“The more one considers the matter, the clearer it becomes that redistribution is in effect far less a redistribution of free income from the richer to the poorer, as we imagined, than a redistribution of power from the individual to the State”
Bertrand de Jouvenel
African Pilot’s aircraft of the week identification quiz
2. Sector 2 – Teardrop Entry
3. Sector 3 – Direct Entry
The Department of Public Enterprises (DPE) has hit back at disgruntled pilots who criticised its recent flight to Brussels to pick up a batch of COVID-19 vaccines. Grant Back, a commercial airline pilot and chairman of the South African Airways Pilots Association (SAAPA), previously called the flight a waste of money, stating that it would cost around R5 million to fly the Airbus A340-600 to and from Brussels. “The only thing I can think of is that this is a photo opportunity or a publicity stunt,” Back said.
The DPE has hit back at these comments, stating that this criticism is the result of a minority of SAA pilots trying to protect their own self-interests and pockets. “This flight was also a test relaunch of the SAA Cargo business,” the DPE said. “Many airlines around the world, including Lufthansa and Ethiopian, have intensified their cargo businesses while the passenger loads declined sharply, to bring in revenue. There will be many such flights by SAA in the months to come.” It said the Brussels flight is proof that a restructured and well-managed airline operated in a professional and sustainable manner can support key economic sectors.
Cargo will be profitable – DPE: “This relaunch of the cargo business serves many purposes: increase the volumes of cargo transported by SAA into and out of SA; ensure that sovereign logistics capacity is sustained, just as when repatriation flights to bring back home South Africans stranded in various parts of the world under level 5 lockdown,” the DPE said. “Over time cargo will become a profitable business. Partnerships with the private sector will be considered at the appropriate time. These flights will become commercially viable.” The DPE said, this flight carried goods to Brussels and will return with more cargo on the return leg to ensure that the overall operation is cost-effective. The DPE said claims by Back and other disgruntled pilots that the flight was expensive are incorrect and only serve to sabotage the relaunch of SAA Cargo.
SAAPA protecting extortionist agreement: The DPE said SAAPA is bent on discrediting the relaunch of flights at SAA as this is occurring without their members, which the department added are a minority of SAA pilots. “They have raised unfounded allegations of safety in the last week regarding the preparations for vaccine repatriation flight,” the DPE said. “They are now raising a new allegation about the financial viability of the flight.”
It argued that this is all being done to protect an extortionist Regulatory Agreement, which ensured that pilots who are 11% of SAA staff get a massive 65% of the salary bill and certain strategic decisions at the airline could not be affected without their consent. “For the DPE and SAA Business Rescue Practitioners, the agreement is not only unlawful because it holds back the transformation and does not allow progress of black pilots as designated in the Employment Equity Act,” the department said.
It said this agreement will not carry on in future, adding that the attack by this group of pilots is short-sighted and self-destructive.
We will not be blackmailed: “By providing this kind unwarranted attack on SAA Cargo, this minority pilot group is holding SAA to hostage and attempting to destroy the very employer who could provide them with the continuation of their professional practise in years to come,” the DPE said. “One can only marvel at the dishonesty of SAAPA who in the past argued that SAA would make money by running a cargo business, yet the association is now hell-bent on sabotaging the transportation of vaccine and other cargo back into the country.” It said SAAPA must decide whether to be part of the restoration of SAA or an obstruction to this end. “The association should take heed of the exodus of their members that have chosen to organise separately and embrace the new SAA vision and not be trapped in the mindless war of attrition being waged by SAAPA,” the DPE added.
You can make up your own minds about this wasteful expenditure. The South African government’s decision to send an empty SAA Airbus A340-600 aircraft to fetch a batch of Johnson & Johnson vaccines from Brussels is a waste of money. This is the view of Grant Back, commercial airline pilot and chairman of the South African Airways Pilots Association. The flight was initially set to depart on Sunday 21 February but was grounded for a few days as it was not up to global aviation standards. ENCA reported that there are around four to five cabin crew on the flight and that the chief pilot is Vusi Khumalo.
