“Journalists cannot serve two masters. To the extent that they take on the task of suppressing information or biting their tongue for the sake of some political agenda, they are betraying the trust of the public and corrupting their own profession.”
African Pilot’s aircraft of the week identification quiz
Above what altitude must a non pressurized Aircraft carry supplemental oxygen?
Tragedy of the SAAF Museum Patchen Explorer
The Patchen Explorer was conceived by the former Thurston Aircraft Corporation in the USA as a landplane version of its TSC-1 Teal amphibian. The development of both designs was financed by Marvin Patchen Inc, which retained the rights to the TSC-2 Explorer. The SAAF Museum owned the one and only example of the Patchen Explorer in the world. Construction of the prototype was completed by Aerofab Corporation of Sanford, Maine, USA and the aircraft made its first flight on 13 October 1972 at the hands of test pilot Win Young. It was intended as a cheaper, faster, more maintenance-free alternative to the helicopter for such tasks as pipeline and fire patrol, fish spotting, aerial photography and police missions.
The aircraft never went into production and only one prototype was built. With a total amount of just over 200 hours flown, Marvin Patchen sold the prototype and all the rights of the Explorer to scientist Dr Maitland Reed of National Dynamics in South Africa in May 1975. The aircraft was brought to the country by Dr Reed and based at Virginia Airport where it was registered ZS-UGF. Type certification was envisaged, after it was intended to put the aircraft in production, but nothing came of this bold venture. Without any further prospects Reed offered the aircraft to the South African Air Force for evaluation purposes, still sporting its ZS-UGF registration. Test Pilot Pikkie Rautenbach flew the aircraft on 23 August 1975 and commented favourably on the Patchen Explorer.
Between 1976 and 1979 the aircraft was employed as a communication aircraft with Test Flight Development Centre, then based at AFB Waterkloof. The aircraft displayed the SAAF serial number 2000. Pilots in the SAAF, including test pilot, Bob Masson, were critical of the aircraft’s design, particularly the location of the engine. Mounted on a pylon, high above the wing, the aircraft high centre of gravity had to be managed well, especially in gusty weather. During its time with TFDC the aircraft proved handy, if under-utilised; it accumulated a mere 49 hours between 1975 and 1979. Its nose landing gear seemed susceptible to hard landings and was damaged more than once. Following another failure of the nose-wheel the Air Force seemed reluctant to repair the aircraft and the Patchen was left unattended at Waterkloof. The downtime resulted in a steady deterioration of the aircraft, as it stood idle at TFDC between 1979 and 1986. The cost to return it to flight proved unjustified and with other test flight-projects and its imminent move from Waterkloof to Overberg, Test Flight Development Centre decided to dispose of the Patchen Explorer.
Although interest was shown from civilian buyers, the SAAF disposal board decided to rather transfer the Patchen to the Air Force Museum, on account of its singular uniqueness. The nose-gear was eventually repaired and during February 1987 the aircraft was serviced and restored back to flying condition and ferried to the Museum’s workshop at Lanseria. A superfluous Museum colour scheme was subsequently added. As an economical runabout it was flown regularly across the country to airshows, venturing as far south as Margate for the annual EAA convention and even flown down to Port Elizabeth and Cape Town on at least one occasion. By September 1989, the airframe had accumulated a total of 400 hours of flying, but the nose-gear still proved troublesome and had to be repaired yet again. The nose structure was subsequently reinforced and modified by Air Force engineers and Museum technical personnel. Seeing long periods of inactivity, in favour of other museum aircraft, the Patchen Explorer last flew in early 1996 at the hands of Lt Col. Dave Knoessen. After almost fifteen years of inactivity the aircraft has again been serviced and ground taxi tests were carried out during 2012.
On Wednesday 17 March, an eyewitness stated that the aircraft flew over his house ‘sputtering badly,’ possibly from carb icing and went in short of runway 02.
