“True education makes for inequality; the inequality of individuality, the inequality of success; the glorious inequality of talent, of genius; for inequality, not mediocrity, individual superiority, not standardisation, is the measure of the progress of the world.”
Felix Emmanuel Schelling
Storm in Oshkosh on Friday night
As is typical in the USA to storm warning sirens as well as weather warnings were abundant, but when this terrific storm hit us on the airfield on Friday night, we were all taken aback by the sheer force of the lightning, winds and torrential rain that continued for several hours. Other than a few tent pegs that came out and some flooding, fortunately there was very little damage to the South African camp site. Then when we thought it was all over, on Saturday late morning yet another huge storm arrived with high winds and torrential rain. Although we have been promised excellent weather next week when AirVenture starts on Monday, I am concerned that this year may be another Sloshkosh like the one we all experienced about ten years ago.
African Pilot’s August 2019 edition
This edition features Light Sport Aircraft types up to 600Kg as well as our annual Nelspruit Airports feature. In addition this edition will provide extensive coverage to AERO South Africa that was staged at Wonderboom National Airport between Thursday 4 and Saturday 6 July. The printing of the August edition is complete now in its distribution phase. I would like to thank all the advertisers that supported the August edition as well as the AERO South Africa exhibition catalogue.
African Pilot’s September 2019 edition
The exciting September edition will feature the 50th anniversary of EAA AirVenture being staged in Oshkosh. This will be my 19th visit in a row to the largest General Aviation show in the world. We will also feature some of the European airshows as well as African Pilot’s annual Avionics and Instrumentation feature. The reason why we feature the avionics and instrumentation within the September edition is that most of the avionics companies wait for AirVenture to announce their new products. . For advertising positions please contact Lara Bayliss at Tel: 0861 001130 Cell: 079 880 4359 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
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SOUTH AFRICAN AVIATION NEWS
AHRLAC fate in business rescue practitioner’s hands
The business rescue process for the AHRLAC aircraft, being developed by Paramount and the Aerospace Development Corporation (ADC), is fraught with complications as the Potgieters (50% shareholders in ADC) are now seeking liquidation. The business rescue practitioner and Paramount Aerospace Holdings (the other 50% shareholder) are opposing the Potgieter’s liquidation application.
AHRLAC’s developer, original equipment manufacturer and designer is the Aerospace Development Corporation, of which Paul Potgieter Snr and Paul Potgieter Jnr, are executive directors. Paramount Aerospace Holdings (PAH), a Paramount Group company, are 50% shareholders in ADC. Paramount Logistics Corporation Ltd, another Paramount Group company, is the launch customer for the AHRLAC aircraft.
For various reasons, including a dispute over intellectual property and funding, ADC has since the end of last year been unable to manufacture, design or develop the aircraft. The Potgieters advised ADCs staff that they may seek other job opportunities and work elsewhere as ADC cannot pay their salaries nor suppliers.
On the 28 February 2019, Paramount Aerospace Holdings applied to the Pretoria High Court to place ADC in business rescue, this application was initially resisted by the Potgieters. On 20 March, the Potgieters agreed to place ADC in business rescue and signed an ADC board resolution to that effect. The High Court subsequently placed ADC into business rescue. The Potgieter family has had four main issues with the business rescue process concerning: the post commencement financing (PCF) to be provided by Paramount, ownership of intellectual property (IP), funding by Riverston and the decision made by the ADC board, which the Potgieter’s agreed to place the business into rescue instead of applying for immediate liquidation. As a result, the Potgieter’s seem to have changed their position and are now advocating that the AHRLAC programme be liquidated rather than continue with the business rescue process.
In an affidavit by Stefan Smyth, the business rescue practitioner from PricewaterhouseCoopers, he states that the Potgieter family, “…fail to appreciate that business rescue proceedings are designed for the development and implementation of a plan to rescue the company in a manner that maximises the likelihood of the company continuing in existence on a solvent basis.” In the business rescue proceedings to date, Smyth was only able to find funding for business rescue through Paramount. The Potgieter family stated that the PCF agreement is based on Paramount converting funding into equity, but Smyth’s affidavit advises that “No funds advanced by Paramount as PCF have been converted into equity as the applicants seek to imply”. In addition, Smyth’s affidavit stated, “were it were not for the PCF provided, the ADC group would have been liquidated; the PCF provided is provided on eminently reasonable terms, interest-free and to cover business rescue costs as well as a contribution to employee salaries.”
