African Pilot’s aircraft of the week identification quiz
Once again, I was amazed at how soon after APAnews was published that my inbox was filled with so many correct answers. It appears that with more correct answers that ever before, this exercise is becoming rather popular, so I will keep it going and look for more difficult aircraft to identify in future. Thanks to all of you that identified this unique aircraft correctly.
Those persons that identified the aircraft correctly this week: Ted Michel, Raul Del Fabbro, Mickey Esterhuysen, Righardt du Plessis, Willie Oosthuizen, Hilton Carroll, Howard Long, Erwin J.W. Stam, Ari Levien, Selwyn Kimber, Nic Manthopoulos, Bernard Stander, Karl Jensen, Rennie van Zyl, Dawid Hanekom, Greg Pullin, Sid Peimer, Craig Ritson, Ralph Schlaphoff, Nigel Maistry, P. Hanekom, Brian Millett and Lukas van der Nest.
Which TCAS display will trigger an aural message?
I discovered this important editorial written by P. Barry Butler – Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University president. However, what about South Africa, especially where aviation professionals have to deal with a dysfunctional regulator that does not understand civil aviation and the requirements of the business?
The future looks bright for aviation professionals
The aviation industry, rocked by a global pandemic, will recover, just as it did after other crises such as 9/11 and the Great Recession and when it does, the demand for pilots will return, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University President P. Barry Butler wrote. “The 2020 Boeing Pilot and Technician Outlook, updated in October, projects that 763,000 new civil aviation pilots and 739,000 new maintenance technicians will be needed to fly and maintain the global fleet of aircraft over the next 20 years,” Butler noted. In addition, Butler said, “some equipment manufacturers for the US Defence Department never saw a reduction in the need for talent, the military continues to need not only pilots but aviation leaders, whilst even grounded aircraft require regular care by aviation maintenance technicians.”
Noting that the aviation industry has hit the pause but not the stop button, Butler outlined five steps for strengthening flight-training safety to ensure that today’s flight students are ready to serve in a post-pandemic world:
Collaborate: First, flight-training institutions must band together during times of crisis. For example, Dr Kenneth Byrnes, chair of the Flight Department and associate dean of the College of Aviation on Embry-Riddle’s Daytona Beach Campus has formed a national consortium of university flight programmes that have been looking at mask etiquette, sanitisation standards and more.
Checklists: A well-known aspect of aviation safety, checklists are more important now than ever, as aviators must add new procedures related to issues such as appropriate personal protective equipment and hangar sanitisation.
Self-reporting: Encouraging students to self-report errors without any fear of disciplinary action is another critical way to enhance aviation safety.
Testing and data: Covid-19 testing and data are also critical for making rapid corrections amid a pandemic.
Keep Learning: Flight-training programmes facing a pandemic or other crisis must ‘remain open to change, adopt good ideas early and continue to learn, adjust and iterate.’
Asked to summarise key takeaways from the above, Butler said, “We believe that the 2020-21 freshman class will be in a strong position to compete for jobs after they graduate and that career-path jobs will be available to them.”
While the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in a temporary over-supply of personnel across aviation overall, the industry has bounced back from many prior setbacks, the demand for highly qualified aviation professionals, based on where it was pre-COVID, will continue to be there once the health and economic crisis is over. The demand for pilots and aviation maintenance professionals may even be heightened, given early retirements and openings that resulted when furloughed personnel moved into government, business and general aviation amid the pandemic. Today’s students who are now entering the aviation education pipeline “are making a good choice for their future,” Butler said.
African Pilot’s March 2021 edition
The March edition featuring Turboprop aircraft, turboprop engines and propellers, 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
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 eight-part series to be aired on television soon. Last 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.
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
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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.
Fees for the provision of Aviation Meteorological Services
South African low-cost carrier Lift to expand operations?
Lift is a joint venture between established ACMI / charter specialist Global Aviation Operations and former Comair Joint Chief Executive Gidon Novick and former Uber executive Jonathan Ayache. Novick confirmed three of Global’s seven A320-200s would be used for the operation. Global has the necessary existing scheduled domestic air services license, Air Operator’s Certificate (AOC) and Air Maintenance Organisation (AMO) registration in South Africa to carry out the operational side of the venture, with Novick and Ayache having assembled. It is now understood that Lift wants to ‘spread its wings’ to enter the lucrative African continent market later this year.
