“Never let your fear of the unknown and things being too difficult make your choices for you in life. One of the saddest lessons in life is finding out that your fear made the situation worse than what it was and a braver person stole the dream you gave up on.” Shannon L Alder
Since last week’s mystery aircraft was rather easy to identify, according to the number of correct answers I received, this week I have provided a r experimental aircraft to identify. Please send your answers to me at email@example.com. I will publish the names of those that identified the aircraft correctly within the Thursday edition of APAnews.
How the world of publishing is changing
Some years back I started introducing video photography into African Pilot’s digital magazines and today this new form of visual marketing is certainly paying off. Although video production is significantly more difficult than stills photography, time consuming and expensive, the results are breath taking.
African Pilot’s YouTube video collection now numbers almost 200 unique video productions and all of these are available to our readers. The best way to watch any of these videos is to select YouTube then African Pilot on your television set. All the video titles will be available and if you have a good sound system coupled to your TV you can watch these videos with full surround sound in high definition. All of our videos have been embedded into past African Pilot publications. However, we also provide for videos from our advertisers to be embedded within their own advertisements.
African Pilot was also the first aviation publication in the world to introduce QR card scanning so that by scanning the code the FREE monthly magazine can be loaded onto your smart phone with three minutes. Why not try this by scanning the code here:
The June edition featuring Flight Training and Aviation Careers and Flight Simulators was completed last week and this edition has been fully distributed to the world-wide audience. This 268-page edition contains 20 videos and nine picture galleries a new record. African Pilot has embraced the digital publishing age so that the magazine can be read on smart phones or any digital device. African Pilot changed its publishing philosophy nearly two years ago to embrace the digital age so as to discontinue publishing a typical print style magazine that is impossible to read, even on laptop computers.
African Pilot will publish its popular Light Sport Aircraft, Amateur Built Aircraft and South African built aircraft in the July edition of the magazine that will be distributed to the world during the last week of June 2022. The feature is an opportunity for all Light Sport Aircraft manufactures, Amateur Built aircraft and South African built aircraft. The feature provides an important shop window for advertisers to display their Light Sport Aircraft in a focused manner which includes editorial content to cover the features of their business.
Parys Airshow 2022 held on 28 May
Wallpaper calendar for the month of June. Go to our wallpaper page to download the calendars in three different resolutions.
Comair airline CEO’s removal called for by employee group
Following Comair’s flight suspension, tension is mounting with employees demanding an explanation for the crisis and accountability from top management. Comair workers are worried about the airline’s silence on key issues, including their salaries and suspension period and want the top leaders to be removed for failing to handle the situation appropriately.
With funds running dry, Comair suspended all flights about a week back and there have been no updates on when, if at all, the carrier will secure sufficient money to put its planes back in the air again. Over the entire month of June, the airline had 1,093 flights scheduled or around 205,905 seats on sale.
The decision to halt all flights took Comair’s employees by surprise and they are now demanding an explanation about why it all happened and the way forward. But that this is not all! Comair workers affiliated with the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) were to picket outside the airline’s offices in Kempton Park on Friday morning. The group blames CEO Glenn Orsmond and business rescue practitioner (BRP) Richard Ferguson for not handling the airline’s affairs sensibly and is demanding their resignation.
The African Pilot team consisting of Charlie and Fiona Hugo shooting stills and me shooting mainly video travelled to Newcastle on Friday afternoon by road. On arrival at the airfield, the various contractors were busy setting up marquees and equipment. Brian Emmenis and his Capital Sounds team had already completed their set up to provide sound to the entire airfield. The chief of the South African Air Force Lt General Mbambo and his wife arrived in the late afternoon shortly before sunset in an Agusta 109 helicopter. I was fortunate to be in a position to interview him on video as he stepped out of the helicopter and I was impressed at how easily he conducted the interview.
We arrived at the airfield early on Saturday morning to attend the media briefing and pilot’s briefing. My task at the official videographer was to interview all the participating pilots, officials, dignitaries as well as scenes for the overall airshow experience. This meant that I carry in the region of 20 Kg of equipment and walk at least 10 kilometres throughout the day, much of this over uneven ground. Whilst the regular photographers are confined to a specific area next to the windsock, My tasks allows me to go to every part of the operational airfield, so long as I do not get close to any aircraft or helicopter movements. This is a specific privilege and I thank Rickus Erasmus and his Air Show South Africa Team (ASSA) for endorsing this so that we can create a record of airshows in South Africa.
