“One has to notice the small things in life, because it is the detail that reveals the great moments” R.B. Wein
African Pilot’s May 2019 edition
The May edition features most Helicopter Types and Helicopter Operations as well as HAI Heli-Expo, which is the largest helicopter exhibition in the world, organised by Helicopter Association International. At the same time our team has completed African Pilot’s annual African Pilot Service Guide to be distributed together with the May edition. The printing of this edition is complete and the distribution is also almost complete. I would like to thank all our valuable advertisers that supported this exciting edition as well as our annual Aviation Services Guide.
African Pilot’s June 2019 edition
African Pilot’s exciting June edition will feature business at Lanseria International Airport, the South African Power Flying Association’s (SAPFA) President’s Trophy Air Race (PTAR) to be staged in Saldanha (Western Cape), South Africa’s EAA National Convention in Vryheid (KZN) and the Lowveld airshow (Nelspruit airfield), scheduled the weekend before this edition goes to print. In addition we will be featuring US EAA’s Sun ‘n Fun staged in Florida as well as the annual AERO Friedrichshafen European trade show staged in Germany. Indeed this is a very busy time within the South African aviation calendar. African Pilot continues to be the foremost aviation publication that continuously brings the most important aviation events to its readers every month. For advertising positions please contact Lara Bayliss at Tel: 0861 001130 Cell: 079 880 4359 or e-mail: email@example.com. Thank you.
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SOUTH AFRICAN AVIATION NEWS
Aero South Africa 4 to 6 July 2019
After months of planning and preparations, the Aero South Africa team is excited to announce that visitor registrations to Africa’s inaugural trade show for the general aviation are now OPEN. Exhibitors will cover the full spectrum of services, so this is the ideal place to source new products, view the latest technology and even sell or buy new aircraft. Daily seminars will be FREE to attend. Secure your FREE visitor pass online now and get ready to discover the latest industry innovations available to the African market: https://www.tisevents.co.za/Event/AERO/Default.aspx?id=3651
What happened in aviation over the past week?
EAA’s National Convention in Vryheid
Due to my shared Cessna 182 ZS ILD being in for its MPI, Christine and I had to drive to Vryheid on Friday and on arriving it was clear that this was to be an exciting weekend of exciting aviation talk. The airfield had been prepared by the local Vryheid Flying Club with the grass cut and flags prepared where the visiting aircraft would park. In all more than 150 Light Sport Aircraft, Gyrocopters, Microlights and a Gazelle Helicopter arrived. The EAA fleet was very complimented by many Type Certified Aircraft as well. Neil Bowden has set up a typical tent city for many of the visitors to spend the two nights. On Saturday evening the local flying club organised a spit braai with delicious accompanying food. This was truly a remarkable EAA Convention where members were complimented by many visiting pilots and their families to enjoy the lovely sunny weather that Vryheid had to offer. The full report with pictures will be published in the June edition of African Pilot.
Bombardier CRJ Series Africa Tour 2019
Bombardier celebrated delivery with one of four CRJ900 aircraft ordered by Uganda Airlines as part of its CRJ Series Africa Tour. The event was held at Fireblade Aviation’s private facilities at OR Tambo International Airport, following a surprise visit to AviaDev 2019. The African Pilot team enjoyed the superb hospitality offered by the Bombardier team, whilst being presented with some excellent photo and video opportunities, despite some unusual weather on the day. The new national carrier has selected Bombardier and the CRJ900 regional jets fitted with the ATMOSPHERE cabin for its upcoming re-launch, making it the first operator in Africa with this enhanced cabin experience. A full story will be published in the June 2019 edition of African Pilot magazine.
What is scheduled for the next few weeks?
African Pilot’s 2019 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.