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.
EAA Outdoor Movie Night
SAAF Museum airshow cancelled for another year
The annual airshow of the South African Air Force Museum has been a traditional fundraiser for the museum and due to the lock-down situation the annual airshow has once again been cancelled. In fact, it is unlikely that any airshows will take place in South Africa this year. The Museum has re-introduced general flying on a gradual basis for aircrew to maintain currency. The almost traditional first Saturday of each month flying training day has not yet made it back to the operations list.
A Loon fell from the sky in the Eastern Cape; nothing to worry about, says Google company
A Loon, an internet-access balloon operated by a Google sister company, came down on an Eastern Cape wind farm on the weekend. Loon recovered its hardware on Monday afternoon. The Loon project was once due to provide internet access to rural Mozambique, among other areas. The project has been shut down and recovering the balloons may take months.
On Monday the Google sibling company on Monday recovered internet-access hardware that had quite literally dropped from the sky onto a wind far in the Eastern Cape on the weekend. The Loon balloon was part of a fleet that had once been intended to bring internet connections to the rural reaches of the world, including Mozambique. They operate in the stratosphere, some 20km above the ground and were once intended to form a global mesh network much like a constellation of communication satellites, only cheaper.
“The landing in question was done in a safe and secure manner in coordination with local air traffic control officials based on established protocols,” a Loon spokesperson said. “Per Loon’s landing procedures, a parachute deployed and the balloon was brought down at a relatively low speed in an isolated area. At no time did it pose a risk to the local population. A Loon recovery team has already collected the balloon and its components from the landing site.” The company said its balloons ‘have transited and landed in countries in the region, including South Africa” for many years, as they flew more than 40 million kilometres around the world. The system, which resembles a solar-powered satellite attached to a giant transparent envelope, came down on the Dorper wind farm between Sterkstroom and Molteno.
Alphabet launched a set of the balloons in Kenya in mid-2020. It announced plans to offer internet access to remote parts of Mozambique in May 2020. But early this year it pulled the plug on the concept, saying it was ‘exploring options to take some of Loon’s technology forward’, but would not be doing so itself. The balloons are landed by releasing their lifting gas and deploying a parachute. “As Loon’s services winds down, we will work to safely return our fleet to various landing sites around the world, consistent with established safety and operation procedures,” the company said in on Monday. “We expect this process of landing all the balloons to take a number of months.”
SAAF Museum aircraft in fatal crash
The devastating news that broke on Wednesday morning was that General Des Barker and Col Rama Ayer were killed when the SAAF Museum’s Patchen Explorer crashed just outside the boundary wall of Air Force Base Zwartkops early in the morning. Apparently, they were engaged in flying circuits at the base when an eyewitness heard the engine spluttering badly, possibly due to ‘carb icing’. Flames engulfed the wreckage and reports state that the two pilots on board were killed.
The Explorer was developed for pipeline patrol operation, aerial photography and law enforcement agencies. The prototype was shipped to South Africa and evaluated by the SAAF’s Test Flight and Development Centre for use as a light recognisance forward air control aircraft but was not quite what was required. As a result, it languished in a hangar for many years before being donated to the SAAF Museum. The Explorer, serial 2000, was part of the SAAF Museum Historic Flight.
F-22 Raptor suffers nose-gear failure during emergency landing
During a training flight on 15 March a F-22 Raptor was affected by an unspecified emergency. The pilot decided to abort the flight and make an emergency landing. Upon landing at Eglin Air Force Base, the front landing gear broke and the plane ended up with its nose down on the runway. The pilot did not eject from the aircraft. The F-22 Raptor involved in the incident belonged to the 325th Fighter Wing of the United States Air Force, originally based at Tyndall Air Force Base, also in Florida. However, since Tyndall Air Force Base was damaged by Hurricane Michael in October 2018, Eglin also took over the training of F-22 pilots in addition to housing the Formal Training Unit for the F-35 Lightning II.
