“Honest difference of views and honest debate are not disunity. They are the vital process of policy among free men.”
African Pilot’s aircraft of the week identification quiz
Even though this was a short week and APAnews was only published on Tuesday, I was amazed at how soon after APAnews was published that my inbox was filled with so many correct answers. Thanks to all of you that identified this unique aircraft correctly, but why do ladies not enter this quiz?
Those persons that identified the aircraft correctly this week: Shaun Dowling, Righardt du Plessis, Hilton Carroll, Erwin J. W. Stam, Ted Michel, Ari Levien, Mark Cope, Dirk de Vos, Nemeth Parasol, David Plew-Chisholm, Mark Gauldie, Willie Oosthuizen, Selwyn Kimber, Bernard Stander, Ralph Schlaphoff, Greg Pullin, Rhyno Pretorius, Sid Peimer, Herman Nel and James Mc Alpine.
How long in time may one fly a non pressurized aircraft between 10000ft and 12000ft without supplemental oxygen?
Unfortunately, this one involves South African Airways – AGAIN!
SAA probed after ‘extraordinarily dangerous’ take-off
The SAA flight that collected the country’s second batch of COVID-19 vaccines from Brussels last month experienced an ‘extraordinarily dangerous’ event on take-off, which was reported to the South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) three weeks after the event. The Airbus A340-600, which was originally barred from take-off the SACAA for reasons including that the SAA pilots did not have the recent flight hours required, eventually flew to Brussels on 24 February after receiving an unprecedented number of exemptions from the authority, 13 in total.
There have been multiple reports in the past week which indicate that the recent flight by SAA V 1.5 from OR Tambo to Brussels and back experienced an Alpha Floor event during the flight. An Alpha Floor event (described in layman’s terms below) is the equivalent of a conventional (non-fly-by-wire) aircraft experiencing the onset of a stall. Alpha Floor is a low-speed protection (in normal law) which is purely an auto thrust mode. When activated, it provides TOGA thrust. As the aircraft decelerates into the alpha protection range, the Alpha Floor is activated, even if the auto thrust is disengaged. Activation is roughly proportional to the rate of deceleration. At low speeds, if a rapid avoidance manoeuvre is required to avoid terrain, windshear or another aircraft, it is safe to rapidly pull the sidestick fully aft and / or bank and hold it there. The aircraft will pitch up to max Alpha, engage TOGA thrust and climb away. Thankfully for the intervention of the advanced computer systems on-board the SAA Airbus A340-600, this prevented what could have been more serious incident. Please note that this is a developing story and as more information comes to hand, I will publish the outcome.
African Pilot’s April 2021 edition
The April edition will be featuring Business Jets, FBOs and Jet engines worldwide is complete and will be published today. 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, with excellent editorial content accompanied by superb pictures.
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
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.
Wouter wrote the following: “The filming of the Flights to Nowhere TV series demanded hard work and long hours. I would like to sincerely thank Editor Athol Franz, Adrian Munro as well as the whole African Pilot team for their support publicity especially for promoting of the eBook on behalf of the production team and myself. From articles to an eBook and then the TV series, was a dream come true! We trust that the TV series will allow viewers to obtain a glimpse into the world of aviation. Obviously in most cases we had to improvise and re-create situations leading up to the incidents we included in the series, with sometimes limited information. However, the mystery surrounding the incidents will most certainly remain a subject for debate and discussion. Maybe the revisiting of some cases will spark memories and even render new information that might throw new light on the unanswered questions or solve a cold case. We expect criticism and will most certainly be open to any constructive debate. A series of this nature has never been produced and we trust that a wide audience will not only share the loved ones trauma, but also experience the intense moments leading up to that moment in time, when a mystery is born.” Wouter Botes – Blue Wing Productions
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.
2021 Sling Africa Tour invitation
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Aero Club Communique March 2021 No.2
AGM feedback: The 80th Annual General Meeting of the Aero Club of South Africa (AeCSA) was held on 16 March at 18h30. This was a virtual AGM, as everything is virtual these days with around 40 members in attendance as well as all 13 Member Associations, thus well represented, thanks to those who could attend. The topics other than the statutory requirements that make up an AGM included the planning of the postponed Centenary events, notably Airweek, the Centenary Yearbook and several topics covering the Aero Club’s Advocacy interactions with the regulator.
