“Creation comes before distribution or there will be nothing to distribute. The need of the creator comes before the need of any possible beneficiary.”
African Pilot’s aircraft of the week identification quiz
What is RAIM with regards to GPS operation?
Sunset call: Arie de Klerk
By Karl Jensen
It is with much sadness and deep regret that you are informed of the tragic passing of Arie de Klerk on the morning of Thursday 4 April 2021. Arrie and I first met as SAAF pupil pilots on the same course at Dunnottar in 1962. Later we were both in SAA on parallel careers and I was a founder member of the incredible Harvard Club that Arrie founded. He was a big driving force in those fields and a man amongst men who has left a legacy in aviation. We hope to have a Silver Queen commemorative event this year to tie in with the Aero Club of South Africa Centenary and the SAAF Association. Arrie revitalised this event years ago and I will certainly ensure that his name is held high for this as well. Our communications were regular and I have been so saddened at the mails while he was so ill and was shutting down. His park brake is set and his final shutdown checklist is complete. May he Rest in Peace and I send my love and condolences.
Important changes to APAnews
At African Pilot’s staff meeting held on Wednesday 7 April, our team decided that several changes to APAnews were required. As a result, you will notice several improvements within this edition of APAnews, whilst further improvements will follow in future editions of this twice weekly aviation newsletter from African Pilot. The first improvement you will notice is that we have shortened APAnews to reflect only ‘headline breaking news’. We have also decided to no longer publish aviation accidents within APAnews, unless the accident or incident is of world-wide importance. This means that the feature will be published within the main monthly digital magazine.
We will also be changing the way in which banner adverts and notifications will be presented in future, meaning that customers will receive improved exposure for their support of APAnews. African Pilot’s marketing team will also establish economical methods to provide present and future advertisers with much needed global exposure to their services. As African Pilot’s reach continues to grow on a global platform, this will present opportunities for advertisers to grow their respective markets. All suggestions for an improved publishing future will be considered. Please e-mail me: firstname.lastname@example.org with your suggestions. Thank you.
African Pilot’s April 2021 edition
The April edition featuring Business Jets, FBOs and Jet engines worldwide was completed during the final week of March and sent to the world before the end of the month. 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.
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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.
The mystery of Flights to Nowhere
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
Feel free to share this as you wish:
Aero Club Communique March 2021 - Update on Airweek
There is less than 10 days to Airweek, taking place between 23 and 27 April, with final planning in progress. Programme updates on what will be happening at the airfield over the four days are as follows:
- EAA will be holding its annual convention
- Sports Aerobatic Club will be holding multiple displays
- Balloon flights daily with night glows
- SAPFA Speed Rally taking place 27 April
- Sling Aircraft will be bringing a build project for demonstration.
Please visit the website for more details. https://www.aeroclub.org.za/airweek/
Registration is also open for attendance: https://forms.gle/fNu45vALTcrRGzQMA
Those who wish to camp and hire tents: https://forms.gle/jHhK9t2PGQvVWSvB8
For Exhibitors wishing to book exhibition space, visit the website 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
Presidents’ Trophy Air Race (PTAR) newsletter #3
By Rob Jonkers
Hello fellow Air Racers, this our third newsletter of the year in the run up to the PTAR which is less than two months to go. The following is important information. Firstly, entries are still open. Please go to the SAPFA website for the entry link.
Date: Friday and Saturday 21 & 22 May 2021
Where: Ermelo Airfield, Mpumalanga
Fees are as follows:
- Entry fee R3 850 per aircraft as the early bird fee (this amount can be paid into the SAPFA bank account – First National Bank – Account No: 62879279307. Fees will increase after 30 April to R4 500
- Membership fees Aero Club and SAPFA R900 per crew member – to register or renew https://aeroclub.blueboxonline.com
- FAI licence R260 per crew member (can also be purchased online on the Aero Club Bluebox payment system)
If neither of the crew are SAPFA members then the total fee per crew is R2320. If preferred, this total amount can be paid to SAPFA, SAPFA will apportion to Aero Club the membership fees.
