“We are in danger of being overwhelmed with irredeemable paper, mere paper, representing not gold nor silver; no sir, representing nothing but broken promises, bad faith, bankrupt corporations, cheated creditors and a ruined people.” Daniel Webster
(Information from Willie Oosthuizen)
Fifty-eight years ago this month, the lone remaining USAF / Martin XB-51 light attack bomber prototype crashed during take-off from El Paso International Airport in Texas. The cause of the mishap was attributed to premature rotation of the aircraft leading to an unrecoverable stall.
A product of the post-WWII 1940’s, the Martin XB-51 was envisioned as a jet-powered replacement for the piston-driven Douglas A-26 Invader. The swept-wing XB-51 utilised a unique propulsion system which consisted of a trio of General Electric J47 turbojets. Demonstrated top speed was 560 knots at sea level. The XB-51 was a good-sized airplane. With a length of 85 feet and a wingspan of 53 feet, the XB-51 had a nominal take-off weight of around 56,000 lbs. The wings were swept 35 degrees aft and incorporated six degrees of anhedral. The latter feature to counter the large dihedral effect produced by the type’s tee-tail.
A pair of XB-51 aircraft were built by Martin for USAF. XB-51 No.1 (S/N 46-0685) first took to the air in October of 1949 followed by the flight debut of XB-51 No.2 (S/N 46-0686) in April of 1950. The air crew consisted of a pilot who sat underneath a large, clear canopy and a navigator housed within the fuselage. While the XB-51 flew hundreds of hours in flight test and made many lasting contributions to the aviation field, the aircraft never went into production. This fate was primarily the result of having lost a head-to-head competitive fly-off against the English Electric Canberra B-57A light attack bomber in 1951.
The No1 XB-51 aircraft was lost on Sunday 25 March 1956 during take-off from El Paso International Airport. The mishap aircraft accelerated more slowly than normal and with the end of the runway coming up quickly, the pilot rotated the aircraft to become airborne. Unfortunately, the rotation was premature and the wing stalled. The aircraft exploded on impact and the crew of USAF Major James O. Rudolph and Staff-Sargent Wilbur R. Savage were killed. The loss of the No.1 XB-51 was preceded by the destruction of XB-51 No.2 (S/N 46-0686) on Friday 9 May 1952. That tragedy occurred during low-altitude aerobatic maneuvers at Edwards Air Force Base in California. The pilot, USAF Major Neil H. Lathrop, perished in the resulting post-impact explosion and inferno.
As a footnote, the XB-51 was never assigned an official nickname by the US Air Force. However, it was unofficially referred to in some aviation circles as the Panther. Due to its prominently long fuselage, the less majestic monicker of ‘Flying Cigar’ was sometimes used as well.
Those persons that correctly identified this week’s mystery aircraft:
Rossouw, Wouter van der Waal, Gregory Yatt, Karl von Seydlitz, Ari Levien, Craig Brent, Kevin Farr, Adrian Maree, Andre Visser, Jeremy Rorich, Righardt du Plessis, Bruce Prescott, Ahmed Bassa, Danie Viljoen, Johan Venter, Magiel Esterhuysen, Willie Oosthuizen, John Skinner, Rennie van Zyl, Michael Schoeman, Colin Austin, Pierre Brittz, Steve Dewsbery, Christiaan Haak, Bruce Margolius, Clint Futter, Hilton Carroll, Andrew Peace, Erwin Stam, Nic Manthopoulos, John Moen, Lance Williams, Charlie Hugo, Herman Nel, Selwyn Kimber, Mike McLaughlin, Andre Breytenbach, Peter Doig, Jan Sime, Jeffrey Knickelbein, Dave Lloyd, (41).
The real ‘State of the South African Nation’ from the Daily Maverick
Today (Thursday) President Cyril Ramaphosa will deliver his State of the Nation address and it is sure to be brimming with pomp, promises and prophesying. Last year, Ramaphosa used his SONA speech to highlight four areas of concern that the government would be addressing urgently. Twelve months on, let us see how the ANC has done:
The energy crisis and the promise: A minister of electricity would be appointed to take full responsibility for overseeing all aspects of the electricity crisis.