A separate company Riverston, that had a loan funding agreement with ADC, failed to loan the full amount, short of R49.5 million, according to Smyth. However, in the business rescue practitioner’s investigations, he found that, “The ADC group had in excess of R60 million in outstanding trade creditors and employee arrears. Accordingly, the balance of R49.5 million outstanding in terms of the Riverston loan agreement would have been insufficient to settle these current liabilities, let alone provide sufficient working capital to complete the two aircraft to be delivered to Paramount Logistics Corporation (PLC)”.
The affidavit by Stefan Smyth goes on to say that the alleged breach in contract by Riverston dates back to before business rescue operations began and yet these claims were not pursued by the Potgieter family. The Potgieter family maintain that have been heavily concerned that the IP of AHRLAC is in jeopardy. Their affidavit has proposed that ownership of the IP and its location shall be regularised and resolved in the ADC’s business rescue plan. The Business Rescue Practitioner’s affidavit concludes by stating that, “It appears that the Potgieter family expectations regarding business rescue were incorrect and that their expectations for a liquidation are also wrong”. The affidavit believes that the Potgieter family are pushing for provisional liquidation because it would give them a better standing in the ADCs shareholder dispute. The future of ADC will be determined by a vote by the creditors of ADC on whether or not to adopt the Business Rescue plan, which is anticipated to be published by 1 August 2019.
What happened in aviation over the past week?
The start of AirVenture Oshkosh 2019
After a long flight on Emirates Airline via Dubai (8 hours to Dubai and then 14 hours to Chicago) we were welcomed to the South African campsite (Kamp Plakkerfontein) by several members of the group who had arrived earlier. Every year I am amazed at the further development of the camp site and this year we were not disappointed as Neil Bowden and his assistants had prepared the area for the expected 157 arrivals on the Saturday. African Pilot will be keeping you advised every day over the next week about developments on the vast airfield, including new innovations and what aircraft have arrived.
What is scheduled for the next few weeks?
African Pilot’s 2019 calendar
We will publish the aviation calendar within APAnews three months ahead, but you can always visit African Pilot’s website: www.africanpilot.co.za if you would like to obtain the full calendar for the entire year.
22 to 28 July
EAA AirVenture Oshkosh, Wisconsin, USA
Camping on the airfield contact Neil Bowden E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Hotels in Appleton contact Calvin Fabig E-mail: email@example.com
Action, education, entertainment and everything in between makes EAA AirVenture Oshkosh your perfect, affordable northern hemisphere summer destination! For seven days from sunrise to well past sunset, your Oshkosh day is filled with dazzling displays of aerobatics, informative programmes and hands-on workshops, diverse aircraft spanning all eras of flight, concerts to keep you rocking into the night and much, much more. Fun for the whole family that you will only find in Oshkosh is waiting for you at the World’s Greatest Aviation Celebration!