29 April to 1 May
Airport Show 2019 in Dubai
Contact Alexander E-mail: email@example.com or via mobile at
+971 50 662 6371
10 and 11 May
Lowveld airshow at Nelspruit airport
Contact Monica Fourie Tel: 083 619 3597 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
10 to 12 May
Contact Dave O’Halloran E-mail: email@example.com
10 to 12 May
NAC annual fly away Letsatsi Game Reserve
Contact Deon Wentzel Cell: 082 458 5719 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
14 to 17 May
NAMPO Agricultural Trade Show near Bothaville, Free State
Contact Wim Venter Tel: 086 004 7246 E-mail: Wim@grainsa.co.za
SAPFA Sheila Taylor Fun Rally – Krugersdorp Airfield
Contact Frank Eckard cell: 083 269 1516 e-mail: email@example.com
18 & 19 May
SAC Free State Regionals Tempe Airport
Contact Annie Boon e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Botswana International Airshow Matsieng Aerodrome (FBMA)
Contact Hentie de Wet E-mail: email@example.com
Contact Johan Pieters E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Cell: 082 923 0078
6 and 7 June
Africa Drone Conference – Emperors Palace Convention Centre
Contact Simon Mkitlane E-mail: email@example.com Tel: 011 886 0433
SAPFA Bethlehem Speed Rally – Bethlehem Airfield
Contact Jonty Esser e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org cell: 082 855 9435
10 to 16 June
SAPFA World Precision Flying Championships – Castellon Spain
Contact Hans Schwebel cell: 082 656 3005 e-mail: email@example.com
5 to 8 June
Zimbabwe Air Rally
Mel Cooper Cell: + 263 773 218426 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
20 to 23 June
SAC National Championships venue TBA
Contact Annie Boon e-mail: email@example.com
21 to 23 June
EAA Chapter 322 flight training Boot Camp at Mwala Lodge
Contact Neil Bowden Cell: 084 674 5674 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Contact Relibile Mofokeng E-mail: email@example.com Cell: 073 837 0162
Reefsteamers train, plane, vintage car event from Krugersdorp to Magalies
Contact Ian Morrison e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
23 to 28 June
South African Hot Air Balloon Championships Skeerpoort North West Province
Contact Richard Bovell e-mail: email@example.com
27 to 30 June
SAC National Championships Malelane airfield
Contact Annie Boon e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
AFRICAN AVIATION NEWS
Reports of Egypt ordering AW149 helicopters
According to France’s La Tribune, Egypt informed France last week that it had chosen the AW149, with the order believed to for 20 helicopters. Leonardo has neither confirmed nor denied the contract.
France was hoping to sell the NH90 to Egypt after a string of sales that has included 24 Rafale fighter jets, two Mistral class landing helicopter docks (LHDs) and four Gowind class corvettes since 2014.
Egypt was looking at acquiring 20-30 NH90 for use aboard its naval vessels but it will also fly the AW149 on land-based troop transport and search and rescue missions.
The 8.3/8.6 tonne AW149 first flew in 2009 and slots in between smaller helicopters like the AW139 and larger helicopters like the Boeing CH-47 Chinook. It was developed from the AW139, but with 40% more internal volume and more powerful engines. The aircraft is powered by two General Electric CT7-2E1 turboshafts each developing 2 000 shp. In the troop transport role the AW149 can carry 12 fully equipped soldiers or 19 passengers on crashworthy seats. Weapons options are available, including gun pods, rocket pods and guided missiles.
Leonardo says the AW149 is designed for a multitude of missions such as troop transport, re-supply / external load lift, medical and casualty evacuation, search and rescue, Special Forces operations, close air support / armed escort, command and control, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance.
Since its launch six years ago, Leonardo has struggled to find military customers for the AW149, with the only confirmed customer to date being the Royal Thai Army, which ordered five. The Italian military has expressed interest in the type, but no order has yet materialised. The Italian Air Force said it would buy AW149s for search and rescue but instead opted for the lighter AW139M. The civil AW189 variant has fared better, with some 60 helicopters in service, mostly in the offshore oil and gas industry and in public service in the United Kingdom, Malaysia, South Korea and Japan.
