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If there is any principle of the Constitution that more imperatively calls for attachment than any other it is the principle of free thought; not free thought for those who agree with us, but freedom for the thought that we hate. Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes
African Pilot’s August 2018 edition
The main features of the August edition are African Pilot’s annual Light Sport Aircraft (LSA) survey as well as the annual feature on the two Nelspruit Airports. This edition also features the Botswana Race for Rhinos that was covered by Charlie and Fiona Hugo as well as the Drones Conference that I attended. This edition of African Pilot appears to have been a hit with readers gauging comments made by many of the visitors at the South African camp in Oshkosh.
African Pilot’s September 2018 edition
Late in 2017 African Pilot was appointed as a media partner with AAD2018 and we will be exhibiting at the show between Wednesday 19 and Sunday 23 September. African Pilot is offering ALL aviation companies exhibiting at AAD2018 the opportunity to showcase their business and what they will be featuring at AAD2018. This Special AAD feature will be contained within the September 2018 edition that will be fully distributed by the end of August a few weeks ahead of the AAD exhibition at AFB Waterkloof. In order to ensure that every exhibitor at AAD2018 receives a FREE copy of the September edition, we will be increasing the print run for this edition. This bumper edition will also contain African Pilot’s annual EAA AirVenture 2018 report, the Farnborough report as well as our annual Avionics and Instrumentation report. The reason for this is that most Avionics OEMs launch their new kit at AirVenture every year and I try to attend every launch at the exhibition show stands at Oshkosh.
For advertising positions, please contact Lara Bayliss Cell: 079 880 4359 Tel: 0861 001130 or e-mail: email@example.com for inclusion into this edition. Thank you.
What has changed at African Pilot?
Now you can get your favourite aviation magazine online
As our digital capability has grown substantially, we have also developed aviation news blasts within the week. We have re-designed the option for the electronic version of African Pilot to be uploaded via our website.
The cost of a single download is R18 (US$2) or R180 (US$20) for a 12-month subscription. In addition, we have created several other options. If you happened to miss out on a particular article or edition, back editions are available. In an effort to increase our digital footprint, African Pilot’s digital edition has now been made available on just about every digital device in production today, including iPads and iPhones through the iTunes Store, all Android devices through Google’s Play Store, Windows 8, Kindle Fire, Nook and Web. We have achieved this by partnering with a multitude of digital publishing platforms, the most noteworthy of which is Magzter, the world’s largest digital magazine newsstand with over 10 000+ magazines in its catalogue. Subscribers through our own website will still be able to enjoy the magazine as a download at:
Video of the week
How Tom Cruise Learned to Fly a Helicopter Stunt for Mission: Impossible
SOUTH AFRICAN AVIATION NEWS
What happened in aviation over the past week?
SANDF chief clarifies situation regarding Cuba chartered flight
Last week South African National Defence Force (SANDF) chief General Solly Shoke denied reports about the smuggling of arms to Cuba on a chartered South African Airways (SAA) flight as misguided and sensationalist. Speaking at an SANDF media briefing in Centurion, Shoke said the equipment on the aircraft was being sent to South Africans receiving training in Cuba. This was so that they could train with equipment familiar to them. Shoke said because of budgetary constraints in the SANDF, it was important to train staff to be able to work with and fix equipment in-house.
He described the situation at the SANDF as so dire that it was in ‘survival mode’. Shoke also clarified why simulators and dummy equipment were found on the flight that was meant to go to Cuba almost two weeks ago. Sunday newspaper Rapport reported that the aircraft that was meant to transport Cuban technicians back home was carrying firearms and ammunition as well. But Shoke said both the military and the South African Revenue Service (SARS), under which customs falls, had clarified the situation.
“SARS wishes to clarify media reports that customs officials discovered R4 and R5 rifles, 7.62mm light machine guns and ammunition on board an aircraft at Waterkloof air force base on Saturday 21 July 2018 were false,” SARS spokesperson Sicelo Mkosi said in a statement last week. “Our customs officials were working with colleagues in the SANDF to clear the aircraft and we can report that neither weapons nor ammunition were found on the flight or passenger’s luggage during the inspection of the flight and documents presented to the customs officials.”
SANDF spokesperson Brigadier General Mafi Mgobozi said at the time: “The equipment in question was heavy vehicle simulators for training purposes and was cleared by customs and ARMSCOR (Armaments Corporation of South Africa SOC Ltd) following due process.”