The eyewitness commented further “My house is the last one any aircraft overflies on short finals for 02 at AFB Swartkop. I watched two previous left-hand circuits and all looked fine. The weather was light rain and cloudy with a base of approximately 2000 feet. Shortly before the accident I heard the Alouette 3 practicing autorotation overhead. On the third circuit of the Patchen I watched as the base leg looked normal then turned onto long finals, it seemed they applied power for the approach and that was followed by a loud backfire. Subsequent misfiring and loss of altitude made me run out my front door to see if they cleared the wall. I saw the plane pass in line with the runway until I lost visual because or trees. At this time i heard no exhaust note which was followed by an enormous crashing sound and smoke after five seconds. I ran out of my property to see if the Patchen cleared the wall of the Air Force base. Condolences to the families and all friends of the two pilots.”
On behalf of African Pilot, I wish to present my condolences to the families of Major General Des Barker and Cornel Rama Iyer, both of who I knew very well. Such experienced men with many years of test flying in their respective logbooks. This is a terrible tragedy for world aviation.
African Pilot’s April 2021 edition
The April edition will be featuring Business Jets, FBOs and Jet engines worldwide is almost complete and will be published later this week. This edition also features 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 including excellent pictures to illustrate the features, 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’s May 2021 edition
The exciting May edition will feature helicopters from all over the world as well as helicopter operators and training schools. Within the same edition we will also feature Insurance and Financing of all aircraft types. With its extended reach throughout the world, African Pilot as set the benchmark for aviation publishing, not just in South Africa, but all over the world. Without dedication, perseverance and a deep understanding of aviation matters, no aviation publication will be in a position to provide world-wide coverage of a significant range of aviation subjects.
African Pilot Digital Calendars
Wallpaper calendar for the months of March and April
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.
The African Pilot team is 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’
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. Within the next few days, the promotional film will be released and I will place it into APAnews.
AERO South Africa news
Getting back to flying during the COVID-19 pandemic: from ‘IMC to VFR’ are you ready?
Date: Wednesday, 24 March 2021
Following on the webinar hosted on 25 February 2021, join AERO South Africa and the Safety-First Aviator team, as we give guidance to pilots on getting back to flying safely, focusing on resilience with the 2020/2021 campaign of ‘Prop Clear’. COVID-19 is not going to disappear in the near future, so pilots have started looking at ways to get their engines running again, but they need to ensure their safety when taking flight: IMC to VFR.
Join us for this informative webinar where our speakers Cobus Toerien (ALPA-SA), Santjie White (South African Search and Rescue), Lauren Smith (South African Weather Service) and Ari Levien (MayDay-SA) continue the discussion and delve into challenges and solutions to give pilots guidance on the elements of moving from bad conditions to better conditions, weathering the storm we find ourselves in. The webinar will be moderated by Franz Smit from Pilot Insure.
AERO South Africa 2021 exhibition cancelled for this year
Due to the ongoing uncertainty regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, Messe Frankfurt South Africa has taken the decision to postpone the AERO South Africa exhibition and conference to July 2022. The three-day event will take place at Wonderboom National Airport and is supported by AERO Friedrichshafen, organisers of the largest General Aviation event in Europe. The launch event in 2019 was extremely well received by the General Aviation sector and exhibitors are excited about the date change in the hope that the new dates will allow sufficient time for the impacts of the pandemic to settle. “Faced with the global unpredictability around event restrictions and international travel, we believe that we made the best decision for the event. This way we can provide a platform that is safe for exhibitors, visitors and staff and encourages high participation,” said Annelie Reynolds, show director for AERO South Africa.
The event planned for July 2022 will cover the full spectrum of General Aviation products, technology and services and already has commitment from some of the leading manufacturers and suppliers to the industry. Exhibitors and visitors wishing to fly to the show will benefit from FREE landing, approach and ground handling fees, making AERO South Africa the most cost-effective General Aviation show on the continent. Running alongside the exhibition are high-quality workshop sessions, a park & sell area, allowing private sellers the opportunity to be a part of the show and engage with potential buyers looking to purchase pre-owned aircraft, as well as demonstration flights allowing exhibitors to demonstrate aircraft first-hand to prospective buyers.
The African show for General Aviation, AERO South Africa presented in corporation with Messe Friedrichshafen, will take place in July 2022 at the Wonderboom National Airport, Tshwane. For more information about the event, please visit www.aerosouthafrica.com. For media related inquires queries out contact: Amanda Dube on +27 10 599 6170 or E-mail: Amanda.Dube@za.messefrankfurt.com.
