“I sometimes wish that people would put a little more emphasis upon the observance of the law than they do upon its enforcement.”
African Pilot’s November 2019 edition
Within the November edition of African Pilot, we have promoted the various Cape Town Airports and the businesses based at these airports are exposed on our various media platforms. In addition, this edition features ‘Gifts for Pilots’. The November edition has completed its distribution phase and is now in the various retail stores around South Africa. In addition the digital edition of African Pilot went out to subscribers on Friday 25 October.
African Pilot’s December 2019 edition
The final magazine for 2019 will feature businesses at OR Tambo International Airport as well as our annual Drones / UAV’s feature. The closing date for all editorial and advertising is Friday 1 November – a little earlier than usual due to the many public holidays that happen at the end of the year. For advertising positions please contact Lara Bayliss at Tel: 0861 001130 Cell: 079 880 4359 or e-mail: email@example.com. Thank you
Further information is available from our marketing manager
Lara Bayliss at e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or call Lara 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: Russia's Tu-160 White Swan bomber undoubtedly superior to USA's B-1 Lancer and B-2 Spirit
Should you be interested in having your aviation event filmed, please contact email@example.com
Neil Bowden’s Sun ‘n Fun tour to Florida USA
SOUTH AFRICAN AVIATION NEWS
Russian Air Force visits South Africa
Two Russian Air Force Tupolev Tu-160 ‘Blackjacks’ also known as ‘White Swans’ bombers landed at AFB Waterkloof on Wednesday 23 October, which was the first time in history that this aircraft type has touched down on African soil. The aircraft were originally scheduled to arrive in South Africa on 22 October but were delayed by more than a day due to what was described as ‘technical issues’. They departed Engels, refuelled over the Caspian Sea and then headed 11 000 kilometres non-stop to South Africa. When they entered South African airspace near Richards Bay, the Tu-160s were escorted by three South African Air Force (SAAF) Hawk Mk 120 Lead In Fighter-Trainers and two Gripens, with the aircraft practicing interception and escort. The two Gripens landed at Waterkloof whilst the Hawks returned back to their base at AFB Makhado. More about this amazing Russian Air Force visit to South Africa in the December 2019 edition of African Pilot written and photographed by Charlie Hugo.
CemAir announces new flight schedule
CemAir is pleased to confirm the reintroduction of our domestic scheduled airline service in South Africa. From Friday 8 November South African skies will again have the familiar sound of CemAir across the airwaves. After a nine-month absence we are delighted to be resuming our services and truly hope to be able to welcome you on board soon. Over the coming weeks our schedule will be published and updated. We encourage you to share which routes would meet your flying needs by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or WhatsApp on 066 485 1127. Passengers holding tickets from cancelled flights will have the option to revalidate their ticket for a further flight. Alternatively, we will continue to process refunds at the current rate with a view to finalizing the backlog as soon as possible.
We once again offer all our customers a heartfelt apology for the inconvenience suffered during the interruption of service. The lengthy legal process against the CAA vindicated our operation and the Civil Aviation Appeal Committee has determined that no safety discrepancy was identified in the Company. We have widely shared the details of the events through press releases and would be happy to answer any specific questions you may have. Again, we look forward to providing South Africa with a friendly and cost-effective airline service and connecting you to your favourite places and people. Please visit our website for more information on www.flycemair.co.za.
What happened in aviation over the past week?
Department of Transport and SACAA provide insight into the grounding of 46 airliners
The South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) issued a notice on 21 October 2019, regarding ‘irregular findings’ determined during a recent audit of South African Airways Technical (SAAT), a maintenance and technical service provider used by both Comair and South African Airways. According to SACAA, the affected aircraft could not be flown until ‘corrective action’ has been taken, Comair said in a statement on 22 October 2019. In a completely unnecessary move the SACAA grounded two of South Africa Airways (SAA) planes, prompting other airlines serviced by South African Airways Technical (SAAT) to self-ground a total of 46 airliners. They were 14 from Comair, nine from Mango and the balance (23) SAA airliners. Within less than two days all the airliners had been released to service, but the reputational damage had been done, whilst the scare tactics of the regulator became a serious problem with the South African travelling public. So, what was the problem? According to information at hand the regulator found fault with the SAAT technical staff who were flagged as not having the correct licences to sign off radio telepathy inspections. The matter concerned the cockpit voice recorders and flight data recorders of the affected airliners. In addition, aircraft communication radios were affected by the grounding.