25 to 27 July
SAPFA Air Navigation Race (ANR) Nationals at Brits airfield
Contact Frank Eckard e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org cell: 083 269 1516
3 & 4 August
SAC KZN Regionals Ladysmith airfield
Contact Annie Boon e-mail: email@example.com
21 to 31 August
SAC Unlimited World Championships in France
Contact Annie Boon e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Contact Stephan Fourie e-mail: email@example.com
26 to 28 August
Commercial Aviation Symposium Africa Spier Wine Estate, Stellenbosch
Contact Tel 011 659 2345 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
SAAF Museum Airshow – AFB Zwartkops, Pretoria
The date has been changed for the third time
SAPFA Grand Central Fun Rally – Grand Central Airport
Contact Rob Jonkers cell: 082 804 7032 e-mail: email@example.com
Vans RV Fly-in to Kitty Hawk
Contact Frank van Heerden e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
25 to 26 September
MEBAA show Morocco Marrakech Menara Airport, Morocco
Contact Matthew Cunliffe Tel: +971 4 603 3323 Cell +971 56 171 5734
E-mail: email@example.com Website: www.mebaamorocco.aero
Wings & Wheels in Matjhabeng – Welkom airport
Contact Dirk Smit 082 558 3914 or Ian Buchanan 083 388 1678
5 & 6 October
SAC Western Cape Regionals – Swellendam airfield
Contact Annie Boon e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
10 to 13 October
Airlines Association of Southern Africa 49th Annual General Assembly – Reunion Island
15 – 16 October
Drone Con International Convention Centre Durban
SAPFA SA Landing Championships at Brits Airfield
Contact Ron Stirk E-mail: email@example.com Cell:082 445 0373
23 to 25 October
AVI AFRIQUE Innovation Summit 2019
E-mail: AviAfrique@atns.co.za Website: www.atns.com
22 to 24 October
NBAA-BACE Las Vegas, Nevada, USA
SAPFA Baragwanath Fun Rally – Baragwanath Airfield
Contact Frank Eckard cell: 083 269 1516 e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
SAPFA Rally Championships – Stellenbosch airfield
Contact Frank Eckard cell: 083 269 1516 e-mail: email@example.com
8 to 10 November
EAA Sun ‘n Fun at Brits airfield
Contact EAA National Committee Marie Reddy E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
SAPFA EAA Sun & Fun Adventure Rally
Contact Rob Jonkers cell: 082 804 7032 e-mail: email@example.com
CAASA Awards Ceremony venue TBA
Contact Tel: 659 2345 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Aero Club of South Africa annual awards Venue TBA
Contact AeCSA office 011 082 1100 e-mail: email@example.com
22 to 24 November
NBAA- BASE convention and exhibition in Las Vegas Convention Centre, Nevada, USA
SAPFA Springs Speed Rally – Springs Airfield
Contact Jonty Esser cell: 082 855 9435 e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
30 November – 1 December
SAC Ace of Base Vereeniging Airfield
Contact Annie Boon e-mail: email@example.com
WORLD AVIATION NEWS
Boeing’s Indefinite 737 MAX grounding has cost the company
On 1 March 2019 Boeing’s stock price peaked at $446.39 per share days before Ethiopian Airlines flight 302 crashed, killing all 157 passengers and crew on board and leading to the ongoing grounding of 737 MAX planes worldwide. On 16 July it opened at $361.40, down just over 19 percent from those halcyon days, representing a loss of nearly $50 billion in market capitalisation for the American aerospace giant. Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg has admitted fault and apologised for mistakes made with regard to the 737 MAX’s sensor implementation and repeatedly vowed that the company will “take the time necessary” to ensure that the plane is completely safe when the MAX returns to the sky.
Airlines are continuing to push their schedules for the fastest-selling Boeing in history, with American Airlines and United both announcing recently that they will keep the 737 MAX on the ground at least through to the start of November, threatening holiday flights if fixes don’t come soon. Southwest, which has an all-Boeing fleet and the most MAX jets of any carrier, extended its grounding into October.
In March, the FAA was reviewing a newer version of MCAS. As of April, the agency had given its preliminary approval and in May, Boeing had test flown the updated 737 MAX as well as developed updated training materials. This indicated that the MAX might be on the road to a return to service, but since then, that road has gotten rocky. As of late June, the FAA indicated in an update that it had found a new ‘potential risk’ that the agency was requiring Boeing to mitigate. Boeing responded by saying that it agreed with the FAA’s request and that ‘addressing this condition will reduce pilot workload by accounting for a potential source of uncommanded stabiliser motion.’ The agency’s other efforts include continuing through its process of evaluating the manoeuvring characteristics augmentation system (MCAS), which was at the heart of the deadly ET302 and Lion Air flight JT610 crashes, whilst implementing recommendations from the independent technical advisory board. As of its last update, the FAA is still working on training materials for MCAS.
This is just the USA’s regulatory body. A worldwide loss of trust means that international regulators are going to be extra vigilant when it comes to lifting their bans on the MAX rather than take the FAA’s word for the type. Bloomberg’s Alan Levin and Benjamin Katz reported, EASA has its own list of demands for the MAX, highlighted by concerns over the autopilot system.
