African Pilot’s aircraft of the week identification quiz
Red Star Su-47 Berkut was an experimental fighter jet built by Russian company Sukhoi in 1997. It features fixed forward swept wings that provides enhanced manoeuvrability at supersonic speeds. If you examined the Russian stars on the wings, there was no doubt of its country of origin, but several answers were incorrect this week.
Those persons that identified the aircraft correctly this week: Ted Michel, Erwin Stam, Mark Cope, P Roussouw, Righardt du Plessis, Gert Jansen Van Vuuren, Nic Manthopoulos, Derek Reynish, Nigel Maistry, Branko Brkljac, Herman Nel, Jacobus Saayman, Hilton Carroll, Byron Kirkland, Willie Oosthuizen, Francois Greef and Bernard Stander.
On Tuesday eighty thousand single-dose vaccines arrived at OR Tambo International Airport. Now that the first batch of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines has arrived in South Africa; work will begin in earnest to inoculate healthcare workers in the public and private sector. The first 80,000 doses of the vaccine were dispatched to 17 sites across the country as part of an implementation study starting on Wednesday. Because the vaccine has been studied in South Africa, The South African Health Products Regulatory Authority approved an extension of the study that will allow healthcare workers to be vaccinated before the vaccine is officially licenced. As those first doses are part of the study, the South African taxpayer will not be footing the bill. However, the nine million doses of that vaccine secured by government will be paid for by the fiscus.
Medical scientists are rolling out the mass vaccinations as part of an implementation study between the Department of Health and the South African Medical Research Council. To kickstart South Africa’s vaccination drive, scientists established the Sisonke Open-label COVID-19 Vaccine Programme. This will see 300,000 Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines arrive in the country over the next month. Two hundred thousand more vials will arrive at a later stage, once the initial batches have been administered.
Johnson & Johnson ensemble trial co-lead, Professor Linda-Gail Bekker, said that healthcare workers would initially be inoculated at 17 sites across the country. “We will be expanding that as time goes by, so progressive realisation as we develop our systems and increase our robustness. We are starting in the big centres and when good numbers of those people are vaccinated, we will be moving out in a progressive way.” Bekker said that the vaccine offers protection against COVID-19, but to fast-track the rollout they had to do it via the Sisonke platform. Sites where the first inoculations will take place include the Chris Hani Baragwanath, Tygerberg and Prince Mshiyeni Memorial hospitals.
You do not need to answer this question to me, just to yourself. Will you be prepared to take the jab and then which vaccine? I already know my answer to the question.
African Pilot’s February 2021 edition
The February edition of African Pilot is complete and has also been completely distributed. This edition features Piston engine aircraft over 650 Kg as well as the piston engines and propellers that drive piston aircraft. At 280 pages, the February 2021 edition has set a new record for aviation publishing not only in South Africa, but for the entire world. As you examine the varied content, beautiful pictures and outstanding layout, you will also appreciate that there is no other aviation publication that supplies as much to its readers anywhere. This edition also includes the most recent aviation news from all over the world as well as historical aviation features.
African Pilot’s March 2021 edition
The feature of the March edition will be Turboprop aircraft, turboprop engines and propellers. This feature will also include information about the many aftermarket enhancements available for turboprop aircraft types. As you will notice with ALL editions of African Pilot, we publish important aviation news, historical aviation features as well as news from the Experimental and Space sectors. There is no other African Aviation or International Aviation publication that provides as much information together with superb pictures to its audience.
African Pilot Digital Calendars
Wallpaper calendar for the months of January and February
Since we are not printing the paper magazine any longer, African Pilot is making digital calendars available to all its readers. We will be releasing a new one each month. Examples are January and February to download, print or use as your computer’s background wallpaper. Go to our website to download the calendars in three different resolutions.
About African Pilot
There is no doubt that African Pilot provides the finest overall aviation media reach in Africa.
We are positioned to provide professional video and stills photography, website development, social media platforms, company newsletters as well as several other important media services to our customers.
The monthly magazine is available as a digital edition where ALL advertisers enjoy the direct routing to their websites at a touch on a smart phone or tablet as well as a click of the mouse on a computer screen or tap on any smart phone device.
Then of course this APAnews service has been part of African Pilot’s line-up since the inception of the magazine 20 years ago.
Do you want instant aviation news and opinions?