What is scheduled for the next few weeks?
5 to 11 August
SAPFA World Rally Flying Competition Dubnicac Slovakia
Contact Website: www.akdubnica.sk
Women’s day fly-in at Stellenbosch Flying Club (Thursday)
Contact Alison 082 728 7386 or Louise 083 454 1104
24 & 25 August
Contact Stefan Fourie E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
SAPFA Sheila Taylor Fun Rally at Krugersdorp Airfield
Contact Grant Rousseau Cell: 082 329 3551 E-mail: email@example.com
SAPFA Grand Central Fun Rally Grand Central Airport Midrand
Contact Rob Jonkers E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Cell: 082 804 7032
RV Day at Kitty Hawk
Contact Irmarie Jooste Tel: 012 802 0942
SAPFA Secunda Fun Rally Secunda Airfield
Contact Jonty Esser E-mail: email@example.com Cell: 082 855 9435
20 & 21 October
SAC North-West Regionals Klerksdorp airfield
Contact Annie Boon E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
23 & 24 October
Avi Afrique 2018 Africa Aviation Innovation Summit CSIR
Contact ATNS Percy Morokane E-mail: email@example.com
6 to 8 November
Dubai Helishow Royal Pavilion Al Maktoum Airport
Contact Mr Abel Bajamunde E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
SAPFA Fun Rally at Springs Airfield
Contact Jonty Esser E-mail: email@example.com Cell: 082 855 9435
1 & 2 December
SAC ACE of Base Brits airfield
Contact Annie Boon E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
We will be opening the 2019 aviation calendar shortly, so please start thinking about the most suitable date(s) for your planned events or airshow.
AFRICAN AVIATION NEWS
Ivory Coast operating Russian An-26Bs
Scramble reports that two former Bulgarian An-26s (TU-VMA and TU-VMB) were delivered to Abidjan-Port Bouet Groupe Aerien du Transport via Tunisia on 19 and 23 July. The Ivory Coast has a small air force, with only half a dozen Alpha Jets and a single Mi-24 Hind providing some combat capability. Transport aircraft include several SA330L Pumas, several Alouette IIIs, three SA 365 Dauphin helicopters and a single An-12 transport. According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), the Ivory Coast has only received a few items of military equipment since 2011, including a Predator patrol craft from China, three RPB 33 patrol boats from France and four AT-105 Saxon armoured patrol vehicles for use in United Nations operations in Mali.
Many of the Ivory Coast’s air force aircraft were destroyed by French troops in November 2004, following a deadly attack on French soldiers. Apparently seven aircraft were destroyed, leaving only eight military aircraft in operation. Further conflict and the second civil war in 2011 took their toll on the air arm, with few operational aircraft in the country’s inventory.
WORLD AVIATION NEWS
EAA: AirVenture 2018 a record-breaker
This year’s EAA AirVenture was ‘about as close as one could imagine’ to perfect, EAA Chairman Jack Pelton said in a news release summarising this year’s data from the show. Attendance set a new record, EAA said, with about 601,000 visitors, nearly two percent more than last year’s record crowd. Pelton credited “the combination of outstanding programmes, aircraft variety, a robust economy and good weather,” plus the efforts of EAA staff and 5,000 volunteers, who created a show that was upbeat and exciting. More than 10,000 aircraft flew in to local airports for the show and Wittman Field’s intrepid controllers managed 19,588 aircraft operations over the 11 days between 20 and 30 July or an average of about 134 take-offs or landings per hour.
Planning is already underway for EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2019, which will run between 22 and 28 July 2019. “We are celebrating our 50th consecutive year in Oshkosh during 2019,” Pelton said. The show originated in Rockford, Illinois, but moved to Oshkosh in 1970. “We’ll be looking back on a half-century of unforgettable highlights at Wittman Regional Airport and planning activities that involve EAA’s hometown and its unique place in aviation history, Pelton said.
South Africans wishing to attend AirVenture 2019 need to take note of the dates and African Pilot will keep everyone informed about Neil Bowden’s Air Adventure Tours trip within the next month. In the interim, Neil can be contacted at e-mail: email@example.com.