- Additional banquet tickets R 450 each (the two crew members get a banquet ticket each as part of the entry fee of R 3 850)
- Accommodation: we have negotiated rates at Ermelo Inn for the competitors and guests (see website for details) – please mention PTAR in your booking
- Car hire: Options for the hire of vehicles will follow
The race format will follow what was established in 2019 in Saldanha, which has also been successfully executed in the Speed Rally series. Organisation of the event in Ermelo is progressing well, the Race Committee have conferred and have held meetings with the club, have prepared the proposed airfield layout, and are busy getting the necessary approvals in place.
Home page for PTAR – http://www.sapfa.co.za/index.php/presidents-air-race (watch this space)
Further details of the planning and run up to PTAR 2021 will be communicated in due course. Your comments are most welcome to firstname.lastname@example.org
Until next time, fly safely,
Rob Jonkers (race director)
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
Aero Club communique - JHB Special Rules East
Please note that Johannesburg Special Rules East on Frequency 125.4 MHz has severe interference from a so far unidentified transmitter source and has been rendered unusable for communication, therefore initiating a flight safety hazard, where aircraft operating in the area need to a to exercise caution. The situation is being investigated by a team from ICASA, ATNS and SACAA assisted by Hamnet specialists to find the source. Initial indications led to an area in Kempton Park, but it now appears now to be closer to the Modderfontein area. Once the source has been found, it will be shutdown, which should be within the next few days, in the interim this is an advisory.
Transformation imperative in aviation
Addressing the National Aviation Conference on Thursday last week, Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula said Africans, Coloureds and Indians represent 11% of licence holders, while at 89%, the proportion of White licence holders is still significantly higher. Transformation in the aviation sector remains a challenge, with the 2020 / 21 financial year aviation statistics showing that no meaningful progress has been made in terms of transformation, particularly for previously disadvantaged individuals.
“This scenario needs to change. The statistics must reflect the racial demographics of the country. Among other things that must be prioritised is the demystification of the industry from being an exclusive haven that is the sole preserve of a particular class in our society. We must agree on transformation targets and introduce innovative measures to create access for young people who come from previously disadvantaged communities,” Mbalula said.
While the economic impact on local and international operators experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic have been devastating, the Minister has called on the sector to be ready for the lifting of travel restrictions that were brought about by the onset of the pandemic.
“There is no doubt that the aviation industry will eventually take off. However, when it does, the entire value chain must be ready to hit the ground running and take advantage of the opportunities of the new economy. Moreover, we must be ready to assimilate air taxis and other remotely piloted aircraft systems into the currently well-oiled, well-organised and well-managed conventional airspace. Very soon, airspaces across the globe will resemble nothing we have witnessed before. We must rise up and be equal to the challenge,” he said.
According to a report released by the Airports Company South Africa (ACSA) at the beginning of March, the number of departing passengers in 2020 fell by 65.8% compared to 2019, from 21.6 million to 7.4 million passengers. The decline in domestic departing passengers was 61.9% and the international departing passengers fell by 74.6%. “Seats made available by airlines for destinations within South Africa and between the country and international destinations were 41% of the previous year’s levels. In 2021, seats published by airlines are at 74% of the 2019 levels. This is the evidence of the serious economic impact on local and international operators,” Mbalula said.
The sluggish growth in the passenger numbers remains a source of concern, as this has a direct knock-on effect on the country’s gross domestic product (GDP). “For the local aviation industry to expand and fulfil its potential, government, the regulators and operators must collaborate to ensure that the aviation industry is well positioned to recover and capitalise on the opportunities presented by the pandemic. Technology and innovation will certainly play a pivotal role in simplifying processes and making air travel more attractive to the masses,” the Minister said.
According to Mbalula, aviation skills are in short supply across the world. “In our case, we have seen many of our well-trained and experienced aviators being lured away from South Africa to jobs and opportunities in countries that are offering much better remuneration. The aftermath of the COVID-19 outbreak will only serve to intensify the competition for limited scarce and critical skills. It is critical, therefore, to plan ahead for such a reality, as this may compromise our country’s sterling record in relation to upholding civil aviation safety and security,” he said.
City forges ahead with Virginia Airport development plan
The eThekwini (Durban) Municipality has called on developers to present proposals for the planned redevelopment of the Virginia Airport site. However, any redevelopment of the site could face strong opposition from some of the tenants who have vowed not to move unless they are relocated to a new, suitable site. During a council meeting last week, the eThekwini Municipality resolved to move forward with its plans and granted the head of catalytic projects permission to proceed. It said public. Consultation meetings on the development had been held and that no objections had been recorded.