Visit www.APAcom.co.za and register yourself as a user
African Pilot’s shop window
Over the past few weeks, I have received several e-mails asking for my assistance to place aviation friends in contact with service providers or to supply important information to assist them with answers within aviation. Understandably, I am not an expert in many aviation subjects, but via African Pilot’s considerable media reach including APAnews, I can assist to provide people with answers as who to contact for the respective inquiries. Please note that this is yet another FREE service to anyone in aviation and all you need to do is contact me via e-mail: email@example.com.
View and download African Pilot’s last three (3) 2020 editions.
Click on the covers below.
Wouter Botes’ e-book ‘Flights to Nowhere’
Wouter Botes’ E-book on Flight to Nowhere is available by visiting www.africanpilot.co.za and click on the button provided on the home page. We have provided an option for payment of R60 per download on the page.
AERO South Africa news
Early bird rates available for the ONLY dedicated General Aviation show in South Africa
AERO South Africa is the perfect platform to showcase your products and services and build profitable relationships whilst engaging with over 4000 visitors across the general aviation industry. Exhibitors to the show will also benefit from FREE landing, approach and ground handling fees, making AERO South Africa the most cost-effective opportunity to reach a niche target audience of general aviation enthusiasts and businesses.
Book your space at the premier General Aviation Business-2-Business event and benefit from a discounted rate, contact:
Marlene Bosch: Marlene.firstname.lastname@example.org or 084 622 3931
Annelie Reynolds: Annelie.email@example.com or 083 308 1251
Aero Club member support initiative
Aero Club coffee table Centenary Yearbook
The AeCSA Centenary Yearbook is now available to purchase from the online shop. Please visit www.aeroclub.org.za/shop.
Commercial Aviation Association of Southern Africa meets with the Director of the SACAA
On 11 Thursday February 2021, the CAASA President and CEO had a virtual meeting with the Director Civil Aviation Authority (DCA). Besides introducing the new CAASA President to the DCA, other issues including the following were raised and discussed:
- Concerns relating to possible intimidation and victimisation by SACAA officials. It is difficult for the DCA to act until individuals are named. The director suggested that audits should be recorded to prevent such occurrences.
- Concerns relating to ‘valuable’ commercial aircraft leaving the South African aircraft register due to apparent delays in processing of applications by the SACAA. The director will provide feedback on the aircraft leaving the country namely type certified or non-type certified and also a breakdown of the individual types of aircraft.
- CAASA requested that the Commercial General Aviation CEO’s be invited to the Captains of Industry Forum, or that a similar platform be created for liaison between them and the DCA.
- The serious implications of the General Notice to all RPAS operators, manufacturers and applicants of RPAS system safety that the SACAA will no longer be accepting applications from non-manufacturers, owners or operators as from 01 February 2021. Only RPAS Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM) shall apply for system safety acceptance.
The DCA will investigate these issues further and provide feedback to CAASA.
Click here to view the following:
ICASA aircraft radio station licence renewals
Just a friendly reminder that payment for ICASA aircraft radio station licenses that are expiring this year are due by the end of March 2020. Please note that ICASA have a new system for new applications and renewals of the ICASA licences as per the details below.
ICASA are on a new system and the requirement is for you to register online. Once you have created your profile please send Jacqueline Le Roux (JLeRoux@icasa.org.za) the application number you received from the system for the process to be verified. Once process is completed and approved, licenses will be emailed to you and are no longer posted. Please note that the online system can only be used on Google Chrome. In order to renew, you will need to register as a user on the system at the URL: https://online.icasa.org.za/
- You will then receive an e-mail with a link that you need to click to ‘activate’ your registration
- Go to the ‘manage licences’ page and click on ‘amend legacy radio frequency licence’
- Complete ‘existing’ license number
- Complete dates from which you require the license start date is always 01 March to the date you require as 31 March
- Upload copy of existing license as well as proof of payment
- 1 year R 159 expires 31 March 2022
- 2 years R 304 expires 31 March 2023
- 3 years R 436 expires 31 March 2024
- 4 years R 555 expires 31 March 2025
- 5 years R 663 expires 31 March 2026
ICASA Banking details:
NEDBANK Corporate account # 1462 002 927 Branch: 1462 45 00
Should you have any questions, please contact ICASA directly.