Much of the day was spent with Brian Emmenis and the Capital Sounds team that were positioned at show centre, meaning that I was ideally positioned to capture much of the airshow from this position. It was also a privilege to spend time with Brian since he has a wacky sense of humour, whilst his knowledge of aviation and the teams flying is always top notch. Also, a big thank you to Johan Pieters and his team from Champ Marketing for the excellent organisation of this 10-year anniversary airshow. A full report with pictures and a video will be featured within the July 2022 edition of African Pilot.
African Pilot’s 2022 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.
Cessna Fly-in to Brakpan airfield
Proper planning prevents poor performance Brakpan airfield clubhouse
Contact Clarissa Cell: 074 953 7144 or Santjie Cell 063 239 2151
SAA Museum Society AGM at 15h45 inside the Boeing 747SP
Contact secretary E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
15 to 19 June
SAC National Aerobatics Championships at Wingspark airfield
Contact Annie Boon at E-mail: email@example.com
16 to 18 June
SAPFA Rally Nationals at Brits airfield
Contact Frank Eckard at E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Cell: 083 269 1516
20 to 24 June
SACAA International Flight Inspection Symposium www.ifissa.co.za
Durban International Convention Centre – Registration R10 000 per delegate
For event enquiries and bookings: Vanstraatenc@caa.co.za and Singhn@caa.co.za.
You can also book on the website: https://ifissa.co.za.
Contact: Noel Netshivhodza at E-mail: email@example.com Cell: 081 728 0843
SAPFA Speed Rally at Middleburg airfield
Contact David le Roux at E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Cell: 073 338 5200
1 to 3 July
EAA Taildraggers at Warmbaths airfield
Contact Richard at E-mail: Richard.email@example.com Cell: 082 490 6227
7 to 9 July
AERO South Africa at Wonderboom National Airport
Contact Annelie Reynolds at E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
SAPFA Kitty Hawk Rally
Contact Frank Eckard at E-mail: email@example.com Cell: 083 269 1516
Garden Route airshow at George airport
Contact Brett Scheuble
18 to 22 July
Farnborough International Airshow
22 to 31 July
EAA AirVenture Oshkosh, Wisconsin, USA
Camping on the airfield contact Neil Bowden at E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Hotels in Appleton contact Calvin Fabig at E-mail: email@example.com
29 and 30 July
Soutpansberg fly-in Louis Trichardt
Contact Jaco at E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Cell: 082 353 6002
Krugersdorp Flying Club Spot Landing
Contact Nandi at Tel: 083 577 8894 E-mail: email@example.com
SAPFA Speed Rally at Rustenburg airfield
Contact David le Roux at E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Cell: 073 338 5200
26 and 27 August
Bethlehem Airshow at Bethlehem airfield
Contact Stephan Fourie at E-mail: email@example.com Cell: 072 344 9678
US Air Force probe: miscommunication led to fatal crash
According to a US Air Force investigation, the fatal accident involving two T-38C Talon aircraft that left a student pilot dead and two US Air Force flight instructors injured late last year was the result of the instructors’ poor communication and failure to recognise and intervene during a precarious situation.
Air Force Magazine reported, results from the probe into the incident have prompted Air Force Air Education and Training Command (AETC) to issue new training guidance for formation landings that includes raising the minimum altitude for the manoeuvre and standardising radio procedures to reduce confusion.
Air Force Air Education and Training Command statement: The 19 November 2021, accident occurred shortly after 10h00 when the two aircraft assigned to the 47th Flying Training Wing attempted a formation approach at Laughlin Air Force Base, Texas. “The mission plan called for a formation approach, with one aircraft landing and the other performing a low approach. However, miscommunication between the pilots on who would land and who would perform the low approach resulted in both pilots attempting to land simultaneously,” AETC said in a statement following the release of findings from an accident investigation. The miscommunication led to the second aircraft flying above the first in a position where neither T-38s were visible to the other aircraft, according to the Aircraft Accident Investigation Board (AIB) Report. “When the second aircraft landed on top of the first aircraft, the landing gear impacted the first aircraft’s horizontal stabiliser and both aircraft were rendered uncontrollable,” AETC said.
