“The proverb: “A fish rots from the head down” seems specific to the deterioration of the South African Police Services, their integrity and their culture.”
Today is the 1st of April and under normal circumstances I would provide you with an April fool’s joke, but under the present COVID-19 lockdown situation, this would probably be in poor taste. Therefore, I will save this day for another year, when hopefully things return to ‘normal’.
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, which are increasing every week. Thanks to all of African Pilot’s readers that identified this unique aircraft correctly, but why do ladies not enter this quiz?
Those persons that identified the aircraft correctly this week: P Rossouw, Rennie van Zyl, Righardt du Plessis, Shaun Dowling, Willie Oosthuizen, Bernard Stander, Rex Tweedie, Sean Cronin, Robert A. Bridges, Hilton Carroll, Jeff Knickelbein, Michael Schoeman, Mark Cope, Wout vd Waal, Nigel Maistry, J.M. Mc Alpine, Greg Pullin, Dirk de Vos, Ralph Schlaphoff, Glyn Hall, Sid Peimer, Brian Millett, Karl Jensen, P. Hanekom, Selwyn Kimber, Erwin Stam, Ari Levien, Colin Perry, Anthony Bass, Johan Venter, Vivienne Sandercock (our first lady) and Johan Prinsloo.
What does the * mean in the ILS block of an approach (eg FALE)?
Farewell Des Barker and Rama Iyer
On Tuesday 30 March I was invited to attend the joint memorial service of Major General Des Barker and Colonel Rama Iyer (both SAAF retired) who were killed when the SAAF Museum’s Patchen Explorer crashed on 17 March just inside the boundary wall of Air Force Base Zwartkops. This was an incredibly sad occasion as the families of both men and their many friends bid farewell to these great aviators. Many kind words were spoken at this memorial, whilst many tears were shed by family and friends, including me. In a fitting display four of the Harvard Club’s and Museum’s T-6 Harvards performed the ‘missing man’ salute, whilst the Museum’s Alouette 3 Helicopter performed a fly-by to the south of the SAAF Memorial streaming rose petals as the helicopter flew past. Thank you to the South African Air Force for planning and superbly organising this auspicious memorial service to two fallen aviation heroes.
African Pilot’s April 2021 edition
The April edition featuring Business Jets, FBOs and Jet engines was completed last week and sent to the world on Saturday 27 March. 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 throughout the world. Without dedication, perseverance and a deep understanding of aviation matters, no aviation publication will be positioned 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.
The mystery of Flights to Nowhere
A new eight-part series, Flights to Nowhere that premieres on People’s Weather (DStv CH-180 and OpenView, CH-115) on Monday, 19 April 18h00, will have viewers glued to their seats as it investigates some of South Africa’s most famous aviation mysteries. There is nothing that grips the imagination as a story shrouded in mystery and intrigue; one that leaves you hanging, questioning and desperate to know the answers. As humans, we are wired to tie up all the loose ends; to make sense of the unknown and the nonsensical and to keep asking ‘why’ until we know. Veteran commercial pilot, Wouter Botes, who hosts this fascinating series, understands this and has made solving mysteries his life’s work. Best described as South Africa’s own Indiana Jones, flying detective and relentless clue-searcher, Botes takes viewers into the world of the seemingly unsolvable cold case. Based on his recently published eBook published by African Pilot, the series looks at some of this country’s most inexplicable aviation disasters and disappearances to uncover the truth about them. Join Botes as he uncovers the facts of numerous flights that seemingly went nowhere, such as Flight SA 406, aka the Rietbok a Vickers Viscount that disappeared into the sea off East London in 1967; the two young soldiers who disappeared near God’s Window in Mpumalanga, never to be seen again and the Beechcraft Baron 58 twin-engine aircraft, that took off from Robertson in the Southern Cape on 10 July 1985, destined for Cape Town, but disappeared without a trace.
What drives Botes in his quest for answers for these and many more unsolved South African aviation stories? “The only reason we have unsolved flight mysteries is that either the wreck has not been located yet or no-one is talking,” says Botes. “I love the chase in trying to solve them. Taking the ever-present weather and fuel, the pilot’s state of mind and the facts leading up to and after the disappearance or crash, there is always a golden thread that runs through each story. My passion is to link these up to try and make sense of what happened.” Botes’ success in trying to piece together bits of a story, he believes, lies in his ‘eye for clues’ and understanding aviation and that he can immediately ‘see the gaps in the timelines.’ “That is where you begin, the spaces in-between the story that no-one is talking about, or no information can be found,” says Botes.