Fuel starvation fatal
On 12 March 2019, a Piper PA-31-350, was substantially damaged when it hit terrain in Madeira, Ohio and the commercial pilot was fatally injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed for the local flight that originated from Cincinnati Municipal Airport-Lunken Field (KLUK) in Cincinnati, Ohio. Radar data revealed that, after departing KLUK, the airplane flew several survey tracks near Cincinnati, Ohio, before proceeding north to fly survey tracks near Dayton, Ohio.
According to air traffic control (ATC) voice communications, the pilot contacted ATC to request direct routing to KLUK due to a fuel problem. The air traffic controller advised the pilot to proceed as requested and offered Dayton-Wright Brothers Airport (KMGY), which was eight miles ahead, as a landing alternative. The pilot responded that he had KMGY in sight but wanted to continue to KLUK, which was 30 miles away. The controller then asked the pilot if he wanted to declare an emergency. The pilot said ‘negative.’ The controller then asked the pilot if he required any assistance with the fuel issue and he responded that he should be ‘okay.’ The controller then advised the pilot that ‘multiple airports’ were available between his location and KLUK and the pilot informed the controller that he would advise if the fuel issue developed again.
About 10 minutes later, the pilot established radio contact with the tower at KLUK and advised the controller that the airplane had a fuel problem and that he was hoping to reach the airport. At that time, the airplane was at an altitude of 1,850 feet msl and was about eight miles north of LUK. Shortly after, the pilot advised the controller that he was unsure if the airplane would reach the airport. No further communications were received from the pilot.
Radar data showed that the ground track of the airplane was about 200°, the airplane descended to an altitude of 1,275 feet msl and its estimated groundspeed decreased from about 140 to 98 knots. Radar data then depicted a right turn to a heading of about 250° and a ground track that aligned with a golf course fairway. The airplane’s last radar-recorded position was about 550 feet from the accident site. No additional radar data were recorded. According to witnesses, the airplane engine sputtered before making two loud ‘pop’ or ‘back-fire’ sounds. One witness reported that, after sputtering, the airplane ‘was on its left side flying crooked.’ Another witness reported that the ‘unusual banking made the airplane appear to be flying ‘like a stunt’ in an airshow.’ Two additional witnesses reported that the airplane was flying low when it turned to the left and ‘nose-dived’ into their neighbourhood. The airplane then hit a tree and the backyard of a residence.
A witness from an adjacent residence heard the impact, approached the wreckage immediately after the accident and noted a ‘whitish grey smoke coming from the left engine.’ He reported that ‘a small flame began rising from that same area.’ Video recorded on the witness’ mobile phone showed the area around the left engine engulfed in flames. The witness stated that the airplane was fully engulfed in flames about three minutes later.
A company pilot reported that the accident airplane had a fuel leak in the left wing and provided a photograph of the fuel on the hangar floor, taken about a week before the accident. The company pilot also reported that the accident airplane was due to be exchanged with another company PA-31-350 the week before the accident so that the fuel leak could be isolated and repaired but that the airplane remained parked for a few days and was not exchanged. The accident pilot was then assigned to fly the airplane. The accident airplane was flown by another company pilot about a month before the accident, and he had to perform an unscheduled single-engine landing at Smyrna Airport (KMQY) in Tennessee. The pilot stated that he secured the right engine after an indication of low oil pressure and that maintenance work to address ‘external oil leaks’ was performed at an FBO at KMQY. Review of the airplane’s maintenance records revealed no entries associated with any repairs following this event.
Florida Ring doorbell camera catches terrifying deadly plane crash in neighbourhood
According to reports, a small plane crashed into a car traveling on a Florida street on Monday before skidding and bursting into flames, killing the two people inside the aircraft. The pilot and a passenger in the single-engine Beechcraft Bonanza died and an adult and child inside the vehicle were injured, the Pembroke Pines Fire Department said in a news release. The identities of the pair killed were not released. The plane crashed shortly after taking off around 15h00 from the North Perry Airport, the Federal Aviation Administration said in a statement. The cause of the crash has not been determined and is being investigated.
