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African Pilot’s March edition
The March edition featuring aviation business at Rand Airport as well as Business Jets available in Southern Africa completed its national distribution phase well before the end of the month. The digital edition was sent to all subscribers on Tuesday 25 February. Thank you to our valuable advertisers who supported this edition.
African Pilot’s April edition
The April edition will feature Wonderboom National Airport and Turboprop Aircraft Types. This means that Adrian and I will spend significant amounts of time walking the ramps at Wonderboom over the coming week so that we can take pictures and interact with the business owners based at this airport. Due to delays in obtaining information from the various business owners at Wonderboom National Airport, I have decided to delay this edition by one week. Therefore the new closing date for all submissions is Friday 13 March 2020. For advertising positions please contact Adrian Munro at Tel: 0861 001130 Cell: 079 880 4359 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you.
About African Pilot
There is no doubt that African Pilot provides the finest overall media reach of all aviation publications in Africa where we are in a position to provide professional video and stills photography, website development, social media platforms, company newsletters as well as several other important media services to our customers. Naturally the monthly printed magazine has an incredibly long shelf life due to its excellent design and layout. Then of course the monthly magazine is also available as a digital edition where ALL advertisers have enjoy the direct routing to their websites at a touch on a smart phone or tablet as well as a click of the mouse on a computer screen.
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Video of the week: EAA Steve Joubert Talk Show, Thursday 20 February 2020
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SOUTH AFRICAN AVIATION NEWS
What happened in aviation over the past week?
SAPFA Rally at Brakpan airfield by Cally Eckhard
With the National Rally Flying Championships only two weeks away, most of the existing Protea rally team members took part in the Class 1, or ‘Open’ category of the sport at Brakpan Airport on Saturday 7 March. It was also encouraging to see that after all the training sessions held by Mary de Klerk, Rob Jonkers and Jonty Esser, many of the previous ‘Fun Rally participants’ stepped up to Class 1 as well.
It was disappointing that only a few of the local Brakpan pilots supported this event, even though one of the training sessions was held at the club recently. Hopefully more of them will be inspired to put their flying and navigation skills to the tests, especially as this sport improves general flying safety. In all 16 teams took part flying the in the three categories of the rally.
Organisers Frank and Cally Eckard kept the route simple, so as not to discourage the first timers. The participants all managed to complete the task sheet quite easily, except for one navigator who plotted the start point from the wrong Brakpan Airport, which found his pilot heading off to start at the finish point and was surprised to find another aircraft flying directly towards him. Results and a full write up will be published in the April 2020 edition of African Pilot.
What is scheduled for the next few months?
African Pilot’s 2020 calendar
We will publish the aviation calendar within APAnews three months ahead, but you can always visit African Pilot’s website: www.africanpilot.co.za if you would like to obtain the full calendar for the entire year.
Aero Club of South Africa Annual General Meeting Time: 18h00 for 18h30
Contact Sandra Strydom E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Tel: 011 082 1100
EAA Auditorium Rand Airport, Hurricane Road, Rand Airport, Germiston.
EAA Talk Show Karl Jensen to be interviewed by Scully Levin
Bookings accessed at http://eaa.org/events-coming-up
SAPFA Speed Rally at Bethlehem airfield
Contact Jonty Esser E-mail: email@example.com Cell: 082855 9435
Sling Aircraft breakfast fly-in at Tedderfield airfield
Contact Shanelle McKechnie E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Cell: 066 224 2128
20 and 21 March
FASHKOSH airshow at Stellenbosch airfield
Contact: Anton Theart E-mail: email@example.com Cell: 079 873 4567
Aero Club Centenary Hot Air Balloon Launch Bill Harrop’s Skeerpoort Magaliesburg
Contact Ms Andre Botha firstname.lastname@example.org Tel: 011 234 9280 Cell 074 102 8809
31 March – 5 April
FIDAE 2020 Arturo Merino Benitez Airport, Santiago, Chile
I will be representing African Pilot at this annual event this year
31 March – 5 April
Sun ‘n Fun Aerospace Expo. Lakeland, Florida, USA
1 to 4 April
AERO Friedrichshafen, Germany Global show for General Aviation
Contact Stephan E-mail: Stephanie.email@example.com
Unfortunately, due to the coronavirus outbreak this annual show has been postponed to a future date. African Pilot will keep our readers updated as to the future date in 2020.