Jacqueline 021 561 6812 firstname.lastname@example.org
Elzana 012 568 3333 email@example.com
Kagiso 012 568 3036 firstname.lastname@example.org
Mmathabo 013 001 1367 email@example.com
Deon 051 411 5903 firstname.lastname@example.org
Candice 031 334 9515 email@example.com
Marius 041 394 1623 firstname.lastname@example.org
Airlink launches new West-Coast route connecting Cape Town with Walvis Bay
Privately owned regional airline, Airlink will launch a convenient new direct service between Cape Town and Walvis Bay, commencing on 2 March 2021. The new route is Airlink’s fourth between South Africa and Namibia, with other services linking Cape Town and Windhoek in addition to flights from Johannesburg to Windhoek and Walvis Bay. The route will also enable seamless multi-city travel itineraries for international and local tourists visiting popular destinations in Namibia and South Africa. Airlink will operate the following weekday flights between Cape Town and Walvis Bay on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays:
“This new service is ideal for business and leisure travellers with the port city of Walvis Bay being an important economic hub and gateway to some of Namibia’s prized tourist destinations, including the Namib Dessert, Swakopmund and the Skeleton Coast. Walvis Bay, Langstrand and Swakopmund are also home to a significant community of people who commute between Namibia and South Africa,” explained Airlink CEO, Rodger Foster.
Airlink’s great value for money Economy Class fares include a 20kg free economy class checked in luggage allowance plus a 15kg sporting equipment allowance. Onboard, customers are treated to a complimentary light meal, refreshments, generous leg room and a choice of aisle or window seat (flights do not have middle seats).
Qatar Airways and CemAir implement interline agreement
CemAir is pleased to announce the implementation of an Interline agreement between the carriers. This agreement will allow passengers seamless travel between points in the carriers two networks with the convenience of a single ticket and lower cost. “We are proud of our association with Qatar Airways, one of the world’s leading airlines” said Miles van der Molen, the CEO of CemAir. “Qatar Airways is a strong partner and with the significant changes in the South African airline industry we look forward to working About Qatar Airways”
A multiple award-winning airline, Qatar Airways was named ‘World’s Best Airline’ by the 2019 World Airline Awards, managed by Skytrax. It was also named ‘Best Airline in the Middle East’, ‘World’s Best Business Class’ and ‘Best Business Class Seat’, in recognition of its ground-breaking Business Class experience, Qsuite. The Qsuite seat layout is a 1-2-1 configuration, providing passengers with the most spacious, fully private, comfortable and social distanced Business Class product in the sky. Qsuite is available on flights to more than 45 destinations including Johannesburg, Maldives, Riyadh and Singapore. It is the only airline to have been awarded the coveted ‘Skytrax Airline of the Year’ title, which is recognised as the pinnacle of excellence in the airline industry, five times.
By February, Qatar Airways will operate 26 weekly flights to three key destinations in South Africa to Cape Town, Durban and Johannesburg. The airline now operates over 100 weekly flights to and from 23 African destinations operated by a mix of the airline’s modern fuel-efficient Airbus A350 and Boeing 787 aircraft. The national carrier of the State of Qatar continues to rebuild its global network, which currently stands at over 120 destinations with plans to increase to over 130 by the end of March 2021.
Qatar Airways has become the first global airline in the world to achieve the prestigious 5-Star COVID-19 Airline Safety Rating by international air transport rating organisation, Skytrax. This follows HIA’s recent success as the first airport in the Middle East and Asia to be awarded a Skytrax 5-Star COVID-19 Airport Safety Rating. These recognitions provide assurance to passengers across the world that airline health and safety standards are subject to the highest possible standards of professional, independent scrutiny and assessment. For full details of all the measures that have been implemented onboard and in HIA, please visit qatarairways.com/safety.
Passengers can book flights with peace of mind, knowing that Qatar Airways offers unlimited date changes and fee-free refunds for all tickets issued before 30 April 2021, for travel completed by 31 December 2021. The carrier’s industry-leading flexible booking policy also provides the permanent feature of exchanging tickets for a travel voucher with 10% additional value for all customers booking travel via qatarairways.com. For full terms and conditions visit qatarairways.com/Flexibility.
CemAir is South Africa’s original independent regional airline operating a domestic network to secondary cities and regional centres and expanding into regional flights in 2021.