A video taken from a Ring security camera in a nearby home captured the crash. The footage shows the plane crashing nose first into the vehicle before skidding on the street. A ball of fire erupted as the aircraft broke up. The blaze was extinguished by fire personnel and the vehicle driver and passenger were extricated, authorities said. Apparently, the aircraft had an issue after take-off and reported engine failure. It was reported that the pilot tried the impossible turn, clipped a power line just a few hundred feet from runway and nosed into a passing SUV, hitting on the passenger side where a young boy was seated. The mother was driving and her young son was pinned and had to be removed by firefighters. Both auto passengers taken to hospital with traumatic injuries. Unfortunately, the boy passed on due to his injuries.
Travellers gaining confidence, time to plan for restart of international aviation
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) announced results from its latest poll of recent travellers, revealing growing confidence in a return to air travel, frustration with current travel restrictions and acceptance of a travel app to manage health credentials for travel. The survey found that:
- 88 percent believe that when opening borders, the right balance must be struck between managing COVID-19 risks and getting the economy going again.
- 85 percent believe that governments should set COVID-19 targets (such as testing capacity or vaccine distribution) to re-open borders.
- 84 percent believe that COVID-19 will not disappear, and we need to manage its risks while living and travelling normally.
- 68 percent agreed that their quality of life has suffered with travel restrictions.
- 49 percent believe that air travel restrictions have gone too far.
Whilst there is public support for travel restrictions, it is becoming clear that people are feeling more comfortable with managing the risks of COVID-19. People are also feeling frustrated with the loss of freedom to travel. Travel restrictions come with health, social and economic consequences. Nearly 40 percent of respondents reported mental stress and missing an important human moment because of travel restrictions, whilst one third said that restrictions prevent them from doing business normally.
“The top priority of everybody now is staying safe amid the COVID-19 crisis. But it is important that we map a way to being able to re-open borders, manage risks and enable people to get on with their lives. That includes the freedom to travel. It is becoming clear that we will need to learn to live and travel in a world that has COVID-19. Given the health, social and economic costs of travel restrictions, airlines should be ready to re-connect the world as soon as governments are able to re-open borders. That is why a plan with measurable milestones is so critical. Without one, how can we be prepared for restart without an unnecessary delay?” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s director general and CEO.
The survey also found that:
- 57 percent expect to be traveling within two months of the pandemic being contained (improved from 49 percent in September 2020)
- 72 percent want to travel to see family and friends as soon as possible (improved from 63 percent in September 2020)
- 81 percent believe that they will be more likely to travel once they are vaccinated.
- 84 percent said they will not travel if there is a chance of quarantine at destination (largely unchanged from 83 percent in September 2020)
- 56 percent believe that they will postpone travel until the economy stabilises (improved from 65 percent in September 2020).
There are some headwinds in travel trends. About 84 percent of travellers will not travel if it involves quarantine at destination. There are still indications that the pick-up in business travel will take time with 62 percent of respondents saying they are likely to travel less for business even after the virus is contained. However, this is a significant improvement from the 72 percent recorded in September 2020. People want to get back to travel, but quarantine is the showstopper. As testing capacity and technology improves and the vaccinated population grows, the conditions for removing quarantine measures are being created and this points us again towards working with governments for a well-planned re-opening as soon as conditions allow,” said de Juniac.
With regards to the IATA Travel Pass, the survey found that:
- 89 percent of respondents believe that governments need to standardise vaccine and testing certificates.
- 80 percent are encouraged by the prospect of the IATA Travel Pass App and would use it as soon as available.
- 78 percent will only use a travel credential app if they have full control over their data.
Travel health credentials are already opening borders to some countries. IATA believes that such a system needs global standards and the highest level of data security. The survey produced very encouraging data indicating traveller willingness to use a secure mobile phone app to manage their travel health credentials. Four of five people surveyed would like to use this technology as soon as it becomes available. They also expect that travel health credentials (vaccine or test certificates) must comply with global standards, work that is still in progress by governments. Survey respondents also sent a clear message on the importance of data security. Some 78 percent of travellers will not use an app if they are not in full control of their data. And about 60 percent will not use a travel credential app if data is stored centrally.