2 to 4 April
SAPFA Rally Nationals and Fun Rally at Stellenbosch airfield
Contact Frank Eckard E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Cell: 083 269 1516
3 to 5 April
Groblersdal Flying Club fly-in at Groblersdal airfield
Contact Richard Nicholson E-mail: email@example.com Cell: 082 490 6227
Robertson annual fly-in breakfast
Contact Alwyn du Plessis E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Cell: 083 270 5888
Wings and Wheels Festival at Uitenhage airfield
Contact Lourens Kruger E-mail: email@example.com Cell: 082 320 2615
Garden Route airshow
Contact Brett Scheuble E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Cell: 084 418 3836
1 – 3 May
Aero Club Air Week at Middelburg airfield
Contact Rob Jonkers E-mail: email@example.com Cell: 082 804 7032
1 – 3 May
EAA National Convention Middelburg airfield
Contact Sean Cronin E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Cell: 083 447 9895
SAPFA Middelburg Speed Rally Middelburg airfield
Contact Jonty Esser E-mail: email@example.com Cell: 082 855 9435
1 to 3 May
MISASA and SAGPA North meets South at Gariep Dam
Contact Donald Hicks Cell: 083 626 3180 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
8 to 10 May
20th Battlefields fly-in to Dundee KZN
Contact Dave O’Halloran E-mail: email@example.com Cell: 079 496 5286
SAAF Museum Airshow at AFB Zwartkops
Contact Mark Kelbrick Cell 082 413 7577 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
12 to 15 May
NAMPO Harvest Day at NAMPO Part outside Bothaville
Contact Bennie Zaayman Wim Venter: E-mail: Wim@grainsa.co.za Cell 082 414 8099
The Coves annual fly-in closed event by invitation only
Contact JP Fourie E-mail: email@example.com Cell: 083 625 4804
EAA AGM at the EAA Auditorium Rand Airport
Contact Sean Cronin E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Cell: 083 447 9895
23 to 24 May
SAC Eastern Cape Regionals Wings Park, East London
Contact Annie Boon E-mail: email@example.com
22 to 24 May
SAPFA President’s Trophy Air Race at Ermelo airfield
Contact Rob Jonkers E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Cell: 082 804 7032
Website: www.sapfa.co.za E-mail: Race@sapfa.org.za
Botswana International Airshow at Matsieng Flying Club
Contact E-mail: email@example.com Cell: +267 713 10935
31 May (Sunday)
Fly-Mo fund raising breakfast fly-in at Springs airfield
Contact Fanie Bezuidenhout E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Cell: 083 789 5507
5 and 6 June
Contact Johan Pieters E-mail: Johan@champ.co.za Cell: 082 923 0078
3 to 7 June
Zim Navex Prince Charles Airport, Harare
Contact Marion Kalweit E-mail: email@example.com Tel +26 377 257 0009
Maputo Air Land and Sea airshow
Contact Gavin Neil E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
SAPFA Silver Queen Air Rally AFB Zwartkops
Contact Rob Jonkers E-mail: email@example.com Cell: 082 804 7032
15 to 19 June
SAC National Championships New Tempe – Bloemfontein
Contact Annie Boon E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
SAC full day airshow New Tempe – Bloemfontein
Contact Conrad Botha E-mail: email@example.com Cell: 082 465 4045
22 to 24 June
Airport Show, Airport Security and ATC Forum DWTC, Dubai
We are excited to announce that registration is now open for Airport Show, Airport Security and ATC Forum this June in Dubai. Register for FREE https://bit.ly/2SnJ33S
29 to 30 June
Airforce Africa Forum Senegal
Contact +971 4 456 78 00 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
African Pilot’s 2020 calendar
Editor’s comment: All the aviation publications, including the online publications have access to the above calendar and all they need to do is copy and paste the correct information supplied here. In addition, the calendar of events is continuously changing as new events are recorded and unfortunately events are cancelled for some or other reason.