The discussion on the issue at the meeting turned tense at times, with the ANC councillors describing those opposed to the development as ‘protecting white privilege’ and vowing that the land would be developed. The report stated only two out of 20 operators at the site were opposed to the proposed redevelopment.
DA councillor Shontel de Boer, who was verbally threatened when she spoke on the matter at the council meeting, said high-density housing, hotels, a mixed-use commercial node, a theme park and even a motor sports venue were just some of the proposals being mooted for the Virginia Airport site.
She said the ramifications for the greater Durban North community were potentially huge, with the additional traffic, electricity and sewerage demands crippling an already compromised system.
ANC councillor Nkosenhle Madlala, said they were aware some operators at the airport had already told the city they did not want to move, or alternatively, that the city needed to cover the cost of relocation should it proceed with the development plan. Madlala said the tenants were paying only 10% of what they should be paying and the municipality covered 90%. “It’s costing council R5 million per annum toward management of the facility and Air Traffic Navigation Services. “In short, the city is getting no (money) from the use of the Virginia Airport site. Is this a viable business to maintain?”
Darryl Mann, owner of Aero Natal which operates at the site, said he would object to such plans unless a suitable relocation site was found and agreed upon. He said the municipality had the responsibility to provide a home for general aviation. “I can tell you now that the Virginia airport site will not be developed until such time as a new site has been found. “The municipality is saying no one objected.
“How can we object when there is no platform to object, there has been zero consultation, nothing?” he asked.
Steady Climb fly-in at Rhino Park airfield
On Saturday I attended the Steady Climb fly-in breakfast organised by PilotInsure at the delightful Rhino Park airfield east of Pretoria. Speaking to Nigel Musgrave who was the advisory air traffic controller and safety officer on the day, about 50 aircraft of shapes and sizes flew to this event and they were complimented by some of the light aircraft based at this airfield. Some aircraft that were present I had never seen before and I may use one or two of them for the mystery aircraft quiz in the future. My impression is that things are slowly returning to normal as aviation events spool upwards. A BIG thank you to those brave people that organise events and of course everyone involved, including the pilots that attend these events. The full report with pictures will be published in the May 2021 edition of African Pilot.
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.
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
30 April to 2 May
North meets South Gyrocopter fly-in at Gariep Dam airfield
Contact Tommie Jordaan E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Cell: 082 802 3221
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
Classic Flying Collection at Springs airfield
Celebrating 75 years of the first flight of the DH Chipmunk
SAA Museum Society Airline Collectables Fair – Rand Airport
Contact E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Cell: 076 879 5044
Fly-Mu breakfast fly-in and music festival at Springs airfield
Contact Fanie E-mail: email@example.com Cell: 083 789 5507
As further dates are sent to me, I will continue to update the aviation calendar.
African airlines’ traffic dropped 68% in February
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) announced that passenger traffic fell in February 2021, both compared to pre-COVID levels (February 2019) and compared to the immediate month prior (January 2021). Because comparisons between 2021 and 2020 monthly results are distorted by the extraordinary impact of COVID-19, unless otherwise noted all comparisons are to February 2019, which followed a normal demand pattern.
Total demand for air travel in February 2021 (measured in revenue passenger kilometres or RPKs) was down 74.7% compared to February 2019. That was worse than the 72.2% decline recorded in January 2021 versus two years ago. International passenger demand in February was 88.7% below February 2019, a further drop from the 85.7% year-to-year decline recorded in January and the worst growth outcome since July 2020. Performance in all regions worsened compared to January 2021.
Boeing grounds dozens of 737 Max jets due to manufacturing flaw
US carriers including Southwest Airlines, American Airlines Group and United Airlines parked a combined 67 of the workhorse planes on Friday, about a third of the Max jets currently in service around the world. The manufacturing glitch affects aircraft at 16 airlines, not the entire Max fleet, Boeing said in a statement. The US Federal Aviation Administration said the potential lapse ‘could affect the operation of a backup power control unit,’ adding the agency is in ‘contact with the airlines and the manufacturer and will ensure the issue is addressed.’ While the problem is not related to the flight-control system that was at the center of the Max’s nearly two-year grounding. The issue appears mostly limited to 737 Max planes delivered since the FAA grounding was rescinded. The latest issue was discovered by Boeing mechanics on a production airplane during normal build activity.