One Week Wonder flies
EAA’s AirVenture 2018 One Week Wonder completed its first successful flight on Monday evening 30 July just one day after the show ended. At the beginning of the week, the Van’s RV12iS was nothing more than a pile of parts. During the seven days of the show, volunteers; ranging from experienced builders to show attendees who had never touched a rivet before worked together to assemble the aircraft. In addition to being a lot of fun, EAA says the purpose of the project is to highlight the accessibility and possibilities of homebuilt aircraft.
The RV was completed on schedule and taxied in front of the Oshkosh crowd on the final day of the event. “I developed the RV series of aircraft 40 years ago to give people a pathway to safe, enjoyable flying in an economical way,” said Van’s Aircraft founder Richard VanGrunsven. “To showcase the possibilities of the RV-12iS in such a public way as at Oshkosh is extremely exciting.” The first flight, which, according to pilot Vic Syracuse, went just about perfectly, was purposefully scheduled for after the crowds had gone home.
Numbers haven’t been tallied for the project yet, but it has been estimated that more than 2 500 people participated in building the 2018 One Week Wonder. Each participant was allowed to sign their name on the aircraft and went home with a badge and a commemorative pin. This is the second time EAA has undertaken a project like this at AirVenture. The first was a Zenith CH 750 built at AirVenture 2014.
All survive AeroMexico crash
An Embraer 190 operated by AeroMexico crashed on take-off at Guadalupe Victoria International Airport in Durango, Mexico, on Tuesday afternoon. Early estimates say that 85 of the 101 people on board AeroMexico Flight 2431 were injured in the crash, including 12 critically. According to Governor of the State of Durango José Rosas Aispuro Torres, there were no deaths in the accident.
It has been reported that the plane crashed several hundred feet beyond the end of the runway after attempting to abort take-off due to adverse weather conditions. Weather reports were showing scattered storms in the area at the time of the accident. There was a post-crash fire, but reports say that the 97 passengers and four crewmembers on board were able to escape without burns.
There has been much speculation that this aircraft took-off into a storm and was probably downed by a microburst embedded within the storm very soon after the wheels left the runway. The fact that all passengers and crew members survived is testimony to the sheer strength of the Embraer 190 as well as excellent flight crew and passenger discipline in getting out of the burning wreckage in an orderly manner. No aircraft accident is necessary, nor is good for this industry, but an outcome as good as this one with no loss of life is exceptionally rare.
Air Vanuatu ATR engine fire and hits two aircraft on landing
On 28 July an Air Vanuatu ATR-72 collided with two other aircraft during a runway excursion. The aircraft had to make an emergency landing following an engine fire. No crew or passengers were injured. The aircraft was performing flight NF-241 from Tanna-White Grass Airport (TAH) to Port Vila-Bauerfield Airport (VLI). It was transporting 39 passengers and four crew members. 20 minutes before estimated landing time, the right PW127F engine caught fire and smoke entered the cabin. The turboprop aircraft continued to the planned destination to make an emergency landing. Upon landing, the plane rolled left of the runway where it hit two parked BN-2 Islanders, one operated by Unity Airlines, the other one by Air Taxi. The first was damaged beyond repair while the latter saw vertical stabilizer severed from the remainder of the aircraft. No injuries were reported. An investigation was opened to identify the reason of the engine fire and of the runway excursion. Air Vanuatu is Vanuatu’s national carrier. It operates a fleet of two ATR-72s, including the one involved in the incident and one Boeing 737-800.
Boeing plans autonomous flight research center
Last week Boeing announced plans to open a research and development facility at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s (MIT) new mixed-use district in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The Boeing Aerospace and Autonomy Center will provide space for Boeing subsidiary Aurora Flight Sciences, along with Boeing employees. According to Boeing, the work at the facility ‘will focus on designing, building and flying autonomous aircraft and developing enabling technologies.’ Center employees will also help develop new technologies for programmes that are part Boeing’s recently announced NeXt division.
Boeing will lease 100,000 square feet of research and laboratory space inside a new 17-floor building for the Center. The building is being constructed as part of MIT’s Kendall Square Initiative, a plan that involves the university developing a total of six buildings that will provide space for research laboratories, offices, housing and retail. There is already an Aurora Flight Sciences research and development facility located at Kendall Square, but Aurora employees will move to the Boeing Aerospace & Autonomy Center once construction has been completed.