Now here comes the kicker: All the technicians who signed out the work are qualified to do so, but the SACAA had not processed their licences in the required time. How was it possible to release all the affected airliners back to service if this had been a significant problem? The fact that the regulator has been very tardy at the work mandated to it has become ever clearer over the past year and the real problem is that when any operator takes the regulator on in a court of law the regulator loses the court case, because they do not have their ducks in a row. For several years now the Commercial Aviation Association of South Africa (CAASA) has been involved in trying to solve its members problems with the regulator, but many times the process takes a very long time to resolve and often the client is then victimised by the staff of the regulator. This past week I heard about a particular operator that won its unnecessary grounding case against the regulator in the high court and was awarded costs, nowhere near the actual costs of the case. However, the regulator failed to pay the costs until the matter went back to court to force the regulator to pay up, attracting further costs.
As I walk the ramps of South Africa’s airports, I constantly hear about the bullying tactics of SACAA inspectors, the lack of knowledge of inspectors and the general tardiness of these officials. When is this going to stop? At the conference called at OR Tambo International Airport, I challenged Ms Khoza (DCA) about this situation and she defended her organisation by commenting that what I was saying was ‘hearsay’ and that there were ‘no CAASA dossiers on the SACAA’s desks’. You make up your own mind about her statements, because my further research clearly indicated at there are still many dossiers that have been presented to the regulator that have still not been attended to by officials.
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.
SAPFA EAA Sun & Fun Adventure Rally
Contact Rob Jonkers cell: 082 804 7032 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
17 to 21 November
Dubai Airshow DWC Dubai airshow site
CAASA Awards Ceremony venue CAASA House Lanseria International Airport
Contact Tel: 659 2345 E-mail: email@example.com
SAPFA Springs Speed Rally – Springs Airfield
Contact Jonty Esser cell: 082 855 9435 e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
28 and 29 November
Drones and Digital Aviation Conference Emperors Palace Convention Centre
Contact E-mail: email@example.com Website: www.bussynet.co.za
Elders Flight at Rand Airport
Contact Felix Gosher Cell: 066 485 0407 SMS only
SAA Museum airline collectables fair at Rand Airport
Tel: 076 879 5044 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: www.saamuseum.co.za
30 November – 1 December
SAC Ace of Base Vereeniging Airfield
Contact Annie Boon e-mail: email@example.com
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:
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)
Capital Sounds – Brian Emmenis
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: firstname.lastname@example.org Thank you.
AFRICAN AVIATION NEWS
Nigerian Air Force orders 12 Mi-35 helicopters
In a deal announced by Anatoly Punchuk, deputy director of the Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation (FSVTS) of Russia, Niger has signed a contract for the supply of 12 Mi-35 attack helicopters. Nigerien foreign affairs minister Kalla Ancurao said his country was in urgent need of helicopters to fight terrorists in the East and North of the country. In September this year, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov held talks with Ancurao, saying there were good prospects for military and military-technical cooperation, especially with regard to counterterrorism and the supply of military hardware as well as the exploitation of natural resources in Nigeria.
Airports Company South Africa bans Air Zimbabwe
Airports Company South Africa confirms that it has suspended Air Zimbabwe from using its airports with effect from Tuesday 22 October 2019. As a cash client, Air Zimbabwe is required to settle on each Monday the amounts owing for landing fees, parking fees and the passenger service charge for its weekly flights, as well as an amount towards settling arrears on its account. Air Zimbabwe has not honoured the cash basis terms for using airports owned by Airports Company South Africa.
On 18 October ACSQA informed Air Zimbabwe by letter that it will not be allowed to depart from any of ACSA’s nine airports and that the prohibition will remain in place until outstanding amounts are settled and regrets that this decision became necessary. The suspension of an airline takes place only after considerable engagement with an airline’s management. ACSA regrets the inconvenience to Air Zimbabwe passengers. However, as a well-run and profitable state-owned company, it is obliged to ensure that airlines and other business partners settle any outstanding accounts.