In terms of the election of the Office Bearers for 2021, Rob Jonkers was re-elected as the Chairman, Marthinus Potgieter as the Vice Chairman, the Treasurer portfolio was left vacant to find an accounting officer to fulfil the accounting requirements of the Aero Club. An additional elected officer will also be sought to fulfil the constitution requirements of the board of the Aero Club. The draft minutes for this AGM will be posted shortly on the Aero Club website.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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 coffee table Centenary Yearbook
The AeCSA Centenary Yearbook is now available to purchase from the online shop. Please visit www.aeroclub.org.za/shop.
Aero Club support
New Cape Winelands Airport plans revealed
South African billionaire Rob Hersov announced he is planning to convert the former Fisantekraal Airport into the ‘Lanseria Airport of Cape Town’. Hersov and business partner Nick Ferguson purchased the Fisantekraal Airport in November 2020 and renamed it Cape Winelands Airport. The airport is located on a 150-hectare site 13 kilometres northeast of Durbanville. It is therefore perfectly situated to serve the Cape Town aviation sector.
When it was built by the South African Air Force in 1943 it featured four runways to operate Lockheed Ventura bombers. Although all four runways are still visible in overhead photos, only two of these runways are presently being used. There are numerous aircraft hangars on the property which are used for the storage and maintenance of private aircraft and helicopters. The picturesque location makes it a favourite for flight training and offers an alternative to the Cape Town International Airport for private aviation. Plans are to provide to grow operations at the Cape Winelands Airport and provide an alternative to the Cape Town International Airport for General Aviation services.
The Cape Winelands Airport can alleviate congestion at Cape Town International Airport, by providing a more practical alternative for those in the northern suburbs and surrounds. The process to convert Cape Winelands Airport into larger commercial airport will take several years. The initial plan is to resurface the existing runways and build more hangars and facilities which are modern and fit for purpose for the operators within the general aviation industry.
SAA rescuers claim they saved airline R36bn
The business rescue practitioners (BRPs) of troubled SAA have defended the R200 million process to save the national carrier, saying they have reduced the airline’s liabilities by almost R36 billion. SAA BRPs Siviwe Dongwana and Les Matuson have informed persons affected by the business rescue process that they believe they have fulfilled their task despite the airline shedding about 3 700 jobs. According to Dongwana and Matuson, SAA’s workforce has been reduced from 4 700 to about 1 000 through voluntary service packages and retrenchments.
The BRPs said the primary achievement of the business rescue process was to transition SAA from being an insolvent company to one that was both solvent and liquid. “To this end, the liabilities of the airline have been reduced by R35.7bn as a result of the compromise that has been negotiated by the BRPs with concurrent creditors and lessors,” said Dongwana and Matuson. SAA’s liabilities and damages claims went from R38bn before the business rescue process to R2.3bn due to compromises they negotiated with creditors and lessors. Dongwana and Matuson state that they have reduced SAA’s general overheads through negotiating supplier contracts on a value-for-money principle and preserved its infrastructure and other assets. In January, Pretoria News reported that the costs of the business rescue process had escalated to above R200m, with Dongwana and Matuson receiving R59m.
Last week, The Sunday Independent reported that SAA assured the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission’s Companies Tribunal that the business rescue process would end on 31 March. Dongwana and Matuson also revealed that the SAA board and management were working on a restart plan and the resumption of operations of a restructured national carrier. Last week Deputy Public Enterprises Minister Phumulo Masualle assured the country that SAA’s strategic equity partner would be announced in a month’s time, paving the way for a restructured national carrier. Nearly 700 employees have been placed in the restructured airline on revised terms and conditions. The BRPs said SAA had received funding for resuming operations after the airline was grounded a year ago, three months after it was placed under business rescue in December 2019.
Outstanding matters that will enable Dongwana and Matuson to issue a notice of substantial implementation of the business rescue plan include the payment of employees, at a minimum their unpaid salaries or make a provision for this.
SAA still needs to pay some of its creditors
However, the end of the business rescue process moved a step closer this week when the BRPs informed creditors that they were nominating Dongwana and Bongani Nkasana as receivers. Receivership is the process that follows an entity’s discharge from business rescue. Dongwana and Nkasana’s responsibilities as receivers will include receiving proceeds of the restructuring process and paying creditors, lessors and lenders, among others. SAA’s creditors had until last week to vote on the appointment of Dongwana and Nkasana. Both proposed receivers have been punted as having intimate knowledge of SAA’s affairs and the requisite know-how and expertise in receivership. The R2 000-per-hour receivers will also have powers to investigate SAA’s affairs, business, property and financial situation.