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.
Aero Club support
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.
SA’s continued military deployment extended by President Ramaphosa
Until the end of March 2022, the South African flag will continue to be seen on the shoulders of airmen, military medics and soldiers and fly above bases they operate from in DR Congo. This is according to a 16 March letter from Commander-in-Chief, President Cyril Ramaphosa, to National Assembly Speaker Thandi Modise, authorising ‘fulfilment of international obligations towards the UN’. The letter gives the Presidential thumbs-up for 957 SA National Defence Force (SANDF) personnel to be in the central African country, under the Operation Mistral tasking, as part of both the UN Mission MONUSCO and its Force Intervention Brigade (FIB). According to the Presidential missive, the allocation of South African military personnel to its largest peace support mission will cost R818 504 388 for the 1 April to 31 March 2022 period.
2021 Sling Africa Tour invitation
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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.
22 to 25 March
HAI Helicopter Association International La Nouvelle New Orleans Los Angeles USA
Contact E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Cancelled for 2021 – rescheduled for 2022
24 to 26 March
Aerospace and Defence Trade Show (ATDS 2021) Lanseria International Airport
Contact Louise Olckers (GM) Cell: 082 847 3403
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: email@example.com Cell: 083 269 1516
26 & 27 March
Uitenhage Wings and Wheels
Contact Lourens Kruger E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Cell: 082 320 2615
2 to 5 April
Sandstone Steam Festival – train rides all day from 10h00
Contact 051 933 2235 Website: www.sandstone-estates.com
Garden Route Airshow at George Airport
Contact Brett Scheuble E-mail: email@example.com Cell: 084 418 3836
EAA Chapter 322 monthly meeting virtual and MOTH hall
Contact Neil Bowden E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Cell: 084 674 5674
15 & 17 April
SAPFA Rally Nationals and Fun Rally – Stellenbosch Airfield
Contact Frank Eckard E-mail: email@example.com Cell: 083 269 1516
Robertson Flying Club annual breakfast fly-in with spot landing competition
Contact Alwyn du Plessis E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Cell: 083 270 5888
17 & 18 April
Sports Aerobatics Club Eastern Cape Regionals Wings Park Airfield
Contact Annie Boon E-mail: email@example.com
EAA South Africa at Middelburg Airfield AGM details to be announced
24 & 27 April
Aero Club Airweek at Middelburg Airfield
Contact Rob Jonkers E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Cell: 082 804 7032
SAPFA Middelburg Speed Rally at Middelburg Airfield
Contact Jonty Esser E-mail: email@example.com Cell: 082 855 9435
Military History Festival at the Voortrekker Monument, Pretoria
Contact E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
EAA Chapter 322 monthly meeting virtual and MOTH hall
Contact Neil Bowden E-mail: email@example.com Cell: 084 674 5674
SAPFA Sheila Taylor Navigation Rally Krugersdorp Airfield
Contact Frank Eckard E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Cell: 083 269 1516
Battlefields Country Lodge and Sports Resort annual fly-in
Contact Dave O’ Halloran E-mail: email@example.com Tel: 034 218 1614
8 & 9 May
Sport Aerobatics Club KZN Regionals Ladysmith Airfield
Contact Annie Boon E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
14 & 15 May
Lowveld Airshow at Nelspruit airfield
Contact Willemien Hodgkinson E-mail: email@example.com Cell: 079 499 5733
Cancelled for 2021
Fly-Mu breakfast fly-in and music festival at Springs airfield
Contact Fanie E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Cell: 083 789 5507
As further dates are sent to me, I will continue to update the aviation calendar.
ICAO encourages liberalisation and innovation to spur West African aviation pandemic recovery
Speaking on Thursday 18 March to the virtual Ministerial meeting on enhancing Air Transport connectivity and growth in West Africa, ICAO Council President Salvatore Sciacchitano and Secretary General Dr Fang Liu emphasised how liberalisation and innovation remain key to the region’s optimised and sustainable air connectivity.