Student pilot 2nd Lt. Anthony D. Wentz (23), of Falcon, Colorado, who was in the second aircraft, was killed during an interrupted ejection sequence during the landing phase to Runway 13 Center (13C). According to the AIB report, the flight was Wentz’s fourth formation event in the T-38C Specialised Undergraduate Training Programme. One of the injured instructor pilots was transported to Val Verde Regional Medical Center in Del Rio, Texas, where they were treated and released, the Air Force said in a statement at the time of the accident.
“Based on evidence discovered during the investigation, the AIB president identified two causes of the accident,” AETC said. “First, during the formation approach, the instructor pilot in the second aircraft with Lt. Wentz failed to communicate and the instructor pilot in the first aircraft failed to verify which aircraft would land.” The scenario led both to attempt landing simultaneously. “Second, the instructor pilot in the second aircraft with the student pilot failed to recognise a precarious situation developing after the ‘cleared off’ call and failed to intervene and prevent the second aircraft from impacting the first aircraft on landing.”
Celebration in the skies overhead London
Aviation played a major role in the jubilee celebrations for Queen Elizabeth in Britain. UK Defence photographer Abigail Drewett snapped this image of the Royal Air Force’s Red Arrows demonstration team from the number 10 team airplane while they were flying over Buckingham Palace trailing their signature-coloured smoke. Thanks to the UK Ministry of Defence and the Red Arrows team for allowing the of this stunning bird’s eye image of the celebration.
It was lovely to watch the Queen standing on the balcony with flowers and the royal family watching military aircraft flying overhead under glorious sunshine. A total of 70 aircraft and helicopters from the Royal Air Force (RAF) took part in this amazing airshow over London and I would have loved to have part of this celebration.
German heavy-lift helicopter programme selects Chinook
Germany is expected to purchase up to 60 Chinooks to replace its aging Sikorsky CH-53G helicopter fleet in a deal valued at around €4 billion ($4.3 billion). While the agreement has not yet been finalised, delivery of the new CH-47Fs will reportedly take place between 2023 and 2029. As previously reported, Boeing and Airbus Helicopters signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to partner on the Chinook for STH last March, expanding a team that also includes AERO-Bildung GmbH, CAE Elektronik GmbH, ESG Elektroniksystem-und Logistik-GmbH, Lufthansa Technik, Honeywell Aerospace and Rolls-Royce Deutschland. Presently the Chinook is operated by NATO nations the Netherlands, Italy, Greece, Spain, Turkey, United Kingdom, Canada and the US. The other model under consideration for the STH programme was Sikorsky’s CH-53K King Stallion.
Electric aircraft flies eight legs across six US states
In a remarkable milestone for an electric aircraft, Beta Technologies has flown its Alia test demonstrator on an eight-leg cross-country mission across six states totalling 1,219 nm. A single pilot flew each leg of the mission, Beta said, rotating between two flight-test pilots, Lochie Ferrier and Camron (Arlo) Guthrie. “We have done a lot of rehearsal, a lot of preparation, a lot of flying, a lot of simulating and so we were really confident that we’re ready to go,” Guthrie said in Beta’s video.
The weeklong mission departed from Plattsburgh, New York’s Plattsburgh International Airport (KPBG) on 23 May, making eight stops to recharge the aircraft’s batteries before landing in Arkansas, at Bentonville Municipal Airport (KVBT) last Monday. Total time in the air: 11 hours, 44 minutes. “In three years, we have come from testing inverters in the corner of a hangar to actually flying across the country,” said test flight team member Manon Belzile in the video. “It’s like a dream come true.”
It’s the latest success for Beta’s unique aircraft, which is designed to operate as an electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL). Beta currently operates two prototypes: SN1, which is configured for conventional take-off and landing (CTOL) testing and another aircraft which is configured for eVTOL, now undergoing hover testing in Burlington. For this flight, Beta flew SN1.