Nigeria halts Emirates flights over testing
Nigeria has suspended all flights with Emirates after the airline introduced additional COVID-19 screening measures for the country. Aviation minister Hadi Sirika pointed out that Emirates now requires Nigerian-linked passengers to have three COVID-19 tests within 24 hours, prompting the suspension for the carrier. If you have had a single COVID test, you will sympathise a little with the Nigerian traveller facing the prospect of three brain-ticklers in a day.
Cessna 208 crashes in Kenya leaving the two pilots dead
On 20 March a Caravan crashed on the same hill that killed some Government officials and 11 other people in a military plane crash in 2006. According to reports the Caravan crashed in exactly the same place, Kofia Mbaya hill in Marsabit Town, Kenya. The Aeronav Air Cessna 208 Caravan (registered 5Y-KJN) departed Wilson Airport, Nairobi and crashed while encountering adverse weather conditions. Kenyan aviation authority (KCAA) announced that both pilots did not survive the crash. Sources privy to the matter said that the plane was ferrying national examinations which were scheduled to begin on Monday, 22 March.
Taiwanese F-5 fighter jets crash after colliding mid-air
Half an hour after taking off from Chihhang Air Force Base in Taitung on 22 March 2021, two Taiwanese F-5 Tiger II fighter jets crashed into the sea. The two aircraft were part of a flight group of four on a regular training mission about 2.6 km away from Pingtung, in the south of the island. The crash was seemingly due to a mid-air collision. Both pilots were able to eject from their aircraft. A UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter was dispatched for search and rescue. One of the pilots was recovered but later died of his injuries, the other is still missing.
Chihhang Air Force Base also known as Taitung Air Force Base houses the 7th Flight Training Wing of the Taiwanese Air Force (ROCAF). It is composed of three squadrons of F-5 Tiger II fighter jets, including an aggressor squadron. It is the second incident involving a Taiwanese F-5 in less than six months. In October 2020, an F-5E fighter jet crashed off the coast of Taitung, south-eastern Taiwan. The fleet of F-5E trainers was temporarily grounded following the crash. A month later, the ROCAF also lost an F-16 fighter jet in a crash.
Due to an increase in Chinese military activity around the island, the Taiwan military has been under increased pressure in recent years. Throughout 2020, the Taiwanese Ministry of National Defence reported that the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) flew about 380 sorties into the country’s air defence identification zone (ADIZ), the highest number since 1996. Hours after the crash on 22 March 2021, the Ministry reported yet another Chinese incursion. Two PLA J-10 fighter jets were identified in the southwest of the island. A combat air patrol was dispatched for an interception.
Is this the right time to establish an airline?
When everybody takes a step back, it does provide an opportunity to take a step forward. As the recovery approaches the horizon, is this the right time to establish a new start-up airline and use the opportunity to make strides in the industry, which has been notorious for being very unfriendly to newcomers? After all, the conditions look very right: there are an abundance of crews, aircraft, slots – and when the supply outstrips demand, the price goes down. Perhaps more than ever, more than one condition is right to begin one’s journey in the aviation industry. If prior to the current pandemic passenger demand was through the roof, a clear shortage of aircraft and personnel to operate the aircraft, including the lack of slots, held back any potential new entrants. Nevertheless, challenges remain. Despite the fact that the industry is seemingly about to turn a corner, getting the timing right could be essential.
While 2020 could be summed up as hibernation, 2021 began with a lot of hope that with the vaccination effort on the way, travel could begin its slow climb back up. In the United States, several airline executives indicated a lot of positive signs that travellers were very keen to hop onto an aircraft. In terms of bookings, Delta Air Lines was “getting really close to 2019 numbers,” the chief executive officer of the carrier, Ed Bastian stated during J.P. Morgan Industrials Conference on 15 March 2021.
American Airlines CEO Doug Parker, who spoke at the same conference, noted that the “last three weeks have been the best since the beginning of the pandemic.” According to him, the feeling was that this was the “beginning of a very large uptick,” as there was a huge pent-up demand for domestic travel.