Nigerian Air Force receives two new AW109 helicopters
On 22 April the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) said the A109 Power helicopters were unveiled by Chief of Air Staff Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar during an event in Maiduguri. The helicopters arrived in crates and were being assembled for the upcoming 2019 NAF Day Celebrations, which will take place in Abuja from 27 to 29 April. Abubakar told soldiers and guests that the NAF, with the support of the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, President Muhammadu Buhari, as well as the National Assembly, would continue to acquire new platforms and build human capacity whilst ensuring the welfare of personnel, in order to effectively and efficiently respond to national security imperatives, notably Boko Haram terrorists.
Abubakar revealed the delivery of the additional AW109 helicopters in December last year. The Nigerian government has already budgeted for two AW109s but more are likely to be ordered as the government allocates more money in future budgets. In 2018 the government set aside nearly N6 billion ($19 million) for the procurement of two new AW109s, which will join the AW109 LUHs already in service with the Nigerian Air Force and the A109Es in service with the Nigerian Navy. Nigeria also has 12 Mi-35Ms on order, with four already delivered.
WORLD AVIATION NEWS
Boeing targets 737 MAX return to service in July
Reuters is reporting that Boeing is telling airlines that “it is targeting US Federal Aviation Administration approval of its software fix as early as the third week of May and the ungrounding of the aircraft around mid-July.” Boeing said it made the final test flights of revised software last week and is expected to submit it to the FAA soon.
As previously reported, the changes will centre on the authority of the Manoeuvring Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS) to move the horisontal stabilizer and the number of times the system, which is supposed to prevent the 737 from stalling at high angles of attack and power, will activate. Boeing will also tie the system to both left and right angle-of-attack (AOA) vanes; previously, the system relied on the input of just one AOA sensor.
Whenever the new software arrives, the FAA will doubtlessly take great care vetting the solution and yet this will not be the final steps for Boeing, as it still has to revise and have approved training materials for the 737 MAX’s MCAS. Then it, along with the FAA, needs to convince foreign aviation authorities to lift their flight restrictions, though this is not likely to be a certain thing based on the positions taken publicly by China and the European Aviation Safety Agency. This is in addition to the multinational review committee looking into how the software was initially approved.
The continued grounding impacts Boeing and air travellers alike. Previously, United Airlines said it would cancel all 737 MAX flights through to July, while American has cancelled flights through to 5August. The aircraft has been grounded globally since 10 March. On Tuesday Boeing’s stock closed at $374 per share, down from $440 a share on 1 March 2019.
Criticism of Boeing affects the 787
As if Boeing’s pasting in the public eye over the 737 MAX wasn’t enough, reports are surfacing that the company could be cutting corners at its Charleston, South Carolina, plant that builds the 787 Dreamliner. According to an exhaustive report in The New York Times, Boeing management has been accused by former and current employees at the plant of overlooking manufacturing issues to speed production and drive efficiencies.
The Times reviewed ‘hundreds of pages of internal emails, corporate documents and federal records, as well as interviews with more than a dozen current and former employees” that “reveals a culture that often valued production speed over quality.’ Last weekend, Brad Zaback, general manager of the 787 programme, said that the report “paints a skewed and inaccurate picture of the programme and of our team (at the plant).”
Where the 737 MAX debacle has led to speculation that Boeing pushed ahead quickly with a substantial redesign of its evergreen jet, in lieu of creating an entirely new aircraft to tackle the successful Airbus A320 family. According to the report, line workers have found evidence of ‘foreign objects’ left from the manufacturing and assembly processes. “Tools and metal shavings have routinely been left inside jets, often near electrical systems. Aircraft have taken test flights with debris in an engine and a tail, risking failure,” the Times said. Dreamliners have taken off on test flights with loose hardware in the engines, and acceptance pilots for major airlines have reported finding their own examples of FOD (foreign object debris) on board new aircraft. It’s worth noting that the 787, aside from the grounding after battery fires early in its service history, has not had an accident. More than 800 Dreamliners have been delivered while Boeing is reporting a current order book of nearly 700 aircraft still to be built.