Airbus evaluates A320neo Multi-Mission variant
Having made its mark in the commercial airline sector, the A320neo is now being considered by Airbus for new applications: as a highly-capable and cost-effective platform for ISR (intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance) duties and as a military transport. Designated A320M3A, the variant would be designed to fulfill a range of ISR roles, particularly maritime patrol and anti-submarine warfare. It also can be outfitted with modular roll-on/roll-off payloads for airlift missions ranging from carrying passengers, troops and VIPs to medical evacuation (medevac) and transporting cargo.
Airbus’ consideration of the A320M3A is in response to market demand, spurred by the growing use of more capable ISR systems, which require physically larger host platforms with increased electrical power and more efficient cooling systems than previously were the case for C4ISR aircraft. One of the biggest applications of the A320M3A is for maritime patrol and anti-submarine warfare, with countries in Europe and elsewhere seeking replacements for aging aircraft, many of which will be encouraged to develop fleet commonality driven by the intensive growth of joint operations with member nations of NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organisation).
Is the Airbus A380 making a comeback?
A decade has passed since the first A380 jetliner made its inaugural commercial flight with Singapore Airlines and just a few weeks ago, the airline industry seemed convinced that the days of the Superjumbo were numbered. But the double-decker has found a new life at Portugal’s Hi Fly, which recently began leasing the aircraft to carriers such as Norwegian Air Shuttle and Thomas Cook Group. Will this give the A380 programme a boost it so desperately needs?
Ever since the beginning, Airbus has struggled to find customers willing to put the Superjumbo jet into service. In fact, it has struggled to find takers even in the second-hand off-lease market. Back in 2016, the plane maker announced it would reduce A380 production starting from 2017. A lifeline for the programme was thrown when Emirates signed a deal for 36 A380s in February 2018 (20 firm and 16 options). A month earlier, Airbus’ then-CEO John Leahy had even said that the programme would be cut unless more sales came through. As of 30 June 2018, Airbus stated it had 331 orders for the A380 with 17 customers and had delivered 228 airliners that are in service with 13 operators. Emirates is, by far, the largest with 162 orders, 104 deliveries and 104 A380s in service, meaning that almost half of the aircraft have been delivered to a single airline.
On 5 April 2018 Hi Fly, a Portuguese airline specialising in wide-body wet lease, took delivery of its first A380, becoming the fourth European operator to fly the world’s largest airliner, behind Air France, British Airways and Lufthansa. Hi Fly, signed an agreement to lease two A380s from their owner, the German leasing company Dr Peters Group, which itself got the aircraft from their previous operator; Singapore Airlines at the end of their 10-year lease. Recently Singapore Airlines was the second largest operator of the type behind Emirates with 24 orders, 23 deliveries and 20 jets in service.
The latest news on the A380 programme came in on 1 August 2018, when Thomas Cook Airlines Scandinavia confirmed it is the first customer to wet-lease one of Hi Fly’s Superjumbo jets. The leisure operator used the double-decker for flights on two routes this past week, from Copenhagen (Denmark) to Larnaca (Cyprus) and from Oslo (Norway) to Palma de Mallorca (Spain), as a stop-gap solution. Then on 3 August the long-haul budget airline Norwegian, announced that it will fly the first used A380 between London (UK) and New York (US) this month in efforts to replace capacity that was reduced when some of its Boeing 787s were grounded for Rolls-Royce engine troubles. Hi Fly, is currently providing aircraft (mainly A330s and A340s) for airlines like Norwegian that have been hit by problems with some engines fitted to their Dreamliners. Airbus must be hoping that the emergence of a secondary market will give a boost to sales of the A380, but for now, it looks more like the Superjumbo is just being passed around by operators needing a quick fix to their capacity issues.
Future US airline signs commitment for 60 A220-300 aircraft
At Farnborough a new US airline start-up announced a commitment for 60 Airbus A220-300 aircraft, with deliveries beginning in 2021. This new airline is backed up by a group of experienced investors led by David Neeleman, founder of JetBlue, investor in TAP in Portugal and controlling shareholder in Azul airlines in Brazil. “This US airline start-up’s decision for the A220 as the platform on which to launch its new business model is a testament to the passenger appeal and operating economics of this outstanding aircraft,” said Eric Schulz, Chief Commercial Officer for Airbus. “This commitment confirms the important role the A220 aircraft now occupies in our Airbus single-aisle portfolio.”