This is a regrettable situation that has been brought about from the wanted destruction of an African country that was once described as ‘the breadbasket of southern Africa’. The sheer destruction of a country that was a net exporter of food production quickly came to an end with the confiscation of productive farms that were handed on a plate to people who destroyed the very infrastructure that provided jobs and productivity to the nation. Now the South African government wishes to follow this same example, because they have not learnt anything from history. Even in our country we have examples where 90% of the farms that have been taken away from productive farmers now lie derelict.
Getting back to aviation, where there are many examples of where perfect BEE companies that have failed dismally due the incompetence of the new owners / directors, who in most instances have left significant debt, which will never be recovered. Yes, African Pilot has been a victim of one of these BEE companies and as we know it is impossible to run after debt where there is no possible chance of successfully recovering the monies owed for the placement of advertisements.
Therefore, I fully concur with ACSA to stop advancing credit to any airline that is arrears and to stop the airline from using ACSA facilities. There has to be a stage when ALL African Airlines take full responsibility for the management of their business and unfortunately this also includes local airlines such as SA Express Airways and South African Airways.
De Havilland Canada purchase agreement with Air Tanzania
On 19 October De Havilland Aircraft of Canada Limited (De Havilland Canada) announced that the United Republic of Tanzania, represented by the Tanzanian Government Flight Agency (TGFA), has signed a firm purchase agreement for a Dash 8-400 aircraft. The aircraft, which will be leased to and operated by Air Tanzania (The Wings of Kilimanjaro), will join three that are already in service and another previously ordered one, to increase the airline’s fleet of Dash 8-400 aircraft to five. It will be delivered in a 78-seat, dual-lavatory configuration.
De Havilland’s customer base includes more than 65 owners and operators around the world, including over 15 new operators who joined in the last five years. The Dash 8-400 aircraft’s versatility has been demonstrated by the wide range of missions it successfully supports, from diverse airline and charter operations, to specialised roles such as firefighting and cargo-combi. With the Dash 8-400 aircraft being the only turboprop capable of seating up to 90 passengers, De Havilland Canada is seeing strong interest from existing and prospective customers in Africa and Asia; the company sees this continuing due to the close alignment of the aircraft’s attributes and the requirements of these growth markets. In addition, the aircraft provides turboprop economics with jet-like performance, De Havilland Canada is also targeting opportunities to re-invigorate demand from more mature markets such as North America and Europe where it is already well adapted as a regional jet replacement aircraft.
WORLD AVIATION NEWS
Indonesia set to release final report on Lion Air 737 MAX accident
The Indonesian government is expected to release its final report of the 737 Max accident that happened on 29 October 2018; one of two crashes which led to the worldwide grounding of the aircraft. According to Reuters, which has seen a copy of the document. In its report, Indonesia makes recommendations to Boeing, the FAA and other agencies.
Indonesian Regulators criticised the design of the MCAS anti-stall system. “The design and certification of the MCAS did not adequately consider the likelihood of loss of control of the aircraft,” the report said. It also sites ‘deficiencies’ in communication among the flight crew and said alerts and distractions in the cockpit contributed to the accident. “From what we know, there are nine things that contributed to this accident,” Indonesian air accident investigator Nurcahyo Utomo said at a news conference. “If one of the nine hadn’t occurred, maybe the accident wouldn’t have occurred.”
Boeing issued a statement ahead of the formal release of the report
“On behalf of everyone at Boeing, I want to convey our heartfelt condolences to the families and loved ones of those who lost their lives in these accidents. We mourn with Lion Air, and we would like to express our deepest sympathies to the Lion Air family,” said Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg in the statement released to the media. “We commend Indonesia’s National Transportation Safety Committee (KNKT) for its extensive efforts to determine the facts of this accident, the contributing factors to its cause and recommendations aimed toward our common goal that this never happens again. We are addressing the KNKT’s safety recommendations and taking actions to enhance the safety of the 737 MAX to prevent the flight control conditions that occurred in this accident from ever happening again. Safety is an enduring value for everyone at Boeing and the safety of the flying public, our customers, and the crews aboard our airplanes is always our top priority. We value our long-standing partnership with Lion Air and we look forward to continuing to work together in the future.”
