“Government is actually the worst failure of civilized man. There has never been a really good one and even those that are most tolerable are arbitrary, cruel, grasping and unintelligent.”
H. L. Mencken
African Pilot’s aircraft of the week identification quiz
Will a TCAS equipped aircraft be able to see other aircraft that are not TCAS equipped?
R30,5m poured into SAA corruption investigation
By Sarah Robertson
Taxpayers are funding an investigation into SAA corruption that has cost R30.5 million already, but that amount is paltry in comparison with the scale on which corruption is alleged to have occurred at the national carrier. This was revealed at a recent Scopa meeting where the Special Investigation Unit (SIU), which was tasked during 2019 with investigating corruption that took place between 2002 and 2020 at SAA, briefed Parliament on progress made on its investigations. The SIU told Parliament that it had budgeted R30.5m (€1.6m) for the investigations, which are expected to be concluded in 2022.
Voicing the concerns that are on everyone’s minds, DA Scopa member, Alf Lees, commented that little of what was being said by the investigation unit was new. “This is stuff that we have been raising for years and years. Even now, we are still pouring money into a disintegrating entity. It is very sad and yet we carry on with it.” Lees added that it was concerning that many of the people who had clearly been involved in the looting were currently being paid massive severance packages. He asked if there was any way the SIU could speed the process up to identify the looters before they were paid out in full from the Business Rescue plan’s budget.
The SIU’s presentation indicates that the unit has already uncovered dozens of examples of corruption, and that it is making progress with initiatives which could recover hundreds of millions of Rands for SAA. Furthermore, the SIU is collecting evidence which will enable criminal prosecution of both the corrupt employees and service providers, which will hopefully send a clear message that corruption will not be tolerated. In her presentation to Scopa, Lead Investigator and Provincial Head of Eastern Cape SIU office, Zodwa Xesibe, brought the following matters to the committee’s attention:
The SIU is looking into the matter of unethical relationships between SAA Technical (SAAT) employees and directors of AAR and JM Aviation that were awarded a R1bn (€55.3m) contract to supply aviation components to SAAT. According to Xesibe Commission testimonies, it was revealed that AAR had not been the preferred bidder recommended by SAAT’s evaluating committee but that the company had still been awarded the tender. Evidence also revealed that SAAT’s former head of procurement at that time had received a R2.5m (€138 000) payment towards her Bedfordview property from AAR. The SIU has referred this matter to Senior Counsel to cancel the contract and to employ civil recovery.
The Bolloré scandal. Press reports during 2017 indicated that foreign-owned company Bolloré was awarded a five-year contract by SAAT totalling nearly R1bn, despite a conflict of interest existing between an SAAT senior employee on SAA’s source team, whose daughter was employed by Bolloré. Bolloré is also alleged to have falsified its BEE certificates in order to acquire the contract.
R300m (€16.5m) could be recovered, relating to a 2016 agreement with Flyfofa Airways. According to Xesibe, irregular procurement processes were followed in agreements between SAA and Flyfofa, with a dry lease agreement entered into while there was already a wet lease contract in place between the two parties, which continued to be extended irregularly. Evidence was also uncovered indicating that SAA had continued to pay Flyfofa for aircraft services for one aircraft which was grounded for eight months between 2018 and 2019. SAA paid for another aircraft that did not fly once.
The SIU also hopes to recover R54.7m (€3m) relating to an SAA contract for paint where the company paid a service provider more than double the R19.2m (€508 000) budgeted for paint over a period of three years. Maladministration relating to travel rebate benefits, payments made to vendors, and the implementation of a 30% BBBEE supplier ‘set aside’ initiative in respect of the supply and delivery of jet fuel are also on the SIU’s radar.
Another 84 contracts relating to SAA maintenance and technical repair reveal irregularities such as inflated pricing, conflicts of interest, fictitious vendors, fictitious work orders, fictitious bank accounts, overpayments, non-delivery, non-performance, and no value for money. At least another R12m (€663 000) could be recovered through settlement agreements relating to these contracts.