People’sWeather CEO Stephan Le Roux said: “We are delighted to be broadcasting this original series and for anyone interested in the inexplicable, the unsolved, the mysterious and the unexplained, Flights to Nowhere is a fascinating must-watch show. Add to that the fact that Wouter is so passionate about his work, and you have a series that will have you glued to your TV screens!”
Of particular interest to aviation fanatics is that all the featured flights were recreated for this series. As an experienced veteran pilot, Botes was able to fly these on a flight simulator at Blue Chip Flight School at Wonderboom National Airport in Pretoria.
1) The Rietbok: In 1967 flight SAA 406, a Vickers Viscount known as the Rietbok, will take off for the last time. Join commercial pilot Botes as he investigates the last moment of this flight.
2) Cheerio Boys: When the last words of a pilot are “cheerio boys” it usually ends in tragedy. Find out what happened on Max Kolb’s last flight and the reason for Ernest Christie to fly into an apartment block.
3) The Boy who Survived: Making the decision to fly when conditions do not permit can be fatal. Botes investigates the circumstances surrounding the final flight of a Cessna 182 and the fortunate boy who survived.
4) The Lost Boys: Two young men took off in a Piper Cherokee 180 never to be seen again. Botes investigates this flight and the mysteries surrounding it.
5) Missing in Africa: In 2003, two planes disappear in Africa never to be found. One a Piper Seneca on its way back to South Africa and the other a Boeing 727 stolen from an international airport in Angola.
6) Fire on Board: Two plane accidents – both as a result of a fire on-board. Botes investigates the final moments of these flights as they fell to earth in a ball of flames.
7) Green Hell: In 1999 a helicopter crashed in the dense Knysna forest and was only found seven years later. What happened? Botes investigates.
8) The Baron and the UN: Botes investigates two mysterious plane accidents. The short flight of the Baron and the notorious last flight of the Head of the UN, Dag Hammarskjöld in 1961. Both these cases remain open and answers are still needed.
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 / April 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 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
Phase one of the square kilometre array (SKA)
Airlink resumes Lesotho flights
Airlink will resume with daily scheduled air services between Johannesburg and Maseru from 29 March 2021. This follows the re-opening of Lesotho’s borders and the lifting of travel restrictions that curtailed travel between the neighbouring countries while they both worked to successfully contain the spread of the Coronavirus. Daily return flights between the two cities provide travellers with seamless connectivity with Airlink’s comprehensive network that links South African domestic and Southern African regional destinations.
British Airways (operated by comair) reopens regional routes
British Airways (operated by Comair), South Africa’s leading premium full-service airline, has announced the reopening of bookings for daily regional flights between Johannesburg and Harare with one-way fares starting from R995, including taxes and surcharges. Bookings for the regional route started operating on 28 March 2021.
Former SAA CEO Vuyani Jarana pays R100,000 bet after SAA failed
Former South African Airways (SAA) CEO Vuyani Jarana has lost a 2018 bet that his turnaround plan will make the airline profitable in three years. In June 2018 Free Market Foundation (FMF) president Leon Louw bet Jarana that his three-year turnaround plan would not work. Louw said he was willing to wager R100,000 that by 31 March 2021, Jarana’s stated timeframe that SAA will not be profitable. The money would be paid to a charity. The condition for this wager was that when Jarana pays the charity, it will be from Jarana’s own account and not from public funds.
A year after the bet, in June 2019, Jarana resigned as SAA CEO citing a lack of funding and a decline in government support for his turnaround plan. “Lack of commitment to fund SAA is systematically undermining the implementation of the strategy, making it increasingly difficult to succeed,” Jarana said in his resignation letter. “Everyone knows SAA has not become profitable by the end of March 2021 as hoped three years ago when the wager was agreed,” Louw said. However, he did concede that SAA’s failure to turn a profit by the end of March 2021 cannot be attributed to Jarana as he left the company 21 months ago. Jarana has still agreed to honour the bet and support the FMF’s Khaya Lam freehold titling programme.