“We are designing IATA Travel Pass with the traveller in mind. Passengers keep all the data on their mobile devices, and they remain in full control of where that data goes. There is no central database. While we are making good progress with numerous trials, we are still awaiting the global standards for digital testing and vaccine certificates. Only with global standards and governments accepting them can we maximise efficiency and deliver an optimum travel experience,” said de Juniac.
Boeing finds another potential issue with the 787 Dreamliner
According to sources familiar with the matter, Boeing company is looking at the 787 flight deck windows after a supplier changed its windows manufacturing process. Boeing is making sure that the flight deck windows are still up to par with the company’s standards following the change. The added layer of scrutiny should not affect deliveries of the aircraft. Boeing’s last new delivery of the 787 Dreamliner came in October 2020, when the manufacturer delivered a fresh wide body to Etihad Airways, according to planespotters.net data. In total, Boeing delivered four 787s in Q4 2020, all four deliveries took place in October. The manufacturer has stored around 80 Boeing 787s in order to check for a variety of issues.
“Based on what we know today, we expect 787 deliveries to resume later this quarter. However, it will be back-end loaded with no delivery this month and most likely very few, if any, in February,” stated the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and President of Boeing, David Calhoun, during the company’s Q4 2020 earnings call on 27 January 2021.
Throughout 2020, various production issues have shown their face on the 787 programme. In August 2020, it was revealed that the Dreamliner inner skin of the fuselage was too rough, in addition to some improperly manufactured shims, which are used to fill gaps during the assembly of various fuselage sections. Combined, the two issues presented a risk whereupon the fuselage would not be able to withstand the loads during the flight phase. As a result, Boeing was forced to ground eight 787s at the time. In September 2020, the aircraft vertical tail fin and the horizontal stabiliser were also under scrutiny, in addition to a potential problem with the autopilot, as revealed in a special bulletin by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) during the same month. Boeing potentially faces billions of extra costs to fix 787 Dreamliner issues
Laser dazzles Virgin Atlantic captain, flight returns to LHR
A laser from the ground affected the vision of a captain on a Virgin Atlantic flight from London, United Kingdom to Tel Aviv, Israel. The Boeing 787 safely returned to its origin airport, London Heathrow Airport (LHR). The Virgin Atlantic Boeing 787 Dreamliner was operating flight VS453 from LHR to Tel Aviv Ben Gurion International Airport (TLV) on 15 March 2021. As it was en route to Israel and flying over Paris, France, a person from the ground pointed a laser at the Dreamliner, which affected the captain’s ability to see. The aircraft almost immediately turned around and landed safely at LHR. The perpetrator was later arrested by the local police, according to the Jerusalem Post.
“The safety and security of our people and our customers is paramount and this was a precautionary step taken by the operating crew,” a Virgin Atlantic spokesperson of the airline said, adding that the carrier ‘swiftly notified the police and remain in close contact with them and the United Kingdom Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).’ Virgin Atlantic sent out a replacement Boeing 787 to conduct the flight to the Israeli city on 16 March 2021.
China’s AG600 amphibious aircraft begins firefighting capability test
China’s domestically developed amphibious aircraft AG600 successfully conducted its first test flight for its fire extinguishing system in Jingmen, central China’s Hubei Province, its developer announced on Thursday. The aircraft performed well during the test of its water-dropping capabilities at Zhanghe Airport of the city, which is one of its key functions, said the Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC). Thursday’s flight test will provide a basis for the improvement of its firefighting capacities and better serve the country’s demand for enhanced natural disaster prevention and emergency rescue capabilities.
Russia plans to ban its airlines from registering planes abroad
According to state news agency TASS, the plan was proposed in the meeting of the Russian Federal Air Transport Agency, also known as Rosaviatsiya, management on 12 March 2021. The proposal is to be discussed further, but if accepted, the change will be included into the Aviation Code of the Russian Federation. According to the head of Rosaviatsyia, Alexander Neradko, the requirement might come into effect from 1 January 2023. Neradko estimates that currently there are over 800 foreign-registered aircraft operating with Russian airlines, which constitutes almost one-tenth of all Russia-based fleet and the vast majority of all commercial aircraft. As Rosaviatsiya report indicates, in 2018, over 90% of passenger traffic in Russia was conducted on foreign-registered airplanes. For example, almost the entire fleet of Russian flag carrier Aeroflot, including all of its Boeing and Airbus aircraft are registered in Bermuda.