Boeing experts, working as technical advisors to the US National Transportation Safety Board, have supported KNKT over the course of the investigation. The company’s engineers have been working with the FAA and other global regulators to make software updates and other changes, taking into account the information from the KNKT’s investigation. Since this accident, the 737 MAX and its software are undergoing an unprecedented level of global regulatory oversight, testing and analysis. This includes hundreds of simulator sessions and test flights, regulatory analysis of thousands of documents, reviews by regulators and independent experts and extensive certification requirements.
Over the past several months Boeing has been making changes to the 737 MAX. Most significantly, Boeing has redesigned the way Angle of Attack (AoA) sensors work with a feature of the flight control software known as Manoeuvring Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS). Going forward, MCAS will compare information from both AoA sensors before activating, adding a new layer of protection.
In addition, MCAS will now only turn on if both AoA sensors agree, will only activate once in response to erroneous AOA and will always be subject to a maximum limit that can be overridden with the control column. These software changes will prevent the flight control conditions that occurred in this accident from ever happening again.
In addition, Boeing is updating crew manuals and pilot training, designed to ensure every pilot has all of the information they need to fly the 737 MAX safely. Boeing continues to work with the FAA and other regulatory agencies worldwide on the certification of the software update and training program to safely return the 737 MAX to service, the statement said.
Boeing reports progress on 737 MAX safe return to service
Boeing says it has made significant progress over the past several months in support of safely returning the 737 MAX to service as the company continues to work with the FAA and other global regulators on the process laid out for certifying the 737 MAX software and related training updates. The company has also made significant governance and operational changes to further sharpen its focus.
In addition to providing assistance to those affected by these accidents, teams from across Boeing and its supplier partners have been working around the clock to develop software updates and conduct related flight testing, enhance future pilot training materials, engage and inform global regulators, airline customers and our suppliers, as well as support the existing fleet of 737 MAX airplanes.
Customer and stakeholder engagement
Boeing has conducted 20 conferences across the globe with more than 1,100 participants from more than 250 organisations to help operators and financiers prepare for return to service. The company is also conducting weekly technical calls with customers worldwide to deliver the highest quality support and fully prepare the fleet to safely return to service when the grounding is lifted. This also includes developing a comprehensive package of training and educational resources. The company is also closely engaging with more than 900 suppliers to ensure supply chain stability.
24/7 fleet support
Boeing is providing around-the-clock customer support through its global operations centre while simultaneously delivering the highest-quality fleet support to airlines. Teams are leveraging advanced analytics, production flights and on-site demonstrations to ready the fleet for entry-into-service once regulators lift the grounding. Boeing says it is also taking steps to implement previously announced actions that will sharpen its focus on product and services safety. Since announcing changes on 30 September, the company has already made changes in response to our Board of Directors’ recommendations.
Governance and oversight
A specially appointed board committee conducted a rigorous, five-month independent review of the company’s policies and processes and made a series of recommendations that have been adopted. Earlier this month, the company also announced that its board of directors has separated the roles of chairman and chief executive officer to enable Boeing president and CEO Dennis Muilenburg to sharpen his focus full time on running the company, delivering on our customer commitments, and strengthening our focus on product and services safety.
Safety management and engineering focus
On 30 September, Boeing announced the formation of a product and services safety organisation that will review all aspects of product safety and maintain oversight of our accident investigation team and the company’s safety review boards. The organisation’s leader has been named and the team has already begun operating under its new format. Other changes made include realigning the engineering function, establishing a formal design requirements programme, enhancing continued operation safety programme, partnering with airline customers on flight deck designs that continue to anticipate the needs of future pilot populations and expanding the reach of Boeing safety promotion centre.
Additional steps taken
Boeing has taken additional measures to increase its focus on operational excellence and strengthen how it manages safety across the company, its supply chain and the broader aerospace community in an effort to advance global aviation safety. The use of a comprehensive safety management system and safety review boards to standardise safety policy and share best practices, led by senior company leadership for enhanced visibility, has been broadened. The company is expanding the use of an anonymous reporting system to encourage employees to keep bringing forward potential safety issues. Boeing is also taking additional measures to address the growing need for talent, especially pilots and maintenance technicians, by further investing in STEM education. In addition, Boeing says it is investing heavily in areas such as product design, future flight decks, infrastructure, regulation and new technologies.