Speaking to ENCA, Back said the aircraft which is used for this flight is an Airbus A340-600 – a long-range, wide-body passenger jet airliner capable of carrying 379 passengers. It costs R200,000 per hour to fly this aircraft. With a flight time of around 10.5 hours to Brussels, it will cost over R4 million for a return flight. Add other costs like overflight clearances and landing fees and the total price tag to bring home one pallet of 80,000 vaccines is around R5 million. If this was the only option to get the vaccines to South Africa, Back said they would have supported it without hesitation. However, there are much cheaper options, which has been used before. “You can get a lot more vaccines into the belly space of a commercial aircraft that is flying to South Africa with passengers,” he said. To use an empty Airbus A340-600 with 4 engines to fly to Europe and back for a single pallet of vaccines is a waste of money. “The only thing I can think of is that this is a photo opportunity or a publicity stunt,” he said.
African Pilot’s March 2021 edition
The March edition featuring Turboprop aircraft, turboprop engines and propellers is complete and will be distributed today. This feature also includes 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’s April 2021 edition
The April edition will feature Business Jets, FBOs and Jet engines worldwide. We will also feature those companies involved in the Charter and Maintenance of Business Jets not just in southern Africa, but throughout the world. In the past, advertisers have reported excellent reaction resulting in sales due to the African Pilot aircraft features, since the magazine provides genuine information, not just cover to cover advertising with little editorial content. We are offering all Business Jet and Jet Engine sales representatives the advertising opportunities to accompany this specific feature.
African Pilot Digital Calendars
Wallpaper calendar for the months of February and March
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 to download, print or use as your computer’s background wallpaper. Go to our website to download the calendars in three different resolutions.
GPS units for sale – contact Athol Franz 082 552 2940 or E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
Video of the week:
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.
EAA Chapter 322 monthly meeting and more
Many thanks to all those who attended our combined Chapter 932 and 322 gathering earlier this month. Feedback from both sides of the Atlantic indicates the gathering was well received and enjoyed by all. A big thank you to all who participated and helped in putting that evening together!
Drive-in night Jack Taylor Krugersdorp – postponed
Please remember that, due to lockdown restrictions at the time, a decision was made to postpone the Drive-in night at Krugersdorp this Saturday night (27th February 2020). Instead, we will be holding a fly-in and drive-in night on Saturday 27 March at Krugersdorp airfield. Diarise this event.
Monthly meeting Wednesday 3 March 2021
On Wednesday 3 March Chapter 322 will stage its next monthly gathering, this will be a zoom event and will feature an interesting talk by Sean Cronin, with details of his recent trip to Tanzania, as well as a CRM safety talk by Mango Captain Rob Brand. Connect virtually for our meeting as follows:
Time: 18h30 Start
Zoom: Connect from 18h00
Meeting ID: 85971564317
What happened in aviation over the past week?
SAPFA Rand Airport Challenge – Saturday 27 February
On Saturday Frank and Cally Eckard planned the route that was flown by 12 teams over slightly more than 100 nautical miles towards the south of the airfield. Although the early morning weather appeared to be challenging with low clouds, the day cleared up somewhat and the task was completed by all the teams. The rally was won by Jonty Esser and Sandi Goddard flying their Cessna 150, with Adrian Pilling and Mary de Klerk in second place flying a rented Cessna 172. The full set of results, with a video of the event will be published in the April 2021 edition of African Pilot.
What is scheduled for the next few months?
African Pilot’s 2021 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.