AFRICAN AVIATION NEWS
Aviation Africa 2020 inspires significant debate and discussion
Attended by 600 people from 70 countries, the resounding message from Africa’s aviation community attending this year’s buzzing Aviation Africa summit held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, was that all stakeholders must cooperate and collaborate to achieve a sustainable aviation future for the continent. Delegates debated existing and new challenges as discussions surrounding coronavirus, sustainability and the need for more open African skies.
Speaking on the opening day of the conference IATA special envoy to Africa, Raphael Kuuchi, gave the body’s latest CORVID-19 update stating that In December 2019, IATA forecasted 3.8% African RPK growth for 2020, but this has been narrowed to 3.4% following the outbreak. “Previous disease outbreaks have peaked after one to three months and recovered to pre-outbreak levels in six to seven months,” Kuuchi told the delegates. Basing its predictions on the 2003 SARS outbreak IATA anticipates that the virus is expected to have a deeper impact than SARS, costing the industry around $29 billion in 2020. Kuuchi used the Aviation Africa forum to call on governments to relax taxes and charges through this crisis and called for air traffic control slot retention rules to be moderated.
Addressing the key theme of sustainability, a panel of experts working across Africa’s aviation sector underlined the call for multilateral engagement to achieve the goal. Africa boasts more hours of bright sunshine than any other continent and solar energy is increasingly being used as a renewable energy source at airports across the continent. Alternative means of carbon reduction through the deployment of new technologies and other means are also being considered with eVTOL vehicles expected to feature prominently in African skies. Delegates were in agreement that it’s a matter of when, not if, and that the introduction of eVTOLs into African airspace requires collaboration across the board. Rwanda has already pioneered a regulatory framework for drones that could be applied.
Abderahmane Berthé, Secretary General AFRAA, stated that more efficient use of airspace would make a significant contribution to carbon reduction. Citing connectivity as one of the major challenges he said, “Currently 22% of Africans travelling between two cities on the continent are forced to travel through non-African hubs, often transferring in Europe or the Middle East. However, this situation can be reversed through network development and scheduled coordination at African hubs.”
To achieve cleaner, more efficient skies will require a massive transformation from stakeholders across the industry working together to push boundaries and think outside the box. “The implementation of SAATM will result in enhanced connectivity and reduced journey times as well as lower airfares. A successful and viable African aviation industry requires concerted efforts and collaboration from governments, regulatory authorities, airlines, airports, ANSPs, suppliers of aviation products and services and of course the passengers themselves.”
The Aviation Africa event went ahead despite the coronavirus outbreak demonstrating the resilience of the industry, and its members, in times of adversity. It also showcased the commitment of the organisers to ensure that they continue to provide platforms giving industry leaders the opportunity to share industry knowledge and continue the essential dialogue required to ensure a sustainable aviation future. The sixth Aviation Africa will once again return to Kigali scheduled for 24 and 25 February 2021. For further information visit www.aviationafrica.aero.
AT-6C aircraft purchase approved for Tunisia
The United States has approved a proposed sale of four AT-6C Wolverine light attack aircraft worth an estimated $325 million including associated equipment to Tunisia. The US Defence Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) notified Congress of the possible sale on 25 February after Tunisia requested four AT-6C aircraft as well as 468 Mk 81 250 lb bombs, 48 Mk 82 500 lb bombs, 3 290 Advanced Precision Kill Weapon Systems (APKWS) rockets, two spare Pratt & Whitney PT6A-68D 1600 shp engines, six L-3 WESCAM MX 15D Multi-Spectral Targeting System, six 12.7 mm machineguns as well as other equipment and training. Textron Aviation Defence is the primary contractor.
The proposed T-6C sale is aimed at replacing Tunisia’s aging trainer fleet and allowing Tunisia to continue training pilots to support its counterterrorism and border security missions, the DSCA said. The Tunisian Air Force flies F-5 Tiger II, MB326, L-59T and SF260 aircraft in the combat and trainer roles. Morocco is the only other African nation that flies T-6s, ordering 24 for $185 million in October 2009. These were delivered from 2011.