Lion Air crash report points to Boeing, FAA and airline flaws
The final report of the Indonesian investigators says the design and development of the MCAS system by Boeing was the main cause for the crash of Lion Air Boeing 737 MAX flight JT610 on 29 October 2018, that killed 189 passengers and crew. Improper certification, training and maintenance issues were also pointed at as contributing factors.
The Indonesian National Transportation Safety Committee (KNKT) found out that a failure of the MCAS system resulting in a loss of control of the aircraft was not sufficiently taken into account during design and certification, blaming both Boeing and the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The manufacturer and the authority should ‘more closely scrutinize the development and certification process for systems whose malfunction has the ability to lead to loss of control of the airplane,’ states the report, adding that ‘the MCAS function was not a fail-safe design and did not include redundancy’.
Inconsistencies were found in the MACS certification report: the system is known for correcting the angle of the stabilizers by 2.5°, yet FAA documents stated the maximum was only 0.6°. “It caused a much greater movement of the stabiliser than was specified in that original safety analysis document,” is noted in the report.
The investigators estimate that FAA delegated too much of its responsibility to Boeing engineers under the Organization Designation Authorization (ODA) programme that allowed the manufacturer to conduct safety inspections and certification of its aircraft using its own engineers certified by the authority.
It had already been called into question by the Joint Authorities Technical Review, (JATR) conducted by a committee regrouping the FAA, the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and aviation authorities from Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, United Arab Emirates, Indonesia, Japan and Singapore, as well as NASA, published on 14 October 2019.
The investigators found out that the design of the multiple alerts also contributed to the failure of the flight crew to address the problem correctly, as had already reported the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) in September 2019. “Flight test pilots generally have more knowledge about the aircraft design characteristics than line pilots. This level of competence usually cannot be translated to most pilots”, says the KNKT. Furthermore, manuals issued to pilots were not complete enough for them to diagnose MCAS problems correctly.
Boeing 737 MAX alerts are poorly designed, says NTSB
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), the investigative agency responsible for civil transportation accident investigation, criticised the certification of the 737 MAX by Boeing and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for misjudging the reaction of pilots in case of malfunction of the MCAS system that caused the crashes of Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines. This misinterpretation could have consequences for other aircraft certified in the United States.
But the pilots are not exempt from criticism. It appears that one of them was unfamiliar with the procedures and had encountered difficulties in piloting the aircraft during his training, resulting in improper reactions. Despite the captain managing to lift the nose of the aircraft up twenty times, his first officer was unable to complete the checklist that would have deactivated the MCAS.
Lion Air maintenance workers were also found responsible. One of the AOA probes installed on the aircraft, supplied second-hand by a Florida-based company Xtra Aerospace, was found faulty. However, it had not been tested during the installation. Moreover, despite similar erroneous readings occurring on the previous flight operated by the aircraft, Lion Air maintenance personnel did not make the decision to keep the aircraft on the ground. Data from the previous flight showed that the readings differed by 21 degrees between the two sensors.
The report thus recommends for Lion Air to better assess the training of its pilots and maintenance engineers. As for Boeing, it should reconsider the design and documentation of the MCAS as well as any coming systems capable of taking over control from pilots. The alerts system should also better take into consideration pilots’ response time.
Following the publication of the report, Boeing released a statement in which it promises to address the KNKT safety recommendations and take “actions to enhance the safety of the 737 MAX to prevent the flight control conditions that occurred in this accident from ever happening again”. It claims having already added a fail-safe concept to the updated version of the MCAS that will rely on two sensors and only activate if the readings match. Crew manuals and pilot training are also being reviewed.
USAF B-52 intercepted by Russian fighter jet over Black Sea
After a Russian Su-27 fighter jet was scrambled to intercept one of them near Crimea, Russian officials expressed their concern over the additional tension such flights may create. The Bomber Task Force, composed of four B-52 Stratofortresses and about 350 airmen from the 2nd Bomb Wing of Barksdale AFB, Louisiana, deployed in RAF Fairford on 10 October 2019. The B-52Hs carried out training flights with aircraft from Romania, Ukraine and Georgia, reports the US Command for Europe (EUROCOM) in a press release on 23 October 2019.