Nine Civil Aviation Authorities to participate in FAA’s 737 MAX review
Experts from nine civil aviation authorities have confirmed they will participate in the Boeing 737 MAX Joint Authorities Technical Review (JATR) that the FAA established earlier this month. The JATR team will conduct a comprehensive review of the certification of the aircraft’s automated flight control system.
The JATR is chaired by former NTSB Chairman Chris Hart and comprised of a team of experts from the FAA, NASA and international aviation authorities. The team will evaluate aspects of the 737 MAX automated flight control system, including its design and pilots’ interaction with the system, to determine its compliance with all applicable regulations and to identify future enhancements that might be needed.
The team is scheduled to first meet on April 29 and its work is expected to take 90 days.
Confirmed participants include:
Australia: Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA)
Brazil: Agencia Nacional de Aviação Civil (ANAC)
Canada: Transport Canada Civil Aviation (TCCA)
China: Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC)
European Union: European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA)
Japan: Japan Civil Aviation Bureau (JCAB)
Indonesia: Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA)
Singapore: Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS)
United Arab Emirates: General Civil Aviation Authority (UAE GCAA)
Air Mauritius takes delivery of its first A330neo
Air Mauritius has taken delivery of its first A330-900, on lease from ALC during a ceremony held in Toulouse. The national carrier of the Republic of Mauritius is the first A330neo operator based in the southern hemisphere and the first airline in the world to operate a combination of both the A330neo and A350 XWB.
Benefiting from the A330neo’s unbeatable operating economics and award-winning Airspace cabin, the aircraft (named Aapravasi Ghat in reference to Mauritius’ history) will feature a two-class cabin with 28 business class seats and 260 economy class seats. The carrier will deploy the aircraft on routes connecting Mauritius to Europe (mainly London and Geneva), India and South East Asian routes and on regional destinations including Johannesburg, Antananarivo and Reunion Island. Air Mauritius currently operates nine Airbus aircraft, of which two A350-900s, three A340-300s, two A330-200s and two A319s on its regional and long haul services.
Lockheed Martin inaugurates F-16 production line in Greenville
Lockheed Martin hosted a ceremony recently to celebrate its new F-16 production line in Greenville, South Carolina. F-16 tooling and equipment previously in Fort Worth, Texas, has since been installed in a newly-refurbished hangar in Greenville, where the company will begin manufacturing F-16 Block 70 aircraft later this year. Demand continues to soar for new production F-16s and F-16V upgrades. Bahrain became the first F-16 Block 70 customer in June 2018, Slovakia signed Letter of Agreement in December 2018 for 14 Block 70 aircraft and Bulgaria and the US Government are currently negotiating Bulgaria’s planned acquisition of 70 new F-16 Block aircraft. The US State Department also recently approved the proposed sale of 25 new production F-16 Block 72 aircraft and F-16V upgrades for Morocco.
More than 400 new jobs will be created to support the F-16 production line in Greenville. F-16 production also supports hundreds of US-based Lockheed Martin engineering, procurement, sustainment and customer support jobs and thousands of US supplier jobs. A significant portion of F-16 production occurs in the supply chain, which currently includes more than 400 US suppliers in 41 states. To date, 4,588 F-16s have been produced, whilst there are approximately 3,000 operational F-16s are in service today in 25 countries.
Garmin celebrates first flight of G3000 in a supersonic aircraft
Recently Garmin witnessed the maiden flight of a Garmin integrated flight deck in a supersonic F-5 fighter aircraft. In just under six months, Tactical Air Support, Inc. (Tactical Air) completed the engineering design, installation and first flight with the G3000 integrated flight deck and dual Garmin touchscreen controllers (GTCs). The G3000 in the F-5 is expected to be ready to perform adversary training for the US Navy in Q2 2019. This commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) Garmin solution allows Tactical Air to take advantage of reduced development time, lower life-cycle costs and reduced operational costs, through highly reliable state-of-the-art designs.