Chief executives at JetBlue (JBLU) and United Airlines, who also presented during the Industrials Conference, were more than hopeful that recovery was imminent. UAL’s CEO Scott Kirby expects to stop burning cash by late-March. “We know that we cannot yet put COVID in the rear-view mirror and there is still a lot of hard work to first return to actual profitability, then return to 2019 margins,” Kirby said.
Globally, the story is a very similar one. According to data by OAG, scheduled capacity is set to be 12% lower by the end of Q2 2021 when compared to the same period in 2019. The number is clearly overstepping the disastrous quarter in 2020 when border closures across the globe largely grounded the aviation industry. While it remains unclear how much of that capacity will actually result in yields, it feels like positivity is in the air. However, the growth of capacity is unequal throughout different regions. “Much of the North American growth is based around the distribution of the vaccines, increased usage [of vaccines] and a real pent-up demand for people who want to travel domestically,” commented the chief analyst at OAG, John Grant, in a webinar on 18 March 2021. Yet, for example, in the United Kingdom, despite a high percentage of the population vaccinated, “we see no growth in demand whatsoever. Primarily, because the UK source markets are way behind and this is going to be a big issue as we move throughout the summer.” It is not going to be capacity or demand, it is going to be at what rate other countries have taken the vaccine.”
Staying on their feet
Despite all the doom and gloom, airline liquidations were few and far apart. At first glance, opportunities might be limited due to that fact, as once travel is green lit to go, those that are still standing will be racing to capture as much revenue as is possible. At the same time, with a full recovery still a few years away, the industry is holding a time-ticking debt bomb.
While Chapter 11 or similar bankruptcy protections were not uncommon, as a fair share of airlines chose to go to court to protect their assets and operations against creditors, few chose to end their business. High-profile cases included International Airlines Group (IAG) (IAG)’s LEVEL Europe, NokScoot, a joint-venture between Thailand-based Nok Air and the low-cost subsidiary of Singapore Airlines Scoot and a former Lufthansa (LHAB) (LHA) subsidiary German Airways (previously known as Luftfahrgesellschaft Walter (LGW)).
Perhaps various governments across the world understood the scale of destruction that the pandemic has caused to the travel industry. While not to an equal amount, lawmakers provided support to carriers in various forms, including government-backed loans. On one hand, it helped airlines to weather the storm that was 2020 and ensured their survival, on the other – it blew up a balloon of debt.
Already in May 2020, shortly after the pandemic had halted international travel, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) warned that by year-end, airline debt could increase as much as $120 billion compared to the start of 2020. In August 2020, the association indicated that airlines raised as much as $204 billion of new debt. Furthermore, as carriers’ credit ratings were downgraded, “airlines will exit the worst of the crisis not only with higher levels of debt but also with a higher cost of debt,” stated IATA.
Starting with a ‘blank sheet’ and little-to-no debt can certainly be an advantage going forward. Not only new airlines will have no debt repayments breathing down their necks, but seemingly the public is very keen to invest in airlines. For example, Sun Country Airlines issued its shares in an Initial Public Offering (IPO) on 17 March 2021, selling just over nine million shares at $24 apiece. The market responded very positively to the newcomer, as the share price jumped as high as $38.36, not falling below the $34.40 mark since its retail investors were able to trade the airline’s shares. Another US-based low-cost carrier Frontier Airlines has also indicated its plans to test the waters by attempting its own IPO, that is yet to hit the market. Two low-cost carriers in the US, Frontier and Sun Country Airlines, are looking to raise cash in order to be prepared for the recovery ahead.
On the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, investors were equally interested in new projects. A new start-up airline, based in Norway under the name of Flyr, has a market valuation of $89.5 million (NOK769 million). When it first entered the Euronext Growth Oslo stock exchange, it sought to raise as much as $69.8 million (NOK600 million). There is a plethora of other start-up airlines across the continent, from EGO Airways that aim to conquer the domestic Italian market to Heston Airlines, a Lithuanian Aircraft, Crew, Maintenance and Insurance (ACMI) operator.
Plenty of options
Since many airlines have reduced the scale of their operations, there are plenty of aircraft and flight crews available in the market. Due to the simple relationship between supply and demand, as fewer airlines want aircraft, the lower their price is. After all, lessors still have financial commitments to their assets. While aircraft that had no debt attached to them were released back into the market, yet nobody was willing to take some of them. As a result, second-hand aircraft prices have plummeted. According to Ascend by Cirium data, commercial aviation started out 2020 with 25,450 in-service aircraft. A year later, the number dropped by 5,500 with a predicted surplus of 6,000 aircraft at the beginning of 2022.