In March, Alia became the first electric aircraft flown by US Air Force pilots as part of its Agility Prime technology acceleration programme. Alia has a carbon-fibre fuselage and battery-powered motors that drive a single, rear-mounted pusher propeller. Alia’s speed: About 150 knots. Maximum take-off weight: 6,999 pounds. Payload capacity: 1,400 pounds. Range: 250 nm. FAA type certification for Alia is expected by 2024.
Beta said the project largely was an attempt to push Alia’s flight test programme forward after months of expanding the aircraft’s test envelope. “We have completed a few hundred successful and informative test flights in our home airspace,” Beta said in a statement. Test pilots recently flew a direct route over the Green Mountains from Manchester-Boston Regional Airport (KMHT) to Burlington International Airport (KBTV) and from KBTV to Rutland, Vermont. Accompanied by a Cessna Caravan flying chase, Alia’s crew charged the aircraft’s batteries using Beta’s multi-modal charging stations at four stops. Part of the mission included an opportunity to demonstrate the company’s larger business plan to build a network of electric charging stations for electric vehicles as well as aircraft across the nation. With recently spiking prices for aviation fuel, Beta reported its cost for an electric recharge was $19 for a 160 nm leg of the voyage. Compare that with the mission’s Cessna Caravan chase airplane, which required $800 in fuel for the same leg. The Alia is designed to fully recharge in less than an hour.
Following certification, Beta intends to focus its first production models on a cargo variant and has already received orders from UPS Flight Forward and Blade Urban Air Mobility. Alia’s launch customer will be United Therapeutics, which plans to use the aircraft to transport organs for human transplantation.
Atlas Air takes delivery of first of four B747-8 freighters
Atlas Air has taken delivery of a Boeing 747-8 freighter, which will operate on behalf of its customer Cainiao, the logistics arm of Alibaba Group, as part of a previously announced long-term agreement. The aircraft will increase capacity on routes between China and the Americas. This aircraft is the first of four new 747-8 freighters that Atlas expects to receive from Boeing this year. Atlas’ investment in these new aircraft underscores its commitment to environmental stewardship through the reduction of aircraft emissions, resource consumption and noise. The iconic Boeing 747 programme has been in operation for over 50 years and will continue to play a critical role in keeping global supply chains moving for decades to come. The 747-8 is the only factory-built freighter with nose-loading capability in production, which will serve the long-term needs of the airfreight market.
Sukhoi and MiG merger moves forward
Formed in 2006 to consolidate numerous Russian aerospace manufacturers that struggled to retain relevancy after the collapse of the Soviet Union, UAC presently counts Ilyushin, Irkut, Mikoyan, Sukhoi, Tupolev and Yakovlev among its subsidiaries. UAC is itself a subsidiary of Rostec, Russian, a state-owned corporation that owns over 700 enterprises, including nearly the entirety of Mother Russia’s military-industrial complex. The reorganisation completes a corporate transformation that will see UAC transition from a three-level to a two-level corporate management structure, thereby simplifying the organization’s structure and reducing overall company costs.
Both MiG and Sukhoi have been semi-autonomous, UAC subsidiaries since 2006. The formal unification of the companies speaks to Moscow’s intention to consolidate Russian military aviation for purpose of producing modern, technologically-advanced, tactical aircraft. The decision to merge the two companies was announced in 2020. In March 2021, the companies were moved into a single facility, and their final merger was approved in November of the same year. Notwithstanding the merger, Rostec CEO Sergei Chemezov stated “The world-famous Sukhoi and MiG brands will be retained in the aircraft they manufacture and the authoritative design schools will continue to develop.”
Established as design bureaux in 1939, both Sukhoi and MiG (formerly Mikoyan-Gurevich) played major roles in Soviet aviation. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, the bureaux were reorganised into companies. Sukhoi regained prominence by designing a variety of combat aircraft based on its Soviet-era, Su-27 platform. However, MiG was not as successful, with its MiG-29-derived MiG-35 struggling to attract orders.
