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“It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open one’s mouth and remove all doubt.” Abraham Lincoln
African Pilot’s November 2018 edition
The November edition of African Pilot has been fully distributed into the retail market as well as the various airports that we service and by all accounts is selling well. This edition contains our annual Cape Town Airports feature as well as Gifts for Pilots. There is no doubt that as a well designed and superbly produced monthly aviation magazine African Pilot has significant reach. In addition, African Pilot is now printing significantly more monthly magazines than any other aviation magazine on the African continent, whilst at the same time African Pilot’s influence within the digital on-line magazine is ever increasing, not only in Africa, but also throughout the world.
African Pilot's December 2018 edition
The December edition will feature the various General Aviation and Airlines based at OR Tambo International Airport. In addition we will feature an illustrated report on the Airlines Association of Southern Africa (AASA) annual general assembly staged in Livingstone, Zambia at Victoria Falls. The closing date for this edition was on Friday 2 November 2018, but we can still take some late advertising messages as long as we receive these by close of business on Monday 05 November 2018. For advertising positions, please contact Lara Bayliss Cell: 079 880 4359 Tel: 0861 001130 or e-mail: email@example.com
What is changing at African Pilot?
Now you can get your favourite aviation magazine online
As our digital capability has grown substantially and we have developed aviation news blasts that advise our significant audience about breaking aviation news. 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.
Video of the week
You’ve never seen a Hercules do a looping? Now you can see!
SOUTH AFRICAN AVIATION NEWS
New orders for Cape Aerospace Technologies gas turbines
Cape Aerospace Technologies (CAT) is receiving new orders for its locally developed range of small gas turbine engines, which are used for target drone drones, unmanned aerial vehicles, gliders and model aircraft. CAT has three main models: the CAT 120 produces 125 N of thrust at 125 000 rpm and weighs just 1.4 kg while the CAT 250 produces 250 N of thrust and weighs 2.1 kg. The largest is the CAT 400, which develops 400 N (40 kg) of thrust and weighs just 3.6 kg. All can operate between -25 and 50 degrees Celsius and at altitudes of up to 8 000 metres. They are intended for sub-sonic applications.
The turbines can operate on Diesel, Kerosene or Jet A1 fuel. All turbines include an Electronic Control Unit (ECU), Ground Support Unit (GSU) and all ancillaries required for engine operation during flight. CAT turbines are produced with a fuel atomising direct kero-start system, making turbine starts fast and reliable. The atomiser system also enables a relighting capability for high altitude starts.
Aside from typical applications like target drones and scale model aircraft, Krige said there is big demand for using the gas turbines as power generators as they have high power to weight ratios and can run on a variety of fuels. Krige said he would like to develop other gas turbines and is contemplating the 1 000-1 500 N thrust market. CAT works with the CSIR and the University of Stellenbosch on micro to small gas turbine technology and also receives support from the Aerospace Industry Support Initiative (AISI).
What happened in aviation over the past week?
Stellenbosch fun rally by Mary de Klerk
The first in a series of rally competitions was held on Saturday 3 November 2018 at Stellenbosch Airfield. Everything from the weather, the venue and route planning etc was perfect. Only one thing was missing; the number of entries, because it seems that the communication did not go out on time, but this will be corrected for future events. The full article with pictures will be featured in the December 2018 edition.
What is scheduled for the next few weeks?
6 to 8 November
Dubai Helishow Royal Pavilion Al Maktoum Airport
Contact Mr. Abel Bajamunde E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
EAA Chapter 322 meeting. Dicky Fritz Moth Hall, Edenvale
Contact Marie Reddy 083 259 7691 E-mail: email@example.com
EAA / SAPFA Sun ‘n Fun Adventure Rally Brits Airfield
EAA contact Marie Reddy 083 259 7691 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
SAPFA contact Rob Jonkers E-mail: email@example.com Cell: 082 804 7032
16 & 17 November
Sandstone Estates Cherry Festival steam weekend
Contact Alina Tel 051 933 2235 e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Aero Club of South Africa awards dinner Wanders Club 17h00
Contact E-mail: email@example.com
SAPFA Fun Rally at Springs Airfield
Contact Jonty Esser E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Cell: 082 855 9435
Mozambique Aero Club 90th anniversary at Maputo International Airport
Contact Peter Graham
1 & 2 December
SAC ACE of Base Brits airfield
Contact Annie Boon E-mail: email@example.com
International Civil Aviation Day at Nelspruit airfield
Contact Pappie Maja Cell: 083 451 2627 e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
The 2019 aviation calendar has been well populated by the many people involved in aviation sending the information about the scheduled fixture to African Pilot – thank you. Please send any further fixtures to me: email@example.com and I will send you the entire 2019 calendar.