The SIU is also aiming to recover R241.6m (€13.3m) relating to a sale of Ground Power Units that was not executed in terms of SAA’s supply chain management processes, which require the convening of a disposal committee. The SAAT board usurped the functions of such a committee. Further allegations that a purchase agreement that SAA, under the leadership of the board’s Chair, Dudu Myeni, entered into with Airbus, had resulted in a negative financial impact on SAA, are also being looked into. While these investigations are currently in various stages of completion, Xesibe’s presentation indicated that SAA lost an excess of R356.9m (€19.7m) through these transactions.
Evidence of another R600m (€33.1m) of loss during the 2018/19 financial year has been revealed – SAA employees abused the travel rebates policy. “There were allegations that members of SAA were selling the travel benefit for financial gain,” said Xesibe.
Further allegations indicate that an SAA board member is rendering legal services to SAA through his firm of attorneys. In addition, more evidence of conflicts of interest have been uncovered, revealing that a senior SAA official’s brother’s law firm, with no aviation law experience, has been receiving a disproportionate amount of work from SAA. The senior official has since been suspended from SAA and is awaiting a disciplinary process.
Red flags relating to payments between 1 April 2016 and 31 March 2018 indicate suspicious activity including duplicate payments; payments made over a weekend (when staff dealing with payments only work on weekdays); invoices captured over a weekend; various purchase orders dated after invoice date; 99 invoices which exceed the approved purchase order amount and vendors that have the same bank account number (possible cover quoting).
What is concerning about the situation at South African Airways (SAA) and South African Technical (SAT) is that until now no person has been arrested and prosecuted. It appears that the ANC government establishes commissions or inquiry but does not act on the evidence that is uncovered therefore wasting further taxpayers’ money that should be going towards honest causes such as education. Thank you to journalists like Sarah Robertson who have the integrity to report on these levels of corruption within South African aviation.
African Pilot’s March 2021 edition
The March edition featuring Turboprop aircraft, turboprop engines and propellers was completed last week and distributed to the international audience. This feature also includes information about the many aftermarket enhancements available for turboprop aircraft types.
As you may have noticed with ALL editions of African Pilot, we publish important Aviation News, Safety Features, Historical Aviation features as well as news from the Experimental and Space sectors. If you examine African Pilot’s competitor magazines in South Africa, we have published more than 100 pages than our nearest competitor, whilst the lowest placed South African magazine only published 60 pages that cannot be read on any digital device without enlarging the text considerably. There is no other African Aviation or International Aviation publication that provides as much information together with superb pictures to its local and international audience.
Thank you to our valuable South African advertisers and international advertisers that supported this edition. Due to FREE distribution throughout the world, the only income digital publications can expect is from advertising support.
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.
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
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’
Over the past few months Wouter Botes’ e-book has been filmed by a television production team that will become a ten-part series to be aired on television soon. On Friday I was involved in the filming of one of the final scenes where a 15-year-old boy survived the crash of a Cessna 182 deep within the forests of KZN and was finally rescued after four days. We filmed this scene within a densely forested area of Moreleta Park on the eastern side of Pretoria. I took the following two pictures as part of the illustration of the various scenes filmed during this sequence. I transported some of the pieces of aircraft wreckage that were used as props to recreate the scene. As soon as the trailer for this series becomes available, I will post it within APAnews.
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. Wouter has started working with a film crew at Wonderboom National Airport to recreate some of the scenarios that are published in his book for a series that will be aired on television later this year.
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.email@example.com or 084 622 3931
Annelie Reynolds: Annelie.firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
New Cape Winelands Airport will attract business away from Cape Town International Airport
South African billionaire Rob Hersov plans to build the ‘Lanseria Airport of Cape Town’ 13 kilometres northeast of Durbanville. The location is the old Fisantekraal airport, half-way between the Cape Town’s CBD and Paarl, makes Cape Winelands Airport the ideal spot for the city’s second commercial airport.