Lasers are still a danger to pilots
Laser light strikes at airplanes in flight were an occasional and somewhat rare occurrence many years ago, but the trend has been increasing in recent times. As far back as 2016, there were approximately just over 7000 reported laser strikes and that number seems to decline by 2018 to a low of 5,600 or so. However, since that time, the number of reported laser strikes have continued to climb, first by 11%, and now triple that to a current high of 9,700 reported strikes for 2021. That number is likely much higher, as some pilots may not go to the trouble of reporting the incident, but instead chalk it up to an annoyance. Hand-held laser pointers are freely available on the market and while COVID-19 is no excuse, boredom was surely at the forefront of this rising menace. A pilot based at the Long Island / Mac Arthur Airport (ISP) stated that being targeted with a laser from the ground is ‘disorienting’ and shocking because it catches you off-guard. A flight instructor explained it as being like ‘old-styled flash bulbs from a camera going off so there is a temporary blindness.’
Earlier this month, the local county police in Long Island, New York scrambled to get a chopper in the air around 03h00, following an in-flight report from a helicopter pilot who was preparing to land. On a separate occasion, the pilot of a private jet also reported a laser strike. Thus far, no accidents have resulted, but in both cases, Air traffic Control tried to enlist the pilot’s assistance in pinpointing the general direction of the source so law enforcement can get an initial fix. Then police have been able to track down the perpetrators using laser-protective glasses, GPS and infrared cameras. Too often, many other expeditions turn out to be a wild goose chase when the perpetrators disappear without a trace, but with prompt reporting and better tech, the battle is winnable.
uAvionix announces remote magnetometer
Since the beginning, the uAvionix AV-30 mini EFIS has had an internal magnetometer, the device used to sense magnetic north and help create a heading reference, but now the company has introduced a remote magnetometer. Previous to this, the AV-30 still required the pilot to set the DG heading to a compass in the cockpit. The system used the internal magnetometer to help keep the fully digital DG from processing but it was not designed to reference magnetic north and, therefore, resolve a synchronised heading display.
The tiny AV-Mag (2.4 inches by 1.5), introduced last week, sells for US$249 into the Experimental market and connects to the AV-30 through a three-wire serial connection. According to uAvionix, the AV-Mag ‘will provide consistent and accurate magnetic heading information. With its ability to precisely measure the earth’s magnetic field and aid the AV-30 directional heading measurement, AV-Mag offers the long-term high-accuracy Directional Gyro (DG) solution that pilots have requested.’ Like other systems using a remote magnetometer, the AV-Mag will have to be calibrated to each airframe, but the process is all handled through the AV-30 interface.
The company says ‘the improved long-term heading stability provided by AV-Mag allows for additional integrations and exciting new functionality moving forward. This includes features like wind speed and direction, as well as improved accuracy of autopilot navigation functions. uAvionix continues to partner with innovative aviation companies, pursuing integrations and working towards the ultimate connected cockpit powered by AV-30, AV-Link and AV-Mag.’
Leonardo wins Australian order for three SAR helicopters
Leonardo announced a further expansion of its fleet of AW139 intermediate twin engine helicopters in Australia with an order for three aircraft as part of Western Australia’s Emergency Rescue Helicopter Service (ERHS) fleet modernisation effort to provide enhanced airborne capabilities. The helicopters will be supplied by leading helicopter operator CHC Australia to carry out a range of HEMS, Search and Rescue and Inter-Hospital Patient Transport missions from the Jandakot and Bunbury Airports on behalf of the ERHS.
The AW139s will be delivered from Leonardo’s Vergiate final assembly line facility in Italy in early 2023 and will enter service in the State of Western Australia later in the year, following dedicated mission customisation performed locally. The new aircraft will feature a wide range of tailored equipment including, among others, four-axis DAFCS (Digital Automatic Flight Control System) autopilot enhanced with Hover Mode, TCAS II (Traffic Collision Avoidance System), searchlight, camera, wire cutter and rescue hoist. The special HEMS interior and the advanced mission console will be installed in Australia.
This latest contract marks a further outstanding success for the best-selling AW139 in Australia, being already the leading model for Emergency Medical Service (EMS) nationwide. More than 130 civil, public utility and military helicopters of various models have been sold by Leonardo in the country to date, supported by unique localised support and MRO (Maintenance, Repair, Overhaul) services. The AW139 has been chosen by several operators in Australia for a range of roles covering HEMS / SAR, law enforcement, offshore transport and government roles with a fleet of over 60 units today in service. The order also strengthens the regional collaboration with CHC who operates already ten AW139s and two AW189s. The global fleet of AW139s used by CHC has recently set a major operational milestone exceeding 250,000 flight hours.