The F-5 is a supersonic, multi-role tactical fighter and attack aircraft that in this role will provide air-to-air combat training, close-air support training, tactics development and evaluation support. The upgraded F-5 used by Tactical Air will be used in an aggressor training role and the G3000 will transform the entire fleet of Tactical Air F-5’s with sensor and system capabilities similar to current fighter aircraft.
The modular G3000 integrated flight deck boasts a large and vibrant, high-resolution flight display that seamlessly interfaces to the F-5’s existing mission computer, enabling advanced mapping, tactical radio capabilities, radar display and more. The bezel keys, GTCs and L3 ForceX mission system serve as the pilot interface to the flight display, and the touchscreen controllers are designed so pilots can use gloves in the cockpit. The G3000 has an open architecture that enables seamless mission computer, sensors and systems interface and easily facilitates future upgrades without impacting the avionics.
The NVG-compatible G3000 contains modern, state-of-the-art synthetic vision technology (SVT) that blends an out-the-window view of surroundings on the primary flight display, which is particularly helpful during night-time and in mountainous environments. The G3000 also has global capabilities for communication, navigation, surveillance and air traffic management (CNS/ATM). Additional features within the G3000 integrated flight deck on the F-5 include, Terrain Awareness and Warning System (TAWS), global Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) traffic and weather, as well as video interfaces.
Wingtip scuffed in take-off mishap
On the same day an American Airlines A321 clipped a runway distance marker with a wingtip, an AeroMexico E170 dragged its left wing for about 500 yards down a runway in Mexico. The regional jet was taking off on 10 April from Chihuahua bound for Monterrey in a howling crosswind that gusted to 38 knots. On rotation, the aircraft banked 45 degrees and started grinding paint and metal from the wingtip and aileron. The crew got it airborne and immediately returned for a safe landing in that same wind. In addition to the abrasion damage on the wing, tip strobes and markers were smashed. Authorities are investigating. The passengers got to Monterrey four hours later on another E170. Surveillance video caught the incident.
Airbus’ internal transport network takes an ‘X-tra’ ‘step with the BelugaXL
As the production of BelugaXL aircraft continues to advance as planned, Airbus has decided to “future proof” the company’s internal transportation network by adding another next-generation airlifter to the overall fleet. This expansion from the originally-targeted number of five airlifters to a new total of six will ensure the capacity provided by BelugaXLs; highly modified A330 jetliners tailored to carry large airframe components within the Airbus aircraft production network can accommodate a range of potential future scenarios.
“Years from now, we could see situations such as further rate increases for our jetliners or may encounter one of the airlifters being grounded, which would make this ‘extra’ sixth aircraft an essential part of our transport network,” explained Bertrand George, head of the BelugaXL programme at Airbus.
The no. 1 BelugaXL performed its maiden take-off in July 2018 and is now being used in compatibility and verification tests at locations across Airbus’ European industrial network, including an initial trip during February carrying a set of A350 XWB wings from Bremen, Germany to Toulouse, France. This month, the second transporter was painted at the Toulouse facility.
The BelugaXL will officially enter service later this year and by 2023, the six aircraft will be fully operational, replacing Airbus’ existing fleet of A300-600ST Super Transporters (also known as Beluga STs). However, this does not suggest the five Beluga STs’ end, whilst their future is currently under consideration.
While the BelugaXL programme advances toward certification, Beluga STs continue to perform their airlift duties. “They have delivered the necessary capacity and in some months, we have flown up to nearly 1,000 hours with the fleet,” said Philippe Sabo, head of the Airbus Transport International subsidiary that operates the five-aircraft fleet.