The result: Minister or no minister, South Africa endured its worst year of load shedding in 2023.
Cost of living and the promise: The Social Relief of Distress Grant would continue until 2025 and other social grants would be increased to combat deepening poverty.
The result: Despite these grants an estimated 13.8 million South Africans live below the food poverty line.
Unemployment and the promise: Unemployment would be addressed through the expansion of the Employment Tax Incentive and further recruiting by the Social Employment Fund.
The result: Unemployment sat at 31.9% at the end of Q3 2023, with 47% of South Africans reliant on a social grant.
Crime and corruption and the promise: Strengthening of the SAPS to prevent crime and increased capacity at the National Prosecuting Authority.
The result: In Q3 of 2023, South Africa’s per capita murder rate for 2022 / 23 was the highest in 20 years.
So, what of the 2024 edition of soon-to-be-broken promises?
If the President’s speechwriters were in touch with reality, his address would go a little something like this:
- Fellow South Africans, we are in trouble. Deep trouble.
- Load shedding is crippling the economy.
- Inefficiency and dysfunction at our ports and on our railway network is destroying our export market and crippling local development.
- At least 4.9 million young South Africans are unemployed.
- With 81% of children aged below 10 years unable to read for meaning, the future of the next generation does not look any better.
- Corruption is the language of our leaders.
- Our political system is broken.
But don’t worry, this all going to change!
Trust us. Trust politicians? Thirty years on, even the most optimistic have lost faith in the ruling party.
But there is still hope
There is a national election this year and an informed electorate can save South Africa by using their vote to enact change.
The choice is simple:
A South Africa reliant on the promises of politicians or a South Africa informed about the real state of the nation. We need your help. South Africa needs your help.
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.
Sling race to Cape Town vs. commercial flight
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
A320 excursion gets muddy in Vilnius
The crew of an Avion Express A320 gave new meaning to the term down and dirty with a spectacular runway excursion in Vilnius, Lithuania, on the weekend. All was normal as the plane carrying 185 people approached in wet weather. After touchdown, the aircraft skidded to the right and crossed a patch of muddy infield, sending murky liquid skyward. The crew was able to get the plane back rolling instead of sliding and that is when things got a little weird.
Alarmed controllers, who saw the whole thing, peppered the crew with helpful inquiries and offers of help, but the pilots were not interested. They told a tower controller they did not need any help and taxied the mud-caked Airbus to a parking spot on the ramp where they deplaned the passengers as normal. Meanwhile, maintenance crews swarmed the now-closed runway cleaning away the mud and debris the plane kicked up. It is not clear if the plane was damaged.
Hong Kong airport tow-vehicle worker killed by plane
“According to sources, the deceased, a 34-year-old aircraft tow operator, was sitting in the back seat of the tow truck while the driver was in the front seat. At the time of the incident, the two were driving a trailer towing an aircraft to the west apron. However, when they arrived at the destination, the driver discovered that the passenger in the back seat was nowhere to be found. He was shocked and searched around along the way. He found the victim lying on the ground near J6 on taxiway H and was already unconscious. He was shocked and informed his superiors to report the incident. However, paramedics arrived at the scene and confirmed that the victim was obviously dead. It was initially suspected that the victim accidentally fell off the trailer and was subsequently run over by the plane. However, it is still under investigation whether the aircraft involved was the aircraft it was towing.
Goose found in flight control system after medical helicopter crash that killed three
Investigators found the carcasses of several geese within the debris field of a Bell 206 air ambulance crash near Hydro, Oklahoma and one was embedded in a flight control servo. On 20 January a Bell 206L-3 Helicopter (N295AE) was returning from dropping a patient off at Mercy Health Center Heliport (OL16) in Oklahoma City. The crew was heading to the home base, the Air Evac 112 Heliport (4OK1) in Weatherford. The company’s GPS monitoring programme stopped tracking the helicopter and a search began. The wreckage was found in an open pasture roughly 1.5 miles east of Hydro. The ADS-B data captured the flight leaving OL16 and flying west to Weatherford between 500 feet and 600 feet above ground level and about 110 knots groundspeed. The final ADS-B point was about 210 feet east of the main wreckage location.