Flexjet launches helicopter division
Fractional jet provider Flexjet is launching a private helicopter division that will integrate Sikorsky S-76 operator Associated Aircraft Group (AAG), which was acquired last year by Flexjet parent Directional Aviation unit OneSky Flight. Service will begin with 12 helicopters finished in the Flexjet livery and interior and ‘scale up from there as necessary.’ AAG was founded in 1989, purchased by Sikorsky in 1999 and used to launch the OEM’s fractional shares programme. It operated primarily in the New York City area.
Flexjet helicopter operations will be seasonally located in the North-eastern states and in Florida throughout the year, connecting airports and city centres and short-haul regional destinations such as conventions, music festivals as well as other sports and entertainment events. Flexjet also said it would provide complimentary helicopter hours to its Gulfstream G650 fractional owners and sell add-on fractional, lease and charter access to the medium twin S-76s.
The new division will deliver on-demand regional transportation and last-mile transport for Flexjet aircraft owners traveling from airports to their final destinations. Flexjet called the service ‘a unique door-to-door travel solution not available through any other provider in the US,’ and said it expects the helicopter division to grow in the US and Europe over the next five years as the worldwide demand for point-to-point vertical aviation increases. Flexjet’s Eli Flint will lead the new division as president and will be joined by a staff of nearly 50 former AAG sales managers, mechanics, operations team members and pilots.
Inching up from April, bizjet inventory remains tight
According to market analyst Jefferies, citing Amstat figures, the preowned business jet market loosened slightly in May with the number of aircraft for sale up two percent from April. However, the market remains much tighter than a year ago, with the number of preowned business jets for sale in May down by 51 percent, equating to a 2.4 percent available inventory. Looking at younger business jets, those less than seven years since production, the available inventory dropped 53 percent year-over-year, while pricing increased 16 percent. In total, 590 preowned business jets were available for sale in May, compared with 580 in April and 1,198 last May.
Jefferies noted that while the decline is broad-based across the market, midsize jets have led the decline in the availability for sale, down 57 percent. Large-cabin jet inventories were down 50 percent from a year ago, while 46 percent fewer light jets were available. Just four Dassault business jets were for sale last month, a 75 percent drop from a year ago. Bombardier business jet availability plummeted 60 percent, to 36 units. Embraer followed with a 57 percent decline in available preowned business jets, with 21 for sale and Gulfstream jets saw a 49 percent year-over-year contraction, to 31 units. There were 70 Cessna Citations for sale, marking a 45 percent year-over-year decline.
United Airlines to invest in expanding largest flight training facility
United Airlines announced that it is expanding its Denver flight training center, which the airline says is, ‘the largest facility of its kind in the world,’ as the airline seeks to hire an additional 10,000 pilots by 2030. In its announcement, United said that it will add a new four-story building on the 23-acre campus in Denver’s Central Park neighbourhood that will house 12 additional advanced flight simulators, training classrooms, conference rooms and offices.
United Airlines’ flight training campus is the sole training facility for the airline’s 12,000 active pilots and all newly hired pilots. According to United, every nine months, pilots must visit the training center to remain up-to-date on certifications, which can train up to 600 pilots at any one time. Presently the flight training center has 39 full-motion flight simulators and 15 fixed training devices. When the new building is established, United will have a total of 52 full-motion simulators and 28 fixed training devices.
United expects to add more than 2,000 new pilots this year alone and is on track to hire 10,000 pilots by 2030. The airline plans to train around 5,000 pilots by that date through United Aviate Academy, the airline’s own pilot training school. United’s goal is to have at least half of the pilots trained at the United Aviate Academy to be women or people of colour.