According to a Boeing internal memo, the head of the entire 737 programme, Boeing vice president Eric Lindblad, is set to retire after less than a year in charge of the programme. Boeing representatives wouldn’t confirm the company’s plans for future programme leadership, but Bloomberg’s Julie Johnsson reported that current new mid-market airplane (NMA) head Mark Jenks will take over the 737 and Mike Sinnett will oversee the NMA programme when Lindblad retires.
A Washington Post source said that Boeing is now expecting to have all of its required updates submitted by September, provided nothing new crops up. Publicly, Boeing has said that it ‘will not offer the 737 MAX for certification by the FAA until we have satisfied all requirements for certification of the MAX and its safe return to service,’ while the FAA says that it is focused on safety rather than a timeline. Through the first two quarters of 2019, Boeing completed 113 total 737 aircraft deliveries, down from 269 in the same time frame last year. Of those 113, only 24 were delivered in the second quarter, meaning the company’s second-quarter 737 deliveries were down by more than 73 percent from the first quarter and more than 82 percent year-over-year.
RICO and consumer fraud class action filed against Southwest and Boeing
The law firm of Pierce Bainbridge Beck Price & Hecht LLP has filed a civil RICO and consumer fraud class action lawsuit against Southwest Airlines and Boeing on behalf of individuals who purchased tickets for air travel in the wake of the tragic Boeing 737 Max 8 crashes. The lawsuit alleges that Boeing and Southwest worked together to conceal that the MAX 8 was defective and that this defect was likely to (and did) result in computer-induced crashes. Southwest sold tickets on its airline knowing about this defect and both companies remained silent about problems with the aircraft while publicly touting its safety. As the complaint launching the lawsuit further alleges, the MAX 8 was defective from its inception. Its flight control system was designed without obviously necessary redundancies and Boeing’s flawed design relied on onerous, incompletely documented procedures that required pilots to rapidly disable entire systems on the aircraft to override a rogue flight computer. The lawsuit alleges that the purpose of Boeing and Southwest’s coverup of the problems was to preserve their decades-long collusive relationship, which, since a handshake deal between the CEOs in the late 90s, has meant that Southwest receives the lowest prices on new aircraft in exchange for flying only Boeing 737s and backstopping Boeing’s business.
“The evidence here is really quite troubling. Southwest and Boeing worked together to deceive customers, regulators, and their own employees,” said Brian Dunne, another attorney on the case. “It’s clear that both companies knew about the defects—doubly so after the first crash. There was simply no excuse to keep those planes in the air.”
The class includes those who purchased a ticket for air travel between August 29, 2017 and March 13, 2019.
CH-53E Super Stallion reaches one million flight hours
According to US Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR), the CH-53E Super Stallion has logged more than one million flight hours since entering service with the Marine Corps in 1981. This helicopter is ‘still one of the most used aircraft in the United States military air arsenal.’ Missions involving the Super Stallion include amphibious assault, long-range insertion and delivering troops, vehicles and supplies. The Super Stallion is no longer in production, but the fleet is undergoing a ‘reset’ to extend their service life through to 2032. Of the 142 CH-53Es in the fleet, the first 25 helicopters have completed their reset process allowing the squadron commanders to plan for training, operations and maintenance with renewed confidence. Resetting the fleet will help smooth the transition to the new CH-53K King Stallion, the Super Stallion’s heavy lift replacement.
Airbus acquires Aersud Elicotteri, expanding presence and customer service in Italy
Airbus Helicopters has acquired long-time Italian partner Aersud Elicotteri, strengthening its presence in Italy with a dedicated customer service center. Airbus credits Aersud, headquartered in northern Italy near the city of Verona, with helping the major increase in its Italian market share, particularly in aerial work, business aviation and emergency medical services using the single-engine H125 and twin-engine H145. With this acquisition, Aersud will now fully integrate Airbus Helicopters’ global network of customer centres, according to Airbus. With more than 250 helicopters in service 90+ operators in the country, Italy is an important market for Airbus Helicopters.