Reflecting on the decision to increase the number of BelugaXLs, Sabo recalled the similar step that occurred with its predecessor: “The Beluga ST programme went through the same decision-making process and I am sure we would not have coped without the fifth aircraft, which was added in 2001,” he stated.
With the BelugaXL soon to be operational, the proven Beluga STs are far from being written off. These original oversized cargo transporters could continue flying for another 10 to 20 years, so there are possibilities of a second operational life. “There is some way to go before we know for certain, but the first-generation airlifters might be flying much more widely,” according to Sabo. He said two scenarios are under initial evaluation. “We know that companies have the need for super transporters; therefore selling them is an option. We are also considering offering the other Airbus divisions and external customers an outsized transport service ourselves,” Sabo concluded. “You could say we are considering ‘releasing the Beluga STs into the wild!’”
First certification announced for Praetor 600
Brazil’s Civil Aviation Authority (ANAC—Agência Nacional de Aviação Civil) has certified the Embraer Praetor 600, which was introduced at NBAA-BACE 2018. The aircraft is the only super-midsize business jet to be certified since 2014. Embraer says the Praetor 600 is the best performing super-midsize jet ever developed, surpassing all its main design goals and becoming 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 4,500ft, complemented by an outstanding payload capability.
The Praetor 600 is now the farthest-flying super-midsize jet, able to make nonstop flights between London and New York, São Paulo and Miami, Dubai and London. With four passengers and NBAA IFR Reserves, the Praetor 600 has an intercontinental range of 4,018 nautical miles. Take-off field length for such a mission is only 4,436 feet. At M0.80, range is 3,719 nm with four passengers and NBAA IFR reserves.
The Praetor 600 is the first super-midsize jet with full fly-by-wire technology, which powers the Active Turbulence Reduction that not only makes every flight the smoothest but also the most efficient possible. The Embraer DNA Design interior eloquently explores every dimension of the only super-midsize to feature a six-foot-tall, flat-floor cabin, stone flooring and a vacuum service lavatory, all in the same certified aircraft. The class-exclusive Active Turbulence Reduction and 5,800-foot cabin altitude, complemented by a whisper silent cabin, have set the highest standards in customer experience in the super-midsize category. In addition to the full-service galley and a wardrobe, eight fully reclining club seats may be berthed into four beds and the baggage space is the largest in the class.
Advanced technology throughout the cabin is also a trait of the Embraer DNA design, beginning with the industry-exclusive Upper Tech Panel that displays flight information and offers cabin management features also available on personal devices through Honeywell Ovation Select. High-capacity, ultra high-speed connectivity for all aboard is available through Viasat’s Ka-band, with speeds of up to 16Mbps and unlimited streaming, another industry-exclusive in super-midsize jets.
The Praetor 600 features Collins Aerospace’s newest edition of the acclaimed Pro Line Fusion flight deck. Capabilities such as the industry-first vertical weather display, air-traffic-control-like situational awareness with ADSB-IN, predictive wind shear radar capability, as well as Embraer Enhanced Vision System (E2VS) with a Head-up Display (HUD) and an Enhanced Video System (EVS), an Inertial Reference System (IRS) and a Synthetic Vision Guidance System (SVGS) are some of the highlights on the Praetor 600 flight deck.
European Commission updates the EU Air Safety List
The European Commission has updated the EU Air Safety List, the list of airlines that do not meet international safety standards and are therefore subject to an operating ban or operational restrictions within the European Union. The EU Air Safety List seeks to ensure the highest level of air safety for European citizens, which is a top priority of the Commission’s Aviation Strategy.
There is positive news for Angola, as its national carrier TAAG Angola Airlines, as well as Heli Malongo, operating under restrictions since November 2008, have been released from the List. On the other hand, all the air carriers from Moldova, with the exception of Air Moldova, Fly One and Aerotranscargo, have been included in the List due to a lack of safety oversight by the civil aviation authority of Moldova. The civil aviation authorities of the Dominican Republic and of Belarus have been put under heightened scrutiny because of signs of a decrease in safety oversight.