Complementing the A320 Family, the A220-100 and A220-300 models cover the segment between 100 and 150 seats and offer a comfortable five-abreast cabin. With the most advanced aerodynamics, CFRP materials, high-bypass engines and fly-by-wire controls, the A220 delivers 20 percent lower fuel burn per seat compared with previous generation aircraft. The type will serve a worldwide market for smaller single-aisle airliners, estimated at at least 7,000 such aircraft over the next 20 years. Airbus markets and supports the A220 aircraft, which is manufactured under the recently finalized partnership agreement between Airbus, Bombardier & Investment Québec. The A220-300 will be powered by Pratt & Whitney GTF engines.
Sixteenth annual edition of the Aviation Consumer Directory
Published annually by the Aircraft Electronics Association, the 2018-19 edition of the AEA Pilot’s Guide was published for FREE distribution at AirVenture in July and I obtained a copy for perusal and information to be used within African Pilot’s annual Avionics and Instrumentation feature scheduled for the September edition of the magazine.
This year marks the 16th annual edition of the AEA Pilot’s Guide, a consumer’s directory loaded with educational articles, timely information and data about the wonderful world of avionics technologies. The publication helps pilots and aircraft owners make better buying decisions and locate nearly 1,300 AEA member companies in more than 40 countries, including government-certified repair stations specializing in maintenance, repair and installation of avionics and electronic systems in general aviation aircraft. It also includes the manufacturers and distributors of these products, as well as technical schools and universities, engineers and consultants for the industry.
With the FAA’s mandate for aircraft flying in controlled airspace to equip with ADS-B Out avionics by 1 January 2020, this publication covers the topic in-depth and provides answers to frequently asked questions.
Boeing subsidiary Aviall to help Antonov resume production
Ukrainian plane maker Antonov will resume production thanks to Aviall, a subsidiary of Boeing. The two companies signed a strategic agreement at Farnborough International Airshow on 17 July 2018. Since its creation in 1946, Antonov produced some iconic aircraft such as the gigantic An-124 Ruslan and An-225 Mriya cargo planes. Developed as part of the Soviet space programme, Mriya is a unique plane operated by Antonov Airlines which holds the record for the biggest payload ever transported by an aircraft. However, following the Ukrainian crisis of 2014, Antonov production slowed down. Indeed, 60% of the parts used in their aircraft were manufactured in Russia. In 2016, the Ukrainian assembly lines came to a halt.
Aviall should now provide those vital parts needed to resume production and will build a warehouse in Gostomel, Ukraine, which should be operational by November 2018. Antonov expects to assemble three planes in 2019, before reaching an output of eight cargo planes per year. Boeing subsidiary should also participate in Antonov An-1×8 programme which aims upgrading three aircraft, An-148, An-158 and An-178. Since the annexation of Crimea in 2014, Ukraine has been looking to cut its ties with Russia. The country now relies on Western partnerships to make its civil and defence industry independent from Moscow.
Leonardo and the Italian Air Force launch ‘International Flight Training School’
At the Farnborough airshow Leonardo’s CEO, Alessandro Profumo and the Italian Air Force Chief of Staff, Lt. Gen. Enzo Vecciarelli, signed a collaboration agreement that will strengthen the training services already offered by the Air Force’s 61st Wing and will establish an all new ‘International Flight Training School’ (IFTS) to support military pilot training. The IFTS will ensure the further growth and internationalisation of the Italian Air Force’s training school while at the same time increasing its capabilities and the range of pilot training solutions offered to its customers. The IFTS will leverage the existing training assets and expertise in advanced military pilot training of the Italian Air Force in addition to Leonardo supplying four additional M-346 aircraft, new systems and services starting from 2019. In order to maximize the success of this initiative, Leonardo has been in discussions with two major international players and leading companies in the training sector, Babcock International Group Plc and CAE, with the aim to reinforce IFTS capabilities.
Would you fly in a ‘pilotless’ airliner?
A survey commissioned by the Air Line Pilots Association, International (ALPA) shows Americans strongly oppose removing pilots from the cockpit because of the important role they play in aviation safety and security. Americans also solidly support today’s robust pilot-training requirements. Eighty-one percent of those surveyed said they would not be comfortable on an airplane without pilots. Yet some Members of Congress have expressed interest in reducing the number of pilots in planes, by moving toward automated aircraft. The survey results also demonstrate Americans’ strong support for maintaining two pilots in the flight deck, with 80 percent of respondents maintaining that two pilots working together is the best option when it comes to problem solving while operating an aircraft.