Air Côte d'Ivoire receives its first airbus A320neo
Air Côte d’Ivoire, Ivory Coast’s flagship carrier based in Abidjan, has taken delivery of its first A320neo, becoming the first operator of the type in the West-African region. This latest generation aircraft will join Air Côte d’Ivoire’s existing Airbus fleet of six aircraft. With improved levels of efficiency, this new aircraft will be deployed on Air Côte d’Ivoire’s regional network to serve Senegal, Gabon and Cameroon. Destinations like South Africa will be added at a later stage, highlighting the operational flexibility of the A320neo. Air Cote d’Ivoire has a fleet of 10 aircraft, including three A319s and three A320s, serving 25 domestic and regional destinations in West and Central Africa.
Ethiopian airlines has joined the African Union to launch test and vaccine passport
Ethiopian Airlines has partnered with the African Centres for Disease Control & Prevention (Africa CDC) for the implementation of the African Union Trusted Travel Pass to make continental travel easier and safer amidst the COVID -19 pandemic. Africa CDC has mobilised a broad multi-stakeholder public private partnership with the help of its strategic partners, the PanaBIOS Consortium and Econet and with the objective of addressing current challenges posed by citizens’ and institutions’ difficulty in accessing accurate health information, high costs and inconvenience in cross border travel, poor data for health policy and biosecurity planning. The Trusted Travel pass program will ensure country regulations regarding COVID-19 travel requirements are met with minimal room for error and hassle to the travelling public.
Morocco suspends flights to and from France and Spain
From 30 March in the face of the COVID-19 epidemic, the Moroccan authorities decided to suspend flights to and from France and Spain. France and Spain join a list of 40 countries to which Morocco has suspended its flights including Turkey, the United Kingdom, Germany and Italy, until 10 April 2021, at the earliest. The date marks the end of the state of emergency, though it will probably be extended due to the resurgence of the health crisis.
Following the announcement, Royal Air Maroc and the low-cost carrier Air Arabia Maroc said that passengers wanting to fly to Moroccan airports from 30 March 2021, would not be required to hold a test result. “They will be processed upon their arrival in Moroccan airports by the Ministry of Health,” Royal Air Maroc explained.
Nigerian NIMASA helicopters delivered
On 28 March the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) took delivery of its two AW109 helicopter from Italy’s Leonardo Helicopters. They will be used as part of the Deep Blue maritime security project. At the end of February Nigeria’s Transport Minister Rotimi Amaechi said Nigeria would commission $195 million worth of aircraft, boats and vehicles in the next three months to strengthen security in the pirate-infested Gulf of Guinea under the Deep Blue Project.
The Deep Blue project aims to combat issues such as illegal fishing, terrorism, oil theft, illegal immigration, smuggling and piracy in Nigeria’s exclusive economic zone and the Gulf of Guinea. Israeli company Blue Octagon is sourcing much of the hardware for Deep Blue, which also includes a command, control, computer communication, and information (C4I) centre, which began 24-hour operations in August 2019 at the NIMASA base in Kirikiri, Lagos. This includes two special mission vessels, two aircraft, two helicopters, four UAVs, 16 armoured vehicles and 17 fast interceptor boats. The unmanned aerial vehicles appear to be RemoEye 002Bs manufactured by South Korea’s Uconsystems. According to the manufacturer the drones have a wingspan of 1.8 metres, top speed of 80 km/h, endurance of 60 minutes and range of 10 km.
Flight Design CTSW hits control tower
A Flight Design CTSW impacted the control tower at Eggersdorf-Müncheberg Airfield (EDCE), Brandenburg and kept hanging on the tower railings. The pilot (64) and his son (46) sustained minor injuries whilst the light sport aircraft was written off. The sole controller in the tower was not injured. The plane’s two occupants were rescued by emergency services and flown to hospitals by helicopter. Initially the aircraft could not be recovered, because it was fitted with a ballistic rescue parachute.
NTSB releases preliminary plane crash report
The National Transpiration Safety Board has released preliminary aviation accident report on the plane crash four miles southwest of Palestine on Saturday 6 March. A Beech 35 airplane crashed just outside of Palestine at Gum Creek Ranch. The report states the airplane was recently purchased by the pilot and was being transported to the pilot’s home in the greater Dallas area.
The plane took off from Anahuac, with no filed flight plan, and the pilot reported that while enroute to Dallas, the engine lost power. The pilot maneuverered the airplane for a forced landing. During the landing, the plane struck trees and came to rest in a grass field on a ranch about four miles southwest of Palestine. The report states the airplane sustained substantial damage to both wings and the fuselage, whilst the pilot was seriously injured and the passenger was fatally injured.