Nestled in the world-famous winelands on a 150ha site, Cape Winelands Airport was a former South African Airforce airfield. It was built by the SAAF in 1943 to operate its Lockheed Ventura Bombers. Of the four original runways, two remain operational while the other two are used as Hollywood favourites for movie and film production.
The preferred base for flight training in the region, Cape Winelands Airport now operates privately as a General Aviation airfield. The airport has been home to the Cape Town Flight Training Centre (CTFTC) since 2003. In addition, it manages numerous aircraft hangars for the storage and maintenance of private aircraft and helicopters, with plenty of room for further development and ancillary services. Hersov told Biznews that he partnered with Nick Ferguson to buy Fisantekraal Airport in in 2020 with the goal of creating a competitor to Cape Town international airport. With his excellent credentials and connections, as well as extensive global business experience, Hersov seems to be the perfect person to take Cape Winelands Airport to an international standard.
Editor responds: Fantastic idea! It is about time that the pristine land of Fisantekraal became a proper aviation destination. I had dealings with the previous owner who was most unpleasant and then he killed himself in an illegal flight. There is now an urgent opportunity to develop this airfield into an alternative for Cape Town International Airport. many of the overpriced hangars at Cape Town International Airport are in terrible condition and it appears that ACSA has no desire to undertake essential repairs to them. From a business perspective, I believe that with the correct vision and determination this alternative Cape Town airport will be a certain winner.
What happened in aviation over the past week?
EAA Chapter 322 breakfast fly-in to Circus airfield
Located adjacent to the R59 highway from Alberton to Vereeniging and just 25 kilometres south of Johannesburg the airfield is on a farm belonging to Robert Willkie; from Boswell-Willkie Circus fame hence the name. The 1000m grass runway (05/23) is regularly maintained by the resident managers of the airfield. The airfield has three hangars, a clubhouse with toilets and nearby accommodation, whilst the restaurant Café du Cirque is a short 300m walk from the hangars.
On Saturday 13 March about 27 light aircraft, mainly EAA Chapter 322 members arrived for breakfast at the restaurant and I was impressed by the quality of service and friendliness of the staff at the venue. Set in a beautiful garden that featured historical circus memorabilia under the shade of outside thatch cover, the EAA members shared many aviation stories.
2021 Sling Africa Tour invitation
Feel free to share this as you wish:
Aero Club Communique March 2021
Planning for the Centenary (+1) Airweek is now well underway, with detail planning having started after a kick-off meeting having taken place at Middelburg on 12 February. Essentially the outline theme remains the same. The dates are Friday 23 to Tuesday 27 April (Freedom Day) 2021, with early arrivals on the Friday and the SAPFA speed rally planned for 27 April. The EAA annual convention will also take place during this weekend as will other sections of the Aero Club participating in their various disciplines. Please visit the AeCSA website for more details. https://www.aeroclub.org.za/airweek/
Registration is also open for attending – and those who plan to attend if you can register at this link https://forms.gle/fNu45vALTcrRGzQMA
Those who wish to camp and hire tents, the booking link is here https://forms.gle/jHhK9t2PGQvVWSvB8
For exhibitors wishing to reserve exhibition space: https://www.aeroclub.org.za/airweek-events-pg-2/
for details and exhibitor forms.
If you have any queries or require information, please e-mail email@example.com
If you are not a member and wish to join the Aero Club and any of its sections feel free to do so member-renewals-and-new-memberships.
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.