More than just public opinion, a recent NASA study that simulated single-pilot flying with today’s flight decks has already concluded that having just one pilot is ‘not nominally acceptable due to the significant task demands and workload.’ ALPA says the evidence is clear: To maximize safety, flying an airliner requires two pilots in the cockpit. The survey was conducted between 19 and 24 July 2018 by Ipsos Public Affairs and 1,109 adults in the United States were interviewed.
Is space junk polluting space before we live there?
Scientists have predicted that the maximum number of people the Earth can sustain is somewhere between nine and ten billion. Current population is estimated to hit nine billion by the year 2050. So, humans have roughly 32 years before overpopulation becomes a really, really big problem.
But, where else can we go? People around the globe have developed space agencies for exploration (think Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, etc.). There are private companies sending rockets and satellites into low orbit. We’ve been to the moon and back. It is clear that our intention is to colonize the only place left: space. However, can it be that easy if we have already filled space with our junk?
The problem of space pollution
NASA scientist Donald Kessler warned in a paper written in 1978, that every collision of man-made objects in space generates more shrapnel and debris as pieces fly apart on impact. The effect is cumulative, as new debris collides with other objects it creates even more debris. Ultimately, space will become impassable because of the continuous cascade of colliding debris, including destruction of telecommunications systems and nullifying of further space launches. Twice every year, if not more frequently, the International Space Station moves to avoid a hypothetically disastrous crash with space junk. Estimations vary, but there are approximately 4,000 active and inactive satellites in space. They could be hit by the 500,000 bits of floating space debris, some micro-millimetres in size, all the way up to pieces the size of two double-decker buses.
Space debris encompasses both natural (meteoroid) and artificial (man-made) particles. While meteoroids orbit the sun, most man-made debris orbits the Earth. Therefore, the man-made junk is usually called orbital debris. These include broken spacecraft, abandoned launch vehicles, manned mission-related debris and disintegration debris. Estimates suggest that more than 20,000 items of debris larger than a softball currently orbit the Earth. They travel up to 17,500 mph, which would allow a relatively small piece of orbital debris to seriously damage a satellite or a spacecraft. In addition, there are 500,000 pieces of debris marble-sized or larger. There are millions of pieces of debris too small to be tracked. “The greatest risk to space missions comes from non-trackable debris,” said Nicholas Johnson, NASA chief scientist for orbital debris. The Department of Defence sustains a hyper-accurate catalogue on objects in Earth orbit bigger than a softball.
Space debris and human spacecraft
More than 500,000 pieces of debris, or ‘space junk,’ are tracked as they orbit the Earth. The increasing amount of space debris multiples the danger to space vehicles, but particularly the International Space Station, space shuttles and other spacecraft with human passengers. NASA monitors space debris to predict collisions and uses a long-standing set of guidelines to prepare for such events. These guidelines are part of the existing flight rules and specify that when a piece of debris becomes close enough to increase the probability of a collision, evasive action or other precautions are put in place to ensure the safety of crew members. Debris avoidance moves are primarily small and occur between one and several hours prior to the predicted collision. These manoeuvres with the shuttle can be planned and implemented in just a few hours. The space station requires nearly 30 hours to plan and execute moves because of the need to utilise the station’s Russian thrusters, or to activate the propulsion systems on one of the docked spacecraft.
In 2009, we witnessed the first major collision between two intact satellites — a U.S. Iridium satellite and an aging Russian Cosmos. The collision created 2,000 extra chunks of metal space debris orbiting the Earth. A 2011 report by the National Research Council warned that Earth orbit paths may be reaching a ‘tipping point’ where collisions will become more common. The researchers suggest that the immediate, orbital space around Earth could be 10 to 20 years away from severe issues.