Airlines face headache over ‘use-by’ date on some jet parts as pandemic grounds fleets
Airlines with planes grounded by the pandemic are cutting costs by delaying some maintenance tasks like changing life vests, testing oxygen bottles and checking emergency exits under COVID-19 waivers from airplane manufacturers and regulators. The move allows airlines to stop the clock on a category of parts that would otherwise need checks or pass their ‘use-by’ date without leaving the ground because of the huge number of planes parked during the pandemic.
In special guidance to airlines, Airbus SE, Boeing Co, Brazil’s Embraer SA and turboprop manufacturer ATR say there is no risk to safety because the work will be done before the planes return to the skies. But there are concerns that delays could trigger commercial disputes between airlines and their lessors and financiers if they breach contractual maintenance agreements.
The world’s two major aviation regulators in the United States and Europe have both provided COVID-19 related guidance on extending some time-related tasks while a plane is stored. “Prior to an aircraft return to service from storage, all scheduled maintenance tasks that were scheduled during the non-operational status must be performed,” a US Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman said. In a sign of the scale of the issue, Boeing placed an engineering team to work analysing all of the roughly 1400 tasks per model to help airlines keep costs down and delay work that was not deemed urgent or safety critical. That allowed the maximum extension of 10% beyond the scheduled time to be increased to as much as 12 months for grounded planes not subject to passenger foot traffic, cargo carriage and other wear and tear. “The unique, individual assessments for each Boeing model accounted for all climates around the world and can support all operators,” a Boeing spokesman said. Airbus also analysed calendar-driven tasks to give more flexibility to customers, said Airbus head of scheduled maintenance services Claire Kauffmann. “This ensures that the task is performed in a safe way and that they have proper time and staff to do that,” she said.
NTSB calls for cockpit image recorders and SMS programmes
The US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) released its 2021-2022 Most Wanted List of Transportation Safety Improvements on Tuesday, calling for the installation of crash-resistant cockpit image recorders and the implementation of safety management systems (SMS) in all revenue passenger carrying operations. According to the Board, the installation of cockpit image recorders in passenger-carrying commercial aircraft, along with implementing programmes to analyse recorder data, would help with accidents investigations and ‘prevent crashes in the first place by allowing crew actions to be evaluated regularly.’ The NTSB noted that it has been advocating for image recorders in the cockpit for 20 years.
Danish F-35A Lightning II debuts at Lockheed Martin Fort Worth plant
Danish and American officials celebrated the rollout of the first F-35A Lightning II for the Royal Danish Air Force (RDAF) at Lockheed Martin in Fort Worth, Texas on 7 April. This major F-35 programme milestone strengthens national defence and global partnerships between the United States, Denmark and other F-35 partner and buying nations. Like the F-16 before it, the F-35 is spearheading NATO’s air power and ensuring strategic integration of allied combat airpower. The vital interoperability of the 5th Generation F-35 binds 13 allies and partners with the United States in air dominance and enabling critical joint capabilities. The F-35 will serve as a force multiplier for Denmark, allowing the Royal Danish Air Force to train and fight alongside NATO allies and create a strong deterrent.
Delta Air Lines cancels flights massively due to crew shortage
Nearly 100 flights were cancelled by the American air carrier Delta Air Lines over the Easter weekend due to a flight crew shortage. The lack of available pilots was partly caused by a high number of them taking their COVID-19 vaccine shots on the weekend. Delta Air Lines faced a spike in passenger demand for air travel and carried more than a million travellers through the Easter weekend. However, the company was forced to cancel up to 100 flights in and out of Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson (ATL), Detroit Metropolitan (DTW) and Minneapolis-St. Paul (MSP) Airport between 4 and 5 April 2021, due to a staff shortage. The shortage was caused by ‘various factors’ including ‘large numbers of employee vaccinations and pilots returning to active status’.