EAA Chapter 322 monthly meeting virtual and MOTH hall
Contact Neil Bowden E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Cell: 084 674 5674
SAPFA Morningstar ANR Morningstar Airfield
Contact Tony Russell E-mail: email@example.com Cell: 0832640107
Air Navigation Rally Wonderboom Airport
For more information go to www.myaviationlife.com/rally
6 & 7 March
Sport Aerobatic Club Judges Trophy Venue TBA
Contact Annie Boon E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
12 & 13 March
Bethlehem Aero Club event TBA
Contact Stephan Fourie E-mail: email@example.com Cell: 072 344 9678
Aero Club of South Africa AGM venue TBA
Contact Rob Jonkers E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Cell: 082 804 7032
19 and 20 March
FASHKOSH airshow at Stellenbosch airfield
Contact: Anton Theart E-mail: email@example.com Cell: 079 873 4567
22 to 25 March
HAI Helicopter Association International La Nouvelle New Orleans Los Angeles USA
Contact E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Cancelled for 2021 – rescheduled for 2022
24 to 26 March
Aerospace and Defence Trade Show (ATDS 2021) Lanseria International Airport
Contact Louise Olckers (GM) Cell: 082 847 3403
SAPFA Brakpan Fun Rally at Stellenbosch airfield
Contact Frank Eckard E-mail: email@example.com Cell: 083 269 1516
26 & 27 March
Uitenhage Wings and Wheels
Contact Lourens Kruger E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Cell: 082 320 2615
2 to 5 April
Sandstone Steam Festival – train rides all day from 10h00
Contact 051 933 2235 Website: www.sandstone-estates.com
Garden Route Airshow at George Airport
Contact Brett Scheuble E-mail: email@example.com Cell: 084 418 3836
EAA Chapter 322 monthly meeting virtual and MOTH hall
Contact Neil Bowden E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Cell: 084 674 5674
Robertson Flying Club annual breakfast fly-in with spot landing competition
Contact Alwyn du Plessis E-mail: email@example.com Cell: 083 270 5888
17 & 18 April
Sports Aerobatics Club Eastern Cape Regionals Wings Park Airfield
Contact Annie Boon E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
15 & 17 April
SAPFA Rally Nationals and Fun Rally – Stellenbosch Airfield
Contact Frank Eckard E-mail: email@example.com Cell: 083 269 1516
EAA South Africa at Middelburg Airfield AGM details to be announced
24 & 27 April
Aero Club Airweek at Middelburg Airfield
Contact Rob Jonkers E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Cell: 082 804 7032
SAPFA Middelburg Speed Rally at Middelburg Airfield
Contact Jonty Esser E-mail: email@example.com Cell: 082 855 9435
As further dates are sent to me, I will continue to update the aviation calendar.
Kenya and Nigeria authorise return of 737 MAX
Both Kenya’s Civil Aviation Authority and Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) have announced the lifting of the ban on Boeing 737 MAX aircraft, following two deadly crashes in Ethiopia and Indonesia. NCAA Director General Captain Musa Nuhu said the aircraft model had been granted approval to operate in Nigeria’s airspace following the recertification and Airworthiness Directive (AD) issued by the United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). “All national operators intending to operate must work with the Boeing company and the NCAA for the Aircraft Type Certificate Acceptance Programme in order for the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft to be registered in Nigeria and issued a Certificate of Airworthiness Standard,” outlined Nuhu. “All foreign air operators who intend to operate the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft in Nigeria must provide evidence of compliance with the FAA’s airworthiness directive.”
Nigerian airlines with 737 MAXs on order include Air Peace (ten 737 MAX 8s), Arik Air (eight 737 MAX 8s) and Green Africa Airways (50 firm orders and 50 options), according to the CAPA fleet database. In December 2018, Lagos-based Green Africa Airways announced a commitment for up to 100 737 MAX 8 aircraft, evenly split into 50 firm aircraft order and 50 options, representing the largest Boeing aircraft deal for the African continent. While none of Kenya’s airlines currently operate the Boeing 737 MAX, the recertification will allow other carriers, such as Ethiopian Airlines and Turkish Airlines, to fly the MAX into Kenya’s airspace. “The airlines are free to fly Boeing 737 Max to Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, there are no restrictions that we are going to impose,” said Gilbert Kibe, the KCAA’s Director General. However, Ethiopian Airlines CEO Tewolde Gebremariam indicated that the airline would restart the Boeing 737 MAX operations only in July 2021. Currently, Ethiopian Airlines has four Boeing 737 MAX 8s in its fleet, which have been parked at Addis Ababa Bole International Airport (ADD).
Private Mirage F1 ‘aggressor’ crashes on landing at Tyndall AFB
A Mirage F1B operated by Airborne Tactical Advantage Company (ATAC) crashed at the end of the runway of Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida, in the United States. The two pilots sustained injuries and were transported to a nearby hospital. Their condition did not appear critical. Available flight tracking data shows that shortly after taking off from Tyndall AFB, the aircraft started to fly in circles above the ocean. That specific flight trajectory could indicate that an issue was detected during take-off and that the pilots had attempted to burn some fuel before returning to their departure point. Upon landing, the fighter crashed off the end of the flight line. One of the pilots ejected, ATAC told Military.com. The issue that led to the crash is currently unknown. The aircraft is part of the fleet of 63 Dassault Mirage F1 fighter jets acquired by ATAC for a total value of €25 million in July 2017. They previously belonged to the French Air Force. The fleet arrived at Tyndall AFB on 17 December 2020, where they are to support the tactical airborne training and adversary air live training of F-22 Raptor and F-35 Lightning pilots.
