“The trouble with most of us is that we would rather be ruined by praise than saved by criticism.”
Norman Vincent Peale
African Pilot’s October 2019 edition
The October edition of African Pilot features Aviation Maintenance Organisations (AMOs) as well as Aviation Refurbishment companies and Professional Services in southern Africa has been fully distributed and according to information at hand is selling very well. This edition includes the first in our new series of ‘Flights to Nowhere’ by Wouter Botes being the Rietbok SAA Vickers Viscount that crashed into the Indian Ocean off Kayser’s beach near East London 13 March 1967.
African Pilot’s November 2019 edition
Within this edition of African Pilot, we promote the various Cape Town Airports and the businesses based at these airports to be exposed on our various media platforms. In addition, this edition will carry a theme ‘Gifts for Pilots’. The closing date for all editorial and advertising material was on Friday 4 October, but we still have capacity to promote your aviation business this week. For advertising positions please contact Lara Bayliss at Tel: 0861 001130 Cell: 079 880 4359 or e-mail: email@example.com.
Ordering your 2020 executive wall calendars
For many years African Pilot has marketed executive wall calendars to aviation businesses in batches of 50 where your business name and contact details will be visible throughout the year. The idea is that this beautiful 12 leaf wall calendar is given out by your company as a Christmas / New Year gift to your most valuable customers. At R170 + VAT per calendar this is an ideal way to ensure that your company’s name is prominently seen on the wall of your executive clients throughout the coming year. Some of the pictures to be published within the calendar are on the page above, but if you wish to view all 12 pictures, please visit our website: www.africanpilot.co.za.
Further information is available from our marketing manager Lara Bayliss at e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or call her on Cell: 079 880 4359. Thank you.
About African Pilot:
There is no doubt that African Pilot provides the finest overall media reach of all aviation publications in Africa where we are in a position 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. Naturally the monthly printed magazine has an incredibly long shelf life due to its excellent design and layout. Then of course the monthly magazine is also available as a digital edition where ALL advertisers have 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.
Do you want instant aviation news and opinions?
Visit www.APAcom.co.za and register yourself as a user
Video of the week: Little Annie - Hair in the Air
Should you be interested in having your aviation event filmed, please contact email@example.com
SOUTH AFRICAN AVIATION NEWS
SAA cabin crew arrested in Hong Kong for alleged drug trafficking
Apparently two South African Airways (SAA) flight attendants were arrested in Hong Kong after they were found with drugs believed to have a street value of about R45-million. One of them is believed to be part of the Presidential Crew who flew with President Cyril Ramaphosa to Geneva last year. According to a Hong Kong website, rthk.hk, the man and woman were found with about 18 kilograms of suspected cocaine which has a street value of HK$23 million, about R45-million. They were allegedly nabbed during an operation targeting drug trafficking through staff and passenger channels at Hong Kong International Airport.
“A 39-year-old woman was arrested at a Tsim Sha Tsui hotel on Monday (23 September) just after about 12 kilograms of the drug was found in two black plastic bags the day before by airport customs. A further six kilograms was found in another black plastic bag on Tuesday (24 September), leading to the arrest of a 35-year-old man,” the websites reports.
SAA’s Thali Thali confirmed the arrests, saying their cabin crew employees were detained by the country’s customs officials. He said the two employees were part of the crews on two separate SAA flights that operated from Johannesburg to Hong Kong, which landed in Hong Kong on 22 and 24 September respectively. “The airline appreciates that the matters are part of ongoing criminal investigations and may currently be before the courts and it is for that reason that SAA will not be making any elaborate comments on these matters until they have been finalised,” he said. Thali said the airline has informed the families of the employees concerned about what happened and that the South African Consulate-General in Hong Kong has been notified and is facilitating a process to secure legal representation for the two.