Space debris removal: Jason Held is a scientist who has created a device he hopes will be useful in cleaning up space trash. He holds a PhD in robotics from the University of Sydney and founded the university’s space engineering laboratory. There, he built rocket engines and led space satellite development. Held has high hopes that the device he and his team created will be able to drag space trash back down into the atmosphere for a fiery death. The module, called the DragEN, is a yo-yo like device weighing in at just under 100 grams. It can be attached to satellites and other spacecraft. When used, DragEN unspools hundreds of meters of a conductive material that grabs onto electric and magnetic forces as it travels through the planet’s magnetic field. This force drags the trash back to Earth’s atmosphere, where it explodes. Held cannot estimate the time it would take for a satellite in the DragEN to burn up. However, the Indian Space Research Organisation will try it in space on a satellite launch planned soon. “The satellite mission is to take photos of the earth and downlink photos,” Held says. “At the end of its mission, the team will release the DragEN tether, which will start dragging the satellite back to Earth. We are all very interested to learn how DragEN unspools in space and how quickly or slowly it takes to come back down.”
Today, Held leads Saber Astronautics in Sydney, where he built DragEN, and he believes it will aid in the destruction of space of debris, a vital issue for space programmes around the world. Held isn’t the only one racing to obliterate space junk. Though Australia doesn’t build spacecraft or satellite systems, it does collect data and information from space. Australian space researchers monitor roughly 29,000 pieces of space junk and warn human space dwellers of imminent collisions. The international timeline for self-destruction of any space satellite or orbiting craft, originally set by NASA’s Orbital Debris Programme Office, is 25 years after operational life of a satellite ends. This remains the goal for new launches in order to limit the growing pile of space trash.
The United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs has worked with NASA and the European Space Agency to develop a set of guidelines on space debris mitigation. But, space archaeologist Dr Alice Gorman, of Flinders University in Adelaide, says the voluntary UN guidelines are followed in only 40% of all missions. Humans filled waterways, landfills and streets with trash, so it’s no surprise the same thing happened in Earth’s orbit. Some space trash removal missions focus on dead satellites, catching them with robotic arms, spearing them with harpoons, or slowing them with sails or tethers. Smaller pieces are targeted with lasers or collected through adhesives.
Junkers JU-52 fatal crash in Switzerland
A Ju-Air Junkers JU-52 ‘Tante Ju’ (‘Auntie Ju’), registration HB-HOT impacted terrain and came to rest at an elevation of about 2540 meters / 8330 feet near Martinsloch / Piz Segnas (Switzerland). A rescue and recovery operation has been initiated. Local Police confirmed a Junkers aircraft crashed at Piz Segnas, no further details are known, five helicopters have been dispatched for rescue and recovery. Police later added, the wreckage is at an elevation of 2540 meters at the western flank of Piz Segnas. A flight restriction to protect rescue and recovery operation was issued. Ground observers watched the aircraft flying in the area over Obersaxen (Switzerland) south of Piz Segnas and estimated they were flying at 11,000 feet.
Ju-Air confirmed the accident stating on their website: ‘Accident Saturday 4 August 2018: We have the sad duty to announce that one of our Ju-52 aircraft had an accident today. At the moment, no further information is available.’ On Saturdays during the summer season Ju-Air regularly conducts scenic round flights departing from Dubendorf (Switzerland) via Surselva (Obersaxen), Val Lumnez and back via Martinsloch, 2600 meters elevation with terrain rising to 3000 meters either side, to Dubendorf (Switzerland). The aircraft had departed Locarno, Switzerland, at 16h10 on a flight to its home base at Dübendorf. It is now understood that three crew members and 17 passengers were killed when the aircraft was destroyed by a near vertical impact with terrain.
The current state of flying drones - let’s not get caught with our pants down
‘There are places that drones should not fly’
No truer words can be spoken and two areas of major concern for civil air defence are large crowd gatherings such as concerts / stadiums and prisons. These two examples are different in the intent and purposes of the flights, yet each can still be just as dangerous and expensive to asset owners. We should also speak about the regulations to remind us of what we are facing when confronting authorities on these issues. Almost everyone has witnessed in real life or on YouTube a video of a ‘droner’ who disregards the law flying (probably intoxicated) at a stadium during halftime, a tailgate party or before a concert starts with the vehicle started from the parking lot which is on the asset owner’s property. These ‘droner’s’ are far different than terrorists who wish to bring harm to the general public. Drone operators are a cause for concern when flying in these types of environments, besides the disregard for the law the pilot has also failed to take into account the safety of the general public who could experience harm in favour of their own personal enjoyment. There are also concerns for a terrorist attack. A terrorist attack unlike the droner’s are different in that the flight was probably planned and researched to create a ‘mission’ instead of a last-minute ‘let us fire the drone up’ scenario during halftime by some intoxicated fan. These two examples although on the surface seem to be very different in threat levels can equally become just as deadly or dangerous. The regulators do not create new laws they only enforce existing laws, which many people do not understand.