The Mirage F1B involved in the crash, registered as N601AX, was the first to take off on 22 August 2019. Back then, the fighter jet was still sporting the special livery created for its retirement flight above the Champs Elysees during France’s national day parade on 14 July 2014.
FAA and American Airlines confirm report of Airbus encounter with UFO
Both the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and American Airlines (A1G) (AAL) confirmed the Airbus pilot’s report of an encounter with an unidentified flying object. The object was said to be seen by the crew of Airbus A320 on American Airlines Flight 2292 on 21 February 2021 over New Mexico. On route from Cincinnati to Phoenix, the aircraft was buzzed by a ‘long cylindrical object’. The pilots contacted a traffic control center. Their conversation was picked up by the aviation blogger Steve Douglas and later reported by The Warzone, which tried to obtain a comment from various sources connected to the incident.
According to the media, American Airlines (A1G) (AAL) confirmed that the recorded transmission is genuine and encouraged reporters to ‘reach out to the FBI’. On 24 February, the FAA also responded to an inquiry. The agency confirmed the pilot’s account as well but noted that ‘FAA air traffic controllers did not see any object in the area on their radarscopes.’ The pilot described the unidentified object as a ‘cruise missile type of thing – moving really fast’. The account falls in line with documents declassified by the Pentagon in April 2020, as well as some other descriptions of cylindrical shapes encountered by pilots.
Concerned about UFO sightings, Pentagon launches new taskforce: Shortly after footage of multiple UFO sightings was declassified, the Pentagon is about to create a new task force that will investigate those ‘encounters of the first kind.’ A similar encounter was also documented in April 2018, when Learjet 36 of Phoenix Air and Airbus A321 of American Airlines (A1G) (AAL) have both reported a strange object passing over them near the New Mexico border. The region is known for high activity of military aircraft due to the abundance of airbases nearby. Despite that, according to Steve Douglas, no flights matching the place and time were registered by flight monitoring services.
Go-around goes awry
The flight instructor in the retractable landing gear Mooney M20J reported that, during final to the airport in Ridgeland, S.C., there were no abnormal weather conditions, but as the airplane passed over the runway threshold, the airplane encountered ‘severe wind shear’ that he believed to be a ‘microburst.’ The airplane pitched up, rolled left and they added full power to go-around. During the go-around, the instructor took control of the airplane and left the landing gear down, full flaps and propeller full forward. He added that, the airplane ‘simply’ did not have enough performance to climb. Subsequently, the airplane drifted left of the runway and hit a gravel hill. The airplane sustained substantial damage to the fuselage and right wing.
The flight instructor reported that there were no pre-accident mechanical failures or malfunctions with the airplane that would have precluded normal operation. The automated weather observation system about 14 nautical miles from the airport reported that, about the time of the accident, the wind was variable at three knots, temperature 73°F, dew point 68°F and altimeter 30.14 inches of mercury and cloud condition was reported as FEW at 500 feet. The airplane landed on Runway 3. The pilot reported the weather at the airport was wind light and variable not gusting, visibility 10 miles, and FEW clouds at 2,000 feet.
GAMA: General Aviation Aircraft shipments dip in pandemic year
On Wednesday GAMA reported that the Pilatus PC-24 bucked the trend last year that saw business jet deliveries fall about 20 percent. As Pilatus ramped up production of its twinjet, the Swiss aircraft manufacturer saw PC-24 deliveries tick up a unit to 41 last year. General aviation fixed-wing shipments and billings predictably dropped across the board in 2020 thanks to the pandemic, with business jet deliveries the hardest hit, down by 20.4 percent. However, pockets of the market fared better; piston deliveries were off by just 0.9 percent, leading to an overall decline of 9.7 percent in GA airplane deliveries and 14.8 percent in billings on the year. In all, the industry shipped 2,399 fixed-wing aircraft valued at $20 billion in 2020, compared with 2,658 valued at $23.5 billion a year earlier
On the rotorcraft side, total deliveries fell 17.7 percent to 674, while billings declined 16.2 percent to $2.7 billion. This compares with 819 civil rotorcraft shipped and $3.2 billion in billings in 2019. (Leonardo has not yet reported its year-end totals and is not included in the current year-end comparisons.)