Leonardo C-27 Spartans for Zambia and Kenya
Between 21 and 22 September a Kenyan Air Force C-27J Spartan aircraft was photographed taking part in a flying display in Italy, hosted by manufacturer Leonardo, whilst a Zambian Air Force C-27J was seen taking off from Lanseria International Airport in South Africa on 21 August 2019. These aircraft will join four Royal Moroccan Air Force C-27Js, delivered from 2012 and two C-27Js delivered to the Chadian Air Force in 2013 and 2014, for operations in Africa. The Zambian Government ordered two C-27Js in 2015. The first of these made its maiden flight in December 2018 and the second followed later that month. The new C-27Js will provide Zambia with a new tactical transport capability and will supplement the Y-12-II, Y-12-4 and MA-60. They will be assigned to No9 Air Transport Support Command at Lusaka / Kenneth Kaunda International airport.
The Kenya Air Force ordered three new C-27J Spartan transport aircraft in late 2017 and news of the contract emerged in late June 2018 when Kenyan treasury secretary, Henry Rotich, revealed the previously undisclosed acquisition of two or three C-27Js and an undisclosed number of AgustaWestland AW139 helicopters in a report submitted to the parliamentary public accounts committee. It transpired that Kenya had taken out a 10-year, Sh20 billion ($198 million) loan for the three aircraft from Italy’s Unicredit SpA on 11 December 2017, with repayments due to start on 11 June 2019. Kenya’s new Spartans are expected to replace four de Havilland Canada DHC-5D Buffalos, which equip a transport squadron at Moi Air Base, Mombasa, alongside three de Havilland Canada DHC-8-103s.
WORLDWIDE ACCIDENTS AND INCIDENTS
Nashville Airport hammered by a tornado
Last week the largest dedicated General Aviation airport in Tennessee, was extensively damaged by a powerful tornado that cut a swath of destruction across four counties in the center of the state and claimed the lives of nearly two dozen people. According to aerial photos and video of the scene, at least four hangars were completely devastated, including one showing five jets amidst the ruins, along with several smaller aircraft. More single-engine aircraft were shown strewn across the tarmac. A spokesperson from the Metropolitan Nashville Airport Authority, which owns and manages JWN, said that the airport was closed as crews continue to assess the damage, but confirmed there was damage to the Contour FBO, the lone service provider on the field.
SpaceX Starship prototype explodes during test in Texas
On Friday 28 February video pictures from sources with a view of the company’s Boca Chica, Texas, development facility showed Starship prototype ‘SN1’ apparently exploding during a pressure test. NASA Spaceflight reported that the partial rocket failed during a cryogenic pressure test after one of its tanks filled with liquid nitrogen. An earlier, more basic prototype dubbed ‘Mk1’ popped its top during a pressurization test at Boca Chica last year. This latest anomaly appears to be doing little to set back Starship’s development. Elon Musk showed off the company’s stockpile of nose cones at Boca Chica last month, whilst prototype SN2 continued to come together on one side of the site this weekend, even as the remains of SN1 were being cleaned up nearby.
Falcon 50 deliberately torched
On Thursday a fire deliberately set destroyed a 40-year-old Falcon 50 at a Toronto airport on and whoever did it apparently wanted it known. Emergency crews were called to the ramp of Buttonville Airport just before midnight where the ground-breaking tri-jet from the 1970s was burning merrily in the middle of a snowstorm. They found a hole cut in the perimeter fence, boot tracks in the freshly fallen snow and a gas can. The fire burned away most of the cabin before it could be extinguished. Post-crash photos showed the airstair deployed. The aircraft had reportedly been parked there for months. It is registered to Adams Aviation Services Inc. Trustee a Delaware corporation.
WORLD AVIATION NEWS
Challenge of coronavirus forces Messe Friedrichshafen to postpone AERO
Due to current developments in regard to the spread of coronavirus COVID-19, Messe Friedrichshafen is taking a serious but necessary step: aviation show AERO will not be held in the planned period of 1 to 4 April 2020, but will be postponed to a date that has not yet been determined. “The current situation with the coronavirus has resulted in a nasty domino effect,” says Klaus Wellmann, Managing Director of Messe Friedrichshafen. “The industry members of the general aviation community also see the health and economic risks of the upcoming trade fair as too high. We share this assessment, but it is with a heavy heart that we now need to take this serious step together.”