Russian airlines avoid registering their aircraft domestically due to various reasons, including high import taxes. Russian airworthiness standards also have a bad reputation with lessors, which discourages registering leased airplanes in the country. There have been many attempts by Rosaviatsyia to encourage airlines to register their aircraft domestically. In 2019, Russian government introduced a bill that allowed VAT exemption to all foreign-made aircraft registered in Russia. The measure did not bring desired results. When Aeroflot started taking deliveries of brand-new Airbus A350 aircraft in 2020, once again they were registered in Bermuda. Rosaviatsyia has already proposed a similar ban in 2017, but the measure was not approved.
CAAC suspends Donghai Airlines from adding flights over crew fight
The Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) penalised Shenzhen-based Donghai Airlines over a fight between crew members. The airline will not be able to add new flights and routes for an unspecified amount of time, the aviation authority said on 15 March 2021. The incident happened on 20 February 2021 when on a flight between Nantong (NTG) and Xian (XIY), a flight between a pilot and a flight attendant broke out. According to Chinese media, the pilot accused the head flight attendant of not performing his duties, after a passenger attempted to use a bathroom while the pilot was in there. Due to safety concerns, passengers are not permitted to be near the bathroom occupied by pilots. The dispute resulted in a scuffle which saw other crew members being involved and both original participants receiving injuries. Recordings of the incident went viral on Chinese social media in early March, resulting in an investigation. As the investigation concluded, the CAAC announced that the pilot will have his license revoked, whilst the flight attendant, as well as other crew members, will receive flight bans. In addition, part of the airline’s top management will be fired and receive fines.
Start-up engine maker is testing 130 shp mini-turboprop engine
A Greek company has flown its prototype 130-shaft horsepower engine on a Bristell light-sport-category aircraft. The dramatic video of the first flight of the mini-turboprop is interesting and the practical advantages of a Jet A-burning light airplane can be enticing (avgas is all but unavailable in large swaths of the world). But some thorny questions of the practicality of such an engine come to mind.
The general wisdom on pistons vs. turboprops is that the efficiency of pistons begins to deteriorate around the horsepower levels where turboprops pick up, around 500 to 700 hp/shp. There is some overlap, whilst issues of cost and reliability come into play when evaluating which is more appropriate. Piston engines are cheaper; turbines are generally more reliable.
In the sub-150 hp category, it is hard to imagine a turbine-core engine matching the fuel efficiency of a piston. Also, all turbine engines depend largely on flying at higher altitudes for reducing fuel burn. Light sport aircraft, by contrast, spend virtually all their flight time at low altitudes where the turbine sucks fuel. Alex Fatseas, Marketing Director at Heron Engines, said “At the moment we are at the final stage of the flight tests, so we will have all the information (consumption, price, maintenance, delivery time etc.), really soon.” That is also when the pre-orders will start.
CHC purchasing Babcock’s offshore aviation unit
Offshore helicopter service provider CHC Group this morning announced a conditional agreement to acquire Babcock International Group’s oil and gas aviation business. This Aberdeen, Scotland-headquartered Babcock division provides offshore oil and gas crew transport in the UK, Denmark and Australia. It operates 30 aircraft and employs approximately 500 people. Subject to pre-closing conditions, the deal is expected to complete in the second quarter 2021. CHC said it will seek clearances for the transaction from antitrust authorities in the UK and Australia, though completion of the deal is not conditional upon such clearances being received. The proposed transaction continues a consolidation trend in the offshore helicopter business, begun when Bristow Group merged with Era Helicopters last year. Headquartered in Irving, Texas, CHC has operations in the North, Caspian and Timor Seas as well as the Atlantic and Indian Oceans.