All major components of the helicopter were found at the crash site and the main wreckage included the fuselage, engine and tail rotor. The transmission separated from the fuselage and was found at the site. The white main rotor blade was fractured and found in a nearby field. The red main rotor blade was also fractured and found near the main rotor hub. The mast nut had separated and was found in the debris field. Investigators found several geese carcasses in the debris field and one embedded in the flight control servo. Samples of the geese feathers were recovered for a detailed identification. The NTSB said a review of the US Air Force’s Avian Hazard Advisory System found that the probability of bird activity in the area was low.
Wildlife hazard and risk mitigation on or around airports involved a range of focus areas, including habitat management; wildlife dispersal, removal and exclusion; detection or prediction of wildlife and behaviour so that aircraft can avoid high-risk activities, both temporally and spatially and enhanced aircraft detection and avoidance by birds through novel aircraft lighting schemes. Pilots can report strikes or search the database by airport, aircraft or engine type and what type of bird or other wildlife was involved. Other animals included in the database are alligators, snakes, dogs, squirrels and pigs. Bird feathers can also be submitted to the Smithsonian Institution’s Feather Lab for identification.
Piper M700 FURY launched
The Piper M700 FURY represents the first step towards a new generation of the M-Class family, outperforming past PA46 models and several competitive aircraft in performance, operational cost efficiencies and overall value. Powered by the Pratt & Whitney PT6A-52 engine, the M700 FURY boasts a maximum cruise speed of 301 knots with a max range of 1,149 nm / 1,849 km (at max cruise speed, 1,424 nm at normal cruise speed) while maintaining its Basic Med compliant 6,000- pound MGTOW limit.
At a 301-knot max cruise speed, the M700 FURY stands alone as the fastest single-engine aircraft in Piper’s enviable 87-year, 134,000-unit production history and it is the second fastest model of all time. Only the mighty Piper Cheyenne 400LS turbine twin is faster.
“The M700 FURY is a beautifully efficient, cross-country thoroughbred that gives our customers a performance-based flight experience with economics never seen before,” said Piper President and CEO John Calcagno. “We listened and we delivered. The M700 FURY encompasses power, performance and the most advanced safety measures available today and an overall value proposition that is extremely compelling to individuals and corporate flight departments alike.”
Airframe changes to accommodate the more powerful engine include a redesigned, more efficient intake plenum that improves ram air recovery, new engine mount assemblies and an improved exhaust stack design that maximises residual thrust. This new aircraft includes six new interior schemes, featuring new leathers and aesthetically styled seats that have been thoughtfully crafted with the customer in mind.
The M700 FURY features Garmin’s G3000® avionics system, a touchscreen-controlled glass flight deck. The G3000 avionics suite is the most sophisticated Garmin technology available and offers the most comprehensive, intuitive and technologically advanced package in today’s market. It all comes standard in the M700 FURY along with the HALO Safety System (including Garmin’s Autoland technology) that was first certified in the M600 / SLS.
The new model will retain Garmin’s PlaneSync™ technology, which includes a 4G LTE Cellular and Wi-Fi® datalink that enables new avionics capabilities to streamline an aircraft owner’s pre-flight and post-flight activities. Piper is also first-to-market with Garmin’s remote aircraft status capability enabling owners to remotely check the fuel quantity, aircraft location, oil temperature, battery voltage, the current METAR at the aircraft’s location and more via the Garmin Pilot™ application. PlaneSync™ technology also automatically downloads databases wirelessly while the aircraft is powered down and the owner is away from the aircraft.
FAA certification for the aircraft will be achieved before the end of Q1, 2024 with deliveries starting immediately thereafter. International validations for Canada, EASA, the UK and Brazil will be achieved in the second half of 2024, with customer deliveries in those regions before the end of the year.