Mars Helicopter marks new flight records
According to an announcement from the agency on Friday, NASA’s Mars Helicopter, Ingenuity, has set new records for its longest and fastest flight to date. During its 25th flight, which lasted 161.3 seconds, the rotorcraft covered a distance of 2,310 feet (704 meters) at a speed of 12 MPH (5.5 meters per second) after climbing to an altitude of 33 feet (10 meters). As shown in the video below, Ingenuity’s navigation camera recorded and transmitted footage of the flight. “For our record-breaking flight, Ingenuity’s downward-looking navigation camera provided us with a breath-taking sense of what it would feel like gliding 33 feet above the surface of Mars at 12 miles per hour,” said Ingenuity team lead Teddy Tzanetos.
Ingenuity, recognised as the first powered aircraft to operate from the surface of another planet, flew for the first time in April 2021 and is currently preparing for its 29th flight. As previously reported, NASA announced in March that it was extending Ingenuity flight operations through September to support the Perseverance rover’s exploration of Mars’ Jezero Crater. The Ingenuity team was awarded the 2021 Robert J. Collier trophy by the National Aeronautic Association last month.
Lilium technology demonstrator achieves milestone
Last week Lilium GmbH, the German Aerospace company developing the VTOL Lilium Jet, announced that its technology demonstrator, Phoenix 2, has achieved main wing transition, which is to say, the aircraft successfully transitioned from hover to wing-borne flight. From a physics / aerodynamic perspective, transition entails the transference of lift from vertical engine thrust to horizontal, laminar, relative-wind flow over the test vehicle’s wings. Lilium’s achievement marks the first instance of a full-size electric jet aircraft achieving main wing transition, a landmark for both Lilium and electric aviation as a whole. Lilium states Phoenix 2 developed aerodynamic across its entire main wing while remaining both stable and within control parameters predicted by the company’s proprietary Flight Dynamics Model. Lilium Co-Founder and Phoenix Program Chief Engineer Matthias Meiner said of the successful test, “Main wing transition is a huge step forward on our path to launch and it validates our Flight Dynamics Model. Full credit goes to the outstanding Lilium team who worked so hard to get us here, and who remain laser-focused on the rest of the Flight Test Campaign.” Lilium will continue its flight-test campaign throughout the summer, expanding the Phoenix 2’s flight envelope further, including transition of the forward canards and high-speed flights.
Lilium GmbH was founded in 2015 by four engineers / PhD students at the Technical University of Munich: Daniel Wiegand, Sebastian Born, Matthias Meiner and Patrick Nathen. The company’s headquarters and manufacturing facilities remain in Munich, Germany.
Eve turns to Porsche for mass-production expertise
Sports car manufacturer Porsche will help Eve bring its four-passenger eVTOL aircraft to what is expected to be a mass market for urban air mobility (UAM). Under an agreement announced last week, the German group’s Porsche Consulting division will help Eve develop a supply chain for high-volume rates of production, as well as a strategy for global manufacturing and logistics for the vehicle that is expected to be certified in 2025.
Eve, following its recent initial public offering, is still majority-owned by Embraer, is one of several eVTOL pioneers turning to the automotive sector for help. For example, Joby is backed by Japan’s Toyota and Archer Aviation has backing from the Stellantis group (formerly Fiat Chrysler).
The master services agreement between Porsche and Eve covers studies in industrial operations, logistics, supply-chain management and parts distribution. Even though Embraer has a global supply-chain and product-support network, Eve said it requires ‘an unprecedented approach optimised for efficiency, productivity and safety.’ The companies will look at how the production of eVTOL aircraft could be scaled up and use a distributed production network to meet demand anticipated in cities around the world. Embraer has previously co-marketed its Phenom 300 light jet with Porsche cars. The Porsche Design Studio has been involved in work on interior styling for several private jets.
Turkey gifts Lithuanians Bayraktar TB2 for Ukraine
In late May 2022, Lithuanians had raised €5.9 million in less than four days to offer a TB2 drone for the Ukrainian armed forces. The crowdfunding was an initiative of local media channel Laisves TV. On 2 June 2022, Laisves TV founder Andrius Tapinas announced that Turkey would instead gift the aircraft for Lithuanians to offer to Ukraine. This emerged after a meeting of the Lithuanian Ministry of Defence with its Turkish counterpart. Consequently, €1.5 million of the money collected will still be transferred to the Lithuanian Ministry of Defence to acquire additional weaponry for the TB2. “The remainder of the money (US$ 4.4 million) according to the wish of the gift-giving Turkish side will be used for humanitarian, defence and logistic help for Ukraine,” Tapinas explained. “We will have a meeting with experts in Lithuania and Ukraine and will decide how the money will be spent. “The Turks also promised to decorate Bayraktar with the Lithuanian and Ukrainian colours,” Arvydas Anušauskas, the Lithuanian Minister of Defence, added.