EU Transport Commissioner Violeta Bulc said: “Maintaining the highest level of safety in European skies is our priority. The EU’s Air Safety List remains one of our most effective tools to achieve this.”
The EU Air Safety List not only helps to maintain high levels of safety in the EU, but it also helps affected airlines and countries to improve their levels of safety, in order for them to eventually be taken off the list. In addition, the EU Air Safety List has become a major preventive tool, as it motivates countries with safety problems to act upon them before a ban under the EU Air Safety List would become necessary.
Following this recent update, a total of 120 airlines are banned from EU skies:
114 airlines certified in 16 states, due to a lack of safety oversight by the aviation authorities from these states. In addition, six individual airlines, based on safety concerns with regard to these airlines themselves: Avior Airlines (Venezuela), Iran Aseman Airlines (Iran), Iraqi Airways (Iraq), Blue Wing Airlines (Suriname), Med-View Airlines (Nigeria) and Air Zimbabwe (Zimbabwe).
An additional four airlines are subject to operational restrictions and can only fly to the EU with specific aircraft types: Afrijet (Gabon), Air Koryo (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea), Air Service Comores (the Comoros) and Iran Air (Iran).
This update of the Air Safety List is based on the unanimous opinion of the aviation safety experts from the Member States who met from 2 to 4 April within the EU Air Safety Committee (ASC). This Committee is chaired by the European Commission with the support of the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA). The update equally got the support from the European Parliament’s Transport Committee. Assessment is made against international safety standards and notably the standards promulgated by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).
The Commission is constantly looking at ways to improve air safety. One such way is to work with aviation authorities worldwide to raise global safety standards. With this in mind, the Commission will launch soon two cooperation projects to assist Angola and Mozambique to further improve their safety oversight systems. These projects will be implemented by EASA in the course of 2019 and 2020. In addition, the Commission will continue its safety cooperation with Moldova.
China’s Airbus H135 final assembly line starts operations
Airbus Helicopters has expanded its industrial footprint and partnership with China with the opening of the H135 final assembly line in Qingdao. The factory is the first helicopter FAL built by a foreign manufacturer in China, as well as the first H135 FAL outside of Europe. The opening of this FAL follows a cooperation agreement signed between Airbus Helicopters and China in 2016 for the purchase of 100 H135s destined for the Chinese market. Ninety-five of these 100 helicopters will be assembled on this FAL from 2019 onwards.
Main components including the main fuselage, main gearbox kits and rear fuselage will be shipped to Qingdao from Donauwörth, Germany and Albacete, Spain respectively. The Qingdao plant is composed of four working stations, a paint booth, ground and flight test areas and a delivery centre. The site will employ around 40 people, 23 of whom received on-the-job training in Donauwörth.
The first aircraft roll-out from Qingdao is expected to take place in the second half of 2019. Operations will start with an annual capacity of 18 helicopters, which could be doubled to accommodate future growth.
The H135 is one of the most popular light twin-engine helicopters in China, mainly operating in helicopter emergency medical services (HEMS), search and rescue, law enforcement, firefighting and tourism. To date, around 1,300 helicopters from the H135 family are in operation around the globe, having achieved more than 5 million flight hours. Present in China for more than 50 years, Airbus Helicopters holds the leading position in China’s civil helicopter market with around 300 helicopters flying across the country serving 83 customers. Given the rapid development of the HEMS, public services and offshore wind industries in China, a potential demand for 600 light twin-engine helicopters is expected over the next two decades.
Japanese airliner begins certification testing
According to a company announcement on 27 March, Japan’s Mitsubishi Aircraft Corporation has begun ‘certification flight test activities’ for its Mitsubishi Regional Jet (MRJ). Mitsubishi says flight testing is being conducted in Moses Lake, Washington, as well as at Florida’s Eglin Air Force Base for extreme environment certification tests. The company is working concurrently with both the FAA and Japan Civil Aviation Bureau (JCAB) on certification processes.