This announcement follows more than a year of industry speculation that aviation, energy and defence conglomerate Babcock International was looking to unload this unprofitable unit, the former Bond Helicopters, currently doing business in the North Sea as Babcock Mission Critical Services Offshore. In February 2020, parent Babcock International announced that it was taking a $118.5 million charge related to its offshore aviation business and CEO Archie Bethel said the company was “restructuring our aviation sector to address the cost-base as the oil and gas revenues reduce.”
EHang partners with Giancarlo Zema Design Group to build eco-sustainable Vertiport in Italy
EHang the world’s leading autonomous aerial vehicle (AAV) technology platform company, announced a partnership with an Italian architecture firm Giancarlo Zema Design Group (GZDG) to extend its air mobility solutions in the EU. With EHang’s passenger-grade AAV technologies and air mobility solutions, GZDG has designed and will build an eco-sustainable vertiport in Italy. The vertiport will use green design and construction materials and can generate energy to recharge the EH216 passenger-grade AAVs. Vertiports will play a significant role in the Urban Air Mobility (UAM) market and the new era of flight. When integrated into the existing transportation infrastructure, vertiports can serve as aerial hubs for tourists.
Inspired by the native African tree Baobab, GZDG came up with the natural Baobab design: a 30-meter-high tower, with a steel and laminated wood structure, a waiting room, a café, a 200-square-meter panoramic restaurant and connecting lift. The take off-and-landing platform will be set on the roof terrace. The vertiport is built with non-slip photovoltaic panels that can generate over 300 KW of electric power per day. The platform will have fully independent plug-and-play charging infrastructures that can be used to recharge EHang’s AAVs. With the Baobab vertiport, EHang and GZDG aim to enter the emerging global eco-tourism sector, with multiple projects being planned in Europe and Southeast Asia.
FAA announces new effective dates for drone rules
The FAA has announced that the final rules covering remote identification of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS / drones) and drone operations over people will now go into effect on 21 April 2021. The original effective date for both rules was 16 March 60 days after they were published in the Federal Register. According to the FAA, the date was pushed back to ‘afford the President’s appointees or designees an opportunity to review the rule and allow for consideration of any questions of fact, law, or policy that the rule may raise before it becomes effective.’
The Remote Identification of Unmanned Aircraft rule requires drones in flight to broadcast identification and location information along with requiring similar location data from the aircraft’s control station or take-off point. Unmanned aircraft operating at FAA-recognised identification areas (FRIAs) are exempt from Remote ID requirements. While the Remote ID rule goes into effect on 21 April, operators will have 30 months from the date the rule was published in the Federal Register 15 January 2021 to comply with the new regulations.
The Operation of Small Unmanned Aircraft Over People rule applies to Part 107 operations and includes provisions for flights over people, over moving vehicles and at night. In addition, it requires remote pilots to pass an ‘updated’ initial knowledge test or complete an online training course prior to operating under the new regulations. The FAA says the knowledge test and training course will be available on 6 April 2021.
Enabling drone operations on small boats
TideWise and STABLE are pleased to confirm successful final tests in December 2020 for the ARIEL project using the USV Tupan. The stabilised drone platform from STABLE was selected as the instrument for safeguarding UAV operations. This R&D project, consisting of an autonomous oil spill detection system, was executed in partnership with Repsol Sinopec Brazil through the Brazilian National Agency of Petroleum, Natural Gas and Biofuels financing scheme. The USV and the UAV are working autonomously and collaboratively, allowing continuous monitoring and detection of oil spills at sea.
Rafael Coelho, Managing Director of TideWise: “One of the project’s main challenge was accomplishing a safe UAV landing on a moving USV. Based upon a bespoken flexible design, low power consumption long time stabilisation references and a proactive engineering team. The STABLE platform was selected for our project as it removed most of the rolling and pitching motions for securing a successful landing.”
TideWise is a Brazilian technology-based company that provides maritime solutions. They are technology enthusiasts with more than 30 years of cumulative experience in vessel design and robotics. The technology significantly reduces the environmental impact of maritime operations, operational costs and risks to human life. We provide port, coastal and offshore services using our own autonomous and remotely operated unmanned surface vehicles.
Twice Weekly News from African Pilot
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Until Monday, please be ‘Serious about flying’.
Athol Franz (Editor)