Boeing, Qatar Airways finalise order for five 777 freighters
The signing ceremony was witnessed by US President Donald Trump and His Highness, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, the Emir of Qatar and included His Excellency Mr. Akbar Al Baker, CEO of Qatar Airways Group and Kevin McAllister, president and CEO, Boeing Commercial Airplanes. The order, worth $1.8 billion at current list prices was previously announced as a commitment at the Paris Air Show in June.
Qatar Airways has rapidly grown its air cargo operations to serve more than 60 global destinations, becoming one of the top international air freight operators in the world. The latest freighter deal builds on the airline’s 777 Freighter order book as the airplane has become the backbone of Qatar Airways freighter fleet. It currently operates 23 freighters, including 16 Boeing 777 Freighters.
The 777 Freighter is the world’s largest and most capable twin-engine freighter. It can fly 4,970 nautical miles with a payload of 224,900 lbs. The airplane’s long range translates into significant savings as fewer stops mean lower landing fees, less congestion, lower cargo handling costs and shorter delivery times. Customers from around the world have ordered more than 200 777 Freighters since the programme began in 2005, including a record 45 units in 2018. Boeing is the air cargo market leader, providing over 90 percent of the dedicated freighter capacity around the world. Qatar Airways also uses Boeing Global Services digital solutions, including Maintenance Performance Toolbox and Airplane Health Management and flight deck solutions powered by Boeing AnalytX. These solutions provide Qatar Airways personnel with real-time access to maintenance, flight and aircraft performance information to optimise efficiency and lower fleet operating costs.
FAA issues update on unleaded avgas replacement
The FAA is continuing to work on a drop-in replacement for 100LL avgas through the Piston Aviation Fuels Initiative (PAFI). Through the first half of this year, the FAA has conducted testing at the William J. Hughes Technical Center of an optimised Shell fuel and screening testing of three fuels not previously part of the PAFI programme. The scope of PAFI has continued to evolve with the preliminary evaluation of three other fuels representing PAFI’s commitment to research and evaluate all candidate unleaded fuels. Test results with the optimised Shell fuel were not successful with testing indicating additional refinements are required.
Test results of that engine testing have revealed that additional refinement will be necessary to support continuation and ultimately result in successful completion. Shell has indicated it is committed to additional R&D efforts to make those adjustments in order to result in a safe and viable unleaded avgas.
PAFI’s test experience which brackets engine, aircraft, materials and toxicology has served to accentuate the extent of the challenge to identify an acceptable unleaded fuel for general aviation. Accordingly, it is recognised that the scope of PAFI must expand to support the necessary research and development while engaging other candidate fuels for evaluation. The FAA alternative fuels programme for general aviation must be multi-faceted, ongoing and supported by a collaborative government and industry process. The focus remains qualification and authorisation of an acceptable unleaded fuel and the safe transition to a more environmentally friendly aviation fuel.
Based on the recommendations of the Unleaded Avgas Transition Aviation Rulemaking Committee, FAA established a fleet-wide authorisation test programme to identify and deploy a safe unleaded avgas with the least impact on the US fleet of over 170,000 piston-engine aircraft. Congress fully funded this five-year test programme in which 17 fuel formulations from a government Screening Information Request (SIR) submitted to FAA in 2014 were evaluated and down selected to the most promising candidates through technical assessments, Phase 1 laboratory and materials compatibility tests and current phase 2 full-scale aircraft engine and aircraft testing.
Despite this recent programme delay, the PAFI programme is essential to ensure a viable, safe and economical fuel can be authorised by FAA for use by the existing GA piston engine aircraft fleet.
New Alternative Fuel Proposals & Certification. Several companies continue to invest in R&D of alternative fuels and are working directly with FAA on applicable safety standards and guidance for means of compliance and qualification testing during development.
FAA invites fuel producers that are currently developing high-octane unleaded fuels to bring their data to the FAA for evaluation and initial screening to be conducted by the William J. Hughes Technical Center. Those that pass the initial screening are invited to participate in a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) testing programme in which producers provide additional resources and some funds for independent testing using PAFI developed standards and guidance. This is an ongoing activity necessary to support FAA and industry understanding and qualification for the authorization of any newly developed and proposed alternative fuels.
