by the United States between 1980 and 1985. These were recently augmented by six new MD530Fs delivered from the US in December 2019. They were acquired to assist with operations in support of the AMISOM mission in Somalia.
Boise Airport hangar collapse kills three and injures nine
On Wednesday the hangar collapse at Boise Airport in Idaho claimed the lives of three people and injured nine others. The 39,000-sq-ft hangar was under construction for Jackson Jet Center. The mishap is now under investigation by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
“First responders found a hectic scene and worked to secure and rescue victims,” said Aaron Hummel, division chief of operations and EMS at Boise City Fire Department. “The Boise Airport, city of Boise, and all first responders extend their deepest sympathies to those impacted.”
The hangar was an expansion announced last year by Jackson Jet Center, an FBO and business aircraft charter and maintenance provider. “This occurred just west of our existing Jackson Jet Center at our new 39,000 square-foot steel hangar under construction, where dozens of dedicated people were working on site. We do not know exactly what caused the hangar collapse,” said Jackson Jet Center president Jeff Jackson in a statement. City permit records show Big D Builders as the contractor for the hangar. The company has been cited for several OSHA violations on previous projects.
OSHA spokesperson Michael Petersen said the investigation is in its early stages and it will be several months before they can share their findings. Petersen added that he does not believe that Jackson Jet Center is currently a focus of the ongoing OSHA investigation. He declined to comment on whether Big D Builders has so far been cooperative with the preliminary investigation. The hangar was initially planned as a means for Jackson Jet to continue its operations while its previous hangar site was being acquired for additional parking spaces, part of a larger-scale project by the airport to revamp its facilities.
Several dead after plane crashes into Florida mobile homes
At least three people have been killed following the crash of a single-engine V-35 Beechcraft Bonanza in Clearwater, Florida. The aircraft had collided with mobile homes on the ground after apparent engine trouble when approaching Clearwater Air Park (CLW), just outside of Tampa, Florida. According to local media, the crash occurred at around 19h30, killing the pilot and at least two on the ground who were inside their mobile home at the time of the crash.
At the time of the crash, the CLW’s METAR reported that sky conditions were clear, with ten statute mile visibility and calm wind. The 45-year-old V-35 Bonanza was registered N6659L to a corporation in Indianapolis. The aircraft had departed Vero Beach, Florida, about one hour before the crash. While the weather was clear, the flight was operated under instrument flight rules. While talking with air traffic control, the pilot of the Bonanza switched frequencies to activate pilot-controlled lights at CLW before cancelling their IFR clearance, a normal procedure for the flight. After cancelling his IFR clearance, the pilot returned to their previous frequency to report that he was having engine difficulties. Before the 1 February flight, the aircraft last flew on 11 December between Miami Executive (TMB) and Vero Beach (VRB). That flight took around one hour and occurred without incident.
Studies by the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association in 1994 reported that pilot error was responsible for at least 73% of all the accidents involving the type. The V-tail design was changed for a conventional straight tail after the FAA revealed that the aircraft’s tail was not to type certification standards. The NTSB investigation will look at aircraft maintenance records, weather forecasts and actual weather, witness statements and a 72-hour background on the pilot to determine if there were any issues that would affect flight. A preliminary report is expected within 30 days.
Laser strikes on aircraft hit record high in 2023
Laser strikes on aircraft reached an unprecedented peak in 2023, with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) recording a staggering 13,304 incidents, marking a 41% surge from the previous year. The surge poses a severe safety threat as high-powered lasers have the potential to incapacitate pilots, endangering the lives of those on board and on the ground. Since the FAA began tracking laser strikes in 2010, pilots have reported 313 injuries, underscoring the seriousness of the issue. FAA Administrator Michael Whitaker emphasised the commitment to ensuring the world’s safest air transportation system and condemned the reckless act of targeting aircraft with lasers.
Perpetrators of laser strikes could face substantial penalties, including FAA fines of up to US$11,000 per violation and up to US$30,800 for repeated incidents. In addition, criminal charges may be imposed by federal, state and local law enforcement agencies. Whitaker stressed the importance of public cooperation, education and outreach to address this safety risk, urging individuals to report laser strikes either through the FAA website or to local law enforcement agencies. To visualise laser-strike trends, the FAA’s tool provides data from 2010 to 2023, highlighting patterns by geography, per capita statistics and time of day, aiming to draw attention to the alarming frequency of these incidents.