Roland Bosch also expressed his concern: “In 30 years as head of AERO Friedrichshafen, I have never experienced a comparable situation. In accordance with the saying ‘complete safety is an illusion; there are only varying degrees of risk and uncertainty,’ we were convinced right up until the end that we would be able to overcome the challenge we were facing in the coronavirus. Despite the uncertainties, we believed AERO Friedrichshafen 2020, with participation of around 700 registered exhibitors, would be able to be held. However, in recent days we received a large number of cancellations and clear signals from our exhibitors and potential visitors, making it impossible to hold the event now. We will postpone the AERO Friedrichshafen 2020 to a date not yet determined.” The exhibitors, visitors and partners involved are currently being informed about the postponement. Further information is available at www.messe-friedrichshafen.de and www.aero-expo.com
IATA: COVID-19 hits January passenger demand
Last week the International Air Transport Association (IATA) announced global passenger traffic data for January 2020 showing that demand (measured in total revenue passenger kilometres or RPKs) climbed 2.4% compared to January 2019. This was down from 4.6% year-over-year growth for the prior month and is the lowest monthly increase since April 2010, at the time of the volcanic ash cloud crisis in Europe that led to massive airspace closures and flight cancellations. January capacity (available seat kilometres or ASKs) increased by 1.7%. Load factor climbed 0.6 percentage point to 80.3%.
“January was just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the traffic impacts we are seeing owing to the COVID-19 outbreak, given that major travel restrictions in China did not begin until 23 January. Nevertheless, it was still enough to cause our slowest traffic growth in nearly a decade,” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO. “The COVID-19 outbreak is a global crisis that is testing the resilience not only of the airline industry but of the global economy. Airlines are experiencing double-digit declines in demand and on many routes traffic has collapsed. Aircraft are being parked and employees are being asked to take unpaid leave. In this emergency, governments need to consider the maintenance of air transport links in their response. Suspension of the 80/20 slot use rule, and relief on airport fees at airports where demand has disappeared are two important steps that can help ensure that airlines are positioned to provide support during the crisis and eventually in the recovery,” said de Juniac.
Europe’s three largest LCCs chop capacity due coronavirus
Following the outbreak of COVID-19, many carriers cut their international capacity to the affected regions, especially China. However, as the virus spread to other parts of the world, short-haul flights in Europe have also declined, with low-cost carriers being affected as well. Wizz Air announced that the outbreak has negatively impacted the demand for air travel within Europe. As a result, the airline adjusted its flight schedule, primarily to Italy between 11 March and 2 April 2020. The company is considering cutting its capacity by 10% in Q1 FY2021, which begins on 1 April 2020.
Furthermore, in an attempt to negate the negative financial impact of coronavirus, the Hungary-based low-cost carrier has started cost reduction initiatives, including suspending recruitment and non-essential travel, negotiating with suppliers and effectively allocating its assets to maximise its returns.
Ryanair announced that it would cut up to 25% of total Italian short-haul capacity from 17 March until 8 April 2020. The group’s executive Michael O’Leary stated that the financial impact of the outbreak to the airline’s Q1 FY2021 results would be ‘meaningful,’ as the Dublin-based company expects a fall of 10% in forwarding bookings through April and perhaps May as well.
easyJet has also decided to cancel some flights, particularly to and from Italy. The airline indicated that demand and load factors on flights in its Northern Italy bases softened significantly, with other markets in Europe also seeing slower demand on easyJet’s network. Cost-cutting measures, including recruitment and promotion freezing, offering unpaid leave and negotiations with suppliers to reduce costs were all introduced.
Emirates asks staff to take unpaid leave due to Covid-19
Meanwhile, while IATA is trying to address the slot problem, airlines are turning to their crews asking for help with their excess workforce problems. Citing an excess of ‘resources’ following flight cancellations and frequency cuts, Emirates has asked its staff to take holidays or one-month unpaid leave. “Considering the availability of additional resources and the fact that many employees want to utilise their leave, we have provided our employees the option to avail leave or apply for voluntary unpaid leave for up to one month at a time,” the airline’s chief operating officer Adel al-Redha said in a statement. In 2018-2019, when the last available annual report was issued, Emirates Airline estimated its workforce to stand at 60,282 employees.