New ‘Putin Force One’ successfully performs maiden flight
A modernised and heavily modified Ilyushin Il-96-300 set to become one of Russia’s presidential aircraft performed its maiden flight on 9 April 2021. The plane was assembled at the Voronezh Aviation Plant. It will undergo factory tests before entering service. According to its manufacturer, the avionics of the aircraft were modernised to meet European and international standards. The Ilyushin Il-96 was designed in the mid-80s and first flew in 1988. Since 1996, a highly modified version called the Il-96-300PU has been the main aircraft for the transportation of the President of the Russian Federation. Like most presidential aircraft, it features an advanced communication system and missile countermeasures.
Russian government approves design of PAK DA stealth bomber
A new Russian stealth bomber design, developed under the codename PAK DA, was finalised and approved by Russian Defence ministry. The aircraft, a flying wing design, is going to have stealth features, long range and an emphasis on standoff weaponry. The armament of the new bomber is said to consist of cruise and hypersonic missiles of various types. It is also going to carry a full range of air-to-air weaponry, command swarming drones and be able to perform unmanned missions. According to the insider, small-scale models of the aircraft as well as full-scale elements of its airframe were recently tested.
South Korea rolls out its very own fifth-generation fighter jet - KF-21
South Korean President Moon Jae-in unveiled the country’s first domestically developed fighter, the KF-21 Boramae fifth-generation fighter jet, birthed from the KF-X programme. The aircraft will eventually replace the aging fleet of South Korean F-4 Phantom II and F-5 Tiger fighters. The unveiling of the first prototype took place at Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) headquarters in Sacheon, south of the country. The assembly began on 2 September 2020. The work on the fighter jet concept started in 2015, while the finalised design was unveiled in 2019. The finalised aircraft is set to have a maximum speed of Mach 1.81, a range of 2,900 kilometres and a maximum payload of 7,700 kilograms. It will carry a Korean-designed radar system and a range of American- and European-made missiles. South Korea should eventually become the fourth country to develop a fifth-generation fighter jet, after the United States, Russia and China.
China, US deploy carrier groups amid territorial tensions
China’s People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) sent a carrier battle group formed around the aircraft carrier CNS Liaoning in the Miyako Strait, between Japan and Taiwan, on 4 April 2021. The group will carry out an exercise to ‘help build the capacity to protect national sovereignty, security and development interests,’ according to the Navy. As one of the main entries from the East China Sea into the Philippine Sea, the Miyako Strait is crucial for China. The Liaoning was commissioned by the PLAN in 2012. Designated Type 001, it can carry 40 aircraft including a wing of 26 J-15 fighter jets, the Chinese version of the Russian Su-33.
The same day, an aircraft carrier strike group of the US Navy led by the USS Theodore Roosevelt entered the South China Sea from the Strait of Malacca. Theodore Roosevelt’s Carrier Air Wing Eleven is composed of nine squadrons, including four strike fighter squadrons of F/A-18F Super Hornet.
The deployment of the two carrier groups in the East and South China Seas takes place at a time of heightened territorial tensions in the region. Taiwan is a point of contention between the two powers. 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 ADIZ in 2020, the highest since 1996. The surge in activity was attributed to the warming of the relationship between the island country and the United States.
Boeing, Hypersonix to study hydrogen-powered hypersonic vehicle
The Australia-based start-up Hypersonix Launch Systems signed a research agreement with Boeing to explore the development of a sustainable hypersonic vehicle powered by the Hypersonix SPARTAN scramjet engines, which use hydrogen as fuel. The vehicle should be used as a reusable launcher for satellites in Low Earth Orbit (LEO). The low-cost, reliable, reusable and rapid turn-around launch of small satellites to LEO would be the first application of scramjets for space launch. The SPARTAN scramjet (supersonic compression ramjet) engine is an air-breathing engine powered by hydrogen. It can generate thrust to reach speeds ranging from Mach 5 to Mach 12, according to its designer. In 2020, Hypersonix received an Accelerating Commercialisation Grant from the Australian Federal Department of Industry.
US is spending $15B on hypersonic weapons
According to a governments study, the United States has 70 different hypersonic weapon programmes costing $15 billion. According to the document, the $15 billion sum is going to be spent between the financial years of 2015 and 2024. The effort peaked in 2020, when $2.5 billion were spent on such weapons. It was also the first year when more money was allocated to product development than technology development, signifying a switch from research to more production-oriented goals. The largest contributor to the development is the US Department of Defence (DOD), while the Department of Energy (DOE) and NASA are also conducting their own programmes. Likewise, the US Navy (USN) is the main participant of those programmes, with $6.2 billion coming from this funding. The US Air Force (USAF) comes in second, allocating $3.6 billion to hypersonic weapons development.
NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei and crewmates arrive safely at ISS
On Friday the Soyuz MS-18 spacecraft carrying Vande Hei and cosmonauts Oleg Novitskiy and Pyotr Dubrov of the Russian space agency Roscosmos docked to the station’s Rassvet module. Docking occurred two orbits and about three hours after the launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. The new arrivals will join the Expedition 64 crew when hatches open. Expedition 65, with NASA astronaut Shannon Walker as commander, will begin on Friday 16 April, upon the departure of NASA’s Kate Rubins, Roscosmos’ Sergey Kud-Sverchkov and departing station commander Sergey Ryzhikov. The trio will land in Kazakhstan following a six-month stay aboard the orbiting laboratory.
In November 2020, the International Space Station surpassed its 20-year milestone of continuous human presence, providing opportunities for unique technological demonstrations and research that help prepare for long-duration missions to the Moon and Mars while also improving life on Earth. To date, 243 people from 19 countries have visited the orbiting laboratory that has hosted nearly 3,000 research investigations from researchers in 108 countries and areas.
SpaceX aces 10th mission of 2021
On Wednesday, 7 April SpaceX launched 60 Starlink satellites from Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. This was the seventh launch and landing of this Falcon 9 first stage booster, which previously launched NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley to the International Space Station, ANASIS-II, CRS-21, Transporter-1 and two Starlink missions. One half of Falcon 9’s fairing previously supported the AMOS-17 and two Starlink missions, whilst the other supported one Starlink mission. Starlink satellites are over 60 times closer to Earth than traditional satellites, resulting in lower latency and the ability to support services typically not possible with traditional satellite internet. As they launch more satellites, install more ground stations and improve networking software, data speed, latency and uptime will reportedly improve dramatically.
UPS Flight Forward adds innovative new aircraft
Together with UPS Flight Forward subsidiary, plans to purchase electric Vertical Take-off and Landing (eVTOL) aircraft from Beta Technologies (BETA) to augment its air service for select small and mid-size markets. These aircraft will take off and land on-property at UPS facilities in a whisper-quiet fashion, reducing time-in-transit, vehicle emissions and operating cost. The BETA aircraft’s 1,400-pound (635 Kg) cargo capacity is ideally suited to more quickly and sustainably transport time-sensitive deliveries that would otherwise fly on small fixed-wing aircraft. UPS’s use of the aircraft will benefit healthcare providers, thousands of small and medium-sized businesses and other companies in smaller communities. With a 250-mile range and cruising speed of up to 170 miles per hour, UPS will be able to plan a series of short routes, or one long route, on a single charge to meet customers’ needs.
Lilium reveals seven-seat eVTOL and plans to go public
Air taxi developer Lilium unveiled a seven-seat version of its electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft. Aimed at the regional shuttle segment, the ‘7-Seater Lilium Jet’ is expected to cruise at 175 MPH with a range of around 155 miles. Lilium, which has flown two- and five-seat versions of its eVTOL, reports that it received a CRI-A01 certification basis from the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) for the seven-seat model last year. As previously reported, Lilium is planning to build a network of up to 14 vertiports for an eVTOL-based air taxi service in Florida with the goal of launching commercial operations in 2024.
UAVs give SAPS an advantage in border livestock theft operations
Livestock theft on the boarders of Lesotho have been a significant problem for many years, but recently South African defence and law enforcement agencies tasked with border protection have a new drone technology to assist police in identifying and apprehending suspects. Apparently, the SAPS has ‘undertaken initial engagements’ with the South Africa Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) to confirm ‘the regulatory process’ for law enforcement to use drones. SAPS are co-operating with the private sector in effectively using drone technology, on a regular basis, in operations along the Free State / Lesotho border. The joint initiative has been successful in recovering stolen stock and effecting arrests in mountainous areas. Lesotho borders three South African provinces: Eastern Cape, Free State and KwaZulu-Natal.
Twice Weekly News from African Pilot
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Until Thursday, please be ‘Serious about flying’.
Athol Franz (Editor)