On the topic of liberalisation, President Sciacchitano highlighted in his keynote address to the participants to the event, which was hosted by Nigeria’s Federal Ministry of Aviation and the International Partners for Aviation Innovation and Sustainability (iPADIS), that “the restoration of air connectivity is nothing short of vital for the 15 Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) member countries’ 308 million people and for their many businesses which rely on cross-border travel.”
He also emphasised the excellent collaboration towards the enhancement of system performance and the operationalisation of the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM) which all West African States have joined in line with the Yamoussoukro Decision and the adoption of multilateral legal instruments to maximise air cargo’s role in national and global recoveries.
Dr Liu underscored in her remarks how many current obstacles and challenges to West African air connectivity are systemic in nature and being addressed through activities being coordinated through ICAO, but that “with respect to the full liberalisation of air transport in Africa, we must continue to call together for greater political will, and highest-level engagement, if we are to effectively address the remaining barriers to Africa’s more open skies.”
After his update on the outcomes of the recent Phase III amendments to the ICAO Council’s Aviation Recovery Task Force (CART) guidelines, which are helping West African and other countries to align their responses to COVID-19, President Sciacchitano commented on how ICAO and its Council also are keenly aware of how important innovation will be to civil aviation recovery and sustainability in the pandemic’s aftermath.
“It’s important to recognise in this respect that our sector’s future sustainability will pertain not only to the high expectations many now place on it to adopt new technologies, operations and fuel types supporting a greener post-pandemic recovery, but also long-term health screening and hygiene solutions to help make the entire passenger experience more responsive and resilient to future pandemic events,” he stated.
Dr Liu stressed how innovation will be so critical to every air transport stakeholder going forward, whether in government or industry and that the ICAO Secretariat and Council are making the acceleration of effective civil aviation standardisation and regulation a highest priority moving forward.
“New partnerships and groups have already been formalised to aid this process and everyone is committed to ensuring that our own innovations in terms of standardisation, regulation and certification support a more responsive, safe, secure and sustainable aviation sector moving forward.”
Other topics covered by the ICAO leaders included the High-level Conference on COVID-19 the agency is organising for this October, the importance of Regional Safety Oversight Organisations (RSOOs) to a safe and successful restart of operations in the context of current regulatory alleviations and restrictions and the successes continuing to be realized through ICAO’s AFI plans for safety and security even during the exceptional pandemic conditions for West African air transport. West African States were also praised for the effectiveness of their responses to the pandemic and it was noted that the improved coordination being achieved at present could be leveraged for further safety, security, efficiency and sustainability benefits when the pandemic has subsided.
What a relief!
The need to move COVID-19 relief supplies around Africa has shone a spotlight on the humanitarian missions carried out by two Kenyan airlines. The global pandemic has seen vast quantities of protective clothing and medical supplies being ferried around the world, Alan Dron reports. However, for some airlines, this crisis has been just the latest of many in which they have been involved over the years. Kenya’s Astral Aviation and ALS are two operators where humanitarian operations make up a significant part of their operations. Both operate throughout Africa for organisations such as UNICEF, the World Food Programme and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).
Astral’s CEO, Sanjeev Gadhia, estimates that his company has flown more than 2,000 humanitarian missions over the past 20 years, carrying tens of thousands of tonnes of cargo, both to and within Africa. “Humanitarian flights account for 25% of our business and form an important part of our scheduled and charter strategy by offering on-demand flights to the humanitarian sector,” he said. “During the pandemic we have experienced an unprecedented demand for the air freight of personal protective equipment (PPE) from China to Africa and from our Nairobi hub to 24 countries in Africa. In late November he said “Currently we are working on a repeat charter for more than 100 tonnes of PPE from China to Africa, which will involve the charter of a Boeing 747F and a 787 passenger freighter to uplift the cargo from Guangzhou to Nairobi for onward connection on our Boeing 727F from Nairobi to Juba.” Like Astral, ALS has found itself facing tough competition during the pandemic from passenger airlines desperately trying to bring in some revenue from freighting services. For example, one major African carrier was offering cargo flights with a De Havilland Dash 8-400 at prices 36% lower than the average market offer. ALS CEO, Shakeel Khan, told November’s 12th Global Humanitarian Aviation Conference: “There was no way we could compete with that.”