Denel missile certified
The Denel Dynamics A-Darter infrared homing short-range air-to-air missile (AAM) has received its Type Certificate. This marks the end of the qualification and certification programme for the weapon. Having been originally conceived by Denel Dynamics, part of South Africa’s State-owned Denel defence industrial group, the A-Darter has been developed jointly by South Africa and Brazil. The missile was jointly certified by the South African and Brazilian authorities, at a ceremony held in the Brazilian capital of Brasília on 26 September. V The A-Darter is a fifth generation AAM with an imaging infrared (IIR) seeker, with improved false target rejection capability. It also enjoys improved guidance and control and electronic countermeasures. It can be integrated both on latest fourth generation and earlier-generation fighter aircraft. It is already completely integrated with the Saab JAS-39 Gripen C (single seat) and Gripen D (two seat) fighters, operated by the South African Air Force. In Brazil, it will be integrated with the Brazilian Air Force’s next generation F-39 Gripen E (single seat) and Gripen F (two seat) fighters (the first Brazilian Gripen is currently undergoing flight test in Sweden).
Absolute Aviation presents APS aircraft brakes product workshops
Absolute Aviation presents APS aircraft brakes product workshops
Why upgrade your existing brakes to APS “BlackSteel”® disks and linings? Presented by
Dan Andrews, Pat McNamara & Tom Styles from APS Aviation Products Systems (USA)
15 October 2019 from 15h30 Advantage lounge, Hangar 102, Lanseria International Airport
16 October 2019 from 15h30 Maverick Air Charters, Hangar 10, Wonderboom Airport
18 October 2019 from 15h30 Absolute Aviation Botswana parts facility Maun, Botswana.
What happened in aviation over the past week?
Central Flying Academy Open Day
Central Flying Academy wishes to thank all guests that attended their open day on Saturday, 05 October 2019. Despite being reasonably hot and windy, the weather was favourable for most of the day. The open day was well supported and provided many opportunities for quality interactions with prospective students, family and friends. A significant portion of prospective students enjoyed an introductory flight, whilst others were given a guided tour of CFA’s superb facilities, simulator and fleet of aircraft.
AfBAA conference and exhibition held at Montecasino, Johannesburg
I spent most of the day at the African Business Aviation Association’s conference on Wednesday this past week where I learnt so much from the excellent speakers that addressed the professional business aviation community from all parts of the African continent. It was interesting that many of the problems that Business Aviation encounters with African regulators in particular are similar in that regulators are focused on airline operations and therefore they do not fully understand hoe General Aviation functions. Numerous examples were sited to illustrate this issue and therefore it was resolved that Business Aviation has to become more involved with regulators in order to educate them. More about this conference in the November edition of African Pilot.
‘Little Annie’ sets new record in the sky
I spent Saturday at Wonderboom National Airport today with the wonderful ‘Little Annie’ family where they flew disadvantaged children as well as some cancer children. The day was supported by the management at Wonderboom as well as the Tshwane MMC for transport and several media organisations. Thank you to those precious people who care about always think about the promotion of flight and they always deliver the most interesting flying promotions. We all need to support this wonderful aviation charity organisation that really shows it is making a difference in our community. You can read about this eventful day in the November edition of African Pilot and also enjoy a video on the exciting events of the day.
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.
10 to 13 October
Airlines Association of Southern Africa 49th Annual General Assembly – Reunion Island
I will be representing African Pilot at this very important annual conference again this year.