Cessna Cardinal ZS OND destroyed near Piet Retief
According to reports the low time pilot attempted to land on a farm strip near Piet Retief on Saturday 27 March, but due to the gusting wind she elected to go around and did not gain enough height, before hitting a pile of timber at the end of the runway. Someone on the ground rushed the aircraft that was already engulfed in flames and pulled the passengers out of the burning wreck. Apparently, the passengers were unconscious and seriously hurt with broken bones and all three occupants have serious burns, but fortunately they are alive and stable.
Alaska Airlines firms its 120 Boeing 737 MAX order
On 30 March 2021 Alaska Airlines announced the addition of 23 737-9 MAX aircraft to its Boeing order. The 23 aircraft are in addition to the airline’s initial commitment in December 2020. The agreement also includes purchase options for an additional 15 MAX planes. Together with the carrier’s previous firm order of 32 aircraft, Alaska Airlines’ total purchase now stands at 120 aircraft, including options for 52 aircraft and lease commitments. This includes a signed leasing agreement for 13 new 737 MAXs from Air Lease Corporation (ALC) and the simultaneous sale of 10 Airbus A320 jets obtained from Virgin America acquisition in 2016.
Deliveries of the 23 Boeing MAX jets are expected to take place between 2023 and 2024. Delivery dates for the purchase options are set between 2023 and 2026. So far, Alaska Airlines has received four 737 MAXs. Boeing confirmed that the airline received its first 737-9 model in January 2021 and placed the aircraft on commercial operations from 1 March 2021. Its second 737-9 entered service on 18 March 2021, while two additional 737-9s are scheduled to commence service this coming week.
China Airlines says farewell to the 747 with ‘Queen of the Skies’ micro-trip
China Airlines, the Taiwan-based carrier, will soon begin retiring the 747-400 passenger aircraft ‘Queen of the Skies’ from service. The limited-edition final passenger-carrying mission generated much fan interest and all tickets were sold within five minutes of going on sale. Thus a ‘747 Queen of the Skies Farewell Party’ one-day micro-trip was launched on 3 March by China Airlines. Aircraft no. B-18215, the last 747 delivered to China Airlines by Boeing in April 2005, was assigned to fly flight CI-2747 in homage to Queen of the Skies.
China Airlines flight CI-2747 was the last passenger-carrying flight of the 747-400 before its retirement and commemorated the aircraft’s service with China Airlines. More than 350 passengers gathered to send off the Queen of the Skies. The flight departed from Taoyuan Airport at 11:30 a.m. and flew to Japan, circling around Mt. Fuji before returning. The flight lasted around 5 hours and 40 minutes and arrived back at Taoyuan Airport at 17:10. China Airlines prepared 747 surprise packs stuffed with goodies for the passengers. These included a limited-edition Farewell Party model aircraft, embossed face mask, tail-fin keyring, canvas bag, flight safety pack and navy-blue China Airlines amenities kit. Passengers also had the chance to win exclusive gifts such as a Mt. Fuji glass and 747 liveried aircraft model. Passengers were even presented with a commemorative flight certificate during the flight.
The first 747-400 in Asia was introduced by China Airlines and the fleet has served to link Taiwan with North America, Europe and Australia for the past 30 years. During this time, they carried nearly 100 million passengers and were the mainstay of China Airlines’ high-capacity and long-range routes. In 1993, China Airlines used the 747-400 to launch the Taipei (TPE Airport) to New York (JFK Airport) service, the longest direct route in the world at the time; the all-new Plum Blossom corporate logo that China Airlines introduced in 1995 also made its first appearance on the 747-400. It is the only aircraft to have featured three generations of the corporate logo. In 2003, it carried out a Lunar New Year charter flight that passed through Hong Kong airspace to land directly in China for the first time. This was the first Taiwanese cross-strait flight to land at Shanghai-Pudong airport in 54 years. China Airlines thanks the 747-400 passenger aircraft for its contributions to Taiwan and China Airlines and hopes that every passenger will always remember the Queen of the Skies.
Russian spy planes patrol alarm four NATO air forces
After they were detected and tracked by NATO air defence radars, two Russian Air Force Tupolev Tu-142 Bear-F strategic surveillance aircraft flying south from the Barents Sea with their transponders off were consecutively intercepted by the Quick Reaction Alert aircraft of the Norwegian, British, Belgian, and French air forces. As they took off above the Barents Sea, the two maritime patrol planes were escorted by a patrol of Su-33 fighter jets. They then flew south, off the coast of Norway, where two Norwegian F-16s were sent to accompany them. Soon enough, they approached Scotland, alerting the Quick Reaction Alert personnel of the Royal Air Force. Eurofighter Typhoon fighters were scrambled for the interception, assisted by an A330 MRTT Voyager tanker.