Emirates has suspended all flights to China (except Beijing), Iran and Saudi Arabia. The frequency has been reduced on routes to Bahrain, Hong Kong and Singapore. IATA estimates that the coronavirus outbreak has cost Middle East airlines up to $100 million.
Emirates is not the first airline to turn to its workforce for help coping with the Covid-19 outbreak. For instance, similar measures were already implemented by Cathay Pacific, Lufthansa and United Airlines. One of the largest programmes is reportedly happening at Cathay Pacific. The carrier, which has been already facing headwinds prior to the outbreak, is reportedly implementing a leave programme that would affect 75% of its workforce. Out of 33,300 employees, more than 25,000 have opted to take the unpaid leave for three weeks between March and June.
In late February 2020, Lufthansa said it was offering employees unpaid leave and was halting the hiring of new staff. Similarly, United Airlines, the airline which has the most flights to Asia among the US carriers, has also reportedly offered its pilots leave due to the situation. Reports indicate United pilots were offered to take the month of April off on reduced pay. Previously, United said that due to Covid-19, the near-term demand in China dropped by approximately 100%, while the demand for the rest of their trans-Pacific routes fell by around 75%.
American Airlines saboteur sentenced to three years in prison
An American Airlines mechanic, who had worked for the company for 30 years, was sentenced to three years in prison after an attempt to sabotage the navigation system of an aircraft about to take-off. The 60-year-old engineer tampered with the air data module (ADM) system of the American Airlines’ Boeing 737-800, registered N861NN0, which was scheduled to operate Flight 2834 from Miami International Airport (MIA), Florida, to Nassau in the Bahamas, with 150 passengers on board on 17 July 2019. The ADM system reports critical data such as airspeed, altitude and pitch of an aircraft.
In December 2019, he pleaded guilty to the federal charge of attempted destruction of an aircraft. After the initial suspicion of terrorism was dismissed, it appears that the act was financially motivated. According to his lawyer, the mechanic wanted to keep the plane on the ground for additional repair, in order to earn more money to pay, among other things, for his children’s study costs. On 4 March a Miami, Florida court sentenced him to 37 months in prison.
The sabotage was found just before take-off when pilots started the engines and received incorrect readings from the ADM. The flight was aborted and the airline scrambled used a replacement plane to take the passengers to their destination. “At the time of the incident, the aircraft was taken out of service, maintenance was performed and after an inspection to ensure it was safe the aircraft was returned to service,” the airline explained that upon inspection a foam substance was discovered glued to the navigation system. “American immediately notified federal law enforcement who took over the investigation with our full cooperation.” Authorities say that if the flight had taken off as planned, whilst the sabotage could have caused a crash.
Boeing 737 MAX to start certification flights in coming weeks
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) estimates that the first certification flight of Boeing 737 MAX with the updated MCAS software could take place in a few weeks. Steve Dickson, the FAA’s administrator, said the first 737 MAX recertification flight was a matter of weeks. “We are working through the last few software reviews and documentation issues and then I think within a matter of a few weeks we should be seeing a certification flight,” Dickson revealed in an aviation conference in Washington. According to Reuters, the flight campaign is unlikely to start before April.
But for Boeing’s newly appointed CEO, David Calhoun, the MCAS was not the only thing at fault. In an interview with the New York Times, Calhoun suggested that pilots from Indonesia and Ethiopia, “where pilots don’t have anywhere near the experience that they have here in the United States,” had their share of responsibility. While this line of defence was the one Dennis Muilenburg had used for the days after the Ethiopian Airlines crash, Calhoun also criticised his predecessor, whose office he took on 13 January 2020. The new CEO claimed he inherited a situation far worse than he had imagined: strained relations with the airlines, broken ties with the authorities. Calhoun also feels the pressure of President Donald Trump, as the US economy was impacted by Boeing’s poor performance at the end of his term.