Czech Republic joins F-35 ranks, inks ‘most important’ deal with US for 24 aircraft
Last week the Czech Republic signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the US to purchase 24 F-35 fifth generation fighters, in what the Czech government called the ‘most important project in the history of the Czech Armed Forces.’ “This government-to-government agreement brings our country and its Armed forces into a whole new era, in which not only our servicemembers but also modern equipment rank us into the first league of European NATO Allies. As a matter of fact, fifth-generation aircraft are a backbone fighters of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation. Moreover, their procurement will significantly increase combat readiness of the Czech Armed Forces,” Defence Minister Jana Cernochova said at a signing ceremony, according to the Czech Ministry of Defence and Armed Forces.
Months ago the US State Department approved the potential sale of 24 aircraft and a host of associated equipment, valued at $5.6 billion at the time. The MoU and an official Letter of Acceptance were signed today in Prague after weeks of discussion about protocol that apparently factored in the secretive hospital stay of US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin, the Czech statement said. “We are pleased the government of Czech Republic is now officially a part of the F-35 Lightning II programme of record,” US Air Force Lt. Gen. Mike Schmidt, programme executive officer, F-35 Joint Programme Office, said in a Lockheed Martin statement. “This partnership with the Czech Ministry of Defence will deliver and sustain the F-35 aircraft for decades, while providing the Czech Air Force with unmatched interoperability and ensuring it has the capability to counter current and future threats.”
With the signing, the Czech Republic will become the 18th nation in the global F-35 programme. According to Lockheed Martin, aircraft are currently flying out of 32 bases worldwide. However, it will be a while before any are flying out of Czech hangers since the first aircraft is not scheduled to be delivered until 2031 and will not reach full operational capability until 2035. Until then, the Czech military will continue to fly Swedish-made Gripen fighters. The Czech defence ministry said there are ‘intensive negotiations underway with the Kingdom of Sweden on the operation of the Gripens in the given timeframe.’
Rotor debuts autonomous helicopter in New Hampshire
Last week Rotor Technologies’ R220Y prototype uncrewed helicopter made its first public live flight at New Hampshire’s Nashua Airport in front of about 100 people. The R220Y is a modified Robinson R22 helicopter equipped with autonomous flight controls and connected to Rotor’s Cloudpilot ‘on-demand piloting service that delivers flight capabilities via satellite and wireless connectivity,’ according to the company. During the live flight, the R220Y’s autonomous operation included engine start, hovering, turning and landing during a three-minute flight. Rotor is developing the R550X based on a Robinson R44 Raven II, which was on display during the event. During the demonstration, Rotor CEO Hector Xu announced the name of that helicopter and opened a bottle of champagne to toast the Spirit of New Hampshire with the state’s governor, Chris Sununu.
Sununu said, “New Hampshire has long been known for our innovative spirit and today, a new era of aviation was ushered in right here in the Granite State. This is an exciting moment for the future of American-made aircraft.” Without a pilot onboard, the 550X will be able to deliver a payload of 1,212 pounds at up to 150 mph and fly for more than three hours. “The R550X offers long-range VTOL capabilities beyond the reach of drones and eVTOLs,” the company said. Plans call for the helicopter to start agricultural flights later this year.
Garmin announces two new slimline panel radios
Last week Garmin announced two new space-saver panel-mount comm and nav / comm radios The GTR 205 comm-only and the GNC 215 nav / comm take up 1.3 inches of bezel height form factor and include full-colour LCD displays. The GNC 215 includes VOR / ILS capability with localiser and glideslope guidance. The dimensions of the two new radios correspond to those of the previous-model SL30 and SL40 panel-mount radios for easier upgrade. The comm sections have pilot-selectable 25 kHz or 8.33 kHz channel spacing. The LCD displays show current and standby frequencies and station ID, such as ‘KOJC TWR.’ According to Garmin, the control configuration is consistent with other current Garmin models, simplifying the user interface.