South African regional airlines get tough over the wearing of masks
This week low-cost carrier, FlySafair, confirmed that passengers who refuse to comply with mandatory face mask laws are discretely handed a warning card. This card details the consequences for continuous refusal, which includes arrest and being added to the ‘no-fly’ list. It also states that the plane’s captain may decide to divert the flight and, if that happens, the offending passenger will be slapped with a R100,000 bill to cover the cost of wasted fuel and admin. Civil Aviation Authorities in South Africa and abroad require all passengers to wear face masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19. These regulations are further reinforced by the country’s laws, which in South Africa’s case, criminalises the refusal to wear a face mask while in public. Airlines that do not enforce the mandatory face mask law risk losing their operating licences. In October 2020, FlySafair Flight FA288 was forced to turn back while taxiing on O.R Tambo International Airport’s runway after a passenger refused to wear a face mask. The passenger was escorted off the aircraft by police.
SAAF helicopters to the rescue
AFB Swartkop-based 17 Squadron dispatched one of its Oryx medium transport helicopters to the Magaliesburg in the North West on receipt of an emergency call from Netcare 911 to SAAF Operations on Saturday. According to Netcare, an adult woman slipped while climbing, fracturing an ankle. First on the scene, in inclement weather, were the Mountain Club of SA, Off-Road Rescue Unit, Mogale City Fire and Rescue and Oostermoed Protection Services. At the fall scene rescuers found the patient in severe pain and suffering hypothermia. The extreme nature of the terrain and safety considerations saw a decision taken to call on the SAAF. The patient was stabilised while waiting for the Oryx to arrive. She was safely hoisted into the workhorse aircraft and flown, with an advanced life support paramedic on board, to a hospital for treatment and further care.
Another call for SAAF assistance came from the Durban station of the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI). An Oryx from 15 Squadron at AFB Durban, currently, the sole aviation occupant of the old Durban International Airport, was tasked to evacuate a 33-year-old Chinese sailor with ‘a serious medical complaint’ from a bulk carrier off Port St Johns. He is understood to have suffered a heart attack. In addition to the SAAF, further support for NSRI Durban in the medical evacuation was provided by three of its rescue swimmers and three Netcare 911 rescue paramedics. The helicopter, its three-member flight crew and rescue personnel rendezvoused with the vessel about 150 nautical miles south of AFB Durban. On arrival they encountered a three-metre swell and winds gusting to 29 knots. The conditions were always considered during both the deployment of paramedics and a swimmer and the subsequent return to aircraft with the stabilised patient in a Stokes basket stretcher. The patient was subsequently safely delivered to a Durban hospital for further treatment and care.
Astral Aviation assists UNICEF to transport COVID-19 vaccines in Africa and the Middle East
Astral Aviation Limited has signed an agreement with UNICEF to support the launch of its Humanitarian Airfreight Initiative for the prioritization of delivery of COVID-19 vaccines, essential medicines, medical devices and other critical supplies to respond to the pandemic. “We are truly honoured to be selected by UNICEF to participate in the Humanitarian Airfreight Initiative, based on our track-record in performing humanitarian flights within Africa and the Middle East during the past twenty years. We will be placing our entire fleet of B747F, B767F, B727F, DC9F, CRJ-200, Fokker 50 and Fokker 27 on high priority, which is critical to the timely and secure delivery of vaccines and critical supplies, as we consider it our moral-obligation to ensure that no person in Africa is left-behind due to lack of aircraft capacity,” re-affirms Astral Aviation’s chief executive officer, Sanjeev Gadhia.
The UNICEF Humanitarian Airfreight Initiative brings together airlines covering routes to over 100 countries, in support of the COVAX Facility – the global effort aimed at equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines. Based on the COVAX Facility’s indicative distribution and first-round allocation plan, 145 countries will receive doses to immunise around three per cent of their population, on average, starting in the first half of 2021, subject to all requirements being met and final allocation plans. In addition to prioritising shipments of these life-saving supplies, Astral Aviation will take measures such as temperature control and security, while also adding freighter capacity to routes where needed. Safe, timely and efficient transportation of life-saving supplies is critical to supporting access to essential services for children and families. COVAX deliveries and the subsequent vaccination of frontline workers will support health and social care systems to safely resume critical services.
DHL Boeing 757 freighter diverts due to cargo door opening
On 13 February 2021, a Boeing 757-200 freighter was scheduled on a flight QY126 from Leipzig Halle Airport (LEJ) to Frankfurt am Main Airport (FRA). The freighter took off from runway 26L, but the pilots had to stop the climb after noticing that freighter doors had flung open. The freighter returned to Leipzig Halle Airport (LEJ) and made an emergency landing on runway 08R approximately 15 minutes after it took off. The Boeing 757-200 stayed on the runway for about 40 minutes after it was shifted to the airport apron.