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
Stellenbosch fly-in with spot landings at Stellenbosch airfield
Contact: Anton Theart E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Cell: 079 873 4567
22 to 25 March
HAI Helicopter Association International La Nouvelle New Orleans Los Angeles USA
Contact E-mail: email@example.com
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
EAA Chapter 322 Outdoor Movie Night at Krugersdorp airfield at sunset
Featuring Bob Hoover – ‘Flying the Feathered Edge’
SAPFA Brakpan Fun Rally at Stellenbosch airfield
Contact Frank Eckard E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Cell: 083 269 1516
26 & 27 March
Uitenhage Wings and Wheels
Contact Lourens Kruger E-mail: email@example.com 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: firstname.lastname@example.org Cell: 084 418 3836
EAA Chapter 322 monthly meeting virtual and MOTH hall
Contact Neil Bowden E-mail: email@example.com Cell: 084 674 5674
15 & 17 April
SAPFA Rally Nationals and Fun Rally – Stellenbosch Airfield
Contact Frank Eckard E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Cell: 083 269 1516
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
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: email@example.com Cell: 082 804 7032
SAPFA Middelburg Speed Rally at Middelburg Airfield
Contact Jonty Esser E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Cell: 082 855 9435
As further dates are sent to me, I will continue to update the aviation calendar.
Air Express Algeria secures three aircraft on lease from ACIA Aero
Air Express Algeria, which serves the oil and gas industry from its hub in Hassi Messaoud, has secured three aircraft on lease from ACIA Aero. The new Let 410 can operate without problems on oil sites’ short and unpaved runways. In addition, the LET 410 UVP-E20 is particularly suitable for rough terrain and climatic conditions of southern Algeria. The deliveries earlier this month included one Beech 1900D, and one Let 410.
Ethiopian Airlines takes lead in vaccine distribution
As the transportation of the COVID-19 vaccine unfolds, Ethiopian Airlines is positioned to take a leading role in the vaccine’s distribution to global pharmaceutical chains. In an interview with Reuters, the airline’s representatives predict that demand for this service will remain in the market for the next three years. In an agreement made in December 2020, with Cainiao Network, the logistics arm of China’s Alibaba Group, the airline is positioned to transport pharmaceuticals, including vaccines through an international cold chain from China. “This vaccine will be transported for the coming two to three years and we will be the major player of transportation of vaccines,” commented Fitsum Abadi, managing director of Ethiopian Cargo.
While tapping into its fleet of 128 Boeing, Airbus and Bombardier aircraft, Ethiopian Airlines has established a dedicated vaccine transportation team to liaise with manufacturers, added Fitsum. According to the agreement with Cainiao Network, temperature-regulated pharmaceuticals will be distributed twice a week from Shenzhen in south-eastern China, to Africa through hubs in Dubai and Addis Ababa.
This comes after the airline delivered the first batch of 2.2 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines from Mumbai to Addis Ababa and Brazzaville on 6 March. As reported by Logistics Update Africa, Tewolde GebreMariam, CEO of Ethiopian Airlines commented on the vaccine delivery flights stating, “We are glad that we have launched the delivery of our mission-critical service with the distribution of the much-anticipated Covid-19 vaccine. We will be repeating the remarkable and globally recognised success, in leading the fast delivery of PPE a few months ago, with similar delivery speed, professional handling and maintaining the cold chain during the global vaccine distribution. We have made enough preparations to transport the vaccines across the world.”
After adapting operations to cater and provide freight services amid the collapse of passenger traffic numbers in 2020, Ethiopian Airlines has garnered significant revenue from its cargo flights, allowing it to retain its position as one of the top airlines in the global market. As passenger numbers near 50% of pre-COVID levels, the airline’s establishment of its state-of-the-art cargo terminal has enabled Ethiopian Cargo and Logistics Services to be instrumental in facilitating the flow of medical supplies and PPE across the globe in combating the COVID-19 pandemic.
Flight into IMC fatal for four
On 9 March 2019, a Cessna T337C was destroyed during an inflight breakup and subsequent crash into trees and terrain near Longview, Texas. The private pilot and three passengers were fatally injured. Day instrument meteorological conditions with convective activity prevailed in the area about the time of the accident and no flight plan was filed. The cross-country flight departed from Lancaster Regional Airport (KLNC) in Texas and was destined for the Lakefront Airport, near New Orleans.