African Pilot’s 2019 calendar
19 & 20 January
SAC Gauteng Regionals at Vereeniging airfield
Contact Annie Boon e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
SAPFA Rand Airport Challenge – Rand Airport
Contact Frank Eckard cell: 083 269 1516 e-mail: email@example.com
SAPFA Morningstar Speed Rally – Morningstar Airfield
Contact Hans Potgieter e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
9 and 10 March
Swellendam Flying Club host Sport Aerobatic Club Regional Championships
Contact Pieter Venter e-mail: email@example.com
12 to 14 March
Saudi Airshow Thumah Airport, Riyadh
13 to 15 March
Ageing Aircraft & Aircraft Corrosion seminar at OR Tambo International Airport
Contact e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
FASHKOSK at Stellenbosch airfield
Contact Anton Theart Cell: 079 873 4567 E-mail: email@example.com
SAPFA Virginia Fun Rally – Virginia Airport
Contact Mary de Klerk cell: 084 880 9000e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
AFRICAN AVIATION NEWS
#Africa4Future: Airbus to foster new aerospace business models with African start-ups
Last week Airbus announced the launch of its second edition of #Africa4Future, a joint accelerator programme between Airbus’ global aerospace accelerator BizLab and Make-IT in Africa, a programme by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit German (GIZ), the German agency for International Cooperation. First launched in 2017, the #Africa4Future initiative was created by Airbus BizLab with the objective to encourage and support entrepreneurship in Africa. The continent’s young and increasingly techno-savvy population is likely to be the driving force behind Africa’s socio-economic development. Setting up an entrepreneurship eco-system requires investment and collaboration. Through #Africa4future, Airbus seeks to build bridges between the aerospace industry and the different players in Africa. For this second edition, Airbus calls for African tech start-ups that are actively working on solutions related to unmanned logistics and remote sensing technology, including automation and drones, electrification, blockchain, artificial intelligence, data analytics and material composites and manufacturing.
WORLD AVIATION NEWS
Why would Lion Air crash a brand new Boeing 737 MAX8?
Now that the black box of the Lion Air Boeing 737-8 MAX that crashed on 20 October 2018, has been found, the investigation will try to determine why a months-old plane would crash into the sea minutes after take-off. Whilst the data is being recovered, several details surrounding PK-LQP already emerged.
The plane suffered problems the night before: Since the crash, several sources revealed that the B738 PK-LQP had faced problems on its precedent flight. According to a technical log obtained by the BBC, the plane encountered a technical problem on 28 October 2018, whilst conducting flight JT43 from Denpasar (DPS) to Jakarta (CGK). The log reads ‘Identified that CAPT instrument was unreliable and handover control to FO. Continue NNC of Airspeed Unreliable and ALT disagree,’ meaning that the airspeed and altitude readings on the captain’s instrument were erroneous, prompting him to give control to the first officer. This information was confirmed by Lion Air spokesman Danang Mandala Prihantoro, who said that the flight crew encountered an issue with the sensors used to calculate airspeed. The data recorded by flightradar24 shows that indeed, four minutes after take-off, while it was climbing to cruise altitude, the plane acted erratically. The rest of the flight was uneventful and the plane landed safely in Jakarta. Before the final flight engineers reportedly repaired the issue and the plane was given clearance to fly, according to Lion Air Chief Executive Edward Sirait.
A brand new plane
The Boeing 737 MAX 8 MSN 43000 was on lease from Chinese CMIG Aviation Capital, an aircraft leasing company wholly owned by China Minsheng Investment Group. The plane was manufactured in 2018 and delivered on 14 August. It started operating a day later. Overall, the plane had flown less than 800 hours. It is the first major crash involving a plane of the 737 MAX family, which was introduced in May 2017.