There were no injuries or substantial aircraft damage reported. Lightweight parts of an aircraft door were ripped off and found on the ground around the coal power plant located near LEJ airport.
Saudi-Led Arab coalition intercepts Houthi drone targeting Abha airport
On Saturday 13 February, the Saudi-led Arab coalition forces intercepted a drone fired by the Houthi militia toward Saudi Arabia’s Abha International Airport. The attacks came just days after the Houthis sparked international condemnation after launching an attack on the airport in the southern Asir region, causing a commercial plane to catch fire. Spokesman Col. Turki Al-Maliki said the attack was a war crime that had threatened the lives of civilian travellers. “We are taking the necessary measures to protect civilians from the threats of the Houthis,” he said.
Meanwhile, Yemen’s government and experts have warned the US administration earlier this week against supporting a hasty peace settlement that does not include disarming the Houthi group. Yemen’s Foreign Minister Ahmed Awadh bin Mubarak reminded US President Joe Biden of his previous commitments in 2012 when he was a vice president to support the Yemeni government during the early days of the transitional period.
IATA health passport app to roll out with 20 airlines
The industry body announced its digital health passport in November and believes it will be a vital tool in convincing governments to unlock their borders and allowing ‘seamless’ journeys as flying picks up again. IATA is working at ‘full capacity’ to roll out the Travel Pass and talking to ‘30 to 40’ additional carriers about adopting its ‘digital platform for passengers’, says head of passenger and security products, Alan Hayden. “Our priority is to start the aviation system again safely,” he told a 9 February webinar hosted by IATA and the World Aviation Festival. “This way we can show governments that it’s safe to travel.”
IATA is not marketing the product directly to consumers, but rather encouraging airlines to incorporate the technology into their own customer apps. It will contain information on what tests, vaccines and other measures passengers require before travel to various destinations; a means of recording their health status and importantly, an internationally consistent and simple way of conveying that to airline and immigration officials. IATA’s is one of several similar initiatives where an app effectively serves as a health passport. They include CommonPass, which is backed by the Rockefeller Foundation and was tested at London’s Heathrow Airport late last year. Emirates and Etihad are among the airlines that have earlier confirmed they will adopt the Travel Pass app. Other airline executives on the webinar panel were enthusiastic about its potential.
Mandatory introduction of effective filtration and warning systems
This week the Global Cabin Air Quality Executive (GCAQE) launched its ‘Clean Air Campaign’ calling on regulators and Governments globally, to mandate the introduction of effective ‘bleed air’ filters and contaminated air warning sensors on passenger aircraft. To support the campaign the GCAQE has released a brief educational film in more than 40 languages. They have also released a short, animated film explaining the basics of the air supply system on aircraft.
The GCAQE campaign is supported by representatives of over one million aviation workers, the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC), the European Transport Workers’ Federation (ETF), the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) and the European Cabin Crew Association (EurECCA).
Films are available at the GCAQE Clean Air Campaign page at: https://www.gcaqe.org/cleanair
Over the past 20 years, there have been over 50 recommendations and findings made by 12 air accident departments globally, directly related to contaminated air exposures on passenger jet aircraft. However, commercial aircraft continue to fly, with no contaminated air warning systems to notify passengers and crews when the air they are breathing is contaminated. The design flaw relates to the way the breathing air supply on all passenger jet aircraft (except the Boeing 787) is supplied. The breathing air is provided to passengers and crews unfiltered directly from the compression section of the engines or from the Auxiliary Power Unit (APU), a small engine in the tail of the aircraft. This is a process known as ‘bleed air’ because it is ‘bled’ from the hot compression section of the engine. The ‘bleed air’ is not filtered and is known to be contaminated with synthetic jet engine oils and hydraulic fluids. The cans of the jet engine oils and hydraulic fluid products that are contaminating the breathing air supply and to which people have been exposed, clearly state:
- Do not breathe mist or vapour from heated product
- Risk of causing cancer
- Risk of infertility
- Risk of neurological effects etc.
The industry frequently states the air quality in a plane is better than in a house or office. Despite this statement, the industry filters the ‘bleed air’ used for the Fuel Tank Inerting System (FTIS). FTIS was introduced after the TWA 800 tragedy to prevent a fuel tank ignition. The FITS system works by providing a nitrogen rich environment in the fuel tank. The system also uses bleed air, but because of the presence of engine oil fumes in the ‘bleed air’ and their adverse effects on the system, this ‘bleed air’ is filtered.