An employee at KLNC reported that the pilot and three other people came to the airport. The pilot came inside and bought a quart of oil. The employee indicated the pilot was in a good mood said they were flying to Louisiana. The pilot then went out and conducted a 10-minute pre-flight where he put the oil in the front engine. Then they entered the airplane, started it up and let the airplane run for about five minutes. The airplane was then taxied toward the south ramp out of sight. The self-serve fuel was in that area and the employee indicated it was a long enough period of time for the pilot to service the airplane with fuel. Afterwards, the airplane took off and flew away. The employee added that a severe thunderstorm went through about an hour before the plane took off. At the time of departure, the thunderstorm had passed through and the weather present at KLNC was ‘clear.’
A witness who was near the accident site in Longview, Texas, about the time of the accident reported that he was waiting for the storm to come and pass through. The wind picked up ‘hard’ out of the west gusting over 35 mph, and rain fell in ‘sheets.’ There was a single lighting strike. He said that the strike seemed to hit ground about 1/4-mile northwest of his house. It was the only local strike of the storm that he heard. Approximately a minute after the strike, the witness heard what sounded like an ‘Air Tractor’ coming in for a pass. He heard no impact and saw nothing in the air. The ceiling was ‘no more than 100 feet.’ He said, “I didn’t really believe at the time it could have possibly been an aircraft. Thought maybe static electricity in the clouds, or maybe a small tornado attempting to form.”
A friend of the family later reported that the airplane was missing and an alert notice was issued. A witness driving down a road to go hunting noticed scattered trash along a clearway above an underground pipeline in a wooded area. He looked further at the trash and saw that it was an airplane crash. He called 911.
A National Weather Service (NWS) surface analysis chart showed the accident site was located ahead of a cold front and near a secondary trough of low pressure in an area favourable for the development of a multicellular line thunderstorm or squall line. In addition, an NWS convective outlook graphic depicted that a slight risk of severe thunderstorms were possible for the route of flight over eastern Texas and Louisiana, including the accident site. A convective outlook bulletin indicated that a line of strong-to-severe thunderstorms had already developed over northeast Texas ahead of the cold front and was moving to the east-northeast. The convection was identified as linear in nature with embedded line echo wave pattern and bow echoes formations and isolated supercell-type thunderstorms. The line was expected to produce damaging winds, sporadic hail and the threat of a tornado. The NWS issued a series of in-flight aviation weather advisories that were valid for the time surrounding the accident and the route of flight. The advisories warned of severe thunderstorms, IFR conditions, moderate turbulence, low-level wind shear and icing. Investigators could not find evidence that the pilot, who was not instrument-rated, had checked the weather.
NTSB preliminary report: Mooney M20E
On 23 February 2021, a Mooney M20E, was substantially damaged when it was involved in an accident near Livermore Municipal Airport (LVK), Livermore, California. The pilot and one passenger were not injured. According to the pilot, the take-off from runway 7 was normal; about 200 feet above ground level (agl), the engine lost total power. The pilot attempted to make an off-airport landing about one mile northeast of the airport on the Interstate 580 overpass. During the landing rollout, the propeller struck the trunk of a car and pivoted around and impacted the left side of the car before coming to a stop near the side of the road. The driver of the car, the sole occupant, was not injured.
Falcon 6X first test flight
Dassault Aviation’s widebody Falcon 6X has successfully completed its first flight (as planned in the first quarter of 2021) demonstrating the maturity of the programme and opening the test campaign for certification. “Today’s flight is another milestone in Dassault history, made all the more satisfying by the remarkable efforts of the entire Dassault organisation and its partners over the challenging past year,” said Dassault Aviation Chairman / CEO Eric Trappier. “The 6X is the latest example of the fusion of military know-how and business aviation expertise for which Dassault Aviation is so respected,” added Trappier. “The new capabilities in efficiency, performance and safety it offers will set a new benchmark in the long-range segment. This airplane will also set a new standard in terms of cabin comfort and spaciousness, as demanded by our customers.”