Australia to sell 46 F/A-18 Hornets to private military contractor
The Australian Ministry of Defence announced its intention to sell 46 F/A-18 Hornets to the private company US Air over the next three to four years. The fighters will serve to support the training of the United States Air Force pilots. As it already received 20 of the 72 Lockheed Martin F-35A it ordered, the Royal Australian Air Force is progressively retiring its fleet of F/A-18 Classic Hornet fighter jets. 25 of the 40-year-old aircraft were already purchased by Canada, out of which 18 should be modernised and integrated into the air force, whilst seven would be cannibalised for parts.
New Boeing 737 MAX 10 picture indicates first taxi test
A new picture of a Boeing 737 MAX 10 has appeared on social media, suggesting that the fourth and last member of the MAX family has started taxi testing, ahead of its first flight expected later in 2020.
Boeing officially unveiled the 737 MAX 10 at the company’s Renton, Washington factory in November 2019. The ceremony was attended by the company’s employees. Boeing 737 MAX 10 is the final remaining non-airborne variation of the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft family, which will eventually consist of four aircraft types. The MAX 10 is the largest plane in the family, as it can seat up to 230 passengers.
Israel interested in Boeing’s KC-46A tanker
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 aircraft will replace the nine KC-707s of the Israeli Air Force, the contract would include up to 17 PW4062 turbofan engines (16 installed, 1 spare), as well as a number of spare components, training and support equipment and services. The total cost is estimated at $2.4 billion. If the sale is confirmed, Israel would become the second export customer of the KC-46A after Japan, which has ordered two aircraft.
Airbus’ new weight variant A330neo makes its first flight
Benefitting from a maximum take-off weight increase to 251 metric tons, the A330neo offers a significant 650-nautical mile boost in range; or six metric tons more payload when compared to the A330neo’s current 242-metric ton version. This increase in range responds to evolving market needs, enabling airlines to benefit from the unique economics of the A330neo on even longer routes. Taking to the skies for the first time on Friday 28 February this aircraft is said to provide the perfect fit for longer trans-Pacific or Asia-Europe routes. The A330-900 is the longer-fuselage A330neo version, seating 260-300 passengers in a typical three-class cabin configuration.
Cessna 210 wing spar AD issued
The FAA has turned Textron’s previous service bulletin requiring inspections of Cessna 210 spar caps into an Airworthiness Directive that goes into effect on 9 March, with compliance due within 60 days or 20 hours’ time in service. The mandatory service bulletin was released last November after the inflight breakup of a Cessna 210 in Australia traced to fatigue cracking emanating from a ‘corrosion pit.’ The FAA estimates the cost of the AD to be less than $2,000 per aircraft assuming no damage is found. It estimates that spar replacement, required if cracks are found, could cost $43,600 per aircraft.
As part of its backgrounding process, the FAA received reports of ‘widespread and severe corrosion of the carry-thru spar’ on Cessna 210G through 210M models, including the T210 variants. ‘Further investigation identified that these early model airplanes were manufactured without corrosion protection or primer, increasing their susceptibility to corrosion. In addition, the design of these early model airplanes, where the upper surface of the spar is exposed to the environment, allows a pathway for moisture intrusion. Model 210-series airplanes were also delivered with foam installed along the carry-thru spar lower cap. The foam traps moisture against the lower surface of the carry-thru spar cap, which can increase the development of corrosion,’ according to the AD.
There are differences in scope between the Textron MSB and the AD. For one, the AD does not apply to the later N- and R-model 210s because they were manufactured with corrosion proofing. The MSB allowed 12 months for compliance while the AD requires the inspection within 60 days. The AD requires inspecting only the lower spar cap, but definitively requires an eddy-current inspection and not just a visual inspection; the MSB’s callout for an eddy current was contextual on the amount of corrosion found.
Flying car developers receive a boost from the USAF
As part of its programme to make sure that electric aviation doesn’t go the way of small drones and migrate to China, the US Air Force, as part of its programme said it is seeking to work with developers to help jump-start electric-powered vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) technology for both commercial and military use. While the proposal doesn’t come with any funding or direct R&D support, the Air Force is offering to assist the aircraft through the testing and certification necessary for eventual use by military and government buyers. The US Air Force is offering its help in manufacturing, testing and certification, but not funding for the electric aircraft. Though the visions laid out by the developers of new electric vertical-lift aircraft have been fairly mundane so far for air taxis and cargo delivery, it is a matter of time before they appear in a Bond film?