Nine aviation sectors have been identified as being crucial areas in need of planning and guidance, prior to deployment, including:
State and Federal Legislative
Aircraft fuels regulations and standards
Communication & training
A PAFI Deployment Guide is being drafted with the objective of providing requirements and guidance to all stakeholders affected by deployment. The Deployment Guide provides specific action plans with responsibility for each of the nine aviation sectors and is intended to be applicable to any unleaded fuel meeting the FAA requirements for approval.
First Royal Canadian Air Force C295 first flight
The first Airbus C295, purchased by the Government of Canada for the Royal Canadian Air Force’s (RCAF) Fixed Wing Search and Rescue Aircraft Replacement (FWSAR) programme, has completed its maiden flight, marking a key milestone towards delivery by the end of 2019 to begin operational testing by the RCAF. The aircraft, designated CC-295 for the Canadian customer, took off from Seville, Spain, on 4 July and landed back on site one hour and 27 minutes later.
The contract, awarded in December 2016, includes 16 C295 aircraft and all in-service support elements including, training and engineering services, the construction of a new Training Centre in Comox, British Columbia, as well as maintenance and support services. The aircraft will be based where search and rescue squadrons are currently located: Comox, British Columbia; Winnipeg, Manitoba; Trenton, Ontario; and Greenwood, Nova Scotia.
Considerable progress has been made since the FWSAR programme was announced two and a half years ago: the first aircraft will now begin flight testing; another five aircraft are in various stages of assembly, whilst seven simulator and training devices are in various testing stages. In addition, the first RCAF crews will begin training in late summer 2019 at Airbus’ International Training Centre in Seville, Spain. As of January 2019, 86 percent of key Canadian In-Service Support (ISS) tasks have been performed in-country by Canadian companies in relation to establishing the FWSAR ISS system. Airbus is thus on track in providing high value work to Canadian industry and has demonstrated a successful start to the development and transfer of capability to Canadian enterprises for the support of the FWSAR aircraft. Beyond direct programme participation, Airbus is generating indirect business across Canadian military, aeronautical and space industry including small and medium businesses in support of the ITB programme.
Blue Line Aviation expands training fleet
North Carolina headquartered flight training provider Blue Line Aviation has ordered 11 new jet-fuel burning Diamond Aircraft. The order includes 10 new DA40 NG’s and one DA42-VI twin aircraft that will be delivered over the next 18 months. The purchase comes less than a year after the company ordered six Jet-A burning DA40 NG aircraft and 1 DA42-VI that have been rolling into service in 2019. Combined, these orders will bring their total fleet to 22 training aircraft, of which 20 are jet-fuel burning pistons from Diamond Aircraft. Blue Line also recently announced plans to build a $13-million, 50,000-square foot training facility at Johnston Regional Airport (JNX). The new planes are part of this expansion and some of the units are expected to be delivered to the new facility in 2020.
UK MOD to develop cutting-edge laser and radio frequency weapons
The state-of-the-art weapon systems, known as Directed Energy Weapons (DEW), are powered solely by electricity and operate without ammunition. The systems could be fuelled by a vehicle’s engine or a generator, significantly reducing their operating costs and providing unprecedented flexibility on the frontline. This past week the MOD announced it is seeking to develop three new DEW demonstrators to explore the potential of the technology and accelerate its introduction onto the battlefield. The laser weapon systems deploy high energy light beams to target and destroy enemy drones and missiles. Radio Frequency weapons are designed to disrupt and disable enemy computers and electronics.
The new systems are expected to be trialled in 2023 on Royal Navy ships and Army vehicles but, once developed, both technologies could be operated by all three services. The Armed Forces will use these exercises to get a better understanding of DEW, test the systems to their limits and assess how they could be integrated with existing platforms.
The MOD aims to invest up to £130 million (approx. $163 million) in this package of Directed Energy Weapons, including the construction of the demonstrators, the creation of a new Joint Programme Office and the recruitment of personnel to manage the programme. These demonstrators are part of the MOD’s ‘Novel Weapons Programme’ which is responsible for the trial and implementation of innovative weapons systems to ensure the UK remains a world leader in military technology. They are expected to reach the frontline within 10 years.