Investment firm 777 Partners order 24 Boeing 737 MAX airliners
Last week Boeing and private investment firm 777 Partners announced an agreement to add 24 737-MAX-8s to the firm’s aviation portfolio, with purchase rights for an additional 60 airplanes. The Miami-based company will place the single-aisle airplanes with its portfolio of low-cost carrier investments. The 737 MAX-8 can fly 3,550 nautical miles, about 600 miles farther than its predecessor. This additional capability allows airlines to offer new and more direct routes for passengers. The 737 MAX-8 reduces fuel use and CO2 emissions by 16% compared to the airplanes it replaces, and that fuel efficiency means lower operating costs and a smaller environmental footprint. Every airplane features the new Boeing Sky Interior, highlighted by sculpted sidewalls and window reveals, LED lighting and larger pivoting overhead storage bins.
“777 Partners has gained a reputation for investing in high-growth markets and we are delighted to welcome them to the Boeing 737 family. This is a significant order that speaks to 777 Partners’ belief in the 737 MAX-8 and the market recovery ahead. We look forward to delivering these jets and supporting a safe and successful entry into service with 777 Partners’ affiliates,” said Ihssane Mounir, Boeing senior vice president of Commercial Sales and Marketing.
Final Everett-built Boeing 787 rolls out of final assembly line
Coincidence or not, the 787-9-line number 1095, which will be the final airliner to depart the historic factory, is intended for All Nippon Airways (ANA), the launch customer of the Dreamliner family. According to Stan Deal, the CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes, as part of its recovery strategy, Boeing announced in October 2020 that it would consolidate the production of its 787 aircraft at the South Carolina facility of North Charleston. That move would ‘ensure the long-term success of the 787 programme.’ Initially planned for mid-2021, the transition was eventually accelerated to coincide with the reduction in production output from six to five planes per month. After airlines postponed deliveries of the 787 that had yet to be assembled in Everett, Boeing was able to speed up the closure process. At the end of January 2021, Boeing still had to deliver 458 Dreamliners from more than 1,500 ordered. The 787-production system was adjusted to accommodate the current market environment with plans to ramp up production when air travel recovers. The Everett plant will continue to assemble Boeing 747, 767 and 777 aircraft models.
Is this the end for Etihad’s Airbus A380 aircraft?
While the future of Etihad Airways’ Airbus A380 was unclear since the pandemic disrupted international travel, recent statements by the airline’s chief executive might point to the idea that the Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (UAE)-based carrier will not operate any A380s as the world opens up once again. Etihad Airways chief executive officer (CEO) Tony Douglas provided an update on the airline, including its short-term fleet deployment plans. “We have now taken the strategic decision to park the A380s, I am sure it is very likely that we will not see them operating with Etihad again,” Douglas was quoted as saying, as reported by UEA’s The National News. The airline’s 10 Super Jumbos were parked in March 2020. Four of them were later moved to Tarbes Airport (LDE) in France, where an aircraft recycling facility is located. The first Airbus A380, registered as A6-APA, left for LDE on 5 November 2020, while A6-APB, A6-APC and A6-API were repositioned to the French airport in December 2020 and January 2021.
Going forward, Etihad’s backbone will be the Boeing 787. The Airbus A350, of which five were delivered and immediately placed into storage at Bordeaux–Mérignac Airport (BOD), will not see the light of day until at least 2023, pointed out the executive. In total, Etihad Airways has 40 Airbus A350 aircraft on order, with 40 Boeing 787 already in its fleet. However, the airline’s 40th Dreamliner was immediately placed into storage in Victorville Southern California Logistics Airport (VCV) in the United States. The question of when the UAE-based airline would get its Boeing 777X is up in the air, as according to Douglas he is not sure Boeing themselves know, as “it will probably be some time until they can answer it intelligently because of the COVID-19 impact.”
Top 10 bestselling piston airplanes in 2020
While general aviation aircraft sales were down in 2020, due to the pandemic almost 2,400 aircraft were delivered during the year, according to the latest statistics from the General Aviation Manufacturers Association. That number includes 1,312 piston airplanes, by far the largest category of aircraft delivered. While many general aviation aircraft manufacturers posted only single digit sales in 2020, others sold hundreds of airplanes, including Cessna, Cirrus, Piper and Diamond.