Both Astral and ALS have heterogenous fleets. In Astral’s case, that ranges from a Fokker F27, with a cargo capacity of six tonnes, to a Boeing 747-400F (110 tonnes). ALS, meanwhile, operates everything from Cessna Caravans, able to get into small airstrips, to Embraer 145 regional jets. Those varied fleets allow the two companies to handle a wide range of missions. For example, recently ALS has been involved in exchanges of prisoners of war in Yemen, under the auspices of the ICRC. Astral has also been involved in Yemen. The complexities of operating humanitarian missions in a war zone have included having to limit time on the ground in the strife-torn country to a one-hour window.
One aspect of Astral’s operations that Gadhia says has helped the company handle difficult missions has been its practice of including a member of its charter team on all such flights. The extra crew member’s role is “to ensure that pre-flight and post-flight coordination are done smoothly”, as there are numerous interactions with the cargo-handlers that cannot be done by the crew. “We take responsibility at the destination to ensure that the cargo has been accounted for, instead of just offloading it and departing. This reduces the claims that may arise and provides a high level of transparency,” explained Gadhia. Astral and ALS had to cope with increased workloads and restricted staff numbers, with many personnel having to quarantine after contact with suspected coronavirus victims, plus strict national regulations on the movement of people. For example, in ALS’ case it was unable to rotate many of its crews, with unutilised Kenyan staff being stuck in Nairobi, while non-Kenyan resident staff were unable to enter the country.
Speaking at the virtual conference, Khan noted that not only had the airline faced problems in moving staff to where they were needed, it had necessarily incurred considerably increased costs, both from installing precautions to protect staff from infection and, in some cases, paying for medical help when they had fallen ill. Nevertheless, despite the financial stress, ALS had continued to keep personnel on full pay despite reduced revenues, ‘because you need the loyalty of staff’. Similarly, Astral’s Gadhia noted that the company had not reduced its personnel: “It is morally wrong to lay-off staff during bad times when they have worked hard during the good times.”
Senegal set for first CN23MPA
Indonesian Aerospace (PT Dirgantara Indonesia) showed off what it described as the second of two CN-235 aircraft for the Senegalese Air Force at Bandung / Husein Sastranegara Internal Airport. Senegal already has two transport versions of the CN235 in its inventory, a CN235-220AT and a CN235-220M – both operated by the Escadre de Transport at Dakar / Yoff. One of these is a second hand ex-commercial airliner model originally flown by Indonesia’s Merpati Nusantara Airlines and later converted to military configuration. Another ex-airliner was transferred to Guinea.
It seems that two MPA versions will now also be delivered, the newly rolled-out CN235-220MPA, still wearing the Indonesian test registration AX-2348 and expected to become 6W-TTD and a further machine, expected to become 6W-TTE. This reflects the ever-growing piracy threat in the Gulf of Guinea, which countries like Senegal, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana and Nigeria are now having to tackle.
The CN235 was the product of a joint venture between Construcciones Aeronáuticas SA (CASA) of Spain and PT Dirgantara Indonesia, formerly known as IPTN. The two companies formed Airtech International to manage the programme and to jointly develop the original Series 10 and Series 100/110 versions. Later versions were developed independently, so that there are competing Spanish and Indonesian MPA variants, with CASA offering the CN235MP Persuader and IPTN offering the CN235MPA.
The Spanish CN235MP Persuader featured a belly-mounted radar, while the Indonesian MPA version originally had a nose-mounted search radar in an extended nose radome and an antenna fairing, probably serving an electronic support measures (ESM) system, on top of the cockpit. All MP and MPA variants have an electro-optical / infrared sensor turret under the nose and are offered with a number of radar options, including the Thales OceanMaster or Searchmaster and the Telephonics APS-143C(V)3.
SACAA probes fatal Ballito microlight accident
Police in KwaZulu-Natal are investigating inquests after two people were killed following a light aircraft crash in Ballito, north of the Durban CBD, on Wednesday morning. According to provincial police spokesperson Colonel Thembeka Mbele, at around 09h30, the microlight crashed into the sugar cane fields in Ballito. “A 46-year-old pilot and a passenger aged 59 were declared dead at the scene. The circumstances surrounding the incident are being investigated,” Mbele said.