The flight crew
Lion Air said in a statement that the pilot and co-pilot had more than 11,000 flight hours between them (6,000 for the captain, 5,000 for the co-pilot). According to Sirait, the pilots had passed mandatory drug screening. Pre-flight checks were carried out and nominal. The airline also confirmed that one of the crew on board was a technician, as an ‘anticipatory measure’. This is standard procedure for the company and was not due to the problems experienced the previous day.
New Thrush firefighter FAA certified
Thrush Aircraft announced that its 510G Switchback was granted full FAA certification last week. The GE H80-powered Switchback is a Single Engine Air Tanker (SEAT) aircraft that can be changed quickly from an agricultural spray setup to a firefighting configuration. Thrush says the switch can be made in ‘a matter of minutes’ thanks to a new fire gate delivery system. “Thanks to its flexibility, its revolutionary new gate box and its proven durability, the Thrush 510G Switchback is the first aircraft that excels in both fire detection and suppression as well as in its mission as a highly capable aerial application aircraft for the agricultural industry,” said Thrush. According to the Georgia-based company, the aircraft can drop up to 500 gallons of water, retardant, or fire suppressant in less than two seconds when configured for firefighting. The Switchback is also capable of landing on unimproved surfaces. The first two 510G Switchbacks have already been delivered to the Georgia Forestry Commission for use in fire detection, rapid response firefighting and training.
Helicopter crash in Afghanistan kills 25 people
A helicopter of the Afghan National Army crashed shortly after take-off in Farah province, west of Afghanistan, killing 25 people on board on 31 October 2018. The helicopter, which took off from Anar Dara, Farah province capital, was carrying two pilots and 23 passengers, including the head of the Farah council, another council member and the deputy corps commander of Afghanistan’s western zone. It was accompanied by another helicopter and was en route to the neighbouring province of Herat, according to Naser Mehri, a spokesman for the governor of Farah province. While Mehri reported that the helicopter hit a peak because of ‘bad weather’, the Taliban insurgents claimed they shot it down. The region of Farah has seen increased Taliban activity since the beginning of 2018. Helicopter is the preferred means of transportation for Afghan officials in tensed areas of the country.
Delta Air Lines takes delivery of its first Airbus A220
Airbus has welcomed Delta Air Lines as the first US carrier to take delivery of the Airbus A220 aircraft. On hand for the delivery ceremony at the aircraft’s assembly line in Mirabel were members of the A220 team as well as government officials and executives from Delta, Airbus, Bombardier and Investissement Quebec.
Delta’s A220 will enter service in early 2019, making Delta the fourth global airline to operate the aircraft previously known as the Bombardier C Series. The C Series Aircraft Limited Partnership (CSALP) welcomed Airbus as lead partner earlier this year, prompting the change of name to the Airbus A220. Delta is the largest A220-100 customer, with a firm order for 75 aircraft.
According to Airbus, the A220-100 is powered by Pratt & Whitney’s PW1500G geared turbofan engines to offer at least 20 percent lower fuel burn per seat compared to previous generation aircraft. With an order book of over 400 aircraft to date, the A220 has all the credentials to win the lion’s share of the 100- to 150-seat aircraft market, estimated to represent at least 7,000 aircraft over the next 20 years. As of the end of September, Delta was operating a fleet of 235 Airbus aircraft, including 182 A320 Family members, as well as 42 A330s and 11 A350 XWB, or eXtra Wide Body aircraft. The airline has more than 275 additional Airbus aircraft on order. Next year, Delta will become the first US airline to operate the new Airbus A330neo.
Royal Thai Air Force receives two new H225Ms
The Royal Thai Air Force (RTAF) has taken delivery of its seventh and eighth H225M (previously known as EC725) multirole utility helicopters. Since 2012, the RTAF has placed orders for a total of 12 H225Ms under its fleet modernisation programme. Under a contract signed in 2016, these new additions will join the air force’s existing fleet of six H225Ms for combat search and rescue, search and rescue flights and troop transport missions. The 11-ton-category twin-turbine H225M is relied upon as a force multiplier by many air forces worldwide thanks to its outstanding endurance and fast cruise speed. Featuring state-of-the-art electronic instruments and the renowned 4-axis autopilot system, the multirole helicopter may be fitted with various equipment to suit any role. Close to 90 units are currently in service in six countries across the globe, surpassing the 100,000 flight hour milestone.