15 & 16 October
Drone Con International Convention Centre Durban
15 to 18 October
SACAA ARO regulatory development workshop Ambrosia Hall, Midrand
SACAA Strategic Plan Stakeholder Consultation Kempton Park
RSVP Charmaine Shibambo E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Tel: 011 545 1076
SAPFA SA Landing Championships at Brits Airfield
Contact Ron Stirk E-mail: email@example.com Cell:082 445 0373
25 and 26 October
Ladysmith Aviation Careers Expo sponsored by the SACAA
Contact Kgomotso Malema E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Cell 083 451 2661
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: email@example.com
30 October – 2 November
SAPFA Rally Championships – Stellenbosch airfield
Contact Frank Eckard cell: 083 269 1516 e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
8 to 10 November
EAA Sun ‘n Fun at Brits airfield
Contact EAA National Committee Marie Reddy E-mail: email@example.com
Aero Club of South Africa annual awards Rand Airport
Contact AeCSA office 011 082 1100 e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
22 to 24 November
NBAA-bace 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: email@example.com
28 and 29 November
Drones and Digital Aviation Conference Emperors Palace Convention Centre
Contact E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: www.bussynet.co.za
Elders Flight at Rand Airport
Contact Felix Gosher Cell: 066 485 0407 SMS only
SAPFA landing championships at Brits airfield
November Contact Rob Jonkers cell: 082 804 7032 e-mail: email@example.com
30 November – 1 December
SAC Ace of Base Vereeniging Airfield
Contact Annie Boon e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
African Pilot has started preparing the 2020 aviation events calendar
Do you have an aviation event planned for 2020? If so please let me have the details so that I can add this information to the 2020 aviation calendar that has already started. Information is shared with the following organisations:
Capital Sounds – Brian Emmenis
Air Show South Africa (ASSA)
The Aero Club of South Africa (AeCSA)
South African Power Flying Association (SAPFA)
Sports Aerobatic Club of South Africa (SAC)
Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA)
South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA)
Commercial Aviation Association of Southern Africa (CAASA)
Nearly ALL other aviation media use this calendar for the information they publish
Several other organisations both in South Africa as well as abroad.
Please send details to: email@example.com Thank you.
AFRICAN AVIATION NEWS
French A400M first airdrops in African mission
The French Armed Forces General Staff has announced that two test airdrops have been successfully carried out by one of the French forces’ 15 A400M under the supervision of the Centre d’expertise aérienne militaire (CEAM), in the Saharan-Sahelian region. The drop, which took place in mid-September, relieved pressure on the supply line to Mali which had recently been facing long land missions using heavily supported convoys as the air drops had come under threat from a lack of suitable equipment. Pallets containing food and water, a total of 30 tons (60,000 pounds) of supply, were delivered to Kidal base. According to Airbus, the A400M can airdrop up to 25 tonnes of containers or pallets through gravity and parachute extraction. It can carry two Tiger attack helicopters or even an armoured infantry fighting vehicle. In recent demonstrations the A400M has proven its capability as an air-to-air refueler.
WORLD AVIATION NEWS
Seven dead in Collings Foundation B-17 Flying Fortress crash
A World War II B-17 Flying Fortress owned by the Collings Foundation crashed at Connecticut’s Bradley International Airport (BDL) on Wednesday morning, killing seven people and injuring seven more. There were three crewmembers and ten passengers onboard the aircraft. Victims were transported to three hospitals in the area. Some have since been released. Pilot Ernest McCauley (75) and co-pilot Michael Foster (71) were among those killed along with passengers David Broderick (56), Gary Mazzone (66), James Roberts (48), Robert Riddell (59) and Robert Rubner (64). The airport was closed until approximately 13h30 local time on Wednesday, at which point one runway was reopened.
According to Executive Director of the Connecticut Airport Authority Kevin Dillon, the pilots indicated to the tower that they were experiencing “some type of problem with the aircraft” approximately five minutes after take-off from BDL. Dillon said the aircraft was observed to not be gaining altitude and ATC recordings suggest that there was a problem with one of the engines. The aircraft returned to the airport where it lost control on touchdown and struck the airport de-icing facility at 09h54. Two airport employees were present at the facility at the time of the accident, one of whom was injured. There was a significant post-crash fire and one firefighter was reportedly injured while working to contain it. The NTSB launched a Go Team led by Board Member Jennifer Homendy to investigate the accident. The ten-person team arrived at the site on Wednesday afternoon and the NTSB released the video footage below of their initial investigation on Thursday.