According to Ishka data, the estimated cost of a 10-year-old Airbus A320 as of December 2020 was $16 million. The aircraft lost around $5 million of its value. Meanwhile, a single 10-year-old Boeing 737-800 NextGeneration (NG), the direct competitor to the A320, saw its value drop from around $24 million to around $18 million. Meanwhile, operation leases for 10-year-old A320s and 737-800s dropped to around $150,000 and around $160,000 respectively.
However, establishing an airline during a period of uncertainty comes with uncertainty. While there are many factors in favor of doing so, especially cheap aircraft and the ability to start afresh without debts, the timing still could be off. The industry is no less complex to operate in than it was before, perhaps contrary, the crisis has only made it more difficult for a new airline to put down the roots in. Still, perhaps more than ever, the circumstances are favourable to establish a new carrier. After all, this would not be the first crisis that a new entrant would use to gain a lot of ground and sow the seeds for the future.
A350 freighter might be Airbus only hope to break Boeing cargo dominance
While Airbus always went head-to-head with Boeing in regard to the production of passenger aircraft, cargo aircraft painted a stark contrast between the two companies. However, a new freighter by the European manufacturer could break that dominance, as reportedly, an Airbus A350F might be on the horizon. The A350F, which Airbus is pondering to manufacture, according to a report by Reuters, would directly compete with the Boeing 777F. The Triple Seven freighter is part of a freighter line-up that allowed Boeing to dominate the air cargo industry with its products. Overall, the US manufacturer managed to deliver 544 of wide-body freighters since 2000, including the 747-400F and 747-8F, 767F and the aforementioned 777F, not accounting for converted freighters programmes. Furthermore, as of 28 February 2021, Boeing has 94 unfilled orders for its twin-aisle cargo aircraft.
Meanwhile, Airbus delivered a total of 142 aircraft, comprised of 104 A300s, as confirmed by the manufacturer’s representative and 38 A330F aircraft, Airbus’s only active production freighter. But the aircraft has had neither an order nor a delivery since February 2017, when Airbus delivered an example of the cargo wide body to Turkish Airlines, according to planespotters.net. According to a representative of Airbus, around 200 A300s and 30 A310 aircraft were actively operated as of March 2021, in addition to 38 cargo-dedicated A330s. A further 10 A330 aircraft underwent passenger-to-freighter conversions, per planespotters.net. Thus, the total fleet of Airbus wide-body freighters is around 382 aircraft.
Will the Airbus A350F be the key that unlocks the door to the freighter market for the European conglomerate? 2020 brought a lot of doom and gloom to the aviation industry. Yet for cargo operators, the year once again brought back hope and most importantly, more yields. With the majority of wide-body passenger aircraft grounded throughout the year, the cargo industry was deprived of capacity as most of the world’s cargo travels in the bellies of passenger aircraft. According to Lufthansa Consulting data, 50% of the world’s freight travelled in the belly holds of aircraft. By February 2020 that began to shift and by April 2020, belly capacity reached its lowest point, only accounting for 12% of the total air freight capacity.
Meanwhile, cargo aircraft thrived. With demand for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) during the first few months of the pandemic and later the aforementioned capacity crunch, yields shot right up. “Air cargo is surviving the crisis in better shape than the passenger side of the business. For many airlines, 2020 saw air cargo become a vital source of revenues, despite weakened demand,” summarised the year International Air Travel Association (IATA)’s Director General Alexandre de Juniac in February 2021.
In Boeing’s latest Commercial Market Outlook (CMO), the aircraft manufacturer envisioned that between 2020 and 2039, the air cargo industry would see 2,430 freighter deliveries, 930 of those being of wide-body aircraft, while the rest would be passenger-to-freighter conversions.
Even despite a challenging 2019, the air cargo remained “a key element of global trade,” highlighted Boeing. “The value of air cargo to world trade has been further highlighted during the COVID-19 pandemic, as the need to ship critical medical supplies and equipment quickly, securely and over long distances has been underscored through 2020,” read the company’s CMO. Furthermore, Boeing predicted that air cargo was set to grow by 4% over the next 20 years and the growth would be led by East Asia and the ever-growing e-commerce.