Airbus and China Airlines present A350-900 with special joint livery
Taiwan’s China Airlines (CAL) has taken delivery of its newest A350-900 aircraft, which features a unique joint livery that combines the airline’s distinctive plum blossom logo with Airbus’ exclusive A350 XWB carbon fibre pattern. Following this delivery, China Airlines has 14 A350-900 aircraft in its fleet. The airline operates these aircraft on non-stop long-haul routes, including services from Taipei to Europe and North America as well as on selected routes in the Asia-Pacific region.
Since entry into service in 2015, the A350 XWB has established itself as the new long-range leader in the larger twin aisle category. More than 200 aircraft are already in service with 22 airlines, flying primarily on long-haul routes. At the end of September 2018, Airbus had recorded a total of 890 firm orders for the A350 XWB from 46 customers worldwide, already making it one of the most successful widebody aircraft programmes ever.
Bombardier delivers best-selling Challenger 350 aircraft to charter operator Latitude 33 Aviation
Last week Bombardier announced that Latitude 33 Aviation, a private jet charter, executive jet management and aircraft sales and acquisitions company based in California, had taken delivery of a new Challenger 350 business jet. The high-performing Challenger 350 aircraft, the best-selling business jet platform of the last decade, will be based in Orange County (John Wayne Airport) and will join Latitude 33 Aviation’s growing fleet of aircraft available for charter.
With seats-full, tanks-full, 3,200 NM (5,926 km) range capability, the Challenger 350 aircraft defines the super mid-size category. It offers a direct climb to 43,000 feet to stay clear of weather and traffic, as well as the widest cabin in class, a convenient flat floor, unlimited access to baggage, a smooth ride and the lowest direct operating costs in its category. The Challenger 350 jet can connect New York City to Van Nuys or Las Vegas to Honolulu non-stop. The Challenger 350 jet offers the industry’s most extensive baseline features to fleet operators, while the recent addition of an advanced Head-up Display (HUD) and Enhanced Vision System (EVS) camera as available options bring unparalleled situational awareness. Paired with impressive high-performance attributes, the aircraft’s steep approach certification allows operators to perform landings in challenging airfields efficiently, giving customers the opportunity to reach countless destinations. The Challenger 350 jet is the top-selling aircraft of the super mid-size segment, with 56 deliveries in 2017.
Virgin rolls out 747 rocket launcher
Virgin Orbit has rolled out its solution for making space more accessible to those who want to put small payloads into orbit. The company has modified a Boeing 747-400 to take a 57,000-pound, 70-foot rocket on a launcher between the inboard left engine and the fuselage. The rocket, called LauncherOne, was lifted into place and readied for launch in less than 24 hours at Long Beach Airport. The plan is to make a series of test flights with the rocket attached to assess the flight characteristics of the combination before doing drop tests toward a live launch sometime in 2019. The plane will take the rocket to about 35,000 feet before releasing it. The air launch method, which has been used by NASA, the military and private companies over the years, eliminates much of the time, expense and peril from conventional launch systems but payloads are limited. The Virgin Orbit system can hoist about 1,100 pounds to low-earth orbit. This is attractive to many companies for communications, weather and various other sensing and relaying applications.
Passenger grabs controls after pilot collapses
When Carli McConaughy pulled on the big control column in the middle of the helicopter she was flying in over Honolulu last week, she had no idea what she was doing but she likely saved her own life and those of her fiancée and the unconscious pilot beside her. McConaughy, 35 and her newly betrothed Adam Barnett (31), both of Joliet, Illinois, took a sightseeing flight as part of their Hawaiian vacation after getting engaged on Oahu. They told the Chicago Tribune that as they skirted the waterfront at 1,000 feet, the pilot suddenly slumped over and the Robinson R44 dove for the water. Barnett yelled from the back seat for her to “pull it up” while gesturing to the cyclic control between their seats and McConaughy, who had no flight experience, gave it a mighty tug. It arrested the descent enough that all survived the impact with relatively minor injuries. “We hit the water hard,” she said. “I just think it was the best way we could have crashed. We all survived.” The aircraft crashed in waist-deep water and Burnett was able to pull his future bride and the 57-year-old pilot out. They were taken to shore by first responders on jet skis. All had broken bones but no life-threatening injuries. The company that operated the helicopter told the Honolulu Star Advertiser the pilot suffered a medical issue on the flight but did not elaborate.