IPSS Medical Rescue spokesperson, Paul Herbst, added that both the pilot and passenger were deceased at the scene and were found about an hour-and-a-half after the crash. Civil Aviation Authority spokesperson, Kabelo Ledwaba, confirmed the accident. “The Accident and Incident Investigation Division (AIID) is aware of a fatal aircraft accident reported in Ballito in KwaZulu-Natal. There were two people on-board. Unfortunately, both occupants were fatality injured. Investigators have been dispatched to commence with the on-site investigation phase,” he said. Ledwaba said the aircraft was operated as part of a training exercise.
Lack of supervision factor in fatal Squirrel powerline crash
An ATSB report into the fatal crash of a Squirrel helicopter on 20 March 2019 that was stringing powerlines has concluded post-training supervision by the aircraft operator may have prevented the accident. The unidentified person onboard died when the helicopter’s main rotor blade struck a pole around 60 kilometres east of Woomera Airfield, South Australia. However, the investigation revealed this collision was likely caused by the experienced pilot using an adapted technique that increased the uptake of dust, reducing visibility. “There were no requirements in the operator’s procedures to provide any post-training supervision for powerline operations,” said the ATSB’s director of transport safety, Stuart Macleod. “What supervision was provided was ineffective in identifying that a modified stringing method was being used by the pilot.”
In response, operator Aeropower has introduced a raft of new measures including the introduction of consolidation flight checks at key points for pilots newly authorised in specialist tasks. The AS350B3e Squirrel helicopter, registered VH-SZS and operated by Aeropower, was stringing powerlines from the Mount Gunson South substation to the Carrapateena mine site, a total distance of 51 kilometres, approximately 60 kilometres east of Woomera Airfield on 20 March 2019. While pulling the draw wire with a nose-high and rearward attitude, the helicopter’s main rotor blades struck the pole about 17 metres above the ground. The helicopter subsequently impacted the ground near the base of the pole.
NTSB preliminary report Piper PA32RT
On 20 February 2021 Piper PA-32RT-300T was destroyed when it was involved in an accident near the Cullman Regional Airport (CMD), Vinemont, Alabama. The pilot and a passenger were fatally injured. According to airport surveillance video the airplane took off from runway 2 about 17h40, made one touch-and-go landing at 17h46, then impacted terrain at 17h48. Witnesses reported that the flight was part of a sales transaction between the pilot who owned the airplane and the passenger who was the potential buyer. The pilot held a flight instructor rating and included five hours of free flight instruction in the airplane’s sales advertisement. The pilot stated to first responders that the airplane ‘lost power,’ he succumbed to his injuries two days after the accident.
Examination of the accident site revealed that the airplane impacted a wooded area on a residential property, at an elevation of 930 feet mean sea level (msl). The wreckage debris path was about 350 feet long and oriented on a magnetic heading of 130°. The airplane came to rest inverted, a postimpact fire consumed most of the wreckage. However, all major structural components of the airplane were located within the debris field.
The flap selector handle was observed in the first detent position consistent with a 10° flap setting. Flight control cable continuity was confirmed from the cockpit controls to the respective control surfaces for the stabilator and rudder. The aileron cables remained attached to the forward cockpit chain segment and were continuous to the bell cranks in each wing. The turnbuckle at the center of the forward aileron chain segment and the turnbuckle in the center of the aileron balance cable were both fractured at their mid points. The fuel selector valve was found in the ‘OFF’ position.
The engine was partially separated and sustained impact and fire damage. No crankcase anomalies were noted. The engine rotated smoothly by manually turning the propeller hub. All three of the propeller blades remained in the propeller hub and attached to the crankshaft propeller flange. Continuity was confirmed throughout the engine and thumb compression was attained on all cylinders.