The training was aimed at enhancing interoperability between the United States and its allies in the region. “This deployment enhances global stability and security while enabling units to become familiar with the US Air Forces Europe” said EUROCOM. But the flight was heavily criticised by Russian authorities. As a B-52H was approaching the coast of Crimea, it was met by a Russian Su-27 fighter jet that took off from the peninsula, where the Russian South Military District forces are based.
Presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov regretted that the appearance of the US bombers near Russian borders created additional tension, reports RIA Novosti. State Duma deputy from the Crimean region Mikhail Sheremet called on US authorities to explain the flight of the strategic bombers near the borders of Crimea. Flights of USAF aircraft have been increasing since the annexing of Crimea by Russia in 2014. On 5 July 2019, a Boeing P-8A Poseidon observation plane of the US Navy was intercepted by a Su-27 fighter jet in the same region after it was detected moving towards the border.
Gulfstream introduces the G700
At the National Business Aviation Association Convention and Exhibition in Las Vegas last month Gulfstream unveiled its new G700 business jet. The aircraft is already well on its way toward certification, with Gulfstream reporting that it has put in almost 14,000 hours of laboratory testing on the aircraft in its ‘integration- and cabin-test facilities, Systems Integration Bench and Iron Bird.’ The G700 has also completed ‘successful ground vibration testing, engine runs, loads calibration and all structural testing required for first flight.’ Gulfstream is planning to begin deliveries of the G700 in 2022.
“The Gulfstream G700 takes the very best elements from our most innovative products and unites them with cutting-edge advances to create an all-new, advanced-technology aircraft that redefines safety, comfort and range at speed,” said Gulfstream President Mark Burns. “This announcement is the biggest news in business aviation history and is the result of the investments General Dynamics made to develop Gulfstream technology for Gulfstream products.”
Launch customer Qatar Executive has ordered 10 of the new model and Flexjet, which also announced an order for $1.4 billion in Embraer jets at the show, has placed a fleet order for an unknown number of G700s. Gulfstream says the G700 will be capable of flying 7,500 NM at Mach 0.85 or 6,400 NM at Mach 0.90. It will feature Gulfstream’s Symmetry Flight Deck, Predictive Landing Performance System and Enhanced Flight Vision System and Synthetic Vision on dual head-up displays. The aircraft is powered by the Rolls-Royce Pearl 700 engine. It will seat up to 19 passengers and have a 4,850-foot cabin altitude at its maximum cruise altitude of 51,000 feet.
Taiwanese Mirage 2000 black box found two years after disappearance
The Taiwan Ocean Research Institute recovered the flight data recorder of a Taiwanese Mirage 2000 fighter jet that mysteriously disappeared off the country’s northeast coast two years ago. On 7 November 2017, Mirage 2000-5 from the 499th Air Force Squadron had taken off 34 minutes before from Hsinchu Air Base (HSZ) for a night time training flight and was flying at 555 km/h at an altitude of 760 meters (2,500 feet) near the islet of Pengjia when it disappeared from radar. The pilot did not send any distress signal or report a technical problem to ATC before vanishing. The initial search did not find any trace of the aircraft, and the pilot was declared killed in action.
The Taiwanese air force (ROCAF) commissioned the Taiwan Ocean Research Institute (TORI) to resume the search. Using a remote-controlled submarine operated from the research vessel Legend, the TORI managed to locate the engine and parts of the landing gear in December 2018. On 3 October 2019, the flight data recorder (FDR) of the fighter jet was found. “We will send the FDR to France to be analysed as soon as possible. The results can help us determine the cause of the incident,” ROCAF spokesman Wang Chun-hsiung said.
Taiwan acquired a fleet of 60 Dassault Mirage 2000-5 fighter jets in 1992. The multirole aircraft represents an important component of the island’s airspace sovereignty defence. On 20 August 2019, the US State Department approved a possible Foreign Military Sale for 66 F-16C/D fighter jets as well as equipment and support. The contract is estimated at $8 billion. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang threatened to retaliate with sanctions on US companies, arguing that weapons sales are interfering in China’s internal affairs.