1) Cessna Skyhawk 172S: 214 sold
2) Cirrus SR22T: 184 sold.
3) Piper Archer III: 149 sold.
4) Diamond DA40: 143 sold.
5) Cirrus SR22: 107 sold.
6) Diamond DA42: 62 sold.
7) Tecnam P2008: 56 sold.
8) Cirrus SR20: 56 sold.
9) Flight Design CT: 36 sold.
10) Tecnam ASTM LSA: 28 sold*.
*Tecnam classifies several of its models, including the Astore (pictured), P92 and P2002, as ASTM LSAs. GAMA’s complete 2020 year-end report can be found at GAMA.aero, which includes a breakdown by each manufacturer and each model.
NASA’s Perseverance drives on Mars for first time
On 4 March NASA’s Mars 2020 Perseverance rover performed its first drive, covering 21.3 feet (6.5 meters) across the Martian landscape. The drive served as a mobility test that marks just one of many milestones as team members check out and calibrate every system, subsystem and instrument on Perseverance. Once the rover begins pursuing its science goals, regular commutes extending 656 feet or more are expected. The drive, which lasted about 33 minutes, propelled the rover forward 13 feet, where it then turned in place 150 degrees to the left and backed up eight feet into its new temporary parking space. To help better understand the dynamics of a retrorocket landing on the Red Planet, engineers used Perseverance’s Navigation and Hazard Avoidance Cameras to image the spot where Perseverance touched down, dispersing Martian dust with plumes from its engines.
The rover’s mobility system is not only thing getting a test drive during this period of initial checkouts. On 26 February Perseverance’s eighth Martian day, or sol, since landing – mission controllers completed a software update, replacing the computer programme that helped land Perseverance with one they will rely on to investigate the planet. More recently, the controllers checked out Perseverance’s Radar Imager for Mars’ Subsurface Experiment (RIMFAX) and Mars Oxygen In-Situ Resource Utilisation Experiment (MOXIE) instruments, whilst they deployed the Mars Environmental Dynamics Analyser (MEDA) instrument’s two wind sensors, which extend out from the rover’s mast. Another significant milestone occurred on 2 March or sol 12, when engineers unstowed the rover’s seven-foot-long (two-meter-long) robotic arm for the first time, flexing each of its five joints over the course of two hours.
The sheer volume of imagery and data already coming down on this mission has been a welcome bounty for Matt Wallace, who recalls waiting anxiously for the first images to trickle in during NASA’s first Mars rover mission, Sojourner, which explored Mars in 1997. On 3 March Wallace became the mission’s new project manager. He replaced John McNamee, who is stepping down as he intended, after helming the project for nearly a decade. “John has provided unwavering support to me and every member of the project for over a decade. He has left his mark on this mission and team and it has been my privilege to not only call him boss but also my friend.”
With Perseverance departing from its touchdown site, mission team scientists have memorialised the spot, informally naming it for the late science fiction author Octavia E. Butler. The ground-breaking author and Pasadena, California, native was the first African American woman to win both the Hugo Award and Nebula Award and she was the first science fiction writer honoured with a MacArthur Fellowship. The location where Perseverance began its mission on Mars now bears the name ‘Octavia E. Butler Landing.’