Saudi signs record $3 billion funding deal to buy 73 jets
Saudi Arabian Airlines signed a $3 billion funding deal, the largest financing agreement in its operating history. The airline plans to use the funding to expand its fleet by purchasing 20 Airbus A321neos, 15 A321XLRs, 30 A320neos as well as 8 Boeing 787-10 jets. The A320neo jets would go to Saudi’s low-cost arm Flydeal. The financing should cover the airline’s needs until mid-2024. The fleet expansion is part of Saudi’s aims to follow the country’s plan to attract 100 million visitors as well as 30 million Umrah pilgrims each year. Saudi Arabian Airlines (Saudia) is reportedly in negotiations to acquire around 70 additional Airbus A321neo and Boeing 787 and 777 aircraft.
The Director-General Ibrahim bin Abdulrahman Al-Omar said that the financing agreement demonstrated the airline’s resilience as well as its determination to capture opportunities in securing ‘competitive funding’ to enable its fleet expansion ‘with a range of new and modern aircraft’ that should enable Saudi to meet the national aviation requirement in the future. To stay afloat during the COVID-19 pandemic, Saudi Arabian Airlines received total bids of more than $4.7 billion. The air carrier took delivery of its 5th Boeing 787-10 Dreamliner in October 2021, bringing its fleet to a total of 158 aircraft.
Last ever Airbus A380 departs for first flight
The Airbus A380, Manufacturer Serial Number (MSN) 272, departed for its first test flight from Toulouse Blagnac Airport as the aircraft (temporarily registered as F-WWSH) is being prepared prior to its delivery to Emirates. The airline, which is the largest customer of the type, is currently waiting for the final five A380 deliveries, including the aforementioned MSN 272. This will be the last-ever produced Super Jumbo, as the manufacturer together with Emirates, announced that the carrier would reduce the backlog of the A380 by 39 aircraft on 14 February 2019. In total, Emirates had 123 Airbus A380 aircraft on order, Airbus Orders & Deliveries data shows, while the total number of produced aircraft of the type will be 251.
While the future was already bleak prior to the current pandemic for the Super Jumbo, the current downturn in demand for international travel has delivered a knockout punch for the aircraft. Many operators of the jet, including Air France and Lufthansa (LHAB) (LHA), made the decision to retire their A380s prematurely because of the ongoing uncertainty regarding international travel. However, not all hope is lost – several other airlines, including British Airways, Emirates and Qantas still see a future for the double-decker on some routes into the future.
First 100% sustainable fuel study on commercial passenger jet
A partnership of aerospace specialists has launched the world’s first in-flight emissions study using 100% sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) on a commercial passenger aircraft. Airbus, German research centre DLR, Rolls-Royce and SAF producer Neste have teamed up to start the pioneering ‘Emission and Climate Impact of Alternative Fuels’ project looking into the effects of 100% SAF on aircraft emissions and performance. Findings from the study, to be carried out on the ground and in the air using an Airbus A350-900 aircraft powered by Rolls-Royce Trent XWB engines, will support efforts currently underway at Airbus and Rolls-Royce to ensure the aviation sector is ready for the large-scale use of SAF as part of the wider initiative to decarbonise the industry.
Fuel-clearance engine tests, including a first flight to check operational compatibility with the aircraft’s systems, started at Airbus’ facilities in Toulouse, France, this week. These will be followed by the ground-breaking flight-emissions tests due in April and resuming in Q4 2021, using DLR’s Falcon 20-E ‘chase plane’ to carry out measurements to investigate the impact of sustainable-fuel emissions. Meanwhile, further ground tests measuring particulate-matter emissions are set to indicate the environmental impact of SAF-use on airport operations. Both the flight and the ground tests will compare emissions from 100% SAF made from HEFA (hydro processed esters and fatty acids) against those produced by fossil kerosene and low-sulphur fossil kerosene. The SAF will be provided by Finnish oil-refining company Neste, a leading worldwide supplier of sustainable fuel. Additional measurement and analysis for the characterisation of the particulate-matter emissions during the ground testing will be delivered by the UK’s University of Manchester and the National Research Council of Canada.
Qantas being sued by PSD female pilot
A female pilot is suing Qantas for nearly Aus$800,000 claiming the airline ‘breached its duty of care’ after suffering a post-traumatic stress disorder when a plane experienced an engine failure in flight. Jacinda Cottee, (43) was the first officer aboard a Boeing 717 aircraft travelling from Alice Springs to Brisbane in March of 2018 when one of the aircraft’s engines failed. The plane landed safely in the Queensland capital an hour later but in documents lodged in court Ms Cottee alleges QantasLink have ‘poor maintenance practices’ and have ended her ‘dream career’, The Australian reported.