Mixed reaction to 25-hour CVR rule
Comments for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA’s) proposed rule to increase cockpit voice recorder (CVR) times closed Friday with mixed reaction from industry representatives in the 99 comments received. The 4 December 2023 notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) would extend the CVR recording time to 25 hours for all newly manufactured aircraft. According to the FAA, the increase would provide investigators, operators and aviation authorities with more comprehensive data to determine the causes of incidents and accidents, while making the FAA’s regulations more consistent with existing international requirements. Under the current two-hour requirement, CVR data covering aviation incidents is often overwritten before investigators can get access to it.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has been advocating for the change since 2018 but given the spate of close calls involving commercial aircraft in the last year, the issue has once again come to the forefront. The NTSB said the rule does not go far enough as it ‘does not propose a similar requirement to retrofit existing airplanes required to carry a CVR and a flight data recorder (FDR).’
Several organizations including FedEx, the Cargo Airline Association, Regional Airline Association, Alaska Airlines and Helicopter Association International have all expressed their support for the rule.
Meanwhile, the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), which represents 77,000 pilots from 43 airlines, stressed the need for additional CVR protections to be in place before moving forward. ALPA proposed measures such as indefinite maintenance of CVR recordings by the NTSB, permanent deletion of the recording medium returned to the aircraft operator and restrictions on the use of recordings or transcripts for administrative or disciplinary proceedings.
The Coalition of Airline Pilots Associations (CAPA), which represents 35,000 airline pilots from American Airlines, UPS, NetJets, Atlas Air and Republic Airlines among others, has strongly opposed the rule. CAPA says its primary concerns are related to the misuse of CVR recordings by entities outside of the FAA and NTSB such as law enforcement investigations.
Increase in Embraer private jet and commercial aircraft deliveries for 2023
Brazilian plane maker Embraer has published details about the company’s performance in 2023. Overall there was a 13% increase in aircraft deliveries, with the commercial and private jet arm of Embraer achieving the standout performances. In 2022, Embraer delivered a total of 160 aircraft. In 2023, the figure rose to 181.
According to the details announced on 30 January 2024, E-Jets family aircraft deliveries increased 12% year on year, from 57 jets in 2022 to 64 in 2023. The highlight was the E2 group whose deliveries more than doubled, from 19 aircraft in 2022 to 39 in 2023. In the private jet sector, 74 light jets were delivered, 12% more year on year and the largest volume in seven years. With 41 deliveries, the company’s medium-sized jets also reached double-digit annual growth of 14%. The private jet delivered the most times in 2023 was the Phenom 300, with 63 deliveries.
In Q4 alone, Embraer delivered 75 aircraft, including 49 executive jets (30 light and 19 medium), 25 commercial jets and one military C-390 jet. The company’s backlog rose by 1.2 billion year on year, reaching a total of $18.7 billion in 2023, the highest number recorded since Q1 2018. The commercial aircraft unit backlog reached 298 in Q4 2023, at a total value of $8.8 billion, a $200 million growth year on year. Part of the aircraft backlog includes an order from the Canadian carrier Porter Airlines for 25 Embraer E195-E2s and two E175s from American Airlines to add to its existing purchase of four. Embraer added that it continues to face supply chain delays which have impacted on its 2023 deliveries.
Cosmic Aerospace closes €4.5M round to develop 1,000km-range electric airliner
Brussels-based startup Cosmic Aerospace announced on 6 February 2024, that it has closed a €4.5 million seed funding round to continue development of a battery-powered electric aircraft with a range of up to 1,000 km (around 620 miles). With a background as an engineer, Chahine has devoted much of his career to the study of fluid dynamics, obtaining a PhD from Oxford University in the United Kingdom (UK). He has conducted advanced research in this field in both the UK and Belgium.
Cosmic Aerospace’s approach is to focus on aerodynamic and aerostructure efficiency to squeeze more range out of existing propulsion and battery technologies. One feature that sets its prototype electric aircraft apart from other clean-sheet electric aircraft projects of this type is the location of the engines. These are encased in the wings, which act as a nacelle for the ducted fan turbine. The aircraft will be powered by Lithium-ion batteries placed inside the fuselage. The airliner will be able to carry up to 24 passengers and three crew members. Chahine stated it could be flying by 2026. The aim is to have the aircraft certified by 2027. So far, Cosmic Aerospace has completed a small-scale demonstrator, which flew in March 2023.
Swedish early-stage investment firm Pale blue dot, which specialises in climate technology investments, led the funding round, which included other seed capital investors such as Aera VC, Visionaries Club TOMORROW, Fifty Years, Possible Ventures, Syndicate One, Course Corrected, Understorey Capital and Samurai Incubate.