This is the first initiative of Agility Prime, launched in the fall to ensure that innovations in electric aviation originate in the US. “What we don’t want to have happen is the same thing that happened in the small drone migration to China,” said Will Roper, the Air Force’s assistant secretary for acquisition. “The Pentagon didn’t take a proactive stance on it, and now most of that supply chain has moved to China. If we had realized that commercial trend and had shown that the Pentagon is willing to pay a higher price point, we probably could have kept part of the market here and not have to go through the security issues we do now when someone wants to use a foreign-made drone at some kind of Air Force or DOD event.”
In addition to making sure that the technology doesn’t move offshore, the Agility Prime programme also seeks to convince commercial investors that DOD support for high-tech R&D can be an asset and not the liability it often is seen to be, either because military technologies are too niche or because of distaste for the militarisation of commercial technology. At the same time, a stamp of approval from the USAF could not only result in systems that can be adapted for civilian and military use but also could help convince commercial companies to adopt and use the new electric aircraft for cargo and passenger flights.
The solicitation will remain open until 28 February 2025, augmented by specific ‘areas of interest’ such as certification, the first to be announced. The USAF will provide contracts to qualified programmes and the initial AOI requires that full-sized aircraft achieve their first flights by 17 December this year. The USAF hopes to begin testing operational eVTOL aircraft by 2023, though there is no set timeline for when it hopes to place them into service. Similarly, air taxi and eVTOL companies, including Uber, have targeted 2023 to 2025 as the approximate rollout timeline for their services.
Flying an AirBike 900 miles
When Mike Jefferson flew 900 miles to the Copperstate Fly-In in early February in Buckeye, Arizona, it took three days and 17 hours of airtime to complete the flight. Of course, he flew much more slowly, averaging a little over 50 miles an hour. When you are flying an AirBike, you are partially sheltered by a wind screen, but even your legs are going to be out in the wind stream. To some pilots, this may sound delightful. To others, it would be closer to punishment.
In the past year, Mike discovered his AirBike in the Tucson, Arizona area. Needing some care, he hauled the project home and thoroughly went over the whole aircraft. Mike keeps his AirBike on the same airport where Ed Pittman of Pittman Air assembles the SLSA Dragonfly. Well north of San Francisco, Pittman calls Red Bluff, California, home.
WORLD DRONES NEWS
Frankfurt Airport suspends operations after drone sightings
Drone sightings in Frankfurt am Main Airport (FRA) halted operations for more than an hour, forcing around 80 flights to be either cancelled or diverted. In the afternoon of 2 March 2020, the German aviation safety authority DFS suspended all take-off and landing clearances for an hour and a half in Germany’s first and Europe’s third busiest airport. The local police reported several unidentified drone sightings in the restricted airspace of the infrastructure. A helicopter was scrambled to try and locate the UAVs and their operator. As a consequence, about 13 flights were cancelled and 70, mostly Lufthansa, had to divert. More delays in operations and some cancellations are to be expected, explained Fraport, the operator of the airport.
Drone delivery Canada announces the start of commercial testing
Drone Delivery Canada will begin the commercialisation of the Condor. The Condor has a lifting capability of 400lbs of payload, a travel range of 108 nautical miles and an operating speed of 65 knots. The multi-package payload compartment is designed to carry approximately 20 cubic feet of cargo.
This phase of Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) flight testing will take place at the Foremost UAS Test Range in Alberta in the summer of 2020 under a Special Flight Operations Certificate (SFOC), anticipated in Q2 2020. The company is in discussions with various potential customers, who all have expressed strong interest in the Condor once finalising commercial testing in Foremost. The company is active in deploying commercial agreements previously announced and anticipates seeing operations start in Q1 with revenue generating agreements.
Weekly News from African Pilot
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Until next week, please be ‘Serious about flying’.
Athol Franz (Editor)