The MOD already has plans for initial trials of laser weapons systems, with the Dragonfire demonstrator commissioned by the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory to be tested later this year. The Dragonfire represents a world-first in laser weapons technology, combining multiple laser beams to produce a weapons system that is more powerful than its predecessors and resistant to the most challenging environmental conditions. The MOD also has over 30 years’ experience in Radio Frequency DEW, during which time the UK has become a world leader in developing new power generation technologies and a global hub for the performance testing and evaluation of these systems.
Virgin Orbit cleared for first LauncherOne drop test
The company says on its blog that on a flight ‘in the near future’, it will ‘release a fully built, fully loaded LauncherOne rocket from Cosmic Girl for the first time.’ The rocket is carried aloft under the wing of a modified Boeing 747. The company said that the test will primarily be focused on the release of LauncherOne to be sure it separates cleanly, and how it freefalls through the air. The first orbital rocket is fully built and has been extensively tested. Later this month, the integration team will wrap up that testing, mate the stages together and then hand the rocket off to our launch operations team.
First long-range drone delivery completed in the Bahamas
A strategic partnership has been formed by San Francisco-based drone delivery business Volans-i and Hogfish Ventures company Fli Drone to provide on-demand drone delivery services in The Bahamas. To cement the partnership, the companies successfully completed the first long-range unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) delivery in The Bahamas on 18 June.
The delivery originated at Abaco Aviation Services, a private FBO at The Leonard M. Thompson International Airport in Marsh Harbour and completed its delivery at Green Turtle Cay in 28 minutes. Previously this same delivery would require transit in both a car and on a ferry. Vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) capabilities allowed the drone to land and safely deliver its payload without any infrastructure required. In total, the fully autonomous flight covered nearly 50 miles, crossing both land and water.
The flight also marked the first time that a UAV operated in controlled airspace at an active commercial international airport outside of emergency operations. Fli Drone was in communication with and is grateful for the support it received from local officials including Marsh Harbour Air Traffic Control. The Bahamas’ maiden UAV delivery was attended by leaders in the public and private sectors, including leaders of the Bahamian government. Over the next 6-12 months Fli Drone will expand its on-demand aerial delivery services powered by Volans-i in The Bahamas to 70+ locations serviced from two main hubs with a capacity of transporting 1,000 pounds of cargo per day.
Citadel counter-drone technology deployed by US military, border patrol
Defence Innovation Unit (DIU) has awarded Citadel Defence an Other Transaction Authority contract to help Military, Government and Law Enforcement agencies rapidly purchase a validated capability that protects the airspace from unwanted drones. When traditional acquisition approaches have struggled to keep pace with the drone threat, DIU has taken the lead to protect national security interests and the safety of servicemen and servicewomen. This is Citadel’s eighth government contract for their life-saving technology. Citadel’s technology prevents unauthorised drones from entering a protected airspace by disrupting the radio-control and video signal, forcing the drone to safely land before it can become a threat. The Titan solution is deployable without adding personnel to take of it.
DIU’s contract award to Citadel breaks the typical Defence acquisition cycle by equipping troops with a capability that saves their lives today, rather than waiting years for large complex contracts to be processed. Titan achieved industry-leading recognition from successful deployments and government-sponsored competitive evaluations with large defence contractors. Competing government development programmes started in early 2019 are scheduled to deliver solutions sometime in 2021.
Police in Victoria, Australia establish a drone unit
The new unit will provide Victoria Police with the capability to use drones in a range of operational duties across the state. Police Air Wing will be the central point for the organisation’s drone services, and will manage the drones and also provide the training to other units. The Drone Unit will aim to progressively train officers from specialist units such as Operations Response Unit and Search and Rescue, along with regional officers to provide their own localized basic drone services. Inspector Craig Shepherd said the addition of mobile eyes in the sky would be a boost to the capability of police across the state. Victoria Police aims to acquire up to 50 drones over the next 12 months to be used by the new Drone Unit as well as specialist areas and regional officers. It’s expected the Drone Unit will be fully established by the end of August 2019.