When the two aircraft started to get too close to the Dutch coast, the Benelux air defence system decided to launch the chase. Two F-16MLU Fighting Falcon fighters of the Belgian Air Force took off from the Florennes airbase and headed for the Friesland. Meanwhile, the French Air Force monitored the path of the spy planes, using an Airborne Warning and Control System aircraft. ‘The flight of the Northern Fleet’s maritime aircraft was performed in strict compliance with international rules of using the airspace,’ the Russian Northern Fleet press service said. The complete flight lasted 11 hours.
A350 fuelled by 100% SAF successful flight
On a chilly but pleasant March day, an A350 moved into position, opened up its jet engines and took off from the runway at Blagnac airport in Toulouse, France. But this was no ordinary flight: the test aircraft was fuelled by 100% SAF. Presently all Airbus aircraft are certified to fly with up to a 50% blend of SAF mixed with kerosene. But the emissions performance of SAF when unblended with any type of fossil fuel has remained a question mark across the industry-until now.
Throughout the year, the project will test the emissions performance of 100% SAF on one engine of a Trent XWB-powered A350 test aircraft in the air and on the ground. It is the first in-flight study of its kind using a commercial passenger jet. “SAF is one of the aviation industry’s best low-carbon solutions with an immediate impact on CO2 emissions today,” Steven Le Moing, Airbus New Energy Programme Manager, says. “This research project will help us to better understand the impact of unblended SAF on the full scope of aircraft emissions, while supporting SAF’s future certification for blends that exceed today’s maximum of 50%.”
Ground tests will measure particulate emissions in local environments, while flight tests will assess the volume and consistency of contrails. Initial fuel clearance tests have already begun. “The first flight went exceptionally well,” explained Emiliano Requena Esteban, Airbus Flight Test Engineer. “There is no perceptible difference in engine behaviour between jet fuel and SAF. It is very exciting for me to contribute to a project that participates in the decarbonisation of our skies!”
British Airways invests in hydrogen aircraft ZeroAvia for its short-haul fleet
On 31 March ZeroAvia announced that its latest round of investment, which had the goal to kick-start the development programme for a 2MW hydrogen-electric engine for a full-size regional aircraft, gathered $24.3 million of fresh investment into the company. Two new investors joined the company, namely British Airways and Horizons Ventures, joining existing investors in ZeroAvia. The company indicated that it had raised a total of $53 million in private investment funds, bringing the total funding since the inception of ZeroAvia to $74 million.
“Innovative zero-emissions technology is advancing fast, and we support the development of hydrogen as an alternative fuel source because we believe it has the potential to enable us to reach true zero emissions on short-haul routes by 2050,” commented on the investment the chief executive officer (CEO) of British Airways, Sean Doyle. “There is a huge amount of energy and excitement building around the possibilities of a zero-emissions future for aviation.” Doyle also highlighted that while there was no single solution for aviation to become a zero-emission industry, the company acknowledged that urgent action was needed.
According to ZeroAvia, the company has the goal to launch its hydrogen-powered engine into the commercial market as early as 2024, with a regional aircraft capable of flying 500 nautical miles (NM (926 kilometres), seating between 10 and 20 passengers. In the future, ZeroAvia plans to develop several aircraft with a variety of range and capacity capabilities, including a more than 200 seat machine, capable of flying more than 5,000 NM (9260 kilometres). In September 2020, ZeroAvia completed its maiden flight with a commercial aircraft powered by a hydrogen-cell.
Quieter airplanes are creating far more noise complaints
Even though airplanes are a lot quieter than they used to be, they annoy people on the ground far more these days. The FAA’s recently released Neighbourhood Environmental Survey says almost two-thirds of the 10,000 people surveyed, who live near one of 20 US airports are “highly annoyed by aircraft noise over the entire range of aircraft noise levels considered, including at lower noise levels.” The also said they hated airplane noise worse than other sources like traffic and their neighbours even if the levels were lower. The last survey was done in 1992 and only 13 percent of respondents were similarly vexed then. Although airplanes are quieter these days, pandemic notwithstanding, there are far more of them. In fact, by FAA standards, only about 400,000 people live in areas where there is ‘significant’ noise compared to the more than seven million people whose windows were rattled in the 1970s.