Ms Cottee, who is recognised as the first woman of colour to be a Qantas pilot, was the lead officer for Cobham Aviation aboard flight QF1799 from Alice Springs on Saturday 10 March 2018 when one of the aircraft’s engines failed about 550 kilometres north of its destination Brisbane. Passengers onboard the flight reported hearing a loud banging noise before the plane began to shake. The flight crew managed to safely land the aircraft at Brisbane Airport an hour after the failure, with inspections on the ground revealing damage to the compressor blades of the engine.
This was the second incident Ms Cottee had experienced involving aircraft engine issues after also being onboard a QantasLink flight from Hobart to Melbourne that encountered similar problems. A Qantas spokesperson told Daily Mail Australia that the malfunction was determined to be a manufacturer issue by Rolls Royce. Ms Cottee is seeking $783,811 (R8 925 648) in damages and costs from QantasLink for loss of past and future earnings.
“All Qantas aircraft are maintained to the highest safety standards and our fleet of Boeing 717 aircraft have a 99.99% reliability rate. This is the only engine shut down on QantasLink’s B717 fleet over a five-year period.” Qantas said. “Like all pilots, the first officer had been trained on how to respond in the event of an engine power failure.”
We have no idea for how long this pilot has been pursuing her dream career but to have been selected by Qantas means she must have been flying for a fair number of years. However, the first incident must have spooked this pilot somewhat and the second then pushed her over the edge. The question then has to be asked if she has ever flown again since the second incident or whether she voluntarily stopped flying. There is no shame in quitting when a person feels that they are not able to perform their functions as a pilot with confidence and ease of mind.
However, when that person starts a lawsuit three years after the incident a totally different picture emerges of someone who now shamelessly has embarked on a money grabbing journey having more than likely been talked into suing by lawyers who see a chance to make a few bucks for their own gain. By following this route this person has let down the female pilots of the world and not only that, but also pilots of colour. This is something that could happen to any pilot regardless of sex or colour
F-16 Viper demonstration team performing at AirVenture 2021
The Viper Demo Team will perform demonstrations as part of the daily airshows during AirVenture, as well as participate in the Air Force Heritage Flight programme. Maj. Garret Schmitz is the Viper Demo Team pilot for the 2021 season. The Air Combat Command F-16 Viper demonstration team hails from Shaw Air Force Base, S.C. It performs precision aerial manoeuvres to demonstrate the unique capabilities of one of the US Air Force’s premier multi-role fighters, the F-16 Fighting Falcon. The team also works with the Air Force Heritage Flight Foundation to create a unique demonstration of the US Air Force’s past and present, exhibiting the professional qualities the Air Force develops in the people who fly, maintain and support these aircraft.
Textron Systems awarded contract by US Army to upgrade Shadow
Textron Systems has received a contract for up to $607 million from the US Army to provide contract logistics support, field services and engineering support along with the retrofit of the existing Shadow Block II Tactical Unmanned Aircraft System (TUAS) to the upgraded Block III configuration. This award follows a successful Follow-on Operational Test and Evaluation (FOT&E) of the Block III configuration by the Army in late 2020.
The work, to be completed in Textron Systems’ Hunt Valley, Md. facility, will modernise the current Shadow RQ-7B Block II and lead product, support and sustainment activities for the fleet. This award will enable the maintenance of the Shadow Unmanned Aircraft System and provides repairs and spares to support critical mission readiness levels for fielded systems. The planned work is scheduled to begin immediately and will take place over a five-year period.
The Shadow Block III system builds on the success of previous configurations incorporating design improvements, allowing for increased operations in adverse weather conditions, the latest high-definition day-and-night video payload, increased engine power and reliability, reduced acoustic signature and an advanced communications relay. With 1.25 million flight hours and counting, the Shadow system’s proven track record provides a solid foundation for continued development and use around the world.
Twice Weekly News from African Pilot
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Until Thursday, please be ‘Serious about flying’.
Athol Franz (Editor)