First B-21 Raider test aircraft is being manufactured
Fox News reports that Goldfein told an audience at an event hosted by the Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies that the Air Force is “closely monitoring the build of the additional test aircraft and associated software to support the first flight,” but did not offer any further details about the highly-secret programme. What the Air Force will say is that the new bomber will incorporate a new generation of stealth technology.
The Raider recently passed a critical design review and the US Air Force moved the airplane into its Engineering Manufacturing and Design phase. That is the point at which weapons and systems are developed and built. Subsystems, avionics and weapons integration are also being developed, as well as the external configuration of the aircraft. The new stealth technology is being developed in response to advancements in radar and air defence weapons being deployed by Russia and China. Technological advances are allowing stealth aircraft to be detected with greater accuracy. The B-21 is being manufactured to address those specific challenges. Top US Air Force officials say that when it is operational, the Raider will be capable of holding ‘any target at-risk, anywhere in the world, at any time.’
DroneShield introduces hand-held counter-drone device
According to the company, the latest drone countermeasure device developed by DroneShield is a ‘compact, lightweight drone countermeasure designed for one hand operation.’ The DroneGun Mk III is intended to provide a safe countermeasure against a wide range of drone models. It allows for a controlled management of drone payload such as explosives, with no damage to common drones models or surrounding environment due to the drones generally responding via a vertical controlled landing on the spot, or returning back to the starting point (assisting to track the operator), with an immediate cease of video back to the drone pilot. RF disruption activation will also interfere with any live video streaming (FPV) back to the remote controller halting the collection of video footage and intelligence by the drone operator. The device weighs 4.3 pounds and a range of about 1,640 feet, according to the company. As an option, the device can be configured to disrupt GNSS capability.
DroneShield cautions that DroneGun MkIII has not been authorised as required by the United States Federal Communications Commission (FCC). This device is not and may not be, offered for sale or lease, or sold or leased, in the United States, other than to the United States government, its agencies, and its properly delegated representatives, until such authorisation is obtained.
Leonardo’s Falco EVO drone assists during Frontex operation
On 20 June, Leonardo’s Falco EVO tactical remotely-piloted aerial system played a key role in monitoring a case involving irregular migrants in the Mediterranean sea as part of monitoring activities of Frontex, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency. In an operation launched from the Italian island of Lampedusa, the Falco EVO worked with other Frontex assets to identify a ‘mothership’ trawler as 81 illegal migrants were transferred to smaller boats, a technique increasingly used by criminal organisations. Following the transfer, the Falco EVO’s surveillance payloads kept a close eye on the trawler until an enforcement operation was launched by Italian authorities to seize the boat.
The Falco EVO system deployed at Lampedusa Airport has already flown for more than 280 hours on behalf of Frontex, with one mission on 26 June clocking in at 17 hours and 21 minutes. This extra-long mission came about when Frontex received a request from the Italian authorities to help monitor two boats in the Lampedusa area. Close collaboration between ENAV, ENAC, AST Lampedusa, the Italian Guardia di Finanza (customs police) and Leonardo allowed the mission finish time to be extended by two hours to 24 so that the Falco EVO could support the interception.
The Falco EVO has been deployed at Lampedusa Airport since December 2018 as part of multipurpose aerial surveillance provided by Frontex. Flights are planned in coordination with the Guardia di Finanza and the Italian Ministry of the Interior and carried out by Leonardo, which owns and operates the Falco EVO under a service arrangement. ENAC, Italy’s national agency for civil aviation, ENAV, the company managing Italy’s civil air traffic and Lampedusa Airport operator AST Aeroservizi also support the operations. In its configuration for the Frontex mission, the Falco EVO is equipped with an advanced suite of sensors including the Company’s Gabbiano TS Ultra-Light radar, which is suitable for long range missions during the day and at night. The Falco EVO is operated and maintained by Leonardo crews.
Three retired former turboprop pilots, a little hard of hearing, are talking:
The first one says: “Man! It’s windy!”
The second one says: “NO, it’s Thursday.”
The third one says: “Me too! Let’s go get a drink.”
Weekly News from African Pilot
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Until next week, please be ‘Serious about flying’.
Athol Franz (Editor)