The GNC 215 nav section includes navaid lookup to locate the appropriate frequency from its worldwide database when the navaid name is entered. It can also monitor the standby frequency and display the received radial. It also has a supplemental CDI display for VOR or localiser tracking. The GNC 215 can also interface with most CDIs, HSIs, and autopilot systems as well as most Garmin panel-mount screens. Carl Wolf, Garmin vice president of aviation sales and marketing, said, “The GTR 205 and GNC 215 products show Garmin’s commitment to offering attractive and affordable ground-based navigation and communication options while continuing to provide world-class, modern capabilities.”
Italian Air Force Frecce Tricolori Aerobatic Team to participate at EAA AirVenture 2024
The Frecce Tricolori, the military aerobatic team representing the Italian Air Force (ITAF), will be making its first Oshkosh appearance since 1986 when it arrives to participate at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2024. The Italian team, formally known as the 313th Aerobatic Training Squadron, is scheduled to be at Oshkosh on Tuesday, 23 July as part of the third North American tour in its history. With the already-announced demonstrations from the Canadian Forces Snowbirds at AirVenture 2024, it marks the first time that the EAA fly-in will have two military demonstration teams in a single year at the weeklong event.
Frecce Tricolori, which translates to ‘Tricolor Arrows’ in English will arrive at Oshkosh on Tuesday 23 July 23 and is scheduled to participate as part of the afternoon airshow. Its aerial demonstrations at AirVenture will be a modified display featuring tight fly-by formations and colorful smoke trails in the team’s Aermacchi MB-339PAN trainer jets. The team was officially founded in 1961, combining aerobatic units from throughout the Italian Air Force. It consists of 10 pilots (nine formation pilots, plus a solo) from combat-ready operational squadrons throughout the ITAF and is currently commanded by Lt. Col. Massimiliano Salvatore. Frecce Tricolori had previously made North American tours in 1986 and 1992. This year’s tour is in support of the Royal Canadian Air Force centennial that is also bringing the Snowbirds to Oshkosh.
“With the Snowbirds highlighting our celebration of the Royal Canadian Air Force centennial, the numerous military jet demonstrations already committed and now the Italian military aerobatic team joining us, 2024 will be an unforgettable year at Oshkosh,” Larsen said. “As we prepare for this year’s edition of The World’s Greatest Aviation Celebration, there is much more to come as well.” Additional information regarding the Frecce Tricolori appearance and other EAA AirVenture 2024 airshow highlights will continue to be announced as it is finalised.
Editor comments: Since I have never seen the Frecce Tricolori live, this year’s EAA AirVenture appears to be one of those once in a lifetime aviation events with two exciting display teams added to the traditional American airshow line-up. If you have not already reserved your seat to the ‘Greatest Aviation Event on Earth’, the time is now. Please contact Neil Bowden as soon as possible so that you can reserve your place within the amazing South African campsite on the airfield within a short walk to the fascinating exhibition areas of EAA AirVenture: firstname.lastname@example.org
Archer Midnight eVTOL completes first phase of testing
On 31 January Archer Aviation announced it has completed Phase one testing on its Midnight electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft. The phase took three months to accomplish, ‘significantly’ less than the time it took Archer to reach this point with its full-scale prototype Maker model. Archer said it has upgraded the Midnight’s battery system to incorporate among the first high-voltage packs from the company’s assembly line in San Jose, California. Phase two testing involves incrementally increasing speed runs until achieving wing-borne flight and ultimately the capability to transition to both vertical and wing-borne modes in a single flight. Phase three involves simulated commercial routes “to demonstrate the aircraft’s operational readiness,” according to Archer.
Archer founder and CEO Adam Goldstein said, “Over the last four years of flight testing, our team has been able to gather a tremendous amount of data and learnings that enable us to advance Midnight rapidly towards certification.” Archer’s mission goals for its piloted four-passenger Midnight aircraft include replacing 60- to 90-minute automobile commutes with 10- to 20-minute electric air taxi flights with minimal charge time between flights. The flights are planned to be safe, sustainable, low-noise and cost-competitive with ground transportation, the company said.