Indonesian engineers accused of classified data leak on KAI KF-21 Boramae fighter
Indonesian engineers working at Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) have been accused of attempting to leak classified data about the Korean supersonic fighter KF-21. According to a representative from the South Korean Defence Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) quoted by Yonhap, the incident reportedly involved two engineers trying to save sensitive information onto eight USB drives. The information allegedly includes details about avionics, such as the indigenously developed Advanced Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar equipping the fighter, along with classified data from US and EU suppliers subject to export agreements with South Korea and thus unavailable to Indonesia. A joint investigation was opened by the DAPA, the National Intelligence Service (NIS) and the Defence Counterintelligence Command (DCC).
The Indonesian Ministry of Foreign Affairs addressed the issue, emphasising that it was in contact with the Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs and relevant organisations to secure information on the situation. However, it contradicted the DAPA report and claimed that only one engineer was involved. “There was only one engineer who leaked data and we are investigating the matter,” Lalu Muhamad Iqbal, the spokesperson for the Indonesian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, told local media. “The Indonesian embassy to South Korea has spoken with the said engineer and we have confirmed that the person in question is not being detained.”
What is the KF-21 Boramae fighter jet?
The KF-21 Boramae, a product of the KF-X programme, is a collaborative venture between South Korea and Indonesia initiated in 2015. The KF-21 features a passive stealth design and advanced avionics. With a wingspan of 11.2 meters (36.7 feet), the KF-21 is powered by two F414 engines from GE Aviation, the same engines propelling F/A-18E/F Super Hornets and Saab JAS 39E/F Gripens. It boasts a range of 2,900 kilometres (1,800 miles) and a top speed of 2,200 kilometres per hour (1,367 miles per hour). Thanks to a maximum thrust of 44,000 pounds, the fighter jet carries a substantial maximum take-off weight of 25,600 kilograms (56,218 pounds) and a maximum weapon load capacity of 7,700 kilograms (17,000 pounds).
Though its design might evoke US-made 5th-generation fighter jets, it differs on several points, notably the absence of an internal weapon bay. Thus, it has been categorised by Korean media as a “4.5 generation fighter.” The maiden flight of the inaugural aircraft prototype occurred on 19 July 2022, achieving supersonic speed on 17 January 2023. Six KF-21 prototypes have successfully undergone various performance assessments, including night flight and weapon separation tests. The Republic of Korea Air Force (ROKAF) has set a target to procure 120 KF-21 fighters by 2032, with the intention of replacing aging aircraft such as the F-4E and F-5E in its fleet. On 10 January 2024, DAPA confirmed that KAI was on track to start production of the KF-21 fighter jet in 2024.
FAA advises using analogue NAVAIDS in spoofing areas
The FAA is telling pilots to brush up on their old-school instrument procedures and use analogue NAVAIDs where possible if they’re headed to areas where GPS spoofing is going on. In a 25 January Safety Alert for Operators, the agency said GPS and GNSS disruptions are on the rise, particularly around war zones but also near military operations areas and places where countermeasures against drones are being used. “When available, operators should plan to use conventional Navigational Aids (NAVAIDs) in these locations,” the SAFO says. “The FAA recommends that each operator follow the detailed guidance from their respective OEM.”
The agency also wants pilots who encounter satellite navigation problems to report it to a dedicated website to add to a disturbingly long list of failures that have occurred so far. Among the anomalies experienced so far are:
- Inability to use GPS / GNSS for navigation.
- Inability to use hybrid GPS / GNSS inertial systems for navigation.
- Loss of area navigation (RNAV) capability, to include required navigation performance (RNP).
- Unreliable triggering of Terrain Avoidance and Warning systems (TAWS).
- Inaccurate aircraft position on navigation display (e.g., moving map and electronic flight bag).
- Loss of or erroneous Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) outputs.
- Unanticipated effects to use of conventional navigation aids (e.g., inability to autotune).
- Unanticipated position-dependent flight management system effects (e.g., insufficient fuel indication).