But in recent years, changes to airspace management due to modernisation have resulted in aircraft overflying areas that were relatively airplane free in the past and complaints have skyrocketed. That spawned a group of Washington lawmakers known as the Quiet Skies Caucus to form and keep pressing the agency on noise issues. “The FAA’s Neighbourhood Environmental Survey tells us what we already knew loud and clear: Our communities are ravaged by aircraft noise,” Rep. Thomas Suozzi (D-N.Y.), a vice chair of the Quiet Skies Caucus told the Washington Post.
In a statement to the Post the FAA said the survey was ‘an important step in seeking public input as the FAA undertakes a review of its existing noise policy. The FAA will continue to engage directly with members of the Quiet Skies Caucus to address their inquiries.’ The agency is also reviewing its data gathering methods in its assessment of airspace changes.
Investigators recover cockpit voice recorder of crashed Sriwijaya Air Boeing 737
On 31 March 2021, Indonesia’s National Transportation Safety Committee (KNKT) confirmed that the CVR was found and recovered but did not disclose the exact conditions of the device. According to KNKT, the memory module was found in the Java Sea at 14 meters depth, below 16 centimetres of mud. The location is up to 500 meters off the coast of Laki Island.
During the press conference, the KNKT estimated that it could take up to a week to download the CRV data. The Committee also announced that after the data is downloaded in a lab and synchronised together with the data from the Flight Data Recorder (FDR), the authorities will make a transcript that should allow investigators to analyse what exactly happened on the day of the crash.
The Sriwijaya Air Boeing 737, registered as PK-CLC, crashed about five minutes after take-off for flight SJ182 to Pontianak Supadio Airport (PNK), Indonesia, on 9 January 2021. The jet was flying over the Java Sea near Laki Island and was carrying 62 people, including two pilots, four flight attendants, 50 passengers and six crew members traveling as passengers when it lost the altitude and plunged 10,000 feet in less than a minute. The flight crew did not declare an emergency and did not report any technical problems before the Boeing 737 disappeared from radars.
The preliminary report of the accident, released in February 2021, pointed out that an autothrottle malfunction resulting in a thrust imbalance in the plane engines could be the main reason why the jet crashed into the Java Sea. The investigators found that following take-off, the thrust in the left engine decreased while the right engine remained unaffected. At about 10,900 feet, ‘the autopilot system disengaged and the aircraft rolled to the left’. The thrust imbalance deepened as the lever position of the left engine decreased while the right lever remained unaffected. The autothrottle system disengaged about 20 seconds before the Flight Data Recorder stopped recording.
The investigation also found that days before the crash, on 3 and 4 January 2021, the ‘autothrottle was unserviceable’ at least twice, leading to a rectification on 5 January 2021. In addition, a flight crew member operating the aircraft a month prior had reported a malfunction in the first officer’s Mach / Airspeed Indicator, which was subsequently replaced.
SpaceX announces the first all-civilian spaceflight in history
The American aerospace manufacturer SpaceX expects to conduct the first all-civilian spaceflight in history in late 2021 when four crew members will fly into orbit aboard a SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule.
The two out of four seats of a private SpaceX flight into orbit have already been given to two US-citizen astronauts priorly. The two new passengers of the historical flight will be a community college geoscience professor Sian Proctor and a former US Air Force veteran Chris Sembroski. All four citizen astronauts onboard the SpaceX Dragon capsule will participate in a three-day Inspiration4 mission into orbit.
The special space operation into orbit is expected to be launched no earlier than 15 September 2021, as it was announced during a news briefing conducted by the sponsor of mission Jared Isaacman and SpaceX human spaceflight chief Benji Reed. While assuming the leading role of operation, Isaacman will also be one of the astronauts of a three-day Inspiration4 mission.
“When this mission is complete, people are going to look at it and say this was the first time that everyday people could go to space,” Issaacman told the media. According to him, the mission is partly driven by charitable cause as Issaacman has already pledged $100 million to the US paediatric cancer center St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
In February 2021, Isaacman appointed Haley Arceneaux, a bone cancer survivor and onetime patient at the Tennessee-based hospital, to be the second crew member in the first all-civilian spaceflight in history. Meanwhile, the freshly announced third crew member Chris Sembroski was selected through a lottery that offered a chance to fly to space. The citizen-astronaut donated $113 million to the cancer center. Another participant of the Inspiration4 mission Sian Proctor was chosen through an online contest conducted by Shift4 Payments, a credit card processing company run by Isaacman.