Farmer builds full size A320 replica
When Chinese garlic farmer Zhu Yue had to admit to himself that he would never achieve his lifelong dream of learning to fly, he did what he considered to be the next best thing. The ambitious and apparently prosperous agriculturalist and welder built a full-scale steel model of an A320 in his hometown of Kaiyun. “I hit midlife and realised I couldn´t buy one, but I could build one,” he said. It’s not clear what type of aircraft Zhu thought he might want to buy but the $374,000 he spent on the enormous model of Airbus’s bread and butter airliner should have given him a lot of options. Nevertheless, he forged ahead with the complex project, using an 80th-scale model and photos to guide him. The result is a somewhat faithful replica that weighs more than 130,000 pounds. Zhu plans to use the replica as a restaurant where diners will be seated in 36 first class seats. “We will put down a red carpet so every person who comes to eat will feel like a head of state,” Zhu said.
Garmin's budget autopilot approved for Bonanzas
Garmin has likely picked the right market with an STC for retrofitting the GFC500 autopilot for the sizable fleet of vintage Beech Bonanza and Debonair models. The approved AML-STC (approved model list supplemental type certificate) includes the Beech 33 series aircraft, from straight 33 models to the G33 with some airframe serial number exclusions. Garmin says an STC for the F33A Bonanza is imminent. Realise that the GFC500 is as much an EFIS upgrade as it is autopilot retrofit. This is because the GFC500 is tightly paired with Garmin’s G5 EFIS, an instrument that provides digital pitch and roll reference to the autopilot and displays the Flight Director command bars, the autopilot’s mode engagement status and other prompts onscreen. There is also airspeed hold as standard.
The GFC500 for the Bonanza is a two-axis system (pitch and roll axis) and there is an option for yaw damping. There is also an optional automatic electric pitch trim system, which provides manual electric trim command with a yoke-mounted switch. Without it, the pilot trims the airplane manually, based on prompts from the autopilot. The autopilot has built-in underspeed / stall protection, overspeed / max Vne protection and a Level mode, for commanding straight and level. The other major component of the interface that is not included is a Garmin GTN navigator. The GFC500 autopilot can fly coupled vertical descents, visual approaches and GPS and ILS approaches with coupled go-arounds.
US Army pilots fly autonomous Sikorsky helicopter
US Army pilots exercised supervised autonomy to direct an optionally-piloted helicopter (OPV) through a series of missions to demonstrate technology developed by Lockheed Martin company Sikorsky and the Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). The series of flights marked the first time that non-Sikorsky pilots operated the Sikorsky Autonomy Research Aircraft (SARA), a modified S-76B commercial helicopter, as an OPV aircraft. Sikorsky is developing autonomous and optionally-piloted technology that will ultimately decrease instances of the number one cause of helicopter crashes: Controlled Flight Into Terrain (CFIT). Sikorsky is working closely with the FAA to certify the technology so that it will be available on current and future commercial and military aircraft.
Egypt to upgrade F-16 engines
On 31 October the US Department of Defence stated that the $273 509 940 firm-fixed-price requirements type contract is for Service Life Extension Programme conversion kits to upgrade F110-GE-100 engines on Egyptian Air Force F-16s. Work will be performed in Cincinnati, Ohio and is expected to be completed by 30 October 2023.
The F110 Service Life Extension Programme is an upgrade that saves maintenance hours and extends the life of the F110 engine. It uses technology from the CFM56-7 commercial engine core, 3D aero technology and a redesigned flow path with changes to the combustor, high-pressure turbine, compressor and augmenter. General Electric believes these enhancements lower cost per flying hour by up to 25%, eliminate special inspections and increase flying hours. The F110-GE-100 engine is the alternate power plant for the Block 30/32/40 variants of the F-16, powering the fighter from 1985 after the US Air Force encountered maintenance problems with the original Pratt & Whitney F100.
According to Jane’s, the Egyptian Air Force received 36 F110-GE-100-powered F-16C and 81 F110-GE-100-powered F-16D Block 40 aircraft between October 1991 and June 2001, as well as other F100-PW-220 powered F-16s. The Egyptian Air Force is one of the largest F-16 operators in the world, with 220 aircraft in service. He type is Egypt’s primary frontline fighter, although it is being supplemented by Dassault Rafales and MiG-29s.