Failure or degradation of Air Traffic Management (ATM) infrastructure and its associated systems reliant on GPS / GNSS, resulting in potential airspace infringements and/or route deviations.
Age-67 pilot retirement back in legislative spotlight
FAA Administrator Mike Whitaker has asked Congress to leave the current mandatory age-65 retirement age for airline pilots alone until the agency has studied the idea more. Whitaker sent a letter to Congress warning against what might be growing momentum toward boosting it to 67. “It is crucial to provide the agency an opportunity to conduct research and determine mitigations,” Reuters quoted the letter as saying. Last month Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg expressed similar sentiments in a letter to Congress, saying it would make the US an outlier in the international aviation community and cause problems down the line.
The Senate Commerce Committee is considering a hearing on Thursday to discuss the change and the House has already supported such a move in an overwhelming bipartisan vote last July. The issue is now part of negotiations toward a five-year reauthorisation bill for the FAA. The agency is currently being funded by extensions of its previous reauthorisation, the latest of which has a little more than a month before it expires. Whitaker will appear at a Tuesday meeting of the House’s aviation subcommittee where he is expected to be questioned about recent aviation safety incidents.
First operational hydrogen-electric Islander to debut in Kirkwall by 2027
UK regional airline Loganair and Cranfield Aerospace Solutions are to work more closely together to have the first operational hydrogen-electric Britten-Norman Islander flying in Kirkwall by 2027, post certification in 2026. Loganair has been supportive of Project Fresson since its inception, but the newly solidified memorandum of understanding between the two companies signifies an enhanced level of collaboration, leveraging their collective expertise. This strategic alliance encompasses operational requirements and design, standards and regulations, infrastructure development and stakeholder engagement. The ultimate objective is to ensure the commercial rollout of the hydrogen-powered Islander, with a specific target to introduce the world’s inaugural hydrogen-electric Britten-Norman Islander into operational service within the Orkney region.
Paul Hutton, CEO, Cranfield Aerospace Solutions, said, “This marks a significant stride toward achieving zero-emission flight in the Orkney Islands and potentially enabling the first zero emissions passenger air service, right here in the UK. Collaborating closely with Loganair, we aim to harness our combined experience and expertise to address the operational and infrastructure considerations, ultimately ensuring the successful deployment of the hydrogen-electric Britten-Norman Islander across Loganair’s lifeline routes within the islands.”
Peter Simpson, executive chairman, Loganair, added, “As an airline, we are doing everything we can to manage and mitigate the environmental impact of flying. Our Greenskies environmental programme, which offsets carbon emissions and invests in future flight technologies, is unique within the industry, and our partnership with Cranfield Aerospace Solutions builds on the commitments we have made as part of this. The short haul routes we operate in Orkney and the challenging weather conditions we face make the ideal test bed for hydrogen-electric aircraft and we are incredibly proud that we could be offering the world’s first commercial zero emissions flights.”
Meanwhile, CAeS continues its pioneering work in developing a proprietary hydrogen fuel-cell (HFC) propulsion system. Initially tailored for the Britten-Norman Islander, this ground-breaking technology holds the promise of extending to a spectrum of manned and unmanned platforms, including cargo aircraft, thereby amplifying the potential for widespread sustainability in aviation.
New Farnborough International Space Show launched
This week Farnborough International has announced the launch of Farnborough International Space Show, a new, annual UK space industry event, to pioneer the commercial space age. Taking place between 19 and 20 March 2025 at Farnborough International Exhibition and Conference Centre, the event will connect the global space community across industry, defence, government and academia.
The new Farnborough International Space Show will enable FIL to leverage its links to parent company ADS Group, the trade association for the UK’s aerospace, defence, security and space industries.
Farnborough International Space Show will convene a global audience of key space manufacturers and suppliers, senior-level buyers and influencers, C-Suite professionals and UK and international Governments.
“We are delighted to launch Farnborough International Space Show, providing an annual collaborative showcase of leading solutions, technology and insight for the new era of commercial space,” said Gareth Rogers, CEO of Farnborough International. “Twenty twenty-five presents a unique opportunity for the international space sector to convene here in Farnborough, building on our 75-year legacy as organisers of the world’s best airshow.”