Overall, the air freighter fleet was set to grow from 2,010 aircraft in 2019 to 3,260 by the end of 2039, according to the manufacturer, representing a 62% growth over the time period. Out of those 3,260 jets, 850 were predicted to be the > 80-tonne freighters, namely the 747-8F and the 777F. Neither the A330F (Max payload 70 tonnes) or the A300F (54.6 tonnes) are close to that mark. This could be the area that the A350F could exploit, as the 747-8F production run is coming to an end in 2022, when the last Queen will be handed over to Atlas Air.
NASA Moon rocket passes key test
On Thursday at NASA’s Stennis Space Centre, the largest rocket element NASA has ever built, the core stage of NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket, fired its four RS-25 engines for eight minutes and 19 seconds. The successful test, known as a hot fire, is a critical milestone ahead of the agency’s Artemis I mission, which will send an uncrewed Orion spacecraft on a test flight around the Moon and back to Earth, paving the way for future Artemis missions with astronauts. Engineers designed the eight-part Green Run test campaign to gradually bring the SLS core stage to life for the first time, culminating with the hot fire. The team will use data from the tests to validate the core stage design for flight.
“The SLS is the most powerful rocket NASA has ever built and during the test the core stage of the rocket generated more than 1.6 million pounds of thrust within seven seconds. The SLS is an incredible feat of engineering and the only rocket capable of powering America’s next-generation missions that will place the first woman and the next man on the Moon,” said acting NASA Administrator Steve Jurczyk. NASA previously conducted a hot fire test of the SLS core stage Jan. 16. The four RS-25 engines fired together for the first time for about one minute before the test ended earlier than planned. Following data analysis, NASA determined a second, longer hot fire test would provide valuable data to help verify the core stage design for flight, while posing minimal risk to the Artemis I core stage.
During the second hot fire test, the stage fired the engines for a little more than eight minutes, just like it will during every Artemis launch to the Moon. The longer duration hot fire tested a variety of operational conditions, including moving the four engines in specific patterns to direct thrust and powering the engines up to 109% power, throttling down and back up, as they will during flight.
The two propellant tanks in the SLS core stage collectively hold more than 733,000 gallons of super cold liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen to help fuel the RS-25 engines at the bottom of the stage. The core stage has a complex network of flight software and avionics systems designed to help fly, track, and steer the rocket during launch and flight. Prior tests in the Green Run test series evaluated the integrated functionality and performance of the core stage’s avionics systems, propulsion systems and hydraulic systems.
Test teams at Stennis supervised a network of 114 tanker trucks and six propellant barges that provided liquid propellant through the B-2 Test Stand to the core stage. Test teams also delivered operational electrical power, supplied more than 330,000 gallons of water per minute to the stand’s flame deflector and monitored structural interfaces of both the hardware and the stand. Testing the SLS rocket’s core stage is a combined effort for NASA and its industry partners. Boeing is the prime contractor for the core stage and Aerojet Rocketdyne is the prime contractor for the RS-25 engines.
Serial stowaway’ charged again after latest arrest near O’Hare, Chicago
Authorities reported that the Chicago-area woman with a long history of trying to sneak into airports and onto planes has been charged with escape from electronic monitoring after being arrested on Tuesday near O’Hare International Airport. Marilyn Hartman, 69, is expected to appear for a court hearing this week on the new case. Hartman, who has gained international media attention as the ‘serial stowaway,’ had been fitted with an electronic ankle bracelet as part of her pretrial release in a pending airport trespassing case, which appeared to be on the brink of resolution when earlier this month prosecutors and defence announced they had reached a plea agreement. About two hours before the arrest, the Cook County sheriff’s department learned Hartman had left the residential facility where she had been staying while on electronic monitoring. The sheriff’s department said it tracked her movements Tuesday through the GPS on her ankle bracelet and that staffers tried calling her on a phone built into the device, but she did not answer.
Investigators learned she was heading toward O’Hare and notified Chicago police that she was in the vicinity of Terminal 1, home to United Airlines flights. “An alarm siren was activated on Hartman’s device and she was taken into custody by Chicago police,” the sheriff’s department said in a statement. “Hartman did not enter any secure areas.”