Pipistrel marks 100 simulated flight training hours in Alpha Electro
The fleet of four Pipistrel Alpha Electro aircraft that are slated for flight training through the CALSTART programme in California has logged about 125 hours, 100 of those in a single aircraft. The last flight was 1.2 hours and the aircraft had 25% state of charge reserve at shutdown. Pipistrel said that completion of 100 hours simulated flight training under FAA supervision in the US will be followed by Austria’s Electro Aero, which will pass 100 hours of real flight training. Electric aircraft are already approved for operation in the LSA category in that country. According to Pipistrel, performance of the Alpha Electro two-seat electric trainer is tailored to the needs of flight schools. Short take-off distance, powerful 1000+ fpm climb and endurance of one hour plus reserve. The Alpha Electro is optimised for traffic-pattern operations, where 13% of energy is recuperated on every approach, increasing endurance and at the same time enabling short-field landings.
Billions wasted: Mexico mega-airport axed by controversial vote
Mexico will not have its new super-hub in Texcoco after all. The decision was taken after a controversial public consultation, which stopped the airport project in mid-construction. The decision was announced by the newly elected president Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador on 29 October 2018. 70% of the people that voted in the consultation of 27 October, rejected the construction of a mega-airport that was to be built in Texcoco, 30 km away from Mexico City. Throughout his campaign, Lopez Obrador criticised the project for its price ($13 billion dollars), its environmental impact and alleged corruption in the attribution of the contracts. Instead, voters agreed to an alternative project in which the Santa Lucía Air Force Base (NLU) would see two runways being built for commercial operations. The current Mexico City International Airport (MEX) and Toluca International Airport (TLC) would also be expanded.
However, the legality of this consultation is being questioned. Critics point at the fact that it was not organised by the national electoral authorities. About a thousand voting offices were opened, compared to more than 156 000 for the presidential elections in July 2018. Their location privileged poorer areas where people voted the most for Lopez Obrador. Several media, including the Agence France Presse, also reported people voting multiple times.
The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) supported the project, along with the International Air Transport Association (IATA). The latter voiced its disappointment following the results from the ALTA Airline Leaders Forum in Panama City, Panama. Despite the cancellation, the work on the construction site will continue until 30 November 2018, in accordance with the contracts signed by the project manager, Grupo Aeroportuario de Mexico City (GACM). In total, Federico Patiño , general director of GACM, estimates that with the money already invested in materials and the fulfilling of the contracts, the aborted project will cost 40 and 45 billion pesos ($1.7 to $2.2 billion) to the government. That estimation does not include the price of the rehabilitation of the construction site.
Pilatus approved to raise PC-24's MTOW
Pilatus gained approval to increase the maximum take-off weight of its PC-24 business jet by nearly 300kg (660lb), according to European airworthiness documentation. Contained in an 11 October revision to the PC-24’s type certificate data sheet, filed with the European Aviation Safety Agency, the change lifts the type’s MTOW to 8,300kg from 8,005kg. However, the increase only applies to the 31st serial aircraft produced (MSN131) and beyond, or earlier examples that have had a particular service bulletin applied. Pilatus says that no physical changes are required as part of the service bulletin, which consists of updating cockpit placards, as well as alterations to the flight management software.
Deliveries of the Williams International FJ44-4A-powered aircraft began in January this year, with the Swiss airframer aiming to hand over 23 examples of the superlight type in 2018. Meanwhile, Pilatus has opened an 11,000m2 (118,000ft2) completion centre at its US headquarters in Broomfield, Colorado. The centre will install interiors for PC-12NGs and PC-24s destined for the Americas. The North and South American markets make up around two-thirds of Pilatus deliveries. The Swiss company says the new facility will allow it to ‘customise aircraft for individual customers and respond quickly to changing market demands’. It expects to complete up to 30 PC-24s per year from the centre.
Algeria and Egypt unveil Chinese UAVs
Although not fitted with weapons, the CH-4 seen was fitted with hardpoints. Algeria already operates Denel Seeker UAVs. Meanwhile on 14 October Egypt revealed imagery of one of its Wing Loong armed UAVs in a video to mark the 45th anniversary of the Egyptian Air Force. A single UAV was seen taking off with a missile under each wing and later seen destroying a target on the ground. Egypt is known to have operated Wing Loongs for some time, but only last month has this been officially acknowledged.