Profane hot mic rant lands Southwest pilot in hot water
A potty-mouthed Southwest pilot who inadvertently broadcast an epithet-laced assessment of the Silicon Valley area, some of its ‘liberal’ residents and their driving preferences is being ‘dealt with internally’ by the airline, a spokesman said on Thursday. The unidentified pilot was apparently sharing his personal views with his fellow pilot on a hot mic as the flight prepared to depart San Jose Mineta International Airport for Seattle on 12 March. At one point a ground controller advised of the hot mic but there were a few more pointed remarks after that, followed by a crisp and professional series of readbacks and acknowledgements as the 737 took off for the Northwest.
Although there was some initial confusion about the source of the transmission, Southwest later claimed the pilot as one of their own and said his comments were an “isolated incident involving a single employee and not representative of the nearly 60,000 hardworking, respectful people of Southwest Airlines.” He was not identified and his fate is unknown, but in addition to the offensive nature of the comments, they were also in violation of the sterile cockpit policy for critical phases of flight and that caught the attention of the FAA. “FAA regulations prohibit airline pilots from talking about subjects that are unrelated to safely conducting their flight while taxiing and while flying below 10,000 feet altitude,” FAA spokesperson Ian Gregor said in a statement. Gregor also said that it was the FAA that reported the incident to the airline.
Volocopter lays out UAM plans in insightful white paper
Volocopter has published a white paper entitled ‘The Roadmap to Scalable Urban Air Mobility’, which outlines what is needed to operate the full ecosystem enabling UAM. As the first and only electric air taxi developer with Design Organisation Approval by EASA, Volocopter is moving towards commercial launch in the next two to three years. The company has now laid out the key steps to both launch commercial air taxi services in cities and build the necessary supporting ecosystem to scale the UAM business. “We are leading the pack for implementing urban air mobility internationally. With our VoloCity and chosen go-to-market approach, we can fit into the existing ecosystem well enough to get started in the next two to three years,” says Florian Reuter, CEO of Volocopter. “However, in order to subsequently scale our operations in a safe and efficient manner and offer a fantastic experience to our customers, we need to establish a comprehensive and integrated UAM ecosystem. This is what we are doing together with our partners.”
The paper directly confronts the current challenges facing the eVTOL industry with solutions focused on a holistic partnership approach for introducing this next dimension of mobility. While the technical details are equally important to create the aircraft, as Volocopter laid out in its first white paper in 2019, this new white paper provides a glimpse into the complexity of the ecosystem around the aircraft. It gives an overview of what UAM is, what progress has been made, and how Volocopter plans to implement their UAM services in cities like Singapore and Paris with a scalable business approach.
Key points in the paper include: the UAM industry is expected to have a 11.3 trillion Euro addressable market by 2035 with a 241 billion Euro market potential. Over half of the market potential lies in passenger mobility; strong partnerships and an ecosystem strategy will play a pivotal role for entry into the electric air taxi market and setting a precedent for future UAM services; the most successful approach will put the customers first in all critical areas including safety, infrastructure, aircraft design, air operations, city integration and acceptance; Volocopter supports the high safety standards for air taxis defined by the EASA’s SC-VTOL and the progress with concurrent type certificate validation from the FAA in the US and the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS), digitalisation and autonomous flight will help decrease prices for air taxi services in the long-term. Volocopter is already underway to ensure that the aircraft produced can fly autonomously and that all various components of the UAM ecosystem can be connected using a digital backbone and platform, VoloIQ.
Smart loitering drones
A new family of smart-loitering drones from the UAE’s Edge is giving a new dimension to the country’s armed forces. Loitering munitions, or more popularly suicide or kamikaze drones are proving to be an important part of today’s armed forces capability. They were originally developed as a defence against surface to air missiles but now have various roles to meet today’s threats. The smart drone can loiter around a target area for some time, searches for targets and attacks once a target is located. They enable faster reaction times against concealed or hidden targets that emerge for short periods without placing high-value platforms close to the target area and allow more selective targeting as the actual attack mission can be aborted and the drone can return to base. Edge unveiled the QX family at last month’s IDEX defence show in Abu Dhabi.
Twice Weekly News from African Pilot
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Until Tuesday, please be ‘Serious about flying’.
Athol Franz (Editor)