The show will continue the proven success of the Business Connections Exchange and Delegations programmes, which provides buyers and suppliers with a networking opportunity to meet face-to-face and to do real business, as well as meet with key UK and international Government stakeholders, all under one-roof. Farnborough International Space Show is committed to supporting the UK Government to grow its space economy and make the UK one of the world’s most innovative and attractive space economies in the world, through facilitating high-level innovation and collaboration.
Kevin Craven, CEO of ADS Group, said: “We are delighted to support the launch of Farnborough International Space Show, at a time where support to the UK space industry is more pivotal than ever. The £17.5 billion UK space industry contributes £7 billion to the UK economy. “This pioneering new exhibition will allow the industry to leverage a trusted convening power across advanced manufacturing sectors, with a particular focus on political and international stakeholders. Support from partners such as UKspace further highlights our continued commitment to fostering partnerships that benefit our members across the country.” As well as providing the opportunity to discover leading solutions, services and technologies from across the space sector, attendees will be able to hear from a curated programme of influential, free-to-attend conference sessions featuring senior international space industry, academic and Government speakers.
The event is also launched with the partnership of UKspace. Lizzie Kerr, Director at UKspace commented: “Following many years of partnership with Farnborough International, UKspace is delighted to support the introduction of Farnborough International Space Show. With a programme of activity centred around senior space stakeholders across the commercial, industrial, academic and political sectors, we look forward to a continued collaboration with ADS Group and FIL to deliver a pioneering event on behalf of our members.”
With the launch of Farnborough International Space Show in 2025, FIL will no longer partner Hub Exhibitions following this year’s Space-Comm Expo. Gareth Rogers said: “We thank Hub Exhibitions for the past three years of an important partnership in delivering Space-Comm Expo. With an ever-closer relationship to our parent company ADS Group, we feel that now is the time to bring our pioneering efforts to enhance the UK space industry, in-house. We look forward to a successful final 2024 edition of Space-Comm Expo at Farnborough and wish Hub Exhibitions the very best with their future endeavours.”
Indian aviation operator looks at electric / hybrid fleet
Indian private aviation group JetSetGo has expanded its plans to launch advanced air mobility (AAM) services with new agreements to add Overair’s Butterfly eVTOL aircraft and Electra’s hybrid-electric, blown-lift fixed-wing model. The partnerships announced on 19 January at the Wings India trade show in Hyderabad came a few days after the operator said it plans to buy up to 100 of Horizon’s six-passenger, hybrid-electric Cavorite X7 aircraft (including 50 options). The agreement with Overair covers provisional sales of 50 Butterfly models at an undisclosed price. JetSetGo also says it will add an unspecified number of Electra’s nine-passenger aircraft to its fleet. According to the Delhi-based group, it has firmly committed to buying 150 aircraft from the three manufacturers with a combined value of $780 million. If options are exercised, the value of the combined transaction could increase to 280 aircraft and $1.3 billion.
This deal makes JetSetGo the latest in a series of prospective operators of new electric and hybrid-electric aircraft making provisional sales agreements with multiple manufacturers, with others including helicopter group Bristow and charter provider Blade. The Indian company has not said whether it will proceed to purchase all three aircraft types, or whether it sees the partnerships as ways to assess its options.
According to Sergio Cecutta, an advanced air mobility expert with SMG Consulting, JetSetGo is, “not picking a single winner for now but looking at a portfolio of aircraft to consider.” In his view, early multi-type agreements give prospective operators access to early delivery slots in what SMG expects to be a supply-limited industry in its early stages. Based on SMG’s analysis of the latest multi-aircraft deal, Cecutta believes the operator is considering up to 130 of Electra’s aircraft (50 provisional orders and 80 options). He feels that this eSTOL aircraft would be the best option for its business model.
The letter of intent signed with JetSetGo took Electra’s total ‘pre-order sales’ to more than 2,000 units, which the company says are valued collectively at more than US$8 billion. Other recent agreements have been reached with Lygg in Finland and New York City-based Charm Aviation, but the numbers of aircraft involved in these deals were not disclosed. In late December, US regional public charter carrier JSX announced it plans to add up to 82 of Electra’s aircraft to its fleet, including 32 orders and 50 options.