ASR tests eFlyer 2 parachute recovery system
Bye Aerospace, the developer of the eFlyer family of FAA Part 23-certified all-electric aircraft, announced that Aviation Safety Resources, Inc. (ASR), has successfully completed the first developmental test of its whole-aircraft parachute recovery system for eFlyer 2. Larry Williams, ASR President and CEO, said initial testing was completed at a drop range test facility outside Henderson, Nevada, in late February 2021. “This test was the first in a series of tests to qualify the eFlyer 2 parachute system to ASTM standards, and make sure the canopy will withstand the load put on it,” he said. In accordance with ASTM requirements for limit load testing, barrels were filled with water to represent the weight of eFlyer 2. This was the first development test in a series of tests that were dropped from a helicopter at 6,600 feet and accelerated to the maximum speed at which the system will be deployed. “Everything was perfect,” Williams said. “So far we are getting the results we expected. The next series will advance to ultimate load testing where we will drop 1.15 times the maximum weight and speed for eFlyer 2. This testing represents a real-world environment to make sure the system provides maximum safety and demonstrates the parachute canopy is robust. By exceeding the rated weights and speeds, this provides a critical 1.5X safety factor in accordance with the ASTM and FAA requirements.”
Williams and the ASR team collects a large amount of data during the drop tests that are used to analyse the load determination calculations to verify the attachment points will withstand the load of the actual deployment. “We look forward to working with the FAA on future certification testing,” he said. “From a teamwork perspective, the coordination with Bye Aerospace has been terrific and we are progressing right on schedule.” George E. Bye, CEO of Bye Aerospace, said occupant safety continues to be the highest priority for Bye Aerospace in the design of the eFlyer family of all-electric airplanes. “The whole-aircraft parachute system being designed by ASR for eFlyer 2 is exclusive to the airplane” he said.
The same day Bye Aerospace signed an agreement adding four eFlyers to its production backlog, now 721 units of eFlyer 2, four-seat eFlyer 4 and soon to be announced an eight-seat all-electric aircraft. The company’s current and future families of aircraft feature engineering, research and electric aircraft solutions designed to specifically address compelling market needs. Benefits include five-fold lower operating costs, no CO2 emissions and decreased noise. Bye Aerospace estimates the eFlyer will eventually eliminate the release of millions of metric tons of CO2 each year as its deliveries begin and the general aviation fleet is replaced.
Velosv2 UAV helicopter
Finally, a UAV helicopter that is simple to fly in bad weather conditions, with more flight time and payload capacity than any multicopter in the same class. Fully redundant design with two motors and double major components makes it safer than all electric and gasoline helicopters to add your expensive equipment. Velos can fly with major failures such as motor failure, broken belt, gear one-way bearing failure, burned esc, battery failure, BEC failure and servo failure. Velos has the ability to add payload over the rotor including, sensors, 360 panoramic view cameras and ballistic parachute that makes it even safer
The second version of the successful Velos UAV is commercially available and brought many improvements. Those include a next-generation lightweight and aerodynamically improved fuselage; 3rd generation Velos UAV bespoke blades with revolutionary design leads to higher lift with lower battery consumption and an increased flight time of 75 minutes.
Antonov to design indigenous heavy strike drone for Ukraine
Antonov met with representatives of the Ministry of Defence of Ukraine, the state conglomerate Ukroboronprom and other Ukrainian companies to discuss the possibility of developing a heavy high-altitude strike and reconnaissance unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). “Today, only a few countries in the world produce UAVs of this class: the United States, Israel, Turkey and China,” Antonov explained in a statement. “The main idea of the meeting is the development of an innovative product by the aircraft industry of Ukraine.” In partnership with the Ukrainian engine manufacturer Ivchenko-Progres, the project was presented to obtain the support of other local manufacturers. The meeting was fruitful, according to Antonov, as participants agreed to study a draft project and submit it to the Ministry of Defence of Ukraine and other potential customers.
Ukraine already has accumulated some experience in developing drones. A light multirole drone, the AN-BK-1 ‘Gorlytsia’ (Dove), has been in development at Antonov since 2016. On 5 October 2020, the director of the Ukrspecexport state arms company Vadim Nozdrya said that Ukraine would order a new batch of Turkish-made Bayraktar TB2 drones, which would be produced locally under license.
Twice Weekly News from African Pilot
Should you miss out on any edition of APAnews, please visit the website: www.africanpilot.co.za and click on the APAnews link on the front page. All past weekly APAnews publications have been archived on the website.
Until Thursday, please be ‘Serious about flying’.
Athol Franz (Editor)