Flight safety has been often compromised due to crew being impaired or even totally incapacitated from exposure to contaminated air. Crews and passengers have suffered both short and long-term health effects because of these exposures. Some crews have been retired due to ill health from these exposures. As documented by Howard et al (2017/2018), when addressing the aetiology of Aerotoxic syndrome, there is evidence that, in addition to the complex mixture of fugitive chemical emissions continually present in cabin air, there is also an aerosol of ultrafine particles (UFPs), bringing important health consequences of chronical exposure to an aerosol of UFPs.
Good news for US airlines: $14 billion bailout and no domestic testing
Lawmakers in the United States approved a $14 billion bailout package to support the country’s airlines and their workers through September 2021. The House of Representatives Financial Services Committee voted in favour of the third bailout package for the country’s airlines. As part of the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package offered by the Joe Biden administration, US airlines will receive $14 billion for payroll support, as well as $1 billion dedicated for contractors. The approved state aid is estimated to save around 30,000 aviation jobs through September 2021.
Furthermore, on 12 February 2021, the White House gave in to the pressure from the airline industry and announced it was dropping the plan of mandatory COVID-19 testing for domestic flights. Shortly after, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention said that “at this time, CDC is not recommending required point of departure testing for domestic travel.”
On 10 February 2021, the United States House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee approved $8 billion to US airports and $3 billion for a temporary payroll support program for aerospace manufacturers.
On 3 February 2021, American Airlines (A1G) (AAL) announced it would send furlough notices to about 13,000 employees as a second round of government’s payroll aid was expiring. Earlier in January 2021, United Airlines also sent furlough warnings to 14,000 staff members.
What is next: sustainability or supersonic flight?
Historically speaking, aviation has always been a gas-guzzling business. As the world demands a new and more sustainable approach to travel, industry and everyday life, the aviation sector refuses to be left behind. While major aircraft companies like Airbus and Boeing focus on minimising fuel consumption, other start-ups see potential in supersonic flight. The question arises: what is next in business aviation, are we going to fly slower, but with zero-emissions, or break the supersonic barrier in fuel-powered aircraft and circumnavigate the world in a matter of hours? While there is no clear answer to this question, the arguments being made for both modes of transportation are worthwhile.
Beginning in 2021, a large part of international air traffic will be subject to the Carbon Offset and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA), requiring aircraft operators to buy carbon offsets as compensation for their carbon emissions exceeding a 2020 baseline. As a result, zero-emissions aircraft would be a cheaper option when compared to airplanes powered by fossil fuels. At the same time, aircraft that can be operated sustainably can push society towards a circular economy, further driving down reliance on finite resources such as oil and gas.
On the other hand, the benefits provided by supersonic flight are no less important. Being able to bridge the gap between London and Sydney in 5-6 hours, could speed up the development of economies, supporting not only global prosperity but benefiting the industry in the long run. However, with the currently available technology, the supersonic flight may be the one sector where sustainability would be out of the question.
Since the majority of sound-barrier breaking aircraft are equipped with fuel-thirsty jet engines, the fuel consumption is unmistakably significant, to say the least. Additionally, supersonic aircraft are mostly designed as VIP or private transport, flying only a handful of people, which significantly increases the fuel consumption per passenger per km flown. As a result, the supersonic flight may be a quick, but hardly a sustainable option until innovation allows supersonic jets to be equipped with hydrogen fuel cells or other environmentally friendly propulsion methods.
Perhaps the utilisation of only zero-emission aircraft or supersonic aircraft is not the best solution? Exercising both types of transportation in combination entails its benefits. This could allow users of private and business aviation to practice sustainable options during day-to-day commutes and pre-planned travel. However, and in contrast, the use of supersonic jets becomes convenient when responding to unexpected emergencies through its ability to attain greater speeds.
Embraer delivers 71 jets in Q4, 130 total in 2020
Brazilian manufacturer Embraer said it delivered 71 jets in the fourth quarter of 2020, of which 28 were commercial aircraft and 43 were executive jets (23 light and 20 large), which represents a decrease of 10 aircraft in the quarter in comparison with the fourth quarter of 2019. The company delivered a total of 130 jets in 2020, comprised of 44 commercial aircraft and 86 executive jets (56 light and 30 large), which represents a decrease of almost 35 percent compared to 2019, when 198 jets were delivered.