The CH-3 is manufactured by the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC). With a wingspan of eight metres, the CH-3 follows a canard configuration. It was first seen in 2008 and has been exported to Pakistan (as the Burraq), Nigeria and possibly Myanmar. It has a 12 hour endurance and 180 km radius of action. It can be fitted with FT-5 guided bombs or AR-1 missiles – Nigeria’s CH-3s are armed and have been used against Boko Haram militants. Non-military uses have also been found for the CH-3, such as aerial mapping. In 2017 the CH-3s began such duties in Zambia in a first for China and Africa.
The CH-4 was introduced in 2011 and has been in Chinese service since 2014. It has also been sold to Iraq and Iraq’s CH-4Bs have been armed with AR-1 missiles and FT-9 50 kg guided bombs and used to attack Islamic State targets. Saudi Arabia has also acquired the type.
The CH-4 has a maximum take-off weight of 1 330 kg and a payload of 345 kg in addition to its electro-optical turret and synthetic aperture radar. The aircraft has a wingspan of 18 metres and length of 8.5 metres. It is powered by a 100 hp class piston engine giving a top speed of 235 km/h and cruise speed of 180 km/h with endurance of up to 40 hours.
The Wing Loong is one of China’s most notable UAVs, similar to the American Predator. Manufactured by Chengdu, the 1 100 kg Wing Loong (Pterodactyl) first flew in 2007 and is believed to have entered People’s Liberation Army Air Force service in 2008 (where it is known as the Gongji-1/GJ-1) and exported to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kazakhstan and Pakistan. The Wing Loong I has a wingspan of 14 metres and length of nine metres. Endurance is 20 hours and top speed around 280 km/h. Payload is 200 kg and includes two missiles.
Chengdu has also produced the larger Wing Loong II (which can carry 12 missiles) and Wing Loong 1D with a composite airframe. The Wing Loong II is believed to be in service with the United Arab Emirates. Other Wing Loong versions are planned and China estimates the series could generate $2 billion in revenue over the next five years, with production at two dozen aircraft a year, although there are plans to increase this to 30 a year.
DJI launches Phantom 4 RTK globally
Last week DJI launched the global rollout of the Phantom 4 RTK, a high-precision aerial survey drone that combines centimetre-level navigation and positioning with a high-performance imaging system to improve survey efficiency and accuracy, reducing operational difficulty and cost. A non-RTK drone requires up to 40 ground control points (GCP) per square kilometre which takes several hours to place. The DJI Phantom 4 RTK has an in-built centimetre-accurate RTK navigation positioning system and a high-performance imaging system. Combined with the RTK positioning module (GPS L1 L2, GLONASS L1 L2, Galileo E1 E5a and BeiDou B1 B2) it potentially reduces the number of GCPs needed to 0, which saves at least 75% in set-up time. Sitting just beneath the RTK receiver is a redundant GNSS module, installed to maintain flight stability in signal-poor regions such as dense cities. Combining both modules, the Phantom 4 RTK is able to optimise flight safety while ensuring the most precise data is captured for complex surveying, mapping and inspection workflows.
The RTK module can provide positioning accuracy of 1cm+1ppm (horisontal), 1.5cm+1ppm (vertical), and the Phantom 4 RTK can get the 5cm absolute horisontal accuracy of photogrammetric models.
The Phantom 4 RTK can be integrated into any workflow, with the ability to connect its positioning system to the D-RTK 2 Mobile Station, NTRIP (Network Transport of RTCM via Internet Protocol) using a 4G dongle or a Wi-Fi hotspot.
To take full advantage of the Phantom 4 RTK’s positioning modules, the new TimeSync system was created to continually align the flight controller, camera and RTK module. Additionally, TimeSync ensures that the Phantom 4 RTK records factory-calibrated lenses parameters alongside position, altitude and other data onto each photo, matching the positioning data to the centre of the camera’s CMOS sensor and thus optimising the results from photogrammetric methods.