In October 2018, Bombardier filed a lawsuit against Mitsubishi alleging that the company had recruited Bombardier employees and stolen trade secrets in order to assist with the certification and testing process for the MRJ. Mitsubishi filed a countersuit in January 2019 asserting that Bombardier had engaged in illegal anticompetitive behaviour with the intent to impede the development and certification of the aircraft. Both cases remain open.
The MRJ is the first airliner to be completely designed and built in Japan since the NAMC YS-11, which stopped production in 1974. The MRJ90 version (the first variant up for certification) will seat 88 passengers in its typical configuration and be powered by Pratt & Whitney PW1217G engines. The jet is expected to have a maximum range of approximately 2,000 NM and will be equipped with the Rockwell Collins Pro Line Fusion avionics system. It is currently scheduled to enter service in 2020 with launch customer ANA Holdings. Seventy and 100-seat versions of the MRJ are in the works as well.
China’s flight inspection centre orders Citation fleet
The Flight Inspection Centre (CFIC) of the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) signed an agreement with Textron Aviation joint venture Cessna-AVIC Aircraft for eight new Cessna Citation XLS+ business jets on Tuesday. Textron says the aircraft will be outfitted with special flight inspection equipment for missions including inspection and certification for the communication, navigation, radar and flight programmes of newly built airports, as well as regular flight inspection missions for airports already in operation. The new aircraft are scheduled to be delivered between 2019 and 2021. CFIC currently operates a fleet of eight 560 XLS/XLS+ jets to assist with its inspection and certification missions. According to a plan issued jointly by CAAC, China’s National Development and Reform Commission, and Ministry of Transport, China intends to complete work on 30 airports, begin work on 44 new airports, reconstruct and expand 139 airports, relocate 19 airports and conduct 51 additional civil aviation projects over a five-year period beginning in 2017.
FAA certifies first commercial drone delivery service
The certification paved the way for Wing Aviation to begin commercial package delivery in Blacksburg, VA. Wing partnered with the Mid-Atlantic Aviation Partnership and Virginia Tech, as one of the participants in the Transportation Department’s Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration Pilot Programme. “This is an important step forward for the safe testing and integration of drones into our economy. Safety continues to be our Number One priority as this technology continues to develop and realize its full potential,” said US Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao. Wing demonstrated that its operations met the FAA’s rigorous safety requirements to qualify for an air carrier certificate. This is based on extensive data and documentation, as well as thousands of safe flights conducted in Australia over the past several years. Wing plans to reach out to the local community before it begins food delivery, to gather feedback to inform its future operations.
Accents can be a problem – a TV journalist was interviewing a Polish WW2 pilot. The interview went like this “So Mr Stanczewski, I understand that in 1943 you shot down five German aircraft in a single engagement. Could you tell us what happened?” The Polish pilot replied “Well we were flying at 20,000 feet when we spotted five Fokkers below us. So we dived down and I fired a burst from my machine gun into one of the Fokkers and he exploded. Then I saw that one of the Fokkers was on my tail so I pulled round in a loop and got behind him and fired and he went down on fire. I looked around and saw two Fokkers attacking my Squadron Leader so I slipped in behind them and fired and that was another Fokker going down in flames. The other Fokker tried to get away from me but I got right up behind him and blasted him with my machine guns and he turned over and exploded. There was only one Fokker left now and he was trying to get away but I flew up behind him and shot Bang, Bang, Bang and he exploded too!” The interviewer decided to explain to the viewers – “I should point out to the viewers at home that the Fokker was a type of German aircraft used in the war.” “No, no !!” exclaimed the pilot, “them Fokkers was all Messerschmitts !”
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Until next week, please be ‘Serious about flying’.
Athol Franz (Editor)
African Pilot ‘Serious about flying’.