The delivery will also be accelerated by the drone maker Baykar Technologies, with an objective to fly the aircraft to Lithuania in the next three weeks. It will eventually be delivered to the Ukrainian armed forces currently fighting back the invasion of their country by Russia.
Unmanned rotorcraft in service with Romanian border police
After a series of successful operations in 2021, Romanian border police are once again utilising Schiebel’s unmanned, S-100 CAMCOPTER to carry out general coast guard functions. The operations that encompass day-to-day monitoring and surveillance of shipping activity, port security, accident and disaster response, as well as search-and-rescue operations, commenced in March 2022 and are scheduled to continue until August. Romanian Border Police carried out 50 missions in the first two months of 2022 operations, during which the S-100 accumulated more than 170 hours.
Developed from 2003 to 2005, Schiebel’s S-100 CAMCOPTER, presumably a portmanteau of CAMera and helicopter is an unmanned aerial vehicle / rotorcraft featuring a standard, single, main-rotor and a tail-boom mounted, anti-torque rotor. The vehicle’s airframe makes extensive use of carbon-fibre, titanium, stainless-steel and 3D-printing technology.
The S-100 is powered by a single-rotor, four-stroke, air and liquid-cooled, 294 cc (17.9 cu in) gasoline, Wankel (rotary) engine. On 12 March 2012 Schiebel successfully tested a heavy-fuel engine, which the company states is interchangeable with the standard powerplant. The new engine allows for the use of JP-5, Jet-A, or JP-8 jet fuels.
Performance data on the S-100 asserts a top-speed of 130-knots, a service-ceiling of 18,000-feet, a 110 lbs. (50 kg) maximum payload weight and six+ hour endurance. Schiebel points out that the altitude and endurance figures are contingent upon reduced gross-weight. Designed for airborne security, surveillance and reconnaissance missions, the S-100 is capable of carrying a wide array of high-definition, electro-optical, imaging equipment that transmits in real-time to a ground-based control station. As of 2022, the vehicle has supported European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) operations in numerous European countries, to include: Denmark, Finland, Estonia, Spain and France.
Whole world wants to purchase Ukraine’s Bayraktar combat drones
According to the Turkish tech company that manufactures the Bayraktar, as Russia’s war in Ukraine nears the 100th day of fighting, one piece of Ukrainian military gear, a combat drone is now in demand around the world. Since the onset of the invasion of Ukraine on 25 February, the Turkish-made Bayraktar TB2 drone has been celebrated as a force multiplier, a symbol of Ukraine’s resistance to the Russian invasion, as well as a source of national pride. “Bayraktar TB2 is doing what it was supposed to do, taking out some of the most advanced anti-aircraft systems and advanced artillery systems and armoured vehicles,” Selçuk Bayraktar, chief technical officer of Baykar and designer of the drone said. The company is able to produce 200 TB2 drones annually, he added.
According to Reuters, while the world is watching, one man in particular is taking note, according to the report. Russian President Vladimir Putin and Russia’s defence ministry have mentioned the TB2 drone at least 45 times since the war began. The company is currently developing an unmanned combat aircraft and a TB3 drone with foldable wings and the ability to take-off from the short runways on aircraft carriers, Bayraktar said. The company expects the combat aircraft, called Kizilelma, will take its first flight in 2023, while TB3 could be operational as soon as the end of this year, he said.
According to the company, the TB3 drone has a 14-meter wingspan, the ability to carry a payload of at least 600 pounds, and an endurance of at least 24 hours. In April, the 1,500-pound drone was credited as being an integral component in a Ukrainian operation that sank the Soviet-era missile destroyer Moskva. According to reports, Ukrainian forces used the drone to distract the Russian war ship’s air defences before striking it with Neptune missiles.
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