Wikipedia definition of active counter measures for aerial threats
“In military applications, ‘active’ countermeasures, which alter the electromagnetic, acoustic or other signature(s) of a target thereby altering the tracking and sensing behaviour of an incoming threat (e.g., guided missile) are designated soft-kill measures. Measures that physically counterattack an incoming threat thereby destroying / altering its payload / warhead in such a way that the intended effect on the target is majorly impeded, such as close-in weapon systems, are designated hard-kill measures. Both types are further described in active protection systems.”
Soft kill level 1 – basic detect and awareness: Basic detection phase is primarily to identify the threat and should be presented to the user within a display to give situational awareness to the user such as speed, distance and time in relation to the user.
Soft kill level 2 – flight controlled mitigation: Through the use of electronic mitigation, the flight controller is interrupted in a way that the first person controlling the drone no longer has control and the operator of the counter drone equipment has full control of the intercepted vehicle.
Hard kill level 1 – projectile or kinetic based mitigation: Any use of mitigation equipment that has a projectile launched to knock the threat from the air. This includes tracking of a target with a ground or air asset that projects a net, missile, ballistic, motor, or weapon intended to disrupt the vehicle from flight.
Hard kill level 2 – laser or magnetic mitigation: Any use of a laser or electromagnetic pulse to disrupt flight of a threat.
Each level has pros and cons of usage, anytime a drone gets impacted by a hard kill then you will have fallout from the various pieces of drone debris falling from the sky. When you destroy a drone you also lose valuable data onboard such as the log files and video in which you might gain intel about the advisory. Soft Kill seems to be the best for civil defence minimising the fallout of debris from the sky. Obviously, the best situation is to control the drone back the ground in working condition, land it close to the security team and confiscate it to run forensic testing. While at the same time locating the operator and detaining them for questioning which could lead to an arrest.
One of the concerns is that the equipment will fall into the wrong hands, there are ways in which equipment can be tracked and rendered useless through updates. If people cannot keep control of the equipment they will not receive an update to run the equipment. The only safe method is to implement a national registration and licensing programme of all drones.
Avansig and Skysense develop autonomous drone solution for indoor surveillance
Skysense has partnered with Spanish information and communication technology developer, Avansig, to autonomously power the first indoor surveillance drone for Prosegur, a multinational security company operating worldwide, also based in Spain.
Skysense’s lightweight, fast-charging, and easy-to-use charging infrastructure eliminates the need for battery removal or manual charging every time a drone battery runs out.
Prosegur’s surveillance drone can execute its own patrol route and land itself on Skysense’s charging pad to recharge. During surveillance patrols, the drone records and streams real-time video, and sends alerts to the security central station when potential security threats or breaches are discovered. “We realized we needed a charging partner at the beginning of the project because we want the drone to work completely unattended,” said David Trillo, CEO of Avansig. “We were in contact with other companies, but we chose Skysense because we felt that their solution was more mature. It works, it’s reliable, and it’s simple. Also, the charging time is short.”
Skysense welcomes different opportunities for collaborations with leading companies who wants to become industry leaders and are developing fully autonomous drone solutions.
UK may ban children from owning drones
The UK Department of Transport has new drone rules under consideration that would ban people under 18 years old from owning a drone weighing more than 250 grams or 0.55 pounds. The proposal could allow youngsters to fly heavier drones under adult supervision if the aircraft is owned by and registered to an older person. The restriction is pegged to the age at which an insurance policy can be issued.
Other suggestions in the proposed bill that is targeted for implementation later this year are online safety tests and required registration for drones over 250 grams, as is required in the US. Police could be allowed to confiscate drones as TSA can now and reckless pilots could be fined immediately when caught. The proposed rule also authorises ‘counter-drone technology to protect public events and critical national infrastructure and stop contraband reaching prisons’ and a requirement to file flight plans using apps before flight. Current UK regulations allow for fines up to £2,500 (approx. $3,280) and a prison sentence of up to five years for flying a drone above 400 feet and within about five nautical miles from an airport boundary. That rule went into effect on 30 July 2018.
Weekly News from African Pilot
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Athol Franz (Editor)
African Pilot ‘Serious about flying’.
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