During 2020, manufacturers handed over 644 business jets, compared with 809 a year earlier. Most business-jet OEMs saw deliveries slide on the year; Bombardier was down 28 units, Gulfstream (-20), Dassault (-6), Embraer (-23), Textron Aviation (-74) and Honda Aircraft (-1). Cirrus saw deliveries of its SF50 single-engine jet, which has become the most delivered jet airplane annually, slide by eight units, to 73. Pilatus, still ramping up on its PC-24 light jet programme, saw deliveries tick up a unit to 41.
However, the decline in the business jet segment was better than the original predictions of a 25 percent-plus drop, “so it is getting much better,” said GAMA chairman Nicolas Chabbert, who is senior VP of Daher’s Aircraft division and CEO of Daher Aircraft and Kodiak Aircraft.
As for turboprops, deliveries dropped 15.6 percent from 525 in 2019, to 443 last year. Billings were down 17.7 percent to $1.4 billion. The single-engine turboprops had a slightly stronger year, down 11 percent. Pilatus fared strongly on this end as well with just a single unit drop to 82 PC-12s on the year. Deliveries of Daher’s TBM and Kodiak single turboprops, meanwhile, were down 15, to 53, in 2020. Textron Aviation saw its King Air deliveries slide by 31 units, to 62.
But during a pandemic when general aviation private flying continued as other types of other operations slowed or ceased, piston aircraft deliveries proved more resilient, down just 12 units, to 1,312. Textron Aviation’s Skyhawk buffered that decline, with deliveries almost doubling from 126 in 2019 to 241 last year. Billings for the segment dipped 7.3 percent to $716 million. Chabbert noted that for the sixth year in a row, Asia-Pacific was second only behind the North American market for piston aircraft demand. This demand highlights the need for pilot training, he said, adding this bodes well for continued market strength there in the future. The need for pilots is still high, he said, noting that student starts were up three percent in the US in 2020 with almost 50,000 students.
2020 also saw the first electric aircraft certified, the two-seat Pipistrel Velis Electro, Chabbert noted. Looking forward to this year, he said, “It will be important for the General Aviation industry to work together with our commercial sector colleagues to keep our interlinked but very fragile supply chain secure, while continuing to engage global regulatory authorities to leverage their mutually recognised safety competencies to keep pace with accelerating technological innovations that improve aviation safety and environmental sustainability and facilitate industry recovery.” Chabbert also pointed to constraints associated with the pandemic, including supply chain issues and restrictions. But he said the 2020 results “are not representing the level of demand, which remains very high. Our industry is resilient. I am very optimistic for 2021.”
Boeing required to pay $6.6 million in penalties to FAA
The FAA assessed $5.4 million in deferred penalties under the terms of the 2015 agreement because Boeing missed some of its improvement targets and because some company managers did not sufficiently prioritise compliance with FAA regulations. The 2015 agreement prevents Boeing from appealing the FAA’s penalty assessment and the five-year term of this agreement has ended. Previously Boeing paid $12 million in civil penalties as an initial condition of the 2015 agreement. The terms of this new settlement were reached at the end of December 2020.
Boeing also will pay $1.21 million to settle two enforcement cases. One case alleged the company implemented an improper structure of its FAA-approved Organisation Designation Authorisation (ODA) programme and exerted undue pressure or interfered with ODA unit members. The other case alleged it failed to follow its quality-control processes and subjected ODA members to undue pressure or interference in relation to an aircraft airworthiness inspection.
The FAA will be vigilant in its oversight of Boeing’s engineering and production activities and is actively implementing the certification reform and oversight provisions of the 2020 Aircraft Certification, Safety and Accountability Act. This legislation will allow FAA to assess even greater civil penalties against manufacturers that exert undue pressure on ODA unit members.