The arrest comes two weeks after a court hearing in which Hartman’s attorneys and prosecutors said they had reached the plea deal on her pending case: 18 months of probation, plus court-ordered mental health treatment. Formal plea proceedings had not begun, but Judge Peggy Chiampas pre-emptively placed attorneys on notice that she was not inclined to agree to that sentence. Hartman’s 2019 arrest at O’Hare violated the terms of her probation for a 2018 trespassing case. Chiampas balked at giving another probation to someone who had previously violated. Nevertheless, Hartman’s attorney expressed hope that Chiampas would change her mind once she learned the complete facts of the case. A prison sentence, even a negligible one, would interrupt Hartman’s mental health treatment.
Hartman, who has a long history of trying to sneak onto flights in Chicago and around the country, was arrested at O’Hare in October 2019 just as she was trying to pass the second of two security checkpoints, prosecutors have said. She spent time in Cook County Jail before being released about a year ago in an effort to release low-risk detainees in the face of the coronavirus pandemic. She is on a county electronic monitoring programme and was placed at a West Side facility that provides supportive and transitional housing. The 2019 arrest violated her probation sentence for sneaking past O’Hare security in January 2018, boarding a jet and flying to London’s Heathrow Airport without a ticket.
‘Devil couple’ who hid out in South Africa convicted of 1996 murder in Belgium
A Franco-Ivorian man and his Belgian wife have been convicted of killing a British businessman at a Belgian seaside resort a quarter of a century ago. The court in the Belgian city of Bruges late Tuesday found Jean-Claude Lacote and his wife Hilde Van Acker guilty of shooting 44-year-old Marcus Mitchell Lacote, (54) and Van Acker (57), were arrested in the Ivory Coast two years ago after living a colourful life on the run in the US and Africa. They had pleaded not guilty but now face possible life imprisonment.
The trial, which began on 5 March had revealed multiple lives of Lacote, who has been a clothing dealer in the United States, was a television producer in South Africa and ran an airline in Ivory Coast. Prosecutors portrayed the couple as ‘professional criminals’ and said the murder was linked to an attempted fraud.
On 28 May 1996, aviation executive Mitchell was found dead in De Haan, an upscale Belgian North Sea beach resort, with two bullets in his head. Investigators quickly discovered that he had been in regular contact with Lacote and Van Acker by telephone. According to prosecutors, Mitchell had loaned Lacote a large sum of money for a false lead on a potential lucrative deal and the pair had fallen out. The investigation turned up extraordinary details of the couple’s life since the killing.
They were arrested on 2 June 1996, shortly after the body was found, at Charleroi airport outside Brussels. Released on bail later the same year they fled to the United States, where they married and founded a clothing business in Miami, Florida. In 2007, Belgian investigators tracked Lacote to South Africa, but were not able to arrange his arrest. In South Africa, Lacote produced a TV reality show on true crime stories and claimed to have excellent relations with the local police. The couple moved to Ivory Coast and lived there for a decade, raising a daughter born in 2007, but were eventually arrested in Abidjan in November 2019. Lacote had taken charge of an aviation company backed by a Lebanese businessman and gained access to high-level Ivorian political circles. But he said he had refused a post as a government minister to raise his daughter in a better environment than the one he had known.
CBP Del Rio sector sUAS continue to prove effective
US Border Patrol agents assigned to the Del Rio Sector have detected more than 3,000 individuals with the assistance of small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (sUAS), since the beginning of fiscal year 2021. “sUAS platforms frequently work in conjunction with our manned aircraft flown by CBP Air and Marine Operations,” said Del Rio Sector Chief Patrol Agent Austin L. Skero II. “Our agents will take over monitoring and tracking groups via small, unmanned aircraft systems which enables manned aircraft pilots to move on in search of other groups. They are fantastic tools.”
The sUAS platforms are operated by Border Patrol agents assigned to the Eagle Pass, Eagle Pass South, Carrizo Springs, Comstock and Brackettville stations. The use of sUAS allows for reconnaissance, surveillance and real-time data essential to effectively patrol large areas of land with limited vehicle access. Statistics speak volumes for the sUAS programme with roughly 3,500 individuals detected, resulting in more than 2,700 apprehensions, to date this fiscal year. That amounts to an approximate 80 percent apprehension rate, a testament to both the pilots and the operating systems.
US Customs and Border Protection is the unified border agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with the management, control and protection of our nation’s borders at and between official ports of entry. CBP is charged with securing the borders of the United States while enforcing hundreds of laws and facilitating lawful trade and travel.
Lesson of life
Twice Weekly News from African Pilot
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Until Monday, please be ‘Serious about flying’.
Athol Franz (Editor)