US approves $4 billion deal to sell India 31 MQ-9B SkyGuardian drones
Last week the US State Department notified Congress that it had approved the potential sale of 31 MQ-9B SkyGuardian drones and related missiles, bombs and other equipment to India in a deal estimated to be worth just under $4 billion. “This proposed sale will support the foreign policy and national security objectives of the United States by helping to strengthen the US-Indian strategic relationship and to improve the security of a major defence partner which continues to be an important force for political stability, peace and economic progress in the Indo-Pacific and South Asia region,” the State Department said in the public notification. The proposed sale will improve India’s capability to meet current and future threats by enabling unmanned surveillance and reconnaissance patrols in sea lanes of operation.”
According to Reuters, India’s defence ministry approved the procurement of the General Atomics-made airframes in June 2023, which also reported the Biden administration had pushed New Delhi over the deal ahead of a state visit by Indian leader Narendra Modi. During his tenure, US President Joe Biden has pushed for closer defence relations with India, a potential counterweight to American rival China in Asia. In January 2023, the US and India announced a joint Critical and Emerging Technology initiative “to elevate and expand our strategic technology partnership and defence industrial cooperation between governments, businesses and academic institutions of our two countries.”
Late in 2023 US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin travelled to India, where he signed a new “defence industrial base cooperation roadmap” with the Indian defence minister. That, Assistant Secretary of Defence for Indo-Pacific Security Affairs Ely Ratner told reporters, was a “historic agreement that is setting our countries toward a deeper level of cooperation in an area to which there has been aspiration for decades and often fits and starts.”
General Atomics describes the MQ-9B SkyGuardian, as well as its maritime brethren the MQ-9B SeaGuardian, as a descendant of the company’s famous MQ-9A Reaper. With a 79-foot wingspan, General Atomics says the MQ-9B “provides enhanced payload capacity and an open architecture system that enables the aircraft to integrate the most advanced sensor payloads for intelligence gathering, survivability and even kinetic payloads for more complex operational environments.”
The State Department’s approval of a big MQ-9B sale to India comes as General Atomics said it’s working with US officials to clear the way for another large sale, this one for MQ-9Bs to the United Arab Emirates, an estimated $3 billion deal that got wrapped up in a bigger, but more controversial F-35 sale.
EuroMale drone programme faces coordination hurdles during development
Developmental challenges in the Eurodrone programme have been outlined in a recent update from the German Defence Ministry. Launched in 2015, the project is a collaborative effort between France, Germany, Italy and Spain, aimed at developing a high-endurance, medium-altitude, long-endurance (MALE) drone. But in 2023, the project faced delays that might impact the overall timeline, according to the latest report from the German Defence Ministry on its current weapons programmes. In particular, the construction of the first EuroMale prototype, originally scheduled to begin after a Preliminary Design Review (PDR) and a Critical Design Review (CDR) in 2024, may experience setbacks.
The PDR, initially set for September 2023, is still being discussed due to ongoing coordination issues between the German main contractor, Airbus and the French subcontractor, Dassault Aviation. These coordination challenges may also influence the scheduled CDR in September 2024, a critical milestone in the project.
The first flight of the European MALE prototype is still scheduled for January 2027, with the delivery of the first aircraft and a ground control station for Germany and France planned for 2030. It has also been revealed that the project is expected to incur a significant cost increase of 35.2%. Officials stress that these cost adjustments should be viewed in the context of the overall economic inflation, particularly influenced by the Ukraine conflict.
It is not the first setback affecting the development of the Eurodrone: originally slated for signing in 2019, the European Remotely Piloted Aircraft System contract faced disputes over the drone’s pricing. The crux of the matter revolved around concerns that a Medium Altitude Long Endurance (MALE) drone, such as the Eurodrone, might struggle to gain traction in today’s market if priced higher than its competitors, particularly the acclaimed General Atomics Reaper drone manufactured in the United States. Obtaining approval successively from France, Germany, Italy and Spain, the official contract was ultimately inked in February 2022 between the Organisation for Joint Armament Cooperation (OCCAR) and Airbus Defence and Space, the prime contractor for the Eurodrone project.
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