Aeroflot captain charged for Superjet 100 crash landing in Moscow
While the Russian Interstate Aviation Committee (IAC) is still in an active investigation of Aeroflot Flight 1492 crash on 5 May 2019, the first criminal charges have been pressed by the Investigative Committee of Russia. The flight, which took off from Moscow Sheremetyevo Airport (SVO) to Murmansk Airport (MMK), was hit by lightning shortly after the Superjet 100 lifted off the ground. Subsequently, the aircraft lost radio communication and the pilots attempted an emergency landing. Upon landing, the Superjet 100 hit the runway, which sparked a fire at the back of the aircraft. Out of the 78 people on board, 40 passengers and one crew member were killed.
Main Directorate on Major Crimes Investigation of the Investigative Committee has sued the Pilot in Command (PIC) of the Superjet 100, Denis Evdokimov. The Committee accused Evdokimov of violating traffic safety and operation of transport vehicle laws, outlined in the Criminal Code of Russia, Chapter 27, Part 3 of Article 263. The accident still carries a lot of controversy. Aeroflot has released a statement denying the flight crews’ fault, but the initial report released on 5 June 2019, has provided recommendations to both the design of the aircraft and ‘Extended Envelope Training’ for pilots.
One of the world’s largest airport terminals opens
The Beijing Daxing International Airport opened on Wednesday 25 September in the Chinese capital. The starfish-shaped building, designed by the late renowned architect Zaha Hadid, is expected to overtake Hartsfield-Jackson in the US for the title of world’s busiest airport, when it eventually reaches full capacity in the next several years. As flight shaming grows in Europe, where people are opting to catch trains instead of flying to minimise their carbon footprint, China is expanding its capacity to facilitate air traffic. However, Daxing airport building has been designed to be eco-friendly and save energy with the use of natural light ‘to guide passengers in their various journeys’.
The new terminal will be Beijing’s second international airport and is situated 47km from Tiananmen Square. It’s currently able to handle 45 million passengers per year. However, according to CNBC, ‘there are plans to expand the airport’s capacity to 72 million by 2025 and ultimately 100 million, according to the Centre for Aviation.’ Beijing’s first airport, the Capital International Airport which opened in 1958, is already the world’s second-busiest airport, after Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson, according to Airports Council International.
The 1.4 million square metre terminal is the world’s largest single building terminal, but biggest doesn’t necessarily mean best. Although Beijing’s new mega terminal has five gardens for people to relax in, it will need to offer travellers a spectacular overall experience for it to rival the airport voted number one in the world in the annual SkyTrax awards – Singapore’s Changi, which has held the title for seven consecutive years. Daxing International has four runways, parking for up to 268 aircraft, two departure levels and two arrival levels. The building has high arched ceilings and makes use of natural light and visitors to Daxing airport can expect customer-service robots rolling through the terminals to help passengers with flight updates.
An-12 crash-lands after running out of fuel, five people killed
A Ukraine Air Alliance Antonov An-12BK cargo plane made an emergency landing near Lviv International Airport, Ukraine. Five people were killed, three were seriously injured. The aircraft, registered UR-CAH, was arriving from Vigo Airport (VGO), Spain and was on approach to Lviv Danylo Halytskyi International Airport (LWO), Ukraine. One of the pilots called an emergency as it was about 13.7 km (8.5 miles) from the runway. The transport aircraft then vanished from radar. About twenty minutes later, one of the crew members contacted emergency services to inform that they had crash-landed. The aircraft was found about 1.5 km (1 mile) from the airport.
The State Emergency Services of Ukraine determined that eight people were on board, including seven crew members and one person accompanying the cargo. As a result of the plane crash, five people were killed. Three people had to be extracted from the wreckage. Due to serious injuries, they were transferred to a local hospital. The Ministry of Infrastructure reported that the An-12 crash-landed because it ran out of fuel. The National Police opened a preliminary investigation.
NASA completes electric X-plane wing tests
NASA has successfully completed testing of a new high-aspect ratio wing for its X-57 Maxwell all-electric research aircraft. The goal of the wing tests, which took place at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Centre in California, was to ‘calibrate installed strain gauges for real-time loads monitoring and to verify the wing has met design specifications.’
The X-57 Maxwell (modified Tecnam P2006T) has been undergoing a series of phased modifications in preparation for the aircraft’s first flight. The Mod III version of the new wing allows the electric motors to be repositioned to the wingtips while the Mod IV design will include 12 additional smaller motors.
At Armstrong, the Mod III/IV wing underwent structural load tests, evaluation of control surface freedom, weight and balance measurements, and ground vibration testing. Once testing was complete, an ultrasonic inspection was conducted to verify the wing’s condition. Next, the wing will be shipped back to ESAero for integration with a ‘nearly identical’ P2006T fuselage in preparation for its eventual use on the Maxwell. According to NASA, the X-57 is ‘intended to demonstrate the benefits electric propulsion may have for efficiency, noise and emissions.’
XL Airways goes into liquidation
The Commercial Court of Bobigny rejected the unique offer of takeover for XL Airways that was submitted at the last minute and the liquidation of the airline has been pronounced. Gérard Houa, a former shareholder in the now-defunct Aigle Azur, had filed a last-minute bid on 2 October 2019, offering to take back 276 employees (out of a workforce of 570 people) and two out of the four Airbus A330s. He also offered to invest €15 million euros of equity and an additional €15 million in the form of a shareholder loan. Houa projected to extend routes towards Asia, mainly China while stopping those to the Caribbean and Réunion. But the offer did not convince the Commercial Court of Bobigny, which rejected it on 4 October 2019. The airline thus goes into liquidation. XL Airways employed 570 employees and in 2018 transported around 730,000 passengers with four Airbus A330s, all leased. Its core business was long-haul scheduled flights towards North America and the West Indies, with a few routes to China.
US slaps Airbus with 10% tariffs, industry to lose more, it says
Washington is set to make good on its pledge to retaliate on European Union (EU) goods, including aircraft, in the long-running jet subsidy case. Following the penalty award by the World Trade Organisation (WTO) arbitrator, the US announced it will slap 10% tariffs on European-made aircraft as well as 25% duties on other industrial and agricultural products from the EU. Airbus together with its US based customers have expressed deep concerns over the impact that trade sanctions will have on the aviation industry and airlines’ businesses.
On 2 October 2019, the WTO issued its decision on the amount of harm EU subsidies has caused the United States and the level of countermeasures the US may request in the case. As anticipated, Washington was given the go ahead to impose tariffs on $7.5 billion worth of EU exports annually as punishment for the alleged illegal government subsidies to Airbus.
US President Donald Trump, on his official Twitter account, hailed the WTO ruling as a ‘nice victory’: “The US won a $7.5 billion award from the World Trade Organisation against the European Union, who has for many years treated the USA very badly on Trade due to Tariffs, Trade Barriers and more. This case going on for years, a nice victory!”.
The USTR has drawn up a target list of $25 billion worth of EU items it could select from and states that the bulk of tariffs – set to take effect on 18 October 2019, will be applied to large Airbus aircraft made in France, the UK, Germany and Spain; the four Airbus consortium countries and EU member states cited in the US case before the WTO.
Implications across manufacturing
Airbus has responded to the WTO decision on 2 October 2019, stating that the imposition of tariffs on EU-made aircraft and/or components will create ‘insecurity and disruption’ to the aerospace industry as well as the broader global economy. “Airbus will continue working with its US partners, customers and suppliers, to address all potential consequences of such tariffs that would be a barrier against free trade and would have a negative impact on not only the US airlines but also US jobs, suppliers and air travellers,” said Airbus CEO Guillaume Faury in an official statement. Airbus is urging the US Administration and the EU to find a negotiated settlement to the dispute to avoid what it says will be a “serious damage to the aviation industry”.
Airbus states that it sources about 40% of components and materials from US suppliers, totalling $50 billion in spending in the last three years since 2019. In addition, the European plane maker’s US-based operations support 275,000 American jobs. If tariffs were to be imposed on aircraft parts, it would hurt Airbus’ production at its Mobile, Alabama, site, resulting in higher costs and the loss of US manufacturing jobs, since Boeing also uses European-made plane parts in its US production.
However, according to a report by Reuters, the new 10% tariffs will not hit Airbus’ Alabama plant, as semi-finished fuselages and wings are exempted from the USTR’s target list. “On 2 October we received confirmation from Airbus of very positive news that parts and components used at the final assembly plant in Mobile will not be subject to tariffs,” George Talbot, spokesman for the city of Mobile, was quoted as saying by the news agency. Airbus produces its wide-body planes in Europe, while its single-aisle jets are built both in Europe and at the Mobile plant (namely, the A320s and the A220s).
Implications across the airline business
US airlines operating Airbus aircraft have spoken out in tandem against the tariffs, suggesting the sanctions would eventually result in higher cost of travel as well as cut into profits. Airlines order planes years in advance, which means that switching contracts to another supplier would be very difficult. To compensate for the costs, carriers could increase fares. Airlines may also urge the plane makers to pay the tariffs, contrary to the norm, as Boeing and Airbus are directly involved in the subsidy dispute.
All three largest US carriers have Airbus planes in their massive fleets. According to the latest figures by the European manufacturer (as of 31 August 2019), American Airlines operates 168 Airbus aircraft in both single-aisle and wide-body categories, with another 114 A321neo jets on order. United has 177 Airbus planes in its fleet, all single-aisles (the A319ceo and A320ceo) and has ordered 45 A350XWBs (the A350-900). By far the most important US customer for Airbus is Delta: the airline operates 292 Airbus jets and has around 200 planes on the way, including a total of 137 A321s in both CEO and NEO versions, as well as, 32 A330-900s and 12 A350-900s ordered for its long-haul wide-body fleet.
Delta has provided a lifeline for the A220 programme both in the US and worldwide. In October 2018, the airline became the first in the US to take delivery of the A220. The first A220 built in the US, an A220-300, is also destined for Delta, scheduled for delivery in the third quarter of 2020. Currently, the Atlanta, Georgia-based carrier has an order for 23 A220-100s and 50 A220-300s.
Low-cost airlines, such as JetBlue and Spirit, which both fly Airbus single-aisle aircraft, may face even bigger hardships as a result of the sanctions, in efforts to remain competitive and continue to offer low fares. JetBlue has operated exclusively the A320 and A321 jets (as well as Embraer 190s) but is ready to introduce 70 A220s (A220-300s) and 84 A321neo into its fleet. Meanwhile, Spirit flies the A319, A320, A321 (all in the CEO versions) and has placed an order for 30 A320neos. “We are concerned about the detrimental impact aircraft tariffs will have on the ability for low-cost carriers like JetBlue to grow and compete, which will harm customers who rely on us to offer competitive, low fares,” a spokesman for Jetblue said. “As we wait for more information on these tariffs, JetBlue will continue to work with US carriers and manufacturers to advocate for a resolution that would help avoid the negative consequences tariffs could have on customers and commercial aviation in the US.”
MC-21 suffers landing gear problem during test flight
A MC-21-300 test aircraft suffered a landing gear issue during a test flight on 3 October 2019. The manufacturer of the Russian passenger jet in-the-making, UAC, said that despite the issue, the landing was normal, while local media reports that emergency landing took place at Zhukovsky airport in Moscow. According to the United Aircraft Corporation (UAC), the flight test, which lasted for over an hour, assed ‘a number’ of MC-21 systems and after the test, the plane landed normally, the company stressed in a statement.
The incident happened during the final stage of the test and was caused by, presumably, incorrectly triggered landing gear indication, according to UAC. Meanwhile, Russian News Agency TASS reports, by quoting a source from emergency services, that the plane developed technical problems with its hydraulic system. One of the landing gear legs failed to retract. The MC-21 flight testing program is taking place at Zhukovsky International Airport (ZIA) in Moscow. Three aircraft are participating in the programme. The MC-21 is a medium-haul plane capable of carrying between 132 and 211 passengers, a prized market segment. It is destined to replace the Tu-154 and Tu-204 in Russia and will compete with two best-sellers, the Boeing 737 and the Airbus A320.
FAA issues airworthiness directive for Boeing 737 NG inspection
The Federal Aviation Administration released a new directive for Boeing 737 NG planes after structural cracks had been discovered on several aircraft. The alarm was pulled last week after cracks were found on the pickle fork during the passenger-to-freighter conversion of a Boeing 737-800 NG that logged 35,000 flight cycles, about half of the service lifespan for this aircraft. Following preliminary inspections, similar cracks were found on at least three Boeing 737-800s having more than 36,000 flight cycles. The pickle fork is a suspension system that connects the fuselage to the wings and manages stress and torque loading that bends the structure during operation. It is designed to withstand 90,000 life cycles – the complete service life of a Boeing 737NG.
The FAA has now issued an airworthiness directive requiring repetitive inspections of the frame fittings and failsafe straps of said pickle forks on all Model 737-600, -700, -700C, -800, -900, and -900ER series airplanes. “If not addressed, could result in failure of a Principal Structural Element (PSE). With 6345 aircraft operating worldwide, this directive could prove costly for airlines. The FAA estimates that the directive will affect 1,911 airplanes registered in the United States. Transport Canada announced it would also enforce the directive for Canadian aircraft. The reason behind the failure of this component will now have to be determined: a material issue, a design or a manufacturing defect.
Florida aviation medical examiner convicted and sentenced
Florida aviation medical examiner Robert W. Kurrle has been convicted and sentenced in U.S. District Court in Orlando, FL to five years’ probation, $100,000 in fines, $48,818.45 in restitution and 100 hours of community service. As an aviation medical examiner in Port Orange, Florida Kurrle was charged with making materially false statements to FAA regarding the medical certification of private and commercial pilots. He pleaded guilty pursuant to a plea agreement on 1 July 2019. Prior to sentencing, Kurrle forfeited $392,805, the money he obtained through his fraudulent scheme.
The investigation revealed that between 1 January 2017 and 28 February 2019, Kurrle performed approximately 3,814 airman medical examinations, earning an estimated $523,740 for his services. He issued medical certificates to private, commercial and airline transport pilots who did not pass material portions of those examinations. He then transmitted the fraudulent results to FAA, which relied on those results to determine whether the airmen could operate aircraft safely. His criminal activity meant FAA had to re-examine numerous pilots to determine their medical suitability for operating aircraft. Kurrle admitted that approximately 75 percent of his examinations were fraudulent and agreed to forfeit 75 percent of his earnings, or $392,805 and to reimburse FAA $48,818.45 for the costs associated with retesting pilots. DOT-OIG and the FBI conducted this investigation with substantial assistance from FAA’s Aeromedical Division.
FAA tests to see if passengers are outgrowing airplane seats
As airliner seats get smaller and Americans get bigger, the FAA has decided to quantify the effect seat size (on the airplane) has on safety. Deputy Administrator Dan Elwell announced the agency will conduct 12 days of emergency evacuation testing at the end of November to see if stuffing ever growing, masses into progressively smaller receptacles makes it harder to get out of an airplane in an emergency. “Americans are getting bigger, so seat size is important, but it’s got to be looked at in the context of safety,” said Elwell.
He said a total of 720 volunteers, from small to extra-large, including children, animals and those with disabilities, will take part in the tests. They will be asked to leave a dark aluminium tube in which half the exits are blocked and the flight attendants won’t know in advance which exits are available. “They try to simulate the worst-case scenario,” said agency spokeswoman Lirio Liu. The tests are in response to concerns raised at a congressional committee meeting about airliner design and safety.
Airbus Helicopters, EASA combine efforts on eVTOL platforms
Airbus Helicopters and EASA have signed a joint Memorandum of Cooperation aiming to bring together their respective experiences and know-how to bring the next generation of VTOL platforms to life, along with the necessary regulatory framework to support them. “I am very pleased to be joining efforts with EASA to build a common framework for the next generation of vertical lift solutions over the next decades,” said Bruno Even, CEO of Airbus Helicopters. “Innovation that benefits customers are at the heart of Airbus Helicopters strategy and we are committed to working hand in hand with authorities around our innovation projects with the same professional approach, experience and spirit that have driven our legacy products.”
The areas of cooperation covered by this agreement include high speed flight with the Racer demonstrator, the certification of new piloting assistance systems (e.g., Airbus Helicopters’ EAGLE technology), the thermal/electrical hybridization of rotorcraft (eVTOL) and condition-based maintenance. “Partnerships with industry are part of our strategy to ensure that innovation in the aviation market happens safely,” said Patrick Ky, Executive Director of EASA. “The learnings we derive from cutting edge technologies play a significant role in helping us to prepare our certification methodologies for these new advancements. The cooperation on innovation with Airbus Helicopters represents an important contribution to this strategy.”
UPS approved to run ‘Drone Airline’
The FAA has given UPS’s Flight Forward subsidiary approval to run unmanned aerial delivery vehicles under a FAR Part 135 certificate that in turn allows it to use drones with more than 55 pounds of useful load. UPS said it will first expand drone deliveries to hospital campuses and then into other industries. UPS has already been testing delivery UAVs at the Wake Forest University’s medical centre in Raleigh, North Carolina. “This is a big step forward in safely integrating unmanned aircraft systems into our airspace, expanding access to healthcare in North Carolina and building on the success of the national UAS Integration Pilot Program to maintain American leadership in unmanned aviation,” said US Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao.
According to the FAA, “As a participant in the US Transportation Department’s Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration Pilot Programme, the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) partnered with UPS Flight Forward. As the operator, they have been engaged in delivery of healthcare supplies around a major hospital campus in Raleigh, North Carolina. The flights have focused on the delivery of blood for potentially life-saving transfusions, as well as other medical samples for lab work.”
Not only can UPS fly heavier drones, it can do so at night. There are restrictions in place for the UAVs that make them less than autonomous, however. The Associated Press reports that the “drones won’t be allowed to fly beyond the sight of the operator without an FAA exemption for each route. Also, each flight will need a separate operator.” UPS will “apply for FAA permission to have a single operator fly multiple drones at the same time.”
Collaboration will develop offshore oil infrastructure inspection plan
A North Sea drone initiative, which is the collaboration with oil and gas multinational Total S.A.; NATS, a provider of air traffic navigation services in the UK the Oil & Gas Technology Centre (OGTC) and Flylogix Limited, has been established to overcome the challenges associated with drone inspection activities in the North Sea. This allows for commercial operators of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) easier access to K controlled airspace for beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) operations.
The four-partner collaboration is developing and testing a concept for drone operations that will allow UAV operators to react within hours of an inspection request and enable routine BVLOS in the North Sea. The project involves extensive consultation with stakeholders and aims to establish a leading example of safe and reliable drone operations alongside existing users in controlled airspace.
Currently, approvals for carrying out UAV operations inside UK controlled airspace can take up to three months, with requests considered on a one-by-one basis resulting in the granting of single flight permissions. This makes the planning of inspection and logistic services extremely slow.
The collaboration’s strength stems from the combination of FlyLogix’s unique BVLOS capability, Total’s leadership in robotic and autonomous systems for the energy industry, NATS’ expertise in unified traffic management, and the OGTC’s unparalleled position of influence with the UK offshore industry.
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Athol Franz (Editor)