Boeing 737 MAX flights to be tracked via satellites
As the Boeing 737 MAX is slowly returning to the skies; the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) will use satellites to monitor its every flight worldwide. The FAA will be checking the performance of each 737 MAX flight using a technology that sends data from an airplane via satellites. It is the first time the agency is using such technology to keep an eye on a single-model aircraft to detect any issues early on. The system ‘will flag deviations from certain parameters during all phases of flight and alert the FAA’s aviation safety division,’ the federal agency told the Seattle Times. ‘Safety engineers and inspectors will use the early notification to further analyse the incident.’
Aireon, an air traffic surveillance company based in McLean, Virginia, was contracted to track every MAX flight using an Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast system (ADS-B). The system will be streaming data from the aircraft every half second to the FAA Technical Center in New Jersey. ADS-B provides more accurate tracking than the standard radar system as it can track aircraft over the oceans, the Earth’s poles or inaccessible terrains. Every new Airbus or Boeing jet is equipped with an ADS-B transmitter that broadcasts the date from each individual plane. “There is 70 percent of the world’s airspace that has no surveillance coverage,” said Aireon CEO Don Thoma. “That includes the oceans and mountainous regions.” When Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 disappeared into the ocean with 239 people aboard in 2014, the ADS-B system was not yet in place. Aireon aims to provide tracking that would prevent such incidents in the future.
The MAX tracking will also provide daily reports on routine operations, how many times the flights took off on a given day, the duration, and any anomalies detected. On 18 November 2020, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) of the United States became the first authority to recertify the Boeing 737 MAX. The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), Transport Canada (TC), Brazil’s National Civil Aviation Agency (ANAC), Britain’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) have also recertified the Boeing 737 MAX, allowing it to resume commercial service again.
Airbus and Air Methods sign additional HCare support contract for fleet of 80 EC135s
Air Methods Corporation has signed another HCare support contract with Airbus Helicopters Inc., this time to cover its fleet of EC135 helicopters – the largest HCare contract signed with any civil customer to date. The order expands the number of Air Methods aircraft covered by Airbus support and services to 111, making Air Methods the largest HCare-covered single-operator civil helicopter fleet in the world.
“Safety and being ready and available are the keys to the success of our critical care mission,” said Leo Morrissette, EVP Operations. “To support our high demand operation, we value strong working partnerships with industry OEM’s and this contract formalises and optimises the process between Air Methods and Airbus in order to focus on delivery, results and a path to continuous improvement.”
Air Methods is the largest civil operator of Airbus helicopters worldwide and the leading air medical service provider, delivering lifesaving care to more than 70,000 people annually. With nearly 40 years of air medical experience, Air Methods is the preferred partner for hospitals and one of the largest providers of air medical services. HCare is Airbus’ comprehensive support and service package, which allows customers to choose a flexible and highly customisable plan to meet their needs, from maintenance and technical support to the supply of spare parts, tools, consumables and even flight operations and training. By joining HCare, customers can better plan and budget for operating costs, now and in the future. More customers are turning to Airbus to support their aircraft, with particular growth in the air medical segment, where operators are looking more and more to benefit from predictable costs, budget security and ease of management.
Embraer Phenom 300 becomes most delivered twin business jet in 2020
According to numbers released by the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) last week, for the ninth consecutive year, Embraer’s Phenom 300 series has become the world’ best-selling light jet. Embraer delivered 50 Phenom 300 series light jets in 2020. Embraer has delivered 590 Phenom 300 series jets since entering the market in December 2009. Originally launched in 2005, the Phenom 300 series is in operation in more than 30 countries and has accumulated more than one million flight hours. Embraer is continuously investing in the competitiveness of the Phenom 300E with enhancements to its comfort, technology, performance and operational efficiency resulting in the highest residual value in the market.
USAF takes delivery of first Wolverine light attack aircraft
The United States Air Force received its first Textron / Beech AT-6E Wolverine, as announced by the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center (AFLCMC), located at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. The Beechcraft T-6C has been used by the USAF as a training aircraft since 2003. Three of its light attack variants will now be used in the Airborne Extensible Relay Over-Horizon Network (AEROnet) programme, which aims at developing a low-cost communications and data link system to ‘digitally links friendly forces, providing them with their own location, the location of other friendly forces and real-time enemy movement updates.’