Although deliveries accelerated during the fourth quarter of 2020 relative to the three previous quarters, they were heavily impacted, mostly in commercial aviation, due to COVID-19 pandemic. As of 31 December, the firm order backlog totalled US$14.4 billion.
During the fourth quarter, Embraer Executive Jets delivered the first of the Praetor 600 fleet to Flexjet, the Praetor fleet launch customer. The business unit also announced a collaboration with Porsche to create Duet, a limited-edition Embraer Phenom 300E aircraft and Porsche 911 TurboS car pairing. In commercial aviation, the Belarusian national air carrier Belavia took delivery of its first E195-E2 jet.
Embraer announces Praetor 600 earns Canadian type certificate
The company also announced the Praetor 600 super-midsize business jet was granted a type certificate by Transport Canada Civil Aviation (TCCA). The Praetor 600 is capable of flying beyond 4,000 nautical miles in long-range cruise speed or beyond 3,700 nautical miles at Mach .80 from runways shorter than 4,500 feet. Embraer announced the first delivery of the new Praetor 600 in June of 2019 and in late 2020 delivered the first Praetor 600 to fleet launch customer Flexjet.
French Regulator: 5G phones may interfere with aircraft
The latest generation of smartphones, 5G, can interfere with aircraft altitude instruments, the French Civil Aviation Authority warned as it recommended, they should be turned off during flight. The potential phenomenon is due to ‘signal interference from a close frequency source of a strength that is similar or even superior to that of altimeters.’ This interference can cause errors ‘in instruments that are extremely critical during landing,’ the agency said. It sent a bulletin on the issue to airlines last week, recommending that 5G phones should either be turned off completely or placed in ‘airplane mode’ during flight. Most countries have long required that mobile phones be turned off or placed in airplane mode due to concerns that previous generations of mobile telecommunications networks can interfere with a plane’s navigation and communication equipment.
Airbus H160 enters oil and gas market
The Airbus H160 twin-engine utility helicopter is entering the oil and gas market as part of a support contract for Shell in the Gulf of Mexico. The deal includes four H160s, which will be flown by Louisiana-based offshore helicopter operator PHI. Airbus says it plans to provide one H160 to PHI and Shell ahead of final deliveries as part of a one-year-long route-proving programme.
The Safran Arrano 1A-powered H160 has a top speed of 150 knots, range of 475 NM and useful load of 4,409 pounds. It flew for the first time in June 2015 and received its type certification from the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) in July 2020. The H160 can carry up to 12 passengers and is equipped with the Airbus Helicopters-designed Helionix avionics system.
Spike Aerospace and Tech Mahindra partner on supersonic jet development
On Tuesday 16 February Spike Aerospace and Tech Mahindra formalised plans to collaborate on the development of the Spike S-512 supersonic business jet with the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MOU). According to Spike, Mahindra will bring expertise in areas including composite airframe design, stress analysis and optimisation. Spike has also formed partnerships with Siemens, MAYA Simulation, Greenpoint Technologies, BRPH and Quartus Engineering.
Introduced in 2013, the twin-engine S-512 ‘low-boom’ supersonic jet is expected to have a top cruise speed of Mach 1.6, range of 6,200 NM and seating for up to 18 passengers. Spike says aircraft noise levels will be less than 75 PLdB at ground level. The $100 million-plus S-512 will feature a windowless cabin with full-length panoramic display screens, 360-degree high-definition external cameras and a customizable interior.
India orders 83 improved Tejas Fighter Jets more evolutions may follow
At a ceremony at Yelahanka airbase in Bangalore on Wednesday, Indian aircraft manufacturer Hindustan Aerospace Limited (HAL) signed onto a $6.58 billion agreement to deliver 73 new Tejas Mark 1A Light Combat Aircraft jets and 10 Tejas Mark 1 two-seat training jets to the Indian Air Force.
The order, which received preliminary approval from Prime Minister Modi’s cabinet in January, actually falls a bit under the anticipated request for 83 Mark 1As and 18 trainers, perhaps due to financial exigencies imposed by the Covid-19 pandemic.
This order supplements the initial order for 40 of the base Mark 1 model, (including eight trainers) roughly halfway through delivery to the Indian Air Force. One squadron, No. 45 Flying Daggers, currently operates the type. HAL has struggled to speed up annual deliveries of Tejas jets, but these are now are supposedly set to increase to 16 per year in 2021 due to outsourcing and the opening of a second production line. The Mark 1A may reportedly make its first flight late 2022 or 2023, with final delivery expected by 2026. In many ways, India and HAL are counting on major improvements in the Mark 1A to validate India’s ongoing investment in the Tejas. If successful, the improved model could pave the way for higher-capability evolutions of the Tejas airframe.