Airbus’ Mobile, Alabama plant may help Delta Airlines avoid tariffs
With the prospect of tariffs looming, Delta Airlines is counting on A320 airliners produced in the US to avoid tariffs being imposed on Airbus by the World Trade Organisation. Forbes reports that airliners assembled in Mobile will likely be exempt from the tariffs, which are being levied after the WTO determined that European governments illegally subsidised Airbus over two years. Delta CEO Ed Bastian said on earnings call last week that “Mobile is going to be very important for us going forward.”
Airbus currently assembles five A320 airliners per month at Mobile, with plans to increase production to six aircraft in January and begin assembly of A220 airplanes in the near future at the plant. Along with Delta, American, JetBlue, Hawaiian, Allegiant, Frontier and Spirit all fly Airbus products.
“This going to be the focus of our domestic strategy to be getting our A220s, our A321s via Mobile as Airbus continues to ramp up that production capability,” Bastian said. “I am not going to get into any longer-term ideas we have because obviously it doesn’t necessarily help you on the widebodies, but we are evaluating options there and our goal is to mitigate any potential tariff exposure.”
Delta has about 170 Airbus aircraft on order. Airbus spokesman Clay McConnell told Forbes that the Mobile manufacturing operation will not be affected by tariffs ‘in the immediate term.’ But he cautioned that ‘in the longer term, the situation is not clear.’ He said Airbus hopes that the United States Trade Representative will not impose tariffs on goods such as component shipped to the Mobile factory for incorporation into finished products.
Qantas tests world’s longest non-stop flight
Australian airline Qantas is about to run its first test of an ultra-long-haul flight between New York and Sydney, a journey of nearly 20,000 kilometres that should take about 20 hours non-stop. The flight was expected to take off on 18 October 2019 and will arrive at its destination on 20 October 2019. It will be the first of three test flights called Project Sunrise, made in collaboration with the University of Sydney’s Charles Perkins Centre and aimed at studying the impact of such long flights on the health of passengers.
Onboard a new Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner will be a maximum of 40 people, crew included, to minimize weight and provide the necessary fuel autonomy. Six Qantas Frequent Flyer volunteer passengers ‘will be fitted with wearable technology devices and follow a specially designed sleep, food and beverage, and physical movement schedule,’ said the carrier in a press release. Their level of melatonin, the ‘sleep hormone,’ will also be monitored. The airline will study the impact of cabin environment, food and beverage menus and service timings in adjusting to the destination time zone. There is a 15-hour time difference between New York and Sydney.
The alertness of the four pilots and six cabin crew members will also be monitored, using activity monitors, sleep diaries and rest and alertness logs, as well as cameras mounted in the cockpit. Qantas aims at finding solutions to maximize both alertness during operations and rest during free time on these flights. Qantas has already conducted a study on passenger sleep strategies in some of its long-haul flights and some of these initial findings will be further evaluated as part of the dedicated search flights.
In addition to the Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner, Flightglobal reports that Airbus plans to offer its A350-1000 to participate in Project Sunrise, as recent documentation shows that the aircraft can now operate with sufficient range. However, the Australian and International Pilots Association (AIPA), Qantas pilots’ main union, warned that these tests might not be sufficient to assess the feasibility of those flights when it comes to health. The test flights “are special services restricted to a much-reduced complement of passengers and crew,” said Mark Sedgwick, In a press release the president of the AIPA said: “More work would need to be done on fatigue risk management, looking particularly at the cumulative effects of long range operations on crew”. Presently, the longest commercial air route in the world is a connection between New York and Singapore launched in 2018 by Singapore Airlines. Operated on an A350-900 ULR it lasts about 18 hours.
Beloved Qantas 747 becomes Rolls-Royce flying testbed
A much-loved Qantas passenger aircraft retired from commercial service this weekend to begin life as a Rolls-Royce flying testbed. The aircraft will be used to test current and future jet engine technology that will transform flight, reduce emissions and set new benchmarks for efficiency.
The Boeing 747-400 (registration of VH-OJU) has been in service with Qantas for 20 years as a much-loved member of the Australian national carrier’s fleet. Over the course of its life, OJU has flown more than 55 million miles, which is the equivalent of almost 100 return trips to the moon. It has operated to dozens of countries and carried 2.5 million passengers, with each journey powered by four Rolls-Royce RB211 engines.
As a flying testbed, it will be fitted with the latest testing capabilities and for the first time, will test engines which power both commercial and business aircraft. New systems will obtain better data faster than ever before and technologies will be tested at higher altitudes and faster speeds. Flying testbeds are used to conduct altitude testing and monitor technologies in flight conditions.