In addition to the ability to carry and fire different weapons, this aircraft is prepared to perform intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions. To save on costs, off-the-shelf solutions were used, including the mission computer of the A-10C Warthog and HOTAS-type (hands on lever and throttle) controls inspired by the F-16 Fighting Falcon. The Textron AT-6E Wolverine recently competed with the Embraer A-29 Super Tucano in the Light Attack / Armed Reconnaissance (LAAR) programme. The competition was organised to select an inexpensive light attack platform to find a less costly alternative to stealth fighters such as F-35 Lightning or F-22 Raptor to carry out operations in asymmetrical conflicts. The contract was initially announced at 200 to 300 aircraft in total. But after years of tergiversation, it was suspended following a fatal crash and eventually cancelled on 10 February 2020.
Van’s Aircraft reviewing its quick build kits for surface corrosion
Van’s Aircraft reports that it is investigating a few reports of potential surface corrosion appearing on the interior aluminium surfaces of specific Quick Build wing and fuselage kits. Kits that are in-scope for this review are those that were assembled by a contract company and delivered to Van’s Aircraft between June 2020 and January 2021. The company notes that not all kits from this time period are necessarily affected and the scope of their investigation is intentionally broad at to help ensure sufficient and complete information collection.
COVID has resulted in significant impacts on the staffing and timeliness of businesses around the world. While Van’s has ‘worked hard to navigate the difficult business environment and maintain its business as close as possible to pre-COVID operations, these impacts have affected Van’s and various subcontract business partners. In mid-2020 our Quick Build contract team was forced into a 100% closure for several weeks and then was significantly limited in terms of staffing due to local COVID regulations.’
An investigation and a series of lab analyses indicate that in cases where surface corrosion is present on these QB assemblies, the cause appears to be the incorrect application of primer combined with the introduction of sweat on the parts’ surfaces during assembly at the contractor’s facility. Van’s temporarily halted Quick Build production in January while the primer application issue was identified, verified and remediated. In addition, Van’s has examined and is in the process of remediating primer issues found on Quick Build kits that have already been delivered to them and are currently stored at their factory warehouse. This will, of course, take some extra time to complete, but we will ensure, first and foremost, that the QB kits they ship meet their standards.
As Van’s continues its investigation, the company is reaching out directly to customers who received Quick Build kits that could potentially be affected, to assess the delivered kits and ensure they are checked. Van’s will ask each of these customers to complete a survey, in which they will follow specific instructions to briefly examine and photograph certain parts / areas of their Quick Build kits and then submit that information to Van’s Aircraft for review.
PAL-V finalises flying car certification basis with EASA
Flying car company PAL-V has announced that it has completed the full certification basis for its Liberty roadable aircraft with the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA). According to the company, a list of more than 1,500 criteria based on EASA’s Certification Specifications for Small Rotorcraft (CS-27) was amended to make it applicable to the Liberty. PAL-V has previously stated that it hopes to complete EASA certification of the aircraft by the end of 2022.
“The development of the requirements started in 2009,” said PAL-V head of airworthiness Cees Borsboom. “More than 10 years of analysis, test data, flight tests and drive tests, led to this important milestone. In parallel, we already started compliance demonstration to obtain the type certificate, which will be followed by delivery of vehicles to our customers.”
The two-seat PAL-V Liberty roadable gyroplane has a maximum speed of 180 km/h (97 knots), useful load of 246 kilograms (542 pounds) and range of 500 kilometres (270 NM) in the air. On the ground, the Rotax 912iS-powered vehicle can travel at 160 km/h (100 MPH) with a range of 1,315 kilometres (817 miles).
Flying car pioneer Beta may fly from Springfield charging station soon
According to the Air Force colonel who oversees his service’s exploration of the vehicles, flying car developer Beta Technologies may begin flights to and from its new Springfield electric vehicle charging station soon. The company has a charging station at the Springfield-Beckley Municipal Airport for electric flying vehicles, also known as ‘advanced air mobility vehicles’ or simply ‘air taxis.’ Ground was broken in December at the airport for what is expected to be an air mobility technology simulator. Air-worthiness tests on Beta’s vehicles continue and weather has been an issue, said Col Nathan Diller, director of AFWERX, the Air Force organisation nurturing air taxis and other new technologies with private partners.