The drone is equipped with a 1″ 20 megapixel CMOS sensor. The mechanical shutter makes mapping missions or regular data capture seamless as the Phantom 4 RTK can move while taking pictures without the risk of rolling shutter blur. Due to the high resolution, the Phantom 4 RTK can achieve a Ground Sample Distance (GSD) of 2.74 cm at 100 meters flight altitude. To ensure each Phantom 4 RTK offers unparalleled accuracy, every single camera lens goes through a rigorous calibration process where radial and tangential lens distortions are measured. The distortion parameters gathered are saved into each image’s metadata, letting post-processing software adjust uniquely for every user.
In areas with lack of RTK coverage, the DJI Phantom 4 RTK allows for the use of Post Processed Kinematics (PPK). The DJI Phantom 4 RTK captures original satellite observation data as well as the ephemeris data and stores it in a PPKRAW.bin file in RTCM 3.2. format. In addition, the Phantom 4 RTK converts the satellite data on the fly to the RINEX format (Receiver Independent Exchange Format) and writes the data into a RINEX.obs file. Thanks to the internal synchronization of the GNSS position and camera, the Timestamp.MRK file provides a precise recording of the highly accurate image position. All operation-relevant data is stored on a Micro-SD card in a unique folder for each mission. The consistency of the Phantom 4 RTK’s data reduces the time needed to validate the data and results in an efficient post-processing workflow with minimal to no manual adjustments.
The Phantom 4 RTK’s OcuSync video transmission system enables a stable connection between the drone and its remote controller. The system features strong interference resistance. It delivers 720p video transmission feeds at a distance of up to seven kilometres, which is ideal for mapping larger sites. The flight time of up to 30 minutes allows pilots to complete long missions without having to land the drone to change batteries. Even if the area is too large to map on a single battery charge, the Operation Resumption function of the GS RTK App automatically resumes the mission after the battery has been replaced. The Phantom 4 RTK is compatible with the DJI Mobile SDK, opening up its functions to automation and customization through a mobile device.
A new GS RTK app allows pilots to intelligently control their Phantom 4 RTK with two planning modes – Photogrammetry and Waypoint Flight – alongside a more traditional flight mode. The planning modes let pilots select the drone’s flight path while adjusting overlap rate, altitude, speed, camera parameters and more, offering an automated mapping or inspection workflow. The planned flights are easily repeatable, letting teams collect the same data across different periods to track site progress and easily detect changes.
The GS RTK app has implemented direct loading of KML and KMZ files for in-office flight planning, a new shutter priori mode that keeps the exposure consistent across a whole mission and a strong wind alarm to warn pilots in adverse conditions during automated flight. The Phantom 4 RTK is compatible with the D-RTK 2 Mobile Station, providing real-time differential data to the drone and forming an accurate surveying solution. The Mobile Station’s rugged design and OcuSync transmission system ensures users can gain centimetre-level accurate data with their Phantom 4 RTK even in challenging conditions.
Drones used as first responders
When a crime is committed within a mile of the Chula Vista Police Department in southern California, chances are the first on the scene will be a drone. The police in the community near San Diego are the first to get an FAA waiver to fly over buildings and people to help officers assess a situation and decide on an appropriate response. “With drones, officers can see if suspect has that weapon so they can plan that game plan or that avenue of approach that’s safer,” said Chief Roxana Kennedy.
Under the experimental program, certificated police pilots control the aircraft from the roof of the police building and can monitor the view below on their phones or on monitors. The drones must be operated within visual line of site within a mile of the police station, at least for now. In the first week, the drones responded to 30 calls and got to those calls within two minutes. The department eventually wants to operate drones from the roof of every fire station in Chula Vista. “If we got to that model, we’d be able to respond to any call for service in the city of Chula Vista in two minutes, and give real-time data quality decision to any police officer, live via their phone,” said CVPD Capt. Vern Sallee.
EAA 322 year end dinner
The EAA322 year end dinner was attended by Lara Bayliss on Saturday 3 November. It was wonderful meeting people face to face that I have corresponded with over the past few months.
Congratulations to all that received well deserved awards. Thank you to the team for a wonderful evening! Special note of thanks to Mr Dyne for hosting Johan and myself.
Weekly News from African Pilot
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Until next week, please be ‘Serious about flying’.
Athol Franz (Editor)
African Pilot ‘Serious about flying’.
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