Two years after production cancellation, there is little hope for Airbus A380
Perhaps no other Valentine’s Day was more bittersweet for AvGeeks than that of 2019, when Airbus and Emirates jointly announced that the day was set for the end of production of the Airbus A380. The Dubai-based airline switched up its order book and opted for the smaller and much more economical A350. Ever since, the situation has only gotten worse, as the pandemic has upended the business model that the Airbus A380 most relied on, feeding traffic through a hub onto a Super Jumbo. While the industry’s bodies have provided various predictions of when aviation will eventually recover, little hope was provided for the comeback of the quad-engine aircraft, including the A380.
Many operators of the double-decker have permanently phased out their Airbus A380 aircraft, as the economics of the jet simply does not make a positive impact on an airline’s final line. Even though there were some signs of positivity, recently shared by executives from airlines that have the A380 in their fleet, its days are still numbered. However, for those unlucky that are yet to do so, there will be some opportunities to fly the aircraft before it sadly disappears from the skies forever.
Perhaps, the best indication of the A380s eventual demise could be retraced to the same Valentine’s Day of 2019, when the Dubai-based airline and the manufacturer came to an agreement to reshuffle the former’s order book. On that fatal to the Airbus A380 day, the two parties announced that Emirates will axe 39 orders for the Super Jumbo, finalising the number of double-deckers it would eventually operate to a maximum of 123. To replace the void, the flag carrier of Dubai would take 40 A330-900 and 30 A350-900 aircraft. Seemingly, that agreement was not finalised, as a few months later, the manufacturer announced that Emirates ordered 50 Airbus A350 aircraft in November 2019.
Analysts urge Boeing to launch a mid-market jet
Aerospace analysts are increasingly in agreement that Boeing must build a new narrow body jet, lest it lose a huge chunk of valuable market share to competitor Airbus. Speaking during PNAA Advance, an event hosted by the Pacific Northwest Aerospace Alliance, the analysts expressed the same sentiment: Boeing has little choice but to strike back against Airbus.
On 10 February Teal Group analyst Richard Aboulafia said, “If Boeing does nothing, this is an enormous chunk of the market that is lost to them. There is a huge threat here, but also a huge opportunity.”
Michel Merluzeau, analyst with aerospace consultancy AIR said, “We still see a need for a new mid-market aircraft considering the current gap in the product line-up”.
The comments come several weeks after Boeing chief executive David Calhoun said his company was still evaluating whether to launch a new ‘mid-market’ jet. Such an aircraft would check Airbus’s A321neo and replace old 757s. Airlines began clamouring for narrow bodies with extended range even before the pandemic decimated air travel last year and as the industry recovers, analysts suspect airlines will need more such aircraft.
Airbus has seen strong sales for A321neos, particularly for two longer-range variants: the 4,000nm (7,400km)-range A321LR and the in-development, 4,700nm-range A321XLR. According to Cirium fleet data, Airbus holds about 3,000 A321neo orders. By comparison, Boeing holds orders for about 460 737 Max 10s, which aligns most-closely with the A321neo but carries fewer passengers and has less range, about 3,300nm.
Aboulafia views the A321neo as the aircraft that will enable Airbus in the coming decade to capture 60% of large airliner market, up from about 50% today. The A321neo “becomes the wedge by which Airbus gets to 60%,” he says. “It is really tough to recovery a market share drops like that.” Still, Aboulafia gives Boeing only a 40-45% chance of pulling the trigger on a new mid-market aircraft.
FAA has cleared the world’s first flying car for take-off
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has awarded Terrafugia’s Transition ‘roadable aircraft’ a Special Light-Sport Aircraft airworthiness certificate. Based in Massachusetts, Terrafugia called the certificate issuance a ‘significant milestone’ for its eventual use in both the air and on the street. The two-seat flying car will need to meet safety standards from the FAA and the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The vehicle that received the certificate is legal for flight and represents the initial version of the Transition roadable aircraft. Terrafugia will produce and sell additional initial (flight-only) versions to interested parties and will evolve the driving portion of the Transition® design, with the goal of being legal both in the sky and on local roads in 2022.
Twice Weekly News from African Pilot
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Until Monday, please be ‘Serious about flying’.
Athol Franz (Editor)