Vermont-based Beta Technologies, one of the pioneer companies in the field, is having its vehicle go through the US Air Force’s ‘air-worthiness process’ now, Diller said. “The arrival of that Beta aircraft to our location in Springfield will be a function of that air worthiness, but by and large, they are making fantastic progress on air worthiness, making fantastic progress on their flight testing,” he also said. There are conversations now with the Air Force Research Lab and other about “establishing airspace there,” he added. “It is in the civil airspace structure, so it has something of interest to us,” he said. Diller spoke in an online meeting Wednesday afternoon as part of the Air Force Association’s virtual Aerospace Warfare Symposium. The Springfield airport recently received a $226,000 grant from JobsOhio’s Ohio Site Inventory Programme for the infrastructure supporting the flying vehicle effort.
France mulls hydrogen-powered military drone
L’Ecole de l’Air, the officer school of the French Air Force, signed a research agreement with the Laboratory for Innovation in New Energy Technologies and Nanomaterials (LITEN) to jointly study the development of a drone powered by hydrogen. “In a general context of decarbonization of energy, in particular in the aeronautical sector, the École de l’Air aims to explore the potential for the use of hydrogen in military applications,” explained Angel Scipioni, lecturer and project manager at the École de l’Air.
The project, named RAPACE (bird of prey in French), will try to identify the challenges faced when using a hydrogen aircraft in the field. The demonstrator will have to prove that the technology can be used in all weather conditions. The first test flight is scheduled for early 2022. In addition, to the problem of sustainability, the use of hydrogen power in a military drone would also reduce the logistics needs. With fewer moving parts to function, a hydrogen-powered aircraft requires less maintenance. It could also increase the autonomy of the drone and speed up its refuelling, offering an improved availability.
In the past year, France decided to kickstart the research into the potential applications hydrogen could have for the aeronautical industry. Out of the €15 billion allocated to help alleviate the financial impact of the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic on air transport in June 2020, nearly €1.5 billion in public aid over three years were dedicated to helping ‘the decarbonization of world air traffic.’ In February 2021, an expansion project for Paris’ main airport, Roissy-Charles-de-Gaulle (CDG), was scrapped, upon which the authorities asked for a new study that would consider the adaptation of the infrastructure to hydrogen and electric planes.
Prototype hydrogen fuel
Fuel CellNorthwest UAV (NWUAV) has completed a prototype hydrogen fuel cell that has been developed in conjunction with the US Naval Research Laboratory (NRL). The fuel cell has been specifically designed to meet the high power-to-weight ratio and harsh operational requirements of UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) and unmanned systems. The Proton Exchange Membrane (PEM) fuel cell has already completed initial operational testing, whilst NWUAV and NRL plan to make additional developments to the prototype before undertaking a test flight later this year.
The compact and lightweight PEM fuel cell creates electricity through the direct electrochemical process of turning hydrogen into water. The system’s design allows for modularity and scalability to meet the different power requirements of a broad range of unmanned systems. The prototype contains 48 cells and is rated for 1400 watts of continuous power. The high efficiency of fuel cells combined with the high energy of hydrogen make this solution ideal for long-endurance electric propulsion.
Dr Karen Swider-Lyons, Director of the Laboratory of Autonomous Systems Research at the US Naval Research Laboratory, commented: “It is very gratifying to turn research sustained by the Office of Naval Research into a commercial product. With new manufacturing support from the Department of Defence Manufacturing Technology Programme and a cooperative agreement we are creating a new generation of aerial propulsion technology that will greatly advance the capabilities of our war fighters.”
Turkey rolls out mock-up of unmanned electric attack helicopter
Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) revealed a mock-up of the TUSAŞ T-629 unmanned electric attack helicopter with a characteristic rave colour pallet. The model was rolled out during the delivery ceremony of TAI T129 helicopters to the Turkish police. The T-629 is planned to have manned and unmanned versions. The piloted one was presented in June 2020. The mock-up reveal was the first appearance of the pilotless variant. The aircraft is said to share most of its features with the upcoming T-625 utility helicopter and inherit weapons systems from the T129, the main attack helicopter of the Turkish armed forces. The mock-up of the T-629 did not have any armament attached, except for a model of M197 three-barrel 20 mm cannon in the nose turret. The nose section of the aircraft was dotted with six protrusions housing what could be identified as commercially sold action cameras and a targeting pod like one seen on many TAI’s unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). No information regarding the nature of the aircraft electric propulsion system, or a timeline of its production, was revealed in the presentation.
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Athol Franz (Editor)