Electra’s unnamed aircraft is expected to operate on sectors of up to 500 miles and will have exceptional short take-off and landing performance, allowing it to operate from spaces as small as 300 feet by 100 feet. In December, the Virginia-based company started flight testing its two-seat technology demonstrator as it works towards FAA type certification in 2028.
Horizon’s Cavorite X7 eVTOL will carry up to six passengers and have a similar range profile to the Electra aircraft but with vertical take-off and landing capability. Last week the Canadian company completed a SPAC-backed listing on the Nasdaq stock exchange, which is expected to raise between $9 million and $25 million in new capital.
JetSetGo was founded in 2014 and provides on-demand charter flights as well as aircraft management, membership packages, maintenance and aviation consultancy. The company’s fleet consists of five Hawker 750 and 800XP jets, as well as a mix of six other models including the Cessna Citation 525, Bombardier’s Challenger 604 and 850 and Global 6000, Dassault’s Falcon 2000 and a 37-seat Embraer ERJ-135LR airliner.
Switchblade 600 kamikaze drones in the running for Replicator mass production
Switchblade 600 kamikaze drones are among the first set of systems Pentagon leadership and Congress are evaluating to be mass produced and rapidly scaled through the ambitious new Replicator initiative. The US DOD’s stated goal of Replicator is to counter China’s massive, ongoing military buildup by fielding thousands of attritable autonomous systems in multiple domains by August 2025. Replicator selections for to-be-fielded products will be made across roughly 10 technology portfolios or sets and announced in various tranches, with the first encompassing more ‘mature’ capabilities that have already been proven within US military components.
The Pentagon recently revealed that a small number of capabilities were chosen last month to be prioritised for the initial Replicator tranche, but officials would not identify them. In December, Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology Doug Bush had previously suggested that the service nominated several drone systems for the initiative. With a 24-mile range, 40 minutes of loitering endurance and the ability to fly at speeds of up to 115 miles per hour, Switchblade 600s are built to destroy armoured vehicles and other targets in multi-domain military operations.
Since Replicator was unveiled by Deputy Defence Secretary Kathleen Hicks in August, she and officials across the Defence Department have been tight-lipped about certain aspects of how the initiative is really coming together, pointing to a need for secrecy so as not to tip off adversaries. “The deputy secretary selected capability areas in December. The military departments then identified specific systems and associated acquisition strategies to meet those capability needs. The department recently notified our congressional committees of jurisdiction of those system requests, on plan with Replicator’s established timeline. We have no further details to provide on individual systems at this time,” Pentagon spokesperson Eric Pahon explained after being asked to confirm the Switchblade 600 selection. Pahon also declined to provide specifics regarding how many millions in funding might be reprogrammed through Replicator for the loitering munitions in 2024.
“We submitted a spend plan and reprogramming requests to Congress 31 January. We hope they will act quickly, which will allow us to ramp up and accelerate production on Replicator capabilities. We are not able to provide specifics on the reprogramming request at this time,” he said. Notably, loitering munitions are just one of multiple different capability areas that DOD seeks to accelerate with Replicator.
In response to questions, Pahon would not detail the other Replicator capability sets that Hicks’ team approved. He also hinted that more selections and considerations for loitering munitions may be made in the near term. “The department is constantly seeking opportunities to bring in new vendors across a multitude of capability areas. This is reflective of the Defence Innovation Unit’s core mission to engage emerging technology providers through the commercial solutions offering process. We have no further details to provide on individual systems at this time,” he said.
About African Pilot
About African Pilot and Future Flight:
After 24 years of continuous publishing there is no doubt that African Pilot provides the finest overall aviation media reach on the African continent and now throughout the world. All African Pilot’s and Future Flight’s monthly editions are easily read on any digital device including smart phones
Our team is positioned to provide professional video and stills photography, website development, social media platforms, company newsletters as well as several other important media services to customers.
The two monthly magazines are 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.
This twice weekly APAnews service has been part of African Pilot’s line-up since the inception of the magazine 24 years ago.
African Pilot is the third best English language aviation magazine in the top ten magazines in the world: https://blog.feedspot.com/aviation_magazines/
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.