Rolls-Royce employees will choose a name for the aircraft, which served its life with Qantas named Lord Howe Island. It will be flown by a crew of specialist test pilots, who combine engineering expertise with decades of experience flying commercial, military and test aircraft. The new aircraft will support the Rolls-Royce IntelligentEngine vision, where engines are connected, contextually aware and even comprehending, starting from their time on the testbed.
The 747 completed its final commercial flight for Qantas on 13 October 2019 from Sydney to Los Angeles. It then flew to AeroTEC’s flight test centre in Moses Lake, Washington State, US, where it will undergo an extensive two-year transformation. AeroTEC engineers and technicians will convert the Boeing 747-400 from a commercial aircraft with 364 passenger seats to a state-of-the-art flying testbed equipped with extensive instrumentation and systems to take sophisticated measurements of engine performance in flight. When complete, the aircraft will work alongside Rolls-Royce’s existing flying testbed, a Boeing 747-200, which has completed 285 test flights to date. Rolls-Royce is investing $70m in the acquisition and refurbishment of the aircraft. This is in addition to a $116 million investment in Testbed 80, the largest and most intelligent testbed in the world, currently under construction in Derby, UK and set to be commissioned in 2020.
Volocopter air taxi flies over Singapore’s Marina Bay
This was the last trial of a demanding test series to verify and validate the ability of Volocopter air taxis to fly over the area. Government authorities including the Ministry of Transport (MOT), the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) and the Economic Development Board (EDB) supported Volocopter in this testing phase and will continue to do so in the future. This flight kicks off Volocopter’s efforts to bring commercial air taxi services to Singapore.
A 2X model of the company’s test series flown by a pilot onboard was used. The flight covered a distance of approximately one mile and lasted for two minutes at an average cruising height of 130 feet. Leading up to the flight, the aircraft had undergone intensive testing in Germany for several months. Following which, a rigorous flight test programme to verify the Volocopter 2X aircraft performance under local environment was conducted at Seletar Airport in accordance with CAAS.
At the ITSWC, Volocopter and their partner Skyports built the first VoloPort prototype on the floating dock in Marina Bay. VoloPorts are the only physical infrastructure required for air taxis and they are one important step to commencing operations in cities. They are designed to provide passengers with a seamless air taxi experience that is safe, secure and integrated into existing infrastructure. Volocopter opened an office in Singapore in January 2019 and has started to build up a local team to support South East Asia expansion plans. The company has recently presented their VoloCity – the next generation eVTOL air taxi which is designed to comply with EASA requirements. With their recently announced Series C funding round the company will bring the VoloCity to commercial certification.
Drone start-up Zipline demonstrates its medical supply drones with US military
Zipline, which already delivers emergency medical supplies in Rwanda and Ghana, is testing drone flights with the US Department of Defence. Between July and September, Zipline partnered with the US DoD and Naval Medical Research Centre to deploy its drones during four multinational military forces exercises in Australia.
In August, Zipline light unmanned aircraft made hundreds of supply drops during the Australian live-fire wargames. The Defence Innovation Unit (DIU) and the Naval Medical Research Centre’s Naval Advanced Medical Development (NMRC-NAMD) also used Zipline’s autonomous drones to make more than 380 deliveries of blood and other medical supplies to troops amid a live-fire exercise with US, Australian and other forces.
Founded in 2014 by Keenan Wyrobek, Keller Rinaudo and Will Hetzler, the Half Moon Bay, California-based Zipline designs, manufactures and operates drones to deliver vital medical products to everyone, no matter where they live. Zipline has raised a total of $233 million in funding over three rounds at over $1.2 billion valuation. Since its inception in 2014, Zipline has built the world’s fastest and most reliable delivery drone, the world’s largest autonomous logistics network and a truly amazing team. Zipline designs and tests its technology in Half Moon Bay, California. The company assembles the drones and the technology that powers its distribution centres in South San Francisco. Zipline performs extensive flight testing in Davis, California and operates distribution centres around the planet with teams of local operators.
Weekly News from African Pilot
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Until next week, please be ‘Serious